Thursday, October 26, 2006

It's Not a Stroke, Really, I Swear

I've read a lot about migraines in the last 36 hours. The last one, the one I am still trying to hold back, announced itself with colored flashes (most in a charming blue or purple) and mild speech problems--I couldn't pull words together properly and had uncharacteristic trouble coming up with the words I needed, incredibly useful and ego-building for an ENGLISH professor. There are classic migraines with auras and "visual disturbances" (think psilocybin trip--towels undulating, static things winking and sashaying only for you) and common migraines that have no aura warning. I'd never heard of abdominal migraines (usually experienced by children: sudden nausea/vomiting and severe stomach pain), hemiplegic migraines (typical migraine headaches preceded and/or accompanied by reversible limb weakness on one side as well as visual, sensory or speech difficulties), retinal migraines (migraines that involve temporary blindness), Status Migrainous (severe migraines that last at least 72 hours; often, the sufferer goes to the emergency room because the pain is so severe and long-lasting), and mixed migraines (a combination of a migraine and tension headache, one sparking the other.) In the pre-migraine state, whether you experience auras or not, you may make poor decisions about self-care, possibly because of the approaching migraine itself. You may think it's lack of sleep or food or strenuous activity. Sometimes the warnings involve extreme mood changes (hm.....), muscle weakness, confusion, speech or physical coordination problems mimicking stroke symptoms. 30-60 minutes or even hours later, the pain hits. And by the time you feel the pain, it is too late to stop it; all you can do is reduce the pain from excruciating to dull throbbing.

Once I am past this migraine-could-come-back-any-second stage (hopefully, today), I can get to some of the things I want to write about.

Migraines Wiki
Medline Plus


Anonymous Grandmère Mimi said...

So sorry, G Bitch. I've had the aura of the migraines, the lights. It scared the hell out of me the first time; I thought I had detached retinas, not thinking that the two would likely not detach together. Your migraines are extreme. I hope that you feel better soon, soon, soon.

Thu Oct 26, 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger slate said...

Sounds like you could use a giggle, along with that pain killer.

I was 16 when I first got auras and the blistering headache. It happened repeatedly and intermittently with no discernible pattern for the next 20+ years. I learned to drink a coke and take some motrin as soon as I saw the lights. If I could lie down immediately, that helped too. I didn't experience the speech issues or muscle issues til much later, BUT, being a "child of the 60's" I never mentioned any of this to my doctor.

Finally I had a real zinger of a migraine, and told my doctor about the lights, the headache following, the whole thing. I'm not given to sobbing in public, but I was sitting in his office just sobbing. He asked me how long this had gone on, I told him. He had become a friend over the years he treated my family, he told me they were migraines then he stared at me and asked sarcastically, "What did you THINK was happening?" Through my kleenex I said, "Preston, I thought they were flashbacks. They started the day after an acid trip in 1969."

He has laughed about it for the last ten years, and now looking back, I can laugh too.

If it's any consolation, now at 52, they come less often. I also no longer blame Orange Sunshine and Frank Zappa for the lightshow.

God was I an idiot! Hope you feel better soon.

Thu Oct 26, 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger G Bitch said...

Slate, I did need that giggle (actually, I laughed out loud). Thanks for the sympathy, Grandmere Mimi. I love it when you visit.

My migraines started at 12, eased during my 20s and have come back with a vengeance--looming for days like bad weather, held back only with bed rest and a hot water bottle on the neck (or the face--another giggle).

My GP is usually pretty stingy with serious medication but this time she has to relent--I haven't been able to work. I can write and/or read for about 15 minutes before I get a pain in my forehead, usually over the left eye, and a dull ache in the back of my head followed by just a touch of migraine nausea.

Fri Oct 27, 08:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Editor B said...

Migraines sure do suck. Xy has them pretty regularly and it definitely impedes her speech. I used to have gran mal epilepsy. My seizures started off as migraines. Fortunately I seem to have outgrown that (knock on wood).

Fri Oct 27, 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger mominem said...

I hope you're feeling better.

Sat Oct 28, 10:28:00 PM  

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