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3 Nov 4:00am

An MRI scan reveals what I thought was a migraine to be something darker

The Guardian
My symptoms of lightheadedness, headaches, dizziness and confusion, which I have always considered part of my migraines, are an indication of something more threatening… The way to make a horror film scary is to keep the monster hidden, and this is how I’ve started to feel about my brain. Since I was a teenager my migraines have begun in the same way, with a white mark on my vision, as if I’ve looked too long at the sun. The mark grows until I can barely see, and then the headache comes, and then, well. In June, I woke with the familiar blind spot, but that afternoon it hadn’t changed, nor had it disappeared a week later, or a month. Eventually I had an MRI. Before I sailed into the space tube, I chose the Beach Boys to play through the headphones; as I closed my eyes to avoid the claustrophobia, the opening notes of In My Room, the sound of an ancient broadband connection just behind it. The next day I got a call from the neurologist. Rather than a migraine, he said, with unfamiliar graveness, I’d had a series of mini-strokes. It’s odd to be shown evidence that something’s wrong with you when everything feels alright. The feeling reminded me of a similar unlikeliness five years ago – when all evidence said I was pregnant, but until the child actually arrived in blood and drama, the diagnosis remained to me a kindly theory. This time the oddness is a different shape to that growing bump – ghostly, unclear. I’m writing this with one eye shut, as the blind spot remains, revealed now to be where the blood vessel to the eye has been permanently damaged. I am seeing the scar of a stroke, its stain. If I concentrate I can make out its shape, a weary dribbling moose. In that first phone call I asked the doctor, if I hadn’t realised I’d had these strokes, how would I know if I was having another? Well, he said, you might feel… and then he calmly reeled off a list of symptoms – lightheadedness, headaches, dizziness, confusion – which all described the details of my daily life and many of the traits that keep me adorable.
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