Citation: Holly C. "The Brain's Natural Trip: An Experience with Migraine with Aura (exp63267)". Erowid.org. Jun 28, 2007. erowid.org/exp/63267
||Pharms - Ibuprofen
This is an experience I would like to share with others that invloves a neurological phenomanon that effects 5-10% of the population. It does not involve the use of drugs but it does produce a mind altering state. Hildegard of Bingen, Giorgio de Chirico, Salvador Dali, Yayoi Kusama, Marina Abramovic, Sarah Raphael, are just a few artist that are said to have painted from inspiration created by migraine with aura. It is still unknown the cause, but some theories suggest excitable areas of nerve endings on the brain.
'Migraine with aura is a recurrent disorder manifesting in attacks of reversible focal neurological symptoms that usually develop gradually over 5 - 20 minutes and last for less than 60 minutes. ' - Migraine Aura Foundation.
Mine last about this long, followed by the classic migraine symptom of severe head pain, but during the 'aura' phase I have no pain. I have had five of these attacks in my lifetime (I am now 22). I have gone to the emergency room and had MRIs taken, and it has been concluded that I occasionally (about every couple years) suffer from a major migraine with aura attack. Nothing to worry about. Now that I am aware that it is not a stroke, I have learned to sit back and absorb the migraine for what it is.
I would like to share with you my most recent attack that happened about a week ago. (I am still feeling slightly 'hung over')
I was getting ready for my second day of my new job (horrible timing) and I had just finished doing my hair. I was looking at myself in the mirror when suddenly one of my eyes dissapeared. This sounds very bizarre and it is hard to explain, but it is as if my focal plane looses a piece of the puzzle. It is not a black spot, but simply that an area of my vision is lost. I realised this must be the beginning of an aura, and I looked around the bathroom. A picture of a dog on the wall was also missing an eye, and the towel hanging on the rack appeared missing a corner. The area where my vision was going was growing larger.
Around the edges of the area of lost vision, there grows a sparkling (almost like fireworks) design. Every now and then colors appear in this sparkle 'border' and it gets bigger and smaller.
By now I am sitting on my bed, wondering how I will explain this to my new boss. (My shift starts in 40 minutes and there is no way I will be able to drive). Along with the visual distortions, comes an imense head buzz. It is as if I smoked a large joint - it is extremely hard to concentrate.
My muscles are feeling very weak, and every now and then some muscles twitch in my legs. That is another symptom, muscle weakness, some loss of muscle control. I pick up the phone to tell my new boss what is going on. It is hard to find the words, talking is more difficult than normal. I don't think they believe me, I assume they think I am on drugs - but I insist I cannot come in and hang up. The cordless phone hits the table with a thump - my muscles are very weak.
The tip of my thumb begins to tingle and a pins and needles sensation creeps up my arm. I am used to this now, the last time it happened I was sure I was having a heart attack or stroke, but the symptoms are so classic now I know exactly when it is a migraine with aura.
The pins and needles sensation stops at my cheek. I am laying down on my bed now. Dizzy, seeing sparkles, feeling a total head and body buzz and feeling pins and needles on most of my right side. I know that my headache will be on the left, it is always on the opposite side of where my body is most affected.
This is the peak of my attack. I feel so messed up, like I am on very powerful drugs. My dog climbs into my bed and licks my hands, it feels very different from what it should feel like. As if warm pudding is crawling up my arm.
I lay there and think about death. I am scared (as usual) but not as scared as I used to be of these attacks. Being afraid and altered like this always puts my world into perspective. I don't do any drugs harder than pot, and even then I only get a little buzzed and don't do it often at all, and right now I feel like I have done some very hard drugs. This could be similar to what it feels like when you die as if all of your senses are slipping away, I think to myself.
Suddenly, and this stage is the best part, it all calms and recedes like a tide carrying itself out to sea. And a wonderful feeling of euphoria and relaxaion takes over. It lasts about 10-20 minutes before the headache begins but it is such a pleasant feeling. Sleepy, relaxed, and calm. At this point I usually take the opportunity to take an Advil and fall asleep and if I am lucky, I can sleep through the majority of the headache.
This where it ends, but not quite. I can recognize symptoms leading up to my attacks (predrome phase) and afterwards (prodrome) sometimes called a migraine 'hang over'. Both consist of feeling tired, lightheaded, slightly moody and appetite changes (either no appetite or lots of it).
I hope that my experience can help others who suffer from migraine with aura. When I first started experiencing them it was very frightening and it wasn't until I met some others with similar symptoms that I calmed down and felt way better about my situation. I even learned to relax and enjoy the 'trip'. The only drawback is the knowledge that soon my head is really going to hurt. (And no wonder!)
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