Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Adventures in Migraineland

Twice in the past week and a half, I have gotten migraines.  It's weird because these days, I rarely get them anymore.  I think the cause is the broken sleep I've been getting at night (through to her credit, Stella has been a stellar - ha! terrible pun! - sleeper, compared to a lot of little ones) combined with some serious dehydration.  I've just been really bad about drinking enough, which is especially important now since I'm nursing.  Also, I'm still kinda in the excited post-partum stage of "YES! I can drink coffee again!  I can drink beer! I can drink wine!", and have been choosing too many of these yummy yet dehydrating drinks over good-for-me things like water.

I always know when a migraine is coming, because there are a series of unpleasant pre-migraine symptoms that I go through.  First there's the visual weirdness, where I can't really focus on any one object, and everything in my vision is sorta fading in and out.  Then comes the phase where the part of my brain that deals with formulating thoughts and whatever part deals with actually turning that into language and speech seems to be basically disconnected .  It's like I can think of a concept or idea that I want to say, but when it tries to come out of my mouth, I'm either speaking completely different words or else actual nonsense.  And lastly I move into the stage where consecutively different parts of my body goes numb one at a time - my foot, then my arm, then my mouth, etc.  And then finally it's time for the awesome pounding headache to kick in.

The good news, though, is that as soon as the symptoms start, I know a migraine's coming and can often head it off by taking Excedrin.  Unfortunately, that has aspirin in it, which - who knew? - can cause a breastfed baby to experience random and dangerous hemorrhaging!  According to the internet (which, I agree, is not an expression that should inspire a ton of confidence) after taking aspirin, you should not breastfeed for several hours, then things should be alright.  Newborns don't wait a couple hours.  So this means I've been forced to deplete my precious and already-tiny stores of pumped milk in the freezer, thus prolonging any longed-for baby-free excursions on my part.

The second pre-migraine stage - the brain-not-working one - is my favorite.  When I was going through that craziness last week, we happened to be driving back home in the car.  Tom had never actually been present when I was experiencing my pre-migraine symptoms (in the past, he's only had the joy of coming home from work to a wife in an excellent mood due to a long day of migraine-suffering), so I think he didn't really believe me when I warned him about the whole not being able to speak properly part.  The rest of the ride basically looked like this: Tom driving the car at a very unsafe speed, trying to get me home in time to take some drugs before the headache got worse, me laughing/crying in frustration at my completely failed attempts to say anything I wanted to say to him, and Tom just getting a total kick out of the whole thing.

I tried for a full minute to get out the word "mouth", without being able to clearly wrap my head around the word for mouth, only the concept of it (i.e. "that thing on my face that's supposed to be speaking the right words for me right now, but is totally letting me down").   I eventually had to point to my actual mouth, and ask "what's this called?!!".

Tom then gave me a little test.  He pointed at a sign, asking me to read it.  The sign said "runaway truck ramp."  "Okay, I've got this", I thought, as I confidently said, "trutch!"  Tom burst out laughing, and told me to try that again.  But even the word had already flitted out of my confused little brain.  I had to ask him to repeat the word again just so I could hear it.  He did, only for me to say again, "trutch"....about eight more times!  We finally gave up on that one.  The next sign said exit: "Edgup!".  Tom burst out laughing again, and I finally decided to give up.  We arrived home, and I lay on the couch, resigning all attempts to speak for a while.

This same verbal-impairment stage provided some more amusement today. As it was just starting up, I became convinced that I could fool it.  I was certain that my brain didn't work properly only if I actually tried to speak, but that it would be fine if I was writing.  I typed off an e-mail to my husband, convinced that it made perfect sense.  Several hours later, I came back to the computer and saw his response saying that he wasn't even going to try to understand me because he had no idea what I was trying to say.  Huh?  I looked back to see what I'd sent:
"my mind is sorta fussy now. It's weird, but it's harder to hard than it is to type right now. I'm hoping that this time I can do away again before it too bad actually again. Wow. I can't talk now, but write. Weird now."
Ha!  That's awesome.  And that e-mail was after I'd gone through a few times and edited some of the more obvious mistakes.  The worst part is, though,  that after sending what I believed to be a perfectly coherent e-mail to my husband this morning, I felt confident enough to use the next fifteen minutes to finish writing (and mailing off!) a pile of thank-you cards to Tom's various relatives who have sent baby gifts recently!!  Yes sir, they're going to think very highly of the obviously intelligent woman Tom chose for his wife...


  1. I have stomach problems so asprin is also out for me. I've found that caffeine + acetaminophen works well for me though I don't know about the combination and breastfeeding. (I was too sick to breastfeed after my son's birth so he got formula.) Have you talked to your doctor to see if there's a preventative like propranalol you can take?

  2. Ok, this was hilarious, and I laughed insanely, especially at what those thank you notes must look like, but. I am worried about you! I admit I don't know too much about migraines but is that kind of language loss normal? Have you spoken to your doctor about it?

    I get headaches when I'm dehydrated too (the regular kind) and what I've found helps the most is two things. First is, once Pippa is in bed, I drink like a camel. I just knock back two or three tall glasses of water in five or ten minutes. That seems to help a lot, and actually I'm at the point now that once she's in bed I immediately feel really thirsty. I think a big issue is just being too busy to drink during the day, too preoccupied with kiddos.

    The second tactic is to put water bottles all over the house (or at least the rooms one is likely to be in). If I sit down someplace and there's no water there, I'm unlikely to get myself some, but if I SEE it, I'll probably drink it. And plain water in a bottle doesn't go bad.


    (I am experimenting with using Google instead of my LiveJournal.)

  3. I experience worse-than-birth migraines during the post-partum period too. It's a predictable as clockwork. I recently learned that I have a recurring thyroid problem that is common in post-partum women and one of the symptoms is migraine headaches. If your headaches persist, you may want to ask your doctor if this may be an issue for you too. Who knew?

  4. Generally speaking, i don't get migraines, but I can get really bad multi-day dehyrdation headaches if I don't make sure I drink enough. They stink. so I can only imagine what your headaches are like.

    That said, it is a good thing you aren't operating heavy machinery. Seriously though… take a day or two or ten and focus on getting yourself properly hydrated and back on track. :) Feel better!

  5. Oh man, I haven't got a migraine in awhile, but I remember all those nasty symptoms. The language loss was my favorite part too, LOL!

  6. er, haven't HAD a migraine in awhile.