Complicated Morning, Complicated Migraine

On Thursday morning, I lost my peripheral vision in my right eye as I was typing a document. I thought I had just stood up and sat down too fast or something along those lines, so I got up and walked around the office to shake it off. It felt as if I had just walked inside after a bright, sunny day, and my eyes were unable to focus, even though they were not dilated. I called my eye doctor to see if they could check out my eyes that morning, but they were unable to see me until after 5pm that day. After 10 minutes of no recovery, I told one of my coworkers what was happening. By this point, my right eye’s vision was more like specks and floaties – similar to what you see before fainting. I had tried minutes before to tell Steven what was happening via Gchat, and I found that I was typing completely wrong words – not just typos.

My coworkers (bless them), convinced me to call my OB and tell them what was happening. At 34 weeks pregnant, you can’t be too careful. They asked me to get to the office as quickly as possible and to have a coworker drive me there. Laura and I got in the car, and on the way over, I tried to give her directions to the hospital. My nouns were gone. I felt like a person with a dementia diagnosis. I could explain to an extent, but I just couldn’t come up with the correct words to describe. It was scary, frustrating and completely frightening. We knew something was majorly wrong.

By the time we got to the Women’s Center at Community East, my vision had returned, and my speech was improving. They took my blood pressure, which was extremely high, and based on my other strange events, wheeled me to Labor & Delivery to check out my labs and continue monitoring my blood pressure. They were highly concerned it was the onset of preeclampsia.

Thankfully my labs came back normal, and my blood pressure was dropping, but I was contracting every 2 minutes (didn’t feel it at all!), and they decided to keep me for 24 hours just to make sure it wasn’t anything more serious.

The nursing staff was amazing and checked on me periodically to make sure I was comfortable and feeling well. I had a slight headache all day, but I was seeing and speaking fine after the initial episode, which lasted about an hour or so that morning.

My OB came in that evening to debrief his findings. At that point, he wasn’t convinced it was preeclampsia, but he wanted me to stay and talk to a neurologist because though my symptoms didn’t look like an obstetrics issue, pregnant women are more likely to have blood clots, headaches and migraines that can affect many areas in the brain. He ordered an MRI, which turned back normal.

I spent the night and was consistently monitored to watch Wesley’s heartbeat and movements. I’m pleased to say that he’s in wonderful health, and this had no affect on him whatsoever. I enjoyed hearing his little heartbeat, occasional hiccups and watching his heart rate increase as he shifted positions. This monitor definitely opened my eyes to be more aware of My Little Person. He provided much comfort and security during a scary, uncertain few hours.

After a night in a hospital bed, my nurse practitioner came in to tell me that they had talked to the neurologist, and she was going to see me at some point that day to go over her findings and prognosis. If the neurologist was fine with my discharge, then I would be cleared to leave.

Thankfully, the nurses, my OB and NP were growing less worried that it was a pregnancy issue, which helped calm my nervous considerably, and I felt in good health all day. Mom and I enjoyed watching bad shows on TLC all day until the neurologist came.

She had great things to say: if you have had even one migraine in the past (which, I had several in middle and high school years), you are more likely to develop a “complicated migraine,” which can affect cognitive, speech, vision and temporary paralysis. She said that some patients look as if they have had a stroke, when it has, in fact, been a complicated migraine. In addition, pregnancy can make its occurrence even more likely because of increased blood flow, chance of clots, etc.

Even more interesting: Mom had a strange series of events in January that caused areas of her face and arms to go numb for several minutes at a time. She was hospitalized for 3 days to conduct a series of tests to rule out stroke, clots and other more serious issues. Once we brought this to the attention of the neurologist, she said, “That was most likely a complicated migraine as well. In fact, once you start quizzing patients with this particular migraine, you can always find a relative in the family who has had a similar occurrence.”

