In over my head

Posted on August 2nd, 2010 7 great comments. Room for one more!

Had big plans for this weekend: go down to see Caribanna, soak up the sunshine, restock my new photo collection. But fate’s a bitch, ain’t she?

At around 9 p.m. on Saturday night I started to get a migraine. No biggie, I thought, usually lasts a few hours, I’ll be right as rain tomorrow. By 2 a.m. I’d emptied the contents of my stomach from the pain, couldn’t quite see out of my left eye, and just wasn’t having a good time. Not good at all.

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If you’re not sure if you’ve experienced a migraine, there’s a real simple test. If you stand up quickly or do anything to make your blood pressure jump suddenly, and your headache gets worse, it’s a vascular headache. That’s vascular from the Roman word “vascus” meaning “hurts more when you stand up quickly”. Some people claim that it has something to do with circulation of blood but I wouldn’t put much stock in that.

In any event, migraines have nothing to do with blood pressure so it doesn’t matter what you do. They’re a weird beast. Sometimes they’re quick, sometimes they last a bit longer. For me it was sometime around 3 p.m. the following day when it finally started to let up. Usually I’m a cranky fuck if I don’t get enough sleep but I gotta tell ya, I didn’t mind so much this particular Sunday.

I spent the rest of the day on the sofa watching bad movies and enjoying the fuzzy afterglow, the “aura”. And that was my weekend. How was yours?

Now I know, I’ve been told that if you take Ibuprofen early enough you can sometimes stave off a migraine. That’s if you can do it early enough, if you get enough of a warning, which I didn’t. And I find the statement a bit suspect anyways – Ibuprofen is a NSAID, Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug, meaning it reduces inflammation without the use of steroids (still often used for this purpose). If your brain has a bit too much pressure on it, as is the case with vascular headaches, it works beautifully. For migraines, though, I haven’t had much luck. Ergotamine, a blood-vessel constrictor, is also something I’ve tried that has never done shit. Caffeine I take in healthy doses on a daily basis so that headache treatment is also a dud. Acetaminophen is a joke.

Basically, there’s not much to do but wait for the lead weight on your head to dislodge of its own accord.

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As much as migraines suck, I do occasionally encounter another type of head – thing – that’s thought to be associated with migraines but much less sucky: Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. Never heard of it? That’s cool, no one I’ve ever described it to has either.

It usually starts with the same “aura” as a migraine but then, instead of pain, I start to experience weird things happening to my body, usually hands and feet. They grow big. Like, massive – the size of my bed or even bigger. Not really, mind you, they stay the same size, but they feel gigantic.

At the same time I find myself staring into a corner of the room wondering how it managed to get so impossibly far away. As a kid, when it happened more frequently, the door to my room would seem to be miles in the distance – somehow still the same size — but much farther away than usual.

You see where the name comes from now. And no little pill or bottle makes it go away. The technical terms are “macropsia” (feeling/seeing larger) and “micropsia” (feeling/seeing smaller), both of which can happen with this neato condition.

No, really, when it happened to me as a kid I thought it was neat. I would hardly say I “suffered” from the condition – cursory glances at my extremities would always assure me that they just felt ginormous. My mom would come into the room and with one deft footstep managed to cover a couple of miles. And it didn’t impair my movement so that didn’t bother me. In fact, to this day I think it would be kinda neat to temporarily have oversize hands to slap people with. The faraway stuff, though, I could take or leave – it’s just disorienting.

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome has been associated with psychoactive drugs (pretty sure I wasn’t tripping out as a kid so I’d rule that out), Epstein-Barr Virus or mono (not to the best of my knowledge), migraines (the most likely candidate), and brain tumors (I sure as hell hope not!)

For most of my life I had no idea that this even existed as a clinical condition let alone in other people. By pure accident I stumbled onto a discussion group dedicated solely to AIWS and discovered I wasn’t the only one. Most of the people there were discussing how either they or their kids were “suffering” from AIWS but I found it difficult to jump on that train. I mean, if I had it day-in-day-out then, yeah, that could become cumbersome. But for me it’s a sometimes maybe kinda deal.

Compared to a regular migraine, I’ll take AIWS any day of the week.

7 Comments on “ In over my head ”

  • mel
    August 3rd, 2010 2:42 am

    well at least u had a good rest. ur body needed it.

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  • Patrick
    August 3rd, 2010 7:47 pm

    Maybe it did, Mel, maybe it did :)

  • Teena in Toronto
    August 3rd, 2010 8:09 am

    Poor you :( I get wicked headaches occasionally.

    Read more from Teena in Toronto at:
  • Patrick
    August 3rd, 2010 7:47 pm

    Jeez, hope I didn't sound whiny, Teena. I was really hoping to talk more about AIWS (which seems to run in my family). But thanks anyhow :)

  • Hamilton Builders
    August 5th, 2010 7:57 am

    I also hate having a migraine. But not the times of I'm having migraine has decrease because of, I discover the alkaline water. This is the water I take every day. They say that it can help in healing many sicknesses.

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  • Patrick
    August 6th, 2010 5:50 am

    Alkaline water? Never heard of it! Is that like seltzer water, Hamilton Builders? It'd be a great and easy solution by the sounds of it.

  • Cloud Hosting
    August 11th, 2010 11:10 pm

    Never heard of it! Is that like seltzer water, Hamilton Builders? It’d be a great and easy solution by the sounds of it.

    Read more from Cloud Hosting at:

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