“Aura” MIGRAINE CHANGED MY ENTIRE LIFE

I have had the ‘silent‘ migraines for years, since I was about 40. For many years they were all the same. First I would get the ‘warning’ signs of migraine (watery vision, disoriented feeling), and then the aura would start. It was ALWAYS the same. The aura would start on the right side of my visual field, progress until my entire visual field was surrounded, then subside in the exact same way, from right to left. Sometimes the episodes lasted maybe an hour, sometimes only minutes. And sometimes I would have episodes only every few years while other times I would have episodes several times a day.

I mistakenly thought that the migraines were caused by something wrong with my EYES. I had no idea that they were caused by something wrong in my BRAIN.


So, one after noon in 1999 while I was at work I began having an episode. It started out as usual, with the warning signs, then the aura began as usual on the right side of my visual field. However that time the migrains was NOT as usual. Afte a few minutes the aura disappeared without fully encircling my visual field. Then it started again, beginning on the right side, progressing perhaps 1/4 of the way around my visual field, then stopping altogether. And with this episode I also began developing a vey dull headache.

Since in all the years I had the migraines I had NEVER had a headaches with them (and in fact I cannot even remember haing a headache!) I knew that this episode was atypical. So I called my eye doctor and went to the offic to be checked out. Even after seeing the doctor I still was not told that the migraine was caused in my BRAIN. I was simply told to go home, take an aspirin, and pehaps sleep. And that advice was given to me even though (as I later learned) the doctor made notes in my chart that I was having some vision loss. So, I went home, took the aspirrin, and the next day woke up with some numbness on my right side and vision loss. I went to the ER. There they found that I had experienced a stroke, which (they said) was caused by a “migraine gone awry”.

The loss of part of my visual field is permanent. And due to that loss I also lost nearly 80% of my reading ability, have permanent short term memory problems, have some problems with disorientation. I was rendered unable to do my job (I worked in the accounting field) because due to the visual loss I am unable to read columns of numbers. While I once could read a book in a day it would now take me months if not longer to read a book! I used to play the guitar, but totally lost that ability!

My whole life turned upside down. I was in college at the time, but since I can no longer read the texts I had to drop out and never was able to finish my degree. I had to get a handicap parking tag for my vehicle, because if I park in a regular spot in a large (or even relatively small) parking lot I cannot find my car! I am able to drive, because I can see fne to drive. I can watch TV and do my daily tasks. It is only for close -up visual tasks that I am to see what to do.

And it might not sound too bad to lose my car, but I can tell you tat I once spent nearly a half hour walking around a parking lot, CRYING, because I could NOT see my car, which was basically in front of me!

So, the reason I am telling this story is that I URGE anyone who has the aura migraines, that if you have an episode that is ATYPICAL in any way, PLEASE go to the ER RIGHT AWAY! If I had done so, instead of listening to the doctor, perhaps I could have received drugs that would have stopped the migraine from doing permanent damage!

There is one bright side to this. On the day I suffered the stroke I totally quit smoking, after being a heavy smoker for many years!!! I guess it turns out that the same area of the brain that controls the visual loss is also the area that controls the tobacco addiction!

Please excuse typos. I do have visual problems, and also some other cognitive problems that make it hard for me to type correctly and also to proofread! I just do not SEE the errors many times.

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