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How do people work a Full Time Job with Migraines?

I have a fairly good job in London 9-5.30 5 days a week in an office environment. 7 months ago I moved closer to London to reduce my commute (and hopefully the stress of the commute) to give me a better balanced life and improve my migraines. However they seemed to increase, I am currently now allowed to work from home 1 day a week as being out of the office (less noise and no bright lights, as well as no stressful commute which 1 hour each way) seem to improve my migraines. However I am still suffering with 2-8 attacks a month.

My attacks often but not always start in my shoulders and neck and travel up my head where I feel a lot of pressure (I try pressing pressure points on my head to prevent an attack it can sometimes put it off for an hour or so) they stay mainly at the back of my head and left side then travel round the front to the right side. The pain often also includes ‘Ice pick/lightning strike pains’ through my head. I have bad light sensitivity at the attacks worst and terrible nausea – although I have never actually been sick.

I take Sumitriptan on the onset of a migraine if I am at home however the side affects mean I cannot take these at work, so stick to Ibuprofen or a high dose of Asprin which sometimes can put off the pain til I get home and get in a dark room (by then its too late to take Sumitriptan as I have to take within the first 2 hours).

I have tried Propanolol which caused me to have breathing issues and swollen arms/legs – I ended up in hospital for 2 days.

I practice yoga 1-2 times a week, and try to go to the gym or run 1-2 times a week as I am maybe a bit overweight (5ft 4 and size 16) and feel if I am healthier it may improve my migraine attacks.

I have seen a Migraine Specialist (nearly 2 years ago when they initially got really bad) he basically agreed I had migraines and said there’s nothing I can do but Trial and Error with medication/keep a food and migraine diary etc. – no help?


This is really affecting my day to day life, I avoid social situations due to noise and the busy atmosphere, the stress of getting to and from somewhere. Plus if I do make plans they are usually cancelled due to having a migraine and needing to stay in a dark room. My weekends I pretty much spend at home ‘Resting’ and doing light exercise to give me a good start for the week ahead at work as I want to try and work a full 5 day week with no sickness.

My work situation at the moment – I have had 11 bouts of time off (1-2 days each time) within 5 months. My Manager is pretty understanding and despite asking me to work a full 5 days in the office because I moved closer to London (I previously did 4 days in the office 1 day a week at home for over a year which dramatically improved my migraines). Since late December I am now doing 1 day a week at home temporarily, however 4 days in the office now seems unbeareable and I come home from work in pain and stressed and often end up off sick. I have come to the conclusion if the pain is above 7/10 or I cannot open my eyes then I need to stay at home in the dark. But this seems to be a good 30-40% of my week.

How do people cope with working a full time job with migraines?

Have you had to cut back hours or change jobs?

I am now at a point where I will try anything to stop or cut back my migraines (I am getting my Daith pierced this weekend and now looking into Optic Nerve Injections) – if anyone has any advise on these.

I feel like I need to drastically change my lifestyle/job/situation just to try and lead a somewhat normal life – yet I love my job and don’t want to leave (if they will still keep me with all of my sickness days!) I’m still young at 27 I feel like this cant be my situation for the rest of my life?

Any advise is welcome – please help!

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Comments

  • Patrick
    2 years ago

    I have migraines, done with pain and some work just aura, at least 3 times a week. I work an average of 56 hours a week, and it is very trying. There are times when I’m running a meeting, or in an important conversation, and the aura causes me to loose the ability to speak coherently. I work from home about twice a month because of pain, but I’m still in front of a computer for 10+ hours those days so it doesn’t help.

    Long story short, I feel your pain, but I’m not sure there is an answer. Disability pays very little, and I have a family. It really is a rough go, and it’s been over 21 years for me now.

