Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

Post  Brenda L. on Thu Dec 05, 2013 8:00 pm

I've had severe migraine 24/7 for the past 3 years, constantly. If not for my pain management doctor and opiates, I would have gone insane by now. I've ben getting severe migraines for 25 years, so I really have tried it all in terms of meds, neuros, headache clinics, etc.

I wanted to ask other migraineurs how you deal with other people when experiencing migraines. I used to get breaks from my migraines and then I sort of had a life, but ever since my migraines have gone constant it's hard for me to leave the house. I'm in constant pain and nausea, but my meds do help a fair amount. My meds do cause a couple of side effects, though: sweating and dry mouth.

I've been unable to work for the past 3 years and finances are running low, so I'm thinking about at least trying to do a bit of volunteer work or something. All I really feel like doing is lying on the couch or resting in bed, though. Any activity makes my pain worse. Activity also causes sweating due to the meds I'm on, so being in public and sweating a lot can be very embarassing. People ask me if I'm feeling okay, one lady asked me if I was having a "hot flash", etc. My meds also cause dry mouth so I pretty much need to carry a water bottle with me wherever I go.

I'm on a pretty complicated cocktail of meds, and I need to retreat to the restroom to take my meds every 4 hours or so. I take pills, phenergen suppositories, DHE injections----it's quite a routine. It's the only thing that enables me to function at all, though.

If I do get a volunteer job or part-time job, does anyone have any advice on how to deal with people and deal with my med situation? If someone asks me about my sweating or all of the water that I drink, do I tell them that it's because I have a migraine? Is telling people that you have constant migraine a good idea? I've heard it's a bad idea to tell anyone other than family that you take opiates, so I won't be revealing that info. Should I reveal the fact that I have to take medication? It's going to be pretty awkward to have to go into the bathroom every few hours to take my meds. If I am out anywhere in public, I never tell people that I'm going to the bathroom to take my meds, because I think that's private info.

My family and close friends know about my med routine, but I really wouldn't want to reveal this info to co-workers. I guess I just have to pretend that I feel perfectly normal? It's a real dilemma, because the migraine pain can make it difficult for me to focus. The meds decrease my pain, so they actually improve my ability to focus.

I've read stories where migraineurs like me had co-workers who observed this pattern of behaviour of retreating to the restroom every few hours and came to the erroneous conclusion that the migraineur was a drug addict, so I certainly don't want that to happen. But I'm pretty hesitant to tell people I've only just met that I have chronic migraine and have to take meds for it.

Has anyone been in this situation of needing to take meds at work? Probably so, I would guess. Is it wise to be open about migraine with co-workers, or can that backfire in some way? I certainly don't want people to think I'm complaining or asking for special treatment.

Thanks in advance for any advice.

Best Wishes,
Brenda

Brenda L.

Posts : 63
Join date : 2012-12-14

Back to top Go down

Re: Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

Post  Seaine on Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:13 am

Personally I don't think it's a good idea to share the info. In the past when I have, people do not have good reactions. They make rude comments, such as suggesting that maybe I'm "allergic to air" or that I should try "drinking more water" because they get headaches when they're dehydrated. Laughing Or they talk about you behind your back - they may do this a bit anyways, but giving them more info will make it worse. Basically, they will all mostly act like something is wrong with you, or you must be crazy and it's all in your head, etc. Sure they might notice the sweating or using the restroom, but if you don't bring it up most of them probably won't. If they ask, just keep it simple like say, "I sweat a lot, it sucks." I tend to use the restroom every 4 hours or so anyways because that's how often I have to pee, and no one has ever mentioned it as being weird.

I take pills at work everyday as well. Honestly, I just whip them out of my pocket and take them wherever I'm at, so long as it's only coworkers present and not customers. No one has ever asked me why I'm taking pills. I just don't make a big deal out of it and no one else does. But obviously you need to use the restroom for this due to the type of pills you have.

Bottom line: I don't recommend telling people because they WILL NOT understand.
avatar
Seaine

Posts : 331
Join date : 2012-07-20
Age : 30
Location : Florida, USA

Back to top Go down

Re: Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

Post  Kem10 on Fri Dec 06, 2013 7:49 am

I have a funny story about this. When Imitrex was brand new on the market here in the US, it was available by injection only. I was a nursing supervisor at the time and carried my injection with me everywhere. One evening at work I really needed it but was a bit concerned if someone should come into my office while I was injecting myself so I called one of the floor nurses to my office. I handed her the injection which was still in it's box with the prescription label on it and asked her to read it. She did and said "ok so why am I here?" I explained that I was worried about someone coming into the office and thinking that I was using illegal drugs. She laughed and stayed while I injected myself and that was the end of any possible problem. Smile 
avatar
Kem10

Posts : 224
Join date : 2013-10-27

Back to top Go down

Re: Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

Post  tortoisegirl on Fri Dec 06, 2013 6:18 pm

I agree--I wouldn't tell anyone you have health problems or take meds, especially opiates. As for the sweating and needing to drink a lot of water, I'd agree...just brush it off. Those are pretty normal things. I especially try to avoid telling anyone I have chronic pain as then the question of pain meds comes up.

