February 10, 2014

The return of "My scotoma."

Previously experienced on August 15, 2004. Exactly the same thing is happening to me now. Strange!

10 years apart. Why?

34 comments:

Bob said...

Wasn't that a song by The Knack?

K in Colorado said...

That is exactly how I get a migraine. I have the flashing lights first. If I can get ibuprofen ASAP and go lay down somewhere in a darkened room, I can usually stop it. Otherwise, a full migraine.

YoungHegelian said...

I used to have scotomas, too, in late college & grad school. Scared the shit out of me, and always ended, like your ER doctors said, with the headache from hell.

The ophthalmologist I saw said that they usually "burn themselves out" as the patient gets older, which is exactly what happened. I haven't had one in well-nigh 30 years now, and don't miss 'em at all.

Ann Althouse said...

The zigzag light hallucination opened up in exactly the same reverse-C formation and progressed rightward until it was gone. Same as 10 years ago.

No headache ensues.

Strange.

(Reference to The Knack intended, 10 years ago and now.)

sinz52 said...

I get those scintillating scotomas with little or no headache.


They seem to happen when I'm stressed or haven't had much sleep.

At worst I get a mild headache that Tylenol deals with easily.

Ctmom4 said...

That must have been very frightening.

Michael K said...

Watch out that you don't assume a detached retina is just a "scotoma." I got a sensation something like that about 8 years ago and called an ophthalmologist friend. He told me to have some one drive me to a retinal guy immediately. I drove myself but it turned out to be a vitreous detachment. My retina was OK. I can still see the scar from the vitreous detachment.

Inga said...

I've had a complete vitreous detachment with a similar light show. After a vitreous detachment the instance of retinal detachment is higher for a short while. Opthamologists are prescribing Astaxanthin, a carotenoid for eye health. Worth looking into.

Mark said...

Scotoma happens.

Inga said...

And the scar from the vitreous detachment which seems to have improved, appears as if one is looking through cellophane.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Just position your scotoma over the Olympic medal outcomes you don't want to see.

John Lynch said...

It's like Frodo falling ill every year on the anniversary of his stabbing by a Morgul blade.

YoungHegelian said...

I'm not a doctor, like MK, or a nurse, like Inga, but, you know, if you're not getting headaches with your light shows, you should have yourself checked out by an eye doctor soon for a vitreous detachment. We're all into the age were that becomes more & more common.

If you ever have the optical illusion where it looks a curtain is coming down from any side of your eye (i.e. a growing field of impaired vision) RUN to the nearest emergency room, because that may well be a detaching retina.

My ophthalmologist beat this into my head because when you're as nearsighted as I am (was?), you have a strong disposition to detached retinas because of the pressure the "football shaped" myopic malformation of the eye places on the retina. They fitted me with hard contact lenses to help hold my eye in shape, and they successfully halted further malformation since I was 21.

Ann Althouse said...

It ended. It's a thing that I had checked ten years ago that finally recurred. I'm going to ignore it.

Ann Althouse said...

The UW emergency room is less than a mile away.

Naked Surfer said...

“ ... ended ... recurred ... I'm going to ignore it. ... The UW emergency room is less than a mile away.”

I dunno. It’s none of my business. But, if it’s sudden onset and progressive and it happens while you’re driving with pedestrians or bicycles in your suddenly onsetted and progressively worsened blinded field of vision, then you might want to make sure the UW emergency room is nearby to others all around you. Rude of me to say to you. But, not rude for them ....

Peace

rhhardin said...

A detached retina is not the same in both eyes. QED.

Naked Surfer said...

Since I’m on a roll of rudeness now, might as well indulge. Consider the psychological analogy – scotoma in psych – where a person has a blind spot in personality or temperament where the subject is blind to his/her own personal blind spots, but others around them can see the blindspots.

I’m reminded of Mattie, in the most recent True Grit, whose lawyer, J. Noble Dagget (sp?), gave Mattie free advice, saying gratuitously that the virtues of Mattie’s courage and persistence and hard-headedness mixed with her fair mindedness would someday lead Mattie into a bind from which no attorney could rescue her. Free advice, totally free advice – as at the start of the movie saying, “there is nothing free but the grace of God” – and Mattie ignored this free advice and abandoned grace, and her hard headedness landed her is a snake pit, bitten, and eventually losing her arm.

It’s impossible not to admire Mattie, Ann Althouse, for her courage, honestly, persistence, and sheer guts, but there was no UW emergency room nearby to save Mattie before she lost her arm.

Free advice – get this checked out, hard head.

allison said...

I get the Scotoma effect. It looks as if I stared too long at a very small bright light and then had the visual hangover where you have a blind spot that is sparkly and shimmering.

I get them and the resulting migraine if I end up looking at the sun too much while driving. I am in MN. This time of year, the sun is still fairly low on the horizon for a large part of the day, and I get these blind spots and headaches from it. Perhaps this happened to you too at the same time of year for the same reason.

David said...

Not now, Meade, it's possible I might get a headache.

That said, take it seriously if it recurs.

Please.

