When Words Failed Me

Words make up my life.  Spoken, written, and read, they guide me through my day.  I speak them all – words of love, happiness, sadness, sorrow, shock, defeat, triumph, and blessing.

They are my words to hide dear or give with abandon.

Until one day, my words were no longer my own.

Unfortunately it turned into one of those trauma in the ER episodes.  I didn’t mean to make a scene.  I never do.  Scenes happen to me.

This past Monday, of course it had to be on a Monday, every circumstance in my little world aligned for a perfect storm.  I had a headache on the right side of my head since Friday.  My unfortunate family heard words of complaint scattered like sprinkles across ice-cream, only less sweet.

Pain relievers work on people without pain.  That’s mostly true.

So when I awoke Monday to a clearer head, I thought the worst of the storm passed, but I’ve been known to be wrong.  Monday afternoon at precisely 3:15 my son had an appointment with the allergist, our allergist.  I didn’t have an appointment myself, until the scene that is.  Because the doctor’s office is in a large complex, the center like the hub of an airport, I asked my husband to come home early and watch my daughter.   The ‘hub’ is a giant waiting room with each doctor nestled in his own hanger.  There are dermatologists, family physicians, allergists, eye specialists, and others I never intend to visit.  The actual exam rooms are quite small and I don’t prefer to leave my daughter alone in the waiting room filled with strangers.  Sick strangers.

Instead of staying home, my husband decided to come along and promised to entertain my daughter while we checkup’d.

The sun never shines when my hormones rage.  It’s a fact of life.  You can bet money on it.  I’ll refrain.

Rainy days bring sinus problems, barometric pressure, and a general malaise.  I should become a weather girl.  On this Monday, I had an asthma attack in the car.  A few puffs of albuterol and I was breathing again, but about ten minutes from landing in a parking space, my vision started to blur.  Visual disturbances are my first sign of a migraine.  Like many, my vision will blur, spot, and flash zig-zags of light for about twenty minutes.  When my eyes clear, the headache comes.  Only my eyesight didn’t continue to get worse.  It settled on mildly blurry.

My husband and daughter stayed outside while my son and I entered the medical airport.  I got a bit dizzy on the walk in, but focused on the long line of people queued up for the ‘check-in’ receptionist.

When I turned to say something like, “You can go ahead and grab a seat” to my son, my words came out in a jumble and slur.  I looked at my son and he looked at me.  I tried again.

I couldn’t speak.  Not so anyone could understand me anyway.  I concentrated really hard and said something again, only I heard my jumble and slur.  Nothing made sense.

I wasn’t feeling so good and the line was quickly moving.  I didn’t really know what to do, so I pulled out my cell phone, punched in a “2” (my husband’s speed dial number) and handed the phone to my very confused son.

He said something is wrong with mommy and you better come in.

When my husband got me and asked what was wrong, I once again opened my mouth and said something slurred and unintelligible.  It was supposed to be “I can’t speak!”

He pushed me toward an empty chair, and said “I’m getting help.”

The one word that came clearly from my mouth was “No.”

Ever notice even babies are good at that word?

Well, the receptions must’ve called in some kind of emergency code, because doctors and nurses poured from every hanger.  The nurses from Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology claimed me as their own.  While people were pulling off my sweater, putting a blood pressure cuff on me and clipping my finger with an oxygen gauge, someone spattered me with questions I really didn’t do a good job answering.

Then they threw me in a wheelchair and raced away.

After a few minutes, my language skills returned, however, I remained a bit shaky.  After a full neurological exam and a million more questions, they determined I had a migraine.  It was in an area of the brain that affected my speech.  To be honest, my son remembers the technical explanation of my headache more than I.

Sure enough the pain hit a little later.  Then I had another migraine on Tuesday with the normal visual disturbances only.  Today is a better.  Much better than Monday, but I skipped homeschool group this morning.  I planned on painting chickens with the kids, but my head still feels like it’s in a vice.  Thirty children in one room with a flock of half-painted chickens may have pushed me over the edge.  I’m not sure my brain would have recovered.

As I understand it, migraines can pretty much disable a brain for a short time.  I’m praying I do not encounter the makings of another perfect storm…not anytime soon.

I am blessed.  Blessed my husband came along.  Blessed this happened while in the doctor’s office.  Blessed it didn’t last.  Blessed it wasn’t worse.  Blessed God is in control even when I’ve lost control.

So many women suffer from migraines.  I hate it.  So I’m wondering, have you ever had any stranger than normal headaches?


22 thoughts on “When Words Failed Me

  1. Heather

    I finally got a good medicine for my migraines, but even so they still occasionally hit me.

    Classic symptoms for m: not feeling quite right and fuzzy lights in my vision about an hour before the pain hits. Then it comes. Sensitivity to light, sound, touch, smells. Nausea (and what that often entails). Dizzyness and Confusion. My lower arms go all pins and needly, and legs just don’t want to work.

    Not often, but occasionally I get to where I have trouble speaking–confusion is normal, but like you I had a bout with jumbled words and mumbles. Very scary indeed.

    If you end up with them frequently (or just more than you would like) I HIGHLY suggest seeing a doc to get migraine abortive medicine. I know that if I catch the vision disturbances early I can completely stave off a migraine, or at least make it only a minor annoyance rather than a full blown own.

    Good luck, and many thanks for the unknown blessings in disguise like your husband coming along!

