Posts Tagged ‘Migraine disability’

How Can we Work with Migraines?

November 5th, 2009

Among the many difficult issues we face as Migraineurs is how to earn a living. We suffer from a highly disabling disorder. Migraine disease has a very real impact on our careers and our earning capacity. Many of us find we cannot keep up with the schedule, or the stress, or the intellectual demands, of our former jobs. Maybe we can’t work full-time hours, but we can still do productive work. Some of us are partly disabled, or mostly disabled, but don’t qualify for disability income.

I’ve been working from home since 1991, although I have had several part-time jobs at an actual job site since that time. My list is long: I have worked as a per diem attorney; I mediate for divorcing couples; I have done free-lance writing; I have taught school part time; I have worked retail part time; I have run a full-time business as a business coach, and a part-time business as a Migraine management coach. I’ve done a number of these things simultaneously. It hasn’t made me rich, and it has its ups and downs and delays.

Lately I have been writing articles for Health Central’s My Migraine Connection on legal rights for Migraineurs. One topic that keeps coming up is disability for Migraines. I will refer you to some of the resources already there on Health Central on this topic (some of which I contributed, mainly about US laws). Read about:

One of the difficulties many of us face, though, is that we may be too impaired to work full time, but not impaired enough to apply for permanent disability. If only there was such a thing as partial disability, that made up the difference between what we’re able to earn now and what we earned before! The remedies available in the law won’t necessarily help you choose how to live with the real-life situations you find yourself in.

It is possible to earn a living working from home, or on a free-lance basis. I can only touch on this subject today, but I hope to add a lot of resources to the site soon to help you find and maintain this kind of work. Is your work something that you could do part-time, or as a substitute? Many professionals may be able to do substitute, per diem, or fill-in work for their professional colleagues. A steady load of this work can take a little while to build up, but is usually available if you’re willing to look for it. You might also consider substitute teaching – substitute teachers in large school districts may get called to teach almost every day.

Work at home jobs can be anything from regular jobs where you work for an employer, clock in on your computer and work regular hours, to a huge variety of free-lance and business opportunities. There are books, blogs and web sites devoted to work at home opportunities. There are new professions like virtual assistants which serve those who work at home, where people with secretarial or administrative skills make them available on a contract basis. Like any other job search, finding work at home will involve focusing in on something you can do and building skills and contacts in that area.

The hardest part of working at home is the lack of structure, especially if you are working for yourself. I recommend setting working hours and sticking to them – go to work and don’t try to get your housework done at the same time. We Migraineurs have it even harder, we have the interruptions of Migraines on top of the lack of structure of working at home. The best piece of advice I can give you is, get as much support as you can. If you’re going to work on your own, get a coach or a support group to help you stay on track. There is a life between full time work and total disability, and there are lots of us out here living it who’d be happy to support you. The Migraine Support & Coaching Group is available to help you get started and keep going in your work at home venture.

- Megan

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Posted in Managing, Tips & Techniques | Comments (0)

The MIDAS Touch

April 5th, 2009

I recently took a MIDAS (Migraine Disability Assessment) test, and the results were enlightening.   The MIDAS test was developed by Richard B. Lipton, MD, Professor of Neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, NY, and Walter F. Stewart, MPH, PhD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.  It provides an objective measure of how much your Migraines disable you, or impair you from work and acitivities of daily life.  It is a useful test in several ways.  Many Migraine and headache specialists make use of it to determine how you are affected by Migraine disease, and to measure your progress in treatment.  The test is also useful if you need to build a body of evidence for a disability benefits application.  You can find and take the MIDAS test on line at the American Headache Society web site,

In addition to being helpful in your treatment, the test may be helpful to you personally, in better understanding the impact of your Migraines.  The test has you look back over the past three months and count:

due to Migraines.  Then it asks you for the number of days you had head pain, and the average severity of your head pain.  After you fill in all these numbers, the web site will calculate a score for you, which will indicate mild, moderate or severe disability due to Migraine disease.  Taking the test again on later occasions will provide an objective measure of how your treatment is working.

MIDAS is not brand-new, but my headache specialist does not use it so I had not taken it before.  I do, however, keep a very detailed diary, which is necessary to do this test.  If you haven’t kept track of how many Migraines you had, when, how severe they were and how they affected you, you won’t be able to complete the test.  Here at Free my Brain we will have a diary available for you soon.

What I learned for my self is that I am considered severely disabled by my Migraines.  This might surprise many of the people who know me, as I am up and functioning most days.  I have most of my Migraines in the evenings.  This means, however, that I have virtually no life when it comes to socializing and leisure time, and it also means that I must constantly choose between work and family, work and household tasks.  I have to earn a living, which is a struggle, so I don’t have as much time with family as I would like, very little time with friends, and as for household tasks, ha!  Reading my MIDAS results, you could predict the layer of dust in my house!

I suppose the test confirmed things I already knew.  It is a kind of validation, though, and it helps me focus on what I need to work on.  I need to be vigilant about my lifestyle – getting enough rest, doing my relaxation practice every day, working with my doctor to find the right preventive regimen for me. I need to maximize my health so I can do my work, be with my family, and then if I have a little energy left worry about the house! The MIDAS touch? Keeping that focus is pure gold!

- Megan

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Posted in Managing, Medicine | Comments (0)

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