John Lynch said...

I had this happen to me 22 years ago. Never recurred.

Recession Cone said...

I get these before my migraines. Interestingly, one I had last week occurred while I was asleep and dreaming. I remember seeing the scotoma in my dream, and when I woke up it was still there.

To me this says something interesting about how the visual cortex in the brain is engaged during dreams.

Bob Boyd said...

Bob's right

When you gonna get to me
Get to me
It's just a matter of time Scotoma
Is it just destiny, destiny
Or is it just a game in my mind Scotoma

(Repeat *)



Read more: The Knack - My Sharona Lyrics | MetroLyrics

SOJO said...

My mom gets these - her Dr. calls them auras, I think. No headache pain, just the visual disturbance.

I just googled and ocular migraines are just in one eye and migraine auras are in both eyes. For one eye they recommend you see a specialist just in case; two eyes is more likely typical migraine aura.

A different type of scotoma was the main indicator of my underlying condition, so I take visual symptoms very seriously, but it sounds like yours is fine.

Saint Croix said...

Love that song! Hope you are okay, Althouse.

Christy said...

I had something similar years ago in times of high stress. No lights, just a circle at my focus point with everything scrambled inside. I was reading the federal register the first time. Not sure it made any less sense scrambled. I immediately ran to an eye doctor who declared it an optical migraine. No headache.

nina said...

The ER room at Madison General is more "pleasant" and less crazy. Turn around time is way faster for non life threatening emergencies. Just FYI.

And BTW, I, too, hate the fact that the Olympics have spoilers everywhere. It's gotten to the point that I avoid scrolling to Sochi headlines all day long. Only to get zapped when I flip on the evening news. They used to be better at this in past games.

American Liberal Elite said...

The first time it happened to me I was giving a presentation to the senior management of the bank I was working for. I made it through, but it scared the crap out of me. That was 25 years ago. The other scary time was when it came on while I was driving. Fortunately, it hasn't happened for at least ten years. I never got the headache, just the scotoma. I always called it an "aura." Thanks for the new word.

PDM said...

Ann, this first happened to me as I tried to take a deposition three or four years ago. At first I couldn't read a letter or two in a word. As the zig-zags spread, I couldn't read whole words in my notes.

It was a short depo, and after it ended ended I went to the Mayo Clinic website and typed in the symptoms (thinking I'd had a stroke). I learned, as you did, that it was a type of migraine. I took a couple Advil and had only a dull echo of a headache a little later, and felt a little tired, maybe with some slight blurriness in my vision, but maybe not.

I've had it happen 4 or 5 times since then. I now take two ibuprofens the moment I first sense the onset, and that seems to reduce both the longevity of the event and the chance of a headache. Either that, or I don't really get the headaches anyway. It's hard to say, since I immediately take the ibuprofen.

I've tried to figure out a trigger, but it eludes me. Maybe caffeine plays a part; maybe stress or a lack of sleep. Or it just happens. It almost always happens sometime before lunch.

Once I realized I wasn't having mini-strokes at age 50, I haven't worried so much about the events, which still only occur once or twice a year. Weird, but not really debilitating.

martint said...

I've had migraine auras since I was 17, I'm 59 now. A couple of times I've had a headache & nausea but its usually pain free. It starts as another blind spot, gradually gets bigger & more colourful with lots of scintillating zigzag lines & movement. It lasts between 15 to 30 minutes. I used to get one every 3 to 6 months but recently it's about once a year.

Sacred the life out of me when it first happened. These days I just sit back & enjoy the light show.


gadfly said...

Read your post title and my mind went here.

Sorry.

paul a'barge said...

It's a metaphor and a message. Are you listening?

Ann Althouse said...

I'm fine.

It was easy to deal with because, having had it before, I was quick to recognize what the one-letter-sized vision disturbance was likely to be. Then as it opened out, with the same little hallucination, I was sure of what it was, and it traveled out and away in the same what and was gone.

I was glad I didn't have a headache following on, which happens to some people. Didn't have a headache 10 years ago either.

So… nonproblem.

Helenhightops said...

I have had two migraine equivalent episodes ten years apart (the second I recognized only in retrospect - it was an intense feeling of dissociation which lasted about twenty minutes with no headache afterwards). The second one started with me driving past my intended exit three times in a row, and then I had speech disturbance - I was only able to think in pictures for a couple of minutes, followed by only being able to speak in short snips, and only with simple words (basically speaking words of Old English derivation), and then becoming increasingly fluent, but unable to pull out any latinate words for several more minutes, and then being more fluent with that same intense feeling of dissociation. I'm a doctor, was out of town, thought I might be having a transient ischemic attack, went to the ER in an ambulance. I was unable to describe my symptoms using medical terms at first - I could not pull out any big words. I was normal within 45 minutes. It was a migraine equivalent, according to the ER doc and a neurologist. I never did get a headache. Later I realized that my very occasional, very mild headaches related to cloudy weather, were, in fact, migraine headaches. One of my friends recently had intense deja vu for nearly an hour, and I'm sure that was also migraine.