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Migraine with Aura and Aphasia

Yesterday I was on a conference call around 11pm and I started to feel dizzy and lightheaded. I was supposed to read a report with some numbers to my co-workers and I noticed that the numbers I was reading weren’t right. Then a few minutes later, the aura started and I started seeing wavy zig-zag lines and a weird prisim like field, and couldn’t look at my monitor any more.

After the call ended, I quickly went and got my Maxalt, which I’ve never taken before, and then went immediately to bed. Shortly after getting into bed, the headache started, and I would describe it as among the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life. I waited it out for two hours, and then I woke up and told my wife I need to go to the hospital.

After getting to the hospital, I started having trouble forming words and sentences. The doctor was asking me questions and what came out of my mouth was a string of total jibberish. I could hear myself saying total nonsense and had no idea what was happening.

I pointed at the doctor’s pen to try to get a pen and paper and I thought I would be able to write. The doctor asked me if I’ve ever had migraine before, and I tried to write “it’s happened once before” and what I actually wrote (I still have the paper) is “one hard one node only”. Then next I tried to write that I’m having a migraine with aura, and what I wrote was “one hard arould ar.”

After I finished writing that, I just froze and the doctor said that she thinks I’m having a stroke and she called out for a stoke alert. Immediately 10 doctors and nurses rushed in and hooked up IV’s to both my arms, started attaching all equipment.

A new doctor came in and started asking me questions like what’s my name, who’s the president. I could answer all of them but it took me few minutes to form the words. Then he showed me a paper with a picture of a feather on it and asked me what it was, and I couldn’t tell him. Then another picture of a hammock that I couldn’t identify. It was like I knew what I was looking at, but I didn’t know the words for it anymore. The doctor said I had aphasia and then they took me off to get a CT scan.

Thank god the CT scan showed all results totally normal, because I really thought I was having a stroke and would be brain damaged and never able to speak again.

Then they took me back to the room and started giving me morphine and other drugs. They had to give me three doses of morphine before I got any relief from the headache. It didn’t let up until around 4am, and by that I mean instead of a searing throbbing pain, it’s just a dull terrible throbbing pain.

It’s 3:21pm now and I still have some pain, especially when I try to move around. Hoping it will go away soon!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • jesses5 author
    3 months ago

    Well I still get occasional migraine but never so severe as this one where I lost my speech. Since writing this, I’ve been to neurologists in 3 different states and currently have a good headache specialist. I have a big box of drugs on hand to deal with it now. Whenever I feel a migraine coming on or see the aura, I start a stopwatch to mark the time and then take: zofran, cambia, sumatriptan nasal spray, and sprix nasal spray. Then I make a new entry in a migraine journal and record the time that the migraine started, what I was doing when it started, what I had to eat that day and the day before, the weather, the pain level, location of pain, etc. If the migraine doesn’t subside within 15 minutes, I go to stage 2 and use injectable toradol 30-60mg. If the migraine doesn’t subside within 30 minutes then I go to stage 3 and either go to my neurologist’s walkin clinic if during business hours, or if after hours then the hospital emergency room. It hasn’t gotten to stage 3 in over a year since I discovered the right combination of drugs that works.

  • Ca1952
    6 years ago

    I also should have said that the migraine started with my sight being affected. I kept losing parts of words and numbers on my computer screen. I had no headache and “knew” what I was doing – I packed away my work stuff, tidied my desk and waited for my husband to collect me. Ended up being the ambulance too once he’d heard my rather strange message!

    Thinking back, I was also conscious of a strange “smell” in the room.

  • Ca1952
    6 years ago

    Hi Jesse

    I joined this site so as I could speak to you as the incident you describe was similar to the event I had last Tuesday (but without the headache thank goodness).

    I too, tried to write down an explanation of what was happening to me (migraine aphasia). “Jane this after of my. A with for this ill first.”

    It is such a relief to realise that I’m not alone. The paramedics treated me for a stroke (TIA) and I’ve been referred to hospital for tests but having had an event like this 25 years ago when I was rushed to a neurosurgeon who diagnosed a classic migraine, I’m hoping to get the all clear.

    My symptoms go after about an hour but I find it very frightening and I’m scared to speak.

    Some people suffer so much with migraines and if mine only come every 25 years, I feel lucky. I’m 60 by the way.

    Carolyn

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    6 years ago

    Hi Carolyn,
    Thanks so much for getting back to me. I’m glad to hear you are under a doctors care.
    A new diagnosis can be scary, but having good information and support can make all the difference. Is there anything we can do to help?

