Author Topic: Migraine Scotoma - I got a bad brain.  (Read 8380 times)

SunDummy

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Migraine Scotoma - I got a bad brain.
« on: September 09, 2008, 01:21:27 PM »
Goddamn migraines!!! 

I've spent the last hour waiting for my vision to clear enough for me to continue working; any other migraine scotoma (aura) sufferers out there?  I'm lucky, I guess, since I don't get a headache at all, just the messed-up vision and hallucinations, with some occasional numbness or cognitive effects as well.  Still sucks, though!

I finally saw a neurologist a few months ago; he put me through an MRI, and says my brain is normal - no vascular issues, no tumors.  It turns out I just have a sensitive brain.  My neurons are more susceptible to pertubations than most folks; a small increase or decrease in certain chemicals sets off a chain reaction of mis-firing cells, spreading like a wave accross the surface of my brain.  When it hits my visual cortex, I first get a series of rippling lights as the cells fire randomly, then a blind spot as the cells stop firing at all.  Eventually they get back to normal, and my vision slowly returns.

Some good info here:  http://www.migraine-aura.org/content/index_en.html

A good video here; it's the first one, the scene on the freeway:  http://www.migraine-aura.org/content/e27891/index_en.html  That's the best representation I've seen yet of what it looks like, but it's still just a very mild approximation.

So, who else has this curse?  Have you found anything that helps prevent or lessen tehse attacks?  I'm told 10% of the population suffers from these, so there must be a few more bad brains on this board...

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mgriffin

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Re: Migraine Scotoma - I got a bad brain.
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2008, 01:47:57 PM »
I don't get migraines but I've been around people who suffered from them terribly.  One of them, an ex-girlfriend, reported that the only thing that helped her was getting acupuncture every couple of weeks.

One thing I've noticed is that a fairly large number of people who don't themselves get migraines, seem to think that migraine sufferers are "faking" or exaggerating.  I've seen how bad it can get -- otherwise functional people reduced to staying in bed, in a darkened and totally silent room.
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SunDummy

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Re: Migraine Scotoma - I got a bad brain.
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2008, 02:03:09 PM »
Quote
seem to think that migraine sufferers are "faking" or exaggerating. 


Yeah, I still hear that from people.  I've had these my entire life; as a kid, no one believed me, since I didn't get a headache.  I even saw a neurologist when I was about 14; he thought it was an eye problem.  I laid out why that couldn't be the case, but he just ignored me.  I got so tired of explaining it to people that I didn't discuss it again until my mid 30's.  By then, doctors had started to understand that it's a part of the migrain family of disorders; still, even today, there is no real treatment - all research goes into the pain component.  The other effects are pretty much unexplored from a treatment standpoint.

A friend of mine gets them so bad he has to curl up in the fetal position in a dark, silent room for a few hours, or he'll puke from the pain.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2008, 02:05:36 PM by SunDummy »
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Brian Bieniowski

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Re: Migraine Scotoma - I got a bad brain.
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2008, 05:51:37 AM »
I've also been a sufferer from these aura migraines, since I was a teen.  Usually I get them when I'm stressed out—and they never last more than a half hour.  And no pain, either (thankfully).  That website you linked to was so accurate that I thought it was going to trigger one for me!

I saw an eye doctor about it a few years ago and was told they could prescribe an inhaler to counter the episodes, but they're so infrequent (and dare I say it? somehow pleasant?), I didn't bother to get one.  I've had a few "real" migraines and that is the kind of pain I wouldn't want to live with for very long, that's for sure, but these visual phenomena don't bother me a whole lot.

jkn

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Re: Migraine Scotoma - I got a bad brain.
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2008, 09:16:22 AM »
My wife gets the visual type of migraines.    Not fun at all.   Triggered by bright light hitting her just the right way - or just randomly.   Her vision reduces down to a small zig zag like line and everything gets all refracted or something like that.  She's tried to draw me pictures and stuff.   The headache/pain usually hits 30 minutes to an hour later.   She fortunately doesn't get to the vomiting stage - but in general - a day can be quickly ruined by a migraine - and often the next day.   

