Friday, November 27, 2020

A Story and A Song

I had an interesting optical experience the other day, and it had nothing to do with sunlight or clouds or ice crystals. It had to to with my eyes or rather my brain. Twice in the past six weeks I have experienced an ocular migraine. I had no idea something like this existed, but once you experience it you will never forget. Suddenly in my peripheral vision of my right eye I saw lightning shaped flashes of rainbow colored light. It persisted if I closed my eyes, covered one eye or the other. It persisted. It was not painful in any way, but it was unnerving in every way. The first time it happened, I called my optometrist office and explained what I was seeing. They scheduled an appointment right away. The doc checked my eyes, my vision, and took a good look and photographed my retina. It all looked fine. I was worried because my twin brother had been experiencing something called retinal tugging which causes flashes of light (like a camera flash). The doc said he didn't see any issues with my retina. Well, okay. I didn't think about it until it happened again on Tuesday. Since I knew it wasn't related to my vision, I decided I should google around and find out what might be going on. I googled rainbow flashes of light in peripheral vision.  All of the information I found called it an Ocular Migraine. It typically lasts for five minutes, but can last up to an hour. Luckily my rainbow light show only lasted five minutes, but those five minutes are truly unforgettable. An ocular migraine is a type of migraine that can occur without a headache. It can occur in people who typically do not experience migraines (me), but have family history of migraine sufferers (my father and sister). I was hoping to find an image that captures the experience. This came close, although it is a bit softer in color than my zigzag rainbow flashes.


I'm hoping that it never happens again. It is bizarre and weird in every way. You just never know what your brain is up to. 

Now the music. I often say that music is our common language on earth. We can listen to songs in other languages, or played with instruments we have never heard of. Some music will inspire us to get up and dance, others will pull our hearts and make us weep. For some reason when I stumbled upon the performance of these two Hasidic brothers performing on the streets of Jerusalem, it reminded me that music is our common language.

40 comments:

  1. Absolute classic cover very well covered. That guitar solo isn't easy to master - especially as we all know what it should sound like and can pick up any deviation!

    Sorry to read you are having strange visual happenings. If it's nothing to worry about it might give you a more colourful perspective on things. I've seen strange things - lights and colours - but mainly in dreams where I guess it doesn't cause any real stress.

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    1. Dr Michelle-- Yes, that guitar work was truly well done.
      I'm hoping the light show doesn't happen again or if it does, it doesn't get worse. It is a pretty wild visual display all in my head.

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  2. If your ocular migraines keep happening, ask your doc for a bloodtest. A few years ago I was getting them every few days and after a couple of months, and other strange things going on I was finally sent for a bloodtest and diagnosed with GCA. Hopefully this isn't the case for you, but would feel bad if I hadn't mentioned it!

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    1. Frances-- Thank you for that advice. Yes, if this happens again and persists, I will make an appointment to see my doc.

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  3. Marvellous! Thank you.
    Hope your eye is in recovery.

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    1. sarah toa-- So glad you liked the song.
      My eye is okay, and I'm hoping my brain is as well.

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  4. I hope reading has not caused that ;)) they are very good. I may to have the original somewhere

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    1. Billy-- I did read that a lot of computer screen time can trigger these events. So, I've tried to cut back a bit. Glad you liked the song.

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  5. I've been having ocular migraines since I was in 6th grade. The first one I got was in school, and I thought I was going blind. It always happens in my right eye, and I don't see well out of my left eye, so when it happens, I am kind of blind for awhile. At first I used to just get them with no headache, but then the headaches started appearing. I'd get the flash of light first, which was like a warning. The headaches used to be blinding, and they'd knock me out for the rest of the day. I rarely get them anymore, but if I do, I can almost will the headache away now (with a couple of Motrin to help). Very cool performance of this song, btw.

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    1. Sharon-- Really sorry to read that you have been experiencing migraines from such a young age. My sister has as well. It's good to know that you can find relief with Motrin. My mom was the office manager for The California Medical Clinic For Headaches back in the 1970s and 80s. We learned a lot about migraines and the suffering.
      So glad you liked this song.

