Have You Heard Of An Ocular Migraine?

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

Hey, look I’m writing today, too!

Go, me!

#FocusLeander

An ocular migraine, also known as a visual migraine, is a temporary visual distortion that often begins with a small sparkling, shimmering area that slowly expands outward.

The first time it happens, it’s incredibly… #NotCool #WTF #surreal

I see a single pixel of … shimmer? Sparkle? In the upper left hand corner of my vision. I think I have something in my eye cause it moves as I look around, but it doesn’t hurt.

So I just watch it.

In a cafe.

Drinking a cup of tea.

The pixel becomes a line.

And then a smudge.

And then spreads out until it’s a sketchy circle around my vision.

Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash

When I close my eyes, it’s still there. When I look around, it moves accordingly.

It feels as though something iss pulsing or shaking or trembling deep in my eye socket, but when I put my hand over my eye and pressed, I can’t feel a twitch.

I close both eyes, put my hands over them and just… breathe.

In a cafe.

While the tea cools.

I’ll admit, I was freaking out.

But, since I had absolutely no frame of reference, I tried to play it cool.

As an aside, I kept finding the worst possible scenario when I was pregnant with my eldest, so I didn’t google the symptoms either.

“Let’s see if it happens again.”

And then it did.

Hours later, I’m sitting at home, I text P what happened that morning and, wouldn’t you know it, my right eye goes #MyTurn

A single shimmery pixel.

As soon as it spreads into a line, I close both eyes, cover them with my hands, press gently and breathe deeply.

It goes away more quickly, but, yup, the doctor is called.

Who sees us immediately.

Remember, kids, when the Dutch doctor wants you to come into the office immediately (as opposed to take two paracetamol and call me in two weeks IF the symptoms persist), you have something #SERIOUS

By the time I get to the doctor, my head is exploding. Sensitive to light. To sound. To air. Everything in my head is pain. I describe it all to her, mostly in English cause #DutchIsHardWhenYoureInPain and she immediately calls the neurologist at the hospital.

#SERIOUS

Who gives me an appointment to come in the following morning.

#NotAsSerious

I take two paracetamol and go back to work.

The next morning I go to see the neurologist.

When you see a neurologist, describing these symptoms, plus, yeah, I’ve been a little stressed, and yeah, it’s never happened before and, no, migraines don’t run in the family, and, yes, it goes away with 1000 mg of over the counter pain medicine, they do a series of physical tests to check out your nervous system and I gotta admit …

#ItWasFun

All kinds of physical tests and taps and massages and nudges and, since I passed everything – and I do love me some movement – I couldn’t help but smile.

#NoBigDeal

Their diagnosis was, yup, I had an ocular migraine. And the frequent headaches from the past ten days (did I mention that? I’ve been having more frequent, more intense headaches for ten days) are tension headaches.

Will the ocular thing happen again? Mebbe.

Is it preventable? Nope.

Yay.

For the tension headaches, I have an appointment with a physical therapist. Who will massage my head and neck to help relieve the pain. And in the meantime, I take over the counter medicine when I get a headache.

Here’s the kicker.

“Overall, migraines are more common in women than in men. In addition, a person’s hormonal status can affect the pattern of migraines they experience; therefore, it is natural for a woman to notice a change in headaches and other migraine symptoms in adolescence or around the time of menopause.”

Brigham Health

So this is all just another symptom of perimenopause and getting older.

#OhOkay

If I’m honest, it doesn’t matter that there’s a perfectly valid reason or series of reasons why this happened – hormones and stress and all that aside.

And sure, I could do more cardio and get more sleep (HA!) and meditate and reduce the stress (HA! HA!) and do more yoga and get a massage.

#DAMNIT

It’s NOT fair.

I’m not ready to grow up and be mature and adult.

I don’t wanna be MORE sick.

But that’s where we are now.

Another symptom of perimenopause. Another sign I’m getting older. Another thing bullet point on the list.

#FocusLeander

Photo by Carolina Heza on Unsplash

I also don’t want to complain and whine and bleh.

This wasn’t my intention when I decided to write every day and a lot of this, perhaps mostly the ending, is stream of consciousness exercise to try to get it out and written.

I don’t have an ending here. But that’s the point, isn’t it. This isn’t the end. So I have ocular migraines now.

No, that’s not even true – I’ve had a single ocular migraine.

That’s happened within the intersection of hormones and stress and perfectly normal circumstances.

And life goes on.

It’s not an end. Or a beginning. It’s just a new reality.

And life goes on.