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A Pathologistís Migraine

Majid Ali, M.D.

I suffered migraine headache attacks from the time of my childhood until the age of 47, when I learned to dissolve them with autoregulation. My migraine attacks were fairly consistent in pattern. The attacks began with a sense of heaviness in my head. Within an hour or so, the heaviness would turn into a dull headache felt all over. Some time later, the headache localized to my forehead and temple regions and progressively worsened until it caused eye discomfort and nausea. An hour or so later, nausea culminated in projectile vomiting. Eventually the headache became severe, unrelenting and disabling. Oral painkillers never helped since the pills always returned with vomitus. Finally, I would inject myself with Demerol (a potent narcotic and powerfully addictive drug) to obtain some relief. Demerol usually increased my vomiting until I would doze off for several hours. On the day after the injection, I usually felt lethargic and hated the effects of the injection.

Primary Causes of Migraine

In my experience, the primary causes of migraine are:

A. Mold allergy and toxicity

B. Stress and disappointments of life

C. Sugar-insulin-adrenaline roller coasters

D. Trigger points in the neck and shoulders

E. Environmental exposures (chemicals, toxic metals, etc) and weather changes

For complete success in the prevention of migraine attacks, it is necessary to effectively all of the above factors. Drugs should never be accepted as the sole long-term solution to migraine.

In this tutorial, I address the crucial subject of self-regulation for complete avoidance of migraine attacks. Some personal experiences and observations have profoundly influenced my thinking about sickness, self-regulation and healing. Many of such experiences played a direct role in the evolution of my concepts of the principles and practice of autoregulation. Below, I relate an experience that proved pivotal for me.

I endured migraine attacks all through my years of high school, college and medical school in Pakistan; emergency medicine and surgical training in England; pathology residency and practice of surgical and clinical pathology in the United States. During this time, I taught at medical and dental schools. Yet, no one ever mentioned to me that there may indeed be an end to my periods of misery with simple work with self-regulation. The subjects of self-regulation and energy work are taboo in drug and scalpel medicine.

During the early 1980s, I suffered a headache on a flight from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to Denver. By the time, I reached Denver to change my flight for Newark, the headache grew into a severe migraine attack. I decided to obtain relief with a Demerol injection. To my horror, I found out that rather than keep the drug in my briefcase as I always do, I had by mistake put it in my luggage checked for Newark. I knew no physician at the airport clinic, if any were immediately available, would give me a Demerol injection without doing a clinical evaluation and performing many laboratory tests. Furthermore, I would have to miss my flight to Newark. Terrified by the prospect of suffering a severe migraine headache all the way from Denver to Newark, I saw no way around it. I suffered severe pain and vomited and retched all through the insufferably long flight. At Newark airport I didn't care who saw me at the luggage area. As soon as I got my hands on the luggage, I pulled out the Demerol ampule and shot into me the full amountóusually half that amount suffices. An associate who had accompanied me to Jackson Hole drove me home.

Until I returned to clinical medicine in 1986, I did not face serious difficulties in managing my work since there were always other residents or pathology associates to take over when I became disabled. This changed when I began solo practice of immunology, environmental medicine and nutrition in 1986. Then a migraine headache attack forced me to cancel my office hours even when I knew some patients had traveled long distances to see me.

Autoregulation for Migraine

One early afternoon, I felt the heaviness in my head come on. I knew this would become a full-blown migraine attack and that my schedule was packed until midnight. It was a disconcerting thought. I wondered what it would mean for all the staff and patients if I had to cancel my hours. My discomfort grew into worry, then anxiety. It was then that the thought of trying autoregulation for brief periods but with high frequency crossed my mind. Frightened by the prospect of almost 12 hours of work with a migraine, I did pulses and limbic breathing frequently and earnestly.

The heaviness in my head didn't let up; instead, it turned into a headache. I vacillated about whether I should call the office staff and ask them to cancel my appointments or whether I should take the chance. In the past taking the chance meant keeping the early appointments and canceling the later ones as my migraine progressed. I remember many an occasion when I drove back home late at night, stopping a few times on the highway because I couldn't hold back the vomiting.

