any nurses with intractable migraines?

  1. 0
    I am not a nurse but am considering going back to school for a 2nd career in nursing. I have had the same migraine for the last 10 years. I don't expect it to go away anytime soon. I am able to manage the migraine symptoms with medication and lifestyle changes (it seems that as soon as I change one thing that I find 5 more things to work on! lol). I have always wanted a career in health care. I didn't do enough research on careers other than MD and ended up with an MS in Chemistry. I am finding that there aren't as many jobs out there in my field as I thought. I am exploring nursing because I want a rewarding and challenging career where I work with people. Currently my career has none of those characteristics. I am very interested in nursing because I have found that the nurses I have had offer the most comfort out of anyone on the staff when my pain is bad. Is it insane to try to go to nursing school with migraines like mine? My sister keeps telling me that I wouldn't make it through. I am interested in exploring any option available to me. I do not have my heart set on any particular area of nursing. So far I have looked at ANP, PMHNP, and midwives. I haven't had a chance to talk to anyone who does not have a graduate degree. Does anyone have recommendations of areas to look at? How do I find nurses in these areas?

    Thanks,
    Bosongirl
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  4. 8 Comments so far...

  5. 0
    Hi Bosongirl,

    I also have suffered from migraines for 10+ years (probably closer to 15 by now). Just to give you a little background, I generally have headaches from 1-4 times per week with sometimes stretches of weeks of headaches. I graduated from an accelerated nursing program in Aug '05 and have been an MICU nurse for 2 1/2 years.
    I won't say that nursing school and working are not a challenge when you suffer from migraines, but I can say without reservation that it is doable and worth it to me. I think that you have to be strong willed and have some ability to suffer. During school, there were papers to write and projects to complete whether I had a headache or not. Now that I work, there are days that I think my head might explode during a shift and I simply can not stop working. There are days when I wake up at 3am with a headache knowing that I can't call off from work in the morning. There really are times when I must work when I truly don't think that I can. Do you think you can do that?

    I love my job. I work the MICU in the major teaching hospital in my city. We take the sickest of the sick that other hospitals can't take care of. We deal with matters of life and death ALOT. Our staffing is tight (as it is everywhere I suppose) I think my job is probably high on the list of stressful nursing jobs and I can do it and I love it.

    There is such a wide range of nursing jobs available in this country too. While mine is currently at the hard end of the scale, there are also plenty of less demanding possibilities out there. Truth be told, I am beginning to look at other job options, but this is because I am moving quite a distance from my current location and a new job gives me the opportunity to try something new and different. I also plan to go to grad school (probably for ANP) starting either this September or next (life circumstance permitting).

    Only you can know if you can do this. But I am here to tell you that it can be done. If you need a cheerleader, I'll root for you. If you have questions about school/nursing with migraines, I might be able to help you answer them.

    Whatever you decide, best wishes to you in your endeavors.
    Monkeymind
  6. 1
    I had migraines starting at the age of 16. I went to nursing school and worked for 14+ years with them. I used my FMLA time if I needed a day off now and then.

    2 1/2 years ago, I woke up with a headache that never went away. I have been diagnosed with Atypical Facial Pain, allodynia, photosensitivity, phonosensitivity, chronic migraine, generalized anxiety disorder, and major depressive disorder.

    I can no longer work. After finally finding a job I loved, I can't work. I can barely go outside without a hat and sunglasses on because of the sensitivity to light. There are days I can't do anything, and even on my good days I can't do more than 3-4 hours of anything productive.

    I fought for, and was granted at my administrative law judge hearing, Social Security Disability. I hate being on it, but I can't work. Other than the intolerance to light and sound, and stress being one of my migraine triggers, I take Methadone, Lexapro and Xanax for my nerve pain, and I am not very confident about working and taking responsibility for patients while I am under the influence of these meds. It would not be safe for any of us.

    I miss working. I miss my job and feeling like I was contributing something worthwhile to society. However, I had to decide I had to take care of myself. Part of that decision was assisted by my inability to drive an hour to get to work without being in tears from the pain.

    I now sell eggs from my chickens, a few aprons I make when I can, and a few other craft-related things. I look at each day as a gift. I am thankful for every day I can get out of bed and do even the minor things in our home to keep it running.

    I couldn't work now if I tried, and it's sad. Please take the time to think about the stress aspects of the career if you choose it. Nursing is very stressful, especially in the hospital setting.

    I wish you well.

    Trisha
    brandy1017 likes this.
  7. 0
    I also have constant migraine.

    It just depends on how well you can control it and with what meds. Mine never goes away but abates with meds. The thing is, I can't take anything mind-altering at all, because you need all your "wits" to study and work.

    As someone above said, you have to be willing to work through the pain.

    Personally, I would rather do what I want to do than let the migraine win.
  8. 1
    I admire you all so much!
    I am nearing retirement as a hospital nurse.
    I've had migraines for 50 years but at most they happen 5 days a month.
    They started when I was 14 but wern'r diagnosed until I was in my 30's. Just thought I got a terrible one sided headache with the stomach flu. And pregnancy gave a complete reprieve until my babies were nearly weaned.

