My Story: Chronic Migraines & A New Life
Last updated: October 2012
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.
Have others downplayed your migraine pain?