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  • Writer's picturejennifer green


Updated: Nov 15, 2021

How to keep your job with Migraines. The secret your boss and HR Department aren't going to tell you.

While you are being harassed by your boss for missing too much work due to Migraines, an invisible illness and disease that you have no control over, the US Department of Labor has your back under the Federal Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Welcome Back Warriors to Migraines and Margaritas! Where we discuss pain prevention tips and other valuable information while sharing a delicious Margarita recipe with every post.

Today's Margarita seems fitting with today's topic. The Prickly Pear Margarita. Yum!



serves two

3 ounces clear tequila 2 ounces Cointreau 2 ounces freshly-squeezed lime juice 1 ounce prickly pear syrup Lime and kosher salt for garnish


Rim your glass with a wedge of lime and dip in salt

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the tequila, Cointreau, freshly-squeezed lime juice, and prickly pear syrup. Shake vigorously. Strain into your prepared margarita glasses filled will ice. Garnish with a lime slice to serve.

The Migraine Worker

You find yourself sitting in your cubicle feeling like you just got ran over by a semi, while somebody is squeezing your head into a vise grip, and gouging your eyes with needles. The glaring lights from the office and your computer are making you start to question your career choices and all you can think of is how fast can 5'oclock come? Will I be able to make it to the bathroom if I have to barf? and what will be worse, running through the office holding your mouth before you blow chunks or barfing in your desk garbage and having to explain it? Oh my god, 5pm can not get here fast enough. Please god don't let me get invited to a meeting or have my boss come by. Everything is starting to go blurry and my head is pounding so hard I can hear the sun. All I can manage to do is lay my head on my desk when what I really want to do is crawl under it, in the dark, and rest. How in the hell will I drive home? I don't dare ask to leave early, I'm on thin ice already. Maybe there is somewhere I can hide and lay down until it's time to go? That's better than asking to leave right? I can't believe this is my life.

Corporate life and work in general is not kind to Migraine sufferers. Is it because we are not visibly handicap that Corporations don't feel they have to treat us with understanding? You are one of the best employees they have, you meet all of your deadlines, you provide outstanding results and yet the perception of days not physically in the office are all that anybody sees.

Do they not know the struggle you go through to function day in and day out, to drag yourself to work when you can barely get out of bed or think straight. The office favorite would never be that dedicated! The late night hours you spend catching up on work so you don't let your job suffer from this illness. Your own kids are left to eat frozen chicken nuggets or swipe some peanut butter on a piece of bread because it's all you could muster before you had to lay down while you could barely walk or think from the intense pain.

You find yourself being spoken to and receiving warnings from how many days you missed from work and being threatened with losing your job over something you can't control.

Isn't this something that only happens to bad employees? Then it happens.....another job loss and worry about how you will pay your bills or feed your kids over a dreadful disease that you and everybody in your life resents. This never ending cycle that you can't take anymore. How will you even find another job when the stress is causing so many Migraines you can't function long enough to look for a job? And what happens when you finally get another job? No matter how good you are , it's only a matter of time before your missed days from work catch up to you and the cycle continues.

How is this fair? Why is this my life? I don't know what to do anymore! There has to be a better way. I know I'm not the only one who suffers from Migraines. Maybe mine are just worse or more frequent? I'm doing everything I can think of to feel better and not miss work or life. It's not like I'm out hanging at the Beach when I call in sick. IF I call in sick from a damn Migraine you can bet I am one step away from ending up in the ER.

So what do you do? Give up on life entirely? Sometimes it feels like that's all there is left. The pain, the financial instability, living life in bed...

There's Hope

BUT what your boss or your HR Department won't voluntarily tell you or offer to you as a solution, is that as a chronic migraine sufferer you qualify for FMLA. And while this won't take your pain away or make your overall life any better. What it will do is protect your job!!

Under FMLA your Doctor writes a note based on how many headache days you typically have a month and approves for you to miss that many days per month from work. These days cannot be counted against you as "absences". They also don't excuse you from actually doing your job, so you will need to continue to do whatever you need to in order to meet the requirements of your job responsibilities.

Under FMLA you may have let's say, 15 allowed days per month, depending on what was approved. Typically how this will work is you will be required to use your PTO, vacation days, sick days etc. on those days, or you can take them unpaid. Once you run out of PTO days, you are still allotted up to those 15 days if needed but you will have to take them unpaid. However, this depends on your company. Some won't allow you to take those days unpaid and require you to use up your PTO first. I personally believe this reason to be so that when they finally find a way to can you, they don't have to pay out your unused vacation days.

You are also not required by law to explain yourself. The only thing that you need to do is notify your boss that you will be taking an "FMLA" day some time prior to the start of your shift.

To qualify and apply for FMLA you will need to speak to your HR representative to find out what their procedure is and where you can find the paperwork to submit. Make your doctor appointment so that he/she can fill it out. It is still up to your company to approve, but this is a Federal program so as long as you follow the process you should not be denied. You will be requesting "intermittent leave", this is different than somebody who is asking for 12 consecutive weeks for other family related issues that are covered under the Family Medical Leave Act. Not all HR personnel are familiar with this program so make sure you are your own advocate.


You must have worked at your current company for at least 12 consecutive months and worked at least 1250 hours during those 12 months prior to applying for FMLA leave.

Only government agencies and companies with 50 or more employees are required to provide FMLA.

Now while this won't stop your company from getting creative in finding ways to let you go anyway, because they don't like you being out of the office no matter the reason, it is a very strong protection and worth looking in to.

Stay Strong Warriors!


Jen at Headzen

For more information on the Family Medical Leave Act, visit the Department of Labor website

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