Heart to Heart
Heart to Heart

After surviving a rare coronary artery dissection and massive heart attack while nine months pregnant, Nefertari has devoted her life to uplifting other heart patients and promoting heart health awareness.

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Migraines and Heart Disease

Along with a serious heart condition, I also suffer from regular migraines. It started when I was ten years old -- back then they called them "sinus headaches." My head would hurt badly I couldn't move...I couldn't even cry. I couldn't tolerate light, sound or touch. When I could open my eyes, everything seemed to shift and change focus. I literally couldn't see straight. I didn't know then that these were actually migraines, and that this was something I was going to deal with my entire life. 

I experience migraines at least four times per month. The average cycle lasts three to four days, and as such, the majority of my month is spent fighting migraines. There are preventative medications, but I cannot take them with my heart medicines, so I am stuck waiting for the pain to hit and treating the symptoms instead of attacking the source.

On the first day, I experience what is called "the aura." The aura is the neurological symptoms that arrive before the actual pain, and sort of act as a warning sign. Sometimes these symptoms appear one or two days before the migraine sets in. My aura usually comes on as a sort of numb, tingling sensation in the right side of my face that feels like the novacaine that the dentists uses.

The aura comes in steps or cycles for me. First is the facial numbness, then comes the vision loss, usually in just one eye. I don't always get complete loss of vision. I sometimes get a zig zag pattern in my vision field. This usually lasts a few hours.

Next comes confusion and speech problems. If I attempt to speak I sound like I have a British accent, and I have a very hard time trying to figure out what I  would like to say.

These neurological symptoms prepare me for the final step -- the excruciating pain.

It hits like a Mack truck, striking one side of my head and not letting up for hours. Then comes the sensitivity to sound and light. I become totally impaired and have to lock myself into a dark, quiet room for hours. As a mother of five, this isn't easy.

I am not as accepting of migraines as I am of heart disease. I feel that my heart disease has helped me to become a better person in many ways, so I keep pushing to move forward. I may still have bad days and pain as a result, but at least with heart disease there is usually a reason for the experience.

Don't get me wrong: heart disease is the enemy and I plan to conquer it one day. But heart disease is 90 percent preventable. Migraines, on the other hand, are just senseless pain with no root cause and no cure. Unless you have suffered at least one attack there is no way to understand the pain except to say that t's almost as bad as having a tooth ache and giving birth at the exact same time. 

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Tags: Learning Limitations

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About the Author

After surviving a heart attack, Nefertari has devoted her life to promoting heart health awareness.

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