Migraines at work are not easy to manage. With my daily intractable ones I couldn’t manage them at work. My productivity was low. My absences high.
Here, however, is an article by Teri Robert on HealthCentral about working and migraines: Tips for Handling Migraines At Work
- She mentions things like: Anti-glare screens, a no scent work environment, keeping hydrated with water.
- She says to take your triptan at the first sign. Because as we all know, the earlier we take it the more effective it is. Assuming it is your triptan day, of course.
I have some additions I thought of that might help.
- Other things I would recommend are Axon Optics or Theraspecs glasses to help with photophobia in the work environment and those evil fluorescent lights.
- I believe people buy diffusers they carry around their necks for scents to help with migraines like lavender, or peppermint. Something like that may help at work.
- Finding somewhere where you can take a nap or do some meditation would also be very beneficial.
- Bring with you a migraine balm and magnesium oil you can apply when you feel an attack coming on.
They can’t in general ask these questions but if they could straight up ask you about your health they would want to know.
- Can they accommodate you in any way? A good employer will want to know if they can change their work environment in any way to accommodate you. A bad one will not ask or shut down every suggestion you have. Been there. You can for example ask for full spectrum Fluorescent lights. An office that says no to perfumes and such. Request an office without a window. As for a privacy cover for your screen to make it darker.
- Are you being treated effectively? You don’t have to discuss medical anything with an employer. But they may be curious because they want to know if you are having migraines or effectively managing migraines. I have been asked this on return from leaves, so they felt it was their right to ask me.
- Are you able to perform your job? This is what they really want to know. No matter your health, they want to know Are you going to Perform your Job. They will assess this as you work of course.
- Are you reliable? Another really important thing for an employer is reliability. Are you going to come to work and be present to do your job. This is another thing they will assess as you work.
- Do migraines at work interfere with your job in any way and is there a way around that? Sometimes a good employer will ask if your migraines are interfering with your work and if there is something that can be done to help with that. A change in how you work. A change in process.
One thing I have noted while working is that one company treated me quite poorly due to lack of the capacity to communicate properly with someone with a disability. It caused undue stress and emotional strain on me. It really is something people should be properly educated on. However, I was not reliable and I did have problems later with my performance and migraines were severely interfering with my job. Despite the fact there literally was never any accommodation offered, it is hard to say how to manage an employee who is literally too sick to function. You need reliable and dependable people on your team, and that person simply is not me.. I was quite sick and in pain there or not. My last employer offered the opportunity of going down to a less stressful part-time position. I thought this was appropriate and should have worked, yet, unfortunately it was still too much for me to handle and that is no fault on them. It was a compromise that seemed quite appropriate to me.
Therefore, there comes a time when we have to acknowledge we cannot do the work at all. Either go on disability. Or find work we are capable of doing. I personally am looking for work I can do from home quite ardently. We want to work. We push ourselves to. But we cannot always manage it in certain situations and environments. We need to find places that work for us. And work for our employer. When we do, then we can be all that more content with blending health and work together.
So I call from my insurance company asking for information they insisted they didn’t need in the first place, because they are that awesome. I should have got it in the first place, knowing who I am dealing with. But they also said my doctors clinic notes do not show sufficient evidence for disability.
And I wonder how that can even be. This is to show I cannot work. So setting aside the depression that caused two suicide attempts… set That aside. Set aside the FM. Then I have the daily intractable migraines that have never responded to any treatment at all ever.
I wonder if they comprehend what intractable means. It means nothing has been able to decrease Frequency or Intensity of my migraines. And I am Daily. As in every single day I go to work with a migraine of the intensity between a 7-9. And I am expected to drive. And I am expected to think and not make errors. To communicate despite aphasia. To remember despite brainfog and pain interfering with short term and long term memory. Hell I am expected to see and hear despite auras that actually make that pretty hard to do. I can take a triptan 2-3 out of those 7 days in a week so impossible to treat every work day, assuming they even worked all the time. Except I can’t even do that because my doctor explicitly told me to take them rarely due to the extreme adverse effects I get. But I do take them anyway when I am working, because I want the hell to be dampened slightly for a few hours and I will deal with breathing problems and chest pains… hell I’d welcome a heart attack. And I am unfortunately serious about that one, due to the whole suicidal ideation factor. I have lost 40 pounds due to nausea and vomiting. I get chest pains all the time because of the triptans, which I ignore.
