Photo by Becca Sabot
Headache Nurse Clinician
Park Nicollet Neurology Department
A migraine sufferer came in to Frank’s clinic one Thanksgiving with a vomit bag in one hand and an ice bag in the other. As the research nurse on duty, Frank administered the drug being tested, Imitrex, and was astounded when the woman was headache-free an hour later, asking for Thanksgiving dinner. “I was seeing for the first time what a huge breakthrough these medications would be in my lifetime,” she says.
According to the World Health Organization, those living with chronic headaches are some of the most disabled patients in the world. Frank’s team at Park Nicollet Neurology was one of the first comprehensive headache teams in the nation. Since her first day in 1985, Frank has been a part of a revolution in treatments, from the overuse of narcotics—“patients would call with excuses to get more; I’ve seen patients be picked up by police”—and the medical acceptance of biofeedback and meditation to nonaddictive Imitrex and Topamax, and the injections Frank teaches patients to give themselves.
And lately, to Botox, just approved by the FDA to treat chronic migraine in 2010. “The results of Botox on headaches has been profound—no real side effects other than the fact that it lasts for only three months,” Frank says.
A long-time chronic migraine sufferer herself, Frank is perfectly suited to care for headache patients, whose pain is often only measurable by their own assessment. “I meet them where they are. I give them all I can while I am there. Even if they are sitting in front of me looking fine with blood pressure fine, I believe.
“And when I have one of my own migraines, I say, ‘My empathy level is really high.’”