Recognizing My Own Aphasia

I’ve realized recently that my Migraines make me look like a ditzy, forgetful, dumb, drug addict and alcoholic. I am none of those things. I suffer from Aphasia. Let’s break it down:

Understanding the different aspects of Aphasia

Alcoholic- yes, I drink occasionally and it doesn’t affect my Migraines in small quantities. From the outside though, I could easily be portrayed as being drunk occasionally. Stumbling, talking to myself and not making any sense are all classic characteristics of a drunk party girl. In reality, my balance is awful. I’m working on some exercises to get that back in order. I have so many bruises from things that I’ve walked into in my own house. When I run into the coffee table, I curse under my breath knowing that I shouldn’t have made that mistake.

Drug Addict- yes, I take a LOT of medication, none of which I am addicted to. A large part are over the counter supplements, five daily preventatives and four different abortives. I have syringes in my purse and bottles of toradol and DHE stashed everywhere. More than the medications, I get what I call “Coke Nose.” I use a ketamine nasal spray. Sometimes the liquid can run down my nose and create a crusty white substance at the bottom of my nostrils. Sexy, right? It actually makes me look I just did a line of cocaine in the bathroom.

Forgetful- I can completely forget conversations I had days earlier. The other day, my boyfriend mentioned the picnic we had planned. I was clueless. What a great idea and how romantic! But he reminded me that we talked about it yesterday. Slowly thoughts of that conversation came back to me.

Ditzy and Dumb- These two things go hand in hand. Lately I’ve noticed that I’ll be working on something, but don’t fully think through all the steps. I’ll go to someone (usually my boyfriend) and he’ll ask what a bunch of questions that never crossed my mind. That’s not like me. Before becoming chronic, I was on top of my game at work and could remember minute details about deals. I was my boss’s go-to person when he needed a refresher on a client. Even if I write things down now, I can miss the smallest detail. I can walk into a room knowing I needed something in there, walking with such purpose. In the 10 seconds it took to go from the couch to my room, my mind draws a blank.

Bumbling Idiot- When a Migraine starts to hit and I try to shake it off and move forward, I can forget words very easily. I can be in the middle of a sentence and completely lose my train of thought. There’s nothing I can do but apologize or look to someone else to help me. It even affects me while writing. I can go back and look at something I wrote and the mess of words makes no sense at all.

Lack of Focus- Recently I had one errand to run. It should have taken at most 20 minutes round trip. Granted I was at a friend’s house, but I know the area very well. Not realizing how much pain had just gripped me, I drove around and made stupid mistakes. I thought I had already passed the store, so I turned around. Then I realize I didn’t go far enough. When I got close, I made a wrong left turn in a dead end. Bottom line, it took me an extra hour to get this simple task completed. I felt like an idiot. That’s when I realized that combined these minor incidents could be categorized as mild Aphasia.

Aphasia is characterized by loss of words, mumbling in coherent sentences, nonsensical and confusion. It is a symptom that usually shows up before the Migraine hits, much like a visual aura (also called the prodrome phase). In some people severe Aphasia can look like a stroke. Patients who have Aphasia experience a neurological phenomenon and not a loss of motor skills. For me, the Aphasia is manageable so far, but I know I need to keep track of it to see if it progresses. Have you ever experienced any of these symptoms?

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