A woman looks frustrated as speech bubbles with question marks and static float around her, as she struggles to speak.

Transient Aphasia: A Journey from the First Time to the Present

Transient aphasia is a migraine symptom that hit me like a brick wall out of nowhere. Over the last several years, I have learned to handle this new migraine-related symptom when it chooses to rear its ugly head in my direction.

What is transient aphasia?

Transient aphasia is one of the many kinds of aphasia. It is a symptom of migraine with aura which "causes a temporary inability or decreased ability to speak, comprehend, or read." This means that the person experiencing the aphasia can have either limited or no ability to communicate with someone else. Transient aphasia is more common in people who have migraine with aura.1

When was my first experience with it?

My first episode of transient aphasia was in February 2021. Like most people, I did not know what aphasia was at the time. I was in Ohio visiting my mother when I felt the prodrome symptoms starting. Unfortunately, I normally experience a grocery list of prodrome symptoms, but I do not always experience an aura with my migraine.

A speech bubble with a question and one with an ellipsis.

That day, all my usual prodrome and aura symptoms crashed into me, with the addition of transient aphasia. It hit me out of nowhere. I was in the middle of texting with my sister when I realized that all of a sudden nothing was coming out correctly.

How did the aphasia feel?

I went to my mother with tears streaming down my face. I knew what I wanted to say to her, but it was like my brain could not communicate with the rest of my body. She knew I had a migraine coming on because I had mentioned it prior to things getting bad. The only thing I knew to do was to hand her my insurance cards.

How did the urgent care respond?

Luckily, my mother took my insurance cards and called around locally to find an urgent care center that would treat my migraine. When we arrived at the urgent care center, my mother informed them that I had a bad migraine but there was also something else going on.

When I tried to speak, it still came out all mixed up. The medical staff were able to identify what was happening to me. They did run some tests to make sure it was aphasia and not a stroke. Eventually, they gave me the migraine cocktail that always helps me and sent us home.

Do I still experience aphasia with migraine?

Sometimes the aphasia slams into me out of nowhere, hard and fast. Other times, the aphasia slowly starts much like my brain being taken over by a heavy fog.

Now it has been 2.5 years since that initial transient aphasia episode. Most of my family and friends know that I experience transient aphasia. I try to make sure those around me are aware when I start experiencing the first few signs that I have prodrome starting. This is helpful because if I do experience an aura with aphasia, they will understand faster when I start stumbling over my words.

​​A speech bubble full of static next to a speech bubble with a question mark.

Does it feel as scary as the first time?

My first experience with transient aphasia was full of extreme fear, both for myself and my mother, because we did not understand what was going on. Today, it is only ever frustrating to not be able to communicate at the desired time. I at least now live with the understanding that my ability to communicate will return.

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