So as I’ve mentioned before, I occasionally get auras before my migraines.
When I do experience an aura, it’s usually accompanied by what I’ve described as a Flash Migraine (see this post). But the more I read about auras, the more I realize how incredibly highly individualized even this rare part of a migraine attack is.
If you look “migraine aura” up on Google images, you’ll get lots of results showing a jagged semi-circle in what is presumably someone’s field of vision. In some cases it is bright and multicolored, and in others it is iridescent. This has never been a part of my aura (at least so far… or that I can clearly remember).
My auras seem to be characterized by a few things:
- Auditory disturbances: I have had a slight hearing loss in my left ear since birth, presumably as a result of being born in distress. Therefore, it is common that every once in awhile, the hearing in that ear becomes dampened. However, I don’t use any kind of assistive listening devices. When I experience aura, a few things happen in the realm of hearing. I tend to experience tinnitus, which is especially awful because of the sound sensitivity that comes along with a migraine. A sound I can’t escape from? Fantastic. Also, besides the tinnitus, things start to sound metallic. I know that this isn’t really a succinct explanation, but I can’t think of any other word to use. All sounds just start to have a metallic tinge to them.
- Visual disturbances: I do experience some visual disturbances, but they aren’t a jagged line across my vision, nor are they characterized by losing half of my field of vision. Instead, I start to experience a form of tunnel vision. The outer reaches of my vision start to become blurred, and my peripheral vision becomes almost non-existent because of it. I wear contacts on a daily basis, so it feels almost as if my contacts have stopped working at the corners of my vision.
- Balance disturbances: This could be interconnected with the hearing thing, but my balance is much less than steady when I’m experiencing aura. Everything seems a bit skewed, so I have a bit more trouble than usual getting my footing (and I’m a pretty clumsy person when I’m offstage to begin with…)
- Confusion: During this period, I cannot multitask like I usually do. In order to get a task done, I have to give it my full concentration. And it usually involves a very concerted effort. And I’m one of those people who likes to multitask as much as possible. I’m the queen of divided attention. (I actually had a friend tell me that when a professor told his class that “multitasking and divided attention are a myth” he actually laughed out loud, and in response to a look from the professor he said, “It’s just… You’ve never met my friend Rachel.”) During aura though, it takes time for me to move from one task to the next. This is not something I like at all.
- Movement issues: I know that I mentioned balance issues before, but when I have an aura I also start to feel, well, discombobulated. My limbs don’t always seem to move how I want them to, and I sometimes feel like my body is changing. I’m no longer fully confident of the area my body occupies in space and find that I’m prone to taking too big a step on that last stair or trying to lean against a door frame that isn’t quite as close as I think it is.
- Nausea: Yes, nausea is a part of my aura. It tends to signal the transition phase to me, when I will move into experiencing pain. Nausea is usually the first sign though.
As I’ve mentioned before, when I experience an aura, my migraine pain seems to be more intense. I don’t know the reason for this - but then again, do any of us really know the reasons behind most of our migraine issues?
Do any of you share any of these characteristics of your auras? I’d love to hear about how you experience aura, if that is a part of your migraine process. Like I said, I’ve only been experiencing occasional aura for a few years (and was diagnosed with chronic migraine at the age of 13… I’m now 24.)
I’d love to hear about how others experience this phenomena!