  • Mishia
    2 years ago

    I can completely relate. I have had migraines the past 30 years, been on anti-depressants, every type of migraine med, all sorts of diets and restrictions, exercise programs, doctors, etc. I have worked full-time since 16 years old. It is sort of like suffering in silence when you are working full-time, afraid to lose your job/income because of lack of understanding. I stepped down from a Director position, quit my job for 4 months because of the inability to even take earned vacation time. I was literally and physically falling apart from the commute, job, and home life. I had to do it, quit the job and take a break.
    I am back to work in a lesser position with a different company and still manage to make the same amount of money. It started out as a nice job working 40 hours a week and not too much stress. That was a year ago. Now I work close to 50 hours a week and am denied one vacation day off because we are too busy.
    I don’t have a lot of advice except to put a lot of value in your time off and take care of yourself when you can. Most of us have to work for the income to support our families. Don’t feel bad about having to stay home in off work hours to take care of yourself. I have responsibilities at home migraine or not, daily things must be taken care of on my part no matter what. I cherish the moments when I have an hour at night to detox before going to bed…the beloved ice pack or heated rice bag on my neck! Rest is very important along with good quality sleep, stick with the yoga, maybe think about a good chiropractor who specializes in migraine.
    I am currently searching for a flex-job, either more flexible hours or telecommute. Less stress seems to play a big role in the migraine frequency.
    Best of luck to you!

  • magdalaina
    2 years ago

    I had a similar situation. For three years I worked at home with the approval of my admin. in the third year a new person came on and demanded i work in the office. Fluorescent lights are a major trigger. I tried to make him understand but he would not budge. I had to take early retirement or be fired. I had worked there just short of 20 years.
    It cost me close to 200.00 a month to do that, but he would have made my life more hellacious than it was with migraines.
    I empathize with you. It is awful to work in a toxic environment.
    Safe paths.

  • Bellaboo
    2 years ago

    So sorry you are experiencing this. I’ve been dealing with migraines most of my life. I’m 61. i have a chronic headache most of the time and lots of pain I would call a migraine. Been through the mill with different doctors. I have found, though I know not good for you, that if I take a low dose of imitrex, usually half of a 100 mg before bed I wake ok. This is the only way I can keep working. Used to do it with Excedrin but rebound was worse. Watch what you eat, and stay away from alcohol.
    It’s not easy. Good luck.

  • NanUSA
    2 years ago

    After suffering a lifetime of migraines since age 10, I feel for you. My migraines worsened following 2 accidents over 10 years ago to the point I am on total disability. The barometric pressure changes trigger my worst migraines. Eating hot dogs or meat with preservatives, bananas, or anything with sulfites or nitrates are huge triggers. The best preventative I have found is Naratriptan — it is stronger than frova or immitrex. Gingersnaps for nausea is the best thing I have found to settle my stomach. Ice packs on the back of my neck and on whichever side of my face or head the pain is in helps the most. Peppermint oil in a diffuser also helps with nausea and pain. Peppermint, eucalyptus, menthol or lavender oil in a balm of coconut oil on temples and face sometimes helps. Finding a job in which you can be your own boss and not be fired is the best advice I can give you. After 10 years of working with a migraine specialist, I am going to try acupuncture and then will look into nerve decompression surgery. If those do not work, I am moving to Arizona, which has the lowest amount of rainfall in the U.S. The other thing worth a try is to get a small oxygen tank and breathe oxygen when getting an attack. This helped me in the ER once but since insurance will not pay, have not tried at home yet. I may pay out of pocket and try this. Good luck living in rainy London as a migraineur.

  • AlizaR26
    2 years ago

    I highly recommend Cefaly as a preventative measure. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a small electrode device that you wear on your head for 20 minutes per day. I had tried Propranalol, and when that stopped working, I started Nortriptyline and gradually increased my dosage to the max. That plus allergy meds helped a bit, but when I started using Cefaly, I went from about 5 migraines per week to just 2 per week. I know that still sounds like a lot, but they’re milder and the sumatriptan works faster now when I need to take it. Best of luck to you!

  • CathyinPain
    2 years ago

    I can really relate. I work 30 hours a week and have a boss that is very supportive. I have about 1 migraine a week but they stretch out sometimes 3 to 4 days long. It is now very difficult to work those 30 hours. I started having migraines at 14 years old and am now 58. My drs. all have told me they should have gotten better with age. I guess, not in my case. I have gone through so many tests and drs. and still no relief. The last thing I tried was Botox which didn’t work for me. Now I am at a pain management facility where all they can do for me is prescribe my Imitrex and Norco. To tell you the truth, I have had a better outlook knowing that I don’t need to keep reaching for the next specialist. I have been trying to come to terms with this as MY normal.