An ex-boss of mine - his wife got them so bad that whenever a migraine started coming on they had to take her to the ER for a shot (which they couldn't administer themselves)...   every time.   He'd have to rush home from work every so often.   

Only thing 'close' I've ever had was a panic attack (after having blood drawn) where my vision closed down to very small 'tunnels' of vision - my hearing also shut down in a similar way.  I felt like I was deep inside a railroad tunnel.    Not a migraine though - totally a different thing.   
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SunDummy

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Re: Migraine Scotoma - I got a bad brain.
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2008, 09:34:33 AM »
Here's a pic I found that's close to what I see; just picture the zig-zags rippling and shimmering, like gasoline in a puddle:



When I get a bad attack, the wave of mis-firing neurons hits other parts of my brain too.  I sometimes get a numb lip, numb hands, or sometimes just the thumbs.  A couple times, my memory got so messed up that I couldn't read; by the time I got to the second word in a sentence, I had forgotten the first word, and had to start over.  Scary.

Those of us without the pain are indeed lucky; however, I don't find the visual stuff beautiful at all.  Even though I've had hundreds of attacks over the years, and I know exactly what is happening in my brain, I still get freaked out when they hit.
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LNerell

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Re: Migraine Scotoma - I got a bad brain.
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2008, 09:47:00 AM »
I also suffer from migraines. I had two of them just last week on back to back days, which is unusual as I will usually get one and then maybe a week or so later I will get a second. Then I'm ok for the next few months. The other unusual thing about the second one was my visual cue is usually in my left eye on my left side, for some reason the second one was in my right eye on the left side.  ???  Made the headache much worse the usual.

Speaking of headaches, I use to be one of those have to sit in the dark or else get sick, but over the years the headache part has gotten much better. I'm at the point where I can mostly function without it bothering me too much most of the time.
Take care.

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jkn

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Re: Migraine Scotoma - I got a bad brain.
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2008, 12:45:54 PM »
That half moon zig zag shape is very similar to what my wife tried to draw for me... 
John Koch-Northrup .: jkn [AT] johei.com .: owner / artist .: http://relaxedmachinery.com .: http://twitter.com/jkn .: http://flickr.com/johei

Antdude

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Re: Migraine Scotoma - I got a bad brain.
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2008, 03:50:11 PM »
I've been dealing with migraines for about 15 years now. Finally started getting medication to deal with it about 5-6 years ago. Mine usually creep up from the base of my skull to the back of my left eye(I've come to call them 'Eye-ball Bouncers), and then settle in there for hours. The really bad ones, the ones that seem to wrap around my head, forced me to go hide in a dark place, as well, and a few have been so bad as to require shots, usually a Toridol/Compazine combination.

Seems to run in the family. My sister gets them even worse than I do, and she can't use some of the medicines i can. I'm a little worried about that.
I was just in my office and I heard a ruckus.

SunDummy

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Re: Migraine Scotoma - I got a bad brain.
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2008, 12:42:53 PM »
Dammit, here goes another one...    >:( >:( >:(
I wish I was a Glowworm; a Glowworm's never glum. 'Cause how can you be grumpy, when the sun shines out your bum?

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Wayne Higgins

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Re: Migraine Scotoma - I got a bad brain.
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2008, 09:46:19 PM »
Damn, I've never heard them explained so thoroughly.  Sounds worse than the concusion I had back in 83.  I walked around for a few days hearing that whhhinggg you hear when you turn on a tv.

Try this....
So, I'm a "Sr Member", huh?  In June it's SENIOR DISCOUNT TIME!!!
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judd stephens

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Re: Migraine Scotoma - I got a bad brain.
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2008, 10:27:52 PM »
Massage Therapy, Cranio-sacral therapy, and acupuncture have shown to benefit many migraine sufferers.  I'd especially recommend cranio-sacral as it goes directly to the brain itself and also deals with that base of the skull- sensations that ant-dude has described. 

