Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Well, that's just dandy.

I am a migraneur (yes, that's a real word), and have recently been actually formally diagnosed as same; I've been suffering migraine headaches for the past five years, having (I now realise, since reading Oliver Sacks on the subject) been in a constant state of aura from roughly the age of five right up through my early twenties, but in the UK, I never troubled my doctor with them. About three or four times a year, I would simply find myself needing to take a dose of paracetamol and codeine, and go lie down in a darkened room for a day, whilst it hurt to breathe. In recent months, however, the frequency increased to the point of suffering a headache every couple of weeks, and I began to suffer multi-day attacks. This was clearly unacceptable, and so it was off to the doctor. He ordered an MRI scan of my brain, which glory of glories, was approved by my medical insurance (and more on such subjects I shall not say), and the results returned as "normal", which is to say there are no gross physical abnormalities of my brain which could explain migraine-like symptoms. That means it's all down to strange wiring, which I already knew was present, as I'm also a synaesthete. For the technical types, think of it as crosstalk between senses; for the druggies, think of it as a permanent low-grade hallucinogenic experience. I hear colours and see sounds, which does lead to some truly astounding consequences of migraine aura; the visual disturbances feed into auditory hallucinations, which feed into visual disturbances, and before very long I have the neurological equivalent of shoving a microphone into the PA speaker cone.

Anyway. I was officially diagnosed as a migraineur, and provided with a supply of Imitrex, or at least a generic version of same, which is a rather mysterious chemical. I'm unclear as to how exactly it works, but it does generally reduce the pain of migraines significantly. Accessory symptoms remain, though. I've been taking that as needed, but the followup appointment revealed that I was still suffering migraines frequently, and so I'm now also taking Amitripyline, which it turns out is a tricyclic antidepressant, but which is used off-label at a low dose as a migraine preventer. It seems to be working; I'm about three weeks in, and so far it's kept the headaches at bay.

Although, this morning, I woke up, insofar as I did wake up, feeling distinctly odd. It's taken me until now to realise what I felt like.

Today is feeling like the aftermath of a migraine headache. It's distinctly odd to have the postdrome without the aura, the headache, and so on, and I'm not sure I like it. On the other hand, I did at least not suffer the headache.

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