But mostly, goddamn it all, it is the effing pain. It is the pain I can’t take all the time and work. The pain leads to lack of sleep, and sleep deprivation which makes the pain worse. And leads to waking up with a migraine or status migraines. Which leads to plummeting moods and suicidal ideation. And then more suicidal thoughts. Then suicidal intent and actions. It is a cycle I have repeated over and over and over. I wanted to stop it before it started. I was really struggling and I just wanted to stop it before I did something I couldn’t take back… is that so crazy? I get it, it is in fact crazy. But proactive. And understanding my own state of mind.
These guys have no idea of suffering. No idea how close to the edge we can be because of it. I have no idea what ‘evidence’ they are looking for. 2 chronic pain conditions apparently isn’t sufficient. Depression causing suicide attempts… not sufficient. You know what message that sends to someone who had depression with suicidal ideation? Yeah that message.
So being as that pushed me right into my dark place I have to spend the night on some work my psychologist gave me. Deciding between rational thoughts and distorted thoughts. Like my instance company is a douche bag and their ‘specialist’ aka a nurse, isn’t a specialist in anything… a rational thought. That the only way to ever end this and the pain is to kill myself, no insurance company, no work, no pain. Distorted thought.Well True, but not the Only way… one effing hopes that is. FFS this is an ongoing nightmare of mine. Everyone of my Actual specialists say I cannot work. This is the most idiotic process ever designed. So anyway, I’ll end this point while I go think non-suicidal things and work on my suicidal ideation worksheet.
I used to work with a lady with episodic migraines. She would leave work when she had one. And everyone would get this. Accommodate that. Understand it. It is a migraine, you can’t work with it.
There I was with chronic migraines, working right along with her. Unable to go home when they struck. God forbid I missed a day for a severe one even I couldn’t function with.
I get the double standard. I had chronic pain, I had to suck it up. Function. Be there. Just do it. Pretend I was cool with that. Pretend it wasn’t extremely difficult and painful. That it wasn’t giving me suicidal thoughts.
And then there is this…
High frequency migraines and chronic migraines have the same Impact. On Income, Employment, disability. Increases in anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder. Higher rates of chronic pain, asthma, heart disease and stroke.
We have extreme problems functioning in the work place and it affects our capacity to work which leads to compromises in hours, jobs and whatever we can do and then as a result our incomes suffer. Eventually many of us, those that are daily for sure, find we cannot work at all. And I find a hard time understanding why this is surprising to anyway. Not when everyone knows a run of the mill person with an episodic migraine would Never be expected to work in that pain, nausea, sensory overload, neurological dysfunction. Do they imagine we have a ‘different’ migraine, because we do not. All we have is a way to mask the pain.
Those who can work often find a perfect niche that allows the perfect flexibility, environment and pay for them to be able to function enough to handle it. Others have to work and have no choice in the matter, and they suffer greatly doing so. Others can handle the frequency they are at with the medications they are on… in other words they are not intractable, so have some results from a medication that helps with intensity or frequency.
Some of us are intractable. Some of us have daily migraines. In what world does working make sense with those two facts?
How long do you persist with working through pain? It is a question I ask myself all the time. There are a lot of factors to consider and I grasp them all. There is income stability. There is the factor of work helps with isolation, the sense of productivity and is emotionally and mentally beneficial. We feel good when we work. But then there is the chronic illness. The pain.
