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College, Work and Migraines


I thought I would make a post on here since I have been reading the articles for over a year and have been struggling with school. I thought I would look for some support because today I've been feeling very depressed because of this. Even though it's nothing new, it never fails to get me down.

Now that I've been thinking harder about my childhood and the pain I experienced, I remember getting this kind of headache as a young child and it being normal for me. It wasn't until about middle school that they became chronic. My headache specialist suspects I grew up with abdominal migraine. I was born 3 weeks early and had colic, as well as other health problems growing up. In general I've always been a little sickly.

About junior year of high school was when I noticed something was truly wrong with me and that the constant pain was not something everyone else experienced too. I thought since headaches were so common that everyone must have a little bit of a headache, so I shouldn't complain. Many doctor visits and medications later I had sinus surgery in my last semester of high school, and fast forward even more to now, I've completed 1 year of college and I'm on my second year at different school (age 20).

Medications I have tried: several OTCs such as Naproxen, Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, Excedrin.. and these prescriptions (what I remember): rizatriptan, sumatriptan, imitrex, topiramate, nortriptyline, and gabapentin. I'm on gabapentin right now and it hasn't been working. I bought some feverfew capsules that I want to try if I get the ok from my specialist to get off the gabapentin.

So in a normal week, I am perfectly capable of doing my work in my own time, but actually getting to class is very challenging. Often I go to bed feeling sick and lose sleep, or like today I may have to leave school early. I've been in bed for hours with what I call "head nausea" and regular nausea. My headaches don't so much have me crying with pain as they have me wanting my head to throw up (and my stomach!). I constantly feel that I will never do well in life because society seems to be built on people working all the time to make money to live. I have never been able to hold a job or go to class consistently, except for in high school when it was required by law.

I know I could say more, but I want to ask some questions:

- If you had headaches during school, how did you cope with it? Did you have to do a gap year or anything? Did you finish a degree?

- If you are employed, how do you support yourself while also living with migraine? Are you self-employed or do you work for someone else?

Any words of support are very much welcome here. Thank you for taking the time to read.

  1. I should also mention what I take daily with dosages:
    - gabapentin (300mg)
    - vitamin D3 (2000iu)
    - riboflavin (250mg)
    - huperzine A (50mg)

    1. I feel your pain - my migraines started during my second year of University (UK so may be what you call College if you are in the US). I should clarify that i have severe rare migraine that causes blackouts, quite frequently triggered by the contraast of a bright PPT lecture and a dark theatre: I missed quite a few lectures, always had to get extensions for coursework, was actually made to take a few weeks out for R+R, was not allowed to complete my lab modules for safety reasons - not to mention multiple collapses that impacted on my peers and lecturers. However, the good news is that I graduated with a first class hons degree in my chosen field (without labs, but with an extra theory module to make up the credits). I never wanted to go into research anyway. If as you say you are capable of doing your work in your own time and you are able to get notes from lectures you miss (there is always an element of expected extended reading anyway), get extensions to help on days that you can't do the work at home then there should be no reason why you cannot complete a degree - just be open and honest with your lecturers/university etc and show that you are willing to go the extra mile. I feel that that is the trade off that we have to make for trying to live as normal a life as possible with migraine - we have to work damn harder than non-migrainers to get to the same places.
      Fast forward nearly 10 years since graduation and I am in my second job post-graduation - both of which are linked to my field of study. My HR department understands my condition and my higher than average sick days aren't held against me as anything migraines related is counted separately say from colds/flu etc. I still have blackouts and my HR dept has put in a system where I go home early and work from home or if something untoward happens in the office, I get placed in a small meeting room to recover - until I feel well enough to wend my way home; this minimises the need for paramedics/ambulances and hospital visits. Again, its tough as I still feel as though I have more to prove than my colleagues and so on'well' days I go above and beyond and even on minor migraine days I work through the pain. There are some weeks,despite having a 37.5 hr contract, i put in nearly 60 hrs. This may of course not be wise as it may end up in over exertion and a migraine down the line. I also try and socialise with colleagues, get involved with different projects and offer my time where I can so that I can be seen as a hardworker and a team player, rather than the person who constantly has migraines.

      Hope this helps you - - if you are still in school/college, you are far too young to give up hope and should still chase your dreams despite the adversity of migraine!😀

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