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Stroke Diary

The Saga of a Cluster

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I've talked before about how I have periods of being well and then not. It's become increasingly clear in recent times that much of this can be characterised in the broadest terms as "migraine". I use the word in quotes as to people who don't get them migraine means a serious headache, perhaps preceeded by flashing lights in the eyes.

In fact there's a bit more to it than that. I've recently been reading an excellent book on migraines "Managing Migraine in Primary Care" by Anne McGregor. It's aimed at GPs and health professional but it's fine for a lay reader so long as you're fairly familiar with the jargon and I strongly recommend it if you're a sufferer (or "migraineur" as she calls us).

For the classic migraine experience you get the "prodrome" phase (typical symptoms including tiredness, yawning, food craving, fluid retention) then the light show "aura", then the headache and "resolution" phases (light and noise sensitivity, nausea) and "recovery" phase (tiredness, diuresis, emotional swings).

Not everyone gets every phase. Before my stroke I used to only get the aura and nothing else. Now I sometimes get prodrome symptoms (I hadn't realised this until I read Anne's book, but I can see it now), I never (with only one exception) get the aura. I sometimes skip the headache too but the triptans I've discussed here before sort that out. What scuppers me is the resolution/recovery phase. I often get this without the headache but the either way I'm left feeling dizzy, spaced out and unable to think clearly or make decisions.

So, let's review the last fortnight as I'm in the mood for a whine.

As I mentioned in my last posting here I've not been too well lately. Here's a summary:

Wed01/6 Long meeting with customer left me feeling wiped out in the afternoon. Not really surprised.
Thu02/6 Still not feeling that great. Started writing up the results of our meeting but didn't get very far. Felt very odd while walking the dog and even odder when we got home
Fri03/6 More of the same
Sat04/6 Can't remember, which probably means I was all right that day
Sun05/6 Stressful news in the afternoon and within a couple of hours I'm feeling spaced out/dizzy
Mon06/6 Went to GP's in the morning and felt increasingly unwell, no headache but classic resolution/recovery phase symptoms
Tue07/6 Spaced out/dizzy again
Wed08/6 Bit better today but still not right
Thu09/6 Worse again, back to feeling spaced out/dizzy
Fri10/6 Good day, pretty much symptom free
Sat11/6 Just when I thought I'd broken free of this patch I set off into town in the truck only to feel increasingly dizzy and have to turn back on Milton Road. I was seriously starting to wonder if I'd make it back at one point or would have to pull over and phone home and ask to be rescued.
Sun12/6Felt great
Mon13/6 Ditto, attended stressful parish council in the evening
Tue14/6 Felt very tired (prodrome?) mid evening followed by stonking headache. Went to bed.

So there you have it. Not all obviously migraine events (the 2nd and 11th in particular look more typical of the other neurological baggage I carry), however most of the rest looks like migraine to me and I've been ill on ten days out of fourteen.

As the book makes clear stress (both while it's occurring and afterwards on the rebound) is a significant trigger for a lot of migraineurs and my experience both previously and this time suggests I fall into that category. Looked at in this light this patch was preceded by a letter from a villager which I found upsetting and stressful, I then had the meeting on 1st June which was great but hard work. I think those two probably combined to start me off. Then the news of Sunday 5th really got me going full steam into the second week.

I'm now wondering if Monday's parish council was the trigger for last night's migraine. I'm sure I've seen this before where I've been ill after meetings. I think it's time I started keeping a more formal diary again.

Written 15/06/05

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