By Megan –
Having had migraines since elementary school, I’ve never had them as frequent, or as worse. When my migraines got to the point of missing work, I waved the white flag and I finally went back to a neurologist for treatment and management.
Diagnosis: Chronic Hemiplegic Migraine with Aura
My worst migraines occur almost every Friday and Monday. They also pop up when I am finally able to relax on a vacation, or around the holidays where we get time off.
I work for a busy Orthopedic surgeon. Along with running a high volume patient clinic, I also assist in the OR, research, and marketing Monday through Friday (or try to at least). For me, the weekend migraine starts to build from Wednesday early afternoon, to me waking up with a full blown migraine around 3:00 – 7:00AM Friday. The migraine is so intense that it always wakes me up. Being woken by your brain feeling like it’s exploding inside your skull is a really horrible way to wake up. The irony of not being able to take my attack meds in the right window because I’ve been asleep is frustrating. As a result, I often times end up losing my whole weekend to a migraine and the post-migraine hangover (medically known as the “postdrome” phase).
The cause of weekend migraine you might be wondering? For me, my neurologist believes, “it’s my body’s way of managing to push through the things it needs to.” This has proven to be the case when I’ve survived week after week of extremely stressful work days. (Wednesday and Thursday are my most hectic clinic days). I can almost always find a way to excel at work, until my migraines completely shut me down. Essentially, I manage to push myself through my week at work, and then as soon as I make it through Thursday clinic, and can relax… Bam, I’m hit with a migraine the next day.
By the time I then go back to work on Monday, if the migraine hasn’t started up again, I’m in a constant haze of the migraine hangover. My body is telling me I haven’t had the break I should have had and I find myself again, pushing through the week at work, to be hit my migraine as soon as it’s over.
You can see the cycle here.
The worst part of the “Weekend Migraine,” for me, has been letting my boss down. Letting my coworkers down. The amount of guilt I feel when I have to talk to text and call out of work eats me away. Or Mondays in the migraine hangover, sometimes I get another migraine attack and have to email, “migraine with aura, I’m so sorry. Will email if I can manage to kick it and work.”
I’ve had to suck up my pride, and really communicate the severity of my migraines to both my boss and my coworkers. I had to finally be honest and vulnerable. I finally couldn’t do it all and hold it in anymore. I have been lucky to have a boss who truly understands that when I call out, it’s for something serious. A boss that will let me do anything reasonable the work place to help prevent a migraine attack for me.
As my neurologist preaches: “Don’t let a job that could replace you in a week take your health away from you.” Easier said than done right?
If you suffer frequent migraines on the weekends or during work, let your immediate supervisor know, along with co-workers you’re involved with on a day-to-day basis. Migraines are nothing to be ashamed about. This not only creates greater awareness about migraines in your workplace, but it’s also a great way to reduce stress (and possible future migraines) by getting it out in the open. If missed work is required, your boss and team members will understand why, instead of second-guessing your toughness or commitment.
If you’re struggling on how to break the cycle of weekend migraines, I am too!
Here are some ways my neurologist and I are trying to combat the weekend migraine specifically:
– Avoiding and modifying exposure to fluorescent lighting (lights a big trigger for me, also called “photophobia”). At work, I adjust the computer brightness all the way down. Same with my cell phone.
– I have purchased blue office-sized magnet fluorescent light covers that I put up above my computer.
– I have asked my boss to allow me to work remotely from home on Mondays and Tuesdays, to give my eyes a break. (Don’t be afraid to ask your boss about this!)
– I get up at the same time on Saturday and Sunday as I do Monday through Friday. Sleeping an hour or two later can be a trigger.
– My biggest fail: Keeping my stress levels somewhat steady all week. I am trying not to mentally or emotionally drain myself during Monday through Thursday. I’m trying to delegate more, and to learn the power of saying “NO!”
– I’ve decreased my overall caffeine intake. I try to drink no more than 8oz a day Monday through Friday if I can. Weaning yourself off caffeine isn’t easy, but it can be done over time.
– I’ve increased the amount of water I drink each day. Hydration is key! No soda or fruit drinks (although moderation is okay sometimes).
– I’m working with a nutritionist to help me figure out my food triggers, and what to eat in their place.
Weekend Migraineurs: You are not alone! Your migraine timing is not crazy. Listen to your body. Although it sucks to have to let down your co-workers and boss, at the end of the day, your health comes first.