klt: the blog

Miss Migraine tries Aimovig!

Banner that says "The Adventures of Miss Migraine"

The Adventures of Miss Migraine is an ongoing column about my life with chronic migraine.

Back in the spring, I wrote about my excitement over Aimovig, the first FDA-approved pharmaceutical treatment developed specifically to prevent migraine. (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette even interviewed me about it!) In October, my health insurance provider approved my doctor’s request for the drug, and I administered the first dose on October 15.

And you know? I think it’s working. I’m not cured, but I’ve had fewer migraines overall this past month, and the migraines I’ve had have been less severe. When I have had a severe migraine, the recovery time is shorter.

Now, of course, Aimovig isn’t just a pill you can pop. It’s an injection that you administer to yourself once a month. And it’s a pain in the butt to store.

A room thermometer next to an Aimovig box.

You have to keep it refrigerated, but not frozen. When you’re ready to use it, you have to let it come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes, but room temperature can only be between 68 and 74 degrees Fahrenheit. Once it’s been out of the fridge for more than 30 minutes, you have to use it; it cannot be re-cooled.

I live in an old, drafty house with mega powerful radiators, so fine-tuning the temperature in any room that precisely may prove challenging. It’s either freezing or a sauna, with very little in between.

But if it works? Hell, I’ll buy a temperature-controlled incubator if I have to! I did buy a nifty little room thermometer so I can be sure it’s warming up in the proper temperature range.

Once Aimovig comes to room temperature, it’s time to administer the injection. It works similarly to an Epipen. You take the safety cap off, push it against your skin, and hit the start button that triggers the needle.

I’m no stranger to self-administered injections, as I have to inject myself with B12 twice a month because of my pernicious anemia. But, damn, the Aimovig injection hurt! The needle is a much larger gauge than what I use for the B12 injection, and it’s spring loaded. Holding it against my skin for the whole time was more challenging that I expected.

Aimovig box and injector pen.

Still—if it works, I’ll deal with the 30 or so seconds of pain and a little soreness at the injection site.

Aimovig comes with excellent, thorough instructions, and my doctor (bless her) went over them with me in detail before she sent the prescription to my pharmacy. My pharmacist, Fred (as you can imagine, we’re real tight), told me I was the first patient to get Aimovig from my pharmacy. Apparently most other insurance companies in the area are not covering it yet.

Even my insurance company only covers it at the “non-preferred brand name” level, which comes with an $80 co-pay (same as my triptan, Axert, which also comes with an $80 co-pay despite being a generic.) So, that’s not great. Thankfully, I’m able to get Aimovig for $5 with the Aimovig Ally program.

The lack of coverage and the high cost of the co-pay are going to be a real problem for a lot of migraine sufferers, so if you have a few moments, give your insurance company a call and ask them if they will cover Aimovig, and ask them why they aren’t if they say no.

I’m due for my second injection November 15, and by December 15 I should have a fuller picture of exactly how much this new drug will help me. Fingers crossed!

Share your experience with Aimovig in the comments below!

NaNoWriMo ate my life

Banner that says

Ah, yes, November. That time of year where I vainly try to write 50,000 words in 30 days, and usually peter out around 20,000 – 25,000. And yet, I insist on trying. 20,000 words in a month is still twice my usual goal of 10,000 words in a month. Plus, it’s fun. (Yes, I realize that “fun” is a relative term.)

Except this year, we’re a third of the way through the month and I’m more or less on track? (KNOCK ON WOOD.) I’ve been sidelining some other things (like this here blog) to focus on getting words on the page, but my efforts seem to be paying off. The goal for today is to have 15,000 words written, and I’m sitting at 12,285 (I had a killer migraine yesterday, the kind where I couldn’t even sleep because my head was pounding so hard, so I only wrote 500 words).

But perhaps more important than my total word count is the fact that I’ve managed to write something every day in November. I’ve been really struggling to get back to a consistent writing practice—I keep letting the “urgent” (lesson plans! grading! walking the dog!) get in the way of the “important” (working on my novel! submitting stuff!). The truth is that even though I’m busy, I still have time to write for 15 or 30 minutes every day. I just haven’t been forcing myself to do it.

Well, now I am. I’ve gotten back into that long-term flow of the project, where I’m thinking about it constantly, imagining what-ifs and figuring out what my characters would do in situations I find myself in. Self-help gurus love to talk about “flow,” the state of being “in the zone” and essentially getting shit done. I’ve definitely felt that flow state while writing, but I think there’s a larger, less immediate type of flow that comes from working on a project deeply every day. Or, at the very least, consistent work makes it much, much easier to access the flow state. What do I know? I’m just a writer.

