Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

A week of it


It’s been one of those weeks where it has made itself very present in my life. In fact it has been intruding somewhat more frequently than normal over the last month or so.

At the beginning of the week (or was it the weekend? Timelines are rather vague things when it is around), I went out for a short evening stroll of ten to fifteen minutes only to return home five hours later, shortly after midnight.  Obviously it had plans I’m not aware of. I have no idea where it lead me, but judging by the wear on my sandals and the pain in my leg muscles the next day, I walked nonstop for the entire time.

Then mid-week, I took the car to our garage for its six-monthly WoF (Warrant of Fitness). As I was handing over the keys, I felt that odd out of body sensation that I sometimes get before it makes an appearance. Fortunately there’s a supermarket next door to the garage, so I decided to head there and buy an isotonic drink in case it was being triggered by dehydration.

I remember walking through the supermarket carpark (parking lot), but have no recollection of entering the store. As best I can work out, a friend saw me staggering about in the town square over an hour later.

Apparently others had seen me but assumed I was intoxicated and did nothing to assist me. However she knew enough about it to get me safely home.

By Friday my wife was concerned that it had been around almost continuously for a week and showing no signs of leaving. She managed to get an appointment at short notice at the medical centre. Apparently the doctor took one look at me and promptly ordered an ambulance.

I have no recollection of visiting the medical centre or of the trip to hospital. I do have a vague recollection of having a fascination with a stream of lights, which were probably passing ceiling lights as I was wheeled down corridors.

The first clear recollection I have is being told that I would be going for a CT scan shortly. I had the scan at about 2:00 am on Saturday morning.

It seemed to have abandoned me by midday Saturday, and I was informed that I would be discharged later in the day provided I could show I could walk steadily. Finally I was given my discharge form mid afternoon, and an hour later I was home.

Has it left me for the time being? It doesn’t seem so. It had taken up residence again by the time I woke up this morning (Sunday). It is just being a minor nuisance at the moment – a mild pulsating headache and a misjudgment of clearances between objects on my right and and various parts of my anatomy (and I have the bruises to prove it). I am hoping it will soon get bored and leave me alone for a while. Time will tell.

I notice that it has been given a new name. On previous discharge forms it was either not given a first name, or was given a first name of “atypical”. This time it had been given a new first name of “hemiplegic”. It‘s last name hasn’t changed. That’s still “migraine”.

Hello hemiplegic migraine. I can’t say I’m pleased to know you.

Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and discovered I am autistic at the age of sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

23 thoughts on “A week of it

  1. You amaze me that you face down this ailment Barry and go about your life as normally as possible.I don’t know if I’d have the strength.

    • Actually I think it’s my wife who is amazing. She has to consider each time whether it’s “just” a migraine or possibly a stroke. The symptoms appear identical. She is the one who must put up with unexpected mood changes and periods when I appear to be unaware of her presence. She’s the one that experiences the worry when I wander in a fuge state.

      I don’t experience the stress that my condition causes, although I do feel a sense of guilt that I make others, especially my wife, carry a burden that is very heavy at times.

  2. I’m sorry, Barry. I’m glad it has eased off. That was well written.

    • Thanks IB.

      I just wish English had a better phrase than “I’m sorry”. Every time I hear it I feel like it’s an apology, as if the speaker is somehow responsible for my condition. Perhaps it’s an Aspie thing, but to me the phrase has only one meaning: the speaker is apologising for being responsible for some harm/inconvenience to the listener. Clearly that doesn’t apply in this case (unless you know something I don’t 😊 ).

  3. Glad you’re getting better. You seem to take it in stride

  4. Barry, forgive me if I’ve asked this already, but have you ever seen a classically trained homeopath? So far, of all the many and various modalities I’ve explored, homeopathy impresses me as the most potent, assuming a good practitioner who treats chronic as well as acute conditions. It doesn’t always work quickly in chronic cases – although it can – but it does work deeply and thoroughly. I’m studying it myself now, but still informally. Sending warm thoughts. E

    • Classically trained homeopath? That’s even funnier than Mak’s ‘stride’ reference. Ever tried a blood sacrifice? Burnt offerings? Sure, why not try magic memory water – water expertly prepared by a classically trained… Sirius Bizinus, what is the right term here?

    • I’m afraid that I’m not convinced that homeopathy is any more effective than a placebo. While I acknowledge that a placebo effect exists, I don’t see it working in this case.

      • That’s a fairly typical response, and is pretty much how I used to think of it. The nature of homeopathic prescribing has not lent itself well to the model of randomized controlled studies, in that in order for homeopathy to be effective, it has to best match a host of symptoms / traits, not just one – there are many kinds of fever, many kinds of cough, many factors for hypertension, etc. – and in addition, the potency and dose that works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. There’s well over a hundred years of case study research in support of it; but/and there is a growing body of more comparative research, for those more convinced by that. Some of it can be found here: Ultimately, I put my own experience first in terms of faith – for example, I’ve done more to heal my moods, menstrual discomfort, skin conditions, and digestion with homeopathy (and prior to that, with various dietary changes) than a lifetime of allopathic medicine was ever able to do for me. I wouldn’t recommend something in a serious situation such as yours without striking personal experience of my own. I’m sorry if it seems like I’m trying to proselytize – I’m not, really. I just care about the fact that you suffer these debilitating visitations. If you’d like to communicate more on the subject at any point, let’s use email, so as not to take up comment space on your site. Sun’s out, birds are singing – I’m off to enjoy the day. Saw a Northern Flicker yesterday, by chance – it was stunning. Happy Sunday-into-Monday, Barry. E

        • I have a few relatives who swear by homeopathy, and by all accounts their health has improved since starting with it. However others who were tempted to try it as a consequence of the apparent success have experienced no improvement. I’m sure some people do find homeopathy helpful but some people find the laying on of hands or prayer just as helpful. The mind can be a poweful tool in assisting recovery, and I’m yet to be convinced that it’s anthing other than “mind over matter” in these circumstances. And being the skeptic I am when it comes to health matters, I don’t believe that such treatments would do me any good.

          • Fair enough – I’m not surprised, and I hesitated to “put it out there” for that reason. Know, in any case, as always, that I think of you, around the world, and I care. I’d be glad to think of you not suffering.

      • P.S. By “classically trained,” I mean someone who is as well-versed in homeopathic practice as an acupuncturist is in acupuncture or a neurosurgeon in the the physical structure of the brain. Those who practice without specialized study only contribute to the sense that it’s ineffective – I’ve experienced that first-hand, too.

  5. Well that really sucks. And, yes, your wife sounds amazing.

    I wonder what the physiological/neurochemical trigger might be? If they’re not idiots (and assume migraines are ‘only’ psychosomatic) I would think the local neurologists would be very excited to get you PET scanned for before and during and after states. You could be the next BIG Thing in medical advancement waiting to happen if someone could capture the process (as well as keeping you from walking to where ever).

    • Migraine was thought to have a psychosomatic element in the latter decades of the twentieth century but this is no longer thought to be a cause of migraines. In some cases it might be a factor in what triggers a specific attack, but the underlying cause of the disease is now considered to be a disorder of the central nervous system, a genetic disorder (especially in the case of hemiplegic migraine), a chemical imbalance in the brain or a combination of these. Even the idea that it might be a vascular disease is considered unlikely.

      My symptoms are not particularly unique, and there are others with more extreme symptoms, so I don’t think it’s likely that I would prove to be the source of any groundbreaking discovery. PET scanners have already been used to record the progress of migraine attacks, as have EEGs, although neither in NZ.

      Unfortunately, Aotearoa New Zealand with a population of only four and a half million does not have the resources of more populous nations such as the USA. Here the use of a PET to scan the progress of a migraine would be a neurologist’s wet dream I would imagine, but it’s unlikely to ever happen. I’ve been told that I’ve just got to accept my condition, and having lived with it for over fifty years I guess I do. Unfortunately I’m not the only one that has to live with it – anyone who knows me has to as well, and they aren’t always as accepting of my condition as I am.

      • How frustrating.

        I think you’re right about the genetic component from the one side tremors. You know, conditions like yours are how so much knowledge is accrued about how the brain works… by what’s going on when it malfunctions. I am not only spoiled but incredibly lucky simply to live in a city with tremendous medical resources and cutting edge research. Our university and associated research facilities were central to the latest MS longitudinal research project that has produced some astounding results regarding stem cell therapy and the central nervous system. I suspect this is the avenue that will eventually reveal the cause of the cascade effect underlying not just your migraines but the scope and sequences of misfiring that accompanies its onset; the treatable physiological trigger. At least, that’s my hope for you.

        The brain… awesome and fascinating and sometimes painful. Don’t forget to keep on nudging your doctors for treatment options and stay abreast of the research; after all, half of those doctors graduated in the bottom portion of their classes and a majority of them now populate the smaller centers.

        • Unfortunately, those doctors who graduated in the top portion of their classes now help populate universities and research facilities in America and Europe. Our tax dollars go to train the best while we are left with the rest. That’s a price that many small nations have to pay.

          • Yup. I hear you. I don;t know how to avoid this problem other than through public funding; if one has received public subsidy for one’s education then one owes a certain amount of repayment of that acquired expertise. Of course, such ‘socialism’ is usually re-categorized as some bugaboo of ‘godless communism’ but I think it makes sense and people will pay the piper… but only if the piper calls the tune.

            • I think the religious right in the US would be horrified if they realised our tendencies of socialised health care, welfare and secular free education was spearheaded by the churches along side the free thinkers in the second half of the nineteenth century. While America was growing Christian fundamentalism and biblical literalism along with fire and brimstone evangelism and concern with the hereafter , we simply got on with trying to build a more fair society in the here and now

  6. Wonderful clearsighted description. I hope it goes away.

  7. As an aside Barry I just did a guest post over at Mark Bialczak’s and I would be honored if you had the time to drop by. Thank You.

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