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Migraines and other illnesses got me fired!

This has been an awful year for illnesses with me! I’ve experienced mono, strep two times, heart issues, high blood pressure issues that took me off work for two weeks AND the migraines that lasted anywhere from 2-3 days. As a school teacher all these days have added up over time to more than 60+ absentee days. Did I want to be off all this time? Of course not, but apparently my principal thought otherwise and recommended to our Board of Education that my contract not be renewed for next year. Questions, I know you have them…, I couldn’t get FMLA because of days missed in the calendar year from January of 2010’s school year that carried over into this school year; how can they not renew my contract, well I’m not yet tenured because I “retired” after 10 years when my youngest daughter was born and then went back to teaching. This is only my 4th year back and would be my tenured year next year.

I’ve been trying to fight against the non renewal, but no one seems to understand about migraines even though my neurologist has written a letter for me. I’m tempted to go before our school board and even the state legislature to argue the fact we need more information about migraine health for the government to understand about what teachers go through and allow additional absentee time so they aren’t penalized.

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.


  • Sheryl Howell
    8 years ago

    Dear carrie67, I feel for you! I was a Pharmacy tech since 1986. Everything was fine until a new store manager came aboard the Walgreens that I worked at. My Pharmacy manager new all the meds I was on. But this new manager wanted to play hardball with me. Demanding drug tests even though all my meds were there in computer. I got so worked up, that my pain management dr ( a good one btw) put me on 6 week leave, and yes I got my FMLA. The store manger before her, just kept a on going letter from my pcp, that I had severe migraines, and if I called in, that covered it. However, in 2006, things got worse, and between doctors and wonderful Walgreens, I went on disability. Mostly, what I am trying to say is: KEEP FIGHTING THEM, TAKE IT TO WHOEVER YOU HAVE TO, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE LETTERS FROM MANY DOCTORS, MAKE NOTES! MY email address is if you need any more info or want to chat some more… I hope this helps..with much support to all that reads.. GOD bless!

  • Etta Johnson
    8 years ago

    It will be two years ago in August that I too was fired from my job in the nursing department at a hospital because of migraine along with (the last straw–>) I missed my whole weekend to work (all 36 hours of it) because Friday evening I presented to ER at the hospital where I worked with bleeding in my pregnancy… diagnosed with a “threatened miscarriage” and bedrest ordered until I was seen & evaluated by the OBGYN on Monday. Those 3 shifts of my weekend were the absences that put me over the edge for missed shifts.
    I had direct patient care responsibilities and experience aphasia, can’t understand what people are saying to me, ataxia, dizziness, loss of sensation and movement in my limbs, loss of vision or at the very least, extremely impaired vision when I have an acute migraine, and yes, some of mine last more than a day or two. I did not feel comfortable with even attempting to go to work many times when I had a migraine because I was responsible for things such as helping people to the bathroom who were unsteady or for whatever reason needed assistance and if I couldn’t walk reliably myself, how could I assist others and keep them from falling? How could I put others at risk like that because I wasn’t fully functional? That job required a great deal of bending and lifting (things that definitely exacerbate the migraine). I worked another job which basically required computer work and work with the patient charts and auditing the charts. I was more likely to go to work if I was doing this job, because 1) it didn’t require the physical duties that would exacerbate my migraine 2) there was more leeway with being able to work for an hour or so, then maybe put my head down for 5 minutes or so, do some relaxation exercises, etc. if the pain got to the point I couldn’t think 3) I wasn’t directly responsible for patient’s safety, and had little to no actual patient contact. In the two years before I was fired, it was pointed out in my annual evaluation that I tended to experience a migraine “conveniently” when I was assigned a shift with direct patient care duty than when I had desk duty. In my written rebuttal, I attempted to explain the reasons for that. My supervisor seemed to understand this during the face to face evaluation, but after talking to the department manager and the VP of Nursing, it no longer made sense. I thought that medical people, Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners should understand what a migraine actually entails better than your average employer, but no. None of what I said made any sense to her, she said. She also said I was just trying to come up with an excuse that I didn’t really want to the job I was assigned, and furthermore, they weren’t operating a charitable organization for malingering employees. Funny thing, as I was explaining this situation to several different people in the course of being evaluated at the Diamond Headache clinic & their inpatient unit, I didn’t even have to continue my explanation, they immediately understood the difference between working in an actively physical job with a great deal of contact with people and working in a desk job with contact with only a few individuals. They also understood the danger of me assisting someone with walking when I am experiencing a migraine, which was a foreign concept to the VP of Nursing.
    I have since applied for numerous jobs including working at McDonalds and the like. Problem: on the applications, they always ask for the reason you left your last employment. I have to put that I was fired for attendance issues related to illness. When I have called to check the status of my application, I have been told 100% of the time that they would not hire someone who has an attendance problem. Even explaining that I have since sought specialty treatment and as a result I am doing much better, I am still told no way.
    Why are people so unwilling to even try to understand that we do want to work, we do strive for excellence in our work, we are not lazy, we are not trying to steal a few days to just relax and eat bon-bons… Are also unwilling to accept the medical opinions of our physicians (I was told by the VP that physicians will write anything their patient tells them to write in the notes to employers.

    You are not alone. I don’t have any answers for you, but hang in there!

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