how can I make my coworkers understand my migraines, job offer was pulled after I resigned my current job, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. How can I make my coworkers understand my migraines?

I get migraines. I have for more than 20 years. I usually get one a month, but occasionally they come in clusters and I’ll have a week or two getting them on and off. I see a neurologist and am on prescription medication, so I am doing what I can to mitigate the problem.

I understand that when I get them and have to go home for the day, this can affect the people I work with. I also understand that when I’m fully dosed on my meds, I get very foggy and this can seriously affect my work.

I tend to hover between an overly-apologetic attitude and one that’s more akin to “Give me a break. This is a medical condition, and I’m dealing the best I can.” I don’t like the idea of apologizing too much, because there are plenty of people I’ve encountered (and reported to) that think of migraines as “bad headaches” (the same way people who feel sad, might say they are “depressed”). But I also don’t want to come off as cavalier, like I don’t care that my illness makes things more difficult for them. It does. This sucks for everyone.

What’s the best stance I can take that will let people know that yes, when I leave in the middle of the day holding my head (and likely holding back tears) it’s not to go home, kick back, and relax, while still letting them know that I want to be a good employee and coworker? How do I phrase this discussion? Also, how can I let them know that although I will try to be especially careful when I’m foggy from my medication, there is a higher probability of mistakes, and to please bear with me?

When people cover for you, it makes sense to thank them — but you don’t need to go overboard. I’d explain the broader situation to people one time (“I get debilitating migraines that I’m working with a doctor to treat, but we don’t have them under control yet and at times they can be excruciating”), and say thanks after they do something specific to cover for you, but beyond that, I think you should assume people will be reasonable and understanding. If you encounter a specific problem with someone (like someone rolling their eyes or making comments about you being out), that would be something to address head-on, but absent that kind of thing, I’d give your coworkers the benefit of the doubt.

With your manager, I’d probably be more detailed, particularly around the medication side effects, since it’s important that she has as full a picture as you’re comfortable giving of what you’re dealing with. But again, I’d handle it as a one-time conversation, framed as “here’s the situation, I’m working to resolve it, until then it’s probably realistic to expect occasional sick days and occasional fogginess, and please let me know if this raises any concerns for you, now or in the future.”

2. Job offer was rescinded — after resigning current job

My husband was offered a job on July 17. Well, today he received an email that said “Please see attachment” from his would-be new employer. He opened the attachment and it was a rescinding letter. No reason why, no call from the company, nothing. He called the woman he had been speaking to and she said that she “isn’t at liberty to say” why they are rescinding the offer letter. Meanwhile, he has already put in his two weeks notice at his current job. He asked them if he could stay and they said it is too late. They already told people he was leaving and whatnot. So now he is out of both jobs.

Is there anything he can do? He was supposed to get a $1,000 sign on bonus. Could he still get that seeing that he did sign on? If so, how would we even go about doing so?

That’s horrible. There are (very rare) situations where an employer needs to rescind a job offer, but if that happens, they owe you a clear explanation, a massive apology, and ideally severance payments — not an appallingly cold “please see attachment” email.

That said, rescinding a job offer is generally legal unless the employer operated with deliberate fraudulent intent. There is a legal concept called “detrimental reliance,” where your husband could argue that he relied on this offer to his detriment … but courts generally haven’t sided with those claims (partly because since employment is usually at-will, he could have been fired on his first day without legal recourse anyway).

In any case, he should spell out to them exactly the situation they put him in and ask for some sort of restitution and see what happens. For example: “I resigned my job on your word that I had a job with you. I’m now unemployed as a result, unable to get my old job back, and facing potentially months without income while I look for a new position. What can you do to make this right?” An employer with even a bit of decency should be willing to pay him severance or some other kind of settlement (which still won’t make him whole but is better than nothing). If that doesn’t work, he should have a lawyer contact them to try to negotiate on his behalf.

3. Required to attend a formal dinner on a work trip

When I accepted my current position, on the day I was hired I was told I would travel no more than three weeks out of the year for work. So far this year, I have been gone 7 with 3 more trips scheduled.

One of the trips is an annual trip that is a week long to the home office. The company pays for airfare and hotel and provides some meals and reimburses for others. We are in meetings all day and on the last night is a big formal dinner. We are only paid for the times that we are in the meetings and not for the formal dinner. That being said, can they force me to stay an entire extra day and make me attend the formal dinner if they are not paying me to do so?

Yes, if you’re exempt. If you’re non-exempt, they can still make you attend, but they need to pay you for the time.

Your bigger issue, though, is that you’re doing four times the amount of travel you signed up for, and if you’re unhappy about that, it could be worth talking to your boss about it.

4. Will updating LinkedIn with my new job hurt my chances with the other employer I want to work for?

I am presently working with company A but will leave them by the end of this month to another company, B.

I’m also in discussion with another company, C, and I have high hope of getting an offer from them. I’m likely to experience higher career growth both locally and internationally in company C than B.

My worry is that the HR rep of company C is very active on LinkedIn, and I don’t know if updating my LinkedIn profile after starting with company B will have any negative effect on my chance of getting offer from company C, knowing full well that LinkedIn will notify the HR rep of company C of such change on my profile.

So you’ve accepted a job with company B but are hoping to back out and work for company C instead? Yeah, that’s not going to reflect well on you, and company C is indeed likely to have a problem with it. Most employers want to hire people who keep their word and who don’t make commitments they don’t plan to keep. (After all, how would you feel if you found out that company C was planning to offer you a job but rescind the offer if they found a better candidate? And no, it’s not exactly the same, but it’s not good behavior on either side.)

If I were at company C and discovered you’d just started a new job with B, I’d need a very good explanation of why you accepted a job while continuing to actively interview elsewhere.

5. I don’t want to share a spreadsheet that I created on my own initiative

I have a situation that I’m not comfortable with. I have been at my job for over one year now, processing requests for an escrow company. When I started, there wasn’t anything in place to enable me to perform my job. I documented every request and made notes and compiled the information into a spreadsheet at home on my own time. The spreadsheet now contains over 2,000 entries and is a valuable tool to me, and I continue to update it on a daily basis.

I have been asked by my boss to put this document on the shared drive to help others when needed. I am the only one doing this particular task, and in the past when others were in this position, no one took the initiative to create anything, nor was it required as part of my job description. Since I created this document on my own time, I do not feel that I have to share this information, as I did it of my own volition to perform at my own job. Can I request compensation for this before I consider relinquishing this? Or what is the best way to handle this?

No. It doesn’t matter that you did it on your own initiative; it’s still work that your performed as part of your job, and your employer reasonably considers it such. (Although if you’re non-exempt, they need to pay you for the time you spent creating it. If you’re exempt, they do not.) If you resist sharing it when requested, it’s going to look really, really bad; there’s basically no way you can pull that off without torpedoing your reputation.

Yes, you put extra work into something and it was your idea. That’s the kind of thing that makes you a good employee, and you can bring it up at evaluation and raise time. But refuse to share it, and it’ll go from an advantage to a strong disadvantage.

{ 547 comments… read them below }

  1. KarenT*

    #1 I feel your pain. I don’t get migraines monthly but I do get them in spurts. Like I’ll go four months without one and then get one every day for a week.

    Have you read up on controlling migraines with diet? There’s a lot of literature our there on foods that trigger migraines. Reducing these foods has helped me a lot, especially during flare ups. Red wine, sulfites, and diet coke are my worst culprits.

    1. Please, no*

      This response is unkind. Any migraineur who has been under the care of a doctor for as long as OP #1 has will already know and have tried everything you’ve written and a thousand things more. In fact, dietary changes are the very first thing they try, long before drugs or anything else.

      Advice like this makes things even harder for migraine sufferers: if getting rid of debilitating headaches were so easy, victims must be pretty dumb to continue to suffer for years, huh? And certainly if it’s that easy there’s no need for accommodations or even for more seriously affected migraineurs to go on disability. No, they must simply not be trying hard enough.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I take your point, but I don’t think KarenT’s response was unkind, and she wasn’t saying that dietary changes would solve the problem if only the OP thought to try them, just that it was helpful for her.

        1. Rock Paper Scissors*

          I have to disagree on this. Frankly, I think it’s highly insulting to suggest diet in this case because the OP has clearly said she’s been getting migraines for 20 years. 20 years is a long time to not have “read up” on controlling migraines.

          As Please,no notes, this is not only the first thing that a doctor suggests, but it literally is within the first result of a google search for “migraine help.” Misguided “advice” such as KarenT’s then makes an implicit assumption that migraineurs like myself have not bothered/are not bright enough to read, have ignored what we have found/been told, or are too lazy to seek help. That I recall, we don’t give out unsolicited medical advice here on other diseases, so I find it’s unkind to play armchair doctor for migraines.

          Nevertheless, I think the response to OP’s question is awesome.

          1. K.J.*

            She’s clearly trying to help a fellow sufferer with something that worked for her. No need to bite her head off.

            Is it just me or are some commenters extra touchy lately?

            1. Zillah*

              It’s not just you – I’ve been avoiding a lot of the comments lately for that reason. :(

              1. nona*

                Me too. It’s not exactly the touchiness for me, it’s the resulting arguments and dogpiles that derail from helping LWs.

                I’ve definitely done that myself but I’m trying to back off because it’s just not constructive at all.

              2. Kyrielle*

                I haven’t been, but I’ve been tempted more than once. I’m sort of touchy lately too, so I’ve been trying to watch that and not add to it. (Our weather is fairly weird and unpleasant, personal stress, etc. – so it’s not like I don’t know the causes, and they’re not here in the comments, so neither should my touchiness be!)

              3. Milton*

                Yes!!! For the last 2-3 weeks or so…it’s really turned me off from this blog. Maybe it’s the summer heat getting to people =P

              4. GOG11*

                I hadn’t noticed, and that makes me really concerned (now I’m wondering, oh, crap, if I haven’t noticed it, maybe it’s because I’m behaving in a way that’s making others feel unwelcome).

                This community is set apart in my mind from so many others on the internet because of the way the commenters here discuss and explore so many things, and it saddens me to think that people aren’t joining the conversation for, as Bekx put it, “[fear] of the backlash.”

                (I do want to say that my comments aren’t in response to any of the specific comments shared here; rather, I’m sharing it here because this is where various commenters are sharing their feelings about a larger trend.)

            2. Katie the Fed*

              I don’t know – when you’re dealing with a medical issue and you ask for advice on one thing, you get a lot of unsolicited advice on everything else. It gets exhausting because it ends up diverting from the discussion you wanted to have, and you find yourself suddenly having to defend every medical choice you’ve made and why that didn’t work and so on.

              It’s actually ridiculously frustrating, and even though people are well-meaning that doesn’t mean their advice is always welcome. OP didn’t ask for advice on dealing with migraines, and that has the potential to go down a rabbit hole that takes away from the question she asked.

              1. anonanonanon*

                YES. I’m generally not a fan of unsolicited advice because even when people mean well, their advice often comes off as condescending or hurtful. The only time I’m okay with it is if someone else has the same medical problem and does the “I have X too, and this helped” because at least they understand the issue. It can still be frustrating, but at least it’s better than advice from people who don’t have the first clue about what problem you’re dealing with and just want to help “fix” you.

                1. PontoonPirate*

                  But … isn’t that exactly what KarenT did? She said, “I get migraines, and I realized these foods worsened them. YMMV.” (Paraphrased, obvs.) Look, we all get unsolicited advice on everything under the sun. I have fertility problems … did you know that literally every person in my life is suddenly a reproductive endocrinologist?

                  Except, no. I can control my reaction, I can’t control other people. I can choose to be continually exhausted by advice, or I can create template responses like, “I’m glad that worked for you, thanks,” and move on with my life. Snapping at well-meaning commenters, even if they are a bit over-eager to share “solutions”, is just a bad path for such a good group of people to continually walk down.

                  Even when we’re checking each others’ privilege/ignorance on a subject, I’ve seen people (fposte, Zillah, Jamie–miss you!) here do it with gentleness and respect. So I know it can be done.

                2. KJR*

                  My favorite instance of this was when I told my FIL that I had Lupus. He shrugged it off and replied, “you were probably misdiagnosed.” Uh, OK??

                  I am also on medication for migraines, and I take no offense to KarenT (or anyone else) who offers ideas. I don’t find it insulting at all. Someone cares enough about my well being to tell me what worked for them? Fine with me. If it’s something I’ve already tried/heard of, I tell them that and say thanks. No harm done.

                3. Bekx*

                  PontoonPirate, I completely agree with you and KJ about the commenters lately. A few things I’ve hesitated on posting or asking because I’m afraid of the backlash. I’m naive on a lot of subjects, and it’s hurtful when I explain a situation and people basically jump on me for a detail in the story that wasn’t what I was asking. If I said something offensive, please…by all means…let me know, but I don’t need 20 people saying how out of touch I must be for not knowing that. This is how we learn.

                4. anonanonanon*

                  @PontoonPirate: I didn’t say I disagreed with what KarenT said, just that I tended to find comments like hers more bearable? I don’t see where in my comment it said I was snapping at people for their unsolicited advice, just that I sometimes found it condescending or hurtful.

                5. PontoonPirate*


                  My apologies if this gets lost somewhere… we don’t have deep enough threads sometimes! Because you were responding to Katie’s post about being exhausted by this kind of advice, I read your post as agreeing with the tenor of that message. I misunderstood your intentions; very sorry!

                  In any case, I intended to speak more generally about this entire thread but I didn’t go a great job of making it clear I wasn’t targeting your comment specifically.

                6. Katie the Fed*

                  I want to add – I think KarenT’s comments could have been a little nicer, but I totally get where she’s coming from. I’ve been in situations where I feel like I have to keep explaining and defending why my body doesn’t respond to some things etc, and I just don’t want to. And when you’ve heard the same thing 100+ times it gets old and you snap from time to time.

                7. anonanonanon*

                  @PontoonPirate: Ah, totally cool. I know understand intention/tone is difficult on the internet. One of the downsides of technology, I suppose.

                8. Jazzy Red*

                  Well said, Pontoon Pirate.

                  Sometimes I think people are just looking for reasons to be offended and go off on someone. There’s a lot of backlash here lately.

                9. A Cita*


                  Well said. I get it. I have hypothyroidism (diagnosed), pernicious anemia, a very rare immune disease that looks like the love child between lupus and crohn’s, with fibromyalgia somewhere in the family tree, endo, and a brain tumor. So basically, yeah, I’m kinda in some sort of misery 24/7. But I found dietary changes and keeping an extremely low body weight very effective (even if I can’t always keep to that–I like chocolate too much damnit!..and thryroid…). And you know, I would have never found this out if, among the myriad of unsolicited advice, someone hadn’t mentioned something very specific about diet changes and weight control* that I hadn’t tried before. People care. I appreciate it. And yeah, template responses are good to have in your pocket on days when the pain wears on your patience.

                  *just in case anyone jumps on this, no one was criticizing my weight, it was really about how being slightly underweight helps alleviate the symptoms of my disease–and it’s very spot on advice, if hard to follow.

                10. AthenaC*

                  “It can still be frustrating, but at least it’s better than advice from people who don’t have the first clue about what problem you’re dealing with and just want to help “fix” you.”

                  I get that it can be frustrating to be on the receiving end of an endless shower of “Well I don’t know why you don’t just try (insert junk science panacea here)” but it seems to me that if we completely eradicated any and all unsolicited advice, we are essentially assuming that everyone is navigating their problem with a complete set of information. I don’t think that’s a good assumption.

                  If I have a piece of information that greatly relieved my suffering, why would I not offer it to you? If I completely kept it to myself because I wanted to be polite, it would be an unkindness to let you continue to suffer.

                  I think it has to come down to the delivery – “This helped me, YMMV.” “Thanks for the suggestion.” Done. No aggressive followups, don’t bring it up again.

                11. anonanonanon*

                  @AthenaC: I think I explained my initial point poorly. I’m fine with people giving unsolicited advice if they’ve suffered from the same issue. They tend to at least understand what you’re going through. It’s people who have never dealt with that issue offering unsolicited advice that tends to frustrate me because they usually don’t have all the details and, more often than not, dispense advice that isn’t that helpful.

              2. Charisma :/*

                Hear, Hear! I am also a chronic migraine sufferer who keeps their condition as hidden as possible for exactly this reason. The extent to which I’ve had to “explain myself” over a private debilitating medical condition frankly puts me at the end of my rope. I was kind of hoping to see some actual answers to her actual question on here as it is quite pertinent to my life as well!

              3. KT*

                This. I have alopecia and have seen a dozen specialists, yet everyone feels the need to say (unsolictited) something along the lines of, “Have you eaten kale? If you eat kale, you’ll have GORGEOUS hair”

                And it’s really frustrating. Trust me, I take my condition seriously, I have seen the top doctors, and no, kale won’t fix it, so please stop helping.

                1. stellanor*

                  What is the deal with kale? I have a coworker who believes kale will cure my thyroid problem.

                  Synthroid deals quite handily with my thyroid problem and it’s actually way less expensive than kale.

              4. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                Yes. It’s like weight loss. “Oh, you’re trying to lose weight? Have you thought of eating less? It worked for me!”

                1. Helka*

                  Oh my god, yes. Or “Have you tried taking long walks?” as they stand there looking at the cane in my hand.

                2. Steve G*

                  I don’t agree with Katie the Fed on this one because I think there is a lot of unexplored area with certain medical issues, but I agree with you on weight loss, because its a topic that’s been diced and sliced to death on a daily basis in the media for years.

                  And as someone who already walked a lot, exercised, and ate pretty healthy and still gained a pesky 15 pounds 2 years ago, yeah, I realized all of the suggestions were repeats of things I either heard a 1000 times or already did.

              5. Ad Astra*

                I see your point, but I think there’s an important difference between “I have the same problem and here’s what helps me” and “I don’t know much about your condition but I read somewhere that you should eat right, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep.”

                Lots of advice offered in these comments turns out not to be helpful because of additional context that we, as readers, don’t have initially. But we can’t know that until an OP shows up and tells us that, so let’s not jump all over people.

              6. MashaKasha*

                Yup. I get migraines too. First thing you do is identify and eliminate triggers. To put OP in the spot where she has to explain the obvious (“yes I have done this already, and it only partially helped”) and field new questions (“yes, but have you tried this, that, and a little acupuncture on top?”) seems to me like a waste of comment section space.

              7. Erin*

                This is true, she didn’t ask for advice on migraines, but inevitably that’s part of the conversation. If the migraines can be solved the work problem is solved.

                I think here it’s important to note that KarenT is *also* a migraine sufferer. Thus is reasonable for her to say “I tried this and it worked for me.”

                A blogger I know is six feet tall and has blogged about tall girl problems. One thing she hates is when people ask where she shops, or give her advice on how to buy clothes – unless that person is also tall, and then she sees that as okay.

                Not the best analogy, but still. Someone who actually has migraines giving advice to another migraine sufferer is a lot different than us other Joe Schmoes.

                1. Renee*

                  Yes, but there’s a big difference between someone that gets migraines in clusters occasionally and a chronic migraine sufferer. Usually a chronic migraine sufferer is past dietary triggers and on to preventive medications and therapies (I’m on track to have neck nerves cauterized, for example). Someone with chronic migraines for 20 years is unlikely to not be well-acquainted with the more “casual” cures, like diet or magnesium supplementation. It’s a good point, but they’re really not the same at all.

                2. jamlady*

                  I don’t think KarenT’s advice or post was offensive in the least, but I do have to agree with Renee simply because I have chronic migraines and I’ve worked with and for people who get occasional migraines and it’s simply not the same. Chronic is debilitating and takes over your life. Honestly, the OPs position isn’t foreign to me and the only answer I have is to be lucky enough to find an amazing team who never questions it, always supports you, and does everything they can to make it easier and then accepts the help right back when they need it. I finally found that team, but before them, work was torture.

                3. Cindy Lou Who*

                  If the migraines can be solved the work problem is solved.

                  Well, no, it really isn’t. The work problem is how to find a balance at work where you’re appropriately apologetic about something that’s affecting your job but not groveling about it when it’s something out of your control. Whether it’s migraines, a sick parent, or whatever else. And if one thing gets “solved” it doesn’t mean there’s a permanent moratorium on other things happening for the rest of your life.

                  In short, I come to AAM to find out how to navigate tricky work situations, not to cure medical conditions. If Alison’s response had been how to stop the migraines, it would be majorly missing the point.

            3. Ad Astra*

              I’ve noticed that too, and not necessarily the same commenters every time. Maybe we’re all collectively having a bad couple of weeks?

              1. PontoonPirate*

                I don’t know about you but this summer heat is making me seriously cranky-pants McGee. And my entire office is sick so we’re all miserable and snappish.

                “Do you know where the copy of the–”
                “NO, do I look like the office librarian? Go. away.”
                “Whoa, I just –”
                “Nooooope. No.” (My best Lana from Archer).

                (Not a real conversation.)

              2. Nina*

                I think it has to do with the increasing number of new people commenting in general. Some posts lately are getting as many as 1000 comments, and that usually only happens during open threads, where numerous topics are being discussed. I think it’s awesome to see how the site is growing, but it also means dogpiling and the like happens a lot more easily.

                1. Ellen N.*

                  Hi Nina,

                  Thank you for making this point. I like reading Ask A Manager and I think Alison Green gives excellent advise, but I’ve decided to stop commenting because each time I do someone slaps me down.

                1. Mimi*

                  Same here! I thought it was just me. I don’t know if it makes me feel better or worse to know it is not just me…

            4. Sans*

              I agree. I’ve had migraines. I know how nasty they can be. Sure, diet might be one of the first things someone tries, but the way it was suggested and the tone used were not offensive or presumptive or belittling and I think there are a few commenters reading WAY too much into a response. It would be different if she had said “Haven’t you changed your diet yet? What are you waiting for, you’d never have a migraine again!”

              1. Cindy Lou Who*

                It wasn’t overtly rude, but it was overly simplistic which is rude in its own way. It’s like when you’re job searching and some relative who hasn’t had to look for a job in decades just has to pipe up with, “Have you tried using the internet? Your cousin got a job at Hoozydoodles that she found online.” It’s not like it’s some esoteric nugget of knowledge that doctors don’t tell you and Googling is unlikely to bring up casually. It’s diet. Diet soda, no less, which causes headaches for basically everyone. So even if someone doesn’t come right out and say “I don’t see why you can’t just…” it comes across as way too patronizing to not be read that way. Not to mention that the OP reached out for help with a work problem on a work advice blog and now has to weed through hundreds of comments on her medical condition.

            5. Ask a Manager* Post author

              It’s probably worth remembering that it’s less than 1% of the comments here, which is pretty amazing given what internet comment sections are usually like. As the number of comments go up, you might see a few more, but it’s still less than 1% of the total, so to some extent I feel like it might be unrealistic to expect none.

              That said, it’s annoying the crap out of me too, and I can be more aggressive about cracking down on it when I see it.

              1. Anon for this*

                Alison, why is it that whenever anyone points out a problem, your response is always to dismiss it as an anomaly? It’s always “There’s never been a time when that happened” or “I can count on one hand the number of times that’s happened” or “It’s only [some really low percent pulled out of the air] of comments.” You just did it to someone like a week ago when they said you were rude to commenters and even gave specific examples. This dismissal has been happening for as long as I’ve been visiting the site, which is several years now. I mean, I’ve seen people call out the issue more times than there are fingers on a hand, and obviously it happened way more times than it was ever called out.

                When you give advice on how to handle bad feedback at work, it’s all about perception. You say that it doesn’t matter what you think happened, it’s what the person who’s giving you feedback thinks. I don’t remember the exact words, but one piece of advice was something like “You need to figure out why you’re being perceived that way and what you can do to change it.” But then when someone says they don’t feel comfortable here, you act like that person who brushes it off as not a big deal, or that never happened in your memory, or “Well, I guess that happens occasionally, so I’ll figure out who’s responsible and address it with those people.” For everyone who’s complaining about the issues on this blog, a bunch more just left without saying anything. And that is why there appear to be more rude commenters than before–the good ones mostly gave up and moved on.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I point out that it’s a low percentage of total comments because it is. The vast majority of comments here are civil and respectful, which other people comment on all the time, but I don’t think it’s realistic to expect that 100% of the time. There’s nowhere on the web that I know of that hits that mark 100% of the time (at least not without heavy moderation, and I think heavy moderation changes the tone to something else entirely) — but I think on the whole it’s remarkably civil and respectful here, and I don’t want a relatively tiny number of comments to change that perception.

