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If you miss school, you can’t go to the dance in the evening

If you miss school, you can’t go to the dance in the evening.
Growing up, I remember how excited we’d all get for those rare school dances. This started as early as third grade, I think–it wasn’t ’til junior prom that I attended dances where people actually danced, but that’s another story all together.

In the morning and afternoon announcements the days leading up to the Big Day, a teacher would consistently remind us that if we were absent the day of the dance, we would not be allowed on school property for the evening event. At the time, this rule bugged me a bit, but I couldn’t put words to why it didn’t seem fair. Always one for specifics, I could think of several different reasons why the school should make exceptions to this rule. (Truth be told, I did this any time there was a blanket, one-size-fits-all rule that was imposed on us.)

Today I feel crappy, plus Jim’s doctor reinstated his bed rest prescription. (Jim had a tonsillectomy over a week ago and was on the mend but, after some un-scary bleeding, he had to go back to squishy foods and no exertion. This means I’m his nursemaid.) There’s a lot going on in town today, too, things I don’t want to miss. My migraine-plus-cold situation means no Indie Craftstravaganza for me, no neighborhood party, and no neighborhood association meeting at 4. Earlier I was feeling too blah to take my Maxalt, worried that maybe this was a “normal” headache associated with my cold and not a migraine (though time has shown that this is indeed a migraine; just have to convince myself to stand up and walk to the bathroom to fetch the meds). Then I thought, “Well, even if the Maxalt does work, I won’t be allowed to go to the fundraiser party tonight. If I don’t make it to the neighborhood association meeting in the afternoon, I can’t go to the party in the evening.”

You can see why I thought of my days in school, listening to the teacher as she told us in a scolding voice that missing the day of the dance meant no dance.

Of course I know that, when they work well, migraine-specific medications can wipe out the attack and render the migraineur able to function somewhat normally within hours. That if Maxalt works as it does 65% of the time for me, I could rest at home for a bit and end up at the fundraiser party at 7 in top form.

But my neighbors don’t know that. I can’t help but think, “What will they say if I email to cancel my participation at the meeting and then show up at a party hours later? They’ll think I’m a faker!”

Of course this is an issue that’s faced by many chronically ill folks like me. What have your experiences been? I am wary of overexplaining the ins and outs of my illness to people (close friends and strangers alike), but I don’t feel comfortable showing up for a social function after having skipped the more boring duties earlier in the day.

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


  • agreenan
    6 years ago

    Although I have debilitating migraines that make being out in public misery I also have what I call minor migraines that just make me feel anti-social. Have been preparing for my first visit to Stanford’s Migraine Clinic and answering a very long questionnaire. It is helping me realize some things about the anti-social nature of migraines that affect my life. I have on occassion used my migraine symptoms as a means of getting out of doing things I don’t want to do. Not having the guts to have a confrontation about not wanting to do something I have just said, “I’m sorry, I have a migraine” when I actually don’t have one. Has anyone else done that? I feel guilty when I do that because I don’t want to just say no, I don’t want to do that.

  • shroomgirl
    6 years ago

    I have used migraines as an excuse to get out of situations I didn’t want to be in. For years I felt very guilty about this. But ~6 yrs ago I was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome and since then have come to realize that the migraines are very closely linked to the Aspergers. Stress is my main trigger and social situations stress me out big time! So I would often say I had a migraine to get out of them but I now believe that even if I hadn’t used them as an excuse I more than likely would have ended up with a migraine anyways!

  • Ricki
    6 years ago

    It’s hard not to over explain but then we do to ourselves what others have done to us. I try to just feel confident in saying something like “I’m so much better now, and I’m really happy to see everybody.”

    Some folks will feel honored that you made the effort. Those folks are your friends.

  • maxgordon
    6 years ago

    I can relate to your experiences fully. As with all “invisible” illnesses, migraines are magnets for self-righteous quidnuncs and quibblers, and I have spent far too much of my time having to “defend” myself against accusations. I had one friend—a doctor!—who said I was getting migraines to avoid being social, as if a nauseating, blinding, jack-hammering experience was a convenience. (We no longer speak.) Now that my son gets migraines, he has faced the same sort of finger pointing, but he has a staunch defender: me.

  • Christine Poynter
    8 years ago

    My son was ridiculed BY THE PRINCIPAL for being out of school for several days and then reported seen at a birthday party on the weekend “where there were strobe lights and everything” The principal, fortunately for me and unfortunately for him, exclaimed this to me in a condescending manner I hadn’t heard from him before. I of course took the opportunity to verbally rip his head off and anticipated taking the issue to the school board. But I believed his sincerity in realizing his opinion was developed from an ignorant, opinionated parent who relayed this information to him in such a way. I have forgiven him and hopefully we will not have that issue again. As a parent struggling to make adults understand a migraine is a constant and oftentimes an uphill battle against those who refuse to see it as anything but a headache. My son has been instructed by his physicians to play sports, enjoy being a kid as much as possible when his pain level is low enough to do so. Sometimes I really just want to punch a parent in the nose because as we know, those parents are the greatest influence on the opinions their kids develop. And that breeds misunderstandings and in some cases, bullies.

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