  • Anne
    2 years ago

    When my migraines were at their worst I had to take a job that I was able to do during a migraine attack. I took the train, so if I was dizzy I would still be able to make it to work. I have been working with a good neurologist – I’ve gone through plenty of unhelpful ones – and am down to one to two migraines a week (which is great for me). I’m on Nadolol as a preventative, magnesium, butterburr, B vitamins, D vitamins and take Relpax when I get an attack. The Relpax takes away the pain, but not the fatigue. Last year, I had really bad nerve pain which made it hard to walk. But that’s gone now. My migraines are turning around and I’m able to exercise again. Migraines fluctuate, so it won’t stay the same forever. I try to just do my best and be kind to myself. If you have to cut back, then cut back. I can’t argue with my migraines – when they’re with me, they’re in charge.

  • Hope
    2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your story. My headaches used to frequently start in my shoulders and neck and travel to my head. As part of my treatment plan, my neurologist prescribed physical therapy sessions to address the spasms in my shoulders and neck. I’ve been seeing a physical therapist for several months, generally twice per week. I’m fortunate that my company provides this service on site at no additional cost. These 30 minute sessions where she works the muscles and joints in my shoulders and neck have greatly reduced the frequency of headaches that start in my neck and shoulders. At my worst I had a headach for 32 consecutive days. Now, I enjoy 8-10 headache free days per month. If you haven’t already, you may want to research physical therapy options as well.

  • MelConro
    2 years ago

    Hello: I can relate to the long commute; as I live outside Chicago, Illinois and commute just over an hour each way. I just came back to work today from being home 3 days with a terrible migraine and cluster headaches. My frequency has really cut down since I have been taking Topamax. I take 150 mg per day (100 at night and 50 in the morning). I went from 15 migraines per month to 1 – 2 per month. I have to watch my liver enzymes, as my Mom passed away from Autoimmune Hepatitis (totally a genetic disease). I have been on Topamax for 2 1/2 years now; and my liver enzymes have not changed at all. I have even lost weight! But the benefits are great.

    I hope you find relief.

    Take Care,
    Mel

  • jojobaggins
    2 years ago

    I hope you are able to find something that works for you. Your comment about avoiding social situations really resonated with me.

    When I was first diagnosed ten years ago at age 30, I read How to Heal Your Headache and did the food elimination diet to try to figure out triggers. I learned that caffeine, all wine, aspartame and to a lesser extent msg are all triggers, so I cut them out completely. Also realized that missing meals causes them, so I always carry snacks with me. Disturbed sleep is a problem, too. Those are the things I can control. Can’t control hormones and weather changes.

    Migraines improved, then got worse the last three years. I had been putting off trying a preventive drug and Topamax intimidated me. I have been going to therapy, and my therapist challenged me to try a preventive drug because migraines were harming my quality of life so much. I tried effexor, but my neuro didn’t like my side effects. We tried Prozac next because I told him I was having trouble with depression too. I’m taking a very low dose (10mg), but it’s helping so far. I also started exercising including yoga for at least ten minutes every morning, and I think that has also helped. Despite all of what i was doing with my lifestyle, I was averaging four migraines per month, but now I’m down to once per month. Also, my neuro prescribed meditative walks in the woods for me. Google forest bathing. He said it has a protective effect on the brain. Good luck! Fingers crossed for you.

  • JanetH
    2 years ago

    I am going on 52, and have had diagnosed migraines for about 15 years. I suspect I had migraines a long time before and just didn’t know it! I have been on topamax 3 timex, neurontin (gapentin), doxepin. Triptans were not very helpful. I have fioricet for bad headaches to be taken a few times/week. I work full time. I have a headache doctor, and he now has a nurse practitioner who also specializes in headaches, so I’m fortunate. This is the 3rd time I’ve been put on Topamax, a different formulation, and it seems to be working better (knock on wood) than the previous two times. I can work with a headache, but not very well. I notice if I try to do something like say, balance a ledger, the numbers are not likely to come out right; and if I’m typing, I make LOTS more mistakes. I can do things that aren’t stressful or taxing, such as right now, I have some business reading I need to do, so that’s a perfect low-key thing to do if I have a headache. I take extra strength tylenol and a cup of coffee. I have a rice pack I can heat up and a gel pack that I keep in the freezer that’s like a bandanna, so whatever feels best. I’m an administrative assistant.

  • amandaotaylor
    2 years ago

    I can totally relate to your entire story. My situation is almost exactly the same as you. I recently applied for short term disability with my work ans am taking a 3 month detx break. I’m a rebound migraines so get the same migraine over and over again. Does your work offer a program like that where you can take a break and then go back?

