The Wacky World of Silent Migraines
Last updated: January 2022
I have a shady past. If I ever thought about running for office, I’d have to drop out as soon as certain facts saw the sunlight. I refer not to criminal activity, but to an unholy alliance with migraines. If you’ve had them, too, I don’t even have to explain this - but I will anyway.
Growing up with relentless migraines
From age 10-21, I had pretty regular migraines. Brain-splitting, sensitive-to-light-and-sound, nausea-inducing headaches. Time was lost lying immobile in a darkened room, time that should have been spent doing homework and attending orchestra rehearsals. The only pain reliever we had in the house back in the 60s and 70s was aspirin, and that brought no relief at all. Ultimately I had to go to bed and sleep it off.
Some relief in young adulthood
Much to my relief, the headaches tapered off in young adulthood with only an occasional crawl-into-bed-or-die episode. I thought I lucked out. Maybe I’d gone through a phase in childhood that would subside for good after reaching full maturity. In a faith context, perhaps that trial by fire had earned me a reprieve on the strength of being quite the little trooper. If the kid can live through that kind of pain and not scream and pee herself, then she could meet real trouble and take it to the canvas like Cassius Clay did to Sonny Liston.
I would have settled for a merit badge and dinner at Bill Knapp’s. But apparently, I’m a special case with a mandate to settle for more.
Developing MS twenty years after the migraines subsided was, no doubt, part of settling for more. Weird sh*t never stops happening. For example, although migraine pain happens only occasionally, another aspect of migraine appeared for the first time a few years back in the form of ocular aura, better known as silent migraine.
My vision went black except for a silver crescent
The first time it happened while I was busily working on the computer. Suddenly my vision dulled and a silver crescent appeared. Since this experience was brand new, it took a few seconds to process what was happening. I stopped typing and closed my left eye so I could only see through the right. Everything was black except for that shimmering crescent on the right edge of my vision.
Searching symptoms online
I pulled up the browser search box and typed in the symptoms as I saw them, literally looking at and through them. A medical term popped up with a definition that exactly described the tunnel I was peering through along with a dainty filigreed sliver of a moon dangling off to one side. Ocular aura. Silent migraine. The darkness soon faded and the crescent turned translucent, then transparent. It was over within 30 minutes.
The ocular aura appeared again
That was three years ago. Recently it happened again, but in a different way. Again, I was busily working away on the computer when a crescent appeared in my right peripheral visual field. This time, however, the line was jagged and I didn’t go blind in that eye. Over time it got bigger, looser, wobbling in a somewhat fixed position. After 30 minutes, it disappeared.
The painless hallucinations
Fortunately, I did not develop pain after the visual hallucinations subsided. It’s been one or the other. Either right-sided headache pain during seasonal transitions, or right-sided crescents without pain years apart.
The hallucinations are things I can enjoy since they are painless. Like a vivid dream that isn’t a nightmare. Those are so fun to try to analyze. Be it silent migraine or vivid non-nightmare, it’s cool to experience what our brains can do when they sort of whack out and make things appear that aren’t really there.
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