    And after eliminating cheese and many other foods, doing the diary, trying cafergot and other meds IMITREX has been a miracle for the last decade!

    Now if I wake at 3:00 am with a headache I take one pill and am able to work.

    The only times I worked with a migraine was when it started during the shift.
    Not just the vomiting my vision and thinking are abnormal so I wouldn't subject my patients to that.

    Kudos to you who have the strength to do that!
    10MG-IV likes this.
  9. 0
    Quote from bosongirl
    I am not a nurse but am considering going back to school for a 2nd career in nursing. I have had the same migraine for the last 10 years. I don't expect it to go away anytime soon. I am able to manage the migraine symptoms with medication and lifestyle changes (it seems that as soon as I change one thing that I find 5 more things to work on! lol). I have always wanted a career in health care. I didn't do enough research on careers other than MD and ended up with an MS in Chemistry. I am finding that there aren't as many jobs out there in my field as I thought. I am exploring nursing because I want a rewarding and challenging career where I work with people. Currently my career has none of those characteristics. I am very interested in nursing because I have found that the nurses I have had offer the most comfort out of anyone on the staff when my pain is bad. Is it insane to try to go to nursing school with migraines like mine? My sister keeps telling me that I wouldn't make it through. I am interested in exploring any option available to me. I do not have my heart set on any particular area of nursing. So far I have looked at ANP, PMHNP, and midwives. I haven't had a chance to talk to anyone who does not have a graduate degree. Does anyone have recommendations of areas to look at? How do I find nurses in these areas?

    Thanks,
    Bosongirl

    I am not a nurse yet but I start clinicals for nursing in a few weeks. I have migraines, MVP, (which was caught during an EKG and echocardiogram to clear me for Imitrex) and levoscoliosis. So now Imitrex is a no go because of the MVP and levoscoliosis was caught during the physical for school.

    None of it is "noticable" so to speak. Far as the migraines I watch what I eat, (still screw that up with some foods) use lots of icepacks and try to stretch my back and neck alot, I also do these wierd looking mouth exercises. I don't care if I look crazy out in public doing that or not, it offers relief and allows the pain to subside to a tolerable level. I have also tried accupuncture and visualization techniques before and they have helped to releieve some of the more severe migraines.

    Far as school I had migraines long before I started down this road and I figured I may as well have a migraine for a good reason. I also don't seem to react to things that cause "headaches" literally in other students because my head already hurts . On a side note I will never sell anyone's complaints of being in pain short just because they don't "look" like they hurt. I know just a little bit how it feels to look ok and not feel ok at all.
  10. 0
    I have had intractible migraines for years. I have malformations of the spine and spinal cord, as well. Working with them was difficult but not impossible. The one thing that I can say is that personally I never stopped trying to find the cause, due to the fact that they have gotten worse over the years. I recently found out that due to having celiacs, I had a severe B12 and D deficiencies. I started getting B12 shots and D and have not had a migraine since. (I was taking just about everything for the migraines: antiepileptics, BP meds, antidepressants, and the list goes on...Now, I am off of everything.)

    I found the best thing for me was to sleep when I needed to, be active when I could, and practice as much acceptance of the issue as my mind could accomplish. I stopped beating myself up when I could not do everything. It's much easier now to look back and say these things, but please hang in there. It is worth it if you can do it. If you have to do things slower than others, that's OK, too. (My memory was affected, so this was a big issue for me.) Just do the best that you can.
  11. 0
    I started having migraines during nursing school. I went into surgical menopause and found that the estrogen I was taking heavily influenced the onset of the HA.

    I ended up going to a neurologist who had a headache clinic with the practice. I found that very helpful to help stop triggers, but I also found out that there is a family hx of migraines, so I guess I was predisposed.

    I haven't had a migraine for years, and I follow a pretty strict diet that I know of foods that can trigger.

    Good luck!
  12. 2
    Quote from sharona97
    i started having migraines during nursing school. i went into surgical menopause and found that the estrogen i was taking heavily influenced the onset of the ha.

    i ended up going to a neurologist who had a headache clinic with the practice. i found that very helpful to help stop triggers, but i also found out that there is a family hx of migraines, so i guess i was predisposed.

    i haven't had a migraine for years, and i follow a pretty strict diet that i know of foods that can trigger.

    good luck!
    topamax has been my life saver... at first phenergan, then imitrex, maxalt, zomig, boy that imitrex sure did make you feel like the top of your head would come off but the headache would leave. now, 25-50 mg of topamax daily and thank-you jesus no more migraine ha. i feel for those who come in the er for migraine ha, the pain would make you want to put a gun to your head really or just get knocked out. i have rarely had a migraine ha puker though in the er
    Last edit by Silverdragon102 on May 5, '08 : Reason: TOS pm to member
    brandy1017 and sharona97 like this.


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