Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Migraine And Cognitive Impairments

Donna in Ontario writes;

... I am currently struggling to keep working but it is impossible to do so almost - having to report to work at a certain time when you can barely get out of bed and dress yourself first thing in the morning - short of taking a morning cocktail every single day to be able to even GET to the office. 
Anyways, I am wondering if you might touch on cognitive impairments associated with migraines (in your blog).  For me, when under prolonged attacks - both in frquency and intensity - I also have cognitive impairments in addition to the pain and other symptoms like nause...for example, forgetting the second half of my sentence (short term memory loss) in midsentence and problems with comprehension.  Simply put, I JUST CAN'T THINK when my head is pounding with extreme pain.
I can wholly relate to her impairments associated with her migraines. I have been plagued with the disease for nearly 30 years, and know how having these other symptoms in addition to the pain can cause emotional pain in addition to the physical pain that comes with the migraines.

I lost my struggle to continue working a standard shift of 8 to 5 shifts in the latter part of 2007. I was sick and working 50 to 60 hours a week. But I could not make the standard work schedule work out. I am now on disability and stuck in that rut. I feel even more depressed because I was able to do my job, complete projects on time, won departmental success awards each year I was there and went out of my way to provide successful learning experiences to my students.

Getting out of bed and rushing to down the daily morning medicine cocktail doesn't even guarantee that your illness will allow you to make it to work. Many of my migraines hit me in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. This makes it very difficult to manage them using standard treatment techniques. The cocktail of meds may include anti-depression, pain releavers, muscle relaxers to name but a few. Many of us could probably switch medicine cabinets without much change in our treatment (No I don't condone doing that).

Along with the killing pain that the migraine sufferer endures are usually other impairments including but not limited to nausea, short term loss of speech, not being able to finish a sentence, forgetting words, or difficulties with aphasia.
Sometimes my speech comes out in gobble-de-gook. Though I cannot speak properly I can use sign language (left hand only - and I am right handed). Sometimes I cannot hear. I have tinnitus almost constantly, but some mornings (Seems there is something with my sleep apnea) that I cannot hear at all. Another time that my rudimentary sign language comes to the rescue. I too, have had short term and long term memory loss. Sometimes it is the medications that add that happy{sarcasm} trick to our lives. My family sometimes takes odds on what symptoms they will see each morning. It's important to train your family to know just how far they can go, without causing you more mental stress.

You should take time between the poundings and write down all of the other symptoms you are experiencing, the food you ate, time you slept, weather outside and any thing else that might be a measure for you to keep track of. Do this so that you are armed when you see your medical professional. He or She may be able to stop some of your cognitive impairments by switching the drugs in your cocktail. It has helped me in the past to have a complete list of medications I have tried, what worked, what didn't, what caused memory loss, and how long you tried it and at what dosage. Make sure to take all this information to your physician in order to help them help you. It's a long road, but there are others on the same quest as yourself. Look at some of the links in the bottom right of this page and you will see blog sites in which I have found some kind of solace.

Unfortunately we each have a different journey and many have cognitive impairments. Our road is not a straight line, it has twists and turns, and this is why we need to reach across the line and help each other out.  Don't know if this is the article Donna wanted, but it does reflect my heart at this time.

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