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.

Footer

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!

Footer

Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

 

National Migraine Awareness Month

June National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month

I’m sure you have heard of other National “insert illness” Awareness Months before. June is the awareness month for migraines and headaches. The goal is to raise awareness and recognition for migraine treatment, patients, and more.

As a migraine sufferer I know how hard it is to have other people understand what it’s like to live day to day with the constant pain of a headache or migraine. I understand how debilitating and lonely it can be. What gives me hope is knowing that there are millions of other people who want to raise awareness too. People who want to share their stories and join the fight to find new research and treatment options.

My migraine story started when I was in high school and have continued throughout my twenties. I don’t know if I will ever not have a headache or migraine but the odds seemed to be stacked against me. However, three new treatments options were released in 2018 so I have hope that something will be created that will help me.

If you are struggling with migraines or headaches, just know that you aren’t alone. There are millions of other people in the world who are also suffering which is why it’s so important to raise awareness. If we all stand together we have the opportunity to have our stories make an impact and bring about real change.

Migraines are an invisible illness. When you call in sick from work with a “headache” most people think you are lying or should suck it up. But for some people, including me, living with the constant head pain is reality. We are told that we look healthy and not chronically ill.

Well, this is what chronic migraine looks like. I drag myself out of bed every morning, brush my hair, and throw on enough makeup to look somewhat decent. I don’t feel good, I want to go back to bed, but I go to work and continue living my life the best I can. If I really don’t feel good I work from home or take a sick day. I know I’m lucky to work for an amazing company but I’ve heard other people’s stories about being fired for not being able to come into work.

This pain could ruin my life if I let it. I could stay in bed all day and feel sorry for myself. But I won’t. I’m out living my life and talking about how I feel. I want spread awareness. I want people to know that headaches are a real problem. I want doctors to find new treatment options. I want to be taken seriously.

I won’t let migraines ruin my life. Some days are better than others. Some days feel like the worst days of my life. But I know that things could be worse. I’m still able to work, own a house, be a dog/cat mom, and travel. Migraines make all of these things so much harder but it’s rewarding to know that I am able to overcome the pain most days and accomplish big things.

June 21st is the Annual Shades for Migraine Awareness Day led by the Association of Migraine Disorders. If you see people on social media posting pictures of themselves wearing sunglasses with the hashtags #shadesformigraines and #MHAM this is why. These people are sharing their support for the millions of people worldwide with migraines.

I’ll be wearing my sunglasses on June 21st. Will you?

Footer

Image via American Migraine Foundation

 

Five on Friday #10

ben-white-124298-unsplash.jpg

TGIF! It’s been a longggg week and now I’m going to have a busy weekend. Here’s to hoping I’m able to sleep in past 7:30 Saturday morning!

  1. The first airshow of my season (Brett’s already been to a couple) is this weekend. I don’t enjoy airshows that much but Brett loves them and it gives me a chance to do a ton of reading!
  2. Brett and I got a couples massage on Tuesday after work and it was really nice! He got me a gift certificate for Valentine’s Day and we finally found time to use it. The massage was at a castle that is right outside of our downtown area. We’ve had dinner their a couple of times and I went to a bridal show that they hosted but the massage was a new experience. It was really nice!
  3. It’s been a dream of mine since I was really young to write a book. I’ve been bouncing around this idea in my head for the last couple of years and I’m finally getting to work. I don’t think anything will come from it but it’s still fun to brainstorm.
  4. Every summer my city has an art fair downtown in the park across the street from where I work. The art fair starts today and I can’t wait to explore during lunch with my co-workers. My mom is meeting me downtown after work to walk around too. It’s great to be able to support local artists and businesses!
  5. June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month (MHAM). This month is special to me because I often feel isolated because of my migraines. During the month of June thousands of migraine patients come together to spread awareness for their disabling conditions. I’m planning to do a post about it soon because I’m passionate about advocating for my self and for others who also suffer.

Do you have any plans this weekend?

Footer

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash