Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

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Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  Sphynxy on Tue Mar 23, 2010 2:44 pm

Yep - just what the title says.

The first one started ... Weds? Thurs? Can't be sure. Anyway, I'm an illustrator, and I was just sitting down in front of my computer to do some work, and I notice there's this thing obscuring my sight. It looked a hell of a lot like the afterimage you get after looking at a lit light bulb for too long, so I figured I must've accidentally looked at one, and that it would soon fade. Except ... it didn't. 'Hmmm', I'm thinking. And then I realise it doesn't look so much like the lightbulb afterimage anymore; more like a ... well, a blank spot. I'd liken to that thing you used to do at a science class in school to determine the natural blind spot of the eye. Remember that? There'd be a picture, a dot on one side and a cat on the other. You'd cover one eye with your hand and look at the dot, and the cat would sort of disappear. Well, this was a lot like that. Just a blank spot, slightly to the left of centre of my vision.

'Cos I'm an illustrator, you can imagine my alarm, figuring that I was going blind! But then the blank spot eased a bit, which was a relief ... until I lost all peripheral vision down the left side of my sight, within which was a fluttering, coruscating 'thing'. I can't really describe what it looked like; I kind of 'sensed' it more than saw it. By this time I was pretty sure that I was having a migraine, owing to the fact that my head had started to ache slightly on the right side - a determination helped by the fact that my dad regularly suffers from migraines as well, and his technique was to take some paracetamol as soon as the 'flashes' (as he calls them) appear, in order to prevent a really severe headache. I did as such, and the aura vanished almost immediately; I was left with a mild to moderate headache (luckily) that lasted for an hour or two until I was able to go to sleep. Needless to say, no work was done that night. And I awoke next morning pretty much okay, albeit with a vaguely washed-out, fuzzy headed feeling.

Then, lo and behold, two days later: I wake up with a faint ache on the left side of my head. 'Nuffin' to worry about,' I think: probably slept a bit awkwardly. Give or take an hour or so, and I get this big impression of 'fluttering' in the right periphery of my vision. "Well, don't THAT take the ruddy biscuit," I exclaimed in somewhat more fruity language once the fluttering had evolved into a line of shimmering, jagged crenellations - like the battlements of a castle - which were rapidly disposed of by an intake of paracetamol. Again, I was left with a mild to moderate headache, albeit an oddly persistent and aggravating one which required me to have a lie down in the dark for a while. Left feeling tired/mildly washed-out for the next two days, though this could have been worsened by the fact that:

A: I now jump like a sissy every time I glimpse something in the corner of my eye or feel the slightest twinge in my head.

B: And my jumping like a sissy is magnified at night, when things like that become naturally more exagerrated.

Hence, I've not had much sleep recently. Which ain't going to help, I know, but that's the way it is, I guess.

So what I'm asking is this: When any of you first started getting your migraines, how did you deal with it? because I'm telling you - I seriously do not like this condition, and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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Re: Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  HeelerLady on Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:09 pm

Let me ask this...are these your first migraines ever?

Just the way you phrased things made me wonder if the answer was yes. If so, well you have two options (sort of depends on when in the day you get them). If it's during the day and you need to function, my remedy was 2 aspirin and a cup of coffee (or some caffeinated beverage). If it's at night, forget the caffeine and sleep it off. Some sort of pain pill would probably be a good idea. Someone from the UK can probably better tell you your options as I'm in the US and medications vary.

If this is not your first bout ever (which I'm guessing no), probably wouldn't hurt to see your gp to have things checked out.
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Re: Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  Sphynxy on Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:19 pm

Thanks for the reply Heelerlady

Thing is, I don't know if it's my first. I can recall last year having a severe headache that made me feel slighly sick - my mum said it was probably a migraine, but TBH I can't remember enough about it to be sure. In all fairness, I can only conclude that these are the first ever migraine attacks I can be sure of.

As for painkillers - well, the paracetamol did a pretty good job of ensuring the headaches didn;t get beyond the moderate stage. According to my dad, if taken as soon as you see the aura appear, then you'll have a good chance of not having to suffer a real headstomper! Seems to have worked so far (note: no more than 2 500ml paracetamol tablets every four hours, just in case there are any people outside the UK here who are not familiar with them).

As for the GP - if I get another migraine soon, then I'll make an appointment. I'm just hoping like hell at the moment that I'm not going to be prone to these things every week!

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Re: Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  HeelerLady on Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:32 pm

Well, I'm glad you've got something that's working for you. Most people around here would kill for that kind of stuff to be effective on migraines. Smile I know I'd love to be able to go back to that stage but my life is what it is.

It may be that you will get them rather infrequently but did you do anything strange last week? Eat anything out of the normal, have more stress? The only reason I ask is those items can trigger migraines. And if you can avoid triggers, you can sometimes avoid the whole unpleasant mess. But if these do come with a regularity, do see your doctor.

I didn't get really concerned until I had them for 2 weeks (that was the cycle, 2 weeks of the suckers, then 4-6 weeks off) - saw him and he gave me the advice I gave you along with a triptan. When I started having them everyday, went back and was referred on to a neurologist. I have had them sporadically for years but this last year is when all my serious troubles with them started.

Best of luck. Smile
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Re: Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  Sphynxy on Tue Mar 23, 2010 3:50 pm

Can you not get paracetamol in the US? In the UK it's available without prescription - however, you DO have to the follow the dosage instructions exactly, as even a slight overdose can be very dangerous.

As for the triggers - well, I've made notes in my diary of when the migs occurred, what I'd eaten, what the weather was like etc. But to be frank, I have no idea of the causes - only some suspicions. Before my first one, I felt absolutely fine - hence my surprise at finding that funny thing in my eyesight. Anyway, my suspicions are as follows:

1. Stress. Have recently split up from my missus - we broke up in January this year - and since then I've been living with my parents. So I've got sadness and humiliation in that bag already. Humiliation is not mitigated against by the fact that my ex's apparent new boyfriend is a little piggy-eyed fat man with a face like a slapped arse. How she can drop me for that I've no idea. However, did not find out about little piggy man until after migs; still, it's possible that the stress of the breakup contributed, along with:

2. Irregular sleep pattern. Owing to the nature of my work, which I find so involving that I suddenly find myself flopping into bed at 2.30 am when I thought it was 11.00pm. You see, i'm an illustrator, working from home - well, okay, my parents' home now - which in itself could be a contributory factor, because:

3. I spend hours and hours hours staring at a computer screen whilst concentrating hard. Because the nature of my work is such that I use a computer for it. This also has some additional factors:

4. I probably drink more coffee that I'm aware of. And:

5. I'm a smoker, too. Bad, yes, I know.

So to be honest, I guess pretty much all of my lifestyle at the moment could be a contributory factor - it's just hard to know what to pinpoint (if indeed there is anything to pinpoint). My only saving grace is that I execise very regularly, which apparenly helps in keeping the attacks fairly low.

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Re: Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  LG on Tue Mar 23, 2010 4:45 pm

Sphynxy wrote:Can you not get paracetamol in the US? In the UK it's available without prescription - however, you DO have to the follow the dosage instructions exactly, as even a slight overdose can be very dangerous.

As for the triggers - well, I've made notes in my diary of when the migs occurred, what I'd eaten, what the weather was like etc. But to be frank, I have no idea of the causes - only some suspicions. Before my first one, I felt absolutely fine - hence my surprise at finding that funny thing in my eyesight. Anyway, my suspicions are as follows:

1. Stress. Have recently split up from my missus - we broke up in January this year - and since then I've been living with my parents. So I've got sadness and humiliation in that bag already. Humiliation is not mitigated against by the fact that my ex's apparent new boyfriend is a little piggy-eyed fat man with a face like a slapped arse. How she can drop me for that I've no idea. However, did not find out about little piggy man until after migs; still, it's possible that the stress of the breakup contributed, along with:

2. Irregular sleep pattern. Owing to the nature of my work, which I find so involving that I suddenly find myself flopping into bed at 2.30 am when I thought it was 11.00pm. You see, i'm an illustrator, working from home - well, okay, my parents' home now - which in itself could be a contributory factor, because:

3. I spend hours and hours hours staring at a computer screen whilst concentrating hard. Because the nature of my work is such that I use a computer for it. This also has some additional factors:

4. I probably drink more coffee that I'm aware of. And:

5. I'm a smoker, too. Bad, yes, I know.

So to be honest, I guess pretty much all of my lifestyle at the moment could be a contributory factor - it's just hard to know what to pinpoint (if indeed there is anything to pinpoint). My only saving grace is that I execise very regularly, which apparenly helps in keeping the attacks fairly low.