                  That doesn’t mean I’m dismissing or ignoring the issue; in fact, I said clearly here that I’m going to to be more proactive about cracking down on it.

                2. Asterisk*

                  @allison Thank you for removing my comment earlier. I was reacting emotionally and was incredibly rude. I actually signed back on a few minutes later to remove it myself because I felt so awful and noted that you had done it already. So really and truly, thank you for cracking fown on all the comments here.

            6. Biff*

              I agree — folks get touchy at the end of the week.

              One thing I’d like to say in defense of Karen T is that sometimes, when you’ve had a condition for so long, you don’t really stay in the loop of new treatments, and sometimes Doctors don’t bring up things they figure you already know. It’s worth it to talk to fellow sufferers from time to time just to brush up!

          2. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

            Ten years, three GPs, seven specialists, and a friend mentioning it to me in passing was the first time I heard that IUDs can help alleviate the symptoms of the severe dysmenorrhea that had been crippling me for a decade. Which it did. I’d take hearing the same advice a hundred times over suffering through a chronic pain condition a moment longer than absolutely necessary.

            1. anonanonanon*

              I have the opposite problem where a lot of people keep telling me to get an IUD to help my dysmenorrhea and I’m really tired of hearing people bring that up because I can’t get one because I have endometriosis and IUDs are not an option. I’m glad it’s helped out your dysmenorrhea, though! Dysmenorrhea is awful.

              But I would say that dysmenorrhea is in a different category from migraines though. Most people know what migraines are, even if they simplify them to “bad headaches”. Severe gyno issues are still relatively unknown and undiscussed in mainstream society, which is unfortunate.

              1. Observer*

                And that makes it worse, sometimes. I actually had a nurse tell me that I HAD to go on a hike, even though it really was physically impossible for me to do that. “You can’t just take a couple of days off a month for your PERIOD.” Actually, yes that was pretty much what I was doing, although during the school year it was less of an issue because sometimes I got “lucky” and it hit on a weekend.

                As to why the information was not on my medical forms? My GP at the time didn’t really like discussing these things anyway (yeah, I know, utterly ridiculous) and he “didn’t believe in” the problem.

                I don’t think there is a doctor out there who “doesn’t believe” in migraines, and even non-expert ones are aware that they can really be debilitating. Yet, over time I’ve experienced more than one who “didn’t believe in it” – and I’ve met up *Reproductive* specialists who don’t get how debilitating dysmenorrhea can be.

                1. blackcat*

                  This makes be happy that my current gyn has been all over treating my dysmenorrhea, even though she’s been a bit pushy with trying more things. I’m much more of a watch and wait kind of person, and she’s been all “That’s not an acceptable level of pain. We should be treating that. Let’s try EVERYTHING POSSIBLE.” That’s not my style, but at least she takes the problem seriously.

            2. Bekx*

              Wait, really? I heard it can cause the opposite (more cramping). I’ve been on a bunch of different pills and nothing has helped! Now my doctor wants me off Seasonique because it might be raising my cholesterol…but I am afraid of my pre-bc cramps again. Maybe an IUD is something to look into…

              1. MJH*

                Paragard (the copper, non-hormonal IUD) can make bleeding and cramps worse, but the Mirena, which is hormonal, is known to help with both, after a few months of adjustment.

                1. Bekx*

                  Huh..they don’t want me to have estrogen and it looks like Mirena doesn’t. Thank you! I’ll definitely talk to my doctor about it

                2. Nashira*

                  Another option may be Implanon. I’m strongly considering trying that or going back to Mirena if I have another period on my current combined oral bcp… Ugh. I loved my Mirena til I started having ovarian cysts, thanks to previously undiagnosed PCOS.

                3. Is It Performance Art*

                  Mirena is a progestin-only method, and the progestin is local (the uterus) rather than systemic, so there should be fewer side effects. The fact that it’s acting locally supposedly means it’s less likely to cause constant/frequent. Bleeding the way other progestin methods do in a significant minority of women. it’s of this it is one of the “permissible” hormonal contraceptives for women with migraine with aura.

              2. Spiky Plant*

                I have a Mirena, and have baaaad cramping. :( I don’t think it’s the Mirena’s fault (I and my sisters have always had this problem), but it definitely doesn’t help. What DID help me personally was the Depo shot. I did that for five years and it was amaaaaazing. Virtually no cramps in 5 years of use. Now, I’m up on that “5 ibuprofen at least once per week” ish and it’s no fun; I’ll probably go back on Depo once I feel like I’ve gotten my money’s worth on the Mirena.

                1. Bekx*

                  Yeah I’m on Seasonique right now (because debilitating cramps 4 times a year is at least better than 3) and I was on prescription strength naproxen. My body got used to that, so she switched me to ibuprofen…4-6 as needed. I usually am okay with 4 every 6 hours, but it sucks. I’ve heard good things about depo too, but unfortunately my insurance doesn’t cover birth control (grandfathered plan). I think it only covers the pill because my doctor deemed it medically necessary. So honestly Mirena probably won’t be covered either :(

                2. TL -*

                  @Bekx: I do birth control no breaks at all; just skip the off week and straight to the new package. Maybe 3 periods a year? Sometimes less, it depends. This is very person dependent, but it’s worth a shot if you haven’t done it before. I have never had a doctor suggest it, but they’re all agreeable when I tell them what I plan.

                3. ella*

                  @TL (and @Bekx): I do the same thing and I love it. I didn’t do it because of cramping, I did it because somewhere along the way my PMS got really bad (like “I need to be on antidepressants” bad), and being on birth control is way less of a hassle than being on antidepressants. I will qualify that it took like six weeks for my body to figure out what was going on, so I had one menstrual cycle that was terrible (I will refrain from details here), but once that was over, it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

              3. Episkey*

                Just another data point — I have Mirena and I get no cramping. It has made my periods super, super light. As in, I just a pantiliner the few days I get my period. It did make me have a very long period when I first got it inserted, but my dr said that was normal and it went away after a few weeks.

                1. Andrea*

                  Been using Mirena for over 10 years, just had my third inserted. No periods at all for me. Such a life-changer!

              4. anonanonanon*

                Honestly, I think it depends on the individual. I know some people who swear by the NuvaRing, but it gave me muscle spasms. I’ve heard mixed things about an IUD, same with different brands of the pill.

                I went through several different brands of pills for about 5 years before my gyno gave me one that skips the placebo entirely and is just continuous, so no periods and very few of the many side effects I’d get with my cycle.

                1. AnonRPh*

                  continuous cycling is a great option for many provided you are on a formulation that can do this (monophasic) and the doctor writes it that way (so the insurance will refill when needed instead of 84 days that 3 packs normally last).

                  Regarding Nuvarings, they are fantastic! The only issue with continuous use is if you do happen to break through and have a period, they tend to involve severe bleeding. Not like go-to-the-hospital bleeding, but definitely super-tampons-for-several-days bleeding.

                  With Nuvaring I’ve more often seen 2 rings back to back with 4 days off (so 46 day cycles) to provide very light bleeding and avoid a breakthrough gusher. Again, with rx written that way to avoid insurance problems. Three rings might be an option (so 67 day cycle) if you want to push things, but I will admit I had been doing this for quite a while and eventually did have a breakthrough episode, and now I’m quite happy to do the 2 rings then 4 days off routine!

                2. anonanonanon*

                  @AnonRPh: I was lucky to get a really amazing gyno at a great hospital so she wrote the prescription so it’s an automatic refill every three weeks. And thanks to recent laws, at no cost (which was a nice change from the varying $10 – $40 copays I had previously).

                  I wish the Nuvaring worked for me. I like the idea of it, but my body really did not handle it well. I’m glad that there are so many different options out there!

                3. Headachey*

                  Another option for continuous cycling is Amethyst, which has no placebo pills in the pack, just 4 weeks of active pills. It’s monophasic, with a lower estrogen dose than Ortho-cyclen & its generic equivalents, which can help with breakthrough bleeding/spotting when continuous cycling.

              5. A Cita*

                I don’t want to give you unsolicited advice, but respond if you want to know what I do. I have endo and my body doesn’t respond to any sort of pain killers (codeine, vicoden, oxy, haldol, percocet, morphine–nope, nope, nope). Only MEGA MEGA doses of naproxin would bring it down to a dull roar, which was not healthy. But I found a super food that made a huge difference (discovered by accident when I noticed that I went from usual endo disability to only needing to take 3 aleves on the first day, which was timed with me incorporating this super food mix in my green smoothies).

                1. A Cita*

                  Huh, I see people have already been giving advice, so I’ll just add it:
                  Maca root.

                  In super low doses. I will say this is an (educated) guess though. As I noted above, I started to use a protein + superfood blend powder in my green smoothies which timed with the alleviation of my symptoms (it’s made by beaming if anyone wants to know–I have no financial interest in the company, so this isn’t a plug). I looked up the individual ingredients and I narrowed it to maca.

                  A couple of points: 1) super low dosage (if taking maca by itself) because as I noted, it was part of an overall blended mix and I was adding 2 table spoons of the mix to a smoothie about 4-5x a week (so imagine that most of that mix was protein powder). It was probably the equivalent of a small pinch of maca 2x a week (so maybe 2 capsules a week if you take it as a supplement). Higher doses are not good, according to my friend. And 2) it’s a gradual step up in relief–so once you start, your first period will be slightly better, then the next will be even better, and about 3-4 months, you could see great relief. I did. But I am only one person. But my situation was very bad (and couldn’t take bc).

                2. cuppa*

                  I’d be interested as I sit here with cramps right now…
                  I normally can keep them under control with a ThermaCare pad and ibuprofen, but the end of July is no time for a heating pad in these parts…

                3. Bekx*

                  Thanks for the advice guys. I appreciate hearing all the alternatives that people have tried! Most of the recommendations include exercise (which I’m sure helps for some people) but the thought of moving during that time is like….the last thing….ever….that I want to do.

                4. A Cita*

                  Exercise helps a lot of things, but it never helped the pain of endo. Also, it was hard to exercise when you spending half your time in the loo either puking or….other things… and the other half on all fours on the cool bathroom floor rocking back and forth.

            3. the gold digger*

              I saw the $800 an hour neurologist at least four times in one year. (She was the third doctor I had consulted about my headaches.) She threw a bunch of photocopied papers at me with information about cheese and chocolate and then we tried three different (very expensive – $140 copy) drugs, which either made me gain weight or made my hair fall out but did not stop my headaches.

              It wasn’t until she fired me and I went to the Orthodox Jewish acupuncturist at the drug rehab clinic, where I argued with the receptionist that I was not going to provide a urine sample, that I had someone say, “The way you test for food problems is not to think about what you ate when you get a headache but to cut certain food groups out of your diet for a week or two to see if that makes a difference.”

              I had been looking at the food lists and thinking, “I eat that stuff all the time but do not always get a headache, so it must not be food.”

              Turns out that caffeine lowers my baseline. That is, glare (curse you, florescent lights) is one of my main triggers, but if I don’t consume caffeine, it takes a lot more glare to cause a headache.

              It would have been nice if the $800/hour doc had explained that to me.

              1. Traveler*

                Did the drug that made your hair fall out begin with a T? I wish they’d stop prescribing this for migraines. It has so many awful side effects.

                1. the gold digger*

                  Lyrica and depakote, I think.

                  I had taken topamax years ago. It didn’t stop the h.a. but at least it robbed me of the desire to eat. I lost weight. I have never lost weight with a drug before. I want to go back on topamax – I have a college reunion coming up.

                2. Traveler*

                  It helped me lose a lot of weight too, but I was also practically bald by the end of it. In addition to other issues. Every migraine doc I see wants to put me back on it and doesn’t understand why I refuse. It’s frustrating.

                  I’ve heard Lyrica is rough.

                3. Nashira*

                  Lyrica is rough for some people but not others. I’ve been on 600mg for years, ostensibly for my neuropathy, but it also reduces my migraines too. I don’t get sleepy… At most it maybe makes my heart race, but that’s controlled okay with a small dose of atenolol. For me, it’s been good. Not as good as carbamazepine but good.

                4. Sparkling water*

                  I took topamax years ago and wow – what a drug! I had such amazing vivid dreams. I slept restfully and lost weight. Energy to spare! Unfortunately my doctor would only allow me to be on it for six weeks. That was just enough time to solve the problem I had been having and it wasn’t medically necessary for me to be on it longer. But now I completely understand why some people have a hard time getting over their addictions. I wasn’t addicted to it but heck – those were the best six weeks of my life.

                5. Renee*

                  Dopamax, as I like to call it, turned me into a drooling zombie. I take nortriptyline now, which is pretty old school, but I have almost no side effects except for aphasia for a day or two if my dose is raised (which it hasn’t been in months).

                6. ExceptionToTheRule*

                  Renee – Topamax did the same thing to me. I talk for a living and need to have instant recall of back up plans for failures. It was not a good drug for me to be on. I also took Lyrica for nerve pain and it did nothing. For anything.

              2. DaBlonde*

                The information about lowering the baseline is good to know. My migraines are mostly hormonal, but I have found that if I drink alcohol or consume a lot of sugar when I’m ovulating or about to start menstruating I am more likely to get a headache.
                Other weeks of the month I can have alcohol and sugar to my heart’s content.

            4. Observer*

              The two things that I see getting overlooked a LOT when talking about dysmenorrhea are endometriosis (which someone has already mentioned) and thyroid issues. For me, it was thyroid – the difference was INCREDIBLE. Once I started dealing with it, I went from nuts to normal.

          3. UKAnon*

            Actually, I’ve been getting migraines for over a year, so not as long as the OP, but the only mention of diet I’d heard was to try salty foods when you feel one coming. This is really useful information! Even if it doesn’t help OP – and we don’t know that it won’t – it is something valuable to say. KarenT’s also pretty clear that it won’t solve migraines, just help to control the problem. Nobody here, as far as I can tell, has belittled migraines or migraine sufferers in any way, and I’m going to assume good intent.

            1. Renee*

              I hadn’t heard that one but it makes sense because of the effect on blood pressure. I will try that the next time I feel one coming on.

          4. Apollo Warbucks*

            KarenT is sharing her personal experience and made a very simple suggestion about something the OP might like to try, it’s not unkind and I think you and Please, no are taking offence where none it’s not warranted.

            1. ReanaZ*

              But it’s a completely, 100% inappropriate venue for saying it. If the OP had written into a health forum for health advice, yes, please share your personal experience in regards to diet and magic pills. But she didn’t. She wrote to a professional blog seeking professional advice. Pseudo-health advice is both condescending and inappropriate.

              1. BananaPants*

                I just don’t see how a fellow sufferer of a condition suggesting something that has helped her can be viewed as condescending or offering “pseudo-health” advice. “Pseudo-health” advice would be claiming that some MLM essential oil is a surefire cure.

                1. Cindy Lou Who*

                  Some MLM essential oil may have worked for someone, just as diet may have worked for someone. Neither are appropriate here, and one is not more or less appropriate than the other.

              2. Apollo Warbucks*

                Then people need to ignore it and move on or ask the conversation not go down that road Please, no Rock Paper Scissors seemed to take the comment as personally affront and were rather rude to KarenT.

                Now all that’s happened is people are debating the appropriateness of offering the advise which isn’t helpful to the conversation or the OP.

                And where did the advice talk about magic pills?

              3. nona*

                It wasn’t “pseudo-health advice” about “magic pills” and it wasn’t condescending. I feel like you’ve probably had a lot of bad experiences with unwanted medical advice (I have, too) and you’re reading into KarenT’s comment.

          5. BananaPants*

            I don’t think her post was at all unkind. Did you not see that KarenT is a migraine sufferer and stated that dietary changes have helped her? She never claimed it was a guaranteed cure, just suggested looking into it and she said it in a polite way. There’s absolutely no need to snap like that.

            1. AMG*

              Precisely. Maybe she has tried it and maybe not. I saw the comment as someone trying to help.

          6. Traveler*

            I don’t think this is necessarily true. I’ve had migraines for years, and it took a long time to figure out diet drinks were one of my triggers because it wasn’t consistent. Or the fact that certain drugs they give you at the dentist’s office can give you migraines if sulfites are a trigger? I didn’t know that until recently, because I never thought to ask and no one thought to tell me until I finally h ad a dentist that put two and two together for me.

            1. Newbie*

              Thanks Traveler for that bit of info about the sulfites and dentist visits. I will have to ask about that next time I have to go to the dentist. Chronic migraine sufferer here for approx. 6 years with absolutely no history before of any headaches or migraines at all. Been to several different neurologists and now going to a Headache Institute. I have been prescribed so many different drugs – both daily preventative, abortive and acute, and I am OVER all of them. The cost of some of these medications is insane, and they do not work, or if they do a little bit – the side effects make me want to crawl in my closet and hide – it is just terrible to try to live this way! I have tried stepping up my exercise routine, dialing it back, botox injections (those are really a treat…note my extreme sarcasm), three different food elimination diets now, all at my doctor’s direction, food logs, headache logs, medication logs, and the tests…oh the TESTS!! I have had multiple MRIs, numerous blood tests to look for all kinds of different things that could be culprit, sleep tests, and so many more I am still paying for them! I have had massage therapy, and just about everything you can think of or have had suggested – done it. can see both sides above in the email train – there are always well meaning folks who may or may not know what I am going through that try to help and mean well,but it gets old and really hard to take – especially when you find yourself at the end of your rope, don’t know what else to try, and doctors are literally writing you off and sending you on to another specialist because they cannot do anything more for you. I have gotten really good about blowing off advice or comments that do not help me or with suggestions that have already been exhausted. But, every once in a while, that is also how you learn about something new that potentially could be an avenue to explore. Bottom line, working FT with chronic migraine sucks big time, but we do what we have to go get through. Waving my hands in the air for my fellow mirgaine warrior peeps out there – it is a rough road we travel.

          7. ella*

            I don’t think KarenT meant it unkindly, but I think that people who have chronic health conditions get a LOT of unsolicited advice on how to deal with their health problem whenever they bring it up. OP asked Alison how to deal with her migraines’ affect on her work environment, not help on dealing with the migraines themselves. I think that refraining from the temptation to give people advice on dealing with migraines would also be kind (of course, I realize we’re dealing with a huge gaggle of people here who, by and large, want only to be helpful).

          8. Retail Lifer*

            I’ve been dealing with uncontrollable acid reflux for over 20 years. Yeah, I feel like I’ve heard everything before, but honestly, if someone can give me some new advice I’m all ears. And if I’ve heard it before, I’m not insulted. I just say I’ve tried that, it failed for me, but thanks for thinking of me and wanting to help.

              1. Katie the Fed*

                Have you tried internet dating? My cousin met someone great on the internet!

                (ducks so you don’t slap me)

          9. Just Another Techie*

            In fact, I have been told by more than one work supervisor that my migraines would not be accommodated because “You just need to stop eating cheddar cheese.” To the point where my coworkers have felt totally okay monitoring my lunches and yelling at me for my food choices because “you’re going to give yourself a migraine.” Um no. I have gone on extraordinarily carefully monitored elimination diets under the care of more than one neurologist. Foods do not trigger my migraines. I can eat nothing but diet coke, red wine, and sharp cheese for weeks and not get a migraine.

          10. Steve G*

            I don’t agree. I’ve had two coworkers with migraines in the past. One ate well, but one was overweight, had high BP, and drank soda old day everyday, and beer at night. I got the feeling he was “old school” and viewed diet as a cure to health problems as almost “new age” and he never looked into it.

            1. OP2*

              Or maybe his doctor put him on an elimination diet and they discovered that foods don’t trigger his migraines. Also weight has exactly zero to do with migraines. My size 0 coworker gets them far more often than my size 16 self does. It is not your job to monitor, shame, or judge your coworkers’ bodies or medical conditions.

            2. Observer*

              I’m going to agree with Oops on this. And, I’m going to say that THIS is a perfect example of what sets people off. I’m sure you mean well, but you can be sure that you have no idea and no clue. Unless he has shared his complete medical history, you simply have no way to know what his triggers are – but how weight is highly unlikely to be the problem.

              The other thing you can be sure of is that if he was tapped into the medical system, he was perfectly aware that diet for health is NOT “new age”. Do you really think his regular doctor wasn’t all over him to get his weight and BP under control? And to clean up his diet? Advice from the guys in white is generally not what “old school” folk see as “new age.”

        2. I cannot assume host prerogatives without payment.*

          A few things:

          As has been stated, her reply was of the form “I have that problem, too. Have you tried X? It really helped me.” Which at the very least is better than “My mom’s doctor once told me ….”

          It’s worthwhile to consider the function of the comments section of AAM: this stuff is all archived and searchable. Something that might not be relevant to the OP may end up being very important to someone in 2018. And: yes, the discussions here will sometimes go off in unexpected directions. This is not always a bad thing and in fact is often a good thing.

          Last: there is a kind of knowledge that many people would consider “common” or perhaps “trivial”, but the reason for that is because it is constantly circulating. Call it a “long-lived meme”. Some of these are false or bad information, but in these days of the ‘net, I think we see less and less of them. But my point here is that people aren’t born knowing that diet can affect migraines. They may learn this from their doctor. Or they may learn of it via a comment here on AAM. How many 14yo’s are out there, learning about life by reading AAM?

          1. Soupspoon McGee*

            Thank you! I came here to say the same thing: comments and advice can benefit other readers, not just the OP. I’ve learned quite a bit from comments not aimed at me. The original comment was perfectly fine and helpful.

      2. Observer*

        Please, I suffer from migraines, as well, and you are simply not correct. It’s surprising how often doctors don’t really look at triggers, or only some kinds of triggers. On the other hand, diet (and other factors) can have a huge effect. How much it helps is very individual, and some people really are not helped. But, it’s a worthwhile suggestion, as long as it’s understood that this is not a one size fits all solution and no one is making assumptions about anyone else.

        1. mdv*

          In the US, it is actually extremely uncommon for doctors to discuss food triggers, and if patients ask specifically about it (as I did, with multiple doctors, about a completely different condition), the answer is a resounding “no, only medications will help you.” I’m absolutely grateful to the internet for information about food triggers — changed my diet, and the debilitating symptoms of my new autoimmune disease subsided within two weeks, without taking any medications.

          All this to say: taking KarenT to task for mentioning it had worked for her is not very nice. You never know who will read that and say “oh, no, I’ve never heard that” and be helped by it.

          1. GOG11*

            Huh. I’ve been suffering from them since I was a child and one of the first things they did was discuss food triggers (chocolate, caffeine, etc.). I’m in my mid-twenties now, so perhaps things have changed in the past 15-20 years, but I didn’t get put on a medication for it until a few years ago. Thank goodness the medication (usually) helps. I don’t know what mine were originally triggered by, but now they are triggered by hormones (or being a n00b and forgetting my BP meds…), so I’m free to drink red wine to my heart’s content, which is not at all.

            1. AnonAnalyst*

              Yeah, I think this is more true with other health conditions, but that hasn’t been my experience at all with migraines. I’ve suffered from migraines since I was a kid (early thirties now) and that was the first thing my doctor recommended when my parents brought it up back then. And this still seems to be the first question from every doctor I’ve seen since then, to the point that, when I’m going through my health history as a new patient now, part of my notes/discussion with them now is, “I’ve gotten migraines since I was a kid and have never been able to identify any food triggers.”

              I also have the joy of living with some other chronic health conditions, including autoimmune issues, and so far I’ve only had one doctor talk about food triggers in regards to those issues, so I do think that it’s a lot less common when discussing other health conditions.

              1. Observer*

                To some extent, that’s true. But, even migraines, the gap is surprisingly common.

                Also, foods are not the only trigger, and that’s overlooked even more commonly, with a few exceptions. So, ASKING about it, makes sense.

                1. Anony-moose*

                  I suffered from chronic, dehabilitating migraines for YEARS as a child and young adult and not once were they diagnosed. I didn’t know how to describe them but you’d think that a 15 year old nearly blacking out from pain, sensitive to light, nauseous and vomiting would merit more than “oh, that sounds painful. Take some ibuprofen” from both parents and doctors. It wasn’t until I was well into my twenties I said “I think I have migraines, can we do something about it” and started getting SOME help. Same story for menstrual cramps (which are likely linked to the migraines!) No one has ever talked to me about triggers and NOW like 20 years into this path I finally found a doctor who is working with my gyno to address the menstrual cramps and doesn’t just write them off.

                  It amazes me how hard it can be to advocate for the pain we need. I still wonder if it was because I was a young woman, or if I just had shitty doctors, or both.

