Not in the Mood to Deal with More Migraine-Related Limitations
During my Week-Plus o’ Migraines (August 2015 edition), I took my Avid Bookshop team on a little field trip to Atlanta to visit some bookstores and then attend a publisher speaking event. We were very excited for our venture to Atlanta (which is about an hour and a half away). After playing with the numbers, I realized it’d be more affordable if I were to rent an SUV large enough to fit everyone rather than have folks drive in two different cars and reimburse them for mileage. Thankfully, my buddy at the rental car company a ten-minute walk away was at the ready with a ridiculously huge and deluxe SUV for me to rent for a day at a pretty affordable price.
The potential migraine triggers were everywhere. Car travel: check. Hot temperatures: check. My period: check. Lots of social time with no down time: check. Torrential downpours and thunderstorms every few hours: check. Inconsistent eating schedule: check. Tremendous stress not related to this particular field trip: check. Fluorescent lights in a tiny room at night during the publisher presentation: check
Happily, we made it to Atlanta and back with no major issues. (It’s always such a relief to return a rental car and know you didn’t scuff it up or get in any wrecks—talk about a headache.) We were gone for nearly ten hours. In that time, we drove all around Atlanta, visited three bookstores (and spent a lot of time talking with employees and management at all three), and then spent about ninety minutes at a local library hearing a presentation about forthcoming books (an amazing job perk if you love books and reading!).
The day before the presentation in Atlanta, I’d emailed one of the hosts to see if she knew what the lighting situation was like at the library. She said she’d do her best to minimize the effect of the fluorescents, but when I walked in that night and saw her, she realized just then she hadn’t figured out a solution. No problem: I had my hat and sunglasses. Unfortunately, I’d forgotten my baseball cap and had instead a huge, floppy lavender hat more suitable for a summer vacation. That paired with my prescription aviator sunglasses made me look like someone trying to avoid the paparazzi.
After the publisher presentation, my colleagues from other bookstores and the publishing company joked about my disguise, about the paparazzi, about how glamorous I looked. Instead of rolling with it and humoring them, I felt very defensive. “I wish it were just a disguise. Actually, fluorescent lights trigger migraines for me, so I’m trying to protect myself. “Well, you still look very glamorous.” Fair point, I should have said with a wink and a smile, but instead I said something like, “Well, I wish that were the case. Unfortunately I don’t have a choice.”
Then, upon leaving the auditorium, I started to remove my disguise when one of my employees quipped, “Oh, now I recognize you.” I must’ve given her the side-eye, because she then said, “I think you look great!” I said something to the effect of, “Ugh, I’m tired of joking about what I have to wear because of the fluorescents!” I took out my frustration on her, which wasn’t fair. She immediately apologized, and then I apologized. Normally I can stay lighthearted about all the strange behaviors I’ve adopted over the years to avoid migraines, but apparently sometimes I’m not in the mood to joke.
The next morning, the car was due back at the rental agency, so I drove it down there. I realized then I hadn’t filled the tank back up, but I didn’t much care. I had a migraine coming on and couldn’t bear even the thought of the smell of gasoline as I pumped gas, let alone the reality of it. I made the split-second (and perhaps stupid) decision to return the car without replenishing the gas supply. Ninety dollars (yep, $90.00) in fees for not filling the tank seems like significant punishment for deciding not to expose myself to the smell of gas on a migraine day. Ugh. When I saw the charges on the bill, I knew I could probably appeal to the agent’s sympathies and see if I could get the fees waived or at least reduced, but I didn’t have the energy. I just signed away and moved along toward home.
I have a couple of things I want to talk with you guys about here. 1: Have you ever gotten impatient with people who are being kind-natured and light-hearted about your ways of coping with migraine (i.e., wearing a hat and sunglasses inside)? How’d you handle it, and why do you think you lost—or almost lost—your temper? 2: Have you ever made a migraine-related decision (i.e., not filling the tank back up) and ended up paying for it, either literally or figuratively?