Tag Archives: Aura (symptom)

Just Smack Me With a Hammer

Just Smack Me With a Hammer, because I have a headache. It will feel so good when you stop! Maybe it came on from the stress of buying a vacuum cleaner yesterday, and the possibility that I may be expected to actually use it. Migraine with aura sounds so weird, unless you get them. Then they are all too familiar. My aura experience begins with a tiny little sparkle of light and continues into quite a light show. Sometimes it’s just that and other times it turns into a rip snorting headache. Never said much about them when I was a kid because I thought it was just something I shouldn’t talk about. My own little entertaining secret.

Shirley Williams, Visual Migraine: The Jagged Edge, 2001. © 2001 National Headache Foundation

The aura light show has always fascinated me. Until a few years ago, I had no idea other people experienced this. My aunt and I were talking one day and admitted to each other that we had experienced this all our life. There is a lot of art work out there created by people to explain their experience. From the images that I see, I have wondered if American Indian art work and textiles were inspired by migrainers. The ziz-zag pattern in blankets, the odd body shapes and disproportionate heads. Maybe it wasn’t aliens after all. It was just people drawing what a headache looks like.

As a young girl, I read Alice and Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass over and over. Then one day not too long ago, stumbling around on the internet, I came across the “Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.” Wait a minute! I thought I just read too much when I was a kid. Does everything have to be a syndrome? I know I didn’t come off the cookie cutter assembly line quite the same as the other cookies. It is annoying to be labeled, but it did describe another thing that I notice when a light show is about to begin. I get shorter. OK, not really shorter, but I look down at my feet and I feel closer to the ground. Used to think this was because of my bifocals, but it happens when I’m not wearing glasses.

Definition from Medicine Net:

Alice in Wonderland syndrome: A syndrome of distorted space, time and body image. The patient with the Alice in Wonderland syndrome has a feeling that their entire body or parts of it have been altered in shape and size. The syndrome is usually associated with visual hallucinations. The majority of patients with the syndrome have a family history of migraine headache or have overt migraine themselves.

The syndrome was first described in 1955 by the English psychiatrist John Todd (1914-1987). Todd named it, of course, for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Perhaps not coincidentally, Lewis Carroll suffered from severe migraine. Also known as a Lilliputian hallucination.

Fortunately, I don’t have the sensation of things being far away that often. Every once in a while something across the room seems so far a way that I need to board a train to get there. This is only on rare occasions when I’m really stressed and over tired. However, I can identify with Alice’s distress when she looked at her feet. They were so far away she worried that she was going to have to send them postcards on special occasions.

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