    Nancy

  • Ca1952
    6 years ago

    Hi Nancy

    Today I saw a consultant at our local hospital who stated categorically that he thought I had suffered a TIA (transient ischaemic attack). He told me that migraines can cause these attacks.

    I am now being treated for this and have been booked in for scans (head, carotid artery) blood tests etc. I am taking aspirin currently and will have to take statins.

    In some ways, I find the fact that I have had a mini stroke more disturbing than the original diagnosis of migraine. I realise that I am 25 years older and am grateful that I am being looked after.

    Yes, I saw the video of that poor news reporter – my husband said that is exactly what I was like.

    Carolyn

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    6 years ago

    Hi jesse and carolyn

    Jesse – it’s been a while since you posted this, and I hope you are feeling back to normal. That sounds like a very scary experience. but it’s important when we experience “among the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life” that we get medical help right away. Did you follow- up with your neurologist?

    Do either of you remember that reporter a few years ago who had what was thought to be a stroke on air? Her attack was really migraine with aura. You can take a look at some information about her in this link; http://migraine.com/blog/what-happened-to-news-reporter-serene-branson/.

    It’s important to know we aren’t alone and have support and information here at Migraine.com.

  • sherylmeyer
    7 years ago

    Having had migraines my entire life, this I know (at least for my case and those I know with migraines), there is NO medication that gets rid of them. I remember years and years ago going to the emergency room when they were treating them with Ergot or some such substance which I know most people couldn’t handle. I had such an arrogant ER doctor that my only satisfaction was throwing up on him. I’m in my 60s and have tried pretty much most meds that have been recommended and did the biofeedback and acupuncture, etc. It was all BS. Even Botox was a complete failure. My nerves are stronger than all that poison they injected into me. SSRIs are a total failure, but I guess they want to make sure it’s not in your head (ha-ha). My latest try was a Bu-Tran patch. These stronger meds are supposed to work. The crazy part is they do NOTHING for the pain but just have horrible major side effects. Yes, I guess IV morphine would work as it causes you to pass out. I would imagine most people don’t feel pain when they are unconscious. However, when you wake up the pain is still there. Just maybe it’s not as bad as before when you just wanted to pull your hair out or hit your head against a wall. Injection blocks don’t work and I had a friend try an implant in the neck area and had horrible complications. The neck moves too much for implantation devices – best left for back problems when they are installed much lower. Bottom line if Imitrix or Maxsalt work somewhat for you, you are indeed among the lucky group. It would be nice to have a viable option to continue to work without having to resort to zombie drugs where you might as well be in some facility. Sign me tired and frustrated after all these decades.

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    6 years ago

    Hi there,

    I know it’s been a while since you posted this, but I wanted to let you know you are not alone. Many of us feel like we have tried just about every medication out there for migraine prevention. Happily I can tell you it would take about 25 years to try each of the medications and their dose adjustments in the correct manner before we ran out of options. When you get a chance, you may want to take a look at this information; http://migraine.com/blog/migraine-management-essential-4-preventive-treatment.

    You probably have done this, but if you haven’t lately, it might be worthwhile to keep a migraine journal to see if you can find what your migraine triggers are and any patterns that may happen. The Migraine Meter is a great tool to do just that; http://migraine.com/migraine-meter/.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • suepashley1
    7 years ago

    I am Female and 51 years old and am still having frequent Migraines…about monthly but then I can get 3 in a week!!!
    The earliest age I remember having migraines was when I was 6 years old, having just moved house. After that, they happened around the time of exams or if I was really excited (going on a trip or on vacation)- usually once or twice yearly. The symptoms were always the aura (described as a child as flashing lights…making parts of items disappear), followed by severe headach and nausea.
    When I was 17 years old, they changed….I got my first Aphasia attack at work , which frightened me, as I couldn’t explain which department I was from. The doctor was called and recognized this was a migraine.
    When I was getting married, I suffered virtually daily for 2 weeks prior to my wedding…thankfully I didn’t have one the actual day!!!

