Good morning, Migraine family. I hope you're taking some time for yourself this weekend and that your Migraines are being kind to you.
Last week, for some reason, I found myself thinking about a young woman named Abi, so I shared her story on Facebook and Twitter. If you didn't see it, take a look at I Still Remember Abi and Her Last Migraine. Abi was a young Migraineur whose parents not only didn't understand her Migraines — they'd gone so far as to accuse her of faking them to get attention. She had a Migrainous stroke, and we hoped her parents would be more understanding. Sadly, not long after she was discharged from the hospital, she had another Migraine and another stroke. The second stroke took her life.
The reason I'm talking about this again today is that we should all view Abi's story as a cautionary story for all of us. Migrainous strokes aren't common, but they do happen. It's common for us to think, "It won't happen to me," but we can't know that. It can happen to us, so part of caring for ourselves is being cautious. Migraine and stroke can present with many similar symptoms. I asked Migraine and Headache Specialist Dr. David Watson how we can tell the difference between a Migraine and a stroke if we're having symptoms that make us uncertain. He told me that doctors can have problems telling the difference sometimes and have to order imaging studies to be certain. He was also quite clear that we need to seek medical care immediately if we're in that situation.
We all have to exercise our own judgement about when to seek medical care, of course, but sometimes, it seems that we dismiss warning signs too easily. We don't feel like having to go out to the doctor, we don't want to bother anyone, and so on. It's so easy to promise ourselves that we'll do something tomorrow if continues. When tomorrow comes, we put it off another day. Sound familiar? Putting things off can present us with two problems:
- Waiting too long to get help.
- Running into a weekend or holiday when our doctors are out of their offices.
When we need help, the emergency room should be saved as a last resort unless our doctors tell us to go there. ER's are busy and noisy. The doctor there don't know us or our medical history, and many of them know little about treating Migraine. So, it's really best if we call our own doctors for help.
Times when we should call our doctors include:
- If we experience new or frightening symptoms.
- If we're having our "worst Migraine ever."
- If our Migraine is accompanied by:
- unresolved loss of vision
- loss of consciousness
- uncontrollable vomiting
- If the pain of a Migraine attack lasts more than 72 hours with less than a solid four-hour pain-free period, while awake.
- If we have a head injury.
Something else we can do is have a conversation with our doctors about when we should call them or seek emergency care.
The bottom line here is not to take unnecessary chances. There have been times when, in the middle of a Migraine, anxiety caused by the Migraine led me to panic and feel there was something seriously wrong. At those times, my husband has helped me enormously by asking me if I was having unusual symptoms, if the Migraine was worse than usual. He'd sit with me and help me take deep breaths to calm down. Once I worked through the panic, I realized it wasn't an unusual Migraine after all. That said, if there had been any question left, I'd have called my doctor. I've talked with my doctor about when to call for help, and developed a check list from that discussion. With that list, I now feel that I can determine if I need to seek immediate care, even if anxiety and panic are rearing their ugly heads.
Please, remember Abi, and don't take unnecessary chances.
because a migraine is NOT "just a headache"
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© Teri Robert, 2016.