I just had this come up with a close friend last week actually...she is one of the few who knows of my health issues. We had been discussing insurance, and how thankful I was I had such good prescription coverage. She asked for the first time if I was on any pain meds. I brushed it off with something like "yeah, some".

I wasn't ready to say I was on high doses of daily methadone plus as needed stuff! Maybe someday I will though. Right now, only my doctors and hubby know. Not even my parents, although I think they suspect/assume.

Have you tried the various products for dry mouth? I get some relief with Biotine mouthwash and XyliMelts mints (they are made to stick in your mouth, but I just use them as a regular mint). They have sprays and all sorts of other things too.

Besides the annoyance, its really important to try to treat dry mouth, as it can cause a lot of dental problems like cavities. I just got my first in many years. My periodontist thinks it even contributed to my gum recession, for which I just got the first set of many needed gum grafts. Its worth spending the $30/month or whatever on dry mouth products if it helps minimize thousands of dollars in dental work.

I have a desk job and take my meds at my desk discretely (I keep the bottles in my purse while I get the pills out, and wait until any visitors to our area are gone). No one has ever said anything. Not sure they even notice, even though its 2-4 times a day at work.

I hear people's pill bottles jingling all the time around the office--I assume otc meds for headaches, so even if someone sees you take a pill, they would assume its otc or something more benign.

With your type of meds, I'd just take your purse to the restroom every time, then use your meds as needed. Lots of folks take their purse with them to freshen up makeup or whatever, so if they see its a routine for you, it won't be out of the norm.

I go to the bathroom every 2-3 hours at work due to the water I drink and bladder problems. Folks just aren't going to discuss how often you use the restroom or how long you take. Its pretty taboo, especially with women.

Even if you do have some focus issues with pain, if that is how it is from the start, they wouldn't know the difference. Its tougher when someone develops chronic pain while with an established job, as they would have to explain any changes in performance. Especially if its something simpler that is volunteer or part time, I don't think it would be a problem.

Quite different from a high performance full time job with lots of expectations for example. For example, I have to write everything down (since I only seem to remember stupid stuff, not important instructions) and since I've done it since day one, I don't think anyone thinks anything of it.

Also ensure that your purse is secure while at work. Taking it with you when you leave your desk is actually a good idea with the sorts of meds you'd have in it. Or, if they have lockers, just retrieve it for bathroom visits. I think its great you want to try working outside the home. Take it slowly on the time commitments and work your ways up. Good luck! Best wishes.

tortoisegirl

Posts : 357
Join date : 2009-12-14
Location : Washington

Back to top Go down

Re: Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

Post  Mule Kick on Sun Dec 08, 2013 12:47 pm

Brenda, you also need to take into consideration the fact that the opiates will show up on the pre-employment drug screening urine test.
avatar
Mule Kick

Posts : 223
Join date : 2009-12-04
Location : Oregon High Desert

Back to top Go down

Re: Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

Post  tortoisegirl on Sun Dec 08, 2013 3:41 pm

But unless its a transportation type job that doesn't allow opiates, most pre-employment drug screens will have to report back to the employer you were clean, after they verify the prescription with your doctor and/or pharmacy.

Also, many of the screens are so basic that they may not pick up what you take (the most basic 5 panel test only picks up cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, morphine, and marijuana). The Methadone I take for example hasn't been on either drug screen I've had to take (it would take a 10 panel test to pick it up).

And since I knew a few days to a week in advance, I avoided taking my as needed pain meds just to make things easier, in case it was a 5 panel test (and both were, for two different jobs). Not that I'm recommending that though.

I did that more as my company was sending me and some other folks out on a contract, and the employer required a screen, and I didn't want mine to be delayed longer than the other folks while they contacted my doctor/pharmacy, as that may have looked weird. Best wishes.

tortoisegirl

Posts : 357
Join date : 2009-12-14
Location : Washington

Back to top Go down

Re: Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

Post  Mule Kick on Sun Dec 08, 2013 10:02 pm

Even eating a poppy seed muffin will show up as opiates on a drug screen.
avatar
Mule Kick

Posts : 223
Join date : 2009-12-04
Location : Oregon High Desert

Back to top Go down

Re: Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

Post  sailingmuffin on Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:49 am

Hi,

I am sort of in the same boat. My headaches, but mostly the fainting make it hard for me to work. However, I have found that doing something helps me a great deal psychologically. So here is some advice.