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  6. Yep. Ocular migraine. I wonder how many readers of this blog have had them. I had not thought about the colors involved, but now that you mention color, they do have the nature of a jagged rainbow. Although I suffered from headaches for much of my life and migraine headaches, most severely in my late 50s and up to my mid-60s and have not had one for several years, I had my first ocular migraine sometime after 2016 when I was 66 years old. It may have been at least a year before I had another one. The cluster of them that I had in the past few months seemed to be related to acute stress. I, too, went to my ophthalmologist and was reassured, especially since he had experienced them, too. He said that they were sometimes triggered by foods, but I wasn't eating any of the foods he mentioned as triggers. Migraines run in my family on my mother's side. My mother and both sisters suffered much more than I did from migraines. My mother and one sister both opted to use prescription medication to control them. The other sister and I went to naturopaths. I am grateful that my ocular migraines have been painless.

    I am grateful that you stumbled on that wonderful version of Sultans of Swing. Coincidentally, last night I stumbled on Mark Knopfler's instrumental version of "Wild Mountain Thyme." I've heard it said that November is gratitude month. So much to be grateful for.

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    1. am-- I am trulysurprised by how many people have experienced ocular migraines. I had never even heard of such a thing until I experienced one. I am also grateful that my experience of ocular migraine has been painless as well. I have seen so much migraine suffering in my family. It is a sad thing.
      Glad you liked the music. I have also listened to Mark Knopfler's "Wild Mountain Thyme." He is one of our favorite musicians. Yes, so much to be grateful for.

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  7. You explain your condition well. I had never heard of it before. Recently I've been listening to Austrian folk music. Check it out. It's interesting.

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    1. Red-- I hadn't heard of it either, but that wild flash of zigzagging rainbow light definitely sent me on a mission for discovery. I ill check out Austrian folk music. Thank you for that!

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  8. I've had ocular migraines for many years (I remember the first one that occurred in the 70s) and a doc took me off birth control pills, which seemed to help. They are stress related for me, and I've found several friends who also have them. I don't think I've had any this year, having many dietary and exercise changes. Though it has been a stressful time! I become sensitive to light following them, but can usually carry on whatever I'm doing. I'll go listen to the music now!

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    1. Barbara-- I have read about the kind of things that can trigger an ocular migraine. It surprises me how many people have experienced such a thing. I hope you stay healthy and stress-free there, as much as you can in these crazy times.

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  9. I've not had an ocular migraine but I will get those little flashes of light in my peripheral visions now and then. I got migraines from my late teens into my 30s, early 40s maybe and then they stopped. I finally learned to deal with them...ibuprofen and going to bed. I know it sounds weird but there was a place in my mind I thought of as a shelf and if I could get my consciousness up there then I couldn't feel the pain and I would sleep until the headache went away.

    Hasids playing Sultan of Swing. I think now I've seen everything.

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    1. ellen-- It is so interesting to read how many of the commenters here have had migraines and peripheral light flashes. I'm so surprised by all of it.
      Yes, Hasids playing Sultans of Swing, it is a little mind-blowing, isn't it!

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  10. I think I had one of those, 10 or 15 years ago. I thought I was having a migraine with an early aura, but I never developed a headache, and as I recall I saw colorful flashes of light. It never happened again. Weird!

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    1. Steve-- How interesting that you had that experience once. I'm hoping that the two I've had will be it for the rest of my life. Yes, weird.

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  11. I have had those but not in a while and yes the first time is while not painful, a bit scary. Glad you had it checked before so you would not be frightened this time.
    Loved the guitar work in that one.

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    1. Patti-- It is scary and weird. I worry that it won't stop and am so grateful when it does.
      So glad you liked that guitar work. We did too!

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  12. I used to have debilitating migraines years ago, always preceded by an aura. I now get the ocular migraines (as many have said they seem stress-related). I take ibuprofen right away and usually no headache. It is disconcerting though.

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    1. Cathy-- I have been so surprised by how many people experience ocular migraines. I think experiencing my first one at the age of 68 with no headache made me think they were rare. Yes, it is so disconcerting.

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  13. I have had ocular migraines too. At first I was so worried but once I googled it, I felt better about it. I have them every now and then and cannot really see well while they are happening. My eye doc said not to worry about them. Mine usually go away in less than 20 minutes.
    The music reminds me of when my daughter and I were in Florence, Italy in Oct 2019. We came across musicians - violins and guitar playing Billie Eilish "Bad Guy". I was amazed I recognized the version they played with no words.