    Some Migraines bring ‘strange experiences’ like once on my way home from work I had a Migraine coming on, and the numbness (that often comes with a migraine)was so severe that walking for the bus I was stumbling over my right leg for a few minutes. Another time I was working in a different town so was staying at a hotel…after working in my room all evening I had a Migraine, so went to bed after taking my medication and woke with pains in my legs. The next day I had the worst symptoms I think I had ever had, so called the doctor (I was worried I had had a Stroke)…my leg was bruised…but the doctor said there was nothing to worry about. The bruised area followed a vein (in a V shape)in my calf and later, when I was 8 weeks pregnant, became a Varicose Vein.
    At about the time this happened, about 20 years ago , I went to a Migraine Clinic in Sheffield UK and they diagnosed me as having Hemiplegic Migraines and prescribed me eventually with Naramig, a Naratriptan (as initially, I was prescribed with a Sumatriptan but this caused me to have another migraine very soon after the first).

    I have found If I can take the Naramig as soon as possible after the first ‘flashing light’ or strange visual and drink it down with lots of water, after 1-2 hour I can usually ward off the nausea and sometimes even the headache, numbness and aphasia.

    Another thing I have discovered (sometimes not always!!!)is if when I have taken all my medication and gone to bed, I keep my brain active by playing a game on my phone (Words with Friends or Backgammon), I can prevent the oncoming Aphasia. Not sure why this works. CAN SOMEONE TRY THIS, TO SEE IF IT WORKS FOR THEM?????

    I also still take Feverfew a herb that can be purchased from a Vitamin shop…not sure if this works but have noticed if I do stop taking it, I seems to get more attacks(?) I have also tried Acupunture which also seems to relieve the symptoms but not take it away completely. I have also taken preventatives…the best of which have been Anti Depressants but in very small dosages.

    I thought after the menopause I would be migraine free, unfortunately although the symptoms don’t seem as bad I am experiencing more, however I also feel I am under more stress than ever in my life.

    WHAT I REALLY WOULD LIKE IS A CURE BUT THEN WE ALL DO!!!!

  • suepashley1
    3 months ago

    Since writing this letter 6 years ago I have been on the preventatives Topiramate and Zanex (which was taken off my meds when I returned to UK from Florida)…this was truly a life changer for me. Didn’t completely exclude migraines from my life, but lessens them to be a monthly occurance or less and partnered with Naramig for use when I had an attack my migraines became much less troublesome.
    Recently, however I had been to the doctors with unexplained numbness in my toes, who referred me to the Neurologist. The Neurologist didn’t think there was a major problem however sent me for a MRI head and spine scan to rule out anything significant. I was shocked to find out, I had suffered a STROKE, more than 40 days ago! I am just so shocked and what’s more I have been taken off my migraine meds….Naramig…. my lifeline for more than 25 years!
    I am a long term sufferer of Migraine with Aura (Hemiplegic), age 57, I am a WeightWatchers member under goal, have a low blood pressure (usually under 100/61), cholesterol is good, walk the dog most days (have done for years), drink but only socially and not a lot because I’m not able to!!!
    Anyone else had any similar experiences??

    Sue Pashley

  • TinaFunk
    2 years ago

    I am seeing and reading that others can share with me stories that are Similar to mine. I have only had what I believe is 3-4 true Migraine Headaches in my life. I am currently 54.
    About 8 months ago, I began to have serious vision disturbances, and then loss of conscious. Following Shaking, confusion temporary loss of speech. Only once was this ever accompanied by a headache and vomiting. After I collapsed at home alone, I could not move or speak. I really believed I was having a Stroke. I was terrified. I did go to the hospital that day and they did CT Scans and MRI which showed nothing. I am currently in the hospital undergoing a week long diagnostic test. I happened upon Transient Asphasia due to “Silent Migraine” Please share if you suffer anything similar to my story. I’m searching for answers to this condition that has greatly impacted my life. I have had approx. 7 events in 8 months. It is terrifying.
    Thanks,
    Tina

  • Jennifer K
    7 years ago

    I began having migraines when I was 30 years old and it has almost always been period related, but weather and certain types of food can also trigger them. I am a Speech Language Pathologist and have worked with adults for more than 20 years. I joke with my patients all the time who’ve had a CVA or TBI that I can identify with them since I’ve been having aphasia type symptoms with my migraines for many years now. I often will tell my patients about my word finding problems and being unable to process a question or respond appropriately. I was with my son last night buying school supplies and was asking for help trying to locate an item and was asking which “aisle” something was on and called it a hallway, a lane, etc, everything but the correct word. I have found it very difficult for many years to go to work and to teach and supervise when I’m having a bad migraine day. I will often tell my grad students on bad days that if I’m not making sense, that it’s because of a migraine and that they will have to give me more time to process and respond to questions. I often feel as if I’m in a “fog” and when the migraine is finally gone I feel as if I can sleep for days! I’ve never taken Maxalt, but my daughter takes it and I take Bupap, but I’m considering Maxalt. My mother has them and my grandfather also had them, so it obviously runs in my family. I tried Imitrex many years ago and it scared me so much that I never took it again. I took the inhaled Imitrex and the migraine went away on the side of my head that the medication was inhaled into and I still had a migraine down the other side of my head. No one could ever explain that either, so I just never took it again. Of course I’m always looking for something else that will work better and make it easier to function on days when I suffer from a migraine.

