Meet Eula – A Combat War Veteran Living with Migraine
My name is Eula Moore Marshall and I’m a mom, sister, aunt, cousin, and daughter. My life is a journey of learning new things every day. I graduated with an A.A. in Merchandising Management. I am a 3rd generation war veteran serving in the 1st Gulf War. I served and retired from the Army Reserves, and am now a disabled veteran. I spend my days working on my health, supporting my teenager in high school and supporting other veterans with their medical claims. Since I have chronic illnesses, I research ways to improve how I take care of myself and others.
A typical migraine for me starts 75% of the time in the morning. My symptoms include throbbing, sharp pain, dizziness, light and sound sensitivity, and loss of appetite. Attacks lasting 3 to 4 days and happen at least 22 days out of the month.
Migraine & The Military
I dealt with menstrual headaches as a teenager, but nothing like the pain I started to experience while serving in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in December 1990. My head throbbed, I would abruptly stop in the middle of working, walking, or talking and squeeze my eyes and hold my head. I would have daily pain and training became difficult. I couldn’t rest because steady work was required of me. No one understood and no one would listen. I was labeled a complainer, someone who was lazy and faking it. I didn’t know that what I was experiencing were migraines until I returned home. I just called them headaches.
“I didn’t have migraine prior to going to Saudi.”
I’m thinking that I may have come in contact with some type of chemical over in Saudi Arabia. The VA and the Department of Defense haven’t said anything about it, but they do list migraines as a Gulf War syndrome-type illness. As far as I know, I am the only one out of my unit that came back suffering from migraines. No one can tell me this is what’s going on. And I did not have migraines prior to going to Saudi. After returning home and establishing my daily routine, I was still experiencing pain all day. Lying in bed would make it throb more. Babysitting the toilet without pay was my nightly chore.
Lack of Accommodations
I used to work for the State of Illinois for the Department of Human Rights. I applied for an accommodation, but they did not allow me to use it. I had two 15-minute breaks and an hour break. I asked if one of the conference rooms could be available to me for 15 minutes, but they wouldn’t allow it. The military is kind of like that too. It’s almost like, ‘You’re here, and we don’t see anything wrong with you, so you might as well keep working.’ I really had to learn that I have to do what’s best for me. As long as it’s not interrupting my job, if I take my 15 minutes and I rest my head, that’s making it better for me and making it better for me to produce more work.
So what I want employers to do is to understand that we suffer, and it’s not because we’re trying to get away with anything. In our heads, we have pain. Even with the military, it’s like that too. If they can’t see it, they don’t believe it. And that’s the worst thing you could do to someone, and that’s a hurt that I carry — I still carry.
Life without migraine
“If I didn’t have migraine my life would be different. I wouldn’t have the depression I wouldn’t have the pain, I’d be working right now and probably be more active with my child.”