So, the other day I posted about an unusual event that occurred to me. On what had been an otherwise unremarkable morning, I sat outside and watched as the gorgeous clear blue sky above me just exploded…..and then things got really weird. Over the next three days, I experienced what I can only call overwhelming visual hallucinations. They intensified at times and even kept on coming when I closed my eyes. I saw what I have come to call light trails emanating from my fingers and even from inanimate objects. My normally clear visual field became obstructed with dark jagged black edges and even changed background colors. Sometimes the whole world looked like it was bathed in red light…..other times it was a bluish green. There appeared to be swaths of grayish fog that would drift across my viewing screen…..vibrating fog no less.
Before I go on, I want to thank the readers who commented on my part 1 post and those that emailed me with support and empathy. I need to give some background here and tell you that this particular phenomenon has been occurring to me since 2005. The very first time this type of oddball event took place, I immediately called my family doctor. Panicked…..Confused…..Scared. My family doctor told me it sounded like a classic migraine aura. Migraine? What the heck was that and why was I having one? That was a new one for me at the time. So, I dutifully went on the medical ride I called “migraine patient”. On this ride: I was scanned and MRI’d, scheduled with neurologists and rescheduled, waited…..and waited…..and waited in a variety of doctors waiting rooms for what seemed interminably long times, questioned by med techs and then nurses and then physician assistants and then again by doctors, measured and tested, then prescribed medications to both abort and prevent future migraine episodes, then argued with my health insurance company, then experienced side effects from the prescription medications,got frustrated that I was actually feeling worse and having more symptoms, then got back on the migraine patient ride and started the whole thing all over again. A year later, I was eventually hospitalized for 21 days at a headache center within a local university hospital for a lidocaine infusion treatment. By the time I was discharged, I felt like I had finally turned a corner on this migraine thing and could “get on with my normal life.” Yeah, well….. as it turns out normal is a setting on an air conditioner and NOT a term that would apply to my life. Within 5 months of my discharge, I was again hijacked by these bizarre visual disturbances and intolerable pain. This time, my health insurance wouldn’t cover me to be admitted into the headache center again. My life began to quickly spiral out of my control. Trying to find an answer still, and trying to “get back to normal” I began also treating with mental health professionals. Surely, they would be able to help me re-adjust and get my life back. Wouldn’t they?????
That was the beginning of my journey into mental illness. And what a journey it has been. After several years, several iatrogenic illnesses and surgeries, and more medications than can be listed on two pages, I finally made the conscious choice to get off the “migraine patient” ride. Actually, I decided to get off ALL the rides and just be. Just be. Since I made that choice, this is the first time I have had these visual disturbances reoccur. This time, I finally handled it differently. This time, I finally rode the wave through. I admit that I was scared. I admit that I wasn’t sure if I was going to be okay. But I was firm in my resolve to not give in to a panic reaction this time. This time, I was going to be mindful and try to just be. And I am still here!
I did have a strange coincidental experience that I hesitate to even note here. At one point this time, whenever I closed my eyes and attempted to “check in” with what was happening in my body, I had a consistent bizarre visual image of a fireball streaking across the sky and then what was left of a plane littering the ground. At the same time, I couldn’t shake a feeling of intense pain and sorrow and started to weep. When the symptoms subsided finally, I asked my daughter if there had been a plane crash reported in the past 72 hours nearby. A few minutes later after trolling through her smartphone, she told me there had been one…..some 18 to 20 miles from my home. I am not certain what to make of this coincidence, and I am not even certain that I need to make anything out of it. I do feel comfortable, however, that I made the best choice for me this time. I made it through.