The second installment of our three-part interview with Robert Kassab, the person behind the The DATA Protocol: Reduce migraines without medication
In the first interview, which you can read here, we started the conversation with Robert Kassab. He is releasing a new book later this year, that helps people with migraines get to real migraine relief without medication.
His approach is focused on a common sense solution, as he himself calls it, that addresses migraine triggers. He is convinced that by following critical steps in the right order, we can substantially minimize the number of migraines.
What does the work look like, and can you talk about the specific tools?
I hate to break this to your audience, but we’re in for a long fight, and we, as well as our families, are mostly on our own. But, we’re going to have to come to terms with the fact that continuing to do what we have been doing is not a good way forward. Real migraine relief will require work.
I worked as analyst for many years. As an analyst, you have to study data in order to uncover patterns and make various conclusions. But this requires you to have readily available information that can be assembled and relied upon. Normally, we’re talking about thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of individual pieces of data. Then, you have to be able to use certain tools to dissect and form logical conclusions about the information you are studying.
Now, most of us are exhausted and disillusioned. About the last thing we want to do is sign up for additional work. So, we turn to doctors. Believe me, I get it. But why would we expect that someone who sees us for perhaps fifteen or, at most, thirty minutes is going to be able to accurately understand our situation? It’s not realistic, since each one of us comes in with years and years of suffering that is unique. Compassionate doctors know that. So they do what they can, which is to at least try and alleviate the pain using medication.
And I am saying this as someone who, for years, walked into doctor’s offices, expecting them to do the work. But that road eventually leads to disappointment. Not because doctors don’t want to help. There are many that do. They just don’t have the tools or the time. I’m not talking about prescribing migraine medication. That’s just a band aid.
By using the DATA Protocol, we can become the experts. Real migraine relief can only come from using specific tools to gather and study data that is specific to us, which can then be used to improve our well being. I’m not going to sugarcoat it- that’s going to take some effort. The good news is that we can get to the information that matters using a few simple steps.
Why is it so difficult for us to come to terms with the idea that we’re the only ones that can alter the outcome?
Here’s what I would say. I think all of us want to suffer fewer migraines. But, we’re incredibly strapped in terms of time and money. Life represents a continuous stream of commitments. We’re burning the candle at both ends. So, what ends up happening is that we unwillingly ignore what’s best for us, eventually ending up with a migraine, and then quickly turning to whatever option will help us limit the pain as fast as possible. We all do it. In other words, we’re reactionary, “Surprise, surprise”. This tends to be how most of us approach our health in general. It’s a “grab anything on the shelf at the moment” mentality.
We have to learn to be proactive in dealing with our migraines, which means taking the necessary time every day to follow a set of rules. No one likes additional rules, and I get that. But, it becomes an easy choice if we’re talking about reducing our migraine frequency by, say, fifty percent. Who wouldn’t like that option? For real migraine relief to occur, however, certain prerequisites need to be in place.
The key is to make sure that guard rails are set up ahead of time. We need to understand, but more importantly, come to terms with this new reality. When all of us work on first establishing the right starting environment, we will be in the best position to succeed. It requires that we, as well as our loved ones, create a clear mental picture, in terms of what is most important.
Would a fifty percent reduction be a realistic expectation?
There is an overwhelming view, certainly in the medical community, that migraines are complicated. The cause of my migraines is likely going to be different than the cause of yours. However, the symptoms are similar enough that entire groups of drugs have been created to try and reduce those symptoms. Furthermore, certain drugs are marketed with the hope that they even stop the migraine from occurring in the first place. We are told that this is what migraine relief is supposed to look like.
In terms of the benefit of taking medication, the results can be all over the place. For some, the medications work. For others, there might hardly be any benefit. Additionally, the side effects, as I found out, can be significant. In other words, medication is not guaranteed to limit the symptoms. But that doesn’t stop manufacturers from advertising widespread success. They do so, even when the caveats can be more pronounced. How many times have those of us with migraines been told that there is a new medication right around the corner that will dramatically change things for the better? How often is this true?
The point is that before we rush to buy various types of medication, perhaps we should first attempt to change certain aspects of our daily lives that actually could have a dramatic impact in terms of reducing migraine frequency and intensity. This is what I am talking about in terms of migraine relief. But modifying behavior is difficult, and the businesses that market these medications are well aware of that fact. Work is often stressful and our obligations rarely take a break. It’s so much easier to just reach for the pill of choice when a migraine strikes.
But isn’t it sometimes necessary to take medication? What if a migraine strikes while at work or during an important event?
There are times when medication might be the only option. On the other hand, what if you’re the one able to reduce the migraine count by half? For example, let’s say that on average you suffer from ten migraines every month. That would mean that you suffer a migraine every three days. Chances are good that one or more of the episodes will occur during the work week.
Now let’s assume that you apply the DATA protocol and get the number down to five. Now, all of a sudden, the migraines occur about once a week. Could the episode fall on a weekday? It’s possible. But, even if it did, you have now cut down the absolute amount of needed painkillers or other methods of relief. What’s more important, the level of pain associated with the episodes might also be lower, negating the need for the painkillers in the first place. In other words, we have every reason to try an alternative.