  • Linda15
    2 years ago

    i suffer migraines and I have a triptan that works well if I take it and go to bed for at least an hour but as they are designed for periodic use and not every other day I have to restrain myself from taking too regularly. I used flaxseed oil capsules when I hit the menopause and did not make any connection with that and the apparent absence of the migraine headaches. Then I ran out of the capsules around 3 weeks ago and I’ve had cluster migraines for the last couple of weeks. Now back on the flaxseed 2 days ago and I don’t have a headache today. Might be coincidence but if not is is a miracle for me. Do check if you are able to take this as not everyone can with certain health conditions. I also use Forehead, a topical application for your head or back of the neck that produces a cooling effect and has helped. I also find I get headaches when I get too warm so for now my Zumba class in a room without air con is a no go until I know for sure I am over this current cycle of headaches. Good luck everyone I hope this helps someone.

  • marti
    2 years ago

    Fortunately for me I get to work at home every day. About a year ago the company closed the facility where I worked, but a few of us got to keep our jobs and work at home. I really do hate it for all the people who lost their jobs, but I feel blessed that I can sit in my dimly lit home office and I don’t have to put up with perfumes, traffic, noise, all those office triggers. It’s helped. What has helped the most, though, is Botox. I’ve gone from everyday migraines to 2 or 3 a month – and those are far less severe than before. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth every penny. There are days I actually don’t hurt at all!

  • 2 years ago

    I’d like to caution everyone about the use of aspirin. I know that is the only thing that has relieved even a little of the pain over the years (Anacin, specifically…caffeine and aspirin), but as it tuns out, aspirin is ototoxic (toxic to the ears)…and my hearing is now (at age 70) half what it was when I was young. Also, would like to point out that, at least in my experience, meds that did not work when I was 50 (when I finally went to a doctor and was NOT told it was all just in my head) work very well now, at half the dose I was originally prescribed. I suppose this is because I have eliminated most of my triggers. Milk turned out to be the worst trigger I have..probably because I love it, all cheeses, yogurt and cream…and I only learned about that a little over a year ago – on this site. By the way, THANK YOU!

  • bambam
    2 years ago

    I have had migraines since 12 years old . I’m now 53 and actually had a severe migraine yesterday that caused me to have banging head and to be sick over and over . I tried Botox , and this was the only thing that helped me . It’s costly at £350 in the U.K, but it was life saving to me . I am going through the menopause now and my migraines have started to decrease . But I do still get them once or twice a month . I was getting them 3/4 times a week .

  • MidrinMan
    2 years ago

    Midrin was the best, when I could get my hands on it. Now, it’s slow mag, verapamil, lyrica, blood pressure meds, CoQ10, flexeril, gaba, gnc vitamin pack. I have thoracic outlet syndrome. I have fibromyalgia. I have been getting migraines since I was 5? When I was 35, I had a disc in my neck pressing on my spinal chord fused at 4-5. Doctor said pre-existing. Don’t know how long that was there. Didn’t show on x-ray or cat scan. Had to have MRI and had to be very aggressive in pursuing new doctors constantly. Oregon healthcare is crap. My wife, an RN, used to take me the long way to the ER when it was cold outside. My head and neck would hang out the window till it was numb. This helped considerably. I swim in cold pools. This helps. Hot tub helps too. Yoga is torture. The best part is the end. Nirvana. I feel like a rung out wash rag and I’m good for a day or two. Motorcycle rides exposing neck and face to the cold help a lot. I am now in Alaska. It sometimes gets to 20 below. The burning sensation I experience, also overheating subsides simply by stepping out on the front porch. Pure bliss. Put on a jacket and gloves, no hat. Best ice pack ever.

  • DanKopetsky
    2 years ago

    So sad to read everyone’s common link — headaches:(
    I have had daily headaches since high school and for the past 50 years — unbelievable.
    My headaches progressed to a point where I was coming home from work by mid-afternoon and crashing until morning. Terrible life at that point.
    Went to the world-renown Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago and was an in-patient for 2 weeks. While there, the clinic forces you to start functioning and completing a curriculum on headache triggers and treatments before they will release you. For me, this program was the start of 20 years back to fully functioning everyday. I now experience minor daily headaches but treat them with small doses of ibuprofen, Neuronten, Soma & Butabital. The last 2 can cause rebound headaches so I manage my use of them very carefully. The last thing I will add is, when I found a great GP who tested me for chemical deficiencies, she prescribed magnesium, potassium and Petadolex/Butterbur which you can find on-line. All I can say now is that, at the end of the day, it is nice to still be functioning and not crashing every night with a migraine.
    Hang in there everyone and always look forward to better days!!

