Migraine – what a pain in the *ss!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor nor anything like medical professional. I speak only from my own perspective and experience. This is a very personal disease so what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for you – or most likely won’t.

I have been avoiding this topic. I have been suffering from migraines more or less my whole life but now that it’s coming to visit me more often I decided it is time to be open about the matter. You see I am not a super person, I get sick as well. Even though I tend to keep up with the super persons image ;).

When I posted on Instagram that I suffer from migraines and that I am going to write a blogpost about it, I got SOOOO MAAAANY messages about how important thing I am doing here and how I am now breaking the stigma around the disease. I am happy to be the flag bearer with this!

In this blogpost I will write about the migraines and how it affects me and the point of view is purely professional: how it affects me and my work. I name some common things from my own perspective how it can affect and what can the effects be in more general level. I try to challenge norms and common believes and make a difference within them. All this is also a lot from entrepreneurs angle – obviously. What happens when the CEO gets sick?

Migraine as a disease

First of all what one must understand oneself when suffering from migraine? It is not your fault. It is normal you will blame yourself. It is normal you try to explain yourself all is good, everything is okey. But it is not.

There are many different kinds of migraines, but I of course talk here only about the ones I have and have had. There are many good places to search information, one of the best is Finnish migraine association – Migreeniyhdistys (link: https://migreeni.org). Always consult your doctor when it comes to new symptoms, changing symptoms or if you are not sure about something.

Me and migraine go way back

I first had migraines when I was 9-10 years old. Then it was most likely about starting puberty and the changes in hormones. It was gone by the time I was 12. In high school it came back and with greater force. It brought along panic attacks. I have diagnosed this to be most likely about the stress of the school and the pressure I put myself through back then. After high school I had some migraine free years, but they came back and again more strongly around the age 25.

My migraine was pretty okey for years after that come back in my mid twenties. I had migraine attacks approximately 3-5 times a year and they lasted about one day. During the past couple of years the disease started to develop again. The attacks came more often and they were more powerful. I consulted a doctor several times and finally in 2020 I got a triptan medication which worked for me well.

My migraine is mainly hormonal so it goes hand in hand with my menstrual cycle. My doctor once said though: ”Your migraine can be triggered if you have a banana.” So, for me, it is more random what triggers it – but it is clear that most likely the triggers will get what they want if it’s right time hormonally.

Most common first symptoms for me are neck stiffness and headache on the left side of my head. I feel very tired and irritated all the time. These last mentioned symptoms can also be very common due the hormonal activity so it can be hard to recognize when it’s about migraine. Here the case becomes psychological! My mind is telling me: ”no this is not migraine, don’t you worry, you just have a lot of stress, you haven’t slept that well. Don’t you worry, it is not migraine.” And the biggest mistake is to believe what the little devil is telling me. What I should do then, I always should start the pre medication on that point and it can help to avoid the attack. It is a symptom, a part of the evil disease, that it is affecting on your mind. You are trying to help yourself, protect yourself from the attack. This is of course very understandable – and that is why it’s so devilish!

Me and migraine now

Last year there were problems with the availability of my triptan medication. After consulting my doctor I got prescription for another triptan which luckily worked for me as well (it takes sometimes very long to find a good medication!).

During last fall my migraine started to get worse again. The attacks came now monthly, sometimes twice a month. In the beginning of this year my doctor upgraded the dose of my blood pressure medication so it would work as a preventive medication – which helps, but not of course totally. According to my doctor I am a textbook migraine patient: I am a 40 year old woman, which means my hormone levels are changing which has an immediate effect on the migraine behavior. Nice to be average – for once! 😉

Again there were availability problems with the triptans and after consulting a doctor again, we switched back to the old triptan which is now available again. I was pretty afraid to contact the doctor again, because I feared that there is no suitable medication for me available and I have to start to test something new. I was afraid it could take a long time before we find the perfect dose and medication itself.

Now I am in the process of trying to do all that I can to prevent the attacks. And what a treat this is! My doctor was very clear that I can try to avoid some things and take good care of myself, yet it is still possibly that the attacks stay the same. Still the doctor convinced me it is a good thing to try to track the triggers and avoid them.

