13 ways to survive working with Chronic Illness

30 Ways to.png

I have been a full time teacher with Chronic Migraine.

I have been a full time stay at home mom with Chronic Migraine. 

I am a full time mom and part time teacher with Chronic Migraine. 

They all are difficult jobs and adding a chronic illness makes life even more complicated and difficult.  

So the questions remains, how do you work while having Chronic Migraine?  How was I able to return to work

Image result for Work Stress Meme

  • Work part time

I only work a few days a week and seem to have letdown migraines on my days off.  I save time for self-care during those day.

Tip: Know time off policies and if a substitute is available

 

  • Find coworkers who support you

At my job that I missed a lot of time off, my boss was arrogant and my coworkers were judgmental.  With my new job, my coworkers are like a supportive family and my boss is loving and understanding.  This benefits the group because I’m not motivated to work out of judgment or consequences but out of commitment and love for the job and workers I call friends. I really have fun at work and love to be there.

Image result for Work BFF

  • Ask for and learn how to accommodate your needs 

I requested that my classroom be on the side of the building that does not get direct sun or heat.  I also have control over the lighting.  Heat and lights (fluorescent) are especially big triggers.  I use Axon Optics glasses on days I need extra light protection for my eyes.  I use other lotions, oils and natural products to treat myself topically.

  • Understand clients

I found that when I disclosed that I had Chronic Migraine to my boss at one job I was judged and at my current job she understood me better.  The same goes for clients.  As a teacher who was missing work, I sent home a letter explaining my chronic disease.  I found that the parents were very open and appreciated my honesty but I was unsure what the feedback would be.  Understanding the children and families I work for has allowed me to personally connect more.  I feel like my families want the best for me as I want the best for them and mutual respect once again motivates me.

Image result for client relationship Meme

  • Low stress, high reward

With a part time position, my stress has decreased tremendously.  I am able to focus on myself, my family and other aspects of my life other than my job.  Stress was my main factor in turning episodic to chronic.  I now have a handle on how to deal with stress and my priorities are different.  As a teacher without children and now with children, my views on teaching are very different. I have always had a passion for teaching and love children.  The reward is huge!!!  Being someone who is making a difference every day and seeing growth in my students is so rewarding. 

It gives me pure joy and joy is great medication! Find joy in your job.

Image result for work stress meme

  • Set realistic goals and expectations

Putting pressure on myself to be something I’m not only raises stress.  I have realistic ideas of what I can do, what I want to do and how I’m going to attain those goals.  Setting myself up for failure will only derail my treatment.  I set goals I know I can reach and am proud when I meet them.  A positive attitude and learning from the past allows me to move forward.

Image result for working with chronic disease Meme

  • Commute

Driving is extremely difficult with even a low grade migraine.  At my old job I had a longer commute and found that many days I was throwing up on the side of the road before and after work.  At times I liked it to decompress but most of the time was pained from the drive.  I now have a short drive that I can drive to with my eyes closed (don’t worry, I don’t but I could).

Image result for Long Commute Meme

  • Water, coffee and snacks

Caffeine can be a benefit or trigger.  Coffee  is beneficial to my migraines. During my morning of teaching, I drink coffee before the students arrive and drink a huge water bottle throughout my day.   As a class, we have scheduled potty breaks and snack time so we all get time to refuel. 

Image result for Morning Commute Meme

  • Sleep schedule

I wake up the same time every day whether I’m working or not.  I stay on a consistent sleep schedule in order to be refreshed and ready for my day.

Image result for sleep meme

  • Take breaks

When I feel a migraine raising, I get a bit panicked.  During my students specials I have the ability to take a break, focus, drink more coffee, or water.  Just allowing 10 minutes of quiet and focused breathing make a world of difference to my rising pain.

Image result for Dog Taking a Break Memes

  • Use flexible work time if possible

I am able to get a lot of my work done outside of the classroom.  I am also a busy mom and find that planning and prepping can be done once they go to bed.  Instead of staying late at school, I bring a lot of my work home and also plan ahead.  By being over prepared I am able to relieve stress.  If I’m sick in bed and worrying about work, I get sicker.  When I have everything done, being sick for days doesn’t stress me out about work because I know I’m prepared.  Planning and being prepared makes my life, in general, much easier.

  • Moving my body and distraction

There are days I go to school feeling sick and am completely consumed by my students.  The minute my students leave and all is quiet, the pain comes flooding back.  I’m so distracted and filled with endorphins while I’m at school that at the end of the day I’m punished more.  There have been days that I work till lunch and am in bed until the next day.  The distraction of a job that I love helps me get through many mornings.

Having a job that I am active in helps.  Stretching, dancing and moving keeps my body active.  I would not be unable to sit at a desk staring at a screen all day.  My body needs to move and my brain needs a break from technology.

Image result for stretching Meme

  • Money vs time

As a part time employee in the teaching field, you can imagine I’m not a millionaire.  Working salary and full time was not something I could keep up with.  Working part time, I do not make a lot of money but am able to do what I love with people I care for.  Sometimes money isn’t everything (although it pays for my medical expenses, so I really need it).

 

Image result for Preschool Teacher Memes

 With all of this said, I found a dream job.  Not everyone gets to work part time (either financially or in their field of interest).  Disability is difficult to get as a migraine sufferer and most jobs it is difficult to find balance.  Time off isn’t always possible without consequences and substitutes are not common. Falling behind on work is inevitable.  Finding coworkers that are friends is not a choice but a lucky draw.  The same goes for bosses.

All circumstances and lives are different.  I encourage you to find something you love.  Find a part time job, a job online, a job that can be flexible and a job that makes you happy.  Migraine is the definition of pain and unhappiness…..find something you love and makes you better.  Easier written than done, I know!!!

I, honestly, was not sure if I’d ever be able to go back to teaching with how severe my disease is.   I took a chance and it paid off.  I was very aware that it may not be possible, but I never let that deter me.  I tried it and it worked.  Not every job works but I’m so glad I took that leap.

Image result for working with chronic disease Meme

 

Advertisements

Is Having Children a Benefit or Drawback to Teaching?

 

This-job-is-life-changing

Both being a mom and being a teacher I’m changing lives.  I may not make a lot of money but I make a difference!

 

After many years of staying home with my children, I just started my second year  back to teaching.  While returning to teaching, the question, “Is having children a benefit or drawback to teaching?” has crossed my mind.   As always, everyone is different along with life style, priorities and circumstances which dictate this answer.

I spent many years in college receiving a formal education on best practices to teach both early childhood and special needs.  Then, I had several years of teaching before I had my own children.  I remember at a conference, a parent jokingly said, “You will understand when you have kids.”  I remember being slightly offended by this.  I spent 6-7 hours a day with their child and that’s more than most parents can say they see their children each day.  I also spent all my free time, planning, preparing and researching for their child.  My priority was my class.

Last year, my daughter had a kindergarten teacher who does not have children.  I immediately thought of that parent and was impressed by her teacher in many ways.  She was kind, patient and calm.  None of these things you need to have children to be.  In fact, none of those things you need an education for either.  Her personality and dedication impressed me the most.  My daughter thrived educationally and socially.  We both loved having her. She doesn’t have children but I knew she was going the extra mile in her free time and I appreciated her because of that.

This year she has a teacher with 5 children. My first thoughts were, “She obviously loves children but who gets the short end of the stick?  My child or her children?”  It has to happen at some point, right? We now love her for the teacher she is and all that she does.  It doesn’t matter to me if her teacher has 0 or 50 kids at home.  I’m concerned about what she is doing with my 1 child while she is teaching her those 6 hours each day.  God bless her patience to teach all day and go home to many more children.  On the other hand, she gets lots of joy at work and lots of joy at home so she’s a lucky woman.  Children are such a blessing and the more the merrier!

As for me…….

BEE01057-9932-4B60-AF6B-8B0892E4FFFB

I am now a preschool teacher with a preschooler.  I teach part time and get a chance to be a full-time mom still.  My preschooler is not in my class but our classes run at the same time so I only work while my children are in school.  I can honestly say, everyone gets the best of me.  Here’s why:

I loved and taught preschool before I had children and some of the things I worried about as a teacher I don’t worry about as a mom.  I now alter my plans with that balance in mind.

I was a stay at home mom during the hardest years a mom faces.  There is no better training of children than having two small ones, a husband that travels and chronic migraine.  To say I know how to balance, delegate, plan ahead, and multitask is an understatement.  I’ve learned how to entertain my babies while being in excruciating pain.  I’ve sacrificed my body, mind and gave up my occupation that I love all for my babies and family.  I put myself on the backburner and was happy to do it, but it was really, really hard.  I turned into a super hero and did a job that not every mom can or wants to do.  Work/life balance did not exist.  My work was my life and there was no day off.  They were long days and fast years that I feel beyond grateful for.

Now that I’m back to teaching, my students and families are getting the best and healthiest version of me.  I feel like I can give 100% to my children, students and my health.  Working part time really motivates me.  I LOVE my job and arrive each day happy to be there.  On my days off, I am often migraine sick but no one would know (see letdown migraine).  Part time allows me to be sick and take time for self-care.  For those of us who have chronic disease, scheduling in sick time is the norm and necessary

You-can-do-hard-thingsOverall, I understand teaching both with and without children.  I understand the fundamentals through education, the students point of view through not having children (and only seeing my students as students) and the behind the scenes (aka school) of what parents and children go through at home (nap schedule, eating issues, sleep issues, lack of structure, bathroom concerns and more!).

After all these years, I feel that I’m the best teacher and mom because of these experiences.  With these experiences, I know that not all teachers and moms are dealt the same hand.  There is no answer that fits all.  Not every mom, teacher, home or classroom are the same. 

Thank you to those teachers teaching my babies

Thank you to those parents allowing me to teach their babies

May we all grow and learn endless lessons both inside and out of the classroom this year!

 

Lessons and life with Migraine and Disney

IMG_4146

With seeing the new Beauty and the Beast and planning a trip to Disney World this year, I have been reminded of a lot of lessons learned through Disney.

Today I reminisced to the very beginning of my blogging adventures.  I wrote a post about Aladdin that was short and sweet but meaningful to many Disney movies and life lessons.

This week I will repost my Disney World, the good, the bad and the migraine series.  Please follow me on:

facebook

twitter

instagram

These posts will not be directly sent to my email list due to reposting, so follow along….

For today, a flashback to my thoughts on Aladdin and a Whole New World

Comment on the lessons you’ve learned through Disney movies

FullSizeRender (16)