  • felicia1974
    2 years ago

    Feel for you in every possible way. Mine have become so bad in the last six months I am experiencing at least two migraine attacks every week. I have three kids and work three five hour days each week and that is becoming impossible to cope with. I’m not on any preventatives as none of them work and am now on anxiety and nausea meds. The attacks have taken their toll on my body as I have painful swollen joints and now I can’t even even excercise anymore. Waiting to see my third neurologist who can hopefully help. It’s such a helpless state to be in and you just have to do your best. Pushing yourself with work will only make things worse and bring on more attacks. For as terrible as I feel , I feel so bad when I hear of how others suffer, hope it settles for you soon

  • jessie-april
    2 years ago

    I worked from home and worked around my migraines which were two to three a week, sometimes lasting for 72 hours!. I was on propranalol for years but decided to come off them at the at the end of December due to side effects. I started taking magnesium at the beginning of January (600 mg a day) and I can honestly say that I feel so well. I haven’t had a migraine since starting the magnesium, the migraine brain fog has disappeared and I have my life back. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it stays this way!

  • Paulien
    2 years ago

    For nine years I’ve been struggling more or less the same way you do. Not been able to work full time as I suffered 3 migraine attacks each month which lasted each one for 5 days. For me that meant 15 days per month in bed not able to move, to touch, look, listen or talk to anyone. No drug worked, no treatment was lifting the severity very long.
    Still since 4 years now I’ve been completely free of migraine attacks. I came in touch with a healing system called Pranic Healing. The first system that could stop my migraines within an hour and after three months of intensive treatments I stayed migraine free. Currently I have a practice in treating people with migraines. My Facebook page Verlicht Migraine is unfortunately only in Dutch but you can find my details there if you would like to get in touch.
    Would love to tell you all about it and help you relieve your migraines.
    Big hug, Paulien

  • epa3030
    2 years ago

    So sorry to hear your frustration. I have suffered from migraines since I was thirteen and going on 27 years. I’ve had bouts of good and bad years. I remember early on I would be stuck in bed for hours. All I had was excedrin and otc meds. Once I discovered triptans and imitrex and maxalt and frova— I was able to really live. Sure I still get bad ones but they are far between what the used to be. Everyone is different and have different side effects. I can take imitrex or something at work and be okay. I’ve been working as a full time teacher for almost seventeen years now. I have sick days and I’ve had to use them. There was one year about ten years ago that I was called into my principals office because I was using too many sick days. It was a year of headaches and a toddler at home sick. I got through it. I try not to worry. I know I have meds and I can do what I can to treat the migraine. Once I have and I still have an uncontrolled headache. I have to sit it out. In the dark and sleep. It’s taken me a long time to get where I’m at. I work full time and I’m a mom and wife. I just had a two day migraine last month that brought me to tears. All I think about is—this will eventually go away and I’ll be up and working again. I wish you much luck. Know you are not alone!!!

  • Kellih4u
    2 years ago

    I know each of us experience migraines differently, and what works for one may not work for another. I try to share my experiences as openly as possible, because you never know who you may help!
    I started experiencing migraines about 8 years ago, and know several of my triggers. That said, I also know that there are others that I just don’t understand. It’s rare for me to go a week without 1-2 migraines, and that is with all my specialists saying I’m “under control”.
    I have a very thorough regimen of preventive meds that keep me at 1-2 per week. This includes vitamins, Co-Q10, Magnesium, B-2, B-12, and D-3. In addition I take a Channel Blocker, Verapamil, an anti-epilepsy med, Keppra, and an Anti-Depressant, Nortriptyline. It has taken me 8 years of experimenting to get to where I am today. In addition, I get Botox injections every 12 weeks, as well as a Cervical Steroid Injection 3x a year. I do have neck issues that my Pain Management and Physical Therapist agree are part of my triggers, hence the CSI.
    My rescue treatment includes fast acting Advil, Maxalt, Prednisone, Flexeril, and Fioricet. There is a prescribed hierarchy based on whether or not each works. There are times when I land in the ER because I just don’t get relief.
    Much like yourself, I know my weight and inactivity are contributors. That said, one of my triggers is a spike in heart rate. I have to allow my heart rate to increase slowly. Just means I had to change how I approach exercise. All this from someone that was an avid soccer player, and played football for 4 years!
    Please investigate some of what I’m utilizing in my regimen. I can honestly say the channel Blocker has had the biggest impact. It took three different types before I found Verapamil.
    Feel free to contact me if you’d like to chat more!
    Kelli
    Pamperedkelli@sbcglobal.net