                2. GOG11*

                  @Anony-moose perhaps it’s a little of both. I was passing out with reason and was told sometimes that happens to young women when they’re on their periods. Um…I’m not on my period…? And then it was just sometimes that happens to young women. I’m not anemic, and I’m pretty sure a symptom of having a vagina isn’t random, unexplained passing out.

                  Turns out it was rapid shifts in blood pressure which was causing me to black out. If the doctor is dismissing you because you’re a young woman, they’re a shitty doctor.

                3. cuppa*

                  Oddly enough, we think passing out during puberty runs in our family. It’s pretty much a right of passage for us.

                4. AnonAnalyst*

                  @Anony-moose: Mine were undiagnosed professionally until I was in college when I went to see a doctor at my university’s health center about them. Before that, doctors were always telling me mine were related to allergies and kept throwing new allergy prescriptions at me. Then, when I turned 10 or 11, they decided they were probably hormonal and theorized that they would get better when I got older (gee, thanks guys).

                  However, one of my grandparents and one of my mother’s siblings suffered from migraines and mine have pretty classic symptoms, so we were all pretty sure that’s probably what it was, although my parents also thought I was exaggerating my symptoms at times (the time I ended up throwing up at an amusement park after telling them how sick I was for hours made them look at that differently, though!)

                  I’m not sure it would have made a difference if I had gotten a diagnosis earlier since none of the prescriptions seem to help me much. The only benefit would probably have been to get teachers and other family members to stop telling me to suck it up and stop complaining when I told them how awful I felt.

                5. Anonymous for this*

                  @cuppa: Ever hear of dysautonomia? I’ve read that it can happen around puberty and fade as people age.

                  Dysautonomia symptoms tend to come with my own chronic illness. I had symptoms from childhood to my early 20s, when either exercise or my age helped.

          2. L*

            Agreed. To the point where I had to go to several specialists before I found one who would take me seriously because all they kept focusing on was diet changes. Unless you are a close personal friend or an MD/DO/RN, please keep your medical advice to yourself. With Dr. Google, most people can fall down the rabbit hole of “what ifs” on their own; it is far more frustrating to have to justify your life and medical choices.

          3. Ad Astra*

            I think doctors are slowly wising up about food triggers and sensitivities — not just for migraines, but for all kinds of problems. More people are hearing about how their friends discovered that caffeine or gluten or lactose or whatever was triggering their symptoms and going to their own doctors to say “Hey, can we try this?” So hopefully in the future this will be something all doctors consider early in the treatment process.

            Right now, though, I think it’s quite possible the OP’s neurologist hasn’t suggested dietary changes, or hasn’t fully explained how to identify food triggers (eliminating them for weeks at a time vs. making a note of what you ate when you get a migraine).

            1. Case of the Mondays*

              Very true. I suffered for years with crohns with my doctors claiming diet wouldn’t change anything. I went gluten and dairy free and have been in remission ever since. I know my experience isn’t universal but I can’t believe doctors hadn’t told me to at least try it previously.

            2. Anon369*

              Exactly – I wish I’d paid more attention to the Internet than my husband’s top-ranked neuro when his severe autoimmune disease was treatable. Neuro’s in particular seem to be quite wedded to recommending only the standard quo/”proven” (even when minimally effective), and it would not surprise me to hear that food sensitivities are only mentioned in passing (and without good explanation).

              1. BeenThere*

                I think to doctors are forced to take the status quo else risk lawsuits, which is sad.

          4. Anna*

            I have an acquaintance who noticed avocados are her trigger. It’s so random and it wasn’t a doctor that helped her realize that; her doctor didn’t even discuss the possibility of food triggers.

        2. OfficePrincess*

          I had doctors swear up and down that the birth control I was on couldn’t possibly be affecting my migraines, even though I went from one every couple months to several ER visits a month right after switching pills. I finally got in to my old neurologist (I had moved away for college) and he took one look at what I was on and sent me back to the gyno with very specific instructions on what I could and couldn’t take. It also took a lot of trial and error with other triggers since some only affect me in combination (ie if I’m stressed, a glass of red wine will land me in bed, but other times I can have several glasses and be fine). The US healthcare system is pretty inconsistent, so you can’t always assume everyone gets the same advice from their doctors.

          1. Case of the Mondays*

            I had the same experience with a birth control and heart palpitations. Doc swore it couldn’t be the BC but that was the only change. Cardiologist confirmed the palps but couldn’t find the cause. I insisted on getting off that BC and they went away.

            1. Inquiring Minds*

              I never thought about this connection before. I would get these very random heart palpitations and it wasn’t until I read your comment did I realize I haven’t had them since coming off my hormonal birth control about a year ago. I have no idea if the two are related, but it is an interesting coincidence (for me). So thank you for your comment!

      3. Beth*

        i get migraines and this comment was *very* helpful to me. Over the last 18 months my migraines were largely under control – from 4 a week to four a month. For the last 3 weeks I’m back to 4 per week. Until I read this post I had not associated my increase in diet coke consumption as a possible trigger. No more DC for me and hopefully I’ll go back to my “normal”

        1. It'sOnlyMe*

          I have to say I find helpful comments helpful too. I had no idea orange juice was a migraine trigger until I read it as a suggestion on a similar forum and I have to say that stopping juice really helped me. I appreciate it’s frustrating to hear suggestions when you are trying your best all the time but for me, I am always willing to try anything once.

          And as an aside, I have severe endo and used a Mirena coil and had fantastic results – that was about 10 years ago and I recommend it to anyone who mentions they have similar difficulties. It’s a suggestion for someone to take or leave but if it helps someone (like it did me) then I think that’s great.

      4. Little Old Lady Who?*

        This is a bizarrely aggressive response to a poster who was just trying to help. You have somewhat of a point, but the poster was clearly not malicious…give it a rest, yo.

        1. Marcela*

          I don’t think the problem is that the comment was malicious. When you have a chronic illness, for example I have endo, every single person you tell it, it will tell you what do do, try or read. At first you listen, why not? Maybe they have heard of something you don’t. But with time, it gets more and more annoying, since it’s not only suggestions: many time your medical decisions are directly and openly criticized. Some other times, it looks like they are saying you are not doing enough to fix/improve your illness.

          Of course, you can see there is some kind of pattern. The group of people with illnesses and family, friends and acquaintances experts in all medical sciences and advances, who can snap at oh, no, another helpful suggestion, “vs” the people without illnesses and/or respectful family, friends and acquaintances, who don’t have the very low threshold of annoyance. It’s really a pity.

      5. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        I don’t think this comment was unkind at all. But I can see where everyone is coming from. I’ve been on both side of this one – so frustrated with a medical problem that any suggestion sends me over the edge (really? you think I would live with this kind of misery and not try everything possible?) and on the side of having (mostly) figured it out, and wishing I had known earlier what would would actually work, instead of just costing lots of money, time, energy, and disappointment – so it feels like I might be able to help someone else with this information. In fact, I did eventually find some relief because of something someone suggested trying (an idea I’d rejected several times before – and let me tell you – I was pissed every time I heard it). That’s not to say that OP will find an idea for curing her migraines here – probably not!

        Dealing with a chronic illness or any tough problem- like grief – is a process, and when you’re in a certain step of that process, it’s pretty natural to reject the feelings/advice of others who are at a different step in that process. If your parent just died yesterday and you’re in shock, you don’t want to hear someone say “I’ve been there, but life will go on and you’ll eventually stop thinking about it all the time”. If your parent died a year ago, you don’t want to hear “of, you must be so angry and in shock”. At yet, in some ways, it can help you feel hopeful to see that it might be possible for things to be different someday.

        This is a natural conflict to have around something very painful and hard.

        1. A Cita*

          Dealing with a chronic illness or any tough problem- like grief – is a process, and when you’re in a certain step of that process, it’s pretty natural to reject the feelings/advice of others who are at a different step in that process.

          Yes! This is exactly what I was thinking when reading the comments. When I was in the first few years of my diagnosis (for the auto immune disease), I’d get annoyed with unsolicited advise. I was overwhelmed with understanding it myself; I didn’t have the energy to help someone else understand it. But now, I’m at peace with the advice and happy to hear more. Who knows what will help?

          1. AthenaC*

            I’m sorry, that must have been awful. Describing it as a “process” makes a lot of sense. I don’t know that there is a perfect way to treat everyone that will hurt no one.

      6. OP #1*

        I don’t take offense really. I think people are just trying to be helpful, but it does get, I’ll say “tiring” to always have people try to “fix” me. I’ve tried traditional and nontraditional medicine. I avoid the foods that can trigger me (no chocolate for me during that time of the month… bummer). People mean well, so I don’t get offended.

      7. ThursdaysGeek*

        Along with others, I disagree that this response was unkind. Someone pointed out that not everyone knows this, there are some who are still young who may find this information useful. In addition, not everyone goes to a doctor for everything.

        At least in my case, it’s because I didn’t think a doctor could do anything. I don’t get migraines, but I have spend 30-40 years with headaches, sometimes 2-4 a week. I just treated them with OTC pain killers, and went on, occasionally mentioning that to a doctor, and having them show no concern. I didn’t get unsolicited advice, because I didn’t bother mentioning it to others, it’s just life. However, I was advised to take some specific vitamins in the last couple of years, and something among them has reduced the headaches to one every couple of months. (I think it is a B vitamin, but I’m not sure.) I wish I’d heard that advice years ago, from a doctor or from someone!

        My brother-in-law was depressed, and went to doctors and tried all sorts of medicines. He also got advice about B-12, and finally found a doctor that checked that, found he was dangerously low, and now with periodic B-12 shots, he’s no longer depressed.

        All that to say — there is a lot of bad advice out there, lots of good advice we’ve already heard and tried, and occasionally some really useful advice we haven’t heard or tried. Bodies react differently to different things, advice that works for one may not work for the next. Some doctors are better than others. Hearing something again can be better than not hearing something at all. And the OP isn’t the only one reading this, so the advice could be useful for someone else.

    2. Heather*

      Yeah I feel your pain LITERALLY! I too get really bad migraines and the drugs for them make me really groggy. I’m a lightweight anyhow so the drugs make me so drowsy that I can’t even drive. And the pain. Oh the pain. It’s bad. Plus there is the nausea. So yeah it’s not just a bad headache. It is hard to explain to someone who has never had one how bad the pain is.

      I don’t have any advice other than what AAM has said.

      1. Elysian*

        I agree – nothing to offer but commiseration. For me, headache isn’t even a symptom I have, so when I tell people I need to go home or whatever because I have a migraine, I just get a lot of headache-related advice, or people tell me to turn off the lights and go back to work. I get vestibular migraines, so basically the world spins and I get nauseous, so yeah… turning off the lights doesn’t really do anything for me. And if I need to drive, I really need to leave as soon as I feel the migraine coming on and not a moment too late, or I’ll just be stuck when my vision gets too bad to drive. Please just let me go home and fall asleep if I can manage it!

        1. GOG11*

          Ugh. I’m in the same boat. Mine affect my vision, sometimes to the point that I literally cannot see anything but the aura. I have to catch it early enough or be stranded wherever I am until it goes away.

          1. ThursdaysGeek*

            My spouse occasionally has his vision half blank out. It’s happened when he was young a few times, and again in the last few years. We’ve decided it might be a migraine, and he thinks it is caused by fatigue. There is no pain, no warning: his vision just goes dark in part of the eyes. I’ve had to rescue him from work, since he couldn’t drive.

            1. Erin*

              It is most likely a migraine. “Silent” migraines (I always laugh when my neurologist starts in about them) is basically all of the aura, dizziness, nausea, slurred speech, what have you, and none of the pain.

              I get both, depending on the time of the month and the triggers (stress, hormones, diet, allergies, etc). I almost rather prefer the “classic” migraines that just have a lot of pain and sensitivity to light. Because my “silent” migraines include being blind in my left eye, vertigo, nausea, an inability to find the correct words and paralysis on one side of my body. Not having the pain to accompany that makes me feel like I’m having a freaking stroke.

          2. Anonyby*

            The one time I had a migraine I had no headache, but nausea and my vision went black. Sucky thing was it started while I was on lunch for work, and I had to walk blindly from my car into the building to get someone’s attention that I wasn’t fit to work.

      2. Rose*

        I get severe nausea when I get migraines, too. On the plus side, a couple times of people walking in on me vomiting on the floor of my work’s bathroom and now nobody questions whether my illness is legit.

        1. Ezri*

          Yeah, a lot of people discredit the nausea side of migraines until they see it in action. I rarely throw up, but I get really severe dizziness – it feels like I’m on a merry-go-round.

      3. Ezri*

        I came here mostly to offer sympathy – I was diagnosed with migraines only a month ago, I can’t imagine what it must be like dealing with that for 20 years. I can definitely vouch for what you describe – I also get tension headaches, and there is a world of difference between that and a migraine. Migraines are barely affected by over the counter meds (my doctor said that taking too many painkillers was probably causing me to have rebound headaches). I can work through the early stages – disorientation, seeing bright lights, sensitive to smells, some pain – but once the full migraine hits I’m pretty much useless.

        The prescription pills I have work wonders when it comes to taking away the pain and nausea, but they also turn me into a zombie for the rest of the day – I’m not allowed to drive under their influence. The effect feels similar to being drunk – I’m really not capable of doing anything other than staring blankly at the tv or taking a nap. I’ll take it in exchange for being pain-free, but in this case the ‘fix’ for the problem still doesn’t leave me at 100%.

        1. OfficePrincess*

          The side effects are the second-worst part. Yes, I do have a pill I can take and be pain free in an hour or so, but I can’t stand up for another 4 hours after. It’s always fun to explain that even though the migraine is gone I’m still not in any condition to work for the rest of the day.

          1. cuppa*

            Yes! I had one that got rid of my migraine, but my head felt like it was wrapped in cotton, so still not functional.

        2. Heather*

          I HATE those Excederin migraine commercials – if your “migraine” can be “cured” by an OTC pill that is nothing more than acetaminophen and caffeine it’s not a migraine. I think those commercials due a real disservice to people actually suffering.

          I’m convinced that the only way I get rid of my migraines is by sleeping. Well and the pain is too bad to stay awake. LOL

          1. Ezri*

            Yeah, that’s the worst part. Any other kind of sick I can watch tv or read and be okay, but when I have a migraine I feel like the only thing I can do is lay down and bury my head under a bunch of pillows. There were a few months in college where I was getting them almost every day, and I was getting a ton of sleep because I couldn’t do anything else. :/

            1. I'm a Little Teapot*

              Ughhh, that’s awful. I’ve had chronic nausea off and on much of my life, and I can’t do anything but either lie still or pace around in circles when it gets bad. (No one understands the pacing in circles thing, but if I feel really sick I usually *have* to pace.) It feels like losing parts of your life.

          2. abby*

            My migraines are the same – been having them for about 30 years, though they are less frequent than they used to be. Nothing OTC helps. I can only get rid of them by sleeping. And, yeah, I am in too much pain and too nauseous to do otherwise. Haven’t tried prescription yet, because sleeping them off seems to work well.

        3. Karyn*

          Yup. The drugs, at least the ones I take, are fog-inducing to the point where I can’t drive. I ended up getting an FMLA accommodation for my condition, which allows me to take unpaid time off if I need to – I often get my migraines in the middle of the night and need to sleep the next day to get rid of them.

          <3 I hope you get them under control so you don't have to suffer for years like I did before they figured out what it was.

    3. Purple Dragon*

      I’m a fellow migraine sufferer and I understand what you mean OP #1. I don’t think my boss thought they were any worse than a bad headache until he saw my first migraine hangover. It affects me so badly that for a day or two afterwards I slur my words and can’t remember the names of things. Now he looks scared when I say I’m getting a migraine. When my colleagues have had to cover for me I thank them like Alison suggests but I also put my hand up to work that bit extra or take over a task that someone doesn’t really like. I am also the queen of documentation. If I’m out unexpectedly then anyone can pick up my tasks and know exactly what’s going on with it. This way the impact on the business as a whole is minimised as much as possible.

      “Migraine” is as misused as “Flu” and sometimes people do seem to think we just have a bad headache. Explaining it doesn’t seem to help much which is annoying. I think the only thing that helped my boss and colleagues was seeing the physical affects of it a day or two later. Maybe if you usually downplay physical symptoms you could stop doing that ? Mine are obvious but I know other people who look like absolute death but wear a tonne of makeup to disguise it. People tend to be more understanding of things they can see. I don’t know what your post migraine symptoms are though.

      1. Aam Admi*

        I have similar symptoms to the other posters – blurred vision, nausea and needing a dark /quiet room to rest until the migraines pass. I used to suffer a lot in the past. The last few years have been really good. I read a lot of stuff on the internet and tried some of the suggestions. I am now managing the triggers with proper diet, sleep and prescription medication.
        I try to mitigate the impact on my co-worker by working longer hours when I am well and always volunteer to take on additional projects. So no one feels that they are left to bear the burden of my chronic condition.

      2. Ad Astra*

        I am guilty of sometimes referring to my severe headaches as “migraines” when they’re probably really cluster headaches. Or something else, I’m not sure. I just know that I get rare but severe headaches and “migraine” is the best way to signify that my symptoms are bad enough to miss work. The only thing that seems to help is sleep, which usually requires Zzzquil or something when I’m in that much pain. If she isn’t already, the OP should make sure to use the term “migraine” every time, and not “headache” or something vague like “I’m not feeling well.”

        When I have a bad cold or something, I’ll often be totally miserable with body aches and ear pain, but I’ll look normal. It took me a while to figure out that people were expecting me to perform normally because I looked fine, even though I felt like I was dying. Now I’ve stopped trying to use makeup to look healthier when I feel like I’m on my death bed.

        It really does help to tell someone “I’m feeling nauseous” or “I’m getting dizzy” because people rarely notice symptoms like that. People assume you’re healthy unless they can hear you sneezing and coughing in the office.

        1. Kathryn T.*

          I refer to mine as “neurological migraines.” That’s a tautology, of course — all migraines are neurological — but it puts the emphasis on the weird neuro symptoms I get (photophobia, disturbed vision, inability to do arithmetic, plus this really upsetting thing where I can’t read through my left eye — I can SEE through it, I just can’t make any sense of any information that comes in through it) as opposed to “just a bad headache.”

        1. OP #1*

          I use the term migraine hangover as well. It can sometimes take up to two days to start feeling normal, even after the pain, nausea, etc. has passed.

          1. Lore*

            I use the hangover term as well. Mine usually takes the form of extreme clumsiness–my proprioceptive sense is extremely out of whack and I’m walking into things even more than I usually do–though my stomach usually takes a few days to recover fully as well.

            But in my headaches, like some others, the pain isn’t the worst symptom (though annoyingly, the pain is worse when I’m lying down!)–it’s the auras/nausea/light sensitivity/vertigo. I actually do okay, painwise, with OTC meds as long as I take them as soon as the aura begins (I have allergy and weather triggers so an antihistamine alongside a painkiller is what usually helps). The only time it gets really bad is when they begin while I’m sleeping and by the time the pain gets bad enough to wake me up, it’s pretty severe.

        2. Renee*

          I call it a hangover too. It goes at least a day and it’s often worse if I’ve taken a rescue medicine.

    4. OP #1*

      As suggested, this is among the first thing I’ve tried. I know that my migraines are hormone-based (mostly) and that during certain times of the month, food, weather, stress, etc. can all act as secondary triggers to set them off. I have tried acupuncture, homeopathy, several different drugs, etc. and yet the migraines persist. The only time I went without them for any significant period of time was when I was pregnant, but since I don’t plan on being a baby factory, the search for a resolution continues.

      1. BananaPants*

        That sucks. :( I think Alison’s advice for addressing this in the workplace is great, and I hope your coworkers are reasonable and understanding about the need to cover for you when you’re having an attack.

      2. Traveler*

        Hormone migraines are the worst, because you know they’re coming but there’s pretty much nothing you can do to stop them. And they take on a pattern that can make employers/coworkers suspicious unfairly.

      3. Michelle*

        Dear Op #1- You have my sympathy and understanding. I, too, suffer from migraines and it’s amazing how many people think you can pop an ibuprofen and be okay. My former manager (I changed departments) bought a huge bottle of ibuprofen, put them on my desk with a note that said “for your migraines”. It took all my willpower not to throw the bottle at her head. I called my doctor (who is fabulous!) and had her write a detailed explanation of exactly what migraines are, how severe they can be and why ibuprofen doesn’t help. I put that on ex-managers desk, along with a note that said “Thanks for your concern, but ibuprofen will not help me. Please see note from Dr. X, a neurologist” and her bottle of ibuprofen.

        Current manager know that migraines are not just “headaches” because his wife is also a sufferer. If I say I’m getting migraine, I need to go or call out sick, he understands.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          This reminds me of my doctor who blew off my concerns about my thyroid by writing “Weight Watchers” on a prescription pan instead of, you know, doing a detailed blood panel. Thanks, asshole! I wasn’t actually looking for a weight loss fix.

          (of course, embedded in all that is the problem of women not being taken seriously for conditions they seem to suffer more than men – thyroid, migraines, chronic fatigue. So in all of this is a hint of “these are lady problems, here’s a tender pat on the head.”)

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            I once had a doctor suggest I get a trainer and “try to lose some weight” to treat a painful condition. First, it’s a condition totally unrelated to weight. Second, I am not overweight, so I don’t see why losing weight would help with any problem at all. I’m not sure where he was going with that except he didn’t want to say “I don’t know”.

            I’d imagine that some people who are overweight have doctors who suggest this is the source of any and all problems and that must be infuriating.

            1. AW*

              I’d imagine that some people who are overweight have doctors who suggest this is the source of any and all problems and that must be infuriating.

              Yes and YES.

              I swear, I could go into the ER with 3rd degree burns and giant shards of metal sticking out of my body and the doctor would tell me to lose weight.

              I’m not sure where he was going with that except he didn’t want to say “I don’t know”.

              Maybe? Back when I was having an issue with my face swelling up, almost every doctor I saw had no problem with telling me “I don’t know” but I did get at least one blaming my weight for that too. I eventually found a doctor who was at least willing to prescribe me an epi-pen until I figured out what it was on my own.

            2. Pinkie Pie Chart*

              I’d imagine that some people who are overweight have doctors who suggest this is the source of any and all problems and that must be infuriating.

              THIS! So much this!! Everything comes with a suggestion for losing weight. Headache? Exercise. Sore throat? Try drinking more. Can’t get pregnant? Must be your weight. ARGH! So frustrating!

              Reminds me of being in college where everything was either “take this salt-water gargle” and/or “take this pregnancy test.”

            3. Anonymous for this*

              I’m pretty thin and I’ve had problems with this. Maintaining a very low weight helps manage pain and prevent injuries from my connective tissue disease. I hate being told to gain weight. I would love to be able to carry extra weight without hurting myself, but I can’t.

              I think advice to change weight can be relevant, but doctors need to take into account why a patient is maintaining their current weight and consider whether they’re completely sure that a change in weight would do more good than harm. Most of my experience with advice to gain weight, and most of what I’ve heard from people whose doctors bothered them about their weight, shows that isn’t happening too often.

          2. Windchime*

            This is why I will never have a male Primary Care doctor again if I can help it. I don’t feel that my concerns are taken seriously.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I’ve been lucky; mine have been very helpful. The dismissive doctor I had was a female specialist. I had to go to her for a digestive tract issue and I did not feel well cared for. She fixed the problem, but it wasn’t a great experience.

              1. ID10T Detector*

                I too have had almost the exact opposite experience (almost) universally; my male doctors (of all varieties, from my internal med PCP to OB-GYN’s) have in general been really awesome and responsive. The female doctors I’ve had either blew off my concerns, blamed it on something completely irrelevant. Like the poster below who said she could be in the ER with 3rd degree burns and giant shards of metal sticking out of her body and have it be blamed on her weight, only with one doctor I used years ago it was with smoking (I never smoked more than 5 cigarettes a day, and while I’m sure it affected some things, it didn’t affect EVERYTHING. I’ve since quit and stayed quit for almost a decade.) The female ob/gyn I used – and I’m not kidding – told me I shouldn’t be expressing pain when she broke one of those stupid plastic speculums INSIDE OF ME and couldn’t get it out.

                Not every female doctor that I’ve seen has been horrible, of course – two specifically come to mind -but the numbers heavily favor the male doctors.

            2. Zillah*

              Yep. I’m sure there are good ones out there and I’ve certainly seen dismissive female doctors… But wow, it’s just so common to encounter in male drs when you’re a woman. (Also frustrating: the fact that virtually none of the men in my life seem to understand this. “But…” “No, Dad, your gp gives gendered advice and is pretty sexist. Just stop.”