  • kaysus1973
    7 years ago

    jesses5….I can totally relate. My first severe migraine episode was similar to what just happened to you. I was in church & I started to get the visual aura (thankfully my mom was with me) so we got up & left. I got an Imitrex into me. Got home, the headache hit. I waited 2 hours & took another one. Finally my mom took me to the hospital. I think I started to vomit during registration. I lost all vision in my right eye, the whole right side of my body was completely numb, I had the worst headache I ever had AND my speech was slurred. What you could understand made no sense at all. They were sure I was having a stroke. CT was normal. I remember the neurologist coming in later that night & asking me all kinds of questions…I knew the answers in my head…just couldn’t get them out of my mouth. The next day he said that he knew exactly what I had when he had saw me the night before….a complicated migraine. He knew that because he suffers from migraines himself! That was in 2007. I have never had an episode like that again, Praise God! But I remember how scary it was…..I now take Maxalt…I pray u feel better very soon!

  • M@Tthisicaneat
    7 years ago

    Thanks for sharing, jesses5. Sounds like you have a good hospital. I once had an episode where the ER staff thought I was drunk and waited until the blood alcohol results came back normal before proceeding with treatment. Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

  • carolseelman
    7 years ago

    I can so relate to this experience. I also take Maxalt and I can almost always expect to have a more terrible headache than the one I started with. I also experienced some of the same symptoms that the writer described at least twice. The first time I quickly recovered, however the second time I was in a grocery store and suddenly felt, I thought, that I was going to die. I was dizzy, had a headache, and I could barely ambulate. Some kind lady saw me leaning over my cart and thought I needed some juice , and ran to get some for me. The next thing was I was surrounded by at least 6 ENT’s who started several IVs, after I was put on a litter and I was on my way to an emergency room. The EMT’s and everyone else asked me if I was a diabetic. I’m not.My blood pressure had taken a dive way below the normal 120/80. The good people at the ER did their job and wanted me to stay overnight. I refused and said that I was a retired RN with 33 years of experience and could moniter myself thank you very much. I am a retired RN by the way.What in the world happened to me? I don’t know, but I don’t want it to happen again. Was this Maxalt related? I’d like to hear from you Migraine suffers.
    Carol

  • Helen
    7 years ago

    I started having occasional aphasia with migraines when I was in my 20’s. I am 60 now and sometimes the way I know I am getting a migraine is I cannot understand what people are saying or I can’t read or I make no sense when I try to talk. I have been taken to a hospital by ambulance 2x’s because I could not tell people around me that I was getting a migraine. The asphasia is totally migraine related and starts before I take any meds. Luckily for me both times I was hauled off to the ER by the time I got there I was able to at least say the word “migraine” and the Dr’s understood what was happening. I guess we should all wear Medic-Alert bracelets for when we can’t talk more than gibberish!

  • Janet
    7 years ago

    My prayers are with you. Being a migraine sufferer for 36 years I have been where you are more times than I care to remember. The people who need to read your letter are healthcare professionals, and I use that term so very loosely. I am surprised that you were able to even post your experience as it unfolded. My head is hurting so bad now that I am off to take a relax and pray for relief. I found out yesterday that I do not have lupus, PRAISE GOD… I have an auto immune disease that is bothering my nervous system. It will go away the same way it came, mysteriously. The doctor yesterday said all the past meds for migraine prevention and abortion are the culprit. He also said my body is just in overload and it attacked my skin. It itches like hives, but I don’t have hives. The headaches are also something that goes along with any type of auto immune issue..this was new news for me. So while my body is trying to settle down from DHE that failed and hurt me far more than anything so far…I will again play that waiting game. I pray that relief finds you quickly. In this lifetime I pray that I find more than one day without migraine. I have had a migraine everyday now for over 4 years. Blessings to all readers,
    Janet

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