  • Adorabelle
    2 years ago

    I was chronic with migraine from 2011-2016. First, I would recommend a different headache specialist. Second, are you keeping a food or trigger diary? Migraine buddy is a great app that helps with triggers and headaches. There is no good data that a daith piercing works, so go for it if you want a cool piercing but otherwise look into some stuff that’s a bit more credible. How much do you sleep at night? Do you think the fluorescent lights could be a trigger? I wear polarized sunglasses indoors to help with uncovered fluorescent lights (so common in Europe). I like wraparound Oakleys as the block the peripheral light but any polarized glasses could do. I haven’t tried the migraine glasses (theraspecs) but have thought about it. Do you grind your teeth? There’s data that says a bite guard could have 50/50 chance of reducing migraines. Pricey, but it did work for me. I had medication overuse headache from too much excedrine (shouldn’t be more than 9 a month) and I found that on top of a MSG food sensitivity, gluten was causing me some trouble. I got a massage therapist and get a deep tissue massage every two weeks.. I had asthma and my inhaler made things worse, got a new inhaler. After all of that my headaches dropped from 25 to 5 until the winter and rain came. Back up to 25, so then my headache specialist recommended the coq10, riboflavin, and magnesium combo (the combo is called migravent here in Germany) and exercise 3-5 times a week and that has changed my life. My migraines are in remission. I know that the vitamins and food restrictions aren’t enough, I have to do the exercise or else the weather bothers me. But, by cutting back on the food triggers and taking the vitamins, I could have the energy to exercise like I was advised to.

  • ladeyjadey author
    2 years ago

    Hello Adorabelle,

    Thanks for your suggestions. I am going to request seeing a new Specialist – I dont think my GP or Specialist have been much help so far and have just left me to get on with things which isnt working for me. I do keep a food trigger diary – if I have a migraine I record the food I had the day of the migraine and the day before. I initially did this 2 years ago and found Caffeine to be a trigger, so I have not had Caffeine since. However I am re doing this as maybe I will also find other triggers.

    I sleep 8-9 hours a night usually or I will end up shattered, I dont grind my teeth that I am aware of. Lights are definitely a trigger for me – the lights in the office always seem to make things worse. I do have a bluefilter glasses (Boots offer them in the UK) This was offered due to my migraines however they were not teraspecs as an option. I have a deep tissue massage once a month (I cant afford any more or I would) my Partner trys to massage my neck when it is bad but its not quite the same, I have found pressure points in my head help my neck/shoulders which I rub when its at its worst.

    The coq10, riboflavin, and magnesium combo has been mentioned a few times on here so thats top of my list to try as I think I can get this over the counter!

    Thanks again for your help and support.

  • jrat
    2 years ago

    I had the daith piercing done and it did not help at all ! I was very disappointed . I’ve had migraines for 24 years so maybe it’s a timing thing , the fact that you hold a full time job is in itself an accomplishment keep fighting the fight

  • ladeyjadey author
    2 years ago

    Hi jrat,

    Thank you for your support, I had the Daith done 4 days ago – so far no migraine, I had a slight headache that would usually turn into a migraine but it hasnt, its still early days but I am staying positive! Along with new medications suggestions on here I hope something will work for me.

    Thanks again for your support.

  • nikkig127
    2 years ago

    I’ve often had the same question. I’ve considered applying for disability myself. I take 9 pills a day as preventatives to my migraine attacks. I recently had to find a new job (for the first time in almost a decade) and I flat out told the people interviewing me this. I waited until my second interview when I was pretty sure I had the job. But then, I was just honest. I told them I take 3 different medications every day as preventatives and that I do yoga and other natural preventatives, but that I sometimes still get migraines that take me out. Knowing from the get go that I’m doing something to try and avoid takin time off has helped them be way more understanding than I think they would have otherwise been. Now they offer to turn all the lights off in the office and are very considerate when I get a migraine.

