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What an unpleasant surprise!

Hello everyone,

I have never had a migraine headache in my life, at least not that I was aware of until May 29th of this year. I am a female, in my sixties and the sole caregiver for my 96 year old Mom.
That morning around 3:00 AM, I suddenly woke up with severe neck pain that radiate to the base of my skull, behind my eyes to center of forehead and then to the scalp area. I then became very nauseous and then got dry heaves really bad.

Every morning since then, the same symptoms about the same time every morning. I ended up in the ER on June 4th because I felt so ill I though I might be dying. But because I complained of chest pain along with migraine symptoms the the medical personel zoomed in on checking my heart. They did find something of serious concern regarding my heart after some heart tests but my migraine symptoms were ignored.

I have to add that for many years I have experienced the zig zag lines, sensitivity to light, partial loss of vision, sensitivity to smell and many of the other symptoms listed here.

But never ever before had such neck pain or such painful throbbing headaches.
I have since had one appointment with a General Practioner. He has ordered a cat scan. I am wondering is that generally the best first medical step to take?

Any advice from those who have already gone through the diagnosis process would be much appreciated. As a caregiver for an elderly parent this is interfering with my ability to care for her 24/7.

Thanks for taking time to read this.

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


  • dgqyao
    4 years ago


    I am a brain injury survivor. After a bad accident on 3/4/2013. I realized I have some nerve damage which causes all the symptoms you list below (headaches/pain, light & noise sensitivity, smell & taste issues). You should look it up. I am saving money to have nerve decompression surgery that will help with my symptoms. Mine come from multiple concussions, one bad car accident, and whiplash). It all deals with the nerves. I had several different nerve block shots in my head to qualify me for this surgery. I have problems in my occipital area as well as above the eyes and temples. I deal with all my symptoms daily. I have daily chronic pain/headaches. My pain is at an 8 on a scale of one to ten and only gets worse with certain symptoms. Hopefully this helps. I went to a Dr. Kevin Crutchfield in Baltimore MD. He is the one that really helped me out and sent me to Dr. Ducic that does the nerve decompression surgery.

  • Katie M. Golden moderator
    4 years ago

    I’m really sorry you’re going through this, I’m sure it must be a little scary. The symptoms of light & smell sensitivity, and zig zag lines sound like Migraine symptoms. Over time, Migraines can change. While as previously you got those symptoms without head and neck pain, it is probable that the Migraines have morphed into a more debilitating headache.

    So yes, I think getting a CAT scan is a great first step. The scan will rule out any other causes for your pain. There is no brain imaging that will conclude that you are experiencing Migraines. So be prepared for a barrage of tests to rule out other issues. Starting with your Primary doctor is good, however with your current complicated medical issues, it may be a good idea to get a referral to see a neurologist. More specifically, there are a group of neurologists who only deal with Migraine patients, called Headache Specialists. They are more equipped than even a regular neuro to work with you. Here’s info on Headache Specialists:

    Also, you mentioned that you have recently been diagnosed with a heart issue. May I ask what it is? There is a connection between Migraines and a heart defect called Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO). Studies show that fixing this type of hole in the heart reduces Migraines. So ask your doctor if this is the type of heart issue you have. Here’s more info on this condition:

    I hope some of this helps. Feel free to let us know if you have other questions and to let us know how you are doing!
    -Katie Moderator

  • Sue_AS author
    4 years ago

    Thanks Katie for all the advice. Sorry I am rather late in replying. Seeing a neurologist is something I will definitley look into. The heart trouble is Vtach that could become Vfib.

  • solove0611
    4 years ago

    Hey Sue!
    I’m so glad you shared your story and that you came to this site. For me it has been an ABSOLUTE God-send. When I first started with my journey I also had to do a lot of testing. MRI’s, CAT Scans and numerous other blood tests. All of that being said you should know two things-1. You aren’t alone and
    2. you definitely aren’t crazy my friend. I say those things because if you’re newly diagnosed you will probably feel both alone AND crazy more than occasionally through your journey. I also wanted to say, you might consider looking into another avenue for your care taking duties. I do not say that flippantly nor am I lightly dismissing anything you need to do. That being said I’m worried as you continue through this journey that you won’t be able to do the things you need to. That will likely lead to you feeling guilty or inadequate and your loved one possibly not getting the care they need. This may sound impossible but something to think about. Warm wishes and hugs your way. 🙂

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