You might want to start with the volunteer route. For one thing, if you are having a bad day, you can usually cancel. Granted, I have had to tell them about some of my health things- mainly the migraine and fainting. I do a good deal of volunteer work at a local elementary school. I go twice a week for about 2-l3 hours at a time. I usually do some paper work, catalogue AR books, and help children who need help with reading. I also read to the children on thurday morning. Also, Dora is very helpful. I have been doing this for about 3 years and haven't had any problems. I also worked doing some volunteer data entry for a local charity. I am currently working with EasterSeals to see about some form of part time employment.

It might be worth checking out something you are interested in. It can't hurt to look into it. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. It is possible to work around the med schedule. However, volunteer work may be a good place to start. you can let them know you have some problems, but I do not think you have to disclose everything. I hope this helps.

Pain free days,
sailingm
avatar
sailingmuffin

Posts : 550
Join date : 2009-12-05

Back to top Go down

Re: Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

Post  Cassiej on Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:24 am

I have always hidden my migraines and meds. Never understood why but I need to hide my weaknesses. I may come across as cold or autistic because when in pain I can't make eye contact. I can do office work but not people. Others are right in that it is easy to hide meds and medical conditions.

Good luck with this issue. I hope you find a good work or volunteer environment.

Cassiej

Posts : 69
Join date : 2013-07-10

Back to top Go down

Re: Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

Post  Migrainegirl on Tue Dec 10, 2013 7:42 pm

While I don't like to talk about having a headache, the truth is people can tell something is wrong.
I had an employee very worried I was mad at him for something, when really it was just a headache.
So, I guess beware of what people will guess to create their own explanations of what is going on.
avatar
Migrainegirl

Posts : 999
Join date : 2010-07-19

Back to top Go down

Re: Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

Post  Seaine on Wed Dec 11, 2013 7:10 pm

Migrainegirl, that is totally true.  I got complaints at work from my coworkers, saying that they thought I did not like being at work and wasn't involved.  The truth was that I loved my job but was in extreme pain all the time.  So you'll have to make a conscious effort to let people know that you like being where you are.
avatar
Seaine

Posts : 331
Join date : 2012-07-20
Age : 30
Location : Florida, USA

Back to top Go down

Re: Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

Post  lepoppet on Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:38 pm

I made the terrible mistake of believing that the people I worked with would understand my migraine pain.  What a mistake.  After telling my manager and director about my migraines and the different meds I was trying, I got hauled into an "intervention" with HR, my VP, Director and Manager.  They told me I should consider rehab for drug addiction (even though I didn't take any meds at work and would rather gut out the pain than be stoned from meds).  They also told me that if my attitude didn't improve, I would be written up.  This was after a particularly horrible experience with Topomax. I was in so much pain and really scared I was going to faint at work (again).  To be hauled into HR and yelled at and threatened by a VP was too much.  I went to ER that night and was never able to return to the office again.  I went on FMLA and was fired 6 weeks later.

I also agree with Migrainegirl
"...beware of what people will guess to create their own explanations of what is going on."

I my experience, the company was convinced that I was addicted to narcotics when in fact, it was the pain, nausea, vomiting and depression from this horrendous disease.
avatar
lepoppet

Posts : 35
Join date : 2012-10-31

Back to top Go down

Re: Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

Post  Brenda L. on Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:59 am

Thank you all so much for your great advice! I need all the advice I can get, and I really appreciate all of the feedback and suggestions I've gotten for how to deal with my med situation at work.

Thanks for confirming that it's a bad idea to volunteer info re: meds or even if I have migraines. No one needs to know why I'm in the restroom, that's for sure. I really hope the restroom is a single stall instead of a shared space, but who knows? It shouldn't really matter, unless someone is nosy enough to be looking under the stall. Or, if God forbid, I dropped a syringe! I'm so sorry for the person here who was wrongfully accused of being a drug addict! I've heard all too many of those stories, unfortunately.

I did NOT know about the pre-employment drug test, though. I know they drug test for transportation jobs, and mine wouldn't be that. But I've also heard stories of people getting drug-tested at regular desk jobs. It all depends on the employer, I guess.

So if I were asked to undergo a drug test, should I then volunteer the fact that I'm on pain meds? (I think I would test positive for morphine). Or should I wait until the results of the drug test come back, hoping that for some reason they won't test for morphine (or it won't show up)? Do I wait until the test results come back to explain my med situation to my employer? It sounds like a pretty awkward and personal conversation whether it's before or after the test.

