About a year ago, I was sitting at the dinner table, finishing some food and watching Braden’s antics as he played in the living room. Suddenly, there was some weird, shiny blob (Yes, “weird, shiny blob” is the technical, clinical term for the phenomenon) floating in the middle of my field of vision.
When this happens to you and you have NOT just dropped acid, it causes some amount of alarm.
(On Acid, it’s just funny. And then the elves come out and the party really starts! Ok. Just kidding. I have never dropped acid. Now, on mushrooms… )
The Blob grew and grew, and as it did, it moved off to the left side. By the time it reached its peak, it was covering my entire left field of vision, and I couldn’t focus on anything very well.
Frankly, it was beautiful. It was a shimmery circle with a large C-Shaped leading edge. Geometrical patterns of all types danced and twhirled within it – all of them lovely, shimmering rainbow colors.
It’s hard to appreciate the beauty of something like that when you’re wondering things like, “Is this indicative of a brain tumor in my occipital lobe?”
I was scared, and I talked to John on the phone while it was happening. It played out and went away after somewhere between 20-40 minutes.
I did some Googling (of course) and determined that what I was experiencing was “scintillating scotoma” a symptom of “ocular migraine.” It’s basically the “migraine aura” without the follow-up headache – so I counted myself lucky and moved on. It didn’t happen again until about a month ago. When it did, I just thought, “Oh, well… that hasn’t happened in a while, but I can handle it.” And just like the first time, it shimmered and danced, but I was a bit more able to appreciate it. Again, it resolved completely after about 30 minutes.
It happened again on Wednesday afternoon, while I was outside trying to shoot some weeds and other random things while Braden was sleeping.
Just as I was taking the shot above, the now familiar Blob showed up in the center of my visual field. I decided to shoot a little more until I felt I had to stop. After about 10 minutes, I gave up and went inside.
I tried looking at my computer screen, but i could only see parts of words, the C-Shape was becoming increasingly dominant, and I was starting to feel… funny.
It was just as beautiful, visually, as ever.
That is where my appreciation of the event ends. And where the pain started.
I’ll remind you, the “aura” always moves off to the left. The pain was on the right side of my brain. It started off heavy in my temple and towards the base of the skull. Soon the pain spread to cover the entire right side of the brain. Along with the pain came a strange, muddled feeling. It wasn’t dizziness… more like a mild drunk feeling – maybe that of a heavy buzz (but not pleasant).
It was hanging on, so I decided to rest. Braden was still napping, so I went to sleep.
I slept fitfully, dreaming of discomfort and children in pain.
Over an hour later, Braden woke me, and I went to his room to get him. The first thing I registered on waking was that my head was still hurting. The next was that there was still a streak of “aura” in my left visual field.
The Panic Switch was officially thrown. I tried to stay calm and get Braden occupied with something.
Then I noticed the pain and tenderness in my neck surrounding my left carotid artery. And it was getting worse. Over 5 minutes, it increased such that all I had to do was turn my head to the left and my carotid would sing the song of pain directly into my left ear in a shrieking Soprano wail.
My heart was beating the rhythm to a furious and heavy dance that was getting faster and faster… it was like evil jungle music in my veins.
The next few hours after that are a blur. I Googled. I spoke with different people on the phone… John, Becky, Lea… I am thankful to each of them for spending time with me and giving me advice. I worried. I hemmed and hawed about going to the ER with no health insurance.
I worried about getting someone to drive me because a) I am moderately night blind, so driving at night is BLEH for me, and b) I was afraid of another aura while driving.
I watched Braden running around playing, making silly faces at me, and doing little dances, and it struck me that for all I knew, if I didn’t go to the ER, I could be on very limited time with my son.
It doesn’t take much more than a thought like that.
I got on GTalk and told Alli I might be MIA from Photo Bliss for a day or so. She came to my rescue – virtually grabbed Karla and pulled her into chat.
Karla lives just a bit south of us. And she was willing to come get me, drive me to a hospital, and watch Braden. AKA = She is an Angel of God.
I ran around getting a bag together for Braden, putting on jeans, and readying the house for me to leave. Karla arrived and we headed to the hospital. It was all so very surreal. I was leaving the house with a girlfriend and my son just before 9pm at night on a random Wednesday.
To go to the ER, worried about my brain.
Was it the right choice? Was I being silly?
At the hospital, I explained to the doctor about the previous ocular migraines and what I had experienced that day.
When I was done he smirked at me and said, “Okay, you’re saying things to me like, “visual field,” “right hemisphere,” and “carotid artery.” It sounds like you’ve been reading way too much. What have you been up to?”
As he was looking into my right ear, I laughed and said, “Well, I have a BA and an MA – I’m pretty well educated and I have access to Google so I’m probably your worst nightmare.”
As he looked into my other ear and then my mouth he said, “No, you’re certainly not, but you ARE overthinking it all. You are going to be fine.”
“Yeah, I do tend to over-analyze everything.”
“What is your MA in?”
“Ah-ha. One of those.”
He nodded to himself. I chuckled.
He pulled up the legs of my pants about 5 inches or so and squeezed my ankles, saying, “No swelling.”
Then he paused and stared at them for a moment, and said quite seriously, “You’re going to need to have your pituitary gland checked.”
I just stared at him.
He continued, “There is an overgrowth of hair here…” indicating my legs.
I got myself a funny doctor.
“No, that’s what you would call a serious, clinical case of Motherhood.”
“No, no, you’re going to need to get it checked. You could grow a beard any time now.”
His official diagnosis was that I had a full blown classic migraine, and that, other than it being highly unpleasant, it was no big deal. I asked him if I could punch him in the head several times, because other than being highly unpleasant, it would really be no big deal.
Ok, I didn’t really ask him that. He was nice looking, had a wonderful bedside manner, and was doing an excellent job checking all my vitals and making me feel at ease. I didn’t suggest punching him in the head (I just thought it).
So the ending to the very long story of my Wednesday night is that I am okay. My neck is still tender, which concerns me, but I am okay for now.
That migraine was particularly ugly and I know they can be worse. They are triggered by weather changes, hormonal changes, stress… all kinds of things. The thought of doing things that would trigger another is highly unappealing to me.
I’m looking to de-stress a little bit, so you might see me let a day or two go by without a post once in awhile. My stress levels have been high for awhile, and that can cause all sorts of health problems. It’s not worth it.
Nothing on this thing we call The Interwebz is worth me looking at my precious kid and worrying about having my time cut prematurely short with him. Nothing is worth adding stress to my pregnant body and chancing never getting to spend time with that baby.
Trust me, I’m not signing off, by any means. I’ll still be around quite a lot. You guys can’t get rid of me, are you kidding? But maybe I’ll be around just a bit less every now and then.
PS: No mushrooms for me either, btw. I tend to shy away from putting things that grow under cow shit in my mouth. Yeah.