The Fly

Well it has been pretty hellish of late health wise. Last week I managed to beat my personal best and have three migraines with aura within a week. Each time as they happened I was using a screen. I had noticed for the last few weeks that I was really struggling with a fabric I had been working with a tiny red and white check. Out of nowhere I had noticed it had started strobe – looking like it was stripey, instead of checked to the naked eye. I should have realised my sudden increased visual sensitivity was a warning sign of things to come.

For a really good visual representation of the sort of things I see when having a migraine aura this website is really good – It is the closest thing I have ever seen that would explain the zig zag lines in primary colours and the blind spots I develop in my vision. I tend to develop the blind spots first before the zig zags come on. My auras last for around 45 minutes to an hour and then the pain will start. Thankfully with the introduction of sumatriptan by the time the aura is coming to an end the sumatriptan kicks in. On the last three occasions it hasn’t got rid of the headache entirely but even knocking it down to a bad headache is good enough for me.

Over the last week thanks to a lot of research I have found that people with migraine are very visually sensitive. It is something I have always known but it makes you feel better when it is confirmed in writing. I know as a kid there were shops that I really disliked going into as I knew the chances of them causing a migraine were high. There used to be a shop called C&A, which I loved and loathed in equal measure. Loved because I could get decent clothes at a reasonable price, loathed because of the patterned carpet, which would trigger a migraine or make me feel like I was suffering with a migraine aura. I don’t remember much about the pattern, C&A has been gone from the UK for about 20 years ( so I am showing my age) .To find out more about C&A click }here{.

Medical papers have been written on the subject that Migraneurs are sensitive to light, sound, smell etc. One of the easier papers to understand should you wish to read further information on the subject  you can find {here}.

I have also always had a problem with stripes, it is the width of the stripe that is the issue. Thick bold stripes are fine they don’t do anything to me however thin stripes and lots of them banded close together make me feel sick. Not because they are ugly or anything like that, its the gymnastics they cause my eyes and brain to do trying to keep up with their constantly changing pattern, especially if they are on clothing. As the person moves the fabric will move, causing a strobe effect that my eyes really struggle to deal with . 

Colours can also cause me issues, especially ones that essentially clash like olive green and turquoise – a Tula Pink Fabric, she does it in dots and a stripe. I love Tula Pink designs but I have ti limit my exposure to those fabrics as again they can make me feel overloaded visually. It is a really weird sensation to describe, I can feel light headed, sweaty and a bit panicked with them. I don’t know if it id the fear of nearly 40 years of migraines or the feeling of not being able to see properly that causes me to freak out.

Since my migraines decided to ramp up this year, I have been keeping a food diary in case there was something I was eating or drinking that was triggering them. I would think I had found a trigger, so gin and dairy. Only to try them again at a later date and no migraine would happen. Nothing made sense and there was no food or drink that I was having in the 24-48 hours that proceeded a migraine that I wasn’t having on any of the other days. I was beginning to lose hope that I was ever going to find out what could possibly be causing my migraines, when I had an a-ha moment. What if the trigger possibly wasn’t what I was eating or drinking but something I was doing. On each occasion last week I was either using my mobile phone or chromebook when I suddenly would lose part of the screen and the screen would also appear to be too bright, burning the back of my eyes. So I did what we all do these days and Googled ” do screens trigger migraines”.

The first article I came cross was this one from – How to avoid a Computer Headache.  As I was reading I learned a lot, something when you have had migraines for nearly 40 years, can surprise you. What I discovered in this article was yes Migraines can be triggered by screens…..( so maybe I have found one trigger ) and that I didn’t have to abandon technology due to it. I found out there were special Migraine glasses I could wear that could help me. The links in the article are only any good if you are in the USA. You can get blue light filters or glasses with blue light filters in, however migraineurs are not just triggered by blue light but also red light and light on the frequencies F1 and F4. So whilst blue light filters may help a little ( they may help others a lot) they wont stop the other light frequencies that are on the spectrum that trigger migraines.

In the UK there is a company called Migralens and their products are approved by Migraine Action a UK Charity for migraine sufferers. Now I need to state for the record I am not being paid to mention these glasses, I haven’t received anything for free. I am literally sharing them because they have helped me so much since they arrived on Sunday afternoon. You can buy them as non prescription lenses or prescription lenses. The Migralens site is HERE. You can also purchase them through Amazon as I did as I was so desperate for them to arrive, although they are more expensive on there.

The lenses are very dark green and give everything a bit of a weird colour. I was using my embroidery machine yesterday and the green button to start the machine looked amber! Which threw me a couple of times making me think there was something wrong with the machine! I put my glasses on as soon as they arrived on Sunday and the relief was immediate. I had noticed this summer I was really struggling with glare from objects that were bouncing sunlight at me, going through a sunshine dappled road was causing me not to be able to see for a few minutes ( thank goodness I no longer drive), plus as I said earlier fabric I have been using for the last 6 months was now suddenly causing me to feel queasy and was making strange patterns. On putting the glasses on the pain I feel in my eyes pretty much from the minute they open subsided. I always thought that pain was dry eyes but no it is how bad my light sensitivity has become. I used my phone to check Facebook and my eyes didn’t hurt and the screen didn’t become wavy etc where my eyes just couldn’t cope with it. I used my chromebook and my eyes didn’t hurt. Within an hour the low grade headache I had since Fridays migraine melted away.

I wont lie it is a pain in the arse having to wear glasses ( for a non glasses wearing person other than weak reading glasses ) every time I use anything with a screen or lights. But the fact I don’t have a headache more than compensates. This blog has been written whilst wearing them. I plan to buy another pair next month so that I have two just in case I damage one . They did make me laugh when I took a selfie wearing them

It immediately reminded me of The Fly

Showing my age!

In a cruel twist of fate I managed to come down with a migraine as I was writing this. Well at least I had 4 days without one!

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