From 2011 to 2013, I worked in a gray, dingy warehouse-turned-headquarters for NAPA Balkamp. (Nothing about that job suited me, as it turned out. However, it did help me identify my ideal place to work. That’s something, I guess.)
One day in July 2011, I went to my boss’s office a little unsteady on my feet. “Is it OK if I go home? I’m not feeling well.”
“Whoa, you look pale.” He looked up from his computer. “Are you OK?” I was pretty sure I looked ashen and sick because I was terrified out of my mind about what was happening, but I didn’t want to sound crazy or seem weak.
“Some weird stuff’s going on with my vision. I just want to rest my eyes,” I explained.
After getting my boss’s approval to leave for the day, I called Dan and asked him to pick me up from work. I’d just have to leave my car on the lot overnight. “I’m seeing weird spikey squiggles and parts of my vision are blurry, Dan. I don’t think I can drive.”
He told me he was on his way.
I tried to keep my shit together during the fifteen-minute wait for Dan to arrive, but it took some effort. I had reservations about walking down the stairs and down to the lobby on my own. (That place only looked ADA-compliant from the outside. Inside was a different story, and riding in an elevator wasn’t an option.)
I clung to the railing as I made my way to the ground floor while trying pretty hard not to look like I was clinging to the railing.
Rather than wait in the lobby for Dan to pull up, I went outside and stood in the front parking lot. It was raining, but I didn’t want to go back inside. I just kept thinking that I didn’t want to pass out in front of anyone, because that would be so embarrassing.
I anxiously looked down the road for Dan’s Jeep. How long have I been waiting out here? An hour?
My left arm got tingly from my bicep to my fingertips. I shook it like you’d shake an arm that had fallen asleep, trying to return some blood flow. It didn’t help.
When the vision problems dissipated, they left behind a monster headache. Resting made me feel better, and over the next couple of days I was feeling back to my old self. I didn’t make a doctor’s appointment like years earlier. Instead I did a Google search for something like “squiggly lines in vision.”
I found images like the one above, perfectly depicting what I experienced. Sharp, colorful squiggles and blurry spots that prevented me from reading and writing. All of them on web pages about migraines.
So that’s what happened. A migraine. Whew!
I would have several more of these episodes periodically over the course of a couple of years. When they happened at work, I’d turn my desk lamp off and close my eyes for a few minutes. I even welcomed the squiggles and tingles. How sweet of my body to warn me what was ahead.
I logged the migraines for a while, you know, just in case. But shortly after I moved and began working for my current employer, they stopped. My migraine log was lost in the great moving purge of 2013 when I left Indianapolis and moved to Champaign-Urbana.
Because the migraines stopped, I chalked everything up to no daylight in my cubicle, hating my job, and eye strain. Who wouldn’t get migraines under those circumstances, I reasoned.
Somewhere along the way I recalled that time I lost my vision in 2005 and I drew my own conclusions.
Doctor I-Don’t-Think-It’s-a-Stroke just didn’t have any experience with migraines.
Pregnancy test? Bah!