Anyone who has ever suffered from migraines knows its effects on daily life. In my case, a migraine attack lasts about two to three days, including recovery time. Luckily, I only experience migraines about once or twice a year, though they usually come in clusters.

During the past week, I had two in a row on succeeding days followed two days later with a third. This translates to nearly a week of continuous pain, bewilderment, and anger. The anger I feel comes from the sense that time has been arbitrarily stolen from my life since I cannot function in any useful way. It also comes from a lack of knowledge as to why it has occurred, what triggered a particular attack. The bewilderment comes from the attack itself, which robs me of clarity of thought.

I have a cruel forewarning that a migraine is on the way by means of distorted vision or an aura. [Tweet this.] I use the words “cruel forewarning” because included with the highly recognizable growing symptoms that foretell an oncoming migraine is the full knowledge that I will soon experience significant pain. I have also begun to notice a correlating sleep disruption that seems to precede an oncoming attack. I can’t be sure though if the sleep disruption is part of the trigger mechanism or an early warning symptom.

This is how a migraine begins in my world: It begins with a slight grayish speckling in my field of vision. Normally, it’s located slightly down and to the left, but grows toward the center and causes a nearly uncontrollable blinking response. This speckling effect gradually becomes intense enough to create a sense of double vision. The true “aura” then starts its slow growth across my range of vision. It begins as a slight flashing of color far down and to the left in my peripheral vision. The aura takes on the shape of a pulsating wriggling snake which flickers and sparkles with colors similar to a churning kaleidoscope. It moves as a sidewinder snake would move – up and to the right, toward the center of my field of vision.

The snake gradually grows in width and frequency after a few minutes have passed until my vision is so distorted that recognizing distinct shapes becomes nearly impossible. At its worst, the distortion alters my entire vision. My full scale of color perception changes into colors previously and normally unseen. In some cases, most common colors are replaced with lighter or darker shades of their true selves, as is the contrast between them. During severe attacks, colors seem to shift toward the negative as seen in photographic film.

This is also about the time my mind begins an inevitable shift into an altered sense of perception. Sounds, tastes, and smells become different. Simple analysis of common events and sights become alien and harder to grasp. I have a migraine. [Tweet this.]