SAN FRANCISCO -- A 13-year-old patient once came to Dr. Robert Cowan with an unusual request: She wanted to go to an amusement park and she needed him to talk her mother into it.
The mother assumed Cowan, a neurologist treating the girl for severe migraines, would take her side. Surely a day in the sun, riding roller coasters and sprinting around the park, would trigger a terrible headache.
"And I said of course she should go," Cowan said recently with a laugh. "And she went, and she got a headache, and she said it was totally worth it."
Cowan, director of Stanford University's new headache clinic, could relate to the girl. He has suffered migraines his whole life. Just two years ago, he risked a major headache to see an Eric Clapton concert. He understands all too well the choices "migraineurs" -- the word migraine sufferers often use to describe themselves -- have to make to live as normal and productive lives as possible.