Reading and Writing: Migraine Associated Aphasia

Aphasia. It is most prominently associated with strokes, dementia, and hemiplegic migraines. It comes in numerous forms. It may make your speech come out as gibberish; for instance you try to say “I was headed to the store.”, what comes out is “hit bow wils zug fish”. It may just make it difficult for you to find the right word; you know the words you just can’t seem to form them in speech or writing. Or it may affect your ability to read and write (alexia). This is what happened to me, and well keeps happening.

You see I experienced a second migraine on top of the one I had for 9 years. My “old” migraine remained predominately unchanged other than variations in intensity during the years. This “new” migraine struck me during my anniversary month (My wife and I celebrate the date my migraine began each year, April 1st; it was no joke.) on what seemed a typical day during which I was at home. It began with a feeling of unease. A short while later head pain in a new spot. Within a few hours I couldn’t write or read. I went to the emergency room fearful of a stroke. It wasn’t a stroke; it was a “new” migraine.

Let me just say this is TERRIFYING. Even after knowing it is not a stroke, I have remained fearful and challenged by concerns over my ability to read. For instance, I use text messages as the primary method to communicate with my wife because her work makes it difficult to just sit and have a phone conversation. Without the ability to read and write this is gone. How about reading the news, oh wait you can’t.

Fortunately for me, I initially had an excellent Speech-Language Therapist. She taught my to focus on one letter at a time. Once all letters in a word are identified sound it out and apply my cognitive skills to identify the word. This works because it is not that I don’t know the words, it is just that I have problems recognising them in a written form. My alexia is odd in that it resets each night. I wake up maybe not a blank slate, but one partially erased regarding reading and writing. I have to stop and really think now just to sign my name. As frustrating as mine has been, even while I sit here trying to write this, it is mild when it come to aphasia.

If you experience aphasia, I highly recommend working with a Speech-Language Therapists. A good place to look for one is your primary care clinician or the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

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