    I think we’re so used to trying to hide our migraines that it’s just second nature to us. I’ve told my husband that if he knew and life stopped time I had a headache, we’d never get anything done. I fake my way through life about 80% of the time and say I’m fine when I really have a pain level of 6-8. But with my new job, I’ve found that communication is key. Letting them know what’s going on has helped more than pretending I’m fine all the time. No, I don’t tell them every time I have a headache, because I always have a “baseline” headache as my neuro calls it. But I do tell them about the migraine attacks. They accommodate and I’m usually at least able to work through them to the end of the day.

    I know a lot of people have mentioned preventatives. I take topamax, amitriptyline and magnesium every day. It’s taken a while to get the dosages right and I still get migraine attacks 1-2 times a week during certain times of the year. But, it’s way better than it was. I will warn you though, amitriptyline will make you gain weight like crazy. I’ve always been very petite. 5’2″ 105-110 before I started amitriptyline. Now I’m at 135. Granted, I’m 6 years older and life happens. But, one of the main side effects of amitriptyline is weight gain. Topamax is supposed to help you lose weight. But I take a higher amount of amitriptyline than I do of topamax, so I think it cancels out that part. Just some things to think about when you’re talking to your headache specialist about preventatives.

  • ladeyjadey author
    2 years ago

    Hi nikkig127,

    Thank you for your suggestions. I unfortunately cannot stay in the office if I have a migraine I either sit there near to useless or have to leave and go home. Often though I wake up with the migraines so it means I dont make it in to the office at all.

    I cannot risk taking anything that will make me put on weight as this will also make me less active, I already struggle with my weight and my Dr has already suggested a preventative but wouldnt give it to me for this reason. Topamax has been mentioned a few times in these posts so I will definitely look into trialling that!

    Thanks again for your help and support.

  • 1bqjb2f
    2 years ago

    It’s not easy at all. I suffer from hormonal migraine and have 6-8 attacks a month on average. I work full time as a technical translator, in an office environment, 9-6 for 5 days a week. I’m lucky because triptans work for me (Frovatriptan) so I’m usually sort of OK after a couple of hours, though sometimes I still have to take time off due to intense pain, light sensitivity and nausea – and I do get sick, pretty badly. I also take a preventive (Propranolol). Each body reacts differently to drugs, so be patient and never stop trying. I tried Topamax but it was a disaster, same with Amytriptilin and a few others. Trust your instinct but be willing to try new solutions. All the best to you, always remember you are not alone.

  • ladeyjadey author
    2 years ago

    Hello 1bqjb2f,

    Thanks for your suggestions. I have written down the names of the other triptans to request from my Dr to trial, hopefully another one will work, however even though the Sumitriptan does work the 2 hours when they make me feel worse I cannot sit in an office environment. So if I get a migraine I have to sit it out with painkillers (if they work) or go home. But its good to hear other people are managing to work full time, it gives me some hope as I would hate to loose my job!

    Thanks again for your help.

  • Gyda
    2 years ago

    I’m sorry you are feeling this way. 6 months ago I was feeling the same. My advice would be to see a different headache specialist. I have been taking topamax for several years with some benefit but the new neurologist I saw prescribed an older generation of antidepressant, nortryptaline and also some vitamin supplements. I have gone from 3-5 migraines per week down to 2 in the last 2 months. Please don’t give up. Your magic combination may be out there. Try chiropractic care, massage, Perhaps even psychiatric care as we all become so depressed because we are feeling so poorly.
    I hope you will not give up and will persevere until you find some relief.

  • ladeyjadey author
    2 years ago

    Hi Gyda,

    Thanks for your suggestions. I am definitely going to ask to go back to a specialist considering I havent seen one in 2 years – I feel like I am being told to just make do, and its really not working for me. I have written down the suggestions of Topamax and Nortryptaline along with suggestions from others on this post for me to trial.

    I do actually feel a Chriopractor would be of benefit however I have been quoted an initial cost of £100 then £40 per session with recommended sessions of 2-3 times a week. I just dont have £500 to spare each month I barely have £40 to spare each month!! I have asked for this through the NHS but it is not something they can offer. I am in the process of trying to save for a few sessions to see if it will work.

