I had been a migraine sufferer all my life and what the stroke did provide for me was relief from that. After my stroke, my headaches had disappeared. I had them for 20 days or more a month; each headache was on a different scale but always present. A true migraine for me was when the light bothered me so much that I would wear sunglasses inside the house or I would have to try and “sleep it off”. That was my life, and I just learned to deal with it.
Through the years of migraine suffering, I had tried some medications, but they left me feeling pretty wonky. As the years progressed, the list of my drug allergies continued to increase and that made me more and more leery of trying out new medications to help. In all my visits to neurologists and specialists, not once did one tell me that I was at more risk of having a stroke because I had migraines. Not that this information could have prevented it, but I would have liked to have known.
The day of my stroke, I remember being very adamant with the Emergency room stroke team that I was not suffering a migraine at the time. I had never had a migraine that affected my speech, motor skills, and memory. I would later find out from my oldest son (who works in MRI) that they were concerned I was having a transient ischemic attack (TIA) at the time and needed to determine whether to chance tPA medication.
In the spring of 2016, I started experiencing headaches again post-stroke. With the headaches came little orbs of light as well; flashes of blue or white lights that are there for a few seconds and then disappear like the field tests they do on your eyes. I started on the journey, going to eye specialists and neurologists as recommended by my PM&R Doctor.
After my visits they determine that my brain was doing what it was supposed to do…heal. The little lights were just the brain reconnecting and doing the “recovery.” This could just be added to the long list of items that stroke patients go through during their recovery (or not, because each of our recoveries are completely different).
Recovery is a difficult thing to explain to others. Most assume that you have a stroke and then you just start life again. They do not realize that for each stroke patient the recovery is totally different. Or that this recovery is a lifelong road, of what you will get back and of which will never return. Outsiders, do not realize that each day you are gaining things in small strides, sometimes so minute that you do not even notice them. Or that stroke survivors can have a day when everything seems to be spot on, the muscles and brain are communicating like they did before, and the next day you can be so off kilter. That leaves us very deflated on our recovery.
So, when I say “shhh…my brain is healing” I am not asking you to be quiet. I am asking you to acknowledge and respect that this will be a lifelong process of recovery. My brain is healing, it will never be the same as it was pre-stroke and it is a new brain post-stroke.