I’m thinking teachers should be more aware of abdominal migraines and other types of juvenile migraines in children. In the stone-age when I was young, I had the abdominal migraine nausea-only type days. My mother would call me a hypochondriac. Teachers weren’t understanding, and the school nurse was almost as bad. Teachers should be educated in identifying these issues in younger children, and not label them as attention getting, hypochondriacal, or just lazy not wanting to be in school. (Of course, there are other reasons, and I am empathetic to those children needing more emotional support, etc.). This also applies to any educator or professor, etc. Migraines affect every age group, albeit some have other/different manifestations. When I learned abdominal migraines were a real thing (in my 50’s), I cried… I finally was validated.
Yep, I had a cruel middle school teacher sneer and accuse me of making myself throw up on purpose, and she told my parents to stop picking me up (which they didn’t listen to). Because throwing up in school is such big fun and not humiliating at all right? I mean, think that through. Either you have a kid in front of you who actually has migraines and is suffering, or (in your mind) you have a kid who has an eating disorder and is suffering! Either way there is a kid suffering, and you just ridicule them? What some teachers need is an education in compassion.
Speaking as a teacher and a migraine sufferer, if we don’t know from the parents, we are not trained to make any diagnosis or provide much intervention. The most I can do if a kid says they have a headache is offer water and go to the nurse.
Now, I have had students who have documented migraine conditions and have a Section 504 plan which lists accommodations.
I understand that we all wanted sympathy and understanding when we were sick in school, but let’s move to support information for doctors, parents, and nurses. Schools are at a loss in terms of providing health care if there is no parental consent. Teachers have enough on our plates.
So when I was a kid I actually quit my dance class after I had a migraine during practice. I was crying with a headache, and the whole time my teacher was mocking me saying that she’s had headaches and never was crying in pain, and saying that I was interrupting class for everyone. Well, when my mom got there to pick me up, I stood up and threw up in front of everyone. Never went back. 🤷🏻♀️
As a teacher who has had abdominal migraines/ Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome episodes many times, let’s educate school nurses and parents first. I’m not saying I don‘t see your point, but if your own mother couldn’t understand you were sick, how do you expect all teachers to know? Parents often educate teachers about their children’s illnesses. So, let’s start with with parents.
I started having migraines when I was 4 years old. I was ignored, and threw up at school many times. My Mom was an advocate for me, but the office staff at my school thought I was faking and always made sure I knew it. It left me with a sense of guilt, or like I’ve done something wrong when I’m suffering with a migraine. I am now an elementary school teacher and definitely keep an eye out for students with health issues, and take it seriously.
I also can’t stress enough that even when kids are exhibiting symptoms that are “all in their head,” that’s not like…. Better?? Psychosomatic presentations are also indicators of trauma, abuse, or an underlying mental health issues in children and should be taken seriously.
Instead of forcing kids to perform pain the way we think they should, maybe we should extend them a little empathy
my parents never let me stay home with migraines, they made me go to school and make them send me home which led to me vomiting suddenly in the classrooms for the first two or three years of school as the nausea wasn’t as easy to feel and control as a kid. I remember how mad one teacher got at me for throwing up during a story and the humiliation that lingered. The school admin/ front office people almost always seemed to make remarks about how they had to go to work sick/pregnant or whatever. The worst though was a office attendant who always seemed to want to “correct” me because migraines were a “womens problem” and shes not the only one whos said that kind of crap. Imagine gatekeeping migraines based on gender….
Im astounded by the utter lack of assistance, compassion, comprehension, and competence of the people who are supposed to be resources to children. I swear some of these people just like power tripping over kids, especially vulnerable ones.
College professor here. First, I’m so sorry that you were not believed and that it took you decades to learn that your pain deserved legitimization and a compassionate response.
Second, I really wish that students with any sort of illness – chronic or otherwise – were supported and believed by their prior teachers, parents, etc. It makes my ability to support college students so much harder. By the time I get students who are 17+ years old, they’re incredibly terrified to skip a class for ANY reason because they’re fearing repercussions. I build dropped grades into my courses so they can miss about 1.5 weeks worth of work / class for any reason before it impacts their grade, and I think that my students believe it’s a trap. They’re surprised when I say the missed assignment will just go away at the end of the semester. Students shouldn’t have to worry about their grade when they’re struggling with something: they should focus on feeling better. I feel like I have to coerce students to stay home or just take a break when they’re not well. As a person with many chronic conditions, it hurts my heart to see these students obviously suffering, worrying about their classes, and know that they’ve been making these really hard decisions regarding taking time off to get better versus attending class for most of their young lives. I was fortunate to have been believed by my grade school teachers and staff, as well as my parents, when it came to things like migraines and even mental illnesses. I was allowed to lay in the nurse’s office until I felt better, or leave school, or stay at home when I was ill. I really wish others with chronic conditions were believed the same way I was. No one can live up to their full potential while suffering – and not believing students when they say they’re struggling (regardless of your own opinions about the legitimacy of their complaints) is detrimental to that student, to their classmates, to your school, and to our society.
