Mistaken for MS for years

The night it happened, I was given no warning of what was to come. My son, Iain, was 5 then, and had been having nightmares every night that brought him to my bedside for reassurance. That night, he didn’t come in, and I awoke wondering if he was okay. I got up to check on him and took a few steps, and then collapsed like I was drunk.

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When I got up, I collapsed to the other side and again struggled to get up. Weird! I got up and held onto the walls, legs super weak, and checked on him – he was fine. I made it back to bed, and when I got up the next morning and took a shower, I could see my hand in front of my face but from two perspectives at once – like one eye could see distance, and the other could not. WEIRD AGAIN!

I teach, so I went on with my day and went to school, where I continued to have these weird off-balance moments and fall. That was on a Friday in November, 2006. The symptoms continued over the weekend, and on Monday my son had a cold, so I kept him home from school. I decided I must have an ear infection (no headache), so I went to my doc to confirm it. I failed the whole neuro test and was sent to the ER, where I lay for another 10 hours and they did MRI scans. They found a lesion but couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Two days after that the left side of my face went numb, and it started radiating down my left side.

Long story short, I was in a migraine but without the headache (sensory aura I guess). It took four years, two lumbar punctures, and 9 MRI scans before I was finally diagnosed with migraine. During that timeframe I would often be found with my left side so weak I could not get up from a sitting position, could not climb my stairs, could not stand up to get out of bed (it was like my leg was paralyzed, like when you pretend like you can’t stand up or move your arm). There were a couple of times when I felt so weak I honestly didn’t think I’d be around the next morning. This was a constant state of being for me, but I never quit running a school for at-risk kids, or raising my special-needs son; when I look back I wonder how I survived any of it. It’s crazy the things we go through.

When I finally learned that it was migraine I immediately went on a fast to eliminate food triggers – I found that most foods trigger me, either individually or by stacking (no wonder I was doing so badly!). I can’t do wheat, dairy, corn, potatos, tomatos, soy, spinach, the list goes on and on. I can do rice, some vegetables, eggs, some fruit. I still get migraines at least once a month (hormonal, stress, weather) but at least I have minimized the damage and take Topamax to help keep them at bay. I rarely experience the paralysis and misery that I experienced when these first came on. Life is so much better now than it was 5 years ago!

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.

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