It was a typical Wednesday for Marie Johansson: She woke up at 7:30 AM, began her morning routine, and drove to her job at a local public relations firm. Just 30 minutes later, though, her day took a dramatic turn as she started to feel a throbbing sensation at her temples. Johansson then did the most heroic thing imaginable: She kept her headache to herself.
Moments after her headache proceeded into severe territory, Jessica Dalton, a colleague from the finance department, approached Johansson’s desk to complain about her own headache. Johansson ignored this gaping window of a chance to commiserate, expressing sympathy for Dalton and nobly waiting to take an Advil after she’d left.
“I thought I’d try to hydrate and see if that fixed it,” explains Johansson. It did not, and yet she soldiered on.
Though Advil and hydration proved ineffective, Johansson rallied and went about her day, making calls, sending emails, and forgoing countless opportunities to speculate aloud about the headache’s cause—dehydration, hangover, PMS, a caffeine deficit, or even a tumor.
“I figured everybody gets headaches, so they know what it’s like and how they happen,” Johansson says. “It’s not like a serious thing. Cara’s son’s been doing heroin, so I know she’s been dealing with that.”
“Every time I get a headache, I tell Marie immediately and usually text my husband too, unless I already told him about it that morning,” says Rebecca Sand, Johansson’s closest work friend. “She’s incredible. I don’t know how she does it.”
Colleagues who found out days later that Johansson had had a headache were shocked, noting that Johansson spoke twice during her three o’clock meeting but stayed remarkably on topic.