"The causes of migraines are not extensively known. Though originally it was thought that migraines
were due to restriction and constriction in blood vessels in the head, doctors now believe that the
predisposition to migraines is a hereditary abnormality in cell control in the brain. Other factors that
can contribute are stress, food allergies or intolerances, a sudden drop in stress levels, lack of food
or sleep, exposure to light, or, in women, hormonal imbalances. These triggers do not cause the
migraines, but they are thought to activate the process that leads to them
." Italics added, taken from this website: http://www.bodyrestorationmassage.com/Migrainescauses.html

Antdude

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Re: Migraine Scotoma - I got a bad brain.
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2008, 01:39:48 PM »
"The causes of migraines are not extensively known. Though originally it was thought that migraines
were due to restriction and constriction in blood vessels in the head, doctors now believe that the
predisposition to migraines is a hereditary abnormality in cell control in the brain. Other factors that
can contribute are stress, food allergies or intolerances, a sudden drop in stress levels, lack of food
or sleep, exposure to light, or, in women, hormonal imbalances. These triggers do not cause the
migraines, but they are thought to activate the process that leads to them
."
Heredity, definitely a factor in my case. The food allergies are a real problem for my sister. Caffeine, chocolate, or anything with MSG, is basically off-limits.  I'm not quite as bad with food, but I can't drink alcohol anymore. Anything aged, especially bourbon or wines, with all the sulfites, will trigger a migraine before I even feel the buzz from the alcohol. Insomnia is another problem I have. Lack of sleep, or erratic sleep patterns cause a lot of problems for me.
Ironically, it's one reason I like ambient music. It helps me to sleep.  ;)
I was just in my office and I heard a ruckus.

sraymar

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Re: Migraine Scotoma - I got a bad brain.
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2008, 08:03:31 PM »
This is incredible news! I've been having these auras for a couple years now, minus the migrains, and I was wondering "just when is the aneurysm going to burst?", or "just how many tumors are growing in there?". Went out and bought a bottle of gatorade this morning. I feel like I have a new lease on life! Knock on wood!  ;D

In a synchronistic fashion there was a spot on the news this afternoon about migrains and somebody mentioned the auras that precede them. Somebody has come up with a portable shocking devise that is supposed to cure them they've been studied for five years now and may soon hit the market.

Steve

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SunDummy

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Re: Migraine Scotoma - I got a bad brain.
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2008, 08:19:48 PM »
Quote
Somebody has come up with a portable shocking devise that is supposed to cure them they've been studied for five years now and may soon hit the market.

I've been reading about this for some time now; when I asked my neurologist about it, he had never heard of it.  While I should have been pissed that he had no clue, it's typical of the experiences I've had over the years trying to get to the bottom of these auras.  Most doctors don't know much about migraine at all, much less the aura.  I went to a headache clinic, and spoke to a neurologist who specializes in migraine, yet I knew more about the mechanism underlying migraine than he did - knowledge I got from off-the-shelf science books.  Very frustrating.  No pain = "we don't know...  live with it."

Scientific American ran an article on migraine a few issues ago; they divided migraine sufferers into several groups, ALL of whom experience pain, which is clearly not true.  When a reader wrote in to tell them about their error, they brushed off his letter, essentially saying that aura without pain is not really a migraine, which is ALSO not true.  And this was written by cutting-edge researchers.

The causes of the aura (not what triggers the attacks - I mean the actual physical events that cause the hallucinations) are exactly the same as the events that precede the migraine pain.  For some folks, this wave in the brain never hits the visual cortex, thus no aura, just pain.  In a fortunate percentage of the population (myself included), the pain part never happens (just a dull headache, not debilitating pain); it's just another "flavor" of migraine.

I'll be first in line for this magnetic-field-thingy as soon as it hits the market.
I wish I was a Glowworm; a Glowworm's never glum. 'Cause how can you be grumpy, when the sun shines out your bum?

www.sundummy.com

SiF

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Re: Migraine Scotoma - I got a bad brain.
« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2008, 02:23:25 AM »
I used to suffer under bad migraines when i was younger (5.th grade or something).
It was terrible. The only thing that helped was sleep and a huge dose of painkillers.
Got that probably every week for 2 years. Dont know what happened then, but after
a while it started to disappear and i am quiet thankful for that, cause it was terrible.