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…

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Comments

View Comments (4)
  • timgauss
    7 years ago

    My own aura is a soundless pop of white fireworks that slowly float down and finally disperse over a matter of minutes. The migraine itself is quick to follow.

  • Ellen Schnakenberg author
    7 years ago

    Very interesting! I think that is the first time someone has described it like fireworks, but I totally understand. 🙂

  • rhondagrensberg
    7 years ago

    I don’t know if it is considered an Aura or not but my first visual clue for Migraine came when I was about 17. I was sitting in class and suddenly my head exploded (I wish it actually had the the pain would have been less) and my field of vision started to close down like I was looking through a tunnel. I was able to check myself out of school that year so a friend took me home. By the time I made it there my field of vision was the size of a pin prick. When my Mom and Dad came home, I “yelled” at them in the quietest voice I could and Mom took me to the hospital. I almost went blind from the experience, and have had these episodes a few times since then. It doesn’t matter the activity, my fear is that I will be driving when I “tunnel” out.

  • Ellen Schnakenberg author
    7 years ago

    rhondagrensberg-smith – your symptoms sound very familiar. I have experienced several different aura symptoms. What they were and their severity really had much to do with the stage of life I was in at the time. As my Migraines progressed, symptoms did change.

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