Cognitive Impairment & Other Strange Migraine Symptoms

Pain is an obvious symptom of migraine, but there’s so much more to migraine than the headache. Even the well-known symptoms like nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and sometimes aura barely scratch the surface.

Right now I’m in the early stages of a migraine. Although I can feel the pain coming on, more frustrating is that I’m having trouble thinking, concentrating and finding words. I’m fatigued and thirsty. The black circles under my eyes have returned. Eating might make me feel better, but I’m nauseated, have no appetite and the smell of food turns my stomach.

My current symptoms are part of the many different migraine symptoms. I now know what to expect, but I was terrified when I first noticed all these strange feelings I had before and during a migraine. Cognitive impairment was by far the scariest (and it still frustrates me to no end).

My mind is so fuzzy that I can’t make sense of the rest of the post. I’ll return to the topic next week. In the meantime, here are some relevant links that I intend to use as support.

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Chiropractors & Headaches: My Deep, Dark Secret

Chiropractor_headaches
See end of post for supporting links. Including them in the text makes a mess of the first paragraph.

I’ve been seeing a chiropractor for a few weeks. A gazillion people have recommended it over the years — everyone knows someone whose headaches have gone away after chiropractic. But I never intended to go to one. Not only is it potentially dangerous, evidence of its efficacy is mixed. And I’m well aware that many people make spurious conclusions of cause and effect.

You know I’m willing to try all sorts of alternative and complementary treatments. As long as there’s no chance the treatment could harm me. I’m still wary of chiropractic, but I just had my third adjustment of the week.

My neck and lower back have been acting up for the last six months. It seems more likely that a chiropractor can relieve back pain than headaches. What pushed me over the edge is Kelly’s, my friend and yoga teacher, trust in this particular chiropractor.

Out of everyone I know, Kelly is the last person who would endanger her body. Her extensive knowledge of anatomy and movement combined with her insistence on safety gives me confidence.

My back and neck do feel better, but I have to ask if the worsening of my migraines is coincidental or related to the chiropractic. Today started out well and I still feel good. I’ll give it a few more weeks.

Why I Don’t Keep a Headache Diary

Compared to the ratings in a person’s headache or pain diary — if it’s kept faithfully — most people who rate their pain retroactively recall it as worse than it actually was. I too have a recall bias, but it’s the opposite effect. I think of the pain and other symptoms of my chronic daily headaches and migraines as much less than it really was.

When someone asked me on Monday how I’d felt in the past week, I said that it had been a pretty good week. I thought that was right, until I reflected on the week. My pain and other symptoms were severe at that moment. Saturday and Sunday were terrible — until I took a nap and drugged myself up so I could enjoy myself each night. Friday I was pretty sure my migraine was going to kill me. I didn’t post on Thursday, which only happens when I’m miserable and can’t think.

It wasn’t because I wanted to hide the severity of my migraines from this person, who is a health care provider that I’m currently seeing. I was protecting myself from the truth: I had a horrendous headache for at least a few hours every day that week.

A headache diary makes me confront reality. It’s too sad to think about.

Posted in Coping. 4 Comments »

Grand Rounds at Medviews

This week’s Grand Rounds is up at Medviews.

Not familiar with this blog carnival? It’s a weekly glimpse into the medical blogosphere. You can find the Grand Rounds archives on Blogborygmi.

This Time Last Year, March 25-31

Daily_headache_archive
Glued to the couch because the wires (aka leads) of my occipital nerve stimulator had moved is how I spent this week last year. I had to face answers to big questions I hated to ask.

Lead Migration 2006
The continuing movement of my leads and the associated pain became too much to ignore. This began my deliberations over whether to keep the stimulator or not.

On Asking for Help
I know I need help to cope with my latest nerve stimulator mess, but why can’t I bear to ask?

The Big But
The leads can’t stay where they are, so I’m forced to make a decision about the stimulator: Do I have the leads replaced or do I call it quits and have the stimulator removed?

Does it Even Work?
It’s the ultimate question and I’m not sure I want to know the answer.

A Stimulating Week
The week’s entertainment from the couch.

Pain of Chronic Illness Extends Beyond the Body

Health_expense
As out-of-pocket expenses add up, insurance woes build, and job security wavers, chronic illness can have devastating financial consequences. Northwestern’s Medill school considers the financial impact of chronic illness and describes a patient’s insurance policy rights.

Jenni Prokopy of ChronicBabe and Jennifer Jaff of Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness, two women dedicated to improving the lives of people with chronic illness, are featured.

USA Today explores similar topics in Even the Insured Have Trouble Paying Bills.

[via ChronicBabe and Doc to Doc]

What Questions Do You Have?

What do you want to know about headaches and migraines, biology and physiology, or anything else health-related? The Daily Headache is a resource for you as much as it is a catharsis for me. So, what’s on your mind?

At the risk of sounding like every teacher you’ve ever had, there are no stupid questions. And if you have a question, it’s likely that others wonder the same thing. Really. If you’re embarrassed to ask it in the comments of a post, you’re always welcome to e-mail it to me.