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The Wacky World of Silent Migraines

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.

No relief

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.

Trial by fire

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

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.

Everything was black

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.

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 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.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • MsTrivette
    11 months ago

    Apparently, I too get silent migraines. I was driving down the road one day and noticed that half of the vehicle in front of me was not visible. I could see the right side of it, but not the left side. I pulled over and noticed that on the left side of my vision were squiggly lines. I thought it was my optic neuritis at first, but this was happening in both eyes. My Optic neuritis was only in my right eye. I had no headache associated with this, so there was no reason to suspect a migraine. This lasted about 30-45 minutes. I told my neurologist about it and he said it was migraines. After doing some research, it fit the bill for silent migraines. I have experienced other symptoms of migraines that have nothing to do with headaches. Who knew? P.S. I have had RRMS for twenty one years.

  • potter
    11 months ago

    I have a type of migraine that I didn’t believe was a problem with migraines until my neurologist told me. I had several other doctors that told me my headaches were migraines but I didn’t believe them. I don’t trust doctors very much. Mine is in the back of my head and neck and seems to be brought on by storm fronts moving in and out. Depending on the weather I can have them for a couple of weeks. I was offered medicine but the side effects were scary so I declined. I read recently those types of headaches are caused by a lesion that is at your brain stem connecting to your spine. Sleep is also the best treatment for them. Potter

  • Kim Dolce moderator author
    11 months ago

    I’ve had those back-of-the-head headaches, too. Barometric pressure definitely brings on pain. I tried to tell one of my neuros that the weather brings on those symptoms and he didn’t believe me. I guess we know our bodies better than anyone. Thanks for sharing that, potter. –Kim

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