Sleep!!!!

Stress!!!

Different living environment!!

SLEEP!!

Sleep is a big one on the list for me, try to regulate that one and see what happens. If you have been a smoker for a long time chances are that isn't hurting anything. It will exasterbate a migraine in progress, avoid smoking during one. It has a lot to do with your vascular system. If you can quit, quit but nobody is going to judge you here. If you haven't increased your caffeine intake either than I wouldn't much worry about that either because some people have problems with caffeine while others don't. Do a little experiment and cut down on it and see what happens. If it doesn't help go right back to drinking coffe like normal.

The stress thing is tough because that will have to work itself out but the sleep thing is really in your control so try to do something about that.

By the way, the name for paracetamol here in the US is acetaminophen and the store name is Tylenol. Most of us on the forum do not respond to this medication. We usually need stronger presription drugs.

I hope you don't have any more migraines!! Very Happy
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Re: Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  HeelerLady on Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:18 pm

lovegia wrote:
The stress thing is tough because that will have to work itself out but the sleep thing is really in your control so try to do something about that.

By the way, the name for paracetamol here in the US is acetaminophen and the store name is Tylenol. Most of us on the forum do not respond to this medication. We usually need stronger prescription drugs.

I hope you don't have any more migraines!! Very Happy

LG has probably hit on things.

Stress...yeah you've got that in spades (marital separation, new living environment, living with the parents). Not a whole lot you can do there except perhaps do things to relieve stress...exercise, there are some breathing techniques, massage...I'm sure I'm missing a few things - brain is a bit fried today.

Sleep could be a contributing factor - try to get to bed at a set time and wake up at a set time (I realize you may get drawn into what you are doing but you could set an alarm for an hour or so before bed so you have time to wind down before hitting the hay).

Caffeine is one of those tricky things. For some of us, it does help relieve the symptoms and for others of us, major trigger. I'm in the category of, it helps. I don't drink a lot, but normally I wake up with a M and my 2 cups of coffee get me started and through the morning. You could try watching your intake and see what happens with it.

Computer usage - well I don't know of any real tie in there. I work on a computer all day too and that doesn't bother me. The fluorescent lights above me can be killers....

Smoking - I've not heard one way that this is bad or good. Personally I don't but I know there are others here that do and LG probably has better insight than I.

Exercise - well I don't know that this really helps or hurts you. When this whole mess started for me I was working out daily plus walking my dogs. I had to cut the workouts out as my head just wouldn't tolerate them. I still walk my dogs for 30-45 minutes and it's only going to have good benefits.

LG - thanks for the clarity on the paracetamol. I had no idea what the heck people have been talking about for months. I wish that worked...gabapentin(neurontin) is my current drug and it only knocks it down to a tolerable level. Tylenol would have all the impact of a breath mint. Sad
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Re: Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  LG on Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:55 pm

NP Becky Smile

Smoking does effect the vascular system in your brain and also increases stroke risk a whole bunch. Overall, everyone who smokes knows it isn't good for you. If you have migraines with aura and smoke it is a double whammy. Definitely no good for you because MWA patients are already at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke which is exasterbated by smoking. It is a personal choice though as is everything else.

Once your migraine is already in progress and you smoke a cigarette you are corrupting your vascular processes in your brian which is something you do not want to do because even though the exact reason why migraines happen has not been pinpointed, we do believe that it is directly connected to the vascular system. Some people find smoke to be a trigger to them whereas others do not but I am a smoker and I have always noticed that if I smoke during a migraine my attack becomes more painful almost immediately.
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Re: Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  jwar on Tue Mar 23, 2010 10:18 pm

Sphynxy wrote:

A: I now jump like a sissy every time I glimpse something in the corner of my eye or feel the slightest twinge in my head.

B: And my jumping like a sissy is magnified at night, when things like that become naturally more exagerrated.


Welcome to my life.

I'm sorry you are going through this. Do try to evaluate things and see if you can eliminate some of your triggers. Migraines have the propensity to evolve and it's better to nip this asap. Tylenol works for me to a certain extent (US version of paracetamol). Tylenol blocks the perception of pain at the neuronal level. The NSAIDs (ibuprofen, advil, etc - not sure what they are called there) actually stop the production of inflammatory chemicals in your body. It's perfectly safe to take both together, and as soon as I have an aura that is what I do, immediately. Usually that helps me get through the day, but my migraines are inevitable 48-72 hour long shitfests that leave me a sobbing ball in my darkened bedroom.

