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Fired for Migraines?

  • By Jonah.Klabo

    So I’ve lived with Migraines all my life, as a kid I would randomly throw up at home or stay in my room and cry because I didn’t know my head was not normally supposed to hurt like it did with Migraines. And I had a really tough time in the schools I went to, with both attendance and performance being hindered by Migraines produced by stress. Throughout life up to this point I’ve realized that a lot of people just don’t understand how debilitating a migraine can be, I’ve had teachers call conferences and scold me for faking pains and not just dealing with the symptoms I get, Despite many neurologist visits, MRI scans, and doctors notes it seems that there’s no real way to feel like my condition is validated and understood which weighs heavily on my mental well being.

    The reason I bring this up is because currently I’m in a position of great stress and adversity, I live alone and have started college and found a position at a local grocery store as a graveyard shift stocker, a job that also brings a lot of stress into my life due to it’s physical needs and constant work that needs to be done. During my 2nd week I called into a shift with 3 hours in advance with a migraine and got reprimanded the next day by my manager, who told me that “He gets headaches” too. I explained that medically I’ve had a long history of debilitating migraines and there’s not a lot I can control in that aspect, I have a prescription for when they happen but not a lot in prevention of their cause. And then just the other night, well after the first incident, I called in again because I was having a particularly troublesome migraine and immediately got laid off by the store supervisor.

    Is there anything I can do to legally protect myself from termination because of this, a medical condition? I feel so trapped in this cycle and don’t know what to do.

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi Jonah.Kalbo,

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. It sounds like you have a lot going on in your life, something our migraine disease brains aren’t thrilled with. We like consistency, or a regular schedule if you will. I’ll go into that a bit later.

    I am sorry to hear you’ve been dismissed from you job. However, seeing as you’ve only been at this job a few weeks, I’m not sure how much recourse you have. If you had been at this job a longer, you may have qualified for the Family Medical Leave Act or FMLA. This is the law that protects people who have medical issues which allows you to miss a combined 12 weeks (within a year) and mandates your employer keeps your job, or an equal job open for you. This may come in handy with future employment. Here is more information on FMLA; https://migraine.com/blog/the-family-medical-leave-act-migraine-patients/.

    Migraine disease can be frustrating, debilitating and exhausting, no doubt about it. This can be compounded especially when there is not a compassionate medical team working with you. Neurologists may be fine doctors, but may have a hard time being experts in one area because they treat so many other conditions such a stroke, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s and others. Migraine/headache experts, true experts, are board certified in headache medicine, which is different than being certified in neurology. When you get a chance, take a look at this information on how these doctors are different and how to find one; http://migraine.com/blog/how-are-migraine-specialists-different/ and https://migraine.com/blog/really-find-headache-specialist/. Also, here is a list of doctors (who many not be neurologists) board certified in headache medicine; http://www.ucns.org/globals/axon/assets/12644.pdf

    As I mentioned above, it’s important for people with migraine disease to keep a regular schedule. This means a regular sleeping, eating, and working schedule whenever possible as our brains are overly sensitive. The smallest change can trigger a series of events in our brains that may result in a migraine attack. Swing shift and/or third shift are notoriously troublesome for those of us with migraine disease. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule every day, including weekends, is very helpful in reducing migraine attack frequency. I hope that makes sense.

    Triggers – have you been able to identify any other triggers? One of the best ways to do this is to keep a detailed migraine diary for a few month which will allow you to see any patterns your migraine attack have and triggers. Here is information on keeping one;
    https://migraine.com/blog/keeping-migraine-diary-basics/.

    I’m going to stop now so I don’t totally overwhelm you. Please let me know if you have questions after you go over this information.

    I hope this helps!
    Nancy

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