Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Loss of Productivity During a Migraine Attack

Word from the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy is that headache disorders cost the United States more than $31 billion a year.

They are also accountable for nine percent of all United States lost labor productivity and The World Health Organization reports that Migraine alone is responsible for at least one percent of the total United States medical disability burden. Those of us with severe Migraine attacks and head pain are well aware of these figures, but how does Migraine and headache disorders affect our productivity on a personal level?

A Migraine can strike when we least expect it – while working, driving, sleeping, eating, and/or during our favorite activity. If we aren’t able to abort the attack quickly, it may linger for hours or even days. This puts a damper on our lives, our work suffers, our sleep is interrupted and plans or projects are have are temporarily put on hold. As I look around my house, I can see almost 11 years with of started projects – still not complete – because of my chronic head and neck pain.

Productivity loss has been an issue for me since the day I fell – almost 16 years ago. Pre-fall productivity for me included working, caring for my family, keeping up with my home, volunteering and teaching piano lessons. Somehow these things got accomplished and I’d have spare energy to quilt almost every day. I now long to paint my kitchen, volunteer, care for my family, quilt once a week and work as a patient advocate/educator simultaneously while not suffering additional pain and injury. Coping with these differences has not been easy for me, and some days are better than others. I’m not thrilled to be “fully disabled.” For me, on days like today, it means not productive.

Not being productive in my mind bores a hole deep into the core of who I am, or used to be. I find it frustrating when I’m not able to accomplish a task or project on a timely basis, whether in my personal life or online work, or to make matters worse, not at all. I remember back to pre-fall when this wasn’t an issue. Pre-fall my kitchen would be painted, the garage door opener would be installed, the stairs would be painted, my home would be completely decorated and the light switch in the attic stairway would be fixed. And that’s just on the inside.

So I will continue to make my “to do” list and attempt to get some things checked off. And try to be as productive as I can, within my limitations.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Melanie Symonds
    7 years ago

    Nancy, thanks for sharing your experience with frustrations caused by the loss of productivity that comes with living with chronic illness and pain. I still have to work to quell the voice in me that suggests I’m “just lazy” or “not willing work hard” because I’ve left things around the house undone again, or had to ask my husband to take on something I would normally do–even though I also know if I push myself too hard, I will aggravate or trigger a migraine attack, which only makes things worse.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk
    7 years ago

    “just lazy” “not willing to work hard” BINGO! How about this one “I’m a do-er, I just can’t not do something” that a quote – made me feel just great

  • Diana Lee
    7 years ago

    This truly is one of the hardest aspects of living with migraine disease to learn to live with. It’s nice to hear that so many other people can relate to this difficulty.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk
    7 years ago

    Thanks Diana. Productivity loss stinks….as you know!

  • Suzanne Johnson
    7 years ago

    Great article, it was & is so me. Even with a migraine (a non-puker that is) I try to do something so I feel productive. My go to chores are washing dishes, I find the water soothing and laundry, stuff you can leave in the dryer, towels, bedding, jeans. Rediculous I know but my way of feeling less than useless.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk
    7 years ago

    Thanks Suzanne. How lucky for you that you are a “non-puker” because I would rather chew glass than vomit! Good point about trying to do a little something to be productive, thanks!

  • Aaron Day
    7 years ago

    Hello Nancy, that was a great article. I think a lot of us that work, try to work, or have worked know how this loss of productivity affects not just our employers bottom line, but our moral (and our bottom line too!). Keep the to do list going and make the best of the clear days!

  • Nancy Harris Bonk
    7 years ago

    🙂

  • Andrea Rourke
    7 years ago

    I am luckier than most to have many people in my life who understand this. Thank you.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk
    7 years ago

    That’s so good to hear Andrea. Understanding can make all the difference

  • Linda Castellano
    7 years ago

    I am exactly like this above article, my to do list does not exsist it is not worth it, because I cannot commit.On my rare feel good days there is no room for me to do something I would love to achieve.I have to catch up on housework laundry clean the kithcen, bathroms and all those things that NEED to be done.And that’s it! I used to love to wash my car, mow the lawn, play golf, waterski, and I absolutely cannot do any of these things it hurts me but I have accepted this. But when I missed 2 weddings and my grandfather”s funeral that really hurt just as much as my migraine. Seriously who misses a funeral I was at the wake the night before and I am so emotional that I cried a lot and all that crying brought on my migraine and I was in bed for the whole next day. I will never forgive myself for this. I have missed more importatnt events during the last 20 years that I lost count I let a lot of people down and the guilt is overwhelming—I fortunately am very content at home and I NEVER make any plans for anything because it is too much. Of course certain events you cannot help Christmas, my kids birthdays and the rest and I worry more about being sick than I do about having a good time.This is totally not fair I am constanly scared that I will be sick and let my kids , family and friends down once again! I love life just not mine because of this disabilty it really ruins almost everything!

  • Nancy Harris Bonk
    7 years ago

    Hi Linda and Aaron, thanks so much for reading. Missing family events or any event that we are looking forward to it absolutely the pits. One day at a time seems to work best for me at these times.

  • Aaron Day
    7 years ago

    Linda, we know your pain. Missing the family events (regardless of the nature of the event) is painful, but those close to us understand, or at the least start to understand. My wife has seen me pass out from migraines, crawl to the bathroom because I don’t have the strength to get up and walk, and hide in my hole from everyone and everything. She use to think that migraines were a bunch of bull, but after knowing me, and seeing my condition worsen, she understands so much more. Keep moving on, forward is the only true path!

  • Poll