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Living with Migraine

how can i feel well enough so i can go back to work ?

  • By clare

    Hi I’m Clare. I’m new here.
    I’m looking for a bit of advice.I normally get migraines frequently, I am just used to putting up with it and taking my sumitriptan.
    How ever 2 weeks ago after having a migraine fir two weeks solid I collapsed because my migraine was that servere. I stopped breathing and got took to hhospital. it was a very scary time. I have collapsed before but never stopped breathing.
    They diagnosed me with chronic migraine.I have been out on propanalol and been told to keep up with the sumitriptans and paracetamol and ibuprofen. Which I have been doing. But I’m no better. I’m waking up with it. I’ve been off work now for the second week which makes it nearly 4 weeks since this started. I need to go back to work,I can’t afford this time off. but I’m scared of collapsing at work if it gets too much again. I work with computers all day.Which makes it worse and the lights at work drives me insane.I’m pretty useless one I start because I get confused, can’t think straight, my speech is difficult and I sound drugged up. I become very intolerant to noise and generally feel horrible.
    Is there anything I can try or take so I am able to go back to work ? It doesn’t have to fully make me feel better just enough so I can focus and not be disoriented?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you.

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  • By Sheri Z

    Claire, I’m so sorry you are going through this situation. I am by no means an expert in chronic migraines except that I have been dealing with them for several years now. Something that has worked for me is to have a physician who is experienced in working with those with migraines. Have you had thorough testing to make sure nothing else is going on? The solution for working at a computer all day under fluorescent lights is not an easy one and some with migraine disease can not work in that environment. I’m sure you didn’t want to hear that but sometimes it takes drastic life changes to improve your ability to better cope with the disease.

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  • By Katie M. Golden Moderator

    Claire,
    I wish I knew how to get back to work too. When mine became chronic, I was out for 2 months straight before returning. Luckily my employer was extremely understanding. I had to cut back my hours and often found it tough to stick to a regular schedule because I never knew when the pain would be too awful to function. After 2 years of trying with my work suffering, I eventually went out on disability. It’s been a year and I still hope to return to work soon.

    I don’t tell you this to scare you. Your Migraines could break and become less frequent. But I do want you to think ahead in case things don’t go the way you want. Here are a few lessons I learned along the way:

    1. Have a very candid conversation with your boss now. Explain how debilitating it is. Let it be known that you want to go back to work, but your health is important. If your boss is unsympathetic, give him/her literature about chronic migraines.
    2. Get HR on your side now. Make sure you are communicating with them as well as your boss. And document everything. Give them doctors notes and keep copies for yourself.
    2. Know how many vacation days and sick days you have.
    3. Talk to HR about the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). After you’ve exhausted your paid time off, your company has to give you time off during an illness without the threat of being fired. You most likely won’t get paid during this time, but your benefits will remain intact.
    4. Understand your company’s short term and long term disability benefits. I know it’s scary to think that you may need these, but it’s better to know and prepare then to be left with nothing. I had to buy my own short term disability policy, but my company paid for long term. There was a waiting period after I bought the policy.
    5. In talking with your boss and HR, they have to make accomodations for you. I had them disable the automatic light switch in my office and I brought in dim lamps that were much easier on my eyes. Maybe you can work from home a few hours?
    6. Make sure you see a headache specialist right away. A neurologist will see patients with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s as well as Migraines. But a headache specialist only deals in this area. It could take a while to get in to see one, but it is very important in the early stages of your chronic Migraines.

    I really hope that some of this is helpful to you. Please take care of yourself!
    -Katie

    http://www.ucns.org/globals/axon/assets/10300.pdf

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