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Memorable Migraine: The Important Day I Completely Missed

Memorable Migraine: The Important Day I Completely Missed

We do a lot of book events at work, and, while I’m involved with planning a lot of them, I don’t end up attending most since I prefer to work during the day and not in the evenings when the readings occur.  In addition to hosting authors and illustrators at the bookshop, we work with other organizations offsite to host both famous and up-and-coming writers. My events team keeps really busy.

There’s one company we work with a few times a year that hosts events with authors where I prefer to be the bookseller involved. I’ve sent other booksellers in my stead before, but I definitely plan to be the one working unless I have travel plans.  For months now, I’d been planning to drive the hour to this venue to sell books at a reading for a big New York Times-bestselling author at this lovely lakeside venue. I kept a countdown ’til May 25.

And on May 25th, I woke up with a vicious migraine, one that I knew would wipe me out even if my medication worked efficiently. (Do you ever have those attacks that are bad enough that you know to call off your whole day? For me they’re quite different from the mild ones that, if treated, allow me to at least work a half-day.) Within twenty minutes of waking, I contacted a few staff members to see if anyone could go in my stead. Once I had someone lined up, I forwarded all the event and venue information to them and let the host know that someone else would be representing Avid.  Phew. Everything was arranged. I was relieved.

Then I got a text from the store manager: “G. is here for your appointment. Did you remember about that?”

Oh. Em. Gee.

I had booked an appointment with one of my publisher reps a month or more back and, just a couple of weeks before, we had confirmed it. I’d looked at my phone then and said, “Yep, it’s in my calendar.” So I pulled up my calendar app and saw that the appointment wasn’t anywhere listed. Somehow I or someone else on staff with calendar access had deleted it.  So much for the efficiency of electronic calendars. I may misplace my Moleskine planner from time to time, but at least I don’t accidentally erase entire swaths of my day.

Goodness, I felt like such a jackass.

A really weird thing happened, too: the moment I read the text and felt my stomach lurch, my migraine rapidly disappeared—was it the surge of adrenaline?  I actually feel better all of a sudden. I can take a quick shower and be there in 25 minutes and will grovel and apologize.

The relief didn’t last long, though. After the initial surge of embarrassment and regret and frustration with myself, the migraine roared back. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it to work.

My rep lives in Florida and tours the Southeast to visit her accounts. It’s not like she lives in town and we could reschedule after this hiccup. She had to do the meeting then. Because the Avid manager is wonderful and can think on his feet, he was able to meet with her at a local café. I had already mostly finished my order draft, so I logged into my ordering system and polished it up, the screen as dim as it could go so as not to upset my migraine eyes.  I submitted the order draft within 20 minutes and kept my fingers crossed that my rep wouldn’t throttle me next time we meet.

So I had really messed up my day, and if I didn’t have really amazing, reliable staff, I would be full of much more frustration and shame at the moment. Thank goodness for them—they really saved the day, or at least the professional side of things. I can’t believe I was so ready to relax after figuring out the afternoon commitment only to realize there was a morning commitment I was already in the process of screwing up.  Yikes.

Has migraine ever screwed with your day like this? (Why do I ask that? Of course the answer will be “yes”!) Let me rephrase: would you be willing to share a comment about one time you—or your migraine, rather—really messed up your plans and put you in a bad position? 

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Gigi
    3 years ago

    After suffering from migraine for 25+ years, with them actually increasing post-menopause to the point of disability, I have missed so many holidays & gatherings, not to even mention the daily events. I’d finally started to accept the fact that large family holiday gatherings were not always a possibility for me. None of that compares to one day last year…

    Following a tortuous week of planning, crying, irregular sleep…I missed my own mother’s funeral. Yes, you read that right. MY OWN MOTHER’S! My mom was 92 when she passed. She was ready, we were expecting it, I’d made it through the week of planning, errands,family flying in…you name it. I was fine the night before. When I woke up that day, I could barely lift my head off the pillow. I knew there was no way I could not go, so I took the imitrex & got into the shower. I couldn’t get out fast enough to get back into bed. Then the guilt & anxiety of possibly not making it to the funeral just started the vicious cycle. You know it. The more anxious I became, the worse I felt…the worse I felt, the more anxious I became. My kids, brothers & rest of the family were great. They were willing to help in any way possible, but as you know….

    They were much more forgiving than I was on myself. I think I cried more, for weeks, because I wasn’t able to attend the funeral than at my mom’s actual passing. I know that sounds cold, but my mom was ready. My dad had died suddenly 20 yrs earlier & she’d been lost without him. She’d also been bedridden for the last 15 years. She was READY and we were all sad but at peace. But to not be there killed me. I KNOW my mom understands. She was never one to go to the doctor but after I’d started suffering from migraine, I realized that that was what her “headaches” were when I was growing up. She was very sympathetic to my suffering.

    But, she was my mom…I’ll never get over that. ;(

  • Joanna Bodner moderator
    3 years ago

    Hello there Gigi-
    This was wonderful of you to open up and share such a personal & especially emotional piece of your history with migraine. It takes a tremendous amount of courage. I am so sorry to read that you were unable to attend your mother’s funeral. Nothing you wrote sounds “cold” what so ever! I hope you are able to accept, come terms & be at peace with this event some day very soon….it was truly out of your hands and you had NO CONTROL!! You know that your mother would absolutely have understood being a sufferer herself. Please do not blame yourself! By you taking time to share this, I am certain that you have helped others in our community because guilt for SO MANY is associated with so many factors when living with migraine…so we greatly thank you again for sharing & especially for being part of our community!!!

    Joanna ( Team)

  • akilman
    3 years ago

    I pushed through the haze of daily migraine through much of graduate school. I can’t tell you how many times my life was messed up. However one day, when I thought I was doing pretty good, I was actually on time, and thought I was on top of things, when I realized a while after my arrival I had my dress on inside out. It’s funny now.

  • Donna Geyess
    3 years ago

    I was all dressed and ready to go to Thanksgiving dinner at my mother-in-laws house. I was waiting for everyone else when I got hit hard with a migraine. I felt like I got hit in the head with a frying pan. I missed the whole day.

    One of the scariest days, however, was my daughter’s wedding. I had been diagnosed with pneumonia two days prior so I was on mega steroids and antibiotics. The rehearsal dinner was at my house because the groom’s family was from out of town. I was already sick and exhausted. I woke up during the night with a migraine, gave myself an imetrex injection but still had the migraine in the morning. I had to give myself another injection then go to decorate the reception hall. I had to call a friend to come pick me up because I couldn’t possibly drive, I was so ill. The pain went away eventually but I was in such a drugged postdrone state by the time of the wedding, I was grateful that we had hired a makeup artist who could spray away the ridiculous dark circles under my eyes! I still felt like hell, but at least I was there!!!

  • Gigi
    3 years ago

    I’m sorry that you weren’t able to fully enjoy such a special day.

  • kmh
    3 years ago

    I’m so sorry you missed your work event. But I also want to congratulate you for listening to that inner wisdom that told you it was going to be a bad migraine day.
    I missed my best friend’s wedding due to migraine. And yes, I was supposed to be in the wedding

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