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Saving all my sick days for Migraines

Today, I have a terrible cold. A well-meaning co-worker suggested that I go home, and while I would love to, I have to save my sick days. Why? Because I never know when I’m going to be blindsided by a killer migraine – one that takes my eyesight, makes me vomit in the bathroom stall and makes me fatigued enough to nap under my desk (did that at my last job). I don’t get to have a normal sick life, because I’m living with a chronic condition that’s more painful, exhaustion-making and vomit generating than any cold or flu.

While my migraines have gotten better – down from more than 15 a month to about 8 to 9 a month with Botox, the latest heatwave in Los Angeles gave me a four day bout of migraines.

I look forward to a time when I can stay home sick and not have it be about a migraine. This cold’s child’s play compared to a migraine – I can make it.

How about you? Do you save your sick days for migraines?

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.


  • Bekki
    5 years ago

    I can relate to this! It helped that I told my employer when I started the job that I suffer from migraines, because I still feel guilty when I have to ring in sick – as though I need to put on a “sick voice”
    And I also HATE it when I am back at work and people have said to me in the past “do you feel better after your headache?” I know they mean well but I wouldn’t take time off work just because I had a headache!

  • winifred53
    5 years ago

    Do you have Intermittent FMLA where you work? I was using my sick days until my daughter, who has a degree in Human Relations, advised me to apply for FMLA Intermittent leave. You still lose your sick days but might have better job protection.

  • Jenny Ash
    5 years ago

    I understand totally, Ann. A lot of people don’t understand unless they see us with a bad migraine. So many think it’s just about the headache. They don’t realise it can affect us from head to toe- literally. Colds are a breeze by comparison. I have been doing the same as you; saving all my sick days for migraines. It is so frustrating as I love my job but can’t comprehend grammar, never mind teach it, with a migraine. I’m so glad yours are less frequent now.

  • gurl
    5 years ago

    yep yep and yep! I totally get that and do that too! What is funny I have learned to deal so well with the migraines when I get really sick it does not phase me. One time I fell and broke my ribs. (3) I did not go to the doctor for 3 days because I am used to severe pain and not being able to function!!! Glad the botox is working. I am using a drug from Peru that works for me. It is not availible in the states..

  • mermadelove
    5 years ago

    I TOTALLY relate to this. I even go to work with migraines regularly. I save my sick days for when they are the ‘vomiting kind’ as I “like” to call them. Unless I am blinded by the pain ( blurred vision and inability to focus– not literal blindness like some of us experience) and vomiting, I go to work. Because although I am also down from 15 killer migraines a month down to 6 or 7, most of the time if I take my breakthrough meds ( Zofran, Morphine and 500mg of Aleve) I can conquer them. Most of the time. When I can’t, I’m vomiting. PEople who see me work through most of them are shocked when I get a killer unexpectedly at work. And then I get sent home. I long ago stopped calling out– I’d rather they see for themselves exactly what I go through so that I never get pulled aside to the manager’s office to be told that I’m missing too much work from migraines (even though I MADE UP ALL OF THE MISSED TIME. Let them see what it’s really like so they see I’m not ‘faking’ it. My daily PREVENTATIVE cocktail is 24o mg of Propanolol, 25mg of Topamax and 20-30mg of Elavil. Today I finally admitted to myself that I live with a chronic illness. I’ve seen my neurologist more times in the past year than any other health provider for regular health care.

  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    5 years ago

    I know exactly how you feel! When I was working, I would come in with a horrible cold because I knew I needed to use my sick days for Migraines. I even saved most of my vacation time to use for Migraines if needed. If I was lucky at the end of the year to have any time off left, I’d use it for the holidays.So Frustrating!!
    -Katie Moderator

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