Working My Way Back into Old Triggers (and Perhaps Some New Ones)

For the last six years I have worked in the Oil & Gas industry. I am a multi-craft tradesman, which has allowed me to work almost continually depending on the needs of my company at the time. While working as a pipe fitter and a welder presented their own sets of migraine triggers. I am also an Instrumentation fitter working on high pressure hydraulic systems.

Current work

For the past year, I have been working in an office handling payroll and tracking material ordering, receiving and tracking inventory kept on hand. While this has provided its own set of migraine triggers due to the added stress of helping keep the jobs moving forward, it at the same time has removed most of the environmental triggers such as noise, heat and weather in general. It has been easier on my body in general.

Change of work

In the relative near future, I will be transitioning back out to traveling to work on rigs doing repair work. These rigs will be in the field typically already operational in drilling for oil or natural gas whatever may be in the area where they are located.

Different triggers

This will be much different from the manufacturing of these rigs, which is what we currently do where I am currently working. Here, the rigs are all new and relatively clean. In the field, the rigs run off of either diesel or electrical Hydraulic pressure units which generate a ton of sound in excess of 160 decibels. That noise is added to the sounds of drill pipe clanking around and then the presence of drill mud with its own very unique unpleasant smell. Combining all of this and more, you basically find yourself right back in the middle of tons of triggers; which I have been avoiding for quite some time.

Another concern I have for getting back out there is the distance to the next rig I will be sent to is over 1600 miles away (a 3200-mile round trip). I don’t mind driving, but it does present its own challenges. It means driving for long hours in direct sunlight which has been a cause of migraines for me in the past.

The unknown

The worry I have at the moment is that there is no way to know exactly what environment I’ll be working in until I get to the job site. They may still be performing drilling operations. If they are, there will be an entirely new set of very loud noises to contend with. If they are in a rig down situation, there will undoubtedly be standard rig maintenance operations being performed which will likely include rig hands working all over the rig with paint chipping hammers that run pneumatically. There is no way to know until I get to the rig, 1600 miles away from home.

Ultimately, my only course of action will be to make sure that I take plenty of my medications with me so I can at least combat the migraines when they occur. The benefit will be that none of my migraine medications make me drowsy, so they will not affect my ability to get the job done.

Have you ever found yourself faced with a situation where you knew ahead of time you would be exposed to triggers you preferred to avoid? If so, what precautions did you take to help minimize the effects?

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