July 20th, 2011
04:00 PM ET
9 years ago

Leading migraine specialist's take on Bachmann


Washington (CNN)
- When it comes to GOP presidential contender Michele Bachmann's history with migraine headaches, there is a lot to learn.

Migraines are a mysterious affliction. Not unlike most presidential candidates, they often start with a unique aura. They tend to be cerebral and are inevitably one-sided. And also like the range of candidates in a field, they run the spectrum.

Leading migraine treatment specialist and neurologist Dr. Joel Saper told CNN, "The headache migraine runs the gamut from being so mild you hardly know it's there, to being so severe you can't get out of bed."

In the event of a Bachmann presidency, one aspect that would differ from her current lifestyle of rank and file member of Congress, is increased medical access. As president, she would have medical care available at all hours of the day and night, and catching migraines early are crucial to mitigating their fury. With a doctor on hand is key, per Saper, "At the first sign of a headache coming on, they're going to be Johnny-on-the-spot with whatever works for that headache."

However, that is assuming she responds to treatment, and a very small number of migraine sufferers do not. Saper said, "There are people that don't respond to treatment no matter how good the doctor is or how good the treatment is, that person just doesn't get better. It's beyond our science."

As for whether a migraine affects one's lucidity and decision-making, Saper said, "It's a rare patient that can't think straight. That can't do anything. It's not your typical migraine patient. And I would just suggest that until we have more information, we've got to be careful not to overstate this."

In the Daily Caller piece that broke the story, the headline contained the diction "heavy pill use alleged." Saper says that again, it depends on the patient and is a very rare case in which prescribed medication impairs a patient. Some do take narcotics, and it can be a difficult process to find the right medication. However, for most of the difficult cases on his docket, with proper treatment and medication, a patient's "life is restored."

Even though he does not "carry a flag for Bachmann," he sees tying her to the extreme cases he treats is "the dangerous part of this story, that they're putting her into the extreme category of people that are strung out on drugs, compromised more often than not, isn't capable of being president." He added, "From what we know right now … that's unfair. Now, maybe that's all true but we don't know that yet right now. … We need to validate it a bit."

And he puts that onus on Bachmann. "I do think she has an obligation to tell people that look to her to be president what the truth is about her medical condition, just like we'd want anybody to divulge before we elected them. Do they have a fatal illness? Do they have an illness that's going to make them demented in three years?"

He continued, "Then they have a need to tell us. I think at some point Ms. Bachmann needs to tell us those things and then we can draw those conclusions based upon what we know is factual. We don't know that right now."

Unprompted, he questioned the fairness to women in the tone of the Bachmann/migraine narrative because they afflict three women for every man who comes down with them. Yet it was the disability angle of the tone of the story that seemed to most concern Saper. "We, in the headache treatment community fought too hard to bring legitimacy to this illness. And we don't want to see people smeared because they suffered from it, unless there's good reason for it."

Filed under: 2012 • Michele Bachmann • TV-John King U.S.A.
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Al-NY,NY

    Unless the Minnesota headache inducer tells what medicine she takes, than we will assume it's the hard-core stuff and is afraid to reveal her sources.....(Rushbo).

    July 20, 2011 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. Mikey

    So they think they can pray the gay away, but she can pray her headaches away? Perhaps God doesn't approve of her un-Christian attitude toward her fellow man and is punishing her for her lack of compassion? LOL

    July 20, 2011 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  3. AndreLinoge

    She probably gave herself a headache trying to reconcile her insane beliefs with reality. No pain killer can help with that.

    July 20, 2011 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    Let's make something very clear: NOBODY REALLY CARES. She gets occassional migraines. Whoopty-doo. I'll tell yah what will be lost in the "news" media's ratings war sensationalization of it: Dems are NOT focused on it as a reason that she shouldn't run or isn't fit for the office and the first Dem to slip up and try to use it should be reminded to cut the crap. Moreover, Dems are certainly not encouraging the "news" media to spend so much time using it as a weapon of mass distraction to shift focus away from Bachman's imbecilic policy positions and ideological rhetorical pandering and blather in order to prop her up as "legitimate." If you think this is the "liberal lamestream media" attacking her, think again. She's being given a big fat boost by having attention diverted away from her hypocrisy, her undereducated, ignorance-worshipping knee-jerk Teatroll policy positions and the fact that she has yet to say a single thing of susbtance about the issues facing the country, as opposed to rattling off soundbite talking points like a wild-eyed trained robot parrot...not to mention this migraine thing being a big fat set-up by her campaign to provide her with a victim card..."oh woe is me, the media has been after me ever since they attacked me over my medical condition"...yeah...see how quickly that starts becoming a refrain if she gets asked some tough questions during an interview or debate and flops on the answers.

    Bachman is not fit to be POTUS because she's a rabidly vapid ideologue and an undereducated, underinformed tool of the wealthy and corporate America. Stay focused. Make no mistake – it has NOTHING to do with her migraines and they don't deserve ANY discussion.

    July 20, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    She's been bombarded by the truth and it hurts.

    July 20, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  6. ABM

    This is plain stupid. She is looking for sympathy.

    She is a joke.

    July 20, 2011 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. Me

    A normal headache, no big deal. But migraines are another beast altogether. They are incredibly disabling, even in the short term. As much as Iove President Obama, if he announced he suffered from migraines that required hospitalization, as Bachmann has revealed, I couldn't vote for him.

    July 20, 2011 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. Sandy

    Oh who cares. We know she's not going to be POTUS anyway.

    July 20, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. fayse

    Michele Bachmann is a migraine.

    July 20, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  10. sammieb51

    So now her excuse for being galactically stupid is she has migraines? I somehow think her absolute inability to grasp the fundamental facts about this great country, our history, our varied cultures, lifestyles, religions, the spirited banner we carry to the world "give us your hungry, your tired, your poor .... yearning to be free" will be more of her undoing than anything else. And she is a woman used to taking "orders" for her fundamental direction FROM HER HUSBAND - is he going to tell her how to rule the country and the world too? Who's to say he's not?

    July 20, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. FM

    Let us be serious folks. The POTUS job is not anyone can take so lightly. It needs one to be physically and mentally fit. This lady will undergo all required check ups. If she is not fit for the job, we will all know and not only hearing from her alone, what she wants us to hear, or what she wants to convince people she is!

    July 20, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  12. GI Joe

    What meds? What side affects of those meds? Otherwise, drop it.

    It does, however, give her an excuse when she can't take what's happening - she will claim "migraine" to garner sympathy.

    She's an idiot, with or without headaches. There's plenty of reason to not want her in or near the WH, but this has to be the lamest yet.

    Lay off.

    July 20, 2011 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  13. Joe

    The game is just started and she has got a migraine already? How about when the going get tough, let's say a 2:am call or a tough negotiation.

    July 20, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  14. Marie MD

    This flake is just as bad as the forgotten one from AK. If her migraines land her in the hospital and if she gets them once a month she would have to relinquish power to her vp one time too many.not thatbshe will ever be elected. She left Iowa and lives and is a politian in MN!!!
    Cnn didn't post my warning that this woman is in bed (she has spoken in front of his worshippers) with bradkey dean, the minister of you can run but you can't hide who preaches that gays and lesbians should be jailed and executed. I think the kast time the world heard this was from hitler!!! She must be really be frustrated with big boy marcus!!!

    July 20, 2011 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  15. Joe

    The party is just startd and it's already over for Bachmann. Migraineeeeeeeeeeeeeee, leave me alone.

    July 20, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  16. Ninja

    You'd have migraines too if you were schizophrenic and living a lie.

    July 20, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |