The weirdest migraine

July 25, 2017

I’ve been suffering from the occasional migraine for some years. My migraines are very consistent and are known as ocular migraines, or migraines with aura. They start with a spot in the centre of my vision. As soon as this happens I know I’m going to get a migraine and I know that the pain will follow in about 20 minutes. (I found this page from the Mayo Clinic informative.)

Either my wife or I generally carry ibuprofen lysine (aka Ibuprofen Express), which is a more soluble, and therefore quicker-acting form of ibuprofen than the regular medication. If I take this immediately the aura starts then I can generally avoid, or at least massively reduce, the pain of the subsequent headache.

When this happens I generally take myself off to bed, or a darkened room.

ocular-migranie-images-300x153The progress is always the same, the spot expands, it becomes a jagged bright diagonal line and I lose up to half my visual field. Which side I lose depends on which side I’m getting the migraine, so if my right visual field disappears then it’s a left-sided migraine and that’s where the pain occurs. The image above is very similar to my experience. This is from a website on Ocular Migraines. Very occasionally I get the same effect on the other side.

After about 30 minutes my vision returns (the jagged line slowly rises up my visual field and out of view) and if I haven’t taken the pain killers, that’s when I get the pain, for a couple of hours. Following that, and for as much as the next two days, my head feels bruised – as if someone’s hit me on the back of the head with something hard.

There’s no particular food, drink or activity that I’ve noticed that triggers one of my migraines. It could happen at home in front of the television, or travelling, or sitting reading. I am aware that a bright polarised light such as sunlight reflected off a shiny surface such as a wet road, a table or a body of water can bring one on though. I try to avoid those situations.

Yesterday was different though.

We were in the car on our way to supper with some close friends when I noticed the first visual disturbance. We stopped and I took the ibuprofen. We contemplated turning back, but ultimately decided to press on. By the time we arrived, I’d lost the right-hand half of my visual field. We explained the situation to our friends, reassured them I’d be ok in a while, and I had a cold (non-alcoholic) drink.

Never before have I tried taking part in a normal conversation during a migraine attack. It was quite bizarre. I’d lost much of my vocabulary, and actually found speaking very hard. When I did speak, I wasn’t making any sense (either to me, or to anyone else). I knew what I wanted to say, but not only could I not find the right words, I wasn’t pronouncing the words I could find properly or in the right order! This isn’t something I’d ever noticed before, but the websites about ocular migraines mention that speech may be disturbed.

After an hour or so, during the lovely meal, I became more coherent. I carefully avoided the classic migraine foods of cheese, coffee, chocolate and alcohol. By the time we left for home I was feeling much more like myself. Just a little bruised and fragile. And because I was the one who hadn’t drunk anything, I drove.

Life returned to (relatively) normal. A most unusual experience. (And yes, I have consulted my doctor in the past, I’ve had an MRI scan of my head, and we’ve ruled out strokes, TIAs and other possible serious causes, so I just have to live with the migraines and keep taking the ibuprofen lysine.)



  1. […] ago about branding and ibuprofen. For some reason I didn’t post it. But having just written a post about migraines, and mentioned ibuprofen lysine, I thought this was appropriate, so I’m posting it […]

  2. Thanks for sharing this, it’s a huge relief to hear someone has had the same symptoms. Have you had any luck with finding out what this is?

    I have had the same experience (just the blurred vision and migraine) for years. Last night, I had a particularly bad episode where my hand felt numb, which has pretty much terrified me.

    Would be good to know where you got with this/have had any more?


    • Hi Cat,
      I’m glad this helped you a little. I’ve not really found out any more. After a particularly painful migraine I was referred to a consultant neurologist who basically said, “that’s a classic ocular migraine”. I have also had the numb hand/arm too. Alarming though it is, it passed fairly quickly, although from what I understand the symptoms are very similar to a heart attack, so it’s no wonder you’re worried. I suggest you might consult your doctor to get your heart function and blood pressure checked.

      As it happens I’m being treated for hypertension (high blood pressure) too. That’s a story all of its own which I might blog about soon. However, the neurologist pointed out that one of the drugs I’m prescribed (Candesartan) has been shown to be effective in reducing frequency and severity of migraines – but in higher doses than I was taking. So my doctor (who didn’t know that effect of the drug until I told him) adjusted my medication to increase the Candesartan to a suitable dose. I still get occasional migraines, but very infrequently, maybe twice a year, and they’re nowhere near as severe as in the past. But when they do come, I’ll get two or three close together, and then no more. I’ve not tried holding a conversation during a migraine again though.

      As with many things, it seems in most cases the best medical science can do is treat the symptoms. Good luck getting yours sorted. Do get your GP to check you over.

  3. Thank you, Mike! That’s really helpful. I think I will, just to check.

    Take care!

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