When Migraine Becomes Our-graine

, , , | Hopeless | September 16, 2016

I work for a big-box retailer. I also suffer from a type of migraine that is predominantly noted with visual aura. For 20 to 30 minutes before the events occur, I’m noticing all of the hallmarks of a visual aura hitting me, which will be promptly followed by a migraine. The neurological aura-confusion-vertigo behaviors are actually way scarier than the pain of a migraine, so I’m hoping that the headache will hit and the confusion will go away. However, it’s progressing worse and worse. I have vertigo; my vision is shot by this point and I can’t make out coworkers faces even 10 feet away; I’m leaning on the wall to make sure I don’t fall down. As it’s progressing it’s getting even worse.

Me: “Hey, [Coworker]?”

I think my voice is loud, but it’s not. I try to get the attention of a coworker not even 10 feet away, but, busy with their job, and with my whisper-thin voice, they don’t hear me. At this point I’m dizzy, swaying, paler than a sheet, and the last really coherent thought I remember was ‘Sit down, or you’ll fall. You fall, you crack your skull on concrete. Cracked skull bad.’ Thankfully coherent enough for that simple thought to percolate, I sit down, right where I am. Note: being retail and a big box retailer, this is not exactly a ‘sit down’ job. I’m normally on my feet for all eight hours I work in a given shift. Customers pass me by, four or five, while I keep thinking I’m speaking loudly, trying to get a coworker’s attention, but I can’t, because my voice is a whisper. Finally, a guy, I can’t even remember what he looks like because of the visual aura, leans down.

Him: “Hey, man, you all right?”

Me: “No. No, I’m not.”

He went over to my coworkers, who finally turned around and saw me pretty much down. They got a manager who’s first aid trained, I kinda slurred/explained that it was a migraine hitting me, and ended up getting walked over to a bench by two of them — me, a reasonably fit 30-something male, walked to a bench by two much older women in their late fifties or early sixties. Personally, I remember the vague shapes of people walking past, so I know there were at least four or five people who just walked on by, but that guy and his wife stopped and checked on me. I’ve worked at the place for going on thirteen years, and we have many regulars who’ve been shopping there for as long as I’ve been alive, so I’m pretty sure I’ve seen him other times after this occurred.

Wish I knew who he was because he was the only one who stopped, and I don’t even remember what he looked like. I was okay after 30 minutes and a double dose of an OTC migraine pill, but the fact that he actually paid attention — that was pretty awesome.

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