For the last few days I’ve been reading layouts of my poetry book and going over the finishing touches of the cover design with the publisher. On top of that I’m being audited by our lovely IRS (what a waste of good writing time to go through all my old records) and I have to get my memoir draft finished in a few weeks.
No wonder I’m migraining. My migraines aren’t “regular” ones. In fact, (usually) they aren’t even quite headaches. Instead, they appear to be mini-strokes or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), scrunching my face on one side. I get intense vertigo, which comes on instantly. And my body feels as if it weighs 10,000 pounds. Then I start throwing up. My limbs become very weak and tingle and/or become numb. I’m sure there are other symptoms, too, but as I said, I have been migraining, which leaves me for days and even weeks with a pretty bad case of brain fog. And weak limbs. Physical clumsiness.
In case you’re wondering if I take Imitrix, my neurologist says that people with “complicated migraines” can’t take migraine meds as they can be extremely dangerous. So I am stuck with being on a blood pressure med and, occasionally if I get an aura warning me, I can take an aspirin to try to head off an attack. Aspirin isn’t so hot for my ulcer, but the CMs feel so lousy I would rather aggravate the ulcer!
An aura can be little whirls in my head, as if vertigo is just starting. Dark spots in front of my eyes. The weak limbs, the clumsiness–in short, all of the symptoms but not as intense. I spend a lot of time avoiding triggers. My worst triggers are fluorescents and other lights which have a flicker, even if you can’t tell there is a flicker. I wear sunglasses and a brimmed hat whenever I am going to be in fluorescents.
Have you ever read Didion’s migraine essay “In Bed”? It’s really great, and I can relate to a lot of it. But it’s still not quite the same, and I have never read anything about complicated migraines, except web medical articles.
I didn’t get this form of migraine until I entered peri-menopause. Before that I had migraines that were never diagnosed. They started when I was a child. For some reason nobody realized what they were in those days–maybe because the vomiting was what they noticed. When I got them as an adult, they were misdiagnosed as “sinus headaches.” What part of “800MG Ibuprofin doesn’t touch it” and “all I can do is lie on my back with a mask over my eyes” didn’t my doctor understand?
Even after the complicated migraines began, they were misdiagnosed for quite awhile as TIAs. The first doctor I went to put me on Plavix to thin my blood and my eyes bled. Lovely. I went to another doctor who diagnosed me properly.
But I read something the other day about there being a possible danger of stroke for people with complicated migraines. And I admit that that terrifies me.
Have you ever had a migraine of any type?