Tag Archives: complicated migraine

A Tip O’ My Hats to 2017

A few years ago I made an avatar that showed me in my usual garb–tank top, yoga pants, baseball cap, and sunglasses.

The latter two items are because light, especially fluorescents!!!, is a nasty trigger for my complicated migraines (note: complicated migraines are a real thing, related to regular migraines, but not just complicated versions of the headaches). The other day I visited a fancy Whole Foods store in north Scottsdale and because the store was so big and the ceiling so covered with fluorescents within ten minutes large black shadow blobs floated in front of my vision and I got agitated. I’d forgotten my hat!

I forget my hat often enough that it’s led to a collection of emergency (and non emergency) hats. I’m trying to branch out from caps because the brims aren’t big enough and don’t block enough light.

In Bisbee, Arizona, I bought this crushable, foldable comfy hat in my favorite color, coral. I can travel with it. I usually pretend this hat matches whatever I’m wearing.

My soon-to-be DIL had a cat birthday party for my son. She ordered these caps with pix of both their cats. Look closely and you will see Lily Lane on top and Meesker on the bottom.

I fell in love with this Tucson style hat at an art fair. Look at the pretty trim.

This hat makes a specific statement that has something to do with fashion, and I don’t usually feel I can live up to it.

I found this straw cowboy hat at a rest stop between Arizona and California. It goes with my boots!

This men’s dress felt is a love. It’s too big, which is one thing that endears a hat to me.

 My family calls this my bird lady hat. As in the bird woman in Mary Poppins. This hat is important to me to watch TV on the couch. The lamp that is necessary to watch the screen at night, is behind my head, and I have to protect my head and face from the light, so I wear this hat while I’m in my nightgown, cuddling with the cats. The brim is merely fabric on a bendable wire, so I can lie back without ruining the hat.

The night the gardener and I went to the restaurant in New Orleans that has gluten free deep-fried seafood, I forgot my hat. What a mistake. That restaurant’s ceiling was populated by the harshest fluorescents I’ve ever seen. The employees were wearing ball caps! It was 9PM in the French Quarter. I was there because of the gardener’s celiac disease, but he saw how bad the lights were and went on a mission after we placed our food order. He ran blocks searching for an open store with a hat. I couldn’t do it because I can’t run or walk fast for medical reasons, so I sat there under the lights with my purse over my head (you can go ahead and laugh at that image–it won’t make me feel bad).

When the gardener got back, I couldn’t believe how well he did. He found a second hand store that was open. It sold a few new items, including this cool fishing hat! It looks a little worse for wear and needs a good brushing, but wow, it feels good and it looks good! The second I put it on my head, my body calmed down. (Fluorescents give me all kinds of unpleasant sensations that are probably part of migraine aura).

Ta da: the brim!

Gift shopping with my daughter led to us trying on hats at Dillard’s. They had an amazing Downton Abbey hat marked way down, and although I would NEVER wear it in real life, I thought it might be handy in case I had to attend a serious dress-up function under the LIGHTS.

At least it looks really great in my closet!

A huge welcome to 2017. Let’s move forward! Best way to do that is watch the Cotton Bowl TODAY and see my Western Michigan University Broncos kick some Badger butt!


Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, gluten free, gluten free travel, Nonfiction

The Other Kind of Migraine

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?



Filed under Blogging, Essay, Memoir, Poetry book, Publishing, Writing