Thursday, April 17, 2014

New Symptoms or New Awareness?

This will be a longish post. Please bear with me and thank you very much if you make it to the end.

Less than a week ago, I told you about a new symptom I'm having. It's still there. Since I will be seeing the doctor on Monday, I plan to ask him if it's migraine related or if it could be a side effect of the medication I'm taking.

I've also started to notice that I'm hearing things that either aren't there or just that no one else is hearing. I don't know if this is a new thing or if I'm just becoming more aware of it. It's got me to thinking of all of my migraine symptoms.

First and foremost is the headache. This can vary from day to day. I know that the most common is on one side. For me, that is actually the least common. Mine is usually all over. It is still the throbbing/pulsating of a migraine, but it is almost never just on one side.

Nausea seems to cause me the most discomfort, after the head pain (sometimes more than the pain). I do not like to throw up. Luckily, I can usually avoid it. Unfortunately, the nausea makes me not want to eat. Since I tend to have low blood sugar, this can be a bad thing. It also doesn't help the headache.

I also get sensitive to light, sound and smell.

Photophobia, or light sensitivity, makes it difficult to be in bright rooms and
almost impossible to go outside. My optometrist actually explained it best to me a couple of weeks ago.  A child's pupils are normally larger than an adults.  When my girls and I got our eyes checked at the same time, my were larger than theirs, before dilation. I get dizzy and feel like I'm going to faint. When I was working as a cashier, this was a scary thing. Passing out at a cash register was not a thing I wanted to experience. Driving this way is even scarier. I'm finding that I prefer having others drive more and more.

Phonophobia, or sound hypersensitivity, is another one that plagues me. This is a difficult one in my house. I have 2 young daughters and 2 young step daughters. Young girls have high pitched voices, especially when excited. My 4 also like to sing. Now I don't mind that they like music; in fact, I love it. However, when I have a migraine, it's excruciating. They also have toys and electronics that make beeping noises. Those are to me what nails on a chalkboard are to most other people.

Osmophobia, or psychological hypersensitivity to odors, tends to affect me all the time, but especially during a migraine. Strong smells, whether good or bad, have always bothered me. Cleaners, perfumes, and fish are the worst culprits for me. I don't have to deal with perfumes in my house, yet. (With 4 girls, it's only a matter of time.) However, my fiance and his dad both like seafood. As for cleaners, I've yet to find one that my fiance likes to use that doesn't bother me.

The symptom that bothers me the most, I think, is the extreme irritability. This usually hits at the beginning of a migraine. Kerrie Smyres said it best in her blog post on For me, every little thing my children or the cats do starts to absolutely piss me off. I become downright mean. I try to catch these mood swings before they become so bad that hurt someone. I don't mean physically. I don't want to yell at my kids when they don't really deserve it. I'm so very grateful to have Ted, who has put up with my temper while I have worked on learning to notice when I'm getting a migraine. If not for him, things might have been so much worse these last few months.

There is also the aura. This has been a recent discovery for me. I've always had it, but I've never know it was my aura. The closest description I've seen for what I experience is the Alice in Wonderland syndrome, though on closer reading, it doesn't seem right either. My aura is only experienced with my eyes closed. My imagination/brain sees things and then expands and shrinks them constantly and rapidly. This has recently started to cause me some anxiety.

I recently read a blog post on called "What's your strangest migraine symptom?". There is a picture with a bunch of different symptoms that other migraine sufferers have experienced. I have found a few more of my own there.

Speech difficulty is one of my more frustrating ones. This one tends to work against me during my irritability phase, especially when dealing with the children. There have been a number of times while trying to scold them I have had to walk away and let Ted deal with it instead. The words won't come out right, this causes them to laugh, which only infuriates me further. Bad combination.

Hunger has either become a recent one or recently come to my attention. I find it strange. Either I'm nauseated or I have the munchies. I don't like it. I'm desperately overweight already. I don't need any encouragement to continue this fashion.

Restless leg is a symptom others have noticed. When I asked my neurologist about this, he was of the opinion that this is not a migraine symptom. However, it is family trait. Since my mother has both migraines and restless leg syndrome, it makes sense that I would also have both.

Then there is what is called the postdrome. I call this the “migraine hangover”. With my migraines coming so frequently now, I'm not sure that I really experience this anymore. I will, however, tell you what they were like for me. You are drained. You have just come from being sick for what feels like at least a week and your body is still recovering from it. Your head hasn't fully recovered, your stomach hasn't fully recovered, and your mood hasn't fully recovered. You are truly not at your best.

As you can see, this is a lot to think about.

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