Working with migraine: You are the weakest link... goodbye.


Where I live we are not feeling the brunt of the global recession like our southern neighbour, but enough to know the future is not predictable. Where I work there have been cutbacks and some of them mean a serious re-structuring of staff. We are not likely to get our annual pay raise to compensate for inflation. And it is obvious that if things do not recover in due time the next step is layoffs, no matter how sunny management tries to make things sound.

Normally speaking, this does not worry me so much, given I am not the primary income earner, nor ever will be, but job stability becomes an important consideration. And when I think about who would be cut from my area within the workplace naturally I am quite aware it would be me. The weakest link. While I may be managing my migraines, it is obvious I still get them with enough frequency to still be well within the classification of chronic. It has become apparent that taking away my treatment, for whatever reason, causes a very rapid decrease in functioning, to the point of not functioning. This can potentially occur at any time. And medication adjustments are something that is always problematic. Because I am sickly and I have a chronic condition, or two, it means I am simply a higher risk. Higher risk at getting ill, higher risk of health-related complications and a higher risk of short-term leaves. Laying someone off is the easy way to get rid of someone like me without seeming to be biased against my medical situation. So I am simply at a higher potential for job loss and would have far more difficulty replacing that loss as well.

I have had three people in the last week inquiring about my migraines. How they have been and such. And it is freaking me out. Why the interest, I wonder? Some people are sympathetic and just wanting to know how things are now, but others I wonder at the sudden curiosity and timing. In other words, I have a very strong desire to be vague and outright lie about it. Put on the ‘I’m fine’ facade and smile. I want to be seen as dependable, not expendable, and yet, obviously, even with the balance I have with my current treatment I know very well I cannot predict how that will be working for me a year from now. Which means even if I am willing to learn, play well with others, am skilled and experienced… I am still not as cost effective as everyone else.

I always have the potential to become very ill very fast. I cannot say it won’t happen, because every time it has happened, always to medication problems, it has been an unexpected and rapid decline. Three times in the last four years… not the greatest track record really. At these times, it usually takes minimum a few months to get to see my neuro, get a new med and wait for that med to work or not work. The point is, I still remember a time when I always had job security because I was always a quick learner, a hard worker and valued as such. Now, due to something out of my control, I will always have that black mark against me… one that does affect my raises, my career path, my promotions. It makes that fear of losing it all again that much more real. I am terrified of a doctor thinking they should mess with the status quo because they don’t think I should be on such and such and having that negatively affect my health too quickly for me to compensate. Worse, I fear what I am taking will suddenly stop working and finding a replacement will take too long.

So now is the time to invest, not spend. To horde and hunker down. Prepare for the potential storm. You just never know when the world will fall apart again.

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