Continue reading “The disability question”
I missed work for a 9 level migraine with nausea and vomiting, hearing loss and auras. It was the infamous menstrual migraine. Day three of it. Day two of the straight migraine I am having. Two days of brutal pain, vomiting and being non-functional.
Continue reading “There is no winning here”
This recent survey results discuss how people with migraines are reluctant to inform employers about them or tell them that is why they missed work.
Of those who missed work, just 42 percent said they told supervisors the truth that migraines and headaches were the cause. The reason? Most think their bosses/instructors don’t consider headaches or migraines a valid reason for being absent Reuters
And they are right to think that. When I call in sick, which I will for migraines with severe digestive issues (horrible diarrhea and vomiting), severe vertigo or 9 level pain… they still want me to come in when it is done. Like an hour later. Like an Hour Later. I want to say this is going to last 8 hours to 3 days. Generally 8-10 hours for me, sometimes 12-48 hours. No one hour show for me. Yet I force myself to go in. I take whatever medication I can and just force myself to do it, facing whatever hell that will be. Because I miss too much work. Because they do not comprehend a migraine and all the symptoms that go with it.
While most managers (57 percent) view migraines as a good reason for missing work, 38 percent were less amenable, saying migraines either only sometimes justify calling in sick or don’t justify it at all. Managers were even tougher on headaches: While 43 percent responded that headaches could be severe enough to justify calling in sick to work, 53 percent said “no” or “sometimes” to the issue.Reuters
The poll revealed gender differences among those who missed work or school, with 67 percent of men surveyed staying home one day or more in the three months leading up to the survey, compared to just 44 percent of women. Even though men were more likely to miss work or school, they were less likely to be upfront with their employer or instructor about the reason. The poll shows that 60 percent of men did not mention their headache or migraine to their boss or instructor while most women—54 percent—did tell the truth.
I am upfront about my migraines with my employer due to the fact they are chronic migraines. I know they will have an impact whether I will or or not. Whether I want it to or not. So they need to know. Just a fact. I don’t care if they know about my other health conditions but I don’t talk about them because they have little to no impact. FM for example can flare up horribly but I’ll be at work… it isn’t the same sort of pain and therefore one I can ‘think’ through. And at a non-physical job one I can adapt to to some degree, but not to say it isn’t painful and I don’t have issues with the pain and other aspects, just that I have taught myself to ‘get through it’. Certain levels of migraines I endure because I Must, and some I just Cannot.
- Men and women experience different types of pain. Twice as many women as men in the poll reported that they suffer from migraines (17 percent of women vs. 8 percent of men), while more men in the survey reported missing work for tension headaches (38 percent of men vs. 31 percent of women).
- Migraines and missing work. The leading reasons people gave for missing work were migraines (37 percent), followed by tension headaches (35 percent), cluster headaches (10 percent), sinus headaches (10 percent) and other types of headaches (6 percent).
- Personal experience counts. Those who experienced headaches and migraines themselves were more likely to say they personally feel a headache or migraine can be severe enough to justify calling in sick to work.
The one thing I hate about chronic migraines is that I can’t miss work for a migraine anymore. I used to know a lady with episodic migraines and she would miss work when she got them. Everyone was accommodating and understood. It is a migraine after all. But when you have chronic migraines, you miss work too much so it is not seen the same way. They doubt. They wonder. Why do you get that many? What is wrong or different? They are not so accommodating. Even though you are not missing work for Every migraine just the out of control pain migraines or out of control symptoms. You don’t get to miss work for a migraine. ‘Just a migraine’ is just another day. That is what I hate. It is not a pain that is meant to be functioned through and the neurological symptoms can be really messed up.
So I am not missing work for a migraine. I am going to work with a migraine every damn work day. I am missing work for a mother trucking migraine. The mother of all migraines. To have a employer not get that is not fun. I wish they had a taste of it. Just one day of the worst migraine every, with the combo platter of symptoms. I would want they to work through it and tell me how they ‘feel about that’.