Joseph Coe, director of Education and Digital Strategy at the Global Healthy Living Foundation, recently posted a migraine-focused podcast where he interviewed Lori Johnston, executive vice president of Human Resources at Amgen.
Why did you decide to partner with Global Healthy Living Foundation to tell your personal journey as a migraine patient?
The Global Healthy Living Foundation (GHLF) is one of our longstanding non-profit partners that works to inspire, support and empower people, such as myself, living with chronic illness. I’ve had migraine attacks for 14 years now. Before we found the right treatment option for me, I was having 8-12 migraine episodes per month. I call migraine the “silent disease” because people often suffer in silence without a lot of support. GHLF is an organization that provides education and tools for people with lifelong conditions to make informed decisions about their health, working in partnership with their providers.
As an HR leader, how do you think sharing your personal story is helpful to your colleagues who might also be living with migraine or other difficult health conditions?
Whether you are in HR or not, I think it’s important for a manager to take the time to try to understand your staff and their needs to best encourage and support them. Because I was in leadership roles, I used to wonder if I could continue working like I did with my migraine. I was in a cycle of the medications losing their effect, and I was experiencing rebound headaches. I sometimes would have to leave a meeting and go throw up in the bathroom. I would sit on the cold floor to see if I could make it back to the meeting and make it through my day. I’m not sure how I summoned the strength to do that for 12 years. I often did not go out after work or on weekends because I needed to rest up for the work week ahead. Since then I have worked with my doctor to better manage my migraine.
So, you don’t always know what your colleagues are going through regarding their health and wellbeing. Knowing what your team needs to feel supported better allows them to bring their full selves to work and encourages them to excel.
What have you learned from your own personal experience as a migraine patient?
I’m still amazed that although most of us know someone who lives with migraine, it is often a condition we don’t talk about much. I’ve learned that the people we meet every day may be struggling with a number of personal issues, and it’s important to be mindful of that. When you take the time to understand the patient experience, our needs and how to support us, the more likely it is that we will start and maintain management plans that improve our health.
What do you hope that people listening to the podcast will take away from it?
I hope those who listen to the podcast will have a better understanding that people living with migraine are strong, courageous, and resourceful individuals. Those with migraine tend to be strong advocates, but know that you are not alone. You have a wonderful voice!
To learn more about the Global Healthy Living Foundation and the organization’s resources, visit GHLF.org