This was the weirdest, scariest and most frightening situation I have experienced. I now know firsthand what it must be like to live with a dementia diagnosis. My encounters certainly placed me closer to understanding our Guests at Joy’s House. If you haven’t yet seen this youtube clip of a similar situation that happened to a news reporter on air, relive what I experienced briefly on Thursday morning:

I am happy to report that I was discharged around 5pm on Friday, and I do not have preeclampsia. I do have a scheduled EEG next week to double check there isn’t any risk for seizure, but the neurologist is pretty confident of the complicated migraine diagnosis. Most likely, I will not receive another one, but there is a chance, and I have been asked to limit the amount of stress in my life until the baby is born. This doesn’t mean that I can’t resume normal activity, but I have to keep a better eye on my sleep patterns, what I’m consuming and how much I’m doing.

I can’t say enough great words about Community East. They have treated me with the upmost care and respect, and I have great reports on my the nurses in Maternity Services, the MRI techs, the transfer techs, even the room service staff! Some of the nurses pulled me aside when I was discharged, saying that they loved having me on their floor, and they can’t wait to meet little Wesley in 6 weeks!

Thanks to my loving husband, my awesome coworkers (especially Laura, for driving me to the hospital and staying while they figured out where I was headed), my dedicated parents and all the uplifting prayers and support from friends and relatives during my scary few hours in the hospital!

Posted: June 4th, 2011
Categories: Leah
Tags: , , ,
Comments: 4 Comments.
Comment from Amy - June 4, 2011 at 11:27 am

That is so scary. I had a complicated migraine once as well and thought it was a stroke. But I wasn’t pregnant at the time, which just ups the ante on the fear factor. Glad you’re doing ok now and that you were so well taken care of.

Comment from Aunt Lori - June 5, 2011 at 5:43 am

Leah, I am so glad to hear you are well. I had a headache in June 08, I went to my regular eye doctor appointment. In his parking lot I was passing out and called 911. I could speak and then nothing. I was in a coma like state for about 2hours. After an over night stay and every test known to man, my neurologist informed me that I have a very high tolerance for pain and I had a migraine which caused my brain to shut down other organs so the brain would survive. It was weird. I always wear sunglasses unless it is dark and if I have a little headache I find a dark quiet room and stay there. So that’s my story. So glad you are ok. Look for a package for Wes. Love the name by the way. Take care. Love Aunt Lori

Comment from Godmama Nikki - June 5, 2011 at 3:27 pm

This sounds exactly like the type of migraines that Charles was having ever day before he began taking medication. If you remember us talking to you about it when we were first dealing with it 3 years ago, he was having spells which we called gray-outs where he was conscious but not coherent and exhibited all of the symptoms that you listed. According to our neurologist at Hopkins these symptoms occur partially because the headache has become so powerful that your brain attempts to isolate the effected area and, depending on the region where the pain began, certain functions are impaired. You are really lucky that the doctors were able to identify it so quickly, it took us 6 months, three hospitals, and 2 neurologists to get a diagnosis but that might be because his were chronic. So glad you and Wesley are ok. If your doctor did not already give you one I can send you a copy of the headache diet from John’s Hopkins so that you know what foods to avoid.

Comment from Soon-To-Be-Mama - February 5, 2013 at 4:59 pm

I just had an experience very similar to this! No words can describe how frightening it is. I would try to say one thing and a completely different word would come out. It started with flashing neon lights in most of my right field of vision, then I developed random “blind spots” that made it look like everyone had half of a face. I could deal with these symptoms ok, but when it started affecting my speech about 1/2 hour later I broke down and bawled. It happened when I was trying to order a bacon hamburger and I couldn’t think of the word bacon! I tried to look up my symptoms in Google but all of the search results looked like gibberish! I remember thinking “who wrote these articles? They don’t make any sense at all!” (later, once my brain was back to normal I looked back at the Google search results and they all made perfect sense). I tried to explain to my husband how I was feeling and when I attempted to say that my head was tingling like it does when you hyperventilate, the words “head” and “tingling” came out “hair” and “hurts”. It was so bizarre and so scary. Thankfully it only lasted about 1 1/2 hours and then I returned to normal with a slight headache that lasted the entire next day. I never had a problem like this before but the doctor said it is probably related to my pregnancy. They don’t seem too concerned with a one-time occurrence but if it happens again they said to let them know immediately. I hope you don’t have to go through an experience like that again. It is terrifying!


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