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Living with Migraine

Boss Discusses My Migraines w/ Co-wowrkers

  • By klexow1209

    Hi, all.
    I have had migraines for 16 years now. They have escalated into chronic migraine since April of 2017. I frequently have to wear sunglasses and headphones while working, and I have at least 2 days/month where I either cannot go in, or have to leave early. My criteria for staying home is basically “if I can see well enough to safely drive, I can work.”
    I had to discuss my migraines with my supervisor to get her to sign my FMLA paperwork. My problem is that she now brings my “headaches” up at team meetings. The context is usually along the lines of, “If you are having a headache, you don’t have to do x…” She also brought up my migraines during a review for a promotion I was up for. She said she wanted to make sure that the time was right for my promotion “especially because of [my] headaches.”
    I genuinely feel that her comments are coming from a place of concern for me as a person. However, I am really uncomfortable with her voicing her concern in front of my coworkers. Also? I don’t have “headaches.” I have a chronic neurological disease, for which I am under the care of an entire platoon of specialists.
    Has anyone else had this problem? I’m not at all sure how to deal with this. Any advice is appreciated.

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi klexow1209,

    Thank you for reaching out. I’m sorry to hear you are going through this. I’ve not encountered this before, but hopefully others who have will be along shortly to share their experiences with you.

    The first thing that comes to mind is having a conversation with her. Would that be possible? If she understood that migraine is a genetic neurological disease and not a headache, I wonder if that would make a difference. You could print out some information for her and let her read it?

    Let me know what you think,
    Nancy

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  • By Pump2Duncan

    I think it would be perfectly appropriate for you to discuss with your boss how you were hoping to keep your medical condition more confidential. And when discussing confidentiality, I would use proper medical terms and steer clear of her “headache” term.

    If she’s being up your condition during team meetings, she will probably say that she is bringing it up to make sure that all assignments are covered even if you need to be out. I would work out a contingency plan for that excuse prior to you speaking with her. Perhaps you could take care of the delegation of the missed assignments? Or solicit a co-worker that you’re friendly with to help you out with that? “If I need to be out, I have spoken with ‘Susie Q’ and she is willing to cover for me or delegate as necessary. I will inform her of my absence and assignments.”

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  • By klexow1209

    Hi, All,

    Thank you for your feedback! I really appreciate it.

    I should have mentioned before that I have a contingency plan in the works for the days I am unable to work. I have 2 other coworkers that are able to fill in for me if needed, and if it’s something that absolutely requires me to complete, I will go in to take care of it and then uber home. This means that I will only stay home if I don’t have anything on my plate that can’t wait. If I’m unable to come in, I also text my team about anything that needs coverage. I have also discussed the nature of my migraines with my boss (more than once).

    I’m going to print off some literature for her to read and discuss with her again about keeping my medical history confidential. (We work at a medical facility, so we are BIG on HIPPA). I will let you know how it goes. My next step would be to speak to her boss, I guess, but I really do not want to do that.

    Thanks, all!

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