What am I doing now then?

First of all, talking about the disease is one thing; to be more open, to talk about the effects it has helps, as it becomes more understandable for me but also for people around me. I am paying attention to my sleeping rhythm, and for that I have Oura ring to help me. For me Oura has been very useful; it gives me information about my sleep and activity, so it’s easier to understand and find reasons. I am putting more effort on my eating schedule and eating habits in general; the more regularly I eat, the better (goes for many things!). Planning my schedule is one very important thing; if I have an event that I am participating and if it means my eating schedule as well as my sleeping schedule varies from the normal cycle, I have to plan the previous days and upcoming days so that I can take it easier. I have to make sacrifices and compromise a lot, but it is necessary. I want to be very open about these matters; it helps me if instead of just leaving early from some party for example I tell people either before or at the present why do I have to leave. Usually people are very understanding and kind. Honesty is always a good thing!

I went to a chiropractor (which wasn’t a new thing for me, highly recommend FinnKiro and Olli Andersson link: https://www.finnkiro.fi) and together we came up with a plan how to take better care of me. I went to optician for eye examination, because I felt maybe my prescription wasn’t up to date – which turned out to be true. I am waiting for my new glasses to come next week! I had astigmatism (hajataitto in Finnish, not sure if that is the correct word) which – according to the optician could have been one trigger for my migraines.

I keep a migraine diary. I mark all the migraine attack days up on my calendar and afterwords try to find triggers and events near by to prevent the same things happening again. Every time some new trigger appears, I put a little red flag next to the daily markings. It is very good to have dates next to all the stuff in the migraine diary. It is easier then to explain it for example to the doctor next time visiting.

What happens when the CEO gets sick?

In a nutshell it means: no work no money. Entrepreneur doesn’t have a day off, or if they do, there is nothing they can invoice. This can feel a bit harsh if you come from employees point of view, but this is the reality and one of the (very few) downsides of the entrepreneurs world.

Of course life is full of surprises and an ability to adapt to changes is a if not necessary at least a useful skill. I have found an effective way to be prepared; the better one schedules ones work, the better is the preparation for example some surprising days off. I like to keep up with to do lists and schedule my work so that I know what happens and when. This is of course a good thing in general and helps me to do my work well and on time, but it also helps to react on sudden changes. So when the migraine attack hits, it is easy to me to check what needs to be delegated to others if possible, what needs to be cancelled or postponed and what needs to be put on hold. This of course keeps the things running like as you know, no one is irreplaceable, but the bigger is the effect on oneself; when I know everything is taken care of – at least postponed or on hold but so that all the participants are aware of it, then I can take the time I need to rest and get better.

For me, the CEO, these kind of one to three day absences are quite easy to handle – for the time being. I can take the hours back when I’m better, do longer days or work during the weekends, that is all up to me how I arrange my work. As an entrepreneur I don’t have any schedule when or where I do my work. Of course I honor the production company’s needs and wishes, as they are the one who are buying my services. So most of the time I make myself available during office hours so to say, but there is no one who can say me to actually do the work during that time. I can start to work at 6AM, work until 12, take a two our break and continue at 2PM until 8PM. This is of course if there are no meetings or other errands that need to happen in certain time.

What I am trying to say here is that sometimes it is easy to catch up with the work so that in the end for the production company it seems like I haven’t been absent at all frankly – and then of course there shouldn’t be any deduction from the invoice. If the company feels that meetings cancelled and things postponed have had an effect on the company and or the project in questions, it is of course totally fine to deduct those days I’ve been away from the invoice. I think the most important thing (in this as well as in everything) is an open dialogue between the production company and the entrepreneur.

To sum up

To sum up: migraine is a pain in the ass and one should take care of one self! 😉

I am feel so blessed, because now when I am writing this post, I have survived this months ”certain migraine day” without an attack! The attack have visited me monthly for five months now in a row on the certain day. But ha! missed it sucker!

Take care!



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