Try to prevent yours from becoming like that. Be proactive now.

Also, auras can progress and change from migraine to migraine and if that happens don't freak out. Mine have included: losing peripheral vision, losing almost all vision, being unable to read words (usually how I notice one is coming on) because looking at them just makes no sense, flashes of light that's like a strobe light is inside of my head, scintilliating scotomas (the black and white shimmering castellation pattern you saw) and also what looks like a laser light show - shimmering rainbows of light bouncing across my eyes. My favorite kind is the pretty rainbow one. I've also had the world suddenly look a lot like it turned into a cartoon drawing, and once I got half-vision. Meaning I could only see half of objects, like the left half of everything but not the right.

The above paragraph wasn't because I wanted to tell you all about my auras, but to let you know the many wonderful ways visual auras can present themselves. Despite this happening literally hundreds of times to me it never gets less scary but I've also never died/had a stroke. Just try your best to remember it's all in your head.
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Re: Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  LG on Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:13 pm

[quote="jwar"]
Sphynxy wrote:

The above paragraph wasn't because I wanted to tell you all about my auras, but to let you know the many wonderful ways visual auras can present themselves. Despite this happening literally hundreds of times to me it never gets less scary but I've also never died/had a stroke. Just try your best to remember it's all in your head.

I didn't realize that I may have scared the living bejesus out of you with my above speech about how migraine with aura up the risk of stroke and heart attack and smoking makes it worse. Yes this is true but from all the articles I have read doctors treat this as just another common risk and many people have these risks and never even know and live perfectly fine and healthy lives. It is good to be aware though which is all I was going for so please take it as information and know that the risk is there but so many of us live healthy lives and you should just try to be conscious of your other risks to avoid complications. Wink

Sorry!! I hope I didn't make you worried!!
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Re: Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  Sphynxy on Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:30 am

Thanks for the replies everyone - very supportive, I appreciate it.

Re: Paracetamol/Tylenol. Well, it seems to work for me - provided I take it when the aura starts. According to my dad, if you leave it until the aura has gone and the headache starts, then it is next to useless. I don't like the aura much (I've always had a phobia of hallucintions anyway - I really can't fathom why some people would want to take LSD or anything like that) but I suppose I can be thankful that it provides a warning sign that it can prevent the headache from getting really bad.

Oh, and there's one other possible trigger which i forgot to mention: dehydration - or perhaps something related to the salt content of the body. Here's why:

My exercise regime consists of jogging. Every other day (3-4 times a week) a good 18-20 mins of solid running. However, I've been a bit of a naughty boy recently, by not having a cool immediately drink after finishing. Though I've not felt thirsty, I'm aware that one doesn't necessarily need to feel thirsty when dehydrated - or indeed feel any symptoms at all! Now, what I noticed a few days before my first attack was this: that my t-shirt, whilst drying (after running I leave my sweaty t-shirt to air for a while before putting it in the washing basket) was showing white tide-marks - salt marks. Of course, it could very well be coincidental to the migraine, but I do not recall ever having seen this before. However, since the migs, I have been making sure to have a cool drink immediately after the run, as well as plenty of plain water throughout the day. Just in case.

In short, I haven't really had enough migraines to be able to pinpoint what the triggers might be, so I'm just making some educated guesses at the moment. Could be a combination of stress, bad sleep pattern, dehydration - or it could be none of those things. Still, I feel pretty good today, thanks in no small part to finally getting a decent night's sleep! Making sure also to keep my mind occupied so as not to dwell upon every glint I get in my eye or the slightest twinge in my head.

Once again, many thanks for your help, everyone.


Last edited by Sphynxy on Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:40 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  jwar on Wed Mar 24, 2010 7:33 am

Both dehydration and hunger are some of the worst triggers, and some of the easiest to avoid. Now you know. Wink
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Re: Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  Ivy on Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:09 am

Hi,
I'm from Europe, too and I use paracetamol at the very first symptoms of migraine. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

Unlike you, I get no aura so it's kind of more difficult to take paracetamol at the right moment (i.e. early phases of an attack), but I have learned to recognize an incoming migraine from other symptoms.