              1. AthenaC*

                I hear similar things often enough (and I totally believe it!) but I think it’s interesting that I’ve had almost universally exactly the opposite experience. My male obgyn’s were very understanding, including one who really stands out to me as being respectful of my body’s quirks and processes.

                I did have one ob who was a jerk, but moving to a new place being 8 months pregnant I took who was available. He was competent, and at the end of the day that was all I needed.

                Contrast that to the one female OB I had who made off-hand comment about possibly terminating my (healthy) pregnancy. (!)

                1. AW*

                  This was supposed to be a comment to Athena.
                  Did your comment include a link? That happens automatically, likely to prevent spam.

                2. AthenaC*

                  @AW and @MommaTRex – no, just participating in a side conversation about good / bad doctor experiences. Looks like my comment was released from moderation, though, so yay!

                3. Tau*

                  D: that’s awful.

                  But yeah. Last month I had a female gynecologist tell me all about how the course of treatment I was asking to be put on was really more than they generally did for my issue, my manifestation of it really wasn’t that severe, had I considered the Mirena coil. “Why are you even here?” was the distinct impression I was left with throughout the appointment.

                  This being the day after I collapsed in the street due to the amount of blood I’d been losing to my periods.

                  In the meantime, I’m consulting a male gynecologist privately in my home country who has been *miles* better about all of this.

                4. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Comments will go to moderation for all kinds of reasons, including if the spam filter just malfunctions for a minute. I’ll release them when I see them.

            3. Jader*


              I’m struggling with infertility and have done extensive research into my symptoms. I realized it is painfully obvious I have PCOS. I told my doctor, who reluctantly did some bloodwork. It came back normal, I asked him specifically about a certain hormone which has never tested normal before, and he says yep, normal. I requested a copy of my file on the way out only to find he has never tested that hormone on me. He just straight up lied to my face. I was disgusted and will never see him again.

              1. AW*

                I’ve had a similar experience where the doctor told me all my numbers were normal only to see that two were outside the normal range when I got the actual report.

          3. Sparkling water*

            I was prescribed weight loss for arthritis. When I got home to to let my SO know, he wanted to know what kind of arthritis I was diagnosed with and what else besides weight loss that I needed to do. I had no idea. My doctor has been sliding for years and it is making me think about switching. It doesn’t help that he was involved in an above the fold scandal that hit the local papers a few years ago.

            1. Almond Milk Latte*

              My sympathies. I have rheumatoid arthritis and am fat, so doctors won’t talk to me about anything else. Because obviously the reason my fingers are swollen and aimed in the wrong directions is too much heavy fork lifting. Grr. :/ Good luck to you!

          4. I'm a Little Teapot*

            I hope you told him he was an asshole to his face. I once had a doctor who insisted my condition was getting better despite obvious evidence to the contrary; I told him he was a liar, a quack, and cheating me, then left his office and never came back. It was rather satisfying.

        2. OP #1*

          Wow, that’s awful. I had an old manager who, when I had to go home one day, called me up to continue working from home, which I did to my detriment. The next day, she said she had called my cell phone and heard loud music, so I must have been lying about having a migraine. I corrected her: she had called my HOME line and my brother answered and he was watching television… on another floor from where I was writing in pain. I think she knew she was incorrect but was trying to catch me in some sort of lie.

          This was my first real job out of college, so it’s possible it gave me a skewed view of how people view migraines in the working world.

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            Good lord! That is terrible. It’s not that card to create a culture around sick time where people don’t lie to you about whether they are actually sick – but doing stuff like this will make them lie to you all the time.

          2. Chinook*

            OP #1 – I am sorry that you are dealing with such inconsiderate coworkers. I would say to come up here to the land of chinook winds because people here understand the migraines happen and aren’t always predictable or controllable (but then again, don’t as it will possibly make your condition worse). The changing atmospheric conditions in Calgary are been proven to trigger migraines to the point that meteorologists actually point out potential migraine triggers (though usually sufferers know about it at the same time as we feel the pressure change. On the plus side – we are awesome at predicting future storms). Also, you can develop migraine “abilities” (I don’t know what to call it) – I grew up here and wasn’t affected by it until one year I was and forever will be.

            Coworkers can be compassionate if you acknowledge their help and aren’t overdramatic about it (both of which seem to apply to you already) and help them when they can’t work to their full potential (i.e. return the favour).

            As for a tip (can you stop anyone from offering?) – a naturopath recommended sniffing peppermint oil when I feel a migraine coming on and mentioned something about it opening blood vessels. It seems to work for a number of people I know who have atmospheric migraines and it sort of makes sense on a biomechanical level.

            1. Heather*

              Southern Alberta? Born there; now live in the capital city. I miss those Chinooks! Luckily my headaches aren’t weather related.

            2. OP #1*

              I use lavender oil to the same affect, and it will usually help by getting me relaxed enough to fall asleep, but that doesn’t help much when I’m working.

              At an old job, I used to sit in a cubical from which I couldn’t see a single window, and the woman who shared the area with me also had migraines. We could easily predict if it was raining out (or if the rain had stopped) by the level of pain in our brains. :) We’d start off the morning asking how the other one’s head felt.

                1. OfficePrincess*

                  Yup. Between my head, my knees, and a finger I broke as a kid, I have a better accuracy rate than the weatherman.

          3. cuppa*

            Ugh. My migraines vary in severity, but once a year or so I get one where I can’t do anything but be in bed. If my boss tried to call, they would get to hear me vomiting from turning my head to answer the phone.

          4. Erin*

            Oh geeze. I had suggested to you in my comment the possibility of working remotely, but there ya go.

            No, I don’t think you have a skewed view. I think people really don’t understand what migraines are or how bad they get. And, after reading through these comments, it looks like there’s different types of migraines, or at least different symptoms. Someone mentioned turning the lights off does nothing, when I’ve read on AAM on a different post about someone who was able to work through migraines in the dark.

            It’s clearly one of those medical conditions that’s different for everyone. I can see how people could easily make assumptions without knowing someone’s specific case.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I definitely think there are different kinds; I’ve had one classic migraine in my life (and I never want another one). The rest of the time, mine are not that bad. They’re just really uncomfortable and I’m not at my best when I have one. To mitigate it, I have to sleep it off, and that isn’t always practical. I’m very grateful I don’t get the extreme nausea, however; I hate throwing up. If you poisoned me, I’d probably die because I wouldn’t puke!

              Stress seems to be a trigger for me. I get them more when I’m very stressed.

              1. cuppa*

                I have a number of triggers, but stress is the one that takes them from manageable to debilitating every time. Ugh.

            2. Michelle*

              Sometimes when I feel them coming on, I can take an Imitrex, get my room really cold & dark, and get under the cover so my body is warm and that will usually make them less severe and pass quicker. If I wake up with them in the middle of the night, I usually take an Imitrex and put ice pack on the top of my head, neck and forehead and settle in for a long, painful night.

          5. KAZ2Y5*

            OP #1 – I just want to say how sorry I am that you are going through all this. I have never had a migraine but my late husband had horrible, horrible migraines. He had them as a kid (which was long enough ago that every specialist they went to said that if he was older they would say his headaches were migraines, but everyone knew that little kids didn’t get migraines). They finally stopped and didn’t start up again until we started dating and got married. For all of our married life (20 yrs) he would have at least one horrible migraine almost every month. The only people he wanted to beat over the head were the ones who would complain about their horrible headache but say how a tylenol just took it right away! If only ;-) Some people just don’t understand until they either have a real migraine of their own, or see you twitching on the ground from the pain – neither of which I recommend in real life….

        3. AFT123*

          Totally!! I never knew what it was like until I met my husband, and now I just feel so much empathy for migraine sufferers. It’s truly debilitating. He will call me from wherever he is and see if I can come pick him up when he starts getting one because it’s so bad.

      4. Seal*

        As someone who also had mostly hormone-based migraines, I very much sympathize with you, OP1. I also had to deal with snotty comments from coworkers because I was generally incapacitated at least one day a month. I even had people tell me my headaches weren’t “real” migraines because generally didn’t have auras or see zigzagging lines. Even after one particularly nasty migraine sent me to the ER for a CT scan, my coworkers were less than sympathetic. Very few things are more unpleasant than having your coworkers roll their eyes and snicker when you have to leave early because you feel as if your head is being sawed in half.

        The various migraine medications I tried either didn’t work, made me throw up, or left me groggy for a few days, which provided more fodder for my a-hole colleagues. I was able to identify a few triggers to avoid, such as red wine, hard cheese, and dark chocolate (although I seem to be able to tolerate small amounts of expensive dark chocolate – go figure). But I still continued to have migraines. What finally did the trick was taking 400mg of riboflavin (vitamin B2) daily. It was amazing – I went from having severe migraines at least monthly to having a few tolerable headaches a year. Daily doses of magnesium also helped, although I eventually stopped taking it because one of the side effects is diarrhea. Once I went through menopause, the migraines went almost entirely away, lending support to them being hormone-related. I’ve stopped taking the daily riboflavin, but always mention it whenever someone says they suffer from migraines – I apologize if you’ve already had one too many suggested solutions.

    5. AFT123*

      Well, I guess I’ll sort of pile on here, but if it helps anyone, then so be it – my husband gets debilitating, knock him out for 2 days type migraines. In case it helps anyone, what has really helped lessen the pain and time knocked out (and stopped the migraine puking) has been at the on-set, to slam a caffeinated beverage (he uses Advocare Spark packets) and an on-set medicine called Migranol. It is a nasal spray, and in the US, it’s ungodly expensive, but you should be able to get your hands one some samples to see if it works for you. If it does, you can order it from a reputable Canadian online pharmacy for about 1/8th of the cost. They will verify your prescription for it. He used to also be on Atenonol as a daily, but now only takes the above for on-set, and it’s taken his episodes down to about an hour and cut the pain by a LOT. Also like I mentioned, no more puking. His triggers seem to be allergies, and a daily antihistamine helps a bit, but also weather patterns, which can’t be avoided.

      I hope I’m not irritating anyone, I just want to share a tidbit of info in case it is helpful for anyone else.

      1. Heather*

        Caffeine is proven to help with headaches. That’s why a lot of headache remedies have caffeine in them.

        I always drink a Pepsi or Coke (because I don’t drink coffee) when I get a migraine. It’s something to do with the dilation and restriction of blood vessels in the head.

        It’s debatable if it helps that much with migraines since it’s such an awful headache but what the heck a pop isn’t going to hurt.

        1. OP #1*

          Caffeine can help with certain types of headaches and migraines, but can often make migraines much worse, since you want to constrict blood vessels during a migraine and caffeine dilates them. Migraines are not just a severe headache, and have different underlying causes.

          On occasion, depending on what triggered my migraine that day, a cup of coffee will help, but most of the time, it only helps keep me from falling asleep at my desk as a result of the medications I’m on. Mostly, I just try to drink plenty of water, and put a cold pack on my head if I have one. That can help get me through some of the worst of it.

    6. POF*

      I truly sympathize with your condition, it must really be awful. I struggle with this type of thing as a Director in a very fast paced, deadline driven work enviroment. I couldn’t quite tell how often you are out of the office. This is my dilemma – I have a key employee who gets migraines and they are aggravated by caffeine ( she has shared this with me ) . She drinks coffee like crazy, smokes and doesn’t seek appropriate medical attention. ( I’ve asked her if she is seeing anyone for her migraines ). She’s out at least 2 or 3 days a month – which imapcts her ability to get the job done. It’s not fair to me or others to have to do double work to pick up the pieces when an employee is out routinely.

      I’ve talked to her and her response is I’m OK if I go home and sleep it off. But waht are your thoughts when this is truly impacting the dept and the employees job performance ?

      I suggested she may want to work in a less demanding role – where it isn’t critical if she is out and the deadlines are more flexible. ( I have a role open ) – but she didn’t want to make a change.

    7. KarenT*

      Oh my god! I can see why others have been taking a break from the comments section. Some of the responses to my post are really over the top. I added the last paragraph because it has worked for me and is something I only learned recently. And I see it was new and helpful information for a few commenters as well. Unnecessary? Perhaps. But it was certainly intended to be helpful, not unkind.

  2. Lillie Lane*

    About #5: What if the OP was non-exempt and the project took, say, 100 hours to complete at home….and then she told the company she needed to be paid for the work….what if the company said, “hey, we didn’t know you did this of your own volition, and we didn’t ask/authorize you to do this extra work.” Would the OP still need to be paid? Or only if the company used the spreadsheet? I’m curious.

    1. Graciosa*

      The employee needs to be paid for all time worked but can be fired for breaching internal requirements regarding completing timecards properly and promptly, getting approval for overtime, etc.

      1. Graciosa*

        I found a few statute of limitations items, and I could see at least an argument for challenging claims for work that the claimant deliberately concealed so that the company couldn’t effectively put a stop to it.

        But this is NOT my area of expertise, so I’ll be interested to hear what the experts say.

        However, it’s unlikely the amount of money is worth fighting over as long as we get rid of the employee and eliminate the problem in the future. Some of the quoted material below suggests that this is almost an obligation (paraphrasing as Management must make every effort to enforce the rule).

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In general, employees need to be paid even for unauthorized overtime. The FLSA says: “Work not requested but suffered or permitted is work time. For example, an employee may voluntarily continue to work at the end of the shift. He may be a pieceworker, he may desire to finish an assigned task or he may wish to correct errors, paste work tickets, and prepare time reports or other records. The reason is immaterial. The employer knows or has reason to believe that he is continuing to work and the time is working time.” And: “It is the duty of the management to exercise its control and see that the work is not performed if it does not want it to be performed. It cannot sit back and accept the benefits without compensating for them. The mere promulgation of a rule against such work is not enough. Management has the power to enforce the rule and must make every effort to do so.”

      But what’s interesting about this situation is that usually when someone works unauthorized overtime, it’s to complete work that’s been assigned or is generally something the employer might expect them to be working on (even if they intended it to be during the person’s regular hours). In this case, it sounds like that might not be true. I went searching to see if the rules have any shades of grey in that situation, and I found this interesting case, where a court found an employer not liable for unauthorized overtime, under very specific circumstances:

      So then I searched more to see if I could get some clarification on what other situations might fall in that category. Frustratingly, I’ve found a bunch of things that keep saying “generally the employer has to pay, even if the overtime was unauthorized,” but nothing that explains what situations don’t fall in “generally.” And now I really want to know. Lawyers?

      1. MK*

        I am not familiar with U.S case law, but I would think it comes down to the interpretation of “suffered or permitted”; and basically that means the crucial point is the employer’s knowledge. If they knew about it and didn’t stop it, they are obviously obligated to pay; and if the worker stayed in the workplace after hours to do the work, the company could hardly claim they didn’t know. I think the exception would apply in cases where the employee actively hid the overtime from the company; clocked out and continue working, took work home with them without telling anyone, etc.

        1. Koko*

          So then the next question is, if they aren’t legally bound to pay her for the unauthorized OT, can they still use the document she tried? Does accepting the document retroactively authorize the work?

      2. Dutch Thunder*

        This is what I was wondering as well – if an employee decided to take on a task she wasn’t assigned, in her own time, and then presented her employer with the final product and said it took 100 hours…

        I don’t know how the employer or a labour board would go about checking any of this, or who the burden of proof would be with.

        Very tricky situation!

        1. Elysian*

          It would be pretty unusual for a non-exempt employee to be able to do 100 hours of work without anyone having reason to know about it, for the most part. Not impossible, but unusual. Most non-exempt jobs are pretty heavily supervised (even if the supervisor has a hands-off, they can still be accountable if they should have known about the work). If an employee is doing 100 hours of work, they’ll probably be an uptick in productivity or something. Otherwise, it might be a project that is so unrelated to their job that the employer wouldn’t have to pay them for it. If a Teapot Assembly Line worker spends 100 hours on a new teapot design and brings it in expecting to be paid, the employer could just say “Nope, that wasn’t your job. You did that on your own time. That’s not what we hired you to do, so you can just keep that and we’re not paying you.” because it is just so far away from their job duties. The problem really comes when the employer accepts the work without payment.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            Exactly what I was thinking. Since the Op doesn’t want to share this document, she could simply say she created it on her own time and if they want to implement it now she needs compensated. That might be enough for them to say oh never mind. But I’m not entirely clear why the Opnwouldnt want to share it with the company if it will help with productivity or whatever she can always toot her own horn that she created it or whatever, otherwise it seems like she’s hoarding knowledge

      3. Elysian*

        I think it really falls into “did the employer know or have reason to know that the overtime work was being performed.” Employers are allowed to act as ostriches and stick their head in the sand, but if the employee was taking affirmative steps to hide the fact that they were doing work, or if the employer really had no reason at all to know that it was happening, they’re less likely to have to pay for the time. A lot of the time employers have reason to know because they assign too much work for an employee to complete in an assigned shift, so that turns into the constructive knowledge element.

        The OP’s situation is interesting because its possible the employer had no reason to know initially, but they definitely know now. It was work entirely outside the assigned work, but it is still work the employer now wants to take advantage of. If it went to court, I think it would be borderline, but I come down on the side of the employee because that’s usually how I roll. The employer knows now, so they should pay for the time — but that’s just my opinion, and I think this could easily go the other way.

        1. Elysian*

          Employers are NOT allowed to act as ostriches — forgive me for me pre-coffee errors!

        2. MK*

          But the “they know now” argument applies to absolutely every case; all employers will know as soon as the employee tells them or they see the product of the labor.

          1. Elysian*

            That’s true – the employer doesn’t have to know BEFORE it happens for the law to kick in though. If you stay late tonight to finish a project and tell your boss tomorrow, they still have to pay you for it. And they really should have known you were working, because you were in the office, on the office computer, caught on the security camera, whatever. I think where it gets more hazy is when employees do work at home on home equipment, which it sounds like happened here. If the employer has a policy against that and takes affirmative steps to make sure it doesn’t happen, they’re less likely to have to pay. But I find something really inequitable here if the employer finds out all this work was being done, and then says “ok, well give it to me and we’ll use it going forward.” and then refuses to pay for it. That’s problematic because they’re accepting the benefits of the work and basically validating it, without paying for it.

            Though honestly we don’t even know if it matters here, since its possible the OP is exempt anyway.

        3. fposte*

          But–if the employer tries to claim this work wasn’t permitted and therefore shouldn’t be paid for, it’s going to be tough to simultaneously claim ownership of the product as work-for-hire.

          1. MK*

            On the other hand, if the product was built on data that is owned by the company, they can claim a right to it.

          2. neverjaunty*

            Depends. If the work falls under the definition of “work for hire” under an entirely separate statute?

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, I suppose that’s possible. But still a neat piece of mental gymnastics.

              I think there are a lot of reasons they could still claim ownership that aren’t work for hire, too; they’d be less ironic.

            2. Elysian*

              I think we’re conflated copyright and wage-and-hour laws though, and they don’t interlock quite that neatly. The OP isn’t trying to sell the spreadsheet for profit or anything like that (as far as we know) so the real question isn’t whether it is “work for hire” but whether it is “work.”

              1. neverjaunty*

                Right, this is what I was getting at (badly). What one set of laws regards as ‘work’ may or may not pertain to another set of laws’ definition of ‘work’.

      4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        It’s an interesting question.

        If someone worked 100 hours of overtime, hidden, and then suddenly presented their time I’d

        1) wipe the pieces of my brain matter off the wall
        2) pay them
        3) fire them

        I’d be too afraid not to pay them but it would be the last money they saw from us.

        We are really clear with non exempt people about not working extra time without authorization. Had an issue the other week with two employees. It was “here’s your money and do not ever do this again”. (way smaller amount than 100 hours)

        1. BRR*

          I wonder if an employer is extremely clear about their overtime rules, would that be the exception. My last job was non-exempt and I was explicitly told overtime is rarely approved (in reality rarely meant never, nobody could actually point to an instance of somebody working overtime).

          1. Elysian*

            They would have to be clear to the point of preventing the work, basically. An employer can’t just say “overtime must be pre-approved and we won’t pre-approve it.” They would have to have a policy of actively disciplining employees who are working overtime, to the point of probably firing people.

          2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            There’s good reason that that’s not good enough to get the employer out of being legally obligated to pay.

            Imagine an oppressive work environment with unattainable goals and a lip service policy to “no over time”. An employer could get away with setting up pressure for people to sneak in overtime but know they’d never have to pay for it.

            I’m okay with the law being set up this way. It’s our job to make sure our employees adhere to our policy.

            1. Nashira*

              I see you are familiar with my office. I can think of exactly one instance of overtime which has ever been approved here, and it only happened because we had several months of work to plug into an entirely new, half-broken claims system.

              It was about four hours, iirc.

            2. Elysian*

              Yes! These kinds of workplaces are basically the reason I have a steady stream of work in my office.

        2. Anomanom*

          And that is exactly the right answer. I go round and round with managers about the fact that the correct method to deal with unauthorized overtime is this:

          1st time: Here is your money, don’t do this again or you will be written up.

          2nd time: Here is your money, we have discussed this before, here is your write up, if you do this again that is grounds for termination.

          3rd offense: Here is your money, we have discussed this twice before and since you cannot comply with the policy, it is time for us to part ways.

        3. AcademicAnon*

          Yes but you wouldn’t be in this situation because you would already have had a plan of training and documentation for the people you oversee and this wouldn’t happen. That seems to be the main problem with this job, no training and no SOP about how things needed to be done, and OP is a organized person who saw the need and did it. And now their employer has realized that what OP did was valuable and want to exploit that without any compensation.

        4. Katie the Fed*

          “1) wipe the pieces of my brain matter off the wall
          2) pay them
          3) fire them”

          Yeppppp. I had a guy coming in on weekends at one point but not reporting the hours. When I found out I insisted that he was compensated but we had a very clear talk about time management – there was no reason at all that he needed to come in on weekends to finish his work. He was just goofing off too much during the day. Not ok.

        5. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          Yep. If I didn’t want to fire them, I would:
          1) pay them
          2) multiply the overtime hours by 1.5
          3) reduce their schedule next week by that number of hours, unpaid (no PTO allowed) and tell them what prioritized work they must complete in the hours that are left.

          You don’t get to decide that you are messing up my budget.

          1. sstabeler*

            I’d be VERY careful about that one, and probably consult a lawyer FIRST- otherwise the employee could probably claim retaliation for bringing up the unpaid hours worked. ( this is in reference to cutting an employee’s hours to pay for the overtime said employee worked)

            1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

              But if they were specifically told not to work overtime and they did it anyway, then it’s not retaliation. You can fire people for working unauthorised overtime, do you can certainly cut their hours.

      5. neverjaunty*

        Lawyers don’t like to answer very general questions because it varies so much depending on the state (if in the U.S.) and the specifics of the job in question. Very minor-seeming facts can change a red light a green light, as it were. Hence the “generally”. :)

        (Also, you want a lawyer specializing in employment matters for these kinds of things….)

        1. Dan*

          And if things were clear cut, there’d be no point of having a trial… IANAL, but it makes no sense to pay a bunch of legal bills knowing you’re going to lose.

          Which is one reason to settle out of court, it can be cheaper to part with a little cash now and resolve the issue with certainty, or take your chances and lose big in court.

          1. Koko*

            Reminds me of a very early episode of Ally McBeal where John Cage meets with the defendant in a sexual harassment case and, offering him the opportunity to settle before trial he says to him basically, “You might win, but we both know you’d probably lose. And it’d probably look bad. Yesterday I got to do my little dance, and today it was your turn. Now, it’s time to do what we lawyers always do in the end. We pick a number.”

      6. Dulcinea*

        I am a lawyer, though not an employment lawyer, and I will say when the court says “generally,” they mean “unless you can come up with a truly unique and absurd situation, ideally closely analogous to one of the small handful of cases that have already been decided as exceptions in this jurisdiction.” The court will normally be loathe to list a set of specific examples that would qualify as exceptions; they will prefer to say only THIS case is an exception because [specific factual reasons that apply specifically to this case]. Otherwise, they are stepping too far into the realm of legislating from the bench. Henceforth it will be up to employer-side lawyers to explain why other case should be distinguished from this one.

        In other words, “what does generally mean?” = ” how long is a rope?”

    3. Chinook*

      “About #5: What if the OP was non-exempt and the project took, say, 100 hours to complete at home….and then she told the company she needed to be paid for the work….what if the company said, “hey, we didn’t know you did this of your own volition, and we didn’t ask/authorize you to do this extra work.”