I persisted with autoregulation. Every 10 to 15 minutes, I did limbic breathing or tried doing pulses, a minute or two at a time. Such autoregulation seemed to have no impact on my headache at all. Still, I persisted. At about 5 p.m., I left the hospital and drove to the Institute, doing autoregulation all the way. As the migraine intensified, my anxiety grew. Within an hour or two, I realized the minute-reg made no difference and that the migraine would soon disable me. Close to despair, I decided to test my limits at both suffering from severe headaches and enduring autoreg. Somehow I managed to see my last patient and drive back home. It was close to midnight. My experiment with autoregulation done frequently but mostly for brief periods of time had obviously failed, creating new doubts about the very notion of autoregulation.

Once in my bedroom, I pulled out a Demerol vial and withdrew 2 ml of the drug into a syringe. At the last minute, something stopped me from shooting the narcotic into my vein. Instead, I lay down on my bed in the darkness and began limbic breathing for the nth time. The migraine slowly decreased in intensity and several minutes later it was completely gone. This was the very first time in my memory that a full-blown migraine had cleared without a Demerol injection.

On the third day after the migraine attack, I wondered why my migraine had cleared without the Demerol injection. Like a flash came the idea that it had to have been the autoregulation that I did for brief periods but with high frequency. I hadn't recognized this aspect of autoregulation by then.

The essential insight that experience gave me was this: The benefits of self-regulation may be delayed, but they are there. Autoregulation, done for a minute or two at a time, may not yield perceptible rewards at that time, but the cumulative energy responses and physiologic benefits that follow from them do add up.

How Does Minute-reg Work?

Minute-reg is the term I use to describe a minute or two of autoregulation. The idea behind minute-reg is simple, and is to use some method of self-regulation for brief periods of time but with high frequency. It was through personal experiences like the one described above that I developed a deep sense of the great value of minute-reg in my autoregulation program.

Next, it seemed necessary to experiment further with minute-reg myself and define some aspects of its clinical usefulness before I could prescribe it to my patients.

Minute-reg gives the body tissues a respite from the unending demands of the cortical monkey. Even when it is as short as one to two minutes, a successful break like this interrupts the continual waves of biologic stress response that most of us face at work and at home every day.

After some time I became proficient at minute-reg. I was able to feel clear pulses in my fingertips almost instantaneously whenever I so desired.

The Return of Migraine

From 1991 to 1996, I didn't need to administer Demerol and Vistaril injections to myself to control pain. I had become quite proficient in dissolving my migraine attacks with autoregulation. I found limbic breathing especially useful for them. Then I began to wonder if my long period of relief had more to do with my advancing age rather than with my success with autoregulation. One mellows with age and so may be expected to be less susceptible to the Fourth-of-July chemistry that feeds the fires of migraine attacks. In the fall of 1996 I got my answer. I suffered such a severe migraine attack that despite all attempts to control it, I had to inject myself with the drugs to control pain. While giving myself the injections I experienced the additional frustration of breaking the long spell of my injection-free period, but my pain was simply unbearable. There was also the disturbing sense that I wouldn't be able to relate to my patients anymore my own case history and victory over migraine headache.

The rising sun the next morning during my limbic run gave me a newer perspective. Wasn't the fact that I still suffered an unbearable migraine headache attack after all those years of relief the proof that the control of pain had more to do with my success with limbic breathing than with my advancing age. I found the thought comforting. I felt reassured that after all I could attribute my success to autoregulation, and to my advancing age.

It's the Only Thing

I want to emphasize that facility with self-regulation and energy work is a gift from God. It comes easily to some and with considerable difficulty to others. Each of us must recognize this. Each of us has some strengths and some weaknesses. What matters in work with self-regulation and spirituality is this: Everyone eventually succeeds, at his own time, at his own pace. We must accept this. Being goal-oriented, competitive, or combative doesn't help.

"Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing," the American guru of competitiveness, Vince Lombardi, exhorted his disciples. We must recognize that Lombardi philosophy of winning is utterly irrelevant to matters of healing and spirituality.


Related Tutorials

Tutorial P1. What Is Pain?

Tutorial P2. The Oxygen Model of Pain

Tutorial P3. Migraine Migraine - Please Say Yes to Detection and No to Diagnosis

Tutorial P4. Migraine Labels That Reveal Nothing and Hide Much

Tutorial.P5. Neurochemistry and Clinical Aspects of Pain

Tutorial P6. A Pathologistís Migraine

Tutorial P7. A Presidentís Migraine

Tutorial.P8. A Politicianís Migraine

Tutorial.P9.  Short-term Use of Migraine Attacks With Drugs Concurrent With Nondrug Natural Remedies




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