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    1. EllenD-- It has been an enlightening experience to read all these comments about other suffers of ocular migraines. We are lucky it doesn't last very long. I'm going to go find the song "Bad Guy" to see what the sounds like. Thank you for that.

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    2. It was quite the coincidence that we heard "Bad Guy" in Florence as it was my granddaughter's favorite song at the time. We texted her the video of them playing.

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    3. EllenD-- Wow, I just went to listen to that song. The lyrics are so interesting and intense.

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  14. I think I've had ocular migraines also but never knew what they were. I just figured I was dying! This video of these two musicians is remarkable. Great playing and I love the singer's voice though it is a bit hard to hear. I was reminded of once when I was walking around in the Old Town of San Remo, Italy, and heard some familiar music. When I tracked it down it turned out to be a busker on a street corner playing and singing "Hotel California". Music definitely seems to traverse borders, as you said.

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    1. Catalyst-- Now I'm wondering if you suffer from migraine headaches. I'd love to know. I've been so enlightened here today, and I am truly grateful.
      Isn't it interesting how music unites us? I just checked and The Gat Brothers do "Hotel California" as well.

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    2. I had migraine headaches as a boy. As an adult I only had hangovers.

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    3. Catalyst-- My twin brother had migraines when he was young and luckily like you he no longer suffers.

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  15. I read this post with great interest. Down here in the Antipodes they are sometimes referred to as visual disturbance migraines.
    I had the first one over thirty years ago and freaked out as I had no idea what was happening!
    I know more now and my then opthalmologist gave me a tip for dealing with it.
    I'm certainly not suggesting you try this but it works for me if the situation goes on for more than five minutes.
    Make/buy a double strength black coffee, take 2 Panadol, drink the coffee and rest with eyes closed in a darkened room. It works for me, though finding a coffee and a darkened room can be tricky, depending on where I am when it strikes...
    I lean towards screens for bringing on the problem. It may never happen to you again Robin but it is a scary and disconcerting time when you first experience it.
    Best wishes
    Alphie

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    1. Alphie Soup-- Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. I so appreciate that you shared your experience and treatment history. Your caffeine suggestion reminds me of a medication that the California Medical Clinic for Headaches would often prescribe. My mom was the office manager there, and did some office work for her. There was a medication that was very high in caffeine. My memory says it was named something like Cafergot. I just googled it and was reminded that it was a combination of caffeine and ergotamine.
      Yes, I am cutting down on my screen time. I'm hoping it never happens again, and I hope the same for you.

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  16. I know your "pain." I've experienced an ocular migraine twice. The first time it happened I was driving. Fortunately, I was close to home and managed to get to my driveway. (I didn't try to fit into the garage!) The second time was shorter, and I knew what was happening, so I wasn't as distressed. That was years ago, and it hasn't struck again.

    You're right about music being an international language.

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    1. Paul-- I have been so surprised by how many of us have experienced an ocular migraine. I'm hoping that my second one will also be my last.

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  17. My mother and brother had severe migraines. My brother went to bed, but my mother had to do the regular motherly duties even when she was suffering with the headaches. I had a few migraine headaches when I was in college, but they stopped after a few years. I still suffer the visual disturbances quite often. In the past, I didn't get the headache, but I felt like I had what I think a hangover must feel like the next day. My head hurt if I moved it too fast. These days I don't often get the hangover. Mine start with a blind spot, then progress to the moving, jagged lines. It goes away after 15 or 20 minutes.

    Most people who suffer migraines get them when they are young. They tend to decrease as people get older. Migraine or the aura that sometimes accompanies them does not usually first occur at an older age. It's probably a good idea to talk to your doctor about it.

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    1. Mark-- Thank you so much for sharing your and you family's history with migraines. I am so surprised that you have experienced the ocular migraine as well. I had not thought about contacting my doctor, but I am going to send her a message tomorrow about the experience. I'm hoping it doesn't happen again. I hope all is well for you, Mark, and thank you.

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  18. My mother had severe migraines that would put her to bed for several days. My daughter has them and we are glad there is better treatment. I had ocular migraines with a recurring black area in my field of vision. In my case, they disappeared post-menopausal.

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    1. NCmountainwoman-- My sister has migraines like your mom's. Totally debilitating for days. Yes, there are new medications, and some really do work. I'm glad that your ocular migraines went away. So far, I haven't had another, and I'm hoping it stays that way. So good to hear from you. I hope all is well there. Stay safe, my friend.

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