Of Auras and Migraines

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Image Credit-Pexels

There I was, writing and editing for up to 12 hours a day, six days a week. To that regimen I added a thousand word blog article every three or four days. On top of that I like to fiddle with video editing projects for fun. On most days I was skipping breakfast and lunch. Occasionally I missed dinner too. During the months from January to April I hardly went outside. I was beginning to sleep poorly, sometimes only getting three or four hours of rest on any given night. Then, towards the end of April, I hit a brick wall. I woke up and had a scintillating scotoma, otherwise known as a migraine aura, while perusing news articles on my phone after waking up.

For those that don’t know what a scintillating scotoma is, it’s a disturbance in the visual field that precedes a migraine in some sufferers. I’ve had them once or twice a year since I was twenty-eight years old. They start as a small blank spot with a sparkling zig-zaggy border near the center of my field of vision that grows over the next twenty to thirty minutes until it passes from view in my peripheral vision. Then it’s gone like nothing ever happened. Some get a classic migraine headache afterwards, but I’m lucky to be one of the ones who don’t (or at least, I didn’t).

This time however, several hours after the first aura, I had two more while writing at the computer. Later that day I developed a bad headache and threw up after dinner when my head began spinning with nausea. The next day I had two more auras again and the day after that another one. I started going for walks, but I had another one and this time it was accompanied by a throbbing headache and a bout of vertigo. Needless to say, I went to my doctor who listened to my symptoms and diagnosed me with migraines. Why they decided to become more severe probably has a lot to do with the way I was treating my body for the last few months.

This prompted some much needed lifestyle changes and a trip to the optometrist. As I write this I have a pair of prescription glasses on order. Turns out my eyes weren’t working very well together either, which certainly wasn’t helping. As well, I have seasonal allergies and my sinuses feel like someone pressured them up to about fifty PSI. The doctor put me back on nasal corticosteriods, which seems to be helping.

I’m writing less than I was before and I had to back away from my self-imposed daily word count goal, as too much time in front of the computer causes an unpleasant tension to build in my neck that will lead to a whopper of a headache if I don’t take a break. It’s been a good lesson for me. I was pushing myself too hard and spending far too much time in front of screens—whether it was my computer, tablet or phone. I wasn’t eating or sleeping right and at forty-five years of age I obviously can’t get away with that sort of behavior like I could when I was twenty-five.

Part of it was an obsessive drive to get my writing career off the ground as fast as possible. I’m a notoriously stubborn person when I set my mind to something and though I saw the warning signs that I was headed for a cliff health-wise, I ignored them. Not anymore though. Nothing is worth wrecking your health over. A word to the wise then: go have a sandwich and take a walk outside more often. Don’t wait until you’re back is against the wall.

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