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To the Co-Worker Who Turned on the Air Conditioner Despite My Migraine

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I hope you’re feeling cozy and comfortable since I’m not in the office today. Yes, you’re free to lower the temperature of the air conditioner in the office. And you can thank the debilitating migraine attack I’m experiencing today for it.

I get to stay in bed under a blanket with the AC shut off. I know the temperature outside is over 95 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity is more than 20 percent, but I still find comfort under my blanket with my socks on because of my migraine.

You may not understand my migraines and what they have to do with the air conditioner, so let me explain. “Migraine attacks can cause significant pain for hours to days and be so severe that all you can think about is finding a dark, quiet place to lie down,” according to the Mayo Clinic. And a 2008 study of 200 migraine sufferers found “26 percent blamed air conditioning” as a factor that led to migraine attacks, according to

Now this can be hard to explain to someone who has been lucky enough to not experience a migraine and the discomfort it causes, so imagine working with ants crawling all over you head, shoulder and neck. Imagine writing with an ice-cold palm. Imagine having to wear a thermal layer, a formal shirt and a cardigan on top of it to work.

The air-conditioned environment in the office acts a catalyst to this distress. The cold air hits my head hard like a hammer hitting a rock. My feet feel like they’re in Antarctica. Switching off the AC just makes it a little easier for me to push through all this — if not more.

After work, I think of what to wear the next day so I won’t feel as cold. Now you know why I wear a sweater, a cardigan or a blazer almost every day. I have a wardrobe full of winter wear, socks, jackets, stockings, thermal wears and closed shoes.

It really hit me hard when I asked you to switch off the AC, and you replied, “I feel hot. I just had a cup of tea and need the AC!” You spoke with no empathy, switched on the AC and walked away.

Also, I only asked you to turn off one out of the four air conditioner units in our small area of the office for 10 minutes. My intention was not to put anyone else in discomfort, and our other co-workers did agree it was getting too cold.

By no means do I intend to make you feel guilty or blame you, but I want you to understand how people with chronic pain strive to get through a challenging day. And when I’m polite (yes, I can be rude sometimes) and request you turn the AC off for a while, I expect you to empathize and help me get through my work day.

The next time someone asks you to adjust or switch off the AC for a while, please be kind and don’t laugh about their plight. Understand the situation, understand their pain and get up and turn off the AC for a while. It can help make someone feel a little hopeful in times of their battle against excruciating pain.

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Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Originally published: May 16, 2016
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