I was at the park with my students today for their 5th grade trip and all of a sudden I started losing vision in one of my eyes. All I was thinking was why could this possibly be happening right now. My mind quickly flashed back to this morning when I decided to pack my Excedrin just in case any issues arose. Sure enough, I needed them and badly. I popped one in my mouth realizing that there was only one left in the bottle. After half an hour, it wasn't enough so I prayed as I took the second pill hoping it would divert my migraine. I wanted to be able to function today and if this thing decided to progress, I wasn't going to be any good to anyone within the hour.
It has been about 5 years since I experienced my very first migraine with aura. I remember sitting on the couch watching television when one of the fingers on my right hand went numb. I started shaking my hand to get the blood flowing in that hand as I would anytime a body part went numb. I brushed it off, thinking nothing of it. Then it begin to get really hard for me to see out of one eye as a zig zag appeared in my vision. I blinked my eyes a few times hoping it would just go away. By this point the tingling in my right hand was working its way through each finger and up my arm. This incident became terrifying in a short amount of time. I called my mom, but by then I could barely see out of one eye so she told me to call 911. A trip to the emergency room and a follow up appointment with a nuerologist for a scan determined that I had migraine with aura.
What is Migraine with Aura?
According to the mayoclinic.org "Aura" can be classified as the sensory disturbances that typically precede the usual migraine symptoms. It is identifiable by several things listed below and usually occurs about an hour before pain begins.
- Blind spots (scotomas), which are sometimes outlined by simple geometric designs
- Zigzag lines that gradually float across your field of vision
- Shimmering spots or stars
- Changes in vision
- Flashes of light
- Feelings of numbness, typically felt as tingling in one hand or in your face
- Difficulty with speech or language
- Muscle weakness
Q & A
Does every headache you have develop into a migraine with aura?
Typically once you've had a migraine with aura, the chances of more developing the same way will increase. However, not all headaches will result in migraine with aura.
What do you use for your migraines?
I was first given sumatriptan as the best medication to take at the onset of a migraine but I have found that good old Excedrin Migraine works wonders and doesn’t make me feel weird afterward. The triptans are medications used only to treat headaches that all end with "triptan". These may not be good for everyone depending on medical conditions.
Anyone that has had migraines understands that you could be down for the count for the entire day if a full migraine transpires. The pain is incapacitating for some and the only thing that seems to bring relief is going home, turning off all lights and hiding under the covers. After a full blown migraine with aura, my recovery could easily consist of sleeping one afternoon well into the next day. My body doesn't allow me to sleep in under normal circumstances so sleeping that much is very abnormal for me. I’m the one that plans to sleep in on a Saturday until 8 or 9 am but will be up at 5am staring at the walls wishing I could go back to sleep. But I can count on being shut down rather I wanted to be or not once a migraine has kicked in.
Do you know your triggers (Is it certain foods, smells, stress, or something else?)
Some common triggers can be a simple as an unpleasant smell on one end of the spectrum with stress being on the other end of the spectrum. I still haven't figured out what exactly triggers my migraines but as time progresses I get closer to narrowing it down. Everyone is different so while nuts and chocolate could be a trigger for one person it may not be the same trigger for another. Start writing down everything you did, ate, thought or felt after a migraine in a journal as a way of documenting your experience. Soon you'll be able to identify one or more culprits to avoid in the future. Find a list to help you identify triggers HERE.
What treatment works best for you? Is it Excedrin Migraine? a cold pack on the back of your neck? a cup of coffee?
I have found that drinking a cup of coffee very early on tends to help but it has to be pretty strong. Caffeine has a way of constricting the vessels in your brain. Dilated blood vessels allowing for headaches but once the caffeine constricts them it helps reduce your headache. This is why Excedrin Migraine has caffeine in it. The caffeine also increases the effectiveness of most pain medications thus the reason why many popular pain medications include caffeine. However, if you already have a caffeine addiction this may not be the most helpful solution. Try a cold or heat compression on the back of your neck to relieve some of the pressure.
Many people that experience migraines find themselves feeling helpless, unable to function and as if they have no control over what the day will bring. Knowing what works for you is the first step in taking charge of your life and your migraines. Don't sit back and let them continue to happen without knowing more about why it comes and the best way your body responds to making it stop.
Today, I realized that I'm not the only one that suffers with migraines. Thanks to fellow teachers, I was able to learn about a few other medications that may be good in helping treat them. If you are reading this and experience migraines, you are not alone and the best solution starts with learning yourself. Take the time to take charge of your life.
Learn. Prevent. Live.
This is not a sponsored post. These are my personal thoughts and experiences. I hope that someone finds this helpful. I’m now looking into more natural solutions that have fast relief or are daily preventive. If you know of any that have worked for you, feel free to share in the comment section below. You could be helping someone.