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My Story: Chronic Migraines & A New Life

My name is Diana Lee, and I'm a 30-something married to a wonderful guy. We have adorable furbabies, Maisy and Felix, and a very happy life together. Oh, and I have chronic migraines.

I have had chronic migraines for about seven years. They have nearly taken over my life. I started having migraines when I was six years old, but until 2003 I had them only periodically and found it fairly easy to manage my life with them. My sure fire triggers were overheating and sun exposure, which ruined many a field trip and family vacation. I also began to notice that anytime something really exciting was going on in my life I usually got a migraine. Talk about a downer. Yes, I missed out on some really fun times in my childhood as a result of migraine attacks, but they never changed the overall course of my life. Until they did.

In 2003 I was a newlywed in my final semester of law school. I was preparing to graduate and spend the summer studying for and taking the bar, and, of course, looking for a job. I started having intense, unrelenting pain in my neck and more frequent and intense migraine attacks. At the time I assumed it was due to the stress and pressure of law school finals, graduation, studying for the bar exam and furiously hunting for the right job. I started avoiding things I'd always done, such as social drinking, hanging out with friends and reading for pleasure, because I felt bad almost all of the time and didn't want to do anything that might make things

In the fall of 2003 I started my first real job working as a lawyer in state government. It was my dream job, and I was thrilled to be doing what I'd dreamed of from the time I learned about that type of work. I felt certain I would begin to feel better since the stress of the bar exam and finding a job were behind me. As I worked hard to learn the ropes at my new job my migraines began to get worse and more frequent rather than improving. Eventually I found myself burning through my sick leave and napping in my office to make it through the day. I was so desperate for rest that I would shut my door, turn off the light and lie down on the floor using a jacket as a pillow to get some shut eye. Once my cell phone alarm went off I'd get up and try to pull myself together enough to function in the meetings I attended as the most visible part of my job.

After trying desperately to hang on to my job, it finally became clear it was impossible. While I have retained my law license, my life has completely changed. I am on Social Security Disability and Medicare. I write my blog and do other health advocacy work and a little pro bono lawyering. I don't go to an office or interact with coworkers. My pets are my only daily companions. Even though my life isn't what I thought it would be, I am a very happy person. I don't take anything for granted any more.

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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.

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