As with any disorder, disease, or illness, there are things they forget to mention. Possibly this is just because everyone is different. Possibly it’s because we don’t associate the symptoms and so we don’t mention them. How can they if we don’t first talk about them?
In June, I will enter my 27th year as a migraine sufferer. Kind of a sick, twisted anniversary, to be sure, but one that I remember every year. Not because I want to, but because I’ve said it so many times. Every doctor, even my dentist and ophthalmologist, has to know about them.
I’ve gained some insight during that time. Mostly about the auras. I still can’t tell you why I get them. Or why I’ve developed a tolerance like I have. The aura is the initial symptom of any self-respecting migraine. Mine is usually a burning sensation… but is it really? That’s what I’ve always diagnosed as the first sign, but the truth is, it isn’t.
Restlessness is. I have trouble focusing on things long before the burning sensation or spotty vision or the attitude change. It’s taken me a while to figure this out, a good long while, close to 27 years to be honest. It hit me tonight. I have been pulling my hair out for days over a publishing problem. Tonight, I finally got fed up and shut the computer off. Strangely, I couldn’t get interested in a movie or a video game or a book. I went back and forth with different things, trying to figure out what I wanted to do.
Eventually, I gave up and opened the stupid document with the problem. I worked about two minutes on it, then I closed it. It might be bothering me, but I didn’t want to work on it. So what the hell is my problem? I wasn’t sure at first. I chalked it up to frustration and irritation. But then, I realized I do this every once in a while. I become uninterested, detached, devoid, and agitated. Not physically agitated, but mentally (that’s hard to explain). A quick check of my headache journal and there it was, not the last migraine, but the migraine before that. The exact same symptoms.
And the same response. I didn’t want to look at anything, but I wanted to listen to music. This, in itself, is not unusual, I have a playlist of 150 songs that listen to, usually while writing. However, this was a subset of those 150 songs. Only about twenty of them and I found I will skip to get to one of those specific songs, which is even more unusual. I don’t touch the player once the music starts. So what do all these songs have in common? They are all depressing songs, that’s a pretty specific branch of my music; most of it is loud, fast, and hard… but not these particular songs.
I never have audiophobia with my migraines, not anymore. Photophobia, sure, but sound, unless it’s loud, no longer penetrates the “tolerance” level. So, this specific subset of music combined with the feeling of restlessness is an indicator. It is not written in my charts anywhere as being part of an aura. Obviously, it needs to be. It might be part of the attitude change.
Just something to think about. What symptoms are you not associating with your illness? I’m off to start the migraine treatment.