  2. stephgood1

    I recently just blogged about migraines myself! I can totally relate! My brain knows what it wants to say, but it doesn’t come out that way! Sometimes I get that super slow way of speaking and am sure that no one can even understand that! Most of the time I just seem to shift and cannot remember what it was I was just saying or thinking about. Then there are the times when I walk through a room, forget what I went for and wander aimlessly around looking for something I set down not five minutes before! Not to mention the pain!! UGH!

  3. Adventures of a Middle Age Mom

    So very glad you were in the right place at the right kind to get immediate attention. I’ve heard of migraines like yours (and a TV reporter had a similar experience on air not too long ago too so now more people know about them), but I surely would have thought “stroke.” I’m happy you have recovered from the attack, but I wish you didn’t have them at all. Reading the comments above I see so many women get them. Feh. Where’s the research money for this?!

  4. Sara

    How awful! But, how great that you were already in a doctor’s office. And, that you can write about it in a way that makes me smile! 🙂 I have a friend who gets migranes and has found that a McDonald’s cheeseburger and coke helps to stave them off.

    I lost the ability to speak once when I was pregnant during some sort of low blood sugar episode. Very scary when you have no idea what’s going on an no ability to communicate. You are officially in my prayer journal!!

  5. ~Karen

    I get migraines but not nearly so bad as yours! I do have times where what I say doesn’t make sense, but it is just because it hurts to put too much thought into what I’m trying to say. I also try not to go anywhere when the aura is going on – lines, noise, people walking towards me, bright lights – it just makes it worse!
    ((HUGS)) from one migraine sufferer to another.

  6. MissCaron

    You poor thing! Migraines suck! I get them myself. The first time I experienced auras I freaked out… drove to the Dr… had a panic attack and the nurse pulled down my pants and gave me a shot in the butt. Hurt so bad (almost as bad as the dang migraine). Now I’m better at catching it at the very beginning and if I don’t have the Maxalt then I take a handful of Excedrin. It’s awful (especially the barometric pressure changes). Mine are hereditary (as most are) so there is no avoiding it. Just gotta do what you can as soon as you feel one coming on. I’m so sorry for you. Glad that you’re doing alright though!

  7. Megan

    Wow that sounds awful! And I was just complaining about my piddly headache last week…I’d never compare it to a migraine. It started coming on in the afternoon and slowly built into the evening. I took two ibuprofen around 9 PM and two more at 11 PM before I got any kind of relief. The only reason I mention it is that it was the worst I’ve ever had and within just a few days of yours, I’ve definitely never had the sensitivity to light or even had a headache bad enough to make me nauseous (now if you’d said cramps on the other hand…).

  8. Jill

    I’ve had really horrible, can’t-function headaches, but never a migraine. But I think two things that would frighten me the most would be losing my vision and losing my ability to communicate. So glad you’re doing better now! : )

  9. robin

    There was a video on CNN a few weeks ago of a news reporter who was in the middle of a live report when she started saying jumbled up words. Everyone thought she was having a stroke or something, but it was a migraine.

      1. Megan

        I’ve suffered from migraines since I was in 5th grade but I’ve never had one that bad. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had one last consecutive days. The first I ever heard about slurred speech migraines was that reporter Robin mentioned. It’s scary stuff–I would totally be freaking out thinking I was having a stroke or something. Glad you’re all better. Here’s to hoping for migraine-free days ahead!! (I had one this week, but they have gotten fewer and farther between as I’ve gotten older…one good thing about aging, I guess!)

  10. Deb

    That’s just scary to read never mind going through! 😦 I can’t imagine how you must have felt. I’ve never heard of that happening with a migraine before. Praise God your hubby was there.

  11. Charlie

    I had my first when I was about 10 weeks pregnant with my second baby. Troubling part was that it started in my car. I didn’t know what was happening so I thought that the guy driving in front of me was driving erratically. Turns out I had no peripheral vision. When I got to my destination (unharmed) I could’t remember where I was. I kept going through the facts I did know but then I would look around and realized I couldn’t read anymore. When I lost feeling throughout the right side of my body and my lip was jerking up then only thing I could think was ‘stroke’. Turns out it was one badass migraine with no headache! Apparently hormones can mess with your head in more ways than we knew.

    1. the domestic fringe Post author

      Wow. This sounds terrible. The doctor did warm me that my arm could also go numb. The first time you lose your vision like that it’s scary. I started with that when I was young, probably a young teen, so now I’m accustomed to the visual changes. Glad you got to your destination safely! Hormones are devils. 😉

  12. Jennifer Jo

    Whoa, that’s freaky. And yes, I’ve had migraines and they’re awful. Here’s the last one I posted about (the comments have some good advice). http://bit.ly/hksDJA

    Oh wait. I just read the comments and you wrote one of them, so I guess that means you read the post already. Sorry to be so redundant.

  13. Felicitas Cortez

    I also suffer from migraines. We’re talking about knock-me-out-don’t-come-near-me-turn-off-the-lights-or-i’ll-throw-up type of migraines. They would start as a buzzing in my head and progress to something unbearable. After seeing a neuro and trying available meds (including one I had to spray inside my nose, yuck!), my docs found out I had high blood pressure. These HBP spikes were causing my migraines. Hope you find the cause of your headaches–stay well!

  14. Jennilem

    Ugggh. What a horrible day! Migraines were passed to me from my mother but I didn’t begin getting them until after my second child was born. I knew the instant I got my first one and I NEVER go anywhere without my meds.


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