What was your first Migraine with aura like?

People unlucky enough to experience Migraine with visual aura usually remember their first attack very vividly. The experience can be shocking and frightening, and it often becomes the attack by which all others are compared. Some of the details do fade with time, but the impression remains quite sharp. I’m not much different from anyone else…

The beginning of the journey
My first memorable Migraine with visual aura happened when I was about 17 (I am now 46). I went to bed one night as usual. The next morning, pain in one side of my head forced me to open my eyes, and when I did, I couldn’t see very well. I had many “sick” headaches before this one, but this time was different. It was like looking at a jigsaw puzzle with many of the pieces missing – so many it was very difficult to make sense of my surroundings. I remember not wanting to move. Light seemed brighter than normal, colors more vibrant, and everything around me seemed amplified and disorganized.

What a way to begin a perfectly good day.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t really alarmed. I remembered my mother making comments throughout my childhood “It hurt so bad I couldn’t see straight”. Suddenly, I knew what she meant.

I took a hot shower and a couple acetaminophen tablets, pulled myself together and got ready for school. The ability to see came back and I managed to get through the day pretty well. When I think back and compare the pain to subsequent attacks, it wasn’t so bad.

My next Migraine with aura didn’t happen until a few years later when I was pregnant with my first child. That aura was very bad — I was functionally blind – and lasted several hours. It was the beginning of more frequent attacks.

I had heard the word Migraine before but didn’t know what it was other than a severe headache. A friend of the family had them, and I remembered everyone talking in hushed tones about her and how disabling these ‘headaches’ were. The word Migraine was used almost like the word Cancer back then. I knew it must be something bad.

I did not receive a diagnosis for Migraine until several years later. I was shocked as I’d seen a few doctors for my ‘headaches’ and had never been told it might be something else. That was the first time I heard the word ‘aura’ in a medical setting. I didn’t know about Migraine stages until years later, or that an aura was one of those stages.

Each different doctor I see, however, has a different take on my Migraine and headache history.

Back to the drawing board?

Only a few years ago a Headache Specialist informed me that his opinion was a little different. He told me he thought that I had been having Migraines long before that *first* memorable one, but that children’s Migraines often differed from those of adults. I had periods of altered senses as a child I thought were ‘normal’, and frequent cases of “the flu” from childhood. He explained Alice in Wonderland syndrome (see “What is an aura?“) and abdominal Migraine to me. Although I didn’t think I fit the profile exactly, his opinion was that this was indeed most likely the case.

Very slowly, and over the period of many years and with many doctors, the picture has become clearer. I learn more and more about Migraine and living with the disease.

Thus began my Migraine journey…

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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