Coping, Mental Health, Symptoms

Who’s in Control, Migraine or Me?

I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up this morning to discover that I felt pretty good. Once upon a time, I would have lazed in bed, planning for everything I would do during the day. After repeatedly getting up to start the wonderful day I’d mapped out only to get a migraine within 15 minutes of getting out of bed, I stopped that daydreaming about five years ago. Since then, I’ve instead lazed in bed, enjoying every moment until my head began to hurt again. Today I tried a new approach. I got up immediately, eager to take on whatever I could while the migraine was at bay.

As soon as I got out of bed, I knew the lack of a migraine was only an illusion. The pain wasn’t too bad, but I was so weak and dizzy. Still, I worked my way to the living room to pick up my laptop. I picked it up alright. Then I sunk down on the couch and plopped the unopened computer on my lap. I just needed to gather some strength before carrying it to my desk. That’s what I told myself over and over as the minutes dragged on.

And there I was, back in severe migraine and my nausea increasing, within half an hour of waking up thinking I had a productive day ahead of me. I can read novels again (after a four-year migraine-induced hiatus!), so the time spent in a migraine attack no longer feels completely wasted. Yet I get so tired of day after day passing without being able to write a post or call a friend or do the dishes. Even though I feel much better than I did at my worst, I spend so many days being unproductive and antisocial. I am more than migraine, but migraine pervades — and limits — all aspects of my being. Do I really believe migraine is not the boss of me?

P.S. Loss of Productivity During a Migraine Attack is an excellent post by Nancy Harris Bonk on the frustrations of being incapacitated by migraine.

Coping, Society

Migraine & Job Productivity and Worries

Sick and Vulnerable, Workers Fear for Health and Their Jobs
This title of a front page article in Saturday’s New York Times says it all. But I’ll summarize anyway… With an illness that requires a lot of time off work, a person’s job security suddenly flies out the window. The worries then extend beyond the illness; potential loss of income, identity, insurance and normalcy are all in jeopardy.

Artin of Pain in the Head, a blog that Moogle’s Thoughts introduced me to in this week’s Carnival of Compassion, experienced some of these dilemmas yesterday. The post title, Enter Dementors, is fabulously descriptive.

How much does migraine affect work life?

“A diary study of migraine sufferers from the general population revealed that over a three-month period, 69 percent of employed migraine sufferers experienced reduced work effectiveness.1 When people work with migraine, their productivity is reduced by 41 percent. Further, about 40 percent of all migraine sufferers account for 75 percent of all productivity losses.

“The best estimates suggest that migraine costs U.S. employers $13 billion per year in lost productivity. Of that amount, the largest part is due to reduced productivity at work, not absenteeism. As a corollary, workplace programs for treating migraine might help cost-effectively reduce the burden of illness. Since the current cost of migraine treatment in the U.S. is $2 billion, the productivity gains might more than offset increased spending for better healthcare. In addition, human suffering might be reduced immeasurably.” (Migraine in the Workplace: Impact and Hope, from a 2004 ACHE newsletter)

If you’re still not convinced, read these summaries of findings from more than 20 studies on migraine and productivity.

News & Research

Pain and Productivity

We all know that when our heads hurt, we aren’t as productive at work or at home. A study released in the July issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine jives with our experiences.

High Health and Productivity Impact of Pain in the Workforce

“Overall, 29 percent of workers reported ongoing problems with pain. Employees with pain scored more than 45 percent lower on an overall rating of physical health, compared to those without pain. Pain was also linked to a 23 percent reduction in mental health score.”