Open Thinkering


Migraines and TIAs

Some people, perhaps most people, choose not to publicly share their health information. Perhaps I’m a fool, but I choose to do so — at least selectively. This is mainly because over the years I have been helped by people putting things online about themselves that I have subsequently recognised in myself.

This post is intended to use my own experience to be helpful to anyone else who might find themselves in a similar situation. A word of warning, though, I might be a ‘doctor’, but I am not a medical professional!

After I woke up on Friday, for a period of 5-10 minutes I had visual and auditory disturbances, a slight loss of balance, and co-ordination issues. These happened sequentially, followed by me feeling like I couldn’t get my words out and a slight slurring of speech. It was weird, but it passed.

The next day, I had a headache. It was persistent enough for me to take one of my migraine tablets (Rizatriptan). In the afternoon I felt well enough to do some sprinting in an attempt to improve a Strava segment personal best. On Sunday I felt fine and went for a longer run.

Family and friends insisted, quite rightly, that I should get checked out. I saw the doctor on Monday and he suspected I may have had a Transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or ‘mini-stroke’. He checked me over, took bloods (which came back fine) and referred me to the stroke clinic. The NHS is awesome, particularly in Northumberland.

Today is Tuesday and I’ve been to the stroke clinic who have assessed me. I wasn’t allowed to drive myself there, or indeed at all until they gave me the all clear. Thankfully, they’re pretty certain it wasn’t a TIA as what I describe came in a ‘wave’ rather than all at once. It’s almost definitely just my pattern of migraine symptoms changing as I get older — but they’re giving me a non-emergency MRI scan in the next couple of weeks just to double-check.

Although I (probably) didn’t have one, if you’re reading this and recognise something similar has happened to you, then get checked out! As the Wikipedia page for TIAs states:

The occurrence of a TIA is a risk factor for having a major stroke, and many people with TIA have a major stroke within 48 hours of the TIA. All forms of stroke are associated with increased risk of death or disability. Recognition that a TIA has occurred is an opportunity to start treatment, including medications and lifestyle changes, to prevent future strokes.

I’m really pleased it was ‘only’ a migraine-related issue that I had on Friday, but I was stupid to wait more than 48 hours to follow up on it. Again, if you’re reading this because you had a ‘funny turn’, go and seek some medical attention.

Life is short. It’s easy to get into a good routine and feel pretty invincible. But this was a reminder that we should all count our blessings.

4 thoughts on “Migraines and TIAs

  1. Hi Doug,
    Glad it was not a TIA.
    I had a similar experience about a decade or so ago. The suspected TIA turned out to be a possible migraine. Although I’d never had a migraine before that. I’ve had a few since, but just the visual and feel a bit weird stuff, no pain. Even so the experience was a bit of a worry, especially as I’d just started driving to & for work and had to pause that.

  2. I recently called EMS due to sudden severe headache, preceded by aura. I’ve had migraines over the years, and also 2 TIAs. As I was explaining this to them, they didn’t take me in because I could move my left arm, even though the left side of my body, especially my face (felt like a mega novicaine) was Numb. Can’t drive even now, but it seems to me that migraines are completely misunderstood. So I was never taken in and now have to retrain my left leg to walk. Good thing it happened on my left side, where all my migraines do…

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