Migraine and losing your sense of time

In the last few months, my migraine brain has been behaving a lot better than usual. I’m very grateful for that, and I’m hoping that whatever the secret key is keeps working. I actually had more migraine- and headache-free days than not in June, which is a significant improvement compared to the months prior (and compared to June 2015).

This is not to say I haven’t had some doozies in 2016. I’ve had a couple of multi-day attacks that left me nearly bedridden and totally unable to work or spend time with family or friends—I just checked out of my life for a few days each time.

There are so many strange sensations for a migraineur when the attack begins to pass and it’s time to reemerge.

Longtime readers of my posts know that I have expressed my frustration with the fatigue, grogginess, and dragged-down feeling of the postdrome—the “migraine hangover” many of us are familiar with. The pain may be gone, but my brain is not back to its full functioning yet. It takes me a second to collect my thoughts and to find the right words. I know it is frustrating for my husband to see me finally out of bed (yay!) but unable to be a mentally present partner when it comes to conversation or even simple household tasks (boo!).

One other migraine side effect that most doctors don’t discuss is how off your sense of time can get. If you’ve been in bed for a day or more, you know how discombobulated you can feel when you finally climb out.

On the one hand, it may seem like days, if not weeks, have passed. You’ve been in such pain and discomfort that you had to mentally and physically check out of your normal life—it’s hard to know how long you’ve been down. On the other hand, it can seem like the attack has been one long and terrible blink—it’s surprising to wake to realize that it’s the following morning, or even three days later.

Even when I’m back on track and am able to return to work after one of these bedridden periods, I am so thrown off on what day it is. It reminds me of when I was a kid and had summers off school—days of the week sort of lost their meaning. Even now, when a holiday observed on a Monday passes, it takes me awhile to realize what day it is.  And so it goes with migraine blackout periods. I will be talking with my staff at the bookshop and say something like, “Tomorrow we’ll need to do such & such for our event.” They stare politely back at me until one of them lets me know that the event in question was the day before yesterday.  Another example: in the book world, there are high-priority releases, new books that come out and cannot be made available to customers until their official publication date. That date almost always falls on a Tuesday. Sometimes after a sick period I will see new releases on the shelves and come close to scolding my staff: “Those shouldn’t be out until Tuesday! We could get in big trouble with the publishers!” Then I glance at the calendar and see it’s already Tuesday—I just lost some days due to migraine and got thrown off.

How many of you can identify with this? Do you ever lose days and have a hard time knowing what the date or day of the week is?

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