Imagine you are getting ready to shower before work. Looking down you see something very ordinary like this:
Within a minute, however, growing across your field of vision begins a flashing, zigzagging shape . It covers most of the visual field, and over the next twenty minutes or so, it will drift toward the left side. About 15 minutes in, another one will appear in the centre, pushing the first one further left. It shimmies and moves about slightly.You cannot really look at it directly and it does not really obscure anything.
You feel your body go rather weak and you space out a little – words come, but they are slowly formed and very deliberate. By now you are concentrating on your breathing and trying to breathe evenly and slowly without hyperventilating. It is difficult – there is this freakish flashing thing dominating your vision.
Shut one eye and it is still there. Look through that one with the other shut and the flashing thing stays. Even closing your eyes does not block it out. It just superimposes itself in colour against the darkness. It is like someone yelling loudly in your ear nonstop and not being able to turn your head away.
As it gets more intense and goes for longer than it ever has before, you phone the government help line, Healthdirect. With it getting worse, you decide to go to the hospital emergency department 10 minutes away. While dressing for this, you look up and notice that the aura has vanished – like a distant lawnmower cutting out without you noticing exactly when the sound stopped.
Not out of the woods yet though. When you look at the faces of your family, just the faces, they seem wrong. Almost like Picasso’s Weeping Woman. When you look closer and try to quantify or calibrate where the distortion is, each bit looks normal – but taken together the face just looks wrong. That only lasts for about 5 minutes.
That’s what happened to me this morning. The Emergency Department confirmed my G.P’s diagnosis – Migraine Aura or Visual Aura . Often people who get migraines have this kind of visual disturbance. It seems like I get the visual disturbance, feel weak and kind of spaced-out for a day, but do not get the terrible headache.
The first time it happened was after a parent died and the second time was in the weeks after giving birth, 8 years ago. It has not happened since. I was so glad to know the probable cause this morning, as the first couple of times was very, very scary. It is still scary , but knowing that I was neither having a stroke, about to have an epileptic fit nor going plain crazy was comforting. The facial metamorphosia was new, but maybe it was there before and I only noticed it this time.
Post number 2 for #blogjune 2011