      But it sounds like OP #5 wouldn’t have been able to do this work at home without using the proprietary knowledge she gained at work. I would think that creating, and populating, such a spreadsheet at home would mean she was taking company documents home which, unless she was given permission to do so, could breach confidentiality.

      As well, the contents of this spreadsheet are still company information. All she really did was create a way to organize and track it. The logging of the information would, presumably, be what she is paid to do but she has just found a more efficient way to do it. I did the same thing in my job for a few processes. The biggest one took me a few hours to create and refine plus extra hours learning how to use pivot tables and macros and runs to 4,000 entries per year. I have no problem sharing this information because it solves common long term problems, makes me look good as a worker (for my knowledge, skill and helpfulness) which means more people in the company are reaching out to me which helps with job security (a real concern as a contractor) and has expanded my role here (literally another spreadsheet has turned into a new database program that I work hand in hand with IT to develop beyond its original scope and we are in the middle of rolling out department wide while at the same time finding holes in our processes that need fixing).

      I think the OP is thinking to short term by protecting this more efficient way of doing things – if she spins it the right way and works with others with the right attitude, it can help open doors.

      1. Sarah*

        I was wondering about taking company info home too – but I am influenced by my (UK) Civil Service/Council background that had really strict rules about what data you’re allowed to take off the premises, and how. (There were a number of high profile Civil-Servant-leaves-unprotected-USB-stick-on-train/CS-leaves-papers-in-a-cafe cases – not mention leaving un-password-protected LAPTOPS (!!) – that lead to the rules being tightened up for us)

        So I was wondering if this was something more like she built the spreadsheet at home and brought it in to populate it… If I were her boss I’d query why she did it in her own time, but I’d argue that if it’s been populated over a significant time with company data while she was in working hours, it’s something she made as part of her job, thus should be shared.

  3. Graciosa*

    Regarding #5, you are maintaining a spreadsheet containing information about your work (more than 2,000 escrow requests documented if I understand correctly). This is information that belongs to your employer (or its clients) and presumably concerns customer or client escrow accounts. You don’t get to keep it for your “personal” use.

    If I were on the other side of the escrow request, I would actually be VERY concerned about your maintaining this data on a personal computer. I would expect data to be maintained – and secured – by the company I was dealing with. An individual employee having it on a home computer is Not Acceptable.

    So yes, please move this immediately to a shared drive where (I hope) your employer’s IT team will be maintaining it according to your company’s standards for protecting data of that type.

    I would typically focus more on the ownership misunderstanding in any comment (this clearly resulted from your work for your employer) but the fact that you did this on a personal computer is actually more troubling to me. Corporations with significant IT budgets have a hard enough time protecting sensitive information from hackers without having employees stockpiling data on systems unknown to the IT team (but which are probably less secure).

    1. steve g*

      My understanding is that the data isn’t about customers specifically, but maybe some type of glossary of terms/abbreviations, or list of calculations – something that could be transferable to other jobs.

      Either way, I sympathize with OP, but think they need to let it go. My good news to the OP is – new jobs give you opportunities to create newer and better things. You’ll lose the urge to hoard knowledge because you’ll see that others will see your skill set as much bigger than that one thing. I remember a while back the same urge to hoard complicated things I did in excel. Now, just this week, I wrote a macros for a friend to automate an albeit easier report and sent it off. No need for credit, because when push comes to shove, I can make that code again and code even better.

    2. UKAnon*

      This was my first thought too – the data security issues make me want to wail! OP, I’d suggest putting this on the shared drive and removing all traces from your personal computer ASAP before you get into trouble under data protection or similar laws.

    3. the gold digger*

      There was a county clerk around here who, a few years ago, put all the voting stuff on her personal computer.

      And then had her three employees share a password for logging into the county system.

      1. Creag an Tuire*

        I think I know who you’re talking about — she got -national- attention, and not in a good way.

      2. I'm a Little Teapot*


        Wasn’t there a case where someone who worked for the British government lost a laptop with the national ID numbers of a third of the population or something? Or am I recalling that wrong?

        1. Sarah*

          Not national ID numbers, but you’re remembering the basics – govt official lost laptop with hugely sensitive info on it… but no password – we had a fun little spate of these kinds of things about 10 years ago.

    4. BananaPants*

      If OP5 signed any sort of intellectual property agreement upon hire, then her employer likely “owns” it anyways – it’s related to her work and their business. Intellectual property is not just patentable or copyrightable information, it includes trade secrets and proprietary processes.

      She needs to share it immediately with her manager and team and ensure that customers’ private/personally identifiable information is NOT on her personal computer.

      OP5, present this to your boss as “I’ve automated this process using this tool and I think it will help all of us work more quickly and accurately.” I know you think you’ve set everything up correctly but you really need other eyes checking it to make sure there aren’t any bugs that could cause mistakes to be made. In your line of work I don’t think there’s likely to be much tolerance for error.

    5. Dan*

      I work with data that I am not even supposed to keep on my *work* machine; in theory, it’s all supposed to be on the secured database.

      They tell us they look the other way if we do keep data on our work machines, but if we take the laptop out of the country, we really better wipe the stuff off then.

    6. Stranger than fiction*

      Yes except we don’t know that she didn’t log in to the company servers tondo this

  4. Mike C.*


    Do you honestly believe that working unpaid time (which will land your employer in trouble if you’re non-exempt) on a document using internal company IP (which means they most likely own it now!) that helps make your job easier only to keep it from everyone else is really the way to prove you’re a valuable employee? Are you convinced at some level that if your “one weird tip that escrow lawyers don’t want you to know!” gets out that you’ll lose your competitive advantage or do you think that everyone else should have to reinvent the wheel or what?

    You’re a homo sapien. We’re a social species. We invent tools and we share the knowledge of those tools with others for mutual benefit. Then others share their tools with us. What’s more valuable – an effective employee or an effective employee who can help their coworkers become more effective?

    1. steve g*

      Well the “good” news is that sharing expertise does not decrease your stature, it actually increases it. Also, sharing data IME did not make my coworkers smarter than me, it just made me the go-to person for future similar requests. This is probably just what the OP wants, they’re just unsure of how to get which I’d say, share the info, impress people with what you know, and set yourself up as the goto person for even bigger and better projects

      1. Jen RO*

        “Also, sharing data IME did not make my coworkers smarter than me, it just made me the go-to person for future similar requests.”

        I think this is the part that OP needs to understand. I’ve always been “the troubleshooter” on the team, I like to improve processes, and it’s gained me a TON of respect. That definitely wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t shared the knowledge.

        1. I cannot assume host prerogatives without payment.*

          This. +1024+1024i

          I apologize for my cynicism, but in my experience quite often these kinds of ‘organically grown’ spreadsheet tools are full of idiosyncrasies such that no-one but the author can really use it correctly. “So then we input this last value here … But now notice how CC23 is negative? That means we need to insert a new row over here …”

          My advice to OP: be gracious, put it out there, make sure everyone knows you did this work, try to build on whatever good rep you can get from it.

          1. Artemesia*

            I suspect the OP has already made a fuss about it which will cancel out any good will or professional reputation that might result. It is frankly outrageous that an employee would claim a tool they created to do the work better is somehow ‘personal’ and doesn’t belong to the employer. Asserting this would move anyone who worked for me into the ‘never promote, never recommend’ category. On the other hand, an employee who made life easier for everyone with their creativity would be the first person you would think of when it was time to promote.

            1. Shannon*


              One of my first jobs was working for the State and everyone had their own little projects and areas of authority that only they could do. I understand where the attitude came from – there was a pervasive fear of having your job defunded at the time. Everyone complained about needing help, but, when offered help, only they could do it right. It just left me with a deep and abiding distaste for administrative work, which isn’t fair, because not all offices are like that.

          2. Creag an Tuire*

            +a googolplex

            OP #5, thinking up nifty tools and then sharing them with other people has become the majority of my job. And you know what? It’s -good- to be the Office Miracleworker.

      2. SevenSixOne*

        I read reference documents other employees have made and create my own all the time.

        Even though I love having a reputation of “ask SevenSixOne, she knows everything!”, I love it even more when a colleague uses a document I’ve made to create something even better. That’s how work works.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I’m still grateful to a former coworker for the spreadsheet she introduced into my work flow. I was using a system of moving the paperwork from one tray to another as it went through the approval system. She added a spreadsheet to track the same info, and from then on we used the combined system. When I started my new job, I immediately replicated the system that she’d taught me, and I still think about her when I use it. I tend to get a little scattered about simple tracking tasks and will get caught in a cycle of trying different systems without ever settling on one, so for someone to share an easily-maintainable system with me is a big help.

          1. la Contessa*

            YES. I had something very similar happen. My boss at Old Job had designed a spreadsheet to track cases, and a system of filing documents so they could be easily accessed if you needed them to write a brief or quote something to the court. He showed them to me, and when I left for New Job, I immediately started recreating everything. I even improved the filing system (IMO). Now I have a reputation as being extremely organized and on the ball, because I never blow deadlines. If someone asked me to share the processes with them, I would be thrilled, because it would be easier if everyone were just as organized.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              My boss made a spreadsheet to track our data, and I added to it (a place to put more data that we are asked to provide to another department at month end). I documented the addition into my procedural–now, if someone follows my instructions, they’ll add the extra data when they enter the initial data, and they won’t have to scramble to do it later.

              I’m the only one who does this (unless I’m gone, and then my boss does it), but the sheet is for the DEPARTMENT, not for me. If I won the lottery tomorrow and never had to work again, someone else would do my job and probably follow my procedural.

              That doesn’t mean I can’t make a similar process for a personal thing, or even for a different job (not leaving!). But I can’t co-opt it and say it’s mine. Anyway, with different data, i.e. mine or that of another position, I might have to start over anyway.

        2. LQ*

          I created a wiki and I was sure no one was using it because so much of the time people would come to me and I’d happily walk them through the process, showing them the wiki. Then one of my coworkers came to me and said, Hey, this isn’t in the wiki and I can’t figure it out could you help me put it in there? It was the best. (Turned out she’d been using it all the time to do basically everything. So much good feelings about that.)

      3. LBK*

        Well said. If your coworkers weren’t smart enough to come up with these kinds of systems on their own, they aren’t generally going to start doing it just because you did – they’re just going to start asking you to make more, which makes you more valuable and improves your visibility. Frankly, I’d be champing at the bit to share any kind of huge process improvement I made like this. Looks fantastic on your reviews and your resume.

        1. It'sOnlyMe*

          +100! Improving processes, showing initiative, openly sharing with colleagues makes you a stand out employee. Take it as a compliment and be thrilled with your success.

      4. Nashira*

        This has been my experience too. I’ve made or improved spreadsheets and form letters at my current job, and gotten the rep as Nash With Good Ideas and Computer Know-How. Which boosted my bonuses several times.

        The lesson I had to learn was to share what I was doing with management, because what I considered small improvements, they considered to be quite a bit more value added.

      5. straws*

        Yes. This is exactly how I got promoted at my current & previous jobs, on multiple occasions at each. Value is just as important as productivity.

    2. lawsuited*

      Exactly. Once I’d created the document and been using it for a while, I would have shouted from the rooftops (or maybe just my boss) that I created this great tool, offered to put it on the shared drive so that the whole company could work more efficiently and effectively, and in the process made it clear to my boss and co-workers that I was a creative and smart team player. Employers really want to hire and retain people who will come up with great ideas, figure out how to do their job better and improve the company. Employers dread hiring people who don’t want to contribute anything beyond the bare minimum in their job description and aren’t interested in helping co-workers and the company.

    3. A Definite Beta Guy*

      What’s more valuable – an effective employee or an effective employee who can help their coworkers become more effective?

      He/She received literally no training for this job. You’re not asking a competent manager this question.

      1. OfficePrincess*

        I’m not seeing that she received no training, just that what was in place she didn’t think was sufficient. In fact, training isn’t mentioned at all, so I don’t think that’s a fair conclusion that we can jump to with what we have. I’ve created several spreadsheets and improved upon others to make my job easier. I was trained that I needed to track X and Y but figured out a way to track them both simultaneously. Just because I figured out a way to do it faster doesn’t mean that I wasn’t trained on a way to do it.

        1. A Definite Beta Guy*

          Fair Point. Counter question: What kind of culture generates workers that are not willing to share these kinds of cheat sheets?
          I’m seeing a lot of comments suggesting the OP will be lauded for their initiative (assuming they are not fired for violating overtime laws), and that’s just not the case in a lot of workplaces. I can tell you I am working on a month-end spreadsheet right now that I created, is requested by the manager every month, and cut our close process by 2 days, and I have already been told it is not considered a process improvement and it is not technically our work even though I was asked to take over the process.
          Lots of people are in “Not Nice” places.

          1. esra*

            That still wouldn’t make not sharing the doc a good idea though. Even if you are in a crappy gig, you still have to hold yourself to good standards and practices. That’s something that benefits you, no matter where you are.

          2. Chinook*

            I have worked in hostile work environments that didn’t acknowledge process improvements and liked to stick their old ways. I learned to adapt by doing it their way when necessary to show my work and doing it my way when they only required the end result. If asked, I would share with other like-minded coworkers (once we have given the secret handshake, of course).

          3. Mike C.*

            You’re still going to to get favors from coworkers for making their own jobs easier., unless you’re working with a bunch of spiteful children or something.

          4. LBK*

            Even if she’s not praised for it, there’s no way it’s going to go over well to withhold it. Getting a neutral reaction is still extremely preferable to having your reputation trashed by being a person who doesn’t want to work with their team or help the organization.

          5. Observer*

            That could be. But here’s the thing. Good place or not, digging in WILL damage her, although it’s not clear how badly. Worst case if she shares, she won’t get kudos and recognition and benefits that should go along with it.

          6. Sarah*

            I’d argue that sharing becomes even more important, then, because if she’s in a hostile work environment and looking to move, she’s likely to need references. The ideal is, if she shares, the reference is “created this amazing process that improved our company” – the more likely, for a crappy work environment is “I can confirm she worked here between X and Y”.

            However, if she doesn’t share, and it’s a really crappy place, there’s a big likelihood of having a reference along the lines of “not a team player, refused to support colleagues” etc, with a really worst-case of then fire her for looking.

            If she wants to move on, there’s no downside to sharing, because if it’s “had to create this as crappy company had no systems”, any good company will have systems in place already.

      2. Chinook*

        “He/She received literally no training for this job. You’re not asking a competent manager this question.”

        That is a false assumption. I am working for a place with great training and support but some procedures are still based on how it was done 10+ years ago when our workload and expectations were different. I still marvel at how documentation was tracked and QCed when I started. It made sense the way it was and no one had time and/or expertise to see how it could be improved. I did (partially because I came from another industry) so I made sure I wasn’t stepping on any toes and developed what we needed. The best moment was when I was asked for a report by a director and he came back moments later and asked how I was able to get it to him before he got back to his desk because last time it took a week to compile the same information. When I showed himwhat I created, I pretty much cemented my new (then temporary now permanent) role in his department.

    4. Seattle Writer Gal*

      “What’s more valuable – an effective employee or an effective employee who can help their coworkers become more effective?”

      THIS x1000.

      @Mike C. You are my hero. Seriously.

    5. nofelix*

      Looking at another angle, this request from management seems badly thought out too. In the letter, you can sense the frustration the employee felt that they were expected to do a job without adequate procedures and resources in place. I sympathize that he is probably feeling “Oh you didn’t care how impossible the task was when it was my problem, but now I’ve solved it you’d like the benefit for free?”.

      So in my view, the request should have gone something along the lines of “This is great work you’ve done, although there is an issue of client information-security that is worrying. It’s fortunate we became aware that you were keeping information off-site before anything bad happened. We work in a sensitive industry which means you need to keep us in the loop if you want to do extra projects, and we now have to move the sheets you created onto our secure IT system. In the future, this kind of creativity could get you bonuses or promotion, IF you make sure we’re aware of what you’re doing first. Otherwise it’s a liability .”

  5. Observer*


    What the others said.

    Let me put it this way. In many companies refusing to provide this stuff could get you fired. AND – depending on the organization – they might go after you for the file anyway, because they will argue it’s information that really belongs to them. (And, if it’s actually escrow information, rather than information about rules, regulations and procedures, they are really likely to go after you for all sorts of damages.)

    Even if you don’t get fired, I think you need to understand what Allison’s “torpedo your reputation” means. It means that you will not be trusted. People are going to be looking over your shoulder, to make sure that you are not hoarding information you should be sharing and that you are not looking at or making copies of information you should not be dealing with. It also generally means that you are going to be treated as the person with one foot out the door anyway, and whose morale it’s not worth worrying about. And you may also be the person they will be looking to replace as soon as they can do it in a relatively painless fashion.

    I can’t say that all, or even any, of these things WILL happen. But, they really, really could. To many, many bosses this would be an indicator that you can’t really be trusted.

    1. Hiding on the Internet Today*

      I am absolutely one of those bosses. I explicitly measure my staff on their helpfulness and usefulness to their coworkers. If one of my staff created a useful tool and then refused to share it I wouldn’t fire them immediately, but I would treat it as a serious performance issue that would require a plan of action and ongoing governance to manage to a better place.

      I value my staff not just for what comes out of them but for the improvement and change they can drive for the entire company. Hoarding tools and information is so counter to my goals that I would have to see an employee with that as an instinct as a risk to the success to my team and be unable to trust their judgement.

    2. AnotherFed*

      +1. I rely on members of my team to share results, pass along lessons learned, and generally try to help each other succeed. It’s a huge waste of time and energy if people have to reinvent the wheel when the person in the next cube has already figured out a solution that worked!

      If I found out that someone on my team was refusing to share info or tools, they would no longer be on my team. I can understand unwillingness (or lack of time) to offer training on how to use a tool or RTFM responses when there really is a manual that answers that question, but entirely refusing to share a job-related resource is simply not acceptable.

    3. BenAdminGeek*

      Exactly. I had an employee like this, and he truly thought it was better for his career if he was the only one who knew how to do tasks. So he would hide steps from others. Instead, we trained someone new and he was let go.

  6. Engineer Girl*

    #1 – I get migraines but can usually control them if I get to them fast enough. “Control” in this sense means I’m only out for the day.
    I had a co-worker that was the same as OP #1. Out for days, fuzzy from meds. I really appreciated it when she let me know when she was on meds. That way I would schedule/take extra time to review her work. I would give it a lot more review than I normally would, and usually use the checklists twice just to make sure everything was where it needed to be.
    I think it’s important to just state the facts with migraines and not feel like you have to offer long-winded apologies. “Uh-oh, my migraine has come on again and I need to leave NOW. I’m so sorry, can we continue this later?” Only a jerk would complain about this. If they make statements about “bad headaches” it helps to say what is going on – loss of vision, searing pain like a stroke, nausea – all at once.

    1. UKAnon*

      Yeah – I think people only need to see you curled up sobbing helplessly clutching your forehead and unable to open your eyes to realise that migraines and work don’t mix. I agree with keeping people in the loop; aside from it making OP’s work life easier, I know we’ve had letters on here from people who were convinced people were on drugs but then didn’t know if it was side-effects of medication or not. And if it comes at a really bad time (it’s tax return season and already two of your team are out on medical leave, for eg) I think that would be a time for an apology as well as thanks, but generally being polite to your co-workers and making sure you keep them in the loop and thank them for covering is fine.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        I had a manager who didn’t believe in migraines once and wouldn’t let me go home sick. I ended up throwing up what little I’d had for lunch in a trash can in the middle of the department. She never questioned my migraines again and actually drove me home that day.

    2. Calla*

      I agree about a brief explanation of what it actually entails. I get migraines a few times a month. I have a prescription to help with them on an as-needed basis. I’ve never gone home because of one (well, a couple times I’ve left like 30 minutes early, but nothing that would really impact my coworkers), but I’ve definitely explained it’s the reason I’m seeming “off.” All I say is something like “I get bad migraines, and when I get them I cannot tolerate light or sound without extreme pain and nausea.” You’re of course not OBLIGATED to do this, but fortunately with that explanation, I’ve never heard someone make remarks about how I’m just having a headache.

      (Though my current boss, the last time I remarked about having a migraine over the weekend, said “We just have to get you healthy!” Like I get them because I’m not taking care of myself or something. If you’ve found the cure, boss, please do tell me.)

      1. the gold digger*

        A co-worker at a job years ago didn’t show up one day. I was really worried because she had not called or emailed. I went to our boss and asked if he had her home phone number – I was concerned.

        “She probably has a migraine,” he said, “and if she does, the phone ringing is going to make it worse.”

        He was not a good boss in many ways, but he was a heck of a human being.

      2. Bekx*

        Ugh. I had a boss who shoved probiotics in my face and told me to take them when she found out I was getting a colonoscopy (genetic colon cancer is in my family). Yes. Because those will help cure my genetic disposition towards cancer.

        1. Chinook*

          “Because those will help cure my genetic disposition towards cancer.”

          I have the same problem with a genetic disposition towards high blood pressure. No – it is not caused by poor diet and lack of exercise and doing a, b, or c will not make it go away. Instead, I am thankful that I live in a time of modern medicine where a pill can cure the problem that killed my great grandmother (who was a slight thing who did farm work for exercise, ate organically and still died of a stroke at age 40).

      3. Beancounter in Texas*

        I agree with Calla & Alison. As Alison put it, “excruciating” seems like an appropriate adjective. I don’t think you have to “prove your case” to anyone but your manager, but describing specific things that happen if you don’t treat your migraine in time will paint a better picture, and show that you’re not being dramatic by calling a really bad headache a “migraine.”

    3. Is It Performance Art*

      Explaining that it’s similar to a seizure – “spreading cortical depression” can also make the point. It makes it pretty clear that a migraine isn’t just just being a drama queen.

  7. Engineer Girl*

    #2 – there’s a legal concept called estoppel. There’s an expectation that you’ll be made whole if someone makes a promise and you lose money as the result of them breaking their promise. I think AAM has the wording right in contacting the company – “How are you going to make this right?”. That gives the company a chance to fix it on their own. After that it may indeed be lawyer time.

    1. Purple Dragon*

      I’d also ask a professional sounding friend to check references because this sounds really strange. Just a thought but maybe someone they contacted said something really bad and caused the offer to be pulled ?

      1. NutellaNutterson*

        Yes, it sounds obvious but Google your own name – and maybe spring for a background check. I’ve known more than one person whose name-twin was Up To No Good!

        1. anonanonanon*

          I worry about employers who just Google someone without thinking about the possibility of someone else having the same name.

          There’s someone with my name who lives across the country and I only found out because one interviewer mentioned that I looked nothing like the pictures I had posted on instagram and facebook. Which then led to an awkward conversation because I don’t have facebook, my twitter and instagram are private and don’t have pictures of me or use my real name, and my linkedin doesn’t have a photo. When I looked up the person sharing my name, she looked NOTHING like me. Not to mention, she lived across the country, worked in a different industry, and had a different academic background. Luckily her profiles didn’t contain anything horrendous, but still.

          It was poor Google searching on the interviewer’s part, but it’s always made me wonder if people are just really lazy when they search for candidates and don’t bother to look at relevant information before making a snap decision.

          1. Allison*

            I really hope most employers don’t do this . . . any time I Google a potential candidate to get more information, I am really careful to make sure I’m checking out the right person’s profile. If I see anything damning associated with their name, I try to verify that it’s the same person I’m researching, and if I can’t verify it, then I ignore it.

          2. Creag an Tuire*

            These kind of horror stories always worry me because my name might as well be “John Smith” for how many other people have it.

            Though I almost wonder if that’s advantage — I’m already quite obviously “unGoogleable”.

            1. Turanga Leela*

              I worry about this too. My name is very common and there are several Turanga Leelas in my field. I make sure to have some web presence that’s clearly me—my professional bio at my company and a semi-public LinkedIn page at minimum—so that people who Google me actually find me.

            2. Just Visiting*

              I think both having a super-common name and a completely unique name (like mine, I am the only person with my name in the world and there’s only twenty people with my last name, all relatives) are positives. One because you can disappear into the static, the other because you can control everything and identify any impostors. The problem seems to be when there are five other people with your name in your country and one is on the sex offenders registry and the other is posting racist stuff on Twitter. A name that doesn’t sound rare, but actually is. That would be the worst of both worlds.

            3. Cindy Lou Who*

              I Googled myself at one point and there is a porn actress with my name, which is…not Jane Smith, but not Alamaza McGillicuddy either. We have similarly colored hair. Her face is usually…um…obscured. I try not to think too hard about that.

