Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Migraine headaches are an awful thing, but they can be controlled. Apparently Michele Bachmann has trouble with them from time to time and the Daily Caller has taken note:

The Minnesota Republican frequently suffers from stress-induced medical episodes that she has characterized as severe headaches. These episodes, say witnesses, occur once a week on average and can “incapacitate” her for days at time. On at least three occasions, Bachmann has landed in the hospital as a result.

“She has terrible migraine headaches. And they put her out of commission for a day or more at a time. They come out of nowhere, and they’re unpredictable,” says an adviser to Bachmann who was involved in her 2010 congressional campaign. “They level her. They put her down. It’s actually sad. It’s very painful.”
Sounds bad. But is it true? There's a lot of nonsense in these paragraphs. First, and I know this because I dealt with severe headaches for many years, stress doesn't, in and of itself, trigger headaches. In fact, some of the worst headaches I had were on low-stress days. I had many high-stress days that were headache-free.

Second, if it were really true that Bachmann was having weekly episodes that can incapacitate her for days at a time, she'd be on disability, not a member of Congress.

Third, how would the "adviser to Bachmann who was involved in her 2010 congressional campaign" know specifically what Bachmann was feeling?

Fourth, it would be a matter of public record if Bachmann had a propensity for missing public events unexpectedly, which would be true if she were truly incapacitated. Eventually that sort of thing gets around. The article cites four events, including one that goes back to 2006.

You need to understand two things about severe headaches. First, because they are multifactorial, there's a lot of trial and error in diagnosing the cause. I tried about a dozen medications and regimens in the 15+ years I dealt with the matter before we discovered the real cause -- a pituitary tumor.

Second, because of the trial and error involved, you do end up trying a lot of medicines. Stopping a migraine before it gets out of hand is key and it's hardly surprising that Bachmann would have to carry a number of different medications with her. You don't always have the luxury of dealing with one at onset.

Bachmann may or may not be a good candidate for president. She seems to deal with her headaches just fine, though, including the one the Daily Caller tried to administer.


W.B. Picklesworth said...

I see this as potentially being important to her fitness as a candidate for president. However, it's difficult to take these things seriously from a press that lies regularly to achieve its own ends.

The real question, though, is this: When will science find a cure for President Obama's debilitating narcissism? I've got my hopes pegged on November 2012.

Gino said...

bachman gives me headahes every time i see her on TV, so its only fair that she has a few herself.

Mr. D said...

Okay, I'll grant you that one, Gino.

Night Writer said...

I've had migraines for about the last ten years, and usually the symptoms are an internal light show on my eyelids and small blindspots in my vision and some pain, though usually this is maneageable (except when it isn't).

Anyway, the "triggers" for me are typically bright light and not enough sleep. If MB has the same triggers this could be a real problem given the long hours and disruptive travel involved in campaigning, and having media lights in your face on a regular basis (i've learned not to look at the headlamp on the light-rail trains and keep dark glasses around anywhere I might get bright sunlight).

As for her campaign itself, I see Bachmann as a "rabbit", getting out front and setting a fast pace and her early success hopefully will flush folks like Gingrich and Romney out of the race and create space for a long-haul conservative candidate.

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