aura

Migraines.

Do you get them?

I do.

About once a month.  Sometimes more. Sometimes less.

Today I got one.

Before 9 am.

Mine start with an aura or prodrome.

“A migraine with aura comes with additional symptoms, which often begin about 30 minutes or less before the headache. These early symptoms are called a prodrome.The prodrome or aura may last for five to 20 minutes, or it may continue even after the headache subsides. Symptoms of aura include:

  • blind spots or scotomas
  • blindness in half of your visual field in one or both eyes (hemianopsia)
  • seeing zigzag patterns (fortification)
  • seeing flashing lights (scintilla)
  • feeling prickling skin (paresthesia)
  • weakness
  • seeing things that aren’t really there (hallucinations)”

(from WebMD: http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/what-is-a-migraine-with-aura)

The positive side of aura is that I always know when I will be getting a headache in about 1/2 hour. The negative is that the aura is often worse (and scarier) than the actual headache.

It is interesting to me that only about 20% of migraine sufferers experience the prodrome (aura). I have always experienced it. I started getting migraines when I was a teenager.

I know that I am sensitive to light and that different light sources can cause a migraine. I used to get migraines after walking into our darken sorority house after walking home in the sun from campus at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

I have found in the past year of so I tend to get migraines after I exert myself (usually after a Stroller Strides class).  Although, in a lot of those classes we also move back and forth from indoor light to outdoor light and I have a feeling it may be a combination of exertion and light sensitivity that sets me off.

Of course, hormones are always part of the equation, too. I then to get a migraine a week before I get my period (sorry if that is too much information for the men who read this, but it is true).

It is also interesting to me that the article on WedMD notes that serotonin and dopamine are two chemicals that cause migraines with aura. I have a feeling that my body has trouble regulating those chemicals anyway (I have bouts of mild to moderate depression and have taken antidepressants in the past), so I am not surprised.

I always mention migraines on a health history when visiting the doctor, but I have not visited a doctor (other than an OB/GYN) in over 5 years. I am thinking it may be time to go (and maybe even see a neurologist).

I was lucky today because I was at home. My husband was working from home and able to keep an eye on the kids while I went in a dark quiet room and rested for a while. That hasn’t always been the case.  Many times I am away from home with the kids…driving with an aura is dangerous. I have waited the aura out. I have also driven with the kids in the car hoping that I will be able to see well enough to get home to ibuprofen, a Coke, and safety.

My mom used to get them (and I think she still does). My dads sister got them. I have cousins who get them. It runs in families. I hope my kids don’t get them.

home is…having an aura about me.