The Mighty Logo

When Hemiplegic Migraine Sent Me to the Emergency Room

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

We were out to dinner to celebrate our daughter’s birthday. I had migraine starting out the evening, but fought on through and painted on my smile.

My many medical conditions make daily living a gargantuan task and my pain levels are always high. I am lucky if I can physically get out of bed each morning, but today I had forced myself up and out.

As the meals arrived I did not want to eat as I was starting to feel nauseous. I needed a quiet dark room, not a packed, noisy and bright restaurant. Gosh it was bright; the lights were glaring!

I made it home and straight into bed. I was in absolute agony. I managed to mumble an unusual request that scared my family.

They know I am I fighter. The pain I am in daily, I have gotten so good at hiding from the world, but not from them.

I asked, “if I still had this migraine in the morning could I go to hospital because it is so severe.”

My family went into emergency mode and rushed me to hospital.

They did not call an ambulance because we lived so remotely. It would have been over an hour before the ambulance got to us, due to our location, and by that time they could be at the hospital with me in the car.

I was getting rapidly worse throughout the journey. My speech was slurred if I had energy to speak. I was slumped in the seat.

Once at the hospital my family transferred me to a wheelchair and rushed me into the accident and emergency department.

The nurse on duty took one look at me and stated she was not happy that I had not been brought in by ambulance as I appeared to be having a stroke. There was no time for discussion right then because I was not with them. I had totally gone. My vision, hearing and comprehension had gone and I seemed to drift in and out of consciousness. I was rushed through to treatment and hooked up to various machines. While tests were carried out and blood draws taken, I was admitted to stay overnight. My family reluctantly went home.

When they returned the next day I was not quite in the state they left me. I was awake and alert. But my face was still a little droopy and a dull headache lingered, but I could talk and the paralysis on the right hand side of my body now felt like pins and needles. I was still a little weak.

They were informed by the doctor that I had not had a stroke, but was suspected to have had a TIA, which is a mini stroke. But nothing would be confirmed until the results came back the next day.

Tomorrow came and my family were given the news that I had not had a stroke or TIA. The reality of the situation was that I had hemiplegic migraine. I was seen by the specialist and discharged with follow up appointments.

Hemiplegic migraine often presents like a stroke.

If you see anyone complaining of migraine, don’t think it’s just a headache, think FAST. You might just save someone’s life or stop a serious accident happening because people who suffer don’t get or know the warning signs of an attack.

Face is droopy
Arm weakness (cannot hold above head)
Speech is slurred
Time to call the emergency service

I am lucky not to have had a migraine attack as bad as the first one, although I have had a few bad migraine attacks since. Maybe because I know my triggers I can spot when a migraine is coming and rest.

I was scared when the migraine was more severe than normal, as were my family, but I am blessed to have their love and support.

Migraine attacks are not just headaches, sometimes they are debilitating.

Image via contributor’s Instagram

Originally published: July 2, 2021
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home