Personally, I oppose drug-testing for jobs that don't involve transportation or anything else crucial. It's a civil liberties issue for me, but that's just my opinion. Thanks so much for any advice on how to handle a potential drug testing situation---I really wasn't prepared for that issue! Glad I came on here to ask about this.

Thanks,
Brenda

Brenda L.

Posts : 63
Join date : 2012-12-14

Back to top Go down

Re: Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

Post  Seaine on Tue Jan 07, 2014 7:08 am

My job requires drug testing, and I tested positive for amphetamines since I was taking Adderall at the time to counteract the side effects from Propranolol.  It is NOT an issue so long as you have a prescription for the medication.  The company that does the drug testing simply called me on my phone and asked for my pharmacy information so that they could call my pharmacy and confirm my valid prescription.  The employer wasn't even notified since everything checked out.  Their job is to test you for illegal drugs, not legal prescriptions. The worst I had to deal with was the lady on the phone having a "stern" tone because she assumed I was probably on illegal drugs.
avatar
Seaine

Posts : 331
Join date : 2012-07-20
Age : 30
Location : Florida, USA

Back to top Go down

Re: Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

Post  tortoisegirl on Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:12 pm

Agreed. I actually asked when I was drug tested if they wanted my prescription info in advance, and they said no, they would call if they had to confirm anything. They are required to call you first to get your pharmacy info, and if that checks out, they report you tested clean. You would never even have to discuss it with the employer.

They wouldn't even care why you are on the meds, just that the prescription is valid (and probably at least semi-recent, like if someone tested positive for pain meds but hadn't been prescribed that medication in 2 years, I doubt they would pass). Good luck getting back into the working world!

I'm actually struggling with a work issue now too. My boss is wanting me to put in overtime on a regular basis, and I just can't manage that since just a regular week is tough enough. I'm trying to get around telling them about my health problems. I've given some more general reasons like I already have a long commute and the time to get enough sleep and such.

If that doesn't work though, I might have to disclose at least something. My thought was to bring up that I have some diagnosed sleep disorders, as that can definitely affect work and is specific, yet probably wouldn't draw questions about the potential for pain meds or having a significant affect on performance, etc. Just that I would need more sleep than most and working long hours would make me fatigued. Best wishes.

tortoisegirl

Posts : 357
Join date : 2009-12-14
Location : Washington

Back to top Go down

Re: Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

Post  Sara79 on Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:36 am

Don't volunteer the info to your employer, but be prepared with your pharmacy's number when you go in for your drug test. I tested positive for barbiturates, since I take klonopin, and I had to give the name of my pharmacy and sign a waiver to the drug screeners to get the needed info from my pharmacy. Work was never told of anything other than I passed the screening.

I have told some of my co-workers about my migraines, since they can impact my attendance. I'm doing much better with the new preventatives, but this fall I'd been missing about a shift a week, and I had coworkers concerned for me. I've even had one coworker ask if I was getting one on a particularly bad night. I was, and they told me to take whatever I needed to, they'd cover my pagers for about 45 minutes so I could power nap. I could have kissed them, it let me make it through the rest of my night.

But I've worked here almost two years, and had been there for the 6 months prior as a student, so I've developed a trusting relationship with some of my coworkers. I hadn't needed to tell them about my migraines for nearly a year after getting hired, and I knew who could be told in confidence at that point, who had a genuine need to know (my immediate supervisors), and who I should only tell in an emergency, because they would undermine my migraines as 'only a headache' and tell everyone in sight.

Sara79

Posts : 242
Join date : 2009-12-04

Back to top Go down

Re: Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

Post  Brenda L. on Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:45 am

Kate, Seaine, and everyone else---thanks so much for your helpful replies!

I also have a sleep disorder (due to my chronic pain) and need to take sleep meds. I've always needed more sleep than the average person, too. Perhaps I'll mention that if I'm ever asked to work overtime. I too can't even imagine working overtime with my physical pain.

One last question: Is it ever beneficial to mention that you have children to care for? (I do not have kids, so I don't want to lie). I do, however, have elderly parents, so perhaps I could mention that as a possible constraint on my time?

I just want to be prepared with a response in case I am asked to work overtime or other ridiculous hours that I could never manage in my current state of chronic migraine.

Thanks for wishing me well with the job search! Good luck with your current job, too!

Sara---thanks, too for your reply! I just received it as I posted my reply. I'm learning so much valuable information from all of you. Thanks!

Brenda L.

Posts : 63
Join date : 2012-12-14

Back to top Go down

Re: Dealing w/ People + Meds at Work?

Post  Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum