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Well, That Was Sorta Scary

There I was Tuesday night tucking Wyatt into bed at 8:30 pm. I had just finished the chapter on birds in his favorite book of new species found around the world in the last 5 years. I sat on the floor by his bed as he drifted off to sleep, a ritual Dusty created years ago but was unable to perform that night as he was at dinner meeting. My cell phone lay on my lap and I opened a game of solitaire to occupy myself in the dark until he was sound asleep and I could relocate to my own bed.

As I was playing the game, I got frustrated. How did I lose when all the cards were gone? Except…all the cards were not cleared. There were three cards in the bottom right of my tiny phone screen. But they hadn’t been there before! I looked at the cards and then returned my center of gaze to the center of the screen. The cards vanished. Not blurry. Not doubled. Invisible.

I looked up at his red digital clock on his dresser up and to my left. If I stared directly at the clock it was fine. Once I shifted to placing the clock on my right hand periphery – gone. Then the flashing lights stated in my peripheral field of view. Blinking, crazy white lights just out in my right eye periphery.

At this point Wyatt was asleep and I was a little freaked out thinking about all the signs of a stroke and what to do. I did the best thing I could think of: I went to bed and fell asleep. Nothing a little bit of burying your head int he sand can’t fix, amiright?

The stroke of midnight woke me up with an 8 out of 10, throbbing, worst headache of my life. There was no rushing of blood in my ears though, so I stumbled into the bathroom, downed two alieve and went back to bed where I promptly passed back out. At 6 am, I awoke with the alarm to find that my headache was now a dull 2 out of 10 and all the flashing lights and blind spots in my vision were gone. I was left with blurry vision in my right eye and an odd sense that something was living off to my right that I just couldn’t see. I went to work figuring that it was my hospital based day and where better to have a stroke than in the hospital?

The nurses all looked at me funny all morning long. I was slow. My mentation was definitely off and I had to slow down to get my words out. When a nurse presented a patient to me and then I promptly forgot the entire conversation even existed and kept typing away at my medical notes instead, well they all started to fuss. I got my blood pressure taken (107/53) and a whole lot of empty nesting mothers surrounding me and telling me what to do. You have to love a room full of amazing nurses.

I agreed to go to urgent care after work and that doctor looked at me like I had five heads and told me to go to the ER where I could undergo a battery of neurological tests and scans, but then promptly refused to take a urine sample to rule out a UTI and any blood work as I believe it all stemmed from an electrolyte imbalance due to about a month long of fighting leg cramps nightly. He wasn’t convinced this was important. e believed it to be a migraine with an aura, bu wasn’t happy with the lingering symptom. I gathered up my papers at discharge and pointed my car home. My plan? Sleep it off. If I awoke this morning with any lingering symptoms, I’d cancel out my day of appointments and head to the ER.

This morning I awoke feeling pretty ok. No visual disturbances. No lingering head ache. My only issue is that I remain dehydrated despite a lot of water and still those darn leg cramps that wake me up at 2 am. I’m going to steal some of Dusty’s electrolytes and start drinking that and see if it helps. I have a doctors appointment already for tomorrow for routine check stuff, so I’ll ask them to draw the blood at that appointment.

Migraines, real bona fide migraines not the sissy headaches that most people claim is a migraine but isn’t, are no joke. This was my first one ever and I plan to make it my last one if I have to turn over every stone to figure out the etiology. My working diagnosis is sleep deprivation, electrolyte imbalance leaving water in my gut but not being absorbed and creating leg cramps, and hormones as mine seem to have decided that 37 is a great age for menopause filled with hot flashes, depleted energy and mood swings. Or maybe it is meningitis.

On a serious note from a health care provider: don’t be me and go to bed if a health scare pops up. If this was a stoke (I know the symptoms and checked myself in the mirror through the list), I could have died in my sleep. If you are unsure, scared or have a new symptom that creates pain, call your doctor or 911. DO NOT GO TO SLEEP.

38 thoughts on “Well, That Was Sorta Scary”

  1. So chronic migraine sufferer here. MOST of mine aren’t terrible (so probably what many describe as “sissy headaches that most people claim is a migraine but isn’t” — not a dig at you, but there are SO MANY DEGREES of migraines I don’t judge anymore) but being that I can get upwards of 30 migraines a month, I have high pain tolerance now too. Lol. I get migraine without aura so I don’t get the visual disturbances but severe light sensitivity and throbbing pain. I have my “regular” migraines that I can deal with (like the one I have right now where all my senses are heightened but it’s really just the norm). Then I have the ones where I want to cry because everything hurts. But, some people don’t understand how I can function with some of the normal ones. But if I didn’t, I’d never function? Granted, with medication (so much medication), they’re semi controlled, but I’m not sure if things will ever be better than this.

    One thing about auras that are nice. You get a warning pain is coming and can take medicine BEFORE pain. Sometimes I get a metallic taste but I rarely notice it… Sometimes that metallic taste is because of hard water… lol. But migraines suck. No doubt.

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    1. Not a dig at those who suffer but I know in the past I’d have a headache and be like “oh I’m a little squinty this must be a migraine.” Uh, no last self. It wasn’t. Really the headache part I just slept through. It was the aura that scared the shut out of me and then the entire day feeling like a zombie. Sorry you suffer so much.

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      1. Oh it’s OK. I’m just so used to people telling me that I must NOT be dealing with migraines if I can function. So the complete opposite… My neurologist says otherwise. It’s the people with “sinus headaches” who may be dealing with migraines who don’t know it.

        Either way, I hope you feel better and never have to deal with another one like that again! I don’t have the super severe ones all that often (or at least in comparison) but they’re awful and debilitating!

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  2. I have those! Only I’ve never had any pain and the symptoms only last around an hour. I “lose” parts of my vision in a weird way just like you described it, like objects disappear but I don’t exactly have a big defined “black hole” there or anything. And then shortly after that goes away, I get rings of sparkly floaters in my vision and some nausea. My optometrist said it’s a migraine without the pain, and the disappearing objects are from the…ocular nerve? getting constricted, and then once it’s released, that’s when I get the floaters. Glad you’re feeling better!

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    1. Yes! The floaters came along too. It was not pleasant. Eye sight sorta scares me. You can use pure determination to get through a lot of physical limitations but the things I love to do require me to be able to see.

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  3. Ya know, doctors are the worst patients.😛 I get those every so often, but I don’t get pain. I guess I’m lucky? Stars, blurry vision, hard to form words, etc. I almost feel guilty bc my husband gets a solid, pain-makes-you-vomit migraine a couple of times a year. His are all body-stress related, and we’ve found we can massage and pain med them away if we catch them early enough. Electros are super important, and this summer has been pretty brutal. Be good to yourself, and hopefully your docs appt gives you good answers!

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  4. I have had something similar and it’s so scary. “Blind spots” isn’t quite the word to describe it, you know? Because it’s not a spot. It’s like…part of the world is just gone. A few years ago I was getting migraines about every 2-3 days that would start with blind spots (for lack of a better word). They started so subtle, like I’d be typing away at my computer and then start to get confused because the words looked a little funny and then it was like my hands, eyes and brain weren’t connected to each other so I was just typing nonsense words. It was terrifying the first time it happened. Then the auras and then the headaches. For me it turned out to be a hormone thing caused by my birth control. Apparently it’s a not-uncommon side effect. Still took a month and a referral to a neurologist to figure it out though. Haven’t had that since, thankfully. I hope you figure out the root of what’s causing it for you, too. It’s so unsettling and painful.

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    1. Yes! It was like half my world didn’t exist and was a shock to see it. I’m thinking it is hormone related though I haven’t been on birth control in 15 years. One benefit of infertility I suppose.

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      1. Well, even if it isn’t bloggable, you can still write it down as if it were? I have tons of drafts that aren’t really bloggable; I just need to write down what’s in my head and writing it on a blog post really helps me. They just remain in my drafts folder :). I understand the high stress tho. I hope it gets better!

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  5. This is almost precisely how I experience migraines, including the disorientation and lingering mental difficulties. I’m so sorry. It’s so profoundly awful, and especially when you have no context for it. My mother is a lifelong migraine sufferer, so I guessed pretty quickly what was happening, but it was still scary. Drinking tons of water and then sleeping is the best response for me. I’ll also stack NSAIDS when I get an aura and before I go to sleep. If I can time it right I can usually wake up with a mild headache and just a little out of it. Migraine drugs were worse than the migraine for me personally. I get them maybe two or three times a year now, and they rarely hit me as hard as they could because I nope out of whatever situation I’m in immediately and go home for drugs.

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    1. Nobody in my family has ever had one and it’s out of my area of medicine or any rotations in residency so I was clueless. It felt awful stroke like during it which is what scared me the most. I’m sorry you go through this. It’s not something I would wish on anyone

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  6. Ahem. I’d chide you but it took me 7 years to follow up with my PCP so I’m not one to preach as I often go to work figuring if I try to croak im in the right spot, if not i don’twaste PTO. Im glad the nurses you work with mother hen’d you. We only do it to docs we like 😉

    Aura Migraines are scary because you are very close to stroke sx. Ive had 1 major and it was on a day I hadn’t eaten or drank properly. Hope that was a freak occurrence and doesn’t return.

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  7. Oh man. This happened to me in January. It was my first bad migraine. It started with some blurry vision. Just tired. Fine. I tried to go to bed…

    I woke up 30 min later. Slurring speech, drooping right side of my face, and the complete inability to read. I went to the hospital and got a CT scan… then I followed up with an MRI because the CT scan wasn’t clear enough. In the end? “Just” a migraine. But I am very happy that I spend the time and money getting it all checked out.

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  8. Woof, that’s terrifying. Sometimes I think being in healthcare we also know TOO much. Stroke and MI sx are scary and I basically have them memorized at this point – I’m paranoid for my parents to have them and not recognize it.
    I hope it’s just a one-time thing and it sounds like you’ve figured out a lot of the potential root causes. In some ways, probably better than if it had happened during a low-stress time when everything was dandy.

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  9. You described EXACTLY how my migraines present (and then I sometimes get speech aphasia!) I get numbness on one side of my body, too. Including my tongue! The first time I had them (while taking a take-home final for my senior year) my parents called 911 because I thought I was having a stroke at 17. Unfortunately, mine seem to be pressure related and I get them regularly every hurricane season (and there’s nothing I can do to stop them).

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  10. You’ve just described what I experienced as my first migraine ever. It freaked me out so badly that I went to the ER and they insisted on an MRI. The neurologist, after examining my results told me my brain was normal, it I should expect to have migraines from here on out.
    And I do. Loss of vision, followed by a true migraine headache. Meds help as does exercise and living somewhere where I don’t have a lot of low pressure weather days (I swear they’re worse on rainy days). It’s gotten better over time, as has my vertigo, but it’s scary nonetheless.
    I hope you feel better and hopefully your migraines aren’t too horrendous!

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  11. Late but am so glad you are okay! So scary. My vision has been funky lately when I have headaches (Not migraines but just tension i think). But i have no other side effects going on. Take care of yourself!!

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  12. Yikes – that is scary! As I read the “went to sleep” part, I said out loud “oh no, don’t do that” lol and then realized you were likely ok because you wrote this post… 😉

    Glad you are ok – migraines are scary and so many people suffer from it. Hope you get some answers from your dr this week.

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  13. I was coming on here just to say that you are not alone as I get them too, to the point of being almost blind before the pain hits. But now I see many others have that as well. I’ve never known anyone else to have aura before a migraine.

    Whenever I get the aura, I start to panic a little, wondering if it’s a detached retina this time and just have to wait it out. I’ve read the symptoms are very similar with seeing flashing lights.

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  14. wow Dr’s really are the worst patients lolol

    On a side note – I used to get migraines consistently in highschool, I had a prescription for imitrex which did wonders – though in the end they were 90% resolved by me no longer having an eating disorder and birth control. Yay hormones. I still a couple times a year get a migraines a year. Highly recommend imitrex if your Dr deems it right for you.

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    1. I’ve been sent to an ob doc to look into my hormones. They’ve always been messed up and all the infertility drugs didn’t help years ago. They think something changed so now I get to have that looked into again. Yay me. All this talk about reproductive rights and I can’t get a damn doc to rip my useless uterus out. I’m bitter. Yes. Very.

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