              Credit checks, which rely on a unique SS#, can still screw you up when records get merged, your ex’s info gets on there somehow, numbers are miskeyed…and yet somehow it’s okay to do “background checks” that rely solely on a name.

        2. Beancounter in Texas*

          I’m “lucky” to have a unique name in the sense of not being confused with Lord Voldemort, but then that makes me super cautious as to what I post online and when I use my real name. For example, I do not comment on public Facebook pages or in public Facebook groups, because those can be picked up by search engines.

          1. T3k*

            Even having a unique name won’t always keep you safe from being mistaken for someone else. I also have a very unique name to the point if you looked it up, you’ll get results on a family member of mine or myself (or very distant relative I don’t know). Back during college though, a girl was showing up in the results that looked nothing like me and what was even more creepy was that it was my exact name (first, middle, and last name). It was a personal site and just showed a few photos of this girl and a friend goofing off, but it really worried me for several years. Thankfully, that site seems to be gone now, but I still worry if someone googles my name, they’ll see this site instead.

            1. Beancounter in Texas*

              I Google myself irregularly to check what’s available & delete what I can (if I can). Under image search, all kinds of results pop up and none of them are me, and I’d think a potential employer picking one of the female images (amongst the hundreds of men images) as me would have as much luck winning a multi-state lottery that way.

              But yes, if you find someone with my surname in the US, they’re likely related, and fortunately, they’ll all well behaved.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          This occurred to me as well. It’s just too strange that they would pull the offer just like that, with no explanation.

          OP, is your husband sure there is nothing that could come up in a background check or reference check? A crap former boss, or a weird personal information snafu?

        4. Kas*

          Don’t forget to search common misspellings of your name as well, eg Stephen vs Steven, Louise vs Louisa.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      But as Alison points out there’s not much recourse as he could have turned up at work the first day and been fired anyway. If the company pay damages t would seem to be more out of good will than anything else. It’s still a crappy way to be treated but I don’t see any recourse.

      1. De (Germany)*

        Hmm, I don’t think that just because there would have been a “lawful” way to reach the same result means that there was no breach of contract or something here. But I am not very familiar with how US law works.

        1. MK*

          I think the point is that, in the U.S., they don’t consider an accepted job offer a contract.

          1. Engineer Girl*

            Some states do. Estoppel can also exist without a contract – just that you relied on someone’s promise to your detriment.

            1. fposte*

              Right, that’s why it’s also called “detrimental reliance,” as Alison mentions in her post.

              I’d have a lawyer at least drop a note here. It won’t get you the job back, but it might get you some money.

        2. Apollo Warbucks*

          But nearly all employment in the US is at will so there is no contract to breach and Alison notes in her reply that courts do not normally award damages in cases where a job offer is rescinded, in addition to that we have no idea why the offer was rescinded so the employer might have had good reason to revoke the offer.

          1. De (Germany)*

            I think the promise of the sign-on bonus might count as a verbal contract, actually. Would that bonus have been paid if the employee got fired on the first day?

            1. Apollo Warbucks*

              You make a good point, I wasn’t thinking about the sign-on bonus particularly, maybe the OP’s boyfriend could ask for it to be paid if the company didn’t have a good reason to revoke the offer, but I’d still be in favour of putting in behind me and investing my effort in finding a new job.

            2. blu*

              Depends on when they were supposed to get it. At old job standard practice was that you received it after your 3rd month. Additionally, at old job, I’m not even sure how we would pay someone that bonus if they never actually started with us because there was no payroll/employee record to make the request on .

            3. BRR*

              They owe him at least the sign on bonus in my opinion (and really a lot more). Depending on the details, it sounds like he completed the “sign on” part. He did sign on (unless there were specific rules outlined like you have to work a set amount of time).

              This company is incredibly shitty though. To do this at all let alone as an email attachment and then not tell why. This has to be disastrous for most people’s finances. I imagine he can’t even file for unemployment (although I might check just out of curiosity).

              And while I understand that he could be fired his first day, it’s pretty unlikely. I only hope he was job hunting in general and didn’t go for just this position, since the process can take such a long time.

    3. GOG11*

      Perhaps it’s the lack of caffeine in my system, but reading “it may…be lawyer time” made “Business Time” by Flight of the Concords pop into my head. Now I want to make an “Is this legal/it’s lawyer time!” parody of the song.

      “Today my boss made me work after hours. But you know what? I’m not exempt. I asked him for pay. But he said, he said non-exempt workers usually stay after hours, oh yeah!
      Is this legal?
      Is this legaaaal?”

      …I’ll see myself out…

      1. That Lady*

        Tuesday nights are bar review, but tonight’s the night we make sweet weekly litigation. Oh yeah.

        1. GOG11*

          Actually, that format probably is surprisingly fitting for law. Everyone thinks it’s courtroom drama all the time, but, as I understand it, there’s a lot more of the old t-shirts, taking out the trash, and, as you put it, bar review, than “sweet…litigation.”

    4. JB (not in Houston)*

      Detrimental reliance is a part of one form of estoppel, so Alison’s answer still applies.

    5. bridget*

      I’ll put on my Pedantic Lawyer Girl Hat to point out that “estoppel” is a shield, not a sword; it’s basically a defensive mechanism that keeps someone from asserting a claim that is contradictory to their past conduct. See Black’s Law Dictionary 667 (10th ed. 2014) (“A bar that prevents one from asserting a claim or right that contradicts what has been legally established.”).

      So, if Awful Company went after OP#2’s husband for some unforeseen reason, estoppel could be an affirmative defense, but you can’t sue on estoppel grounds.

      1. Busy*

        This. :( Doesn’t hurt to have a lawyer at least try to get the sign-on bonus, but relying on promissory estoppel is next to impossible.

      2. Sampson2978*

        I was prepared to make the same post, but happened to stumble upon a citation to a case from Alaska [Alaska Democratic Party v. Rice, 934 P.2d 1313 (Alaska 1997)] wherein the Alaska Supreme Court seemingly allowed the Plaintiff to use Promissory Estoppel as a sword rather than a shield (In its description of the case’s procedural history, the majority opinion explains that “After a trial by jury, Rice was awarded $28,864 in damages on her promissory estoppel claim and $1,558 in damages on her misrepresentation claim.”). I suppose another way of reading the decision is that the Plaintiff sued to enforce an oral contract of employment, that the Defendant countered by asserting the Statute of Frauds, and that the Plaintiff “counter-defended” against the Statute of Frauds by arguing that the latter shouldn’t apply. Either way, this case does provide at least one example of a court affirming a trial court judgment in favor of a Plaintiff’s whose claim arose after an offer of employment was rescinded. Footnote 2 of the opinion includes references to other jurisdictions that have considered the interaction of Statute of Frauds and Promissory Estoppel, including citations to jurisdictions that have decided the issue in opposite ways.

        Ultimately, I think it would be prudent to consult an experience employment/labor law attorney in the jurisdiction in which the events occurred who will be in the best position to know whether such a claim is colorable under the relevant case law.

    6. Stranger than fiction*

      And to not scare the Op with the thiught of spending thousands they don’t have on a lawyer, sometimes just spending a couple hundred to have the letter stated is sufficient for the company to want to make it go away. If you have a local legal aid society or law school, ask them for an affordable way to get it done

  8. Apollo Warbucks*

    #5 I understand why you feel the way you do but there’s nothing to be gained by digging you heels in and not giving people at work the spreadsheet to use.

    I’ve written a tone of lightweight applications and scripts for work. I carried out some of the work at home just because I couldn’t spend the amount of time learning at work.

    Not I only did it make my job easier but
    When people saw me using them, they wanted then too, it had many posative benefits and no negatives at all for me to share them, in fact it lead to some interesting opportunities and a hell of a lot of accomplishments to put on my CV. If it helps any thinking of the time spent as an investment in your future career.

    1. KT*

      Agreed. Creating such a spreadsheet and sharing it makes you pretty invaluable, while digging your heels in will make you look very uncooperative and unprofessional.

      1. Beancounter in Texas*

        This. Someone at my company before me put in a ton of time and effort establishing a spreadsheet that is re-used every week (a sort of template for the cash position report). This spreadsheet has a ton of information in it, is nicely formatted and because of the setup, is easy to maintain. The layout of the spreadsheet from the former employee is so much more aesthetically pleasing than anything I would have designed, and I will always esteem her for that. She will always be able to say that she did that and use it as an example of her Excel skills, as will you, and that is far more valuable to you and your career than any benefit the company gains from your contribution of the spreadsheet. I cannot foresee the company objecting to you keeping a template from your work for application in future work (and on which perhaps you improve your Excel skills!).

        Also think of this: not everyone can use Excel and therefore, the awesome tool you’ve created is only accessible by those in-the-know.

  9. Man*

    #4. Thanks for your response. I was deeply worried and I don’t want to experience bad career growth, hence the request for explanation. Although company “C” first contacted me and it was after I had accepted the offer from company “B” and tendered my resignation as stipulated by my present company “A”.

    1. B*

      If you’re concerned about employers looking at your LinkedIn, I would just not update your job title just yet, and/or set it to not notify everyone when you update your profile. I always have it set to this because I don’t want everyone to see that I’ve edited my job description or added a skill.
      But I agree that if you’ve already accepted a job with B it won’t look good if you leave them for C, but that’s your decision to make.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Yes, I know people who left my company months ago who are still showing it as their current position. Lots of people don’t update LinkedIn frequently. However, once in direct discussions with Company C, you should tell them you’re current employment situation.

        I agree this is a situation to be avoided (taking a new job, then pursuing another), but sometimes that’s how stuff works out. True, the OP might burn bridges, but Company C could end up being a fantastic place where he has a 20 year career. He needs to listen to his instincts and make sure it’s the right move, if he does get an offer from Company C. The worst-case would to burn bridges at Company B, things not work out at C, and have no job or prospects at A, B, or C six months from now.

    2. Oryx*

      The issue isn’t really your LinkedIn profile, though: you accepted a job offer at B but it sounds like you’d leave them for C. That’s entirely your choice, of course, but it’s not going to look good and depending on how big (or small) your field is that could have lasting impact if word gets around.

      1. BRR*

        This is slightly different from how this situation usually comes up. If you want to work for C and are willing to risk it, I think it’s ok to back on on B since you haven’t started (it’s ok, not exactly wonderful but better than if you started).

        But I feel the same whenever this situation comes up. My feeling this time is “it sucks they contacted you after you accepted because it could reflect poorly on you in the future,” (if you leave B off your resume you have a hole in it if you have to fill out your complete employment history on an ATS you have to include B because you did work there which will look bad, and if word gets around) which is slightly different than my usual “you made your choice and that’s the risk you took by accepting a job.” That’s assuming you were planning on starting at B in case C didn’t work out and also for a paycheck.

    3. fposte*

      It’s still has potential to be a career ding, whichever way it happened. And it concerns me that you seem to be trying to skulk around with *both* companies–you’re hiding from B the fact that you’re still hoping to work elsewhere, and you’re hiding from C the fact that you’ve accepted a job. It could work out okay as long as B’s being really sour about you won’t dog you longterm, but if it’s a small field, there’s a decent chance somebody at C is going to find out and be unthrilled about this too.

      1. Development professional*

        Yeah, I agree. Even though you’d already accepted B’s offer, C didn’t know that at the time. As far as they knew, you had been at A for X years and would be for the foreseeable future pending their offer. Moving on to B is going to send a signal to C, whether you post it to LinkedIn or not.

  10. Katie the Fed*

    OP 1 – here’s my advice. Stop giving them details. You have to go home sick – that’s all they need to know. Anything else is between you and your manager and your health care professionals. If you’re worried it will affect your standing at your job, look into intermittent FMLA. But you really are under no obligation to give anyone medical details.

    1. blu*

      I’m not sure that approach will work entirely because it doesn’t sound like she gets a migraine and then goes home. It sounds like the symptoms and the medication may impact the quality of the actual work she is completing ahead of being out, so it’s worth at least mentioning something.

    2. MT*

      This approach will only make their co-workers less understanding. If I worked with someone who once a month, maybe more, left unexpectedly and it effected my work it would make me upset. Or if them leaving put their work on my plate. This OP wants to dial done some of the resentment that others are feeling towards them.

      1. fposte*

        I think “understanding” might be a bit of a red herring here, though. Suffering is complicated; I think there’s the leftover childhood imperative that makes us feel we have to prove how sick we are, and there’s also, I think, a basic mammal desire for people to know that we’re suffering. But most people don’t really understand other people’s physical situations, and that’s not really a big problem. And ironically, focusing on how much you’re suffering or crying or spiking blood pressure doesn’t so much convince them of the problem as make them feel like the conversation isn’t about work but about you.

        I also don’t think this is a new job for the OP, and it certainly doesn’t sound like a new illness. So I think she might be hoping to find a way to change the minds and responses of people who aren’t responding to this situation kindly. And I’d let go of that as a goal. If she thinks they’re not clear on the medical need for her absences, or she needs to outline a proposal for her underperformance days, then that’s a reason to talk to them, but I think you stay matter-of-fact about the work situation, don’t worry about their understanding of the actual illness, and accept that some people will be annoyed about just about everything and you can’t fix that.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          “And I’d let go of that as a goal.”

          Exactly. Frankly, if coworkers resent her, that’s their problem. Much like the dog situation. You’re under no obligation to convince your coworkers that they should be understanding of your health issues. It’s between you and your supervisor and all you’re required to say is “I have a chronic health issue and Supervisor has approved me being out from time to time. You’re welcome to discuss with her.”

          Now, that does come across a bit antagonistic, but if people are scoffing at your health concerns, that’s what you have to do. It’s not your job to manage other people’s feelings on the matter – that’s the manager’s to deal with.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yes. I’ve worked with people who would be understanding and sympathetic and also at least one or two people (at the same place) whose reaction would be, “Gee, it must be nice to have “chronic migraines” [air quotes tonally implied] and get out of work all the time.” You could wear yourself out trying to manage other people’s perceptions and still not persuade them to think other than they already do.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              My response to the one or two would likely be, “Well, I’d happily let you have my incredible pounding pain and nausea; thanks for understanding.” In as fake sweet a tone as I could manage, punctuated by a big cheesy shark grin. :P

              1. fposte*

                Which feels good to say, but that’s just going to make eyerollers roll their eyes more. That’s falling for the convincing-your-sibling-you’re-sick fallacy, and you’ll never convince the sibling. Realizing you don’t *have* to convince the sibling is the out here.

          2. Erin*


            I think part of the problem is that people can’t understand your health issues and the subsequent accommodations you need if you don’t communicate it. But on the flip side, your issues are seriously no one else’s business.

            That’s why I love this comment – I think communicating these things to your supervisor alone is probably the best compromise. It’s not your job to, as Katie said, “manage other people’s feelings on the matter.”

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        Agreed and I feel like people are overly prickly about their medical privacy rights . If the context helps your boss and coworkers understand why die on that hill??

    3. AnotherFed*

      If the OP’s issues only impacted coworkers when the OP was actually out sick, I’d be more inclined to agree. But since the OP says sometimes when she is working but is on medications, she makes many more errors than normal. Making a lot of errors without an explanation can seriously damage a professional reputation, because a big part of professional reputation is how your peers and customers view work, not just the manager (who I assume would have to be informed of the medications). If the OP can give the coworkers a heads up on when it’s foggy day and ask for extra reviews, then coworkers will be more prepared to handle errors, less likely to get bit by the OP’s errors, and not chalking the errors up to the OP being flaky and inconsistent.

      1. MT*

        If the OP is creating more work for the other workers on a consistent basis, then that’s when they are owed an explanation.

  11. AdAgencyChick*

    #2, I’m so sorry. These people are beyond horrible. Not only did they renege on their offer, not only did they not have the courtesy to call, they sent their rescinding of the offer in an email that says “please see attachment”?!

    I hope Alison’s script at least buys your husband some kind of severance. This is just awful.

    1. Jazzy Red*

      #2, this was a horrible thing to happen. Hopefully, the company will do something to help make it right after your husband talks to them.

      I imagine you’re both concerned with the “why” the job offer was rescinded. If the company won’t disclose this, then your husband should have someone call all of his references, as someone above suggested. Also include the HR department at his latest company. It sounds like someone badmouthed him very believably, and he needs to know what was said and by whom, so he can make sure this doesn’t happen again.

  12. anonanonanon*

    Re #5: To be quite honest, if a coworker created a document that would be beneficial to everyone else and refused to share it or asked to be paid extra for it, it would sour me against them considerably. I’d think they were either really self-involved or unwilling to work with other members of the team. Other people may wonder why you don’t want to help them out and may, in turn, not offer help in the future. You don’t want to build a bad reputation for yourself from this.

    I understand you did this on your own time, but the thing is, it appears no one asked you to. You used company data and resources to create something and the company does have a right to do with it as they see fit. It contains their information, after all.

    If credit is what you’re looking for, just put a small footer or header on the document that says something like “Last Updated: X Date by Name” or “Please direct any questions to X”. I think it’s reasonable to expect someone to give you credit for your initiative, but it’s pretty unreasonable to hoard a work document as something only you can use.

  13. Jeannalola*

    #2: Please don’t get insulted if this is not the case, but was the job offer contingent on passing a drug test or a background check? Or did your references come back bad? I don’t like blaming the victim, but it really seems inexplicable that an employer would do this for no reason. Again, forgive me if this is not the case. I once had to rescind a job offer because the background check came up with teenage shoplifting underwear from JC Penney. The employee had no idea it was still on her record.

    1. ShellyinHR*

      (#2) Actually, that’s similar to what came to my mind. We once rescinded a job offer because we found a blog post the person wrote where they wrote semi-negative things about getting the job (“it sounds like it will be a really boring job but I’ll be quitting soon anyway”). As far as I remember, we didn’t explicitly tell the prospective employee that’s why we had rescinded the offer.

      So I think it’s possible the company found out something about OP2’s husband that made them want to rescind the offer. They should have handled it a little better than “please see attachment,” though.

      1. NickelandDime*

        They keep telling people to be careful about what they put on social media…and they keep hanging themselves with it. A shame.

        I agree, they should have handled rescinding the offer better. They had to know it was possible he’d resigned from his current position and now would be unemployed. If it’s serious enough to rescind a job offer, it’s serious enough to be man/woman enough to pick up that phone and tell that person why. And yes, I think they need to tell him why.

        They handled it poorly. No matter what the reason for rescinding the offer was, I’m more upset with how this company did it.

        1. Allison*

          People who give this advice need to be more specific. Things like not posting a pot leaf as your profile picture, not tweeting racist rants, and untagging yourself from party photos seem like common sense. A lot of people avoid the *really* bad stuff, but don’t realize they also can’t be negative about the job search, or their current or prospective employers. Heck, you probably shouldn’t be negative about anyone, because if you’re constantly whining about your parents, or your rooommate, or your professor or coach or friends or “so-called friends,” employers might think you’re one of those negative people who’s always gonna find something to complain about.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Based on what half my family members post on Face Book, I wouldn’t hire any of them. Vague Booking things such as, “Why are some people so stupid?!!!”, “If that b* thinks she can take my man, she needs to look at her fat self in the mirror”, etc. Not to be crude; these are all direct quotes that I have seen on people’s actual Face Book pages. I am not even making it up. I don’t think they realize that their comments are reflecting poorly on them, and the one or two times I’ve tried to point that out to them, they’ve cited their “right to be who I am, and if someone doesn’t like it, screw ’em!” Okay, good luck to them with how their bad attitudes pan out if they’re ever job searching.

            1. Allison*

              It’s definitely a maturity thing. I’m sure I’ve posted some dumb stuff on Facebook in college, but I’ve learned, both from how people reacted to the stuff I posted and from how it looks when others post it, to really think before I post a status. I ask myself “how will people react to this?” “will this get me unwanted attention?” “how will people who don’t know me that well perceive me based on this?” Yes, we all have the right to be who we are, but man, it doesn’t hurt to be mindful of what you’re putting out there for everyone to read. I didn’t understand that back then, but I do now.

              And really, it’s one thing if a 21 year-old does it, but I see 30-something people post this garbage and then whine when people don’t want to hang out with them, and I have to wonder how they’ve managed not to outgrow it.

            2. Cindy Lou Who*

              It’s interesting how people will pull the defense of “This is who I am, love it or leave it” and then act mortally offended when someone actually leaves it. I think they think that there’s a relationship equivalent of the ADA and any asshole behavior is protected under it.

          2. Anony-moose*

            This, so much. I have a professional blog about my freelance writing that is clearly me – no alter egos or personas. I’m careful not to write about clients that I’ve had problems with or discuss my job at all. My blog is me – my personality, my writing, my insight – but I’m careful to make sure that I’m not saying anything inappropriate or inflammatory. Tons of swearing, yes. Complaining about my boss, no.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Me too.
              I have written about a couple of inflammatory issues (marriage equality, personal safety), but if you read those posts and had an issue with them (they’re not derogatory), I probably don’t want to work with you anyway.

              I know my boss has seen my blog; several of my coworkers followed it when I wrote about my autumn UK holiday.

      2. BRR*

        This to me is one of the very rare exceptions where I think it’s ok to rescind an offer. Things like a background check or checking social media are things that should be done before extending an offer.

        1. Another HRPro*

          Most background checks and drug screenings are done after an offer has been extended and the candidate is told the offer is contingent on passing these checks. I’m thinking that the candidate had a back reference, false education or didn’t pass the drug screen. However with all of these instances, the company should have told him why the offer was rescinded. And maybe they did, but he didn’t tell his spouse.

          1. BRR*

            But I wouldn’t quit on a contingent offer (and I’m hoping most wouldn’t although everybody makes mistakes).

            And your last sentence is something I hadn’t thought of but is definitely a possibility.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I think it does bare thinking about something lead to the offer being revoked and it could be to do with the employee or equally it could be something to do with the company and could have happened to anyone, but even if there was a problem with the employee that meant the offer was legitimately revoked it’s poor form for the company not to have completed the checks before making a final offer.

      Also why did you have to revoke the offer? A minor offence when a teenager doesn’t reflect the character of the person, and I think it’s particularity harsh if the record should have been expunged and it was only an administrative oversight that lead to you finding out about it.

      1. MK*

        I agree that rescinding a job offer because of a petty crime the candidate commited when they were still a kid is an overreaction, assuming it was an isolated incident. The only exception is if the job absolutely requires a clean penal record.

        1. Hotstreak*

          You can’t work at bank, for instance, if you have a conviction for theft, fraud, providing false statements, or other crimes involving deception.

        2. cuppa*

          I actually wanted to hire someone who has a small theft on his record (stealing condoms as a teenager, poor kid), but HR said absolutely not – it’s policy that we don’t accept any kind of theft.

      2. Jeannalola*

        HR got all in a wedgie because she did not “disclose” it on her application. If she had disclosed it, we would not have to rescind. I felt awful, she thought it had been expunged years ago! But the company REALLY went by the book and lost a good employee. Stupid.

        1. the gold digger*

          Does that mean I am supposed to disclose the speeding ticket I got when I was 23? I haven’t thought of that in years, but just wondering about past criminal activity and scouring my memory brought it to mind.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            In my experience minor traffic offences are normally excluded from disclose requirements.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              They generally are here too, and I haven’t mentioned my two except on the law enforcement staff applications. I knew they would check and of course they would find them.

          2. Koko*

            Traffic tickets are generally classified as “civil infractions,” a non-criminal rule violation, so they don’t fall under the same scope as criminal charges.

            1. Jeanne*

              Yes. Most applications ask about misdemeanors and felonies. Traffic tickets are statutory offences, less than misdemeanors.

        2. Anony-moose*

          I was working as an office manager at a high school many moons ago and one of the week-long service trips was desperate for a chaperone. I suggested a friend of mine who I knew had the availability and loved to travel. Three days later I get bitched out my boss because he had *gasp* a speeding ticket and was therefore unfit and unable to accompany a group of teenagers to a farm for a week. Best part was my friend had absolutely no recollection of getting the ticket – it had been like five years previous.

          They worked it out and he went on the trip (but didn’t drive any students). The whole thing was bizarre! I’m SURE that all the other teachers on the trip had plenty of speeding tickets and traffic violations – I’d seen the way they drove!

        3. Liz in a Library*

          Ugh. Been there.

          We once wanted to hire an awesome applicant. Great background, stellar interviews, would have fit in wonderfully with our patrons. Had to cut him loose (when he was almost certainly anticipating an offer), because his background check turned up a pot possession charge from when he was a teenager. HR refused to overlook it, even though he had a spotless adult record. It was a real shame, and we were all upset and upset for him.

