Success Story – Migraine ReliefStephen Paske February 1, 2006
One Man’s Personal Success with Mental Imaging
Up until the age of 12, I suffered through debilitating migraine headaches on average twice a week. You know the kind I’m talking about. The kind where the throbbing pain behind yours eyes is so intense that all you want to do is lie in a pitch black room and try to sleep. I don’t get migraine headaches anymore. In fact, I don’t get any headaches. I’m 28 years old and haven’t had a headache in 16 years. I’m not kidding. Not one single headache. Not for any reason.
I don’t get headaches with the flu. I don’t get headaches from stress. The guys that spent the night after my bachelor party can even attest that I don’t even get them from consuming massive quantities of alcohol. And I did it without the aid of drugs, surgery, or any other physical intervention. How did I do it?
Dr. Daniel Kohen of the University of Minnesota probably has no idea how much he changed my life. Rather than having to waste a third of my days battling the constant pain those headaches brought, I’ve been free to focus on school, sports, and my work. I witnessed my grandmother suffer through horrific migraines until her dying day. Had I not participated in a study Dr. Kohen conducted on using mental imaging to treat migraine headaches, I would have been destined to suffer the same fate.
Perhaps the most amazing part of this story is the simplicity of the treatment I received. All it involved was two one-hour sessions; one to explain the treatment I would receive and one to practice. Once armed with the methodology, I’d be able to use an imaging technique any time I had a headache to relieve my pain. To a kid, it sounded very promising.
Though I don’t remember the exact process the doctor taught me, I’ll try and explain it as best I can. The start of the practice session involved my lulling myself into an intense state of relaxation. I remember the doctor having me start at the top of my head and try to feel each part of my body relax as he talked his way down my body.
Somewhere on this journey toward my feet, he started having me imagine that I was in a place I loved. I chose the local theme park, Valley Fair. Once the image had been established and my arms and upper torso were sufficiently relaxed, the doctor started having me think about my headaches. As I continued relaxing my waist, my thighs, my knees, he wanted me to choose something that could go up or down, like an elevator. I chose my favourite roller coaster.
By now I was completely and totally relaxed. At this point he wanted me to focus on the image in my mind. He wanted me to imagine that I had a headache and to rank the pain on a scale of 1-12. The level of pain would be the top of the roller coaster, zero at the bottom of the hill. If I had a headache, I was to envision the level of pain and then ride the coaster down to zero. A few minutes later he had me slowly wake from my trance. I remember feeling so relaxed that for a moment I was paralyzed.
Several days later came the moment of truth. I started experiencing my first migraine since my practice session. Quickly, I rushed to my room and turned out the lights, anxious to give my new treatment a try. As I lay in my bed, I relaxed just as the doctor had taught me; first my head, then my neck, chest, waist, thighs, all the way down to the tips of my toes. A moment later, I was riding the corkscrew from nine down to zero. And then I opened my eyes.
I thought it hadn’t worked. My head still hurt. I was bitterly disappointed. Out to the kitchen I went, crying to my mom that my head still hurt. I lay down on my chest on the family room carpet. My mom gave me something to draw on to try and divert my attention from the pain I was having. I started to draw.
How long I was drawing I don’t remember. Probably 15 minutes I’d guess. But whether it was 10, 15, 30, really doesn’t matter when I think of what happened next. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I lifted my head from my drawing, rolled over toward my mom who was working in the kitchen and exclaimed, “My head doesn’t hurt anymore!” It hasn’t hurt since.
Apparently this type of therapy is highly effective in children but not as successful with adults. Even as someone who’s had a high level of success with the tactic, I’ve not experienced the same success trying to treat other maladies with the same method as an adult. However, I can think of two cases, where I wasn’t able to shake chronic running injuries until I added metal imaging to my physical therapy.
If you have a child whose headaches just don’t seem to have an answer, please don’t let any preconceived doubts about this type of treatment keep you from considering it as an option. As someone who’s been headache-free for close to two decades I can vouch for its potential effectiveness. If mental imaging kept me headache free for 16 years, I certainly think it has the potential to help relieve pain in others. Maybe not for a decade or more, but at least on a daily basis. I can’t express how thankful I am for no longer having to deal with the migraines I see so many others suffer through. I like to use this forum as an opportunity for thanking Doctor Kohen. You changed my life.