My Hemiplegic Migraine
I've suffered with migraines for nearly twenty years, right after joining the military. They were hormonal at first - every three months I would have to call in sick and head to Urgent Care to get the triple shot cocktail (Phenegren, Toradol and Benadryl). Shortly after being discharged, in July of 2010 - the world as I knew it suddenly changed. I was driving home from my new part-time job and was getting a migraine. I took a shot of Imitrex, and all of a sudden I couldn't see anymore. I was confused. I had no idea where I was. The right side my body became numb. I couldn't talk. I found myself somewhere far away from my house and the world made no sense.
Somehow, I managed to get home and contact a friend (though I have no memory of this) and she picked me up and rushed me to the E.R. I was sobbing and still could not communicate. The doctors thought it was a stroke, but there were no signs on the CT scan. I lost the ability to speak normally for about a month. I had a limp. My brain seemed scattered.
I became a patient with chronic migraine. I couldn't hold a full-time job. I was sick all of the time. A few times a month, I was completely disabled and ended up in the E.R. at the VA hospital. After countless tests - being ruled out for M.S. and other neurological diseases - a migraine specialist noticed I was asymmetrical during a particularly disabling attack. My right side had zero strength and no reflexes. The light bulb went off for him and he ran some more tests. I finally had a diagnosis: Hemiplegic Migraine. As a result, I could no longer be prescribed Imitrex or Migranal which had previously worked because of the risk of TIA or Stroke. I tried seven preventative medications without relief.
Finally, I qualified for Botox and I went from working part-time to having my first full-time job since leaving the military. My employer is wonderful and understands my disability. Life is finally bearable again for my family and my friends. When they notice I start to slur my speech or begin to stutter, they make me take an abortive (Midrin) and send me home. When it hits fast and I miss the signs, I have a medical card which I give to people explaining my diagnosis and the directions ( i.e., contact my spouse, bring me to Urgent Care, give me medicine and put me to bed).
It's been a little over a year since I began receiving Botox and unfortunately, it is starting to not work. I had my first massive 8-day migraine last month. I had a limp for two weeks and am still struggling to speak, but at least now I have a neurologist, family, friends and co-workers who understand my diagnosis and I no longer feel hopeless. If Botox worked, then I'm certain something else will work too - one migraine at a time.
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