Memorable Migraine 8: Bookselling While Ill, Redux
Oh. Em. Gee.
The last few weeks have been ROUGH, my friends. Hurricane season (even for those of migraineurs far from the coast) has been pushing me to my limit. Combine Sandy Frankenstorm’s effects on barometric pressure with my period and a full moon and a very busy time at work and you have one very unhappy Migraine Girl.
The last Saturday in August, we had a children’s author visit the bookshop for a very special Halloween story time. I was working at the shop from open until 4PM; my second bookseller was set to arrive at 3 so we could work together for a bit in the afternoon.
At around 11, I could tell that the hint of a migraine that had been coming on since my alarm went off was turning into a full-fledged attack.
I started to root around my bags and wallet and was startled (to say the least) to find I had no Imitrex on hand.
Jim called and asked how I was doing. Talking quietly so no one in the busy shop could hear, I told him my migraine was getting worse by the second. He was already on the way to the bookshop but offered to turn around, grab some Imitrex at home, and bring it to me.
By the time he got to the shop, I was having trouble getting up from the stool behind the checkout counter. The whole time this was going on, there were tons of customers of all ages in the store, all of whom I wanted to chat with, and many of whom had questions for me about books in stock and special ordering different volumes. As grateful as I was for the booming business, I longed to lock the doors and lie on the cool cement floor.
One regular customer, a 12-year-old girl who’d been in earlier in the day and returned around 2 to say hi again, said to me, “Miss Janet, are you nervous?” “No, why do you ask?” “I’m just wondering.” A few minutes later she spoke up again: “Are you sure you’re not nervous?” “What makes you say that?” I asked, and she replied: “You are acting different. You just seem...I don’t know…nervous or something.” “Well, you’re very astute,” I commented, sitting down again after finding that standing made me dizzy. “I am feeling sick and this migraine is getting worse by the second.”
I’d sneaked an Imitrex by then, continually talking to customers the whole time and not wanting to let down my front. At 2:30 or so, the shop mostly emptied out after story time and another wonderful customer, W., was telling me fantastic stories about growing up in North Carolina. As I listened to him, I was grateful for the distraction, willing myself to focus on his story and not the dizzying pain and nausea of the migraine attack. I tried as hard as I could to breathe deeply and ignore the fact that the room felt as if it was 100 degrees. I felt bile rise in my throat again and again, but I ignored it and swallowed it back, willing the clock to get to 3 PM so my bookseller could arrive and I could get Jim to drive me home.
At 2:55, W. moved aside so that I could ring up another customer. I looked at the clock one last time, determined to just make it to 3 PM. But there were three other people waiting to check out, and my bookseller was nowhere in sight.
“Excuse me for just a second,” I said, and dashed into the bathroom to throw up violently and, fortunately, very quickly. I flushed the toilet, rinsed my mouth, washed my hands, and returned to the desk in time to finish everyone’s transactions. I felt immediately better and had a sensation similar to that of a fever breaking as my skin started to cool. The moment my bookseller arrived, I grabbed my bag and gratefully accepted a ride home.
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