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My Full-Time Job Is Being a Chronic Migraineur

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My job doesn’t pay…in fact, my husband and I spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on “my job” every year – lost work as an RN, procedures, therapies and treatments not covered by insurance, new supplements well-meaning people swear by, expensive devices and treatments that might help.

I work every hour, every minute, to beyond exhaustion. There is no coffee break, no downtime, no weekends, no vacation. No time off despite excellent behavior. And yet – my job doesn’t look like a job to most people. Everyone who sees me thinks I’m a-OK as I pretend to be “normal.” I even spend energy faking it for my family. They have no idea how hard I work to appear better than awful. And I want so much to be normal. I dream of waking up one day – and all of this struggling will just *poof* be over.

If you’ve ever experienced pain so severe and for so long that you’ve prayed you’d die, you know what I’m talking about.

It’s been a 10-year string for me. And despite how I focus all my energy on being well, the physical abuse and mental stress I inflict on my body while trying to “appear well” has definitely been part of the cause for adding more comorbid diseases. Hooray. It’s like I got a “raise” or “promotion” with my job!

Normals often don’t know what to do with chronics. They don’t get it – unless they get it. We may appear to be lazy, whiny, unreliable, boring, insincere, anxious complainers. I’ll freely admit my former self didn’t understand.

There’s no kicking chronic migraine, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. and booting them our of your life. There’s no beating them. No remission. No cure.

So…we may come across as 1) boring, 2) annoying and 3) weird.

I think the only way to explain chronic illness to an average person is in analogies… Imagine having the flu every day of your life. Go to bed with the flu, wake up with the flu…sometimes it’s only aches and pains and a runny nose, other days it’s all flu. Then imagine having to climb Mt. Everest with that flu. Every day. Mt. Everest represents taking a shower, making a dinner for your kids, cleaning a bathroom, doing wash loads, driving to a doctor appointment (where they give you the news that they can manage your illness, but there is no cure. And the meds they want you to take may bring on side effects that are worse than the illnesses themselves).

woman lying in bed holding her head with a migraine

It’s like I’m half-alive, living a half-life. I feel like a lump. A burden. A shadow of my former self, a shadow of a mother, a shadow of a wife, a shadow of a friend. Yeah, staying home is great fun…staying home, being disabled – it’s the “job” I’ve always dreamed of having.

I’m good at my job. I’m great at my job. But I hate my job. I hate how it affects our family. How it takes things from us every day with no shame or remorse.

Sometimes…sometimes, I am so done. I want to quit my job.

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Originally published: June 25, 2017
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