How I Manage Working with Migraines

working with chronic migraine

One of the most popular questions that I get about having chronic migraine is how I manage to hold down a full time job. In honor of Migraine and Headache Awareness Month I thought I’d share a few ways I have learned to manage working with migraines.

I have been working consistently since I was 17, so almost 10 years. I worked all the way through college, excluding the few months that I studied abroad in London. After my college graduation I found my current role and have worked here for almost 4 years.

Working isn’t easy and I’ve really struggled to balance everything. 2018 was my worst year by far and I really considered taking FMLA. However, I am very fortunate to work at a company with unlimited sick days. They truly care about me as a person but I never want to take advantage of their generous sick leave policy.

Here are a couple of ways that I manage working with migraines.

  1. Open communication. My co-workers know that I have migraines. They have asked me questions and we have discussed them at length. Having them know makes me feel a million times better because they can tell just by looking at me if I’m having a rough day. It’s easy to talk about and I don’t feel overwhelmed trying to act “normal”.
  2. Working from home. Again, I am extremely lucky to work for a company that values me and my individual needs. I am able to work from home whenever I need to. Sometimes the biggest trigger for me is just waking up. I wake up and feel like I’ve been run over by a bus and there’s no way I can drive to work. I always have the option to work from home and take the day at my own pace.
  3. Taking frequent breaks. I work at a computer all day and even with blue light glasses my eyes get fatigued which causes me to have a headache. I make sure to take frequent breaks to re-fill my water, talk to a co-worker, or walk around the building. Working from home is nice because I can walk outside and sit on my deck or snuggle with my puppy for a few minutes. Taking breaks is super important for everyone!
  4. Planning ahead. I am always ready for a migraine. I have all of the essentials at home, in my purse, in my car, and at my desk. It depends on the level of migraine I’m having but sometimes I am able to work through them if I catch them soon enough. My migraine essentials include electrolyte water, caffeine, magnesium, and an abortive medication if needed.
  5. Sick days. As I mentioned, my company has unlimited sick days and while I never want to take advantage of those day I still appreciate them. My mindset on sick days is that I’m going to have a migraine no matter what. It’s not going to go away and I’m not going to get “better”. If I can work through my migraine I will but sometimes I really do just need to lay in bed all day with my ice cap on. These are the days I will take a sick day and just focus on myself. I appreciate these unlimited sick days more than anything.

I know that I am extremely lucky to have the job that I have. I work hard and put a lot of pressure on myself but I always know that my team has my back with whatever I need. I have heard so many horror stories from the migraine support group that I’m part of where people have lost their jobs or have had to go on disability because of their migraines.

It is hard to balance everything and there’s no right or easy way to balance work with any type of health condition. I have had my fair share of struggles and an embarrassing amount of tears while surrounded by co-workers. At one point I thought I’d have to quit because there was no way I’d be able to face them again but I did.

If you are struggling just know that you are not alone.

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Photo by Corinne Kutz on Unsplash

 

Migraine Update: Rebound Headaches & Caffeine

Chronic Migraine

It’s been a couple of months since my last migraine update where I decided not to try Amiovig and instead work on diet and lifestyle changes. The past couple of months have been weird for everyone but it’s given me plenty of time to work on my next plan of attack for my migraines.

In honor of National Migraine and Headache Awareness month, I thought I’d share another update.

Since I’m at home with nothing better to do, I decided it’s the perfect time to wean myself off of my abortive medicines. I’ve been in an endless cycle of rebound headaches for the last few years and this was the perfect time to break the cycle. This has meant days of extreme pain but I know it’ll be better for me in the long-run.

I have also been experimenting with my caffeine and magnesium intakes. I don’t drink coffee so my caffeine intake is typically zero but I’ve started drinking Sparkling Ice + Caffeine waters which have 70 mg of caffeine per can. I do think it helps, especially if I drink one during lunch which is typically when I start to get another headache. I also take at least 250 mg of magnesium a day. I take mine at night and I’m planning on gradually increasing my intake as needed.

I’ve also weaned myself off of the Keto diet. I really did like it and do think that it helps my migraines. I want to go back to a full Ketogenic lifestyle soon! I was just having a hard time staying on track during quarantine. We are only going grocery shopping every 2-3 weeks so it was hard to maintain eating only fresh veggies and meat. We also had a hard time finding eggs which was a staple for me!

The biggest change for me has been working from home everyday. Not going into work has helped my pain so much. I think the stress of driving and being “on” all the time didn’t help with my headaches and migraines. Being home is so much more relaxing and I’m able to rest when I need to without feeling like a failure.

Brett and I have talked about trying to start a family in the next couple of years and I know that I have to take better care of myself if I have any hopes of being able to have a baby. I can’t be in constant pain and be taking so much medicine. That’s been my main motivation because I know it will take time.

I have a couple of other migraine related posts for this month. There is so much going on in the world right now. So much that it almost feels wrong to continue sharing my journey. I know that this is also important though. I know there are millions of others struggling everyday with headaches and migraines.

Thanks for reading!

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Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

 

Migraine & Headache Awareness Month

National Headache and Migraine Month

June is National Migraine & Headache Awareness month.

In June, the migraine and headache communities come together to raise awareness and recognition of migraines and headaches as debilitating diseases. June is also a time to encourage people suffering in silence to find a specialist or a doctor to help them. It’s a month to talk about current treatment options and new ones that are being created. It’s a time to celebrate how far the community has come in the past few years.

One of the hardest parts about having chronic migraines is feeling alone and misunderstood. I really struggled trying to fit in while being in constant pain until I found the migraine community. Now I feel like I have people in my life who understand how I’m feeling and who I can turn to with questions.

I wrote about my migraine story in 2018 and a lot has changed since then. The biggest thing that has changed is that I learned to advocate for myself. Instead of staying with a neurologist who pushed the same medication over and over I found a new neurologist who actually listens to me. I have so many more treatment options and I feel like a whole new world has been opened up to me.

I have put so many medications and treatments into my body in hopes of treating my migraines. I have had horrific side effects and have been sick for months because of these medications. I’ve gained weight, lost weight, and felt really crummy. I’ve tried diets, physical therapy, and different doctors. There is no cure but there is always hope. 

I’ll be talking about migraines and headaches a lot this month. I never expected to find a migraine community through blogging but I have. Blogging about my migraine journey has been really beneficial for me and I hope I’ve been able to help others know that they are not alone in this.

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Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash