Sunday, April 1, 2012


My month did not start out the way I was hoping it would...


I've been sick with a migraine all day today...

I got up at seven, and we took my mother-in-law to visit my father-in-law in the hospital ICU. She goes and stays there and visits every three hours. And the ICU hours are weird anyway. It looks something like this:

ICU Hours:

6:00 a.m. to 6:30 a.m.
9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
12 noon to 12:30 p.m.
3:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
8:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The only ICU visit my mother-in-law doesn't attend is the 6 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. slot.

Doug and I drop her off for the 9:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. visit, and she stays there until after the last visit, the 8:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. time slot. Then, we take her home or she stays here on our couch. This schedule has been going on for almost a week now.

After we drop her off, Doug drives us to church. He is the director over the entire media production that occurs during service. He usually works both morning services, so he has to be there at 8:30 a.m. every Sunday morning. I am not a morning person, so I will usually drive back home, have another coffee, and get ready. Unfortunately, this morning's routine didn't work out.

As I drive home, I literally forget which way I'm going, and I end up on the other side of town. I assume it's because I'm not awake. I turn around and head for home. I crank up the music. I'm doing okay. I pull into my parking spot and stop the car, grab the keys, set it to lock, and get out. That's when pressure and dizziness hit me like a ton of bricks. I somehow make it into the house and sit down. That's when the vision loss occurred.

For those who have never had a migraine, they're evil. They're horrible, evil, and cannot be reasoned with. My migraines, however, mimic strokes. And since some of you have asked me to describe the anatomy of one of my typical migraines, and the fact that I sort of have my wits about me, I'm going to give it to the old college try.

It usually starts out with an aura. Sometimes, I recognize the auras, other times, I don't. My auras consist of, and these are in no certain order;

1. Deja vu (I've done this before.)
2. Vision loss
3. Foot cramps (The debilitating kind that make me drop to the ground and cry.)
4. Memory loss (I'll be in the middle of something and not remember what I'm doing, like when I was driving home this morning.)
5. Intense shoulder pain
6. Aphasia (I will know what I want to say, but another word will come out, usually a related word for me. For example, jacket may be coat, and coat may be paint. Other times, my speech is slurred, and what I'm trying to say makes absolutely no sense at all.)
7. Unexplained Fatigue/Weakness

I've had foot cramps for two days, and mild shoulder pain off and on since last night. I attributed it to stress, being on my feet (a mile walk to the ICU for two time slots), and not getting enough sleep.

So I make it inside, and I sit down on the bed. And I text Doug. I try to keep it simple because I know the further into the migraine I get, the worse my text messages become. I stretched out and tried to focus on something, and that's when the vision loss began. This usually consists of total vision loss in one eye. (Sometimes, I'll have sparkles in my vision, where everything will glitter. It looks pretty, but it's a sign of impending suffering for me.)

Once the vision loss occurs, I need to get somewhere and lay down immediately. Vision loss is followed by one sided numbness, in which the right or left side of my body will go totally numb. I can't use any part of the numb side of my body. I can't even walk without assistance. One time, I could not swallow, which scared the heck out of Doug. This is also the phase where nausea, photophobia, and phonophobia will happen. I rarely have nausea or phonophobia, but I always have photophobia.

Once the numbness stage is over, the intense head pain sets in. I lay in bed and wait for welcomed unconsciousness to overtake me. And when sleep comes, the worst is usually over. For this, I am grateful.

Whenever I wake up, which can be as long as eight to twelve hours later, whatever side was affected by the migraine is quite wonky, uncooperative, and sometimes doesn't work at all. It can range from weakness, to pain, to useless. I'll have to use my other arm/hand to do everything I need to do, and my foot/leg will be weak and sometimes drag. I also can't wear my floppies (flip flops to the natives) after a migraine. These after effects can last for up to three days before I regain full strength/use of the affected area.

Because my migraines are intense and mimic strokes/TIA's, I'm supposed to make a trip to the emergency room to make sure I haven't had a stroke. They also check for seizure activity and other neurological issues that would or could cause these or similar symptoms. I'm usually given a clean bill of health and sent home.

Unfortunately, going to the emergency room is not always convenient. Doug works and goes to school full time. He has responsibilities which often means I have to fend for myself. If my symptoms are severe, he will drop everything to take care of me. We have to determine when we both agree that I should go to the emergency room. If I have a new symptom, such as the swallowing issue, we go to the ER. That's a given. The first few times I had nausea, since it rarely occurs, we took a trip to the ER. My first experience with phonophobia, we went to the ER. If my symptoms/after effects last longer than usual or are more intense than usual, we will go to the ER. I will sometimes panic, which doesn't help, and Doug will have to try to calm me down. This is often futile. Today's migraine was not ER worthy.

Forgive me for being all over the place. I'm still a bit clapped out.

I sent the text message to Doug. I stretched out in bed, covered myself up, and shut my eyes, waiting for the dizziness to stop, waiting to hear the message tone indicating that Doug had received my text. He knew what was going on. He asked if I made it home before the migraine hit, and I managed to reply with, "sort of." He was just glad I made it home and was safe in bed. The problem was that I had the car. Driving with a migraine is quite dangerous. I said I would try to sleep it off. I was experiencing extra fatigue/weakness today, and was able to go to sleep before the numbness really got to me. Doug called me several times to check on me and make sure I was okay.

Thankfully, I slept through the worst part of it, and woke up at one. Church was over. I let him know when I was leaving, and he allotted a certain amount of time for my arrival before threatening to send out a search party. He prayed, I prayed. I made it to the church, crawled into the passenger side of the car, and slept until he was finished shutting down the media equipment. He spent the afternoon taking care of me. He got me a venti nonfat chai tea latte. He brought me some glazed donuts to munch on, then he took me home and put me to bed. That's where I've been ever since. He stopped in to visit his father. I feel bad that I couldn't make it to see him today. I didn't even work on my book today. I just don't have the mental capacity, plus my right side is affected, and it hurts to type. Most of my typing was accomplished with one hand. Thank God I'm ambidextrous! If not, I would be in serious trouble...

Anyway, I'm still feeling ill, but I made it through. It wasn't the worst migraine I've experienced, but still not ER worthy. I always wonder in the back of my mind if I will be so lucky next time...

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