    I have also seen a councellor for my depression/anxiety from the migraines however they only lasted 10 weeks via NHS, and unfortunately the situation just doesn’t disappear like that..!

    Thanks again for your help and support.

  • Maxpurepink
    2 years ago

    Hello, I’m curious as to if you have tried any physical relief applications, such as any cold compression therapies/ head wraps, or anything else? And if you have, how have they made you feel, and the reason why you may have stopped trying them?

  • Holly Baddour moderator
    2 years ago

    Maxpurepink – great question- we have a couple of articles on the topic: https://migraine.com/complimentary-and-alternative-therapies/cold-therapy/https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-cold-and-hot-pack-recipes/ but i can tell you from personal experience that i cannot get through a migraine attack without my ice gel packs (bought them at the local chiropractic dr) wrapped in soft cloth. I apply it to the back of my neck. I have heard some people do that while putting a heating pad at the base of their back and somehow the two different temperatures work together to ease the pain of migraine. For me, the cold pack sometimes does as much good as medication. Warmly (or cooly) – Holly B (migraine.com moderator)

  • ladeyjadey author
    2 years ago

    Hi Maxpurepink,

    I had not heard of this – and after research it doesnt seem to be something thats widely advertised in the UK. But looks like a great idea I can definitely see it would offer relief – as at the moment sometimes I can get relieve from being in the bath and taking the pressure off of my head/shoulders. Although I dont know if this is something that I would be able to use at work but while I am at home would be great.

    Thanks for your help and support.

  • boymom05
    2 years ago

    Have you tried other daily preventatives? Topamax, for example, is specifically for migraines. I take another form of it, Trokenki, nightly. Have you discussed Botox for migraines with your doctor? I’ve had three years of injections, going every three months. It takes time to see results but I have. That doesn’t mean I don’t I migraine. In fact, I’m in bed, on day four of having one. But, my biggest trigger is weather change and we’re having a significant one we’re I live right now. I hate the barometric pressure changes!
    If you haven’t tried other preventatives, I hope you will start there with your doctor. I’m 52 and have been living with migraines since college. 🙂 best wishes!

  • Holly Baddour moderator
    2 years ago

    boymom05 and ladeyjadey- i just wanted to ring in here on the topic of weather (and also on your original post, ladeyjadey, on relocation) there’s an article on migraine.com that discusses both -https://migraine.com/living-migraine/hurricanes-pain-migraines-change/ . Great article and discussion here! Warmly, Holly B. (migraine.com moderator)

  • ladeyjadey author
    2 years ago

    Hi Boymom05,

    Thank you for your suggestions. I have written down your suggestion of Trokenki along with suggestions of everyone else on this post and will look into trialing them all to see what works for me. I also have Optical and Botox injections on my list but if I could find medication that works first this would be more ideal.

    Thanks again for your help, I really appreciate the support.

  • Maureen
    2 years ago

    Ladeyjadey,
    I don’t hear any talk of preventatives. Are you taking magnesium, riboflavin, and CoQ10 daily? All of these are recommended by my headache specialist. Also, have you tried any of the other triptans? There are 5 others that might be of more help to you than sumatriptan. I find rizatriptan works for me, while sumatriptan is not helpful at all.

    Besides these, I also take other preventatives, but you would need to see a headache specialist as they are prescriptions. It might be worth it to give another specialist a try since your life is so impacted by your headache frequency.

    Be encouraged!

  • ladeyjadey author
    2 years ago

    Hi Maureen,

    Thank you for your suggestions. With everyones help and suggestions I have now over 20 recommendations to take to my Dr which is very positive.

    I have not heard of the magnesium, riboflavin, and CoQ10 combo before this website – it seems a few people use this so I am going to see if I can get this over the counter. I have also never been offered another triptan (I feel my Dr and Specialist have not been the most helpful) so now I will actually ask to be changed on to them to try.

    Thanks again for your help.

  • Caz2006
    2 years ago

    Have you tried looking at your diet? I suffered daily migraines for years was on disability as they were so bad but now ive changed my eating habits these have reduced from a 9-10 to around 5-7 in pain and fewer attacks a konth.I started Low carb diet . Dont eat bread wheat pasta. I was at my witts end . Lost job after job. I also take magnesium and vit c and d s. Everyones different im taking ot slow as bern a year since the change over diet but i feel kore human again. I also have started meditation. Something id never thought id do but it helps too 🙂 good luck

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