Sometimes you can’t get the story out

I stumbled on this interview while tracking down a YouTube video to explain ocular migraines to a friend. I’m lucky — the migraines I get are the “ocular” variety, only visual-effect symptoms with some minor numbness and verbal confusion, and the episodes are brief and infrequent. I’m also not on camera at the time.

California TV reporter Serene Branson gave a great demonstration of aphasia with a migraine headache attack on camera last winter, and mentioned blurred vision as one of the precursor symptoms, along with some mental confusion.

“I knew what I wanted to say, but I didn’t have the words to say it,” she said. That’s it in a nutshell. Here’s another site with a discussion of Branson’s aphasia-migraine symptoms.

Meanwhile, it’s nice to see that some YouTube users with digital video editing and animation skills have tried to document their ocular migraine experiences. So far, these two are the closest I’ve seen to mine.

Unfortunately, no one has documented what these look like when you are trying to present information to a class, read a book as part of your research, grade a stack of student papers or preview a few dozen Web design pages.

I’m glad to see that a couple of these have explicit (if obvious) advice about what to do if one of these things starts while you are driving: Stop. It would be very bad if the first onset were a blindspot that hid a pedestrian crossing the street — or a Miata changing lanes at high speed on the interstate. 🙂

Ocular-only migraines don’t have the traditional horrible headache and nausea; I had full-feature “classic” migraines like that when I was in my teens and twenties, but appeared to have outgrown them throughout grad school and my first teaching job.

The painless visual version started about 7 years ago, but rarely has happened more than a few times a year, until recently. Mine sometimes are accompanied by a slight aphasia and numbness. Other websites agree with what doctors have told me — that the dynamic visual effects put the whole thing in the “migraine, don’t worry unless they get worse, longer or more frequent…” category, not something more serious like a stroke or TIA.

(Knocking on wood again.)

mild-mannered reporter who fell deeper into computers and the Web during three trips through graduate school in the 1980s and 1990s, then began teaching journalism, media studies and Web production, most recently as a faculty member at Radford University.

Posted in health, Reporting, youtube

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