The Misunderstandings of Migraines

There are so many instances in my life that I could write about that illustrates the misunderstandings associated with migraines but there is one in particular that really demonstrates the lack of understanding for this affliction.

The incident occurred a few years ago. My three children were in the marching band for their high school. As required, I had to work in the food stand at the football game to fulfill my obligation as a band booster member. I had woke up that day not feeling "quite right". In the back of my mind I knew that there was a possibility that I was getting a migraine and told myself that it would pass. Just like many times before, I resisted taking my medication. It slowed me down and made me tired. I didn't have time for any of that. I needed to be able to wait on people at the stand, hand out change and help to clean up. I needed to be "normal". As the night progressed I felt the "warning signs" that I was indeed on my way to a migraine: tightness in my neck, dizziness, the inability to concentrate and stuttering. I pushed on reasoning that it was only for another hour. Within that hour, my pain had progressed from a 3 to an 8. My boyfriend had to practically carry me out of there and of course I ended up at the emergency room to get injections. It was a severe one and lasted three days. This is just the beginning of this story. I did not realize that this migraine was going to cause so many problems for me.

I did have to call off from work that night. I work night shift. I talked to a supervisor and told him exactly what had happened to me. I was working the stand, I got a migraine, it progressed to unbearable and I was going to the hospital. He said that it was all okay.

Meanwhile, his boss was at the very football game that I had attended. He saw me in the stand working and in fact, I had waited on him. When I returned to work, I was presented with an employee write up for abuse of sick time. The consequence was a suspension of three days without pay and denial of my sick pay for that night. The comments read that my boss was at the game and did witness me working in the concession stand. It went on to add that if I was healthy enough to work in the stand I should have been healthy enough to go to work that night. In addition, I was due to be promoted to the next level of status at work. This level bumped my pay up. He recommended that I should not be considered for this due to my blatantly open abuse of sick time!!

I can not tell you how upset this made me!! I was made out to be a liar! I did fight this and won! The write up was thrown out and I did proceed to the next level of pay. The hospital excuse I was smart enough to have written for me is what saved me. Also, the supervisor that I talked to when I called off testified that I was crying when I called him.

I had really thought that my migraines were understood where I worked. That was the day that I found out just how wrong I was. The incident had left bad feelings between me and the person who wrote me up.

After all this happened to me a co-worker pulled me aside and informed me about FMLA. It is a federal law that protects people with chronic conditions from being fired for being sick. I was eligible and now am on FMLA on an intermittent basis. I have learned to not care what other people think. I have to take care of myself. I am thankful to spend the last few years of my work before retirement with the safety of FMLA and very happy that migraines are being recognized as being disabling.

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