As for the triggers, each migraineur has his/her own set of forbidden things. Food seems to hyde most of the triggers for us, but also weather changes are widely reported as culprits.
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Re: Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  Sphynxy on Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:16 am

^^Yeah, it must be as awkward as hell trying to manage a migraine without aura. From what I've heard and read, once the headache kicks in, then there's little point in taking painkillers from then on. As I said earlier, at least the aura provides a pretty reliable warning sign, however much I dislike it.

I've kept a note in my diary as to what the weather was like when the migs happened, though I can't really see a connection. The first one was during fog; the other a dull and rainy. Still, might not hurt to take note of the barometric pressure, just in case.

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Re: Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  LG on Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:09 am

Sphynxy wrote:^^Yeah, it must be as awkward as hell trying to manage a migraine without aura. From what I've heard and read, once the headache kicks in, then there's little point in taking painkillers from then on. As I said earlier, at least the aura provides a pretty reliable warning sign, however much I dislike it.

I've kept a note in my diary as to what the weather was like when the migs happened, though I can't really see a connection. The first one was during fog; the other a dull and rainy. Still, might not hurt to take note of the barometric pressure, just in case.

There ya go!!! Weather!! Smile I get migraines during rain and fog as well. It is still too undefined to tell since you have only had two but keep track of it AND the weather. I will post a site that will help you with this, it tells you when the weather is a trigger to migraines in your area. Smile
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Re: Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  LG on Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:15 am

http://www.mediclim.com/

Free site but you must register. The days that it tells you are very accurate however I find that I get more barometric related migraines then they tell you about.

I like weather.com but I dont know if you'll be able to use it because you are in the UK...here is the link anyhow to the section of weather.com for aches and pains...it may be useful for our US members.

http://www.weather.com/activities/health/achesandpains/
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Re: Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  alli on Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:46 am

I feel so bad for you. I remember the first time I got an aura. I was 12 and thought I was going blind. I totaly get the jumping at every little wierdness in your sight. I did that for years until I just let it be ok that this was my warning to take my meds.

To reiterate what others have said... Take your preventative as soon as you realize it is an aura, not a sun or light after-image.

Drink water and/or sport drinks (that are not completely filled with sugar!) when you exercise. Dehydration is one of my daughter's biggest triggers. Drink plenty of water on a daily basis.

Eat regularily.

Try to keep your stress under control. Exercise and learning to let the little things go are great for stress relief.

Watch your triggers- Weather is a big one for me. I can't do anything about the weather, but it at least lets me know that I may be taking it really easy for the next day or two.

I hope that you don't get many and see your doctor as soon as you can.

Alli
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Re: Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  Paradox on Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:59 am

Humiliation is not mitigated against by the fact that my ex's apparent new boyfriend is a little piggy-eyed fat man with a face like a slapped arse. How she can drop me for that I've no idea.

Love your description!!! I can't imagine how that feels, but I'm sure Sandra Bullock does with that skank Jesse James is having an affair with. Must be so horrible to have your humiliation broadcast on news around the world.

Sometimes I get aura's, sometimes I don't. I frankly LOVE my aura's. They give me a chance to scramble and get my med's, which usually keeps me from WHAMMED with a M. When I don't have an aura, I just get blindsided, and those are usually impossible to get control of.

Last week I got one that was distinctly different from my normal clear bubbles. My Eye Dr. had me come in and get my eyes dilated and checked, since retinal tears can mimick aura. He said a good way to differentiate is that an aura will go away with 20 minutes to an hour, and eye injuries will not and should be checked out.
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Re: Had my first migraine with aura last week - TWO of 'em!

Post  LizzieB on Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:20 am

Just want to say I feel for you Sphynxy. My 23 yr old daughter has just her first migraine with aura and she's very frightened now every time she thinks her vision might be going. She has a lot of stress at the moment which I think probably contributed to it. I had my first when I was 12 and I remember it as though it were yesterday. I haven't had one for a number of years, just frequent full-blown migraines without aura now.

I go with what everyone has said about keeping hydrated, not losing sleep (not always possible I know) and for me eating little and often. And of course the big one, reducing stress, difficult for you at the moment I know. I wish I could reduce my mine but I'm not a very relaxed person anyway and like loads of us, have a lot on my plate at the moment.

Good luck
Liz
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