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I was driving home yesterday wearing my cool Blues Brother shades and I was suddenly furious. I was thinking about a meeting I’d recently had at work. “Coaching and counseling” they called it – where they write me up for being behind in my work, while my supervisor and the program director sit across the table in judgement telling me how I should be more organized and plan my schedule more efficiently, and so on. And then the moment of scathing derision as the program director comments, “Well, yes, you WERE out sick a few days. As a matter of fact, you DO take quite a few days off, here and there, don’t you?”

If only she knew. If only she knew that the one day I miss because the railroad spike that is jammed into the side of my head makes it hurt so bad that I can’t function, can barely see straight, want to throw up, can’t drive, the light is like needles in my eyes. Yeah, “I don’t feel well.” And the rest of the week I go in, wanting to scream, but I go in, because those days I can drive, those days I’m not throwing up, those days if I wear shades, the needles back off, if I pull the shades in my office. I have to hear the comments, “Oh, you like sitting in the dark, are you a mole person?” “Oh, your shades look so cool!” (Or better yet, when they think I can’t hear, “She thinks she’s so cool!”).

“It must have been nice to have a long weekend”

“Did you take a personal day?”

No, I had a rairoad spike in the side of my head. I finally figured it out. The poor saps really have no idea. They simply can’t concieve. Next time they ask, I’m going to ask them if they’ve ever broken a bone. I have, and that’s the closest thing that I can come up with, besides childbirth, that comes close to the pain levels of my migraines. When I was 10 I broke my right forearm, snapped it falling off my bike, and yep, that was about the same. When I was 15 I tore a ligament in my knee, and when I stood up the white-hot pain that tore through my knee and dropped me to the ground was, yep, about the same. Or maybe that same pain when you hit your head full force on a cabinet. But what they don’t get is that one WHACK! or CRACK! of the break or the injury, as bad as it is, as awful and painful as it is, isn’t even close – because then it backs off to throbbing and a dull ache. I know, been there, done that. Migraine doesn’t. Oh, for sure it throbs – at the same damn intensity as the original spike! Just hammering over and over and over again! And that’s what they don’t seem to understand!

“Oh, your head always hurts!”

Yeah… it does that… behind the cool shades. I have a spike jammed in my head…

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.


  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    5 years ago

    Working for a less than understanding employer can definitely add stress to Migraines. As many people share their stories here, I wanted to provide some resources if you are thinking of going on disability, using FMLA or asking for workplace accomodations.

    -Katie Moderator

  • Jacqui Gallo
    5 years ago

    You stated it all so perfectly. I’v dealt with such similar ignorant comments, my shoulders tensed while reading it. My last comment my boss made was in front of all my coworkers that she (in snotty tone) was REALLY hoping it wasn’t me on the phone calling out, yet again. It was, i was down with a migraine. No empathy on her part. Btw, my migraines feel like I was kicked in the head, which I have had happen in the past. I always think about what the ignorants would do if they were actually kicked in the head. My guess, ambulance run. And here, we stand and fight with the knives, daggers & kicks in the head. We are a hearty group:)

  • coygroup
    5 years ago

    I feel your pain (ha ha). My boss just yesterday told me that she thinks the stress of my job is causing my frequent migraines and that I should probably start looking for another job. Sure, stress doesn’t help (hey boss, how about getting some more resources so I’m not so overworked!), but I can’t control the weather (my worst trigger) or other various triggers. She has no idea how many days I drag myself in and push through the day just to try to stay on top of the workload… but her words about finding another job still stung.

  • TNmigGal
    5 years ago

    Or if you mention to HR or your supervisor about the snide comments (about the dark rooms, sunglasses, etc.) made by your co-workers, they say they can’t control what other people say. I’ve actually had co-workers leave ‘funny’ notes on my desk and been told nothing could be done. I am now on SSD, so don’t have to worry about that, now, but it still stings. Or have your supervisor say, “Are you sure it’s not sinuses?” – and wanting to shove the studies into his face that show the exact opposite…sorry, didn’t realize I needed to vent today. My pain is up and I’m not seeing a doctor until next Tuesday. Thanks for the listen.

  • Hollygo2
    5 years ago

    I really feel for you. I’ve heard all of that as well as being accused of being a little too much of a binge drinker a cocaine addict a hypochondriac etc. I’ve never ever tried street drugs so wouldn’t even know what that’s all about. It’s all so frustrating. I was eventually terminated from my last 2 jobs due to my performance even with doctors notes etc. I understand the employers needing reliable employees but will never understand the vicious threats and evil remarks. My last 2 places of employment were so rude and uncaring with all of the employees that I really didn’t care when I was finally terminated. Morale was so low that it was almost a gift. I’ve been out on state disability with daily chronic migraines since and trying to figure out ssd which is an even bigger headache. I wish you well my friend. Maybe try talking to hr I don’t know if it’ll help. But most businesses have to accommodate other disabilities. I’m rambling, sorry.

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