Tall, Dark, and Mysterious


Something in the air

File under: Those Who Can't. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 5:28 pm.

I give weekly quizzes in all of my classes, so I hear from my ill students more than I otherwise might: missing a class isn’t necessarily worth alerting the instructor, but a quiz worth part of the mark requires a reason, and possibly a doctor’s note.

I just got my fourth or fifth email - three weeks into the term - from my fourth or fifth student claiming that a crippling migraine was preventing them from coming to class.

Except in extreme circumstances, I tend to think that my students are honest. But I don’t think I had a single student with a migraine last term, and suddenly I have several. If these migraines are real, why the sudden prevalence? And if they’re not, why is this a more popular excuse - by far - than it was last time?


  1. I have gotten migraines since high school. I often go all fall semester without a migraine, but I get lots of them during February. At least here in the northeast, Jan-March is migraine season. The current medical theory is that the migraines are influeced by diet: less local organic produce available that time of year.

    Certain climate conditions — like low pressure systems — also seem to cause migraines. I once charted my migraines and compared them to data from a barometer and there was a definite correlation.

    Of course the tough part is that it could just be that you have students who saw someone on a popular television show who had a migraine and decided to use it as an excuse.

    - jo(e) — 1/27/2005 @ 8:42 pm

  2. Hmm, I used to get headaches of various flavours - migraines a few times a year, but the weather-induced ones were sinus headaches. Since I had a history of nasty migraines, I just assumed that all of my bad headaches were migraines of various degrees of severity, but I eventually found that when the air pressure changed, it was a Tylenol Sinus, not the more heavy-duty migraine meds, that helped me.

    For now, I’m going to give my students the benefit of the doubt; I tend to have decent intuition about these things, and so far, my migraine suffering students seem to be putting a lot of work into my course. Still, though, weird that I went from having no one mention migraines to having everyone mention them, though climate would explain things. (I’m in the southwest region of Canada, mind you, where there’s not that much of a difference among seasons.)

    - Moebius Stripper — 1/27/2005 @ 9:25 pm

  3. I am just curious. What is the number of students that you instruct?

    - EdWonk — 1/28/2005 @ 1:05 am

  4. Around 120. This is a statistically significant rate of migraines, whether real or imagined.

    - Moebius Stripper — 1/28/2005 @ 1:11 am

  5. I’d let them know of the wonderful modern medicine that is Imitrex and other migraine remedies. My mother has gotten real, debilitating migraines, and the stuff does work very well. And that you expect that once they get a supply of medicine, it shouldn’t interfere with their test-taking.

    - meep — 1/28/2005 @ 3:21 am

  6. Right, I’m sure that giving out medical advice would be an excellent idea on all levels.

    - Moebius Stripper — 1/28/2005 @ 9:48 am

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