Everyone sharing their story here has encouraged me to do the same.
In the middle of my 5th period class I began to feel bad like something was going to happen to me. I knew the bell would ring in a matter of minutes so I just held on until we were released so I could sprint to the nurse’s office. Out of all my years at school, I have never went to the nurse’s except for maybe a bruise so I felt nervous. The bright, rectangle lights in the hallway accompanied by the sunlight shining through the numerous windows pained my head even more. I finally arrived at the office and informed the nurse I didn’t feel good and she cut me off to ask if I had a note from my 6th period teacher allowing me to come there. I told her I didn’t since I just left my 5th period class but she said she needs a note from the teacher before she can accept me (whether it’s for permission or records, I’m not sure). I had to travel all the way back to my class which is on the other side of the building and on the floor above.
I felt so sluggish walking back through the hallway, up the stairs, and then the final distance to my classroom. By this point, my eyes had tears and I was sniffling. I knocked on the door and walked to my teacher’s desk where I basically told her “I’m not feeling good. Can I have a note to go the nurse?” She and my table mates looked so concerned for me because I’m generally able to hide the pain, so I just stared at the floor.
During my walk back to the office, I couldn’t handle the pain anymore and broke down. I was full-on crying. My head hurt. I felt it in my eyes too. I wanted to lay down and just let someone find me. I don’t know how I mustered the strength but I lugged myself to the office and when the nurse saw me in tears, she sat me down so quick and began asking me questions. She kept asking if I wanted to go home and I said “No, but I feel sick” because I was one of the kids who genuinely liked being at school.
Eventually she called my mother but I could barely handle speaking to her so the nurse kept speaking for me. She told my mom “he’s just being emotional” twice. I told the nurse “No, I have a migraine and my head is HURTING” but she ignored that.
So, I was told to just lay down where I listened to the school bell ring for a few times meaning a few hours had passed until I was able to be picked up. My head still hurt the entire time.
To this day I still haven’t gotten any treatment that’s able to effectively prevent or reduce the intensity or frequency of my migraines. I went to an older neurologist who had me take an MRI and after taking a superficial look at the scan, joked with my mom I was just a couch potato that needed to exercise more (I was still on the brink of underweight at this time but I’ve gained some since then to become a normal weight for my age/sex/height). I tried to tell him exercising is a cause for my migraines but the first time I told him it was ignored so I didn’t even bother.
What’s even worse is my mom used to somewhat believe me when I said I had migraines, but one day she confronted me asking what the problem is and why it’s happening. She then said “well there’s nothing on the MRI so…” in a tone that heavily implied she thought nothing was wrong and/or I was lying.
I had bad teachers that treated me like I was faking or exaggerating. Then in middle school I had a teacher who kept peppermint and big dark sunglasses in his desk. If I was feeling nauseous or light sensitive he would move me into the hallway where the lights were dimmer and it was quiet. That was the year I was on honor roll too.
I think that teachers should be taught in college just a basic health empathy class explaining that children can have a variety of illnesses both diagnosed and undiagnosed and how to handle that without disrupting learning. Example: what to do when a kid is sick but their parents refuse to pick them up. Or how to make a classroom migraine and sensitivity friendly. I taught in another life and it always seemed like I was in a seminar about a new specific disease I needed to watch for symptoms for and diagnose, and of course no teacher should play doctor. Instead I would want to teach kids to listen to their bodies and know when something is wrong and its ok to be sick.
My mom always thought I just didn’t like math
Do you get head(?) migraines now?
I’ve never heard of this until now… this makes so much sense…
I understand where you’re coming from – a caring and compassionate place of wanting to make things better for our kiddos. But this is not a teacher’s job. Our schools need and our children deserve an on-site clinic with full-time medical staff. I think it would come off as crazy and out of line if a classroom teacher diagnosed students with abdominal migraines. Teachers are to recognize when a students’ needs – mental, emotional, and physical – are not being met and they shouldn’t feel the need to diagnose.