Posts Tagged ‘working’

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)

Juggling Work & Illness

June 10th, 2009

Some of you may know that for the past few months I have been writing articles on Health Central’s My Migraine Connection on legal issues that relate to Migraine and chronic illness – doctor/patient confidentiality, protection of your Medical Records under HIPAA, Accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and look soon (in the next day or two) for an article on taking intermittent leave under the Family Medical Leave Act. You may know that in addition to coaching Migraineurs and others with chronic illness in how to manage life, get better, and live well with chronic illness, I am also a business coach, an attorney and a mediator, and I’m helping my husband develop several other web-based businesses for our family.

I try not to make too many recommendations that I haven’t tried myself, and so if I am going to coach and advise people in how to perform the extreme juggling act that is life with chronic illness, I guess I’d better be quite the juggler myself. I didn’t necessarily set out to do it on purpose – it worked out that way. When full time lawyering didn’t fit with chronic fatigue and triggered too many Migraines, when business coaching dropped way off in the current economy, when Migraine management coaching was a great idea but needed some time to develop, I have tried to keep nimble and keep using all my skills, trying new things and renewing old ones, all while getting sufficient rest, managing my triggers, and practicing my intentional relaxation.

I really started out this post to point you to the writing I’ve done on legal topics lately, because I think as you are managing your life with Migraine, these are useful pieces of information for you to have. But I do think a lot about all the many pieces that make up my life, the balls I have up in the air, as I work to manage it all, and to help those of you who work with me to manage what you juggle as well. It’s great to have something to work on. You don’t need to have as many things to manage as I do – I’m probably an extreme case. But it is important for us to have a sense of purpose and to be making a contribution in life – even when we are ill. It may not be work for pay – but if that’s possible, it’s a good thing! I recently added a little part-time job to my mix that keeps me on my feet for several hours, several days a week. Despite some initial exhaustion, over all my stamina seems to be building.

I hope for you that you have something that can get you out of bed and give you a sense of purpose – at least some of the time. Let me know how your juggling act is going!

- Megan

Street juggler image courtesy of Amit Bansal.

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Posted in Advocacy, Managing, Musings | Comments (2)

Keep Working? But How? Author Rosalind Joffe Gives us Some Clues

November 18th, 2008


Rosalind Joffe, co-author of Women Work and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working Girlfriend stops in today on her virtual book tour. I asked Rosalind “how can we deal with the conflict between the need to slow down and care for ourselves, and the pace and intensity of the working world?”  Here’s Rosalind’s response, in our guest post for today:

Continuing to work – and managing to achieve some level of success – while living with chronic illness isn’t for everyone. Women Work and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working, Girlfriend! explores the strategies and tactics that can help you. But the current work environment can pit us against our best desires to work and maintain a balanced life.

When my mother retired in 1992, she’d been working for 40 years. Testimonials at her retirement dinner reflected on her strong work ethic and her achievements. She’d reached an unusual level of success for a woman at that time in New York City public school administration. And she did it working between 40 to 50 hours/week, with a total of 3 months vacation yearly.

That’s just no longer possible. In the current labor market, the notion that there are no boundaries to the work day and working nights and weekends is the norm. Nor is this attitude limited to “white collar” or salaried jobs. Even hourly workers are expected to work more than their base time.

Cost cutting in a shrinking economy often means doing the same job that 1.5 or even 2 workers had done previously. In this 24/7 work world, too many organizations, big and small, assume that workers will be available whenever and wherever, regardless of the job or role in the organization.

So what does it mean for those of us whose personal resources are being taxed to the max due to a chronic illness?

First, take stock of your situation. Look carefully at who you are now and how you need to work so you can continue to work over the long haul. Throw the picture of “healthy you” in the trash – at least for now—and take a picture of you, right now, and tape it to your computer.

Now, think strategically. Give careful consideration to a career that offers relative stability. Although the current financial crisis shows us that nothing is for certain, some industries will always be more solid than others. You might want that sexy job but are you in a position to take the risk?

Additionally, when looking for a new job, focus on finding an organization that values its employees above all else. This can be the most critical element in your ability to keep working. My booklet, the Keep Working with Chronic Illness Workbook, complements the book. It has exercises and worksheets designed specifically with chronic illness issues in mind. Use this to seek work that meets your true needs and values.

Finally, no matter where you work or what you do, set limits. As long as you’re getting your job done to your satisfaction, you can decide where to set boundaries and draw the line.

At the end of the day, only you know if you can do the job. It often means modifying your own expectations. But when you take responsibility for managing your time and energy (even if you can’t make yourself healthy), you’ve put yourself in the driver’s seat. Remember, you could have a long work life ahead of you and now is the time to make it work for you.

Rosalind Joffe, co-author of Women, Work and Autoimmune Disease: Keep Working, Girlfriend! is president of, a resource for professionals who live with chronic illness. Check out her website CI Coach which is filled with resources about career challenges living with CI and her blog, Working with Chronic Illness.

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Posted in Books, Managing | Comments (2)

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