A woman stands in front of a doorway with a path; around the doorway are floaters and dark spots

My Migraine Beginnings

I first started having migraine symptoms back in 1995/96. I had come back from Saudi Arabia. I did not know what was going on but was having mild migraine symptoms. One day there may be nausea. On other days, I would have what I thought was just a bad headache with eye pain.

Because of being in the military, I did what soldiers do. I reported to “Sick Call.” This was our same-day clinic/urgent care. There were no appointments. We had to walk in and wait to be seen during normal business hours.

What did Sick Call give me for the pain?

If you know anything about the army, you know that for any ache, you are given ibuprofen. You can have a sprained ankle, toothache, or things such as eye pain. This was the first medication that I was given to treat what I thought was just a “bad headache.” We now know that was not the case.

How did my symptoms change?

As the years went on, so did the increase in frequency and severity of symptoms. I did not know what was going on. All I knew was that now, I had new unexplained symptoms. I had been feeling extremely sick. My eyes were bothering me a lot. I saw floaters and black spots. I was queasy and had vomiting spells. I found myself tripping going up/down steps. I kept misjudging where the curb/steps were. My head felt like it was exploding. There was a lot of dizziness. I just wanted to be prone all the time for relief.

What did my primary care doctor think?

I had seen my primary doctor, who wanted to run some basic tests. We had some bloodwork done, along with a CAT scan of the brain. I then followed up with her about a week after the CAT scan. I can remember going into that appointment wheelchair-bound due to such terrible vertigo. We went over the results. The cat scan was questionable. I remember her mentioning possible reasons for the hypodensity near the cerebellum such as hydrocephalus, pseudotumor cerebri, or a worm!!! I am fairly sure my mouth was hanging open at the news.

What happened when I was admitted to the hospital?

I was told to report to the ER upon worsening symptoms. Well, that happened. I could not take the pain anymore or care for my two elementary school-aged children. I went to the ER and was admitted for tachycardia and possible brain surgery.

The next morning, neurosurgery came to see me about possible surgery. I also saw a neurologist for the first time. We discussed having more tests to determine what was going on. I had an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) which would see the brain better and one of my spine as well. These MRIs were negative and ruled out multiple sclerosis. The other brain issues were ruled out as well, which was great. I did not need surgery on my cerebellum! What a relief.

When did I get my migraine diagnosis?

After all the formal tests, they came up with the conclusion that my dizziness (vertigo), nausea/vomiting, eye issues, and “head pain” were caused by migraines. I was overjoyed to get to the bottom of it. I know that it does not normally take someone going through all of that, to get a diagnosis of migraine. Getting the diagnosis is important because now I am able to correctly treat the problem with the right medications and/or procedures.

This is how I got to my migraine diagnosis. How did you get to yours?

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