Do Not Wait!

I am fine, it was an ocular migraine! [edit – actually a Retinal Migraine.]

That is a very important first sentence because yesterday I went to the Mount Sinai Emergency with one of the 5 signs of a stroke – vision problems.

All of a sudden, while I was in a cab I could not see.  More accurately I could see, but what I saw looked like chaos – 2 streams of visual data coming in at the same time.  Colours, bright, shapes, out of focus, and completely unrecognizable.  Kind of like a kaleidoscope without any patterns at all.

Each eye was giving me different data and none of it made sense.  When my eyes were closed it was fine, normal. When my eyes were open it was terrifying and triggered dizziness, disorientation and vertigo.  I kept my eyes CLOSED most of the 20 minutes this was going on. Opening them just to see if it was better yet. Hoping it was better!

I was lucky. Gerry was with me. Gerry took me immediately to the hospital and it was only an ocular migraine (not something you want… but way way WAY better than a stroke.)

Going to the hospital was the right choice because strokes can be treated especially if you respond FAST! There is a medication, tPA, which if taken within 3 hours of the time symptoms appear, can treat, reduce or eliminate the impact of a stroke.

That’s why it is so important to recognize and respond to the warning signs.

Weakness – Sudden loss of strength or sudden numbness in the face, arm or leg, even if temporary.

Trouble speaking – Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding or sudden confusion, even if temporary.

Vision problems – Sudden trouble with vision, even if temporary.

Headache – Sudden severe and unusual headache.

Dizziness – Sudden loss of balance, especially with any of the above signs.

The warning signs or symptoms of stroke may occur alone or in combination. They may last a few seconds or up to 24 hours, and then disappear.  Symptoms occur in a variety of ways, so signs-of-strokethe FAST test is an easy way to recognise and remember the most common signs of stroke. 

FAST stands for:

  • Facial weakness – can the person smile; have their mouth or eyes drooped?
  • Arm weakness – can the person raise both arms?
  • Speech difficulty – can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
  • Time to act – act FAST and call 911 immediately.

If you or the person has a problem with any of these functions, dial 911 for an ambulance immediately or get to a hospital immediately. Remember, stroke is a life-threatening emergency.

I did NOT have a stroke. I did have a symptom and went immediately to the hospital where they responded quickly and identified that I was having an ocular migraine. [edit – more precisely a retinal migraine]

Note: this article on ocular migraines is not what I had, though I do get this too occasionally. It’s more like the aura that I do occasionally experience before or instead of my migraines lately. This was another thing all together!

Alexa Clark

Alexa is a digital marketer and author with over 20 years in digital & interactive communications in the food and tech industries. Alexa's CheapEats Restaurant Guides, for both Toronto & Ottawa, were Canadian best sellers. She is a recognized authority on social media and has been named one of Canada's 20 Leading Women in Social Media.

2 thoughts on “Do Not Wait!

  • October 4, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    Thank you for Leading with the most important fact. Sorry to hear you had a migraine, but happy it wasn’t a stroke. Hug Gerry for me for keeping you safe. Hugs! R

  • October 5, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Thanks! I know leading with “i’m fine” wrecks the tension of the story, but the story’s not worth adding stress to my friends’ days!


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