It's All In Your Head
Last updated: June 2022
July 2001 ... I called my mother, and told her I was not feeling well, and would she take me to the ER. At the ER I was admitted, tested for a stroke, and after several days discharged with, "You need to see a psychiatrist." My family was told that I was faking my symptoms, and that I was perfectly, physically OK. This was a neurologist. I had stroke-like symptoms that turned on and off like a switch, and terrible pain in my head.
I complained of head pain, and was given nothing, possibly tylenol. My left side was still terribly weak, and the vertigo was disabling. I had no reason to give to my employer of what my health condition was. I lost a good job, and for a single parent, that was life altering. I saw the psychiatrist, who immediately referred me to a different neurologist. He immediately diagnosed me with sporadic hemiplegic migraines, and put me on verapamil. My health insurance ceased. The medication made only a minimal impact. One hardly worth mentioning. I had had migraines before, even with nausea and light sensitivity. These new migraines, which now a decade later, now old migraines have changed my course in life significantly.
Triggers that I can count on are; hormonal, barometric changes, dairy, red wine, MSG, and nitrites. The first two are the ones that pack the punch, and send me away from a life that I love very much. Married, happily, mother of two, and a step-mother to one. I am a co-op mother for my son's pre-school, and a Team Mom for the teenager's Football team, but anxiety looms with the inability to predict my reliability. I have a very difficult time committing to anything, because I wonder, "What if a migraine strikes??" My migraines have contributed to my depression, and have made me far more of an introvert then I am naturally, or wish to be.
August 2011 ... Today I ordered a medic alert bracelet. My doctor's have made the suggestion for years, and now with multiple health issues, it really is in my best interest. Today a migraine, that is still hanging around, scared me enough to do so. This morning I felt the familiar tingling sensation in the left side of my face, I felt a sharp pain above my right eyebrow, and pressure on my right eyeball. My vision on my right side became completely blurred, and my left eye peripheral was non-existent. The corner of my mouth pulled down, and I knew I now looked like a mild stroke victim. I was unable to articulate in my own head what to do next. The aura passed, and I was left with a dull ache on the right side of my head. I rested about 20 minutes, and then drove my eldest to Football practice. I should not have driven my son, and I should not have continued driving, but I did. The ONLY symptom I had was difficulty concentrating and organizing my thoughts. I drove to my next destination, and barely made it to the parking lot. Traffic was thick, I had no way to pull over. I rolled in to the parking lot with no peripheral vision, and white spots flickering. My left side began to first ache, and then went limp. I still have some feeling in my left side when this happens but, my limbs feel weak, and terribly heavy. I carry a sleep mask with me at all times. I parked, threw on the mask, and breathed deeply. I felt disabled, and scared.
The first eight years of these migraines I spent my time in as much denial as possible. My ex-husband would show his exasperation with my headaches, and tell me, they were all in my head, and that no headache could cause those symptoms. In other words, I was faking it. My ex is one headache I was able to relieve myself from via divorce. I am now in a loving marriage, and now understand that migraine sufferer's do enough personal berating, we don't need any help from others.
I researched Hemiplegic Migraines, and was surprised to find out that most doctor's really are clueless to this disease. I am here, and I am sharing, because I hope to learn how to "live" with this disease. I need help before I drive one more time when I shouldn't and the consequences be something more difficult to live with then a migraine. If I'm alive to tell it.
Thank you for reading,
Are the family and friends you will be seeing this holiday season understanding about migraine?