Migraine Awareness Month #9 Mama Mia: Money Money Money: How does living with Migraine or another Headache Disorder impact your financial situation?


It has impacted my career. It impacted my productivity when I work. Impacted my ability to sustain work.

Greatly unfortunately because it greatly affects my capacity to work. There was a time when I thought I could have a career. That I had found an area of work that I had the capacity to do and I could succeed in.

Yet in the end, it never is that easy.

Treatments change. Preventatives fail. Side effects are problematic.There is absenteeism. And then presenteeism, where you are there but your productivity is down because it is next to impossible to think through the pain.

Days missed for severe migraines… I mean obviously, I worked on days when migraines were acute but there were days when I woke up with acute migraines with symptoms that made me unable to drive and unable to function… and these add up to more than acceptable. Sometimes quite a bit more than is acceptable. But ‘pushing through the pain’ is equally unacceptable mentally and emotionally for coping with the pain that is there because one has no pain management.  When things get really problematic often I would be put on a short-term leave of absence and my income would suffer during this time… so any little amount of money I had set aside would be consumed to compensate or be used for all those ‘extra’ treatment options you try when you are not working and have the energy to try them. No matter how much I tried to save, which was something important to me, it never failed that I would need it during these times which at least helped with the financial burden at some of these times. I’d go back to work sometimes in a different role and different pay and there was this step backwards instead of forwards for the career. Eventually… another leave of absence and the same thing over again. Rinse… repeat… step forward… two backward.

Also, there are all the other treatments. Physiotherapy has also been beneficial for me but my coverage at work never got me far so I’d have to pay out of pocket for the rest and eventually have to stop. And this is the same for anything I tried. Sometimes you just ‘try’ within the coverage because you can’t really give it a good go. Then there are all the vitamins and supplements which do not come cheap and add up.

Now I am currently on long-term leave from work which cuts my income down to 60% and that is very tight indeed. It is a very hard budget to maintain such that when my car stopped working, well, sort of lack the buffer room to fix it without going into debt. Just no room for anything. Every time something ‘happens’ I have to try and recover the budget somehow when there is no space for anything to happen. This clearly worries me a great deal because working was obviously having a great mental and emotional strain on me due to the pain levels and stress. And while I understand that and I understand my ability to cope emotionally and mentally is vastly improved because I am not working I honestly do not see how not working is a viable option in Canada. Without the long-term payments, I would need at least what I make now to barely make it and all the alternatives do not cut it… so they are not exactly alternatives are they? So it is either hopefully increase my ability to function by then enough to work full time again… or find a way to come up with a viable alternative that meets the minimum standards to meet my financial obligations. Damned if I know a solution to this looming problem but it causes me a great deal of anxiety because clearly, the thought of work causes me anxiety as I was not coping with the pain well at all… the fact I may be forced to again does not put me in a good mental place. So… yeah, money, money, money.

However, having chronic migraines saves me money too. I never do anything. I never go anywhere. I never spend money because I have no social life. I only spend money on books. And when I cannot I have a vast amount to re-read.  

June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.


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