Speaking of which, I have 3,000 words to write today. I’d better get cracking.

A love letter to Squirrel Hill

I loved Pittsburgh from the moment I stepped out of my parents’ mini-van for a tour of Pitt 13 years ago. The sun shone bright and high in the sky, and the Cathedral of Learning (still covered in soot back then), reached up to it as if in prayer. It felt like home already, though I’d only just arrived.

When I graduated four years later, the decision to stay was easy. By then I’d learned how precious those few sunny days were, how inadequate and frustrating the public transit was, how the neighborhoods were divided—segregated, essentially—by race. I stayed because, despite the negatives, despite the downsides, it still felt like home. I was young and thought, too, that maybe I could make things better. Not just in Pittsburgh, but the world.

I’ve never lived in Squirrel Hill, but I did and still do spend a lot of time there. As a student I spent countless Friday nights at the now-closed Barnes & Noble, spending what little money I had on books and more books. I wrote endless pages of terrible novels at the 61C Cafe, smoking clove cigarettes on the patio and watching the bright sunflowers nod in the breeze. And on late nights, studying or just escaping from the pain of a bad breakup or another rejection, I sat with my friends in Eat ‘n’ Park, drinking stale coffee and eating pie that tasted like cardboard, but the taste wasn’t the point anyway.

My favorite tea shop is in Squirrel Hill (Margaret’s), my favorite diner (Pamela’s—specifically the Squirrel Hill one), the best gaming store (Games Unlimited). I always find something delightful at The Exchange (the Star Wars soundtrack on 8 track, for example). My friends live there, and when out-of-town friends visit we meet up at 61C or Common Place. I spent two and a half years at Chatham, heading to the Squirrel Cage with friends after class for a stiff drink and literary dreaming.

In my boring adult life, I spend one Sunday a month in Squill (as we affectionately call it) pretending to be an X-Man with my nerd friends. We usually go out for a post-gaming dinner at Cafe 33, which is arguably the best Asian restaurant in the whole damn city. The Barnes & Noble is gone, but we have two indies in its place: Classic Lines and Amazing Books. 61C is still one of my go-to writer hangouts, especially in summer. I don’t visit Eat ‘n’ Park as much, but it’s tradition to kick off NaNoWriMo there at midnight on November 1 every year, and I plan to be there tonight.

D.J. and I often head to Pamela’s for a weekend brunch after a run. When we miss the North Side’s Friday farmer’s market, we stop by the Squirrel Hill market on Sunday for our local produce. I go out of my way to use the Post Office there, because the clerks are always smiling.

In short, I love Squirrel Hill.

On Saturday, a racist Nazi murderer walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue and massacred 11 people gathered for worship and community. The signs were there—after all, we elected a blatantly racist president who called literal Nazis “some fine people,” and just last year another racist Nazi spread anti-Semitic flyers all over the neighborhood.

My heart is broken, and it cracks anew every time I open the news or social media and see the world over talking about what happened here. I want the world to know and love the Squirrel Hill I know. The multicultural neighborhood full of love and such a vibrant community. I didn’t directly know anyone involved in the shooting. But I know people who do. They are my friends, they are my neighbors. They are my community. Every act of horrific mass violence like this cuts me to the quick, but this one hurts more because Pittsburgh is my home.

I’m a white woman. I’m almost always “safe.” And if I feel as if the world is stuttering to a stand still a thousand times a day, I cannot imagine the pain and grief my Jewish friends and the local and global Jewish community is going through. And what’s more, this was not the only shooting this weekend. This was not the only recent Pittsburgh tragedy. This the way things are, but this is not the way things have to be. It starts with me. It starts with you.

Together, we are stronger than hate. Love alone is not enough. We must stand whenever and wherever injustice strikes in this city we call home, whether against our Jewish neighbors, our Black neighbors, our immigrant neighbors, our refugee neighbors.

Stand for Antwon Rose.

Stand for Irving Younger.

Stand for Melvin Wax.

Stand for Bernice and Sylvan Simon.

Stand for Jerry Rabinowitz.

Stand for Joyce Feinberg.

Stand for Richard Gottfried.

Stand for Daniel Stein.

Stand for Cecil and David Rosenthal.

Stand.

%d bloggers like this: