An Andro Named Sue

Balancing a career in publishing with chronic migraines. Sort of.

On the first of May I had my initial appointment with my neurologist. I played it smart and brought my roommate along to be my migraine advocate – someone who makes sure that you’re spelling out your needs and symptoms appropriately. One of the biggest problems with chronic pain sufferers is the habit of downplaying our symptoms due to both a higher pain tolerance and the constant slog of the illness. The appointment went well, and I was prescribed my first preventative, noritriptyline, and a different abortive, naratriptan. We also added ondansetron to help with nausea, so I could get back to eating well.

As with all things migraine, the past month has been the health and wellness mambo: two steps forward, one step back.

On the first week of the preventative, I noticed I felt more awake and alert throughout the day. I didn’t have as much of the fog. My anxiety did go up for the first and second weeks, and I had to keep a few rocks in the office to fidget with, but otherwise no major side effects. The abortive was working some of the time, and I started to feel hopeful that maybe I wouldn’t have to go through a million and one medications after all. I even went to my first rock concert on the new meds and didn’t get a migraine during or after. I was careful to stay out of the lights, which helped, but I could definitely feel the meds making a difference.

It was at about the halfway point of the month that I noticed something was wrong. While I wasn’t suffering from the postdrome symptoms anymore, the migraine intensity had gotten worse. I had two migraines in a four day span, both so painful I had to just lie down and wait for them to end. I took the abortive, and it didn’t work. At one point I tried two, which was effective but left me feeling vaguely stoned the following day. As if I had smoked weed upon waking, which I don’t do and don’t enjoy. I started to notice a pattern: while I have less migraines in total, all of the migraines have become Day Enders. Usually I got migraines that range from a 5-8 on the pain scale, with other symptoms such as memory loss and sensitivity to light and smell. A standard migraine limits my function, but doesn’t stop me entirely. I just end up doing more housework or advertising, things I know how to do without thinking too hard. A Day Ender was a once a month event. Now it’s a twice a week hellscape.

This is a problem for numerous reasons, the first being my medication. The abortive only works for a Day Ender if I take it immediately. I am only supposed to take the abortive three times a week, or nine times a month. I was at my limit by May 26th, leaving me to get through this last week of May without it. I’m trying to play it safe; stay out of bright light, avoid intense smells like my housemates perfume and cologne, and stay home as often as I can. But this won’t work long term. We had prescribed the abortive on the notion that I would only need it for the worse of my migraines, once or twice a month, not every migraine.

To add further insult to injury, the new Worst Migraine Ever happened while at was a writing retreat out on Cape Cod. It was my first experience with nausea since starting the preventative. Not only did the ondansetron not work, I swear it made things worse. If you’re one of those kids who tasted chalky Tylenol rather than nothing during the PTC paper test in school, that’s what you get with this drug. I could tell someone had tried very hard to make it taste like a Smartie, but in the end I was left with a chalky awfulness that lingered on the back of my throat. I’m amazed I didn’t throw up. Someone give my poor stomach a medal.

In spite of all of this, the publishing side of things is blossoming. I now have the first three Bulletproof Spy novellas out in the world, with plans to get things into physical paperback this summer. I’ve begun querying my YA LGBT horror comedy novel, under the new title The Monster Next Door, which has received its first ever full manuscript request. I’m also hard at work writing the first draft of Demon Girl and Cursed Boy my YA low fantasy set in the Arkansas Ozarks, which is coming along beautifully.

My new company, the Quick Fox publishing services, is also getting its first new clients since the launch in April, and I’m watching our social media presence grow every week. I’ve also started the Quick Fox Newsletter, which aims to bring the latest in publishing news for genre authors, including paid genre submissions, and the response has been incredible.

Things get better, things get worse. All I can do is take careful notes for my next doctor’s appointment, and try to keep my head up.

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