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.

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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