COVID-19, chronic migraines, and a day I’ll never forget.

Photo by Erkan Utu from Pexels

Headache hospital camp ran on a tight schedule. Each day began at six a.m. with syringes of medication, then the first small pouch of clear liquid appeared on the metal tree beside my bed and squirmed slowly through my I.V. tube. The team of doctors visited at eight while I was still nauseated, then other medications came at nine, another round of the strong stuff at two, a visit from the N.P. at three-thirty, blood thinners at eight-thirty, and a third infusion sent me off to sleep at ten. But like any good camp, there was free time and many…

The importance of showing up in your community, even if it can’t be in person

A nun with a video camera on a tripod recording a priest holding the Eucharist at an altar next to a statue of Jesus.
A nun with a video camera on a tripod recording a priest holding the Eucharist at an altar next to a statue of Jesus.
Photo: Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images

My soul bends under the weight of each thing I took for granted about going to my church in person. My friends’ new baby was just starting to recognize me when I held him. The older women who knew I suffered from migraines would seek me out to see how I was doing, week after week. One of the young dads often brought a loaf of sourdough bread to share.

We’d use this bread for communion, then gather around the leftovers for an after-church snack while kids ran in and out of the circle.The space we rented for Sunday worship…

To my surprise, I actually felt like I was part of the celebration

Incense, a candle, and a bound wedding program on a table with a blue and white floral tablecloth.
Incense, a candle, and a bound wedding program on a table with a blue and white floral tablecloth.
Photo: Natalie Mead

When the couple sent their save-the-date card back in March, we should have known we weren’t going to physically attend the wedding. But September seemed far away, and we couldn’t imagine that the pandemic would continue to rage. The groom is one of my husband’s closest friends; we told them we wouldn’t miss their wedding for the world. The promise rang hollow in our ears by July.

They chose to keep the date, so we planned to attend via livestream. We wondered if that counted as attending at all.The pandemic has sucked dry so many special occasions like this one…

COVID-19 creates plenty of awkward encounters. You know what I’m talking about.

Inspired by The Pillow-Book of Sei Shonagon

(Photo by cottonbro from Pexels)

The invite said it’s a lunch meeting, but I’m the only one eating anything on the Zoom call. I made lo mein noodles and the sauce splatters on my keyboard as I slurp them into my mouth.

A woman walks her dog on the sidewalk ahead of me, slowly. Her dog is one of the small fluffy kinds, with short legs always rushing but not getting anywhere. I step into the street to go around her, but cars are coming so I swerve back onto the sidewalk. My sunglasses fog up again; I…

Photo by Daria Shevtsova from Pexels

If there is anything chronic migraines has taught me, it’s how to be stuck at home. On some days, even getting out of bed is an accomplishment. So though the times are unprecedented, globally, they are extremely precedent-ed to me, personally.

Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way as a professional patient, and from my many journeys from the bed to the medicine cabinet and back again. I hope you find them helpful for surviving your COVID-19 isolation.

Fashion really doesn’t matter anymore, so stop trying.

When I was in the hospital for inpatient migraine treatment (yes, that’s a thing, or it was before COVID-19)…

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

The house call has returned. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, something as simple as a bad cold required an in-person visit to my doctor’s office to get a prescription cough syrup. Now, the same office urges me to stay home and schedule a video visit instead. This new way of doing medicine certainly shouldn’t last forever across the board- there are only so many virtual visits one can make to a physical therapist before needing tactile intervention, for example. But the sudden shift to telemedicine did bring real help to Americans with life-altering chronic conditions. …

I did my first summer internship in San Francisco after my sophomore year of college. I was hired to work at Salesforce and placed in an apartment with two other interns, neither of whom had lived in San Francisco before, just like me. On our first night together, we decided we wanted to go to Pier 39…but this was before everyone had smartphones, so we took the first train we could find which was going in roughly the right direction, hoping that Pier 39 would present itself to us as we went. The train went underground and turned sharply, so…

What don’t they tell you at the hospital? Basically everything. At least all of the confusion gave me something to write about. That’s my first consolation prize. There are lots of consolation prizes in hospitals, too. It feels like receiving a certificate of participation in elementary school in the science fair or art contest or spelling bee- you don’t really get anything worth having, but here’s a piece of paper so you feel like something came of this immense disruption to your life. Your dog will chew it up when you get home, but you can cherish it until then!

I’m back and answering the questions about tech that you’ve always been afraid to ask. Be sure to comment or otherwise reach out if you have more questions, or follow-up questions. But today, we’re finally getting to the big leagues: The Internet. The question I’ll attempt to answer today:

How does the internet work?

The Internet is easier to understand that it may seem, especially if you have already read my previous posts in the Technologeez series. …

I left my job at Facebook over a year ago. I really had everything going for me, and it felt strange to work on my resume while out of the country, leading a large project for the Facebook infrastructure team- it was my very first time leading a project, actually. It felt even more strange to tell my coworkers I was leaving, only to find that many supported my decision. And I was at peace about leaving. …

Natalie Mead

Former software engineer, wannabe former chronic migraine patient. San Franciscan by choice.

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