          1. KH*

            How long ago was this? Pot is just such a non-issue these days. I think a lot of companies don’t even bother screening for it (they ignore any marijuana positives on a drug test)

    3. some1*

      But not passing a drug test or any type of background check is pretty straightforward – it doesn’t make sense that the employer wouldn’t be at liberty to reveal that like this employer did.

    4. MK*

      I think it would be wierd not to mention it, if there was an objective reason for rescinding the offer, so I am inclined to think it was the company’s mistake. It’s possible, though, that they got a bad reference in confidence and don’t want to say so.

    5. Career Counselorette*

      I second this- I’ve seen people lose offers because it didn’t occur to them that misdemeanor charges for seemingly small-time things like driving offenses, disorderly conduct, even public urination, still show up on their records. I don’t know what state OP #2 is in, but we always recommend looking into getting a rap sheet pull- there are organizations that will do it for free, and if you’re in a state that has a notorious backlog of removing or expunging things (like ours), they might even assist you with repairing it.

    6. Treena*

      Teenage shoplifting? Do you mean they were 18 or 19 teenager or minor teenager? If they were minors why was it on her record?

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I had the same thought. . .she would have had to have been 18-19 for it to still be on the record. But then I looked up my son’s speeding ticket from last month, and it’s on the county public court records access. He’s only 17.

        1. fposte*

          It’s very state-by-state; in Illinois, if it got heard in an adult court, including traffic court, it’s not sealed, and 17 is the breakpoint here too.

    7. BananaPants*

      If the would-be employer/employee are in the US and a job offer is rescinded due to a background check or credit check issue, the FCRA may come into play. They are supposed to allow the opportunity for the potential employee to review the background/credit check and correct any erroneous information. Not sending a pre-adverse action disclosure before the job offer is rescinded can be a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

      Of course if the reason was from a reference or social media (even if they investigoogled the guy’s name twin or something), then this does not apply.

      1. fposte*

        I was thinking about this too, and wondering if it’s even worth raising that issue.

        1. The husband*

          I am the one who had the offer rescinded. I have a squeaky clean background, good credit and behave on social media. I am certain my references (who are not only colleagues but close friends) did right be me as I have been using the same ones for years. It has to be something internally that changed. All I want is for them to tell me why and they won’t budge. Thank you, Allison for the support and advice.

          1. MashaKasha*

            Wow. That sounds terrible. And you’re right, it must’ve been something internal. They screwed up, which I’m guessing is why they won’t budge. Happened to someone I worked for, except he was on the other side – he was promoted to manager when he was 25 and that was one of his first experiences as a manager. They hired someone, the person quit his old job and was all set to start at the new place on Monday. Sunday night, my coworker gets a call from a higher-up – “call the new guy and tell him not to come in tomorrow, we have closed the position”. No explanation beyond that. Don’t know what happened to the new guy, it was a small company in the 90s so not sure if there was any legal recourse available. I hope that in your case, that they follow through at least on the sign-on bonus.

          2. RVA Cat*

            I wonder if the company is having financial trouble and there suddenly wasn’t a budget for the position – and/or they laid off the hiring manager? While this completely sucks, you may have dodged a bullet if this place is in a death spiral.

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              This is the only plausible explanation left now that Op clarified his background

          3. LawPancake*

            You may want to pull the background check anyway. I’ve read of courts getting a social security number wrong and suddenly you look like a convicted felon.

          4. Elizabeth West*

            Hmm….well, if it was something internal, then I’m afraid you may never find out what it was. However, that doesn’t mean you still might not be able to do the detrimental reliance thing. I’d check with UI because you might still be able to get that somehow. And I agree with RVA Cat–if they’re flailing, it might be better that you didn’t get the job. You might have ended up laid off anyway.

            I do not blame you one bit for being pissed off, however. I am pissed off on your behalf!

          5. Another HRPro*

            If it is something internal that actually makes more sense as to why they aren’t saying anything. If the company is financial difficulty, about to announce layoffs, etc. they can not tell you until they announce it publically. But they should have still told you something vague. I’m sorry you had this happen. My advice is to move on and consider yourself lucky for not joining this organization.

          6. Miss M*

            Good luck. I had a friend who this happened to as well. And he had a squeaky clean background.

          7. Creag an Tuire*

            So it sounds like there are three possibilities to consider:

            1) “Name-twin” — Go ahead and Google yourself and consider pulling a background check (though I know you probably don’t want to spend money ATM to make sure there isn’t some mistaken identity stuff going on.

            2) You said you trust “your” references, but Allison has repeatedly reminded us that there’s nothing limiting an employer to the references you provide — did you have a toxic relationship with your last manager or someone else at the old company who might have sabotaged you? (I ask this without implying any fault on your part, just to be clear.)

            3) If neither of the above, then yeah this is just some Mickey Mouse bullshit and you can take cold comfort in the knowledge that the job would be a bloody disaster anyway.

            Unfortunately you’re not likely to get a good resolution from these jerks regardless, but you should still rule out 1) and 2) so that they can’t bite you on the next job offer. Good luck, and I’m sorry.

    8. Creag an Tuire*

      That was my thought too, but not only is it still crappy to handle it this way, but companies that have to make their job offer contingent on an ironclad background check should effing -say so upfront- so that the employee can delay notice until all contingencies have passed.

    9. Jeanne*

      You HAD to rescind a job offer for that? It seems like you should be able to be rehabilitated after stealing underwear as a teenager.

  14. Sunshine Brite*

    Dang OP#5, at minimum share the doc template so people can start inputting their own info as needed! There’s so much in detail oriented jobs that is helped by templates and process. When I started at my job, they gave me 2-3 lists that people used to help guide their work and as I got comfortable I made my own to fit my style.

    I was just talking with my manager how we needed a paper guide for those times using our computers in the field isn’t viable and she forwarded me one that a new hire did. I didn’t know it existed and had been trying to make time for weeks to do it myself (without working on my own time) and hadn’t been able to edge it in with my other duties.

  15. Allison*

    I make all my spreadsheets on my own initiative. I make them because they help me feel more organized and allow me to visually see how I’m doing, plus some of them help me optimize aspects of my work. Whenever my manager or co-workers ask me to share something, I do it without hesitation. Why wouldn’t I share tools and information that can help my team succeed? It only makes me seem more valuable to the team!

    That said, I may be slightly hesitant only because I worry someone will muck it up, or give me a ton of nitpicky feedback. But that hasn’t stopped me yet.

    1. MashaKasha*

      I came here to post something along the lines of your last paragraph. While I don’t believe that OP#5 should demand to be paid for something they did of their own free will, to help themselves with their own work – that is just such a silly notion! – I admit I would be concerned that the spreadsheet would suddenly become OP’s new job responsibility, and that they’d start fielding questions from teammates like “how come the spreadsheet hasn’t been updated this week?” or “lines 26345 through 26350 of the spreadsheet look incorrect, fix them asap.” Suddenly spreadsheet maintenance and support would become an obstacle that’s preventing OP5 from getting their actual job done on time, which would be defeating the very purpose of the spreadsheet. If I had some kind of a guarantee that this wouldn’t happen though, I’d be happy to share all the spreadsheets I’ve made for myself.

      1. MashaKasha*

        Or how about this one… a coworker messes up and blames it on the spreadsheet. All of a sudden OP5 finds themselves in trouble for something their teammate did wrong.

        It’s generally a good idea to share it, but things can go wrong if something originally made for personal use suddenly becomes part of a public domain.

      2. Allison*

        OR someone else would make it *their* project, change everything, completely reorganize it, dismiss the creator’s reasons for having things the way they are, insisting on managing it from here on out because it’s “just better” if they handle it, and suddenly everyone’s calling it Sally’s spreadsheet even though Alice put in a lot of work to make it.

        I would be inclined to share it under the condition that I retain ownership of the product, and that people use it but don’t make changes.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Yes she can lock it down so it’s password protected in order to edit

      3. nona*

        I share my Google spreadsheets but don’t allow people to edit them. LW’s probably not talking about a Google doc, but there might be another way to share it while keeping it read-only.

      4. Anony-moose*

        Story of my life. I have tons of tools I’ve created and passed along to my team and because i’m halfway decent in excel (far more so than anyone here) I’m now the excel guru.

        They’ll go in, screw up a formula, and suddenly i’m getting raked over the coals that our numbers are off. It has ended up feeling more like a punishment than a tool to me!

    2. Cath in Canada*

      I have a couple of very intricate spreadsheets that I’ve password protected – people can access them as “Read Only” without the password, and can then play around with everything, copy them to a new file for their own projects etc., but can’t save the changes to my master copy. My less complicated spreadsheets are available to everyone, but there are a couple I most definitely do not want to have to set up again if something goes wrong!

  16. TotesMaGoats*

    #1-I feel for you. I get migraines when I’m really stressed and sometimes weather induced. The summer between college and starting my first job and grad school was three months of one migraine that never ended. Multiple ER trips. Doctor visits and trying different drugs. One of which that usually works for everyone made my head almost explode. I fell out of the chair I was in and onto the floor my head hurt so bad. My sister gets them with a lot of frequency but not enough frequency for her doc to let her get the botox shot that is supposed to help. She’s a nurse. I think AAM’s advice is spot on. One conversation and be up front about it. Mitigate what you can that would impact others. I know the days when I catch the signs early and take something, close the blinds and nap for an hour are the days when I can make it go away instead of lasting all day.

    #2-That sucks majorly. I’ve got nothing else to add.

    #3-So what AAM said regarding exempt vs nonexempt. But consider that going to this dinner might be one of those events that you have to do to show your face. You suck it up and do it. The bigger question is why you are traveling so much.

  17. Retail Lifer*

    #2 I had the same thing happen to me a few years ago and there was nothing I could do.

    I had lost my job, gone on unemployment, and taken the first job that was offered to me. The job was minimum wage + commission, but I never made any commission and the way the commission structure worked I would never actually make any except for maybe 6 weeks out of the year (which I obviously didn’t know at the time). After two months at minimum wage, I was offered another job.

    I was offered less than what they told me the pay range was, so at the time of the offer I inquired if the pay range I was originally told about was still on the table. They claimed they weren’t sure, and “were still checking” after three days. The weekend was coming, so I just went ahead and accepted the offer they gave me so I could put in my two weeks at the minimum wage job and get out ASAP. The weekend came and went and a few days went by and I still hadn’t received a call from HR at the new job with some promised info. I called them, left a couple of voicemails, and no one ever returned them. I finally got a hold of someone at the end of that week, who told me they were rescinding the job offer. She wouldn’t admit it, but I know it was because I had a problem with what they offered me (even though I wound up accepting it).

    I had already worked the first week of my two weeks notice at the current job. I asked about keeping my current job, but they weren’t stupid. They said I could stay another week or two if needed, but that the position was going to be filled by some other sucker (I mean PERSON) and when that happened they would no longer be able to keep me on. Completely understandable, but that left me completely screwed and without a job and ineligible for unemployment.

    I actually got really lucky, though. Out of desperation, I appplied for unemployment again and they mistakenly approved it. It took me two months to find another job, and by the time they realized their mistake I was a week away from getting my first paycheck at the new job. I had to repay the unemployment, obviously. However, because they determined it was THEIR fault for approving it, they let me make a payment plan. I wasn’t charged any interest or penalties and I had it paid back in a year or so. As for asking for severance for a job I never actually started, I never asked but I’m certain they would have laughed at me and hung up the phone. No one that does that to someone could possibly be expected to then do the right thing.

  18. Bekx*

    #2, I wonder if the old employer contacted the new employer. Really crappy, but it seems weird that the offer was rescinded after telling his old job.

    1. misspiggy*

      That’s what I wondered too. Can the OP’S husband legally get hold of the reference given by the previous employer to see if he’s been maliciously slandered in some way?

  19. jen*

    #1 – My fiance also gets very bad migraines like that – he’s on medication, but still he still has them frequently, in clusters or they simply just last for 2 or 3 days at a time. i’ve also heard him talk many times about the fogginess caused by the meds. i’m very familiar with getting a 2PM “leaving work because of a migraine” call. . i think that enough people have migraines these days or know people who do to realize that it’s not just a “headache.” i think that as long as you are a generally good co-worker, people will understand. it’s a really tough condition to have to work through. You need to do what’s best for your helath, and you can make yourself a lot worse if you don’t

    1. OP #1*

      People probably are more understanding than I’m giving them credit for. I think I might be overly insecure about this because while I do work in an office with people, most of the people I work on projects with are in another office in another state, so I deal with them mostly through the phone. I’m still having trouble adjusting to that, as I am great at face-to-face interactions, and less good at phone interactions. That being the case, I’m starting at a place of insecurity, not sure where I stand with people, and then having to expect them to “get it” in terms of, as people have pointed out here, a common, but often misunderstood ailment.

      1. The Toxic Avenger*

        OP – I’m sorry you’re suffering. No solutions here, just support. You are being conscientious and kind, and doing your best to understand the impact you have on others. That is great, but I think you are right in that most people are probably a lot more sympathetic than resentful. Take that caring energy and put it towards you. :-)

      2. not telling*

        I can’t tell if this is been brought up–this commentary has really been bogged down in debates and advice about migraines–but the issue of missed work should be redirected to management, if anyone brings it up or if you feel an attitude issue with your coworkers over it.

        The entire reason why management exists is to keep an eye on the big picture and make sure that work is distributed and steered in such a way as to get it done thoroughly, efficiently, and timely. That’s THEIR job, not yours. It doesn’t matter why you are absent from work.

        There are a lot of potential solutions–postponing work, hiring temps, etc. But the point is, it should be management that makes this decision. Make sure you aren’t just bugging out and dumping some file folders on a coworker’s desk and assuming that’s how management wants it handled. That is presumptuous and rude.

        As to your situation, I only want to point out that employers are only required to make *reasonable* accommodation for medical impairments, and only those which are specifically requested. If you don’t formally request the accommodation of sudden absences, then they are completely within their rights to terminate your employment at any moment.

        If you do formally request this accommodation and they agree to it, then get it in writing so that you know exactly what accommodation they are willing to provide–and what they aren’t. For example they may be willing to allow sudden absences but that may not necessarily mean they agree to redistribute your work to other staff. You may be expected to get the work done when you return. You don’t want to find out too late that you misunderstood the accommodation they are offering!

        Understand also that for every accommodation there is a limit, and employers are allowed to say that a requested accommodation is beyond reasonable. For example they may agree to accommodate your absences as frequently as they occur now, but if your absences increase they may say that they can no longer accommodate you, and then can legally terminate your employment.

        None of this is to say that your medical condition is illegitimate or that you are not dealing with it properly. I’m just trying to be objective, and look at the situation from both your employer’s and your coworker’s perspective. You have rights, but so do your coworkers and your employer.

  20. Amber Rose*

    #5: Try to view it as a job accomplishment rather than a personal one. I am in the same boat, I actually created 4 massive tracking spreadsheets. I was really excited to share it with everyone, because making life better for my coworkers makes life better for the company. It means I’m awesome at my job. I also ask if they want any info added.

    It’s all about attitude.

    That said, they’re all password protected against changes. I want people to access them, not destroy them. ;)

    1. Little Old Lady Who?*

      This. 100% percent. #5, you have created something that helps your business so much that they think it will help others outside your position, and want them to have access to it. If you handle this with a demand that you make more money, or with a refusal, it will erase the good impression you made by creating the spreadsheet to begin with. Take it as a compliment and a way you can boost your image professionally.

    2. Ghost Pepper*

      I completely agree. I’ve been in a similar situation and I actually felt proud that my work was so effective that it should be a model workflow for others to use. Take it as a compliment, OP #5! You’re doing great work.

    3. Koko*

      I keep all the “working” copies of my created workbooks on my local (company-owned and -secured) machine. Every time I make updates, I overwrite the copy on the server. It’s a nice double-fail-safe: if I were to lose my local copy, the most recent prior version is stored on the server, so not much work is lost. And if someone messes up the server copy, I have an accurate copy on my machine to replace it with.

  21. Little Old Lady Who?*

    #2, I’m so sorry that happened to you. That is awful. I hope everything turns out well for you!

  22. LQ*

    #5 – One of the best ways to move forward in your career is by making things like this, so yay for making the first step. The next step, the arguably most important step, is share it. Give it away. Explain it. Document it. If you do this then you’ll be moving forward in your career. People will be more likely to give you interesting new project. If I am impeccably perfect at making dark chocolate teapot handles but really? I’d like to be the manager of the teapot handles division, is it better for me to keep being the only good maker of dark handles? Or should I document the steps I take to perfect the handles, show my coworkers how to do it. I’ve now brought up the quality of the dark chocolate handles by 5% and dropped the breakages by 25%. They want me on white chocolate handles next because I am clearly She Who Makes Stuff Awesome. So I do the same on white chocolate, now they are going, well can you manage this new teapot handle design group because you are the person who knows about white and dark and who can get people on board. Sure! Next thing I’m head of teapot handles. And nurturing people who make me look good by sharing their knowledge with the rest of the team.

    #1 – have you checked into FMLA. I know it wouldn’t change the way the coworkers see you, and you may be doing it already but if not, it is worth looking at. It might help with the boss angle of it. If the boss is part of the problem then having the boss be less likely to say something, or even better, more likely to shut any bad feelings down, then that would help.

  23. Ad Astra*

    Op #5, why would you not want to share a document that would make it easier for everyone else to do their work? Is it just because you spent time on it and others didn’t? That’s a bizarre way of looking at things. You work for the company, not for yourself.

    Going forward, it might be reasonable to ask other people in the office to help you update and maintain the spreadsheet, since it’s valuable to them as well.

    1. Elysian*

      This makes sense to me! I agree especially with your statement about updating and maintaining – I admit that sometimes I do things to make my own job easier that I don’t share with my coworkers. Usually it is organizational stuff like calendaring or charting deadlines or something. When I’ve shared these things in the past, I’ve been put in charge of keeping the thing I created updated, even once my role on that project has ended. It is irritating and adds something to my workload that I can’t bill for (in a field where billable hours matter quite a lot). So now I create those things at my leisure for myself, but don’t share them with my team, because I don’t want to be in charge of them in perpetuity.

      Unless OP has history with this problem though, it seems reasonable to share the helpful document — maybe other people can even contribute more, so that it will help you in ways you can’t do by yourself right now!

    2. baseballfan*

      This was my thought. I literally cannot imagine why someone would not want to share a useful tool that they had developed. What is the downside?

  24. Swarley*


    I just wanted to reiterate what most others have written, sharing this document (and knowledge/initiative, etc.) is way more likely to strengthen your reputation rather than give a way a perceived competitive edge. In my previous job I was one of two, go-to staffers for a particular software and I was delighted to share any new improvements or workarounds that I developed. It made me invaluable in the eyes of my manager, and I also felt more of a drive to succeed because I felt like a valued employee. Doing these things pays dividends in all kinds of ways.

  25. Boogles*

    I’ve suffered from migraines my entire life. There was hope when I was younger that I could grow out of them, but unfortunately, never did. I am a super conscientious person. I miss way more work than I would ever want to because of my migraines. I’ve been counseled on it in every job I’ve ever had. I do absolutely everything in my power to prevent my migraines but for me, I can only mitigate, I can’t irradicate them. It’s hard for me to have these counseling sessions knowing I’m powerless to change the situation. I do good work and always establish written procedures so people can cover for me when needed. I know no one can “make” you feel bad, but I do feel bad because I can’t be as dependable as I’d like to be. How do other people handle this? Recently, I’ve been thinking about giving up on typical 9a-5p jobs and starting my own business, something that would allow flexibility in my schedule. Being in HR and Administration, there isn’t a lot of flexibility and my company prides itself on being “conservative” with everything. How do other sufferers deal with this guilt? Did you make a career change?

    1. OP #1*

      THIS. This is exactly why I sent in the question. I do everything I can to avoid ANYTHING in my personal life from bleeding into my professional life, but this is beyond my control.

    2. misspiggy*

      I have gone freelance partly for this very reason, to avoid letting coworkers down due to my medical condition. To be honest, the intermittent and hard to predict nature of these types of complaints means you still end up with clients that you let down, although people have been very understanding. Working part time for a higher hourly rate has helped me reduce the suffering caused by the condition though, so if self employment would help the condition itself, I’d say go for it.

    3. Marcela*

      I would have given my right hand to be able to remove the guilt. I have endo, and for most of my adult life not only I have pain when I get my period. No. I also have pain when I ovulate. This means one or two days of horrific pain every two weeks, when I can’t sit, or lay down, or take deep breaths. Of course, I can’t work like this, so I had to call to say I’m sick, reschedule meetings, delay project and tests when I was in college, etc. etc. I did what I could to make sure I was out Saturday and Sunday, but way to many times I had to ask for Monday or Friday.

      I always felt so guilty and unreliable, even if most coworkers were understanding, although they never knew what was wrong. Sadly my classmates never understood how a young person like me, otherwise healthy, could have such a bothersome medical condition, so they made my life harder. I only told my boss, in a very uncomfortable conversation, because I wanted him so much to understand that it was something beyond my control, not laziness. I worried so much about my reputation, so I worked as hard as I could to dispel the effects of my illness. It worked. I guess that’s the reason my coworkers were as understanding. But I still feel guilty when I can’t work. I guess it’s not going to disappear anytime soon.

  26. YandO*

    I’ve had migraines since I was a little girl. At first they were abdominal migraines, that is unexplained severe stomach pain. This usually is how migraines manifest themselves for kids ages 3 to 8 before they become actual full blown episodes with headaches. I spent most of my childhood going from doctor to doctor, intrusive test to the next, diet to diet and so on. Then my stomach pains stopped and the headaches started. Headaches that come with throwing up, sensitivity to sound, light, smell, and can last for days.

    I am 26 now and I’ve had good and bad years. I usually don’t have over 15 days of pain a month, but I am never really under 10. This does not qualify me for a chronic condition, so I don’t take preventative medication, but then I still spend at least 10 days a month in pain.

    The way I handle this at work is simple: I build reputation of reliable, responsive, responsible, and very invested employee, so when migraine strikes, I can rely on that reputation to carry me forward. I also have medication that makes me “zone out”, but if I take a 2 hour nap, I am usually able to overcome it after that. I try to take in the morning and come in late to work. This year I missed no full days to a migraine. Last year I missed two. Generally I think I average 3-4. I take couple of hours here and there probably once or twice a month.

    Even without medication affects, migraine episodes make me less attentive, less efficient, less sensitive to nuance, etc. I do the best I can and maintain openness with my manager/co-workers. I’ve had two jobs and so far this is one thing I have never had an issue with.

    Sometimes, I push myself too hard. I drive when I should not. I come in when I should not. I am trying hard to be kinder to myself, but I refuse to let migraine rule my life and determine my destiny, so I fight. That fight leaves me exhausted and I am not as functional outside of work as others.

    One thing that helps me get through all of it is my mantra: “Everyone’s got something. Allergies, psoriasis, autoimmune, asthma, etc. My migraines aren’t the worst of it”

    One more thing, I absolutely loath the advice that everyone feels qualified to give me. The eat better/differently, go outside more, stay inside more, work out more. The gluten!!! That’s everyone’s favorite.

    For me, migraines are caused by multiple triggers. Biggest one being the weather (barometric pressure changes), closely followed by stress, then lack of sleep, strong smells (paint), changes to routine/sleep cycle, alcohol. Food? Not a trigger.

    1. I'm a Little Teapot*

      GLUTEN RAGE fistbump. Idiots will tell you gluten causes eeeverything, even if you inform them you’ve actually tested negative for gluten sensitivity and can eat all the wheat you want thankyouverymuch. It’s like they see it as some sort of snake oil in reverse.

  27. Mary (in PA)*

    To OP #1 and all the migraineurs out there: that sucks and I hope you feel better soon. I think being as upfront as possible with both your boss and your co-workers about what is happening is the best course of action.

    (I used to get migraines approximately yearly. My doctor gave me Imitrex to deal with them as they came on, since I was getting the aura before they happened. One day last year, though, I got what I thought was a migraine that didn’t seem to respond to any kind of treatment – not medication, not a dark room, not sleep, not anything. So I went to the hospital. It turns out I had a brain hemorrhage caused by a cavernous malformation, which I was probably born with, and I had to have last-minute brain surgery to fix it. I’m fine now – and oddly enough, I haven’t had a migraine since. I tell you this story not to say that this is what you’re experiencing, but to caution anyone who gets migraines or even just bad headaches to be careful with them and to not mess around.)

    1. MashaKasha*

      WOW OMG. Thank you for sharing, and good to hear that you’re fine now! When I went to see a neurologist about my headaches years ago, first thing he did was give me a full battery of tests, MRI, all manner of scans etc to check for any abnormalities. Didn’t find anything, and put me on migraine meds. Hopefully he did a good job. Now if you were to tell me that the Dr that had put you on Imitrex, had done the scans and did not see anything on them, I’d be pretty worried for myself – but that would be something I need to know so I don’t have a false sense of security thinking, “oh they have already checked my brain and didn’t find anything wrong.”

      1. Mary (in PA)*

        When I went and saw my doctor, he didn’t have any reason to think there was something physically wrong, so that’s why he just gave me the medication. The doctor I saw is just my regular GP; I never went to a neurologist or anything. (If I had, maybe I would have gotten scanned earlier – who knows?)

        I would guess that in a vast majority of cases, migraines are caused by the triggers discussed up-thread, like hormones, environmental changes, and others. I can’t say for sure that my migraines were caused by the malformation; all I know is, I haven’t had one since I had the brain surgery. That’s not to say that I won’t have one tomorrow, or in a year, or again at some point in my life.

        For anyone who reads this and worries about cavernous malformations, I can tell you this: you could have one right now and never feel a single symptom. You could have it all your life and be 100% completely fine. These malformations only become problematic when they begin to bleed and affect parts of your brain, as mine did. They are also problematic when they are deep in your brain, or on your brain stem. Mine was in my vision area, and the major manifestation (besides pain) was its effect on my depth perception. (Which means I probably shouldn’t have driven myself to the hospital, at the time.)

        Mine was also right on the surface of my brain, and as a result, removing it was very simple. (I like to joke that it was the most straightforward brain surgery possible.) It also turns out that Pittsburgh is a pretty good place to have brain surgery. Not that I ever want you to need this information, but just in case.

        The entire experience has shown me that the brain is a weird, weird thing, and that we still don’t know a lot about how it works. A thing that works great for you and your brain may not work for someone else at all. Also, brain surgery is expensive, even with health insurance. :(

    2. Delyssia*

      Oh, wow. That’s so scary. I’m pretty sure this is why every time I discuss migraines with a doctor (and it’s been several different doctors over the years), they always, without fail, make sure to tell me that if I get the worst headache of my life, I need to go to the emergency room. (Is it that people who get migraines are more likely to suffer some sort of brain issue like this, or that people who get migraines are more likely to ignore excruciating pain because they think it’s “just” a migraine?)

      1. Mary (in PA)*

        I believe it’s the latter and not the former. As far as I know, migraines don’t need to have a physical cause, like this one did; I’m sure some of the experienced migraineurs here can chime in on that.

        It was the worst pain I have ever felt, but I thought, “Oh, this is just a regular ol’ migraine, with enough rest and time it will go away.” I first felt it on a Thursday morning; by the time I went to the hospital on Saturday morning, I had baked cookies, run an important meeting at work, and taken the dog for a walk around the neighborhood. I was skeptical that something worse was going on, and figured the ER would just scan me and send me home.

        My friends yelled at me for driving myself to the hospital, but when I told them, “I thought it was just a migraine! What would you have done?” they grudgingly agreed that they would have done the same. Even the former nurses among them.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I did the same thing when I had a DVT. I figured it was just a charley horse; however, nobody has a charley horse for four days. By day 3, I began to suspect something more might be going on, but instead of going to the ER or urgent care, I waited until Monday and called my doctor. They squeezed me in and after he had looked at me, they forbade me from going back to work. Instead, they sent me for an immediate ultrasound, and the tech wouldn’t tell me what he found.

          They weren’t too happy that I had to drive myself home and I was given strict orders to stay OFF my feet for a week. Of course, that didn’t happen; my bf at the time was rather lax about taking care of me. I don’t think he took it seriously. I found out later that the doctor had wanted to put me in the hospital, but he couldn’t because the system wouldn’t let him. He ended up leaving that healthcare system soon after because he had had repeated issues with that, and my thing was just one of the last straws. He was one of the best docs I ever had, too. :(

          I ended up on warfarin for a year and then low-dose BC after that (we determined it was one particular BC pill that I had tried taking) without further incident. A few years ago, my then-doctor found out about it and now no one will give me hormonal BC ever again.

          Now I’m completely paranoid about any leg pain, both in myself and other people.

    3. AthenaC*

      Holy cow!

      Glad you are okay! And glad you (apparently) fixed your migraines. I mean, it took brain surgery, but still.

      P.S. Waiting for other commenters to chime in, castigating poor Mary for the unthinkable crime of “This helped me – YMMV” -style unsolicited advice.

      1. Mary (in PA)*

        Heh. I certainly wouldn’t recommend brain surgery as a migraine cure to ANYONE. :)

      2. Sue Wilson*

        If you were so annoyed by the negative direction of a thread, why would you try to escalate/start another one with a snarky remark? I get that you found the previous discussion frustrating, but this seems counter-productive to solving your frustration.

        1. AthenaC*

          I honestly saw it more as a preemptive defense of Mary, which I’m glad to see was not needed. I’ve seen how people react when they share something personal and then get unceremoniously slapped down with the equivalent of “well no one wants to hear your thoughts.”

  28. Amber Rose*

    On the migraine front, I do have something to add I realized. My migraines don’t hurt or really impair my thinking much.

    Rather, I get auras. Bright lights explode like fireworks across everything I see. The world takes on sharp edges and rainbows. Words on paper light up and wiggle away.

    It’s the most nauseating hell. Imagine being forced to stare into the sun without blinking for an hour. Drugs are designed for pain so they do zip to help. Dark rooms are still brightly lit to me. I have had to explain that I’m basically ok, but I’ve kind of gone blind and I need to just sit and wait it out. People are super understanding. I’ve had bosses encourage me to nap or put my head down. Enough people have migraines to an extent that I think your odds are good for people being accommodating.

    1. Betty (the other Betty)*

      “I have had to explain that I’m basically ok, but I’ve kind of gone blind and I need to just sit and wait it out.”

      Yes. I get ocular migraines occasionally and that is a great way to describe what is going on. They don’t even make me sick. I just can’t see well enough to do anything, including read or walk around.

      I also get migraines with head pain. Mine last 3 days and are tied to my hormonal cycle. I can sometimes make the pain stop for a few hours with prescription medication, but the pain returns until the 3 days are up. Reading this thread I feel very lucky that I am self employed and can work or take time off as needed.

    2. cuppa*

      I just had a conversation the other day with someone about how it seems that more people are getting migraines. We were trying to figure out if they were more common, or if people were just more open about them.
      I’ve had the auras, too! When I first started getting migraines, the aura would precede them, and then I didn’t get them for a long time, and then a few years ago I started to get them without the head pain. I had to call my husband to pick me up once because it was right in the middle of my sight and I was effectively blind in one eye.

    3. HM in Atlanta*

      Thank you for writing this. It completely explains what happens to me in a way that other people will understand.

      The bonus I get with these – I have meniere’s disease, and these types of migraines trigger balance issues. Extra fun!

  29. Retail Lifer*

    #3 We had these trips at my last job. We had to be at breakfast at 8am, our meetings and classes started at 9am, ended around 6, then dinner, then mandatory “fun” training stuff at 7, then social stuff at 9. We got paid for everything except for the social stuff, which we were told was mandatory. After we complained , our boss said we had to show up, let people see that we were there, and then we were free to leave. Who wants to socialize after being around people all day, no breaks, for 13 hours?

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I need lots of sleep, so 9 is when I start getting ready for bed. On a grueling schedule like that, I’d really need the sleep!

  30. baseballfan*

    #1, I suffer from migraines as well and you have my sympathies. (As a matter of fact, I called in sick to work yesterday for that very reason!).

    I can’t tell from your comments if you are actually having problems with people not understanding, or if you are just being cautious and want to head off any issues before they happen. Assuming it’s the latter, I would say the chances are great that people will be understanding because this is a common enough issue that many people have experienced it or been close to someone who has. I have never had the slightest problem with taking off work for this reason. I realize this could vary by workplace and maybe I’ve just been quite lucky, but I do think most people realize it’s a serious medical issue.

  31. Erin*

    #1 – I don’t know much about migraines, so please forgive my ignorance – but would it be possible to (somewhat) work from home on these days you’re leaving? I’m imagining possibly not, because you would still be foggy from the medication whether at home or at the office.

    I ask because, I remember seeing on AAM at some point a migraine sufferer who worked in a completely dark office and was able to get work done that way. Maybe if you’re at home, in the dark, with no commotion or noise, you might be able to work remotely. Again, maybe not, but just throwing that out there. If that isn’t possible, you can only do what you can do.

    Otherwise, I agree with Alison’s advice. Assume your coworkers are more understanding than you think. I wouldn’t be over apologetic every time you need to leave, because it might drag the situation out, and draw more attention to it. When someone covers for you I would give a clear, articulate, “Thank you for doing that, I appreciate it,” and that should be good enough.

    #5 – I have done that exact thing before – although, not on a personal computer. (That is an issue, as someone else raised. That’s a big issue actually, but I won’t dwell on that.)

    Putting the legal obligations aside, let’s look at this from a moral standpoint. You took initiative on something and put in extra work on your own time, which is great. But since you didn’t get approval to work this time beforehand, I don’t think it would be right to ask to be paid for that time now. Again, even if your employer is obligated to pay you. It just feels shady and wrong. Like, “Hey, I wasn’t obligated to do this, and didn’t discuss it with you beforehand, but now I’ve done all this stuff, where’s my check?”

    Like I said, I have created just such spreadsheets before, and my issue with sharing them is that I have a great system going and I don’t want someone else going in there and effing it up. Is that maybe what you’re concerned about, with having to share this thing you’ve worked so hard on? If so, that’s how I would phrase it to your boss.

    “I’ve worked really hard on this and feel like it’s my baby, is my only hesitation in moving it to the shared drive. I understand the information is the company’s and other people could benefit from having access to it. But do you think we could set it up so other people can’t edit it? Or do you maybe have any thoughts on an editing approval system? I’m open to ideas.”

  32. eplawyer*

    This is why this site is so freaking awesome. After reading all the responses to #5, I am inspired to come up with a spreadsheet that will help my case management system. I have a good system now, I want a better one. My boss* will love me for developing it.

    *Since ya’all don’t know me, I am self-employed. I often refer to my boss, usually as what a PITA she is.

    1. Chinook*

      “I am inspired to come up with a spreadsheet that will help my case management system”

      Two words to google – pivot table. If you can set up your spreadsheet so that you can create pivot tables from it to help you analyze and combine data without touching the original information, then your life will become even better. It can take some time and tutorials to get it do what you want but the result is so much worth it. I have one spreadsheet of invoice information shared with half a dozen people and each one has their own tab with their own pivot table to give them what they need and everyone is so much happier as a result.

  33. cv*

    Wait, spending a full third of your life in pain doesn’t count as chronic? I’m so sorry you have to deal with that.

    1. YandO*

      Well, if I push for it, I am sure they’d “fudge” the math a little. Normally, you have to suffer half the time.

      Since, overall, I am still managing my symptoms relatively well, I’ve been avoiding going on daily medication. I am moving to the West Coast in hopes of the climate helping me. They don’t have as many days of barometric pressure changes.

      1. OfficePrincess*

        You can go on daily meds without quite hitting the “chronic” definition. For several years, instead of getting an aura, I would just pass out. The doctors decided it was debilitating enough to put me on a preventative med. I’m now trying to wean off it since the side effects are miserable, but it’s worth talking to your doctor.

        1. Delyssia*

          I’m really surprised to hear how high the bar is for many doctors to consider putting someone on a preventative. Several years ago, I had a doctor who wanted to put me on a preventative because I’d gone through a prescription of 9 Imitrex in 3 months. And when I say “wanted to put me on” it, I mean, she gave me the prescription and I ended up not filling it, because I just wasn’t in love with the idea of going on blood pressure meds to prevent a migraine every 1-2 weeks.

  34. Dasha*

    OP 1, first of all, I’m sorry about your migraines they sound awful. If I were you, I would tell your co-workers and manager about the specifics and I would go out of my way to accommodate them when they’re also in need since it sounds like they cover for you once a month. This might mean covering for them occasionally if they want to slip out early on a Friday or being more flexible during holidays to cover for them. I think this would help your relationship with them.

  35. Lia*

    #2 -I know of a situation where a person was made a (verbal) job offer by the search chair on a Friday, but technical glitches meant that the posting remained up through the weekend — it was supposed to come down when the offer was made. Another person applied over the weekend, and the VP (who the hire would report to) saw that app and told the search committee chair they needed to interview the candidate and to “stall” the offered candidate on receiving the formal offer letter (so just a verbal offer had been made). They called the new candidate in for an interview, new person blew them away, and they rescinded offer one and hired new guy. This all took about a week to go down.

    Original person, though, did get shafted. They quit their job, could not get it back, and last I heard were “contemplating” a lawsuit but that would destroy career chances in a smallish field in a smaller area where people gossip non-stop. The original candidate WAS qualified, but the second was the VP’s ultimate choice — it was just terrible luck and terrible timing that it worked out the way it did.

  36. Prepare your whys*

    #2 I would spend some time preparing your “why I left without something else lined up” answers.

    Alison – would something like “I was offered a new job that was rescinded a day before my started date. I inquired about why the offer was rescinded, but was not given any details.” be OK? Does that make you look bad?

  37. AthenaC*

    OP#5 –

    I don’t know about you, but as I read through everything I was signing for my job, it explicitly said that intellectual property that I created for my job was the property of the company. Sounds depressing but it’s actually very practical in my field – it meant that, for example, a lengthy, technical memo written by a manager in the Portland office discussing how we handle asset valuation issues gets passed around the entire country. You just change client-specific details, put your name on it, and rock-n-roll. 95% of people benefit from being on the receiving end of the sharing, while the 5% of people that create the material that gets passed around are practically regarded as demigods. So they get the recognition they deserve.

    Think about what type of person you want to be at work.

    OP#1 –

    My husband has debilitating migraines periodically, and at the risk of outing myself as a bad person, I do sometimes find it frustrating that I feel like the only adult in the house. Yet again.

    To help work on my own resentment, I have reframed the problem in my head from “Extra work I have to do” to “My husband has a disability.” As much as necessary I remind myself “It’s a disability.”

    Thanking your coworkers for covering for you is a good first step. Another step that might help is to take on non-time-sensitive tasks as much as possible, so if you need to stop you can. One thing that works in my house is that my husband will often straight-up tell me, “I’m feeling great today! What do you want me to get done?” I don’t know how well that would work, well, at work since performance expectations are more consistent for you than, say, my stay-at-home dad husband, but it’s possible you could demonstrate a good faith attempt to pull your weight by working longer hours on days when you are feeling good.

    I’m so sorry you have to go through this! I know from watching my husband that it cannot be easy.

    1. Erin*

      I love your advice for #1. Make the most of it when you *are* feeling good. :)

      Maybe offer to “hit someone back” after they’ve done something for you. “Hey, thanks for wrapping up that project yesterday for me after I had to leave. Is there anything I can take off your plate today?”

    2. AnotherFed*

      Thanks for this perspective on #1. I’ve got a coworker who is regularly out on FMLA (not migraines, but still an uncontrollable medical situation) and it always seems to result in more work getting dropped on me at the least convenient time possible. I’ve been trying to remind myself to be more sympathetic to his situation, but reframing it as ‘coworker can’t’ instead of ‘be nice to the guy with an ongoing medical situation’ makes a huge difference.

      Even without the reframing, if my coworker followed your husband’s or Erin’s suggestion, I’d be a lot less frustrated about having to take on his work because it would feel like he had my back, too, not just me picking up the slack for someone else.

  38. Omne*

    Just out of curiosity how many people on here have migraine auras without any other symptoms? I usually have them once or twice a year lasting 45-60 minutes. A jagged black/gold spot starts in the middle of my vision then expands as a rough circle to the outer edge then shrinks back down and then disappears. It’s like a very, very strong after image from a really bright light.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I DO!

      When I was a teenager they were followed by migraines, but now I just get the occasional aura with no follow-on. Which is nice and all, but it’s so weird.

    2. Retail Lifer*

      I get these from time to time, but they’ve been very infrequent in the past few years. Mine usually only last about 10 minutes and are followed by a headache, but nowhere near migraine-caliber.

      The first time I ever got one I had been stressed out, overtired, and had two energy drinks that day. After that, though, I’d sometimes get them with none of those triggers. I smoothie with a protein shot in it (if I could get one) would made me feel better and killed the headache.

    3. LeighTX*

      I get the auras but if I don’t act fast mine are followed by a strong headache–not as bad as the OP’s, but they still put me in bed for the rest of the day. I think they’re blood-pressure-related; the first one I ever had was while I was pregnant, and I thought I was having a stroke.

      My auras are slightly different than what you described; mine start as a black dot which expands into squiggly lines that blur my vision to the point that I can barely see anything. If I take an Excedrin migraine pill and drink a Diet Coke as soon as I see that black dot and then sit quietly in a dark room, I can usually function again in about half an hour. I feel kind of out of it the rest of the day, though.

    4. Cath in Canada*

      Yeah, I’ve had visual migraines with no actual pain three times now. They last about an hour or so – a blind spot that grows then gradually shrinks back down, lots of squiggly lights and lines, things appearing to be moving when they’re actually not. The first time it happened I was completely freaked out, but luckily my husband googled it for me (I couldn’t read a screen) and said “let’s give it an hour and then go to the hospital if it’s still happening” – it was already fading after half an hour. The second time was almost kinda fun – I’ve never taken a hallucinogenic drug, so it was a brand new experience and I was just sitting at home anyway. The third time happened at work and was less fun. I knew I wouldn’t be able to tolerate looking at a computer screen for the rest of the day, so I just went straight home as soon as it started. Try looking for a cab when you’re half blind with swirly lights everywhere! Next time I’ll find somewhere dark and quiet to hang out until it subsides, and THEN go home.

      1. Omne*

        I was kind of freaked out the first time too. I called my optometrist about half way through and he told me what it was. Luckily I don’t get headaches afterwards and so far they haven’t happened in any really inconvenient places like driving. If it happens at work I can close my office door until it goes away, at home I just sit back and wait.

        These days I just think of them as a moderately cool light show.

        1. I'm a Little Teapot*

          I had sharp throbbing eye pain for several days – not severe, I could work through it, but it scared the hell out of me because it was pain in my *eyeball* – after a brief scotoma aura (flashing black dot afterimage thingy). I also fainted once. It only turned into a headache on the last day, once I was at the optometrist getting the pressure in my eyes measured. They said my eyes were fine and it was probably either a sinus problem or a migraine, and my NP found nothing wrong with my sinuses, but I wouldn’t have guessed it was a migraine. (Being a hypochondriac, I was thinking detaching retina or glaucoma.)

    5. AW*

      If I sneeze hard enough or put too much pressure on my eyes I will see bright swirling lights that leave a brief trail. Not sure if that counts as a migraine aura since that particular one never seems to be an indicator of a migraine. (I have a variety of auras that I get.)

    6. CrazyCatLady*

      I used to! I also get migraines without an aura but with the the headache. The first time it happened, it was like I went blind in half of one eye and they said it was a migraine aura. It still happens now, but pretty infrequently. Usually my migraines are the debilitating headache variety.

    7. Kate*

      I have had those about three times in the last year. Never sufferd from migraines before and didn’t have any pain with them. Well, maybe a slight headache from squinting and trying to see around the flickering spots in my vision. I was kind of freaked out the first time it happened! Mine was more like the wiggly words and sparkling fireworks that someone described up thread.

    8. Nerdling*

      I get the auras, generally accompanied by a low-level headache. If I don’t get home to take Tylenol and sleep, I actually don’t know what happens, because I’ve been too scared to let it get that far (although I had to divert to my mom’s house one time instead of going all the way home because hers is much closer to my office). My vision starts to go fuzzy around the edges, then it gradually spreads until it’s like watching an old TV that can’t get reception and just plays static/snow. Sometimes it can take up to half an hour or more for my vision to go out completely.

    9. bkanon*

      I get similar from time to time. It’s like a little blank spot in my vision that usually goes away. A couple of years ago I got a BAD case that involved a white fog over my entire vision. Got to the optometrist ASAP. Turned out that I’m susceptible to iritis and I’d been hit with my first severe, acute case. (High histoplasmosis area = high iritis chances.) So my iris will sometimes ‘stick’ to my lens and pull a teeeeeeensy bit of itself off when it unsticks. Steroid drops and dilating drops are all I seem to need. (And since it’s usually just one eye, I get to pretend I’m David Bowie for a couple of hours.)

  39. INFJ*

    #2 It’s stories like these that made me a nervous wreck in the weeks before I started my current job.

    At the very least, hubby should put this company on blast on all appropriate forums (glassdoor, etc.), especially if it’s a large(ish) company. It sounds like this was an internal decision (hubby has squeaky clean record and social media presence, plus has used same references before), so this company needs to feel the consequences of their decision to rescind an offer (especially without giving a reason)- that consequence being a bad reputation that keeps good potential employees from applying.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      If OP’s hubs decides to do this, I would recommend wording it very neutrally. People tend to discount really angry reviews full of vitriol because they think that the person is overreacting.

      1. INFJ*

        Thanks for that addendum. Overly emotional and personal reviews are easy to spot and immediately disregard.

  40. LaSharron*

    #1 I am very sorry about your migraines, OP. I agree with the poster above that suggested covering more often for others. That’s a great idea and telling them is a great idea as well.

    #2 did your husband’s former position already get filled? I can’t really fathom why his old company could not take him back unless that happened.

    #5 When I wrote a manual for our department, I did it on my own time. I guess it’s different than your case because I wasn’t handling personal client information. In my case, I didn’t have to ask for compensation for doing it. It was offered. But not being willing to share information hinders everyone, regardless of any legitimate complaints you have.

    1. Christian Troy*

      #2 – I don’t think it always so simple. I think sometimes when you resign, you resign, and they take it that you want other opportunities and to leave the company. I don’t think it always so easy to put that emotional shift back into the box once it’s been introduced.

  41. Cassie*

    #5: I feel for the OP. I’m someone who likes improving processes and stuff like that, so I’ll spend time at home creating/messing with spreadsheets/budgets, etc. I google stuff and I borrow from here and there so I’m glad that other places put stuff online. If a coworker ask for my template, I give it to them. I’m constantly trying to innovate and engineer stuff, so my philosophy is I don’t have to worry about “giving away” stuff – I’ll just come up with newer and better stuff. (Some of my coworkers are using my template from a few iterations before – I’ve moved onto something different and more efficient).

    The problem, though, is when other people constantly ask me for help and for my templates/worksheets and then talk smack about me to the managers in our department. I’m helping coworkers because I think it’s the right thing to do and then you go and trash me for no reason? Why? What did I do to you?! Or some people try to take sole credit for something that was a group project or (worse yet) something that said person was actively trying to ruin. Those kinds of toxic people/environments make me want to be less generous and more selfish. And because my work is somewhat isolated from the rest of the office, my boss wouldn’t care if I didn’t help them (he even said as much – help them if you want, but you don’t have to).

  42. Christian Troy*

    #2 – Ive been thinking about this and I think either the company has something else going in the background they don’t want to admit (person who was leaving asked to come back, better qualified candidate came along) or there was something else that was a red flag (references or background check?). However, in my past experiences, the latter were completed before an offer got to me, so my feeling is it’s something of the former. I think it’s pretty dirty to not own up to either, they should apologize and offer some type of explanation.

  43. What the?*

    There are 5 questions in this thread and no comments (or very few) on questions 2-5. Why? Because the thread has been hijacked by a. people defending KarenT (unnecessarily) OverandOverandOver again. Very few comments actually addressing OP#1’s ACTUAL issue. Must be really frustrating to see your question and to look for comments only to see the thread has gone on a tangent. ENOUGH with the “I/my friend/relative/someone I know gets migraines and this is what THEY do..

    And YES, I’m sympathetic. I get migraines too. And I had hoped to read the advice that addressed OP#1’s actual question! How ’bout let’s get back on track? End rant.

    Thanks so much.

  44. MarciaX*

    Regarding #2 – if this happens you are eligible for unemployment benefits (presuming you worked/earned enough in the past year to qualify) and you should definitely file for them. Leaving a job to take a better one is the very definition of “good cause.” I would be very surprised if there were even one state where this would disqualify you.

    Personally, I would sooner file for unemployment than try to go back to a job I have quit, where even if I were rehired I would be regarded as “damaged goods” for wanting to leave.

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