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Seeking relief, migraine patients turn to Acu-Stapling

A surgical staple gun is used to place a staple in Michael Coachman's ear at a specific pressure point. John Stennes / Forum Communications

For nearly 20 years, Michael Coachman of Larimore, N.D., has suffered debilitating migraines -- sometimes so intense, they affected his job performance at the Grand Forks Air Force Base.

Anything could trigger the attacks -- secondhand smoke, cats, weather changes, cheap perfume.

"There was no one set thing," he said. "I never knew what caused them."

The migraines struck three or four times a week. At their worst, he had 35 in one month.

"They were increasing to the point of disablement," he said.

On the advice of friends who've had it done, he decided to try Acu-Stapling, a service provided by Grand Forks chiropractor, Dr. Michael Waind, who also is an acupuncturist.

These friends have been "pretty much migraine-free," he said. Before treatment, they would often spend whole weekends in bed.

Waind has had patients from the region -- Carrington, Langdon, Grafton, Minto and New Rockford, N.D. -- come in for the procedure, mostly seeking relief from migraines.

He inserts staples in both ears, where they apply pressure to a specific reflexology point. He recommends keeping them in place for six months, at which point they can be replaced.

One of his patients has had the procedure done 11 times.

He charges $100 for Acu-Stapling and $50 for repositioning, he said.

The procedure has also been used to help with weight loss.

Coachman said his migraines would cause nausea; he wouldn't be able to eat and was very sensitive to light and sound.

"Your best friend is a dark room."

For years, he has combated the problem with medication and injections of Imitrex, a powerful drug that -- except for easing migraines -- isn't doing his body any good, he said.

"I know it wears on my body, on my heart."

He can feel the stress on his heart when he takes the medication.

"I'm still pretty fit, but if your heart goes, that's it."

He and others who suffer migraines take the drug because they feel they have no choice, "and anything besides (Imitrex) is really harsh," he said.

"People who have migraines will tell you it's the worst time to make a decision, any decision. There's a mental drain when you have them, and a physical drain."

His friend, LaVonne Parsons, of Larimore, said she's suffered from migraines most of her life, until she had the Acu-Stapling procedure.

They would start with pressure in the back of her neck that would creep up to her head and into her eye.

"That was typically followed by pain and nausea," she said. Over the past few years, they had gotten worse.

She'd take a pill for the pain, and her nausea would worsen.

"I knew the pain all too well, and I always hated when the weather changed," she said, which is "every five minutes here."

Five minutes after the procedure, she said, "I was without a headache for the first time in 26 years."

For the past three months, she has "not had any headaches, and it's been wonderful," she said.

Friends notice a change in her appearance. "They say they can tell, just by looking at my face, that I'm feeling a lot better."

She's glad she's not taking medicine anymore and that she's "not being laid up for three or four days at a time," she said.

"Dr. Waind is a superb person, and he knows what he's doing. I recommend it highly."