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GTAlumnus
New Member


Date Joined May 2011
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 5/27/2011 10:29 PM (GMT -6)   
My 56 year old wife has had spells for at least 10 years and after normal MRIs of the brain her neurologist diagnosed her with basilar migraines. She does NOT get headaches, but with her spells she starts acting intoxicated, slurred speech, unsteady gait, etc. During the worst attacks this progresses to the point where she is totally paralyzed, can't speak at all, can't control her arms, legs, or even her face. These usually proceed to her going to sleep, snoring for an hour or so then gradually improves. These attacks are usually monthly, a very bad attack, then the next day not so bad, and has symptoms for about a week. Then she is totally normal for maybe 3 weeks.

She had tried some medications and none have helped. Seems like fatigue triggers the attacks, they can be especially bad when she has been outside working in the flower beds, or mowing. I can tell she is impaired in her speech and mannerisms, then she will sit down for supper in her recliner to eat off a tray. I look over and she is totally locked up and can't eat.

Tonight she is having a terrible attack, something new was she would purse her lips and blow, would not even squeeze my hand or acknowledge me at all. VERY scary. Right now she is asleep in her chair, snoring. I wonder sometimes if this is going to proceed to a stroke - how would I know the difference?

I am very concerned of course, as I understand that these migraines could lead to strokes. She is seeing a regular neurologist, if anyone knows of a migraine specialist in the Dallas area, I'd like for her to see one.

This is very disabling, I wish there was something that could be done about it. We can't go to the ER every month, but I always wonder if this is a stroke and not a migraine attack.

jewishmother
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2011
Total Posts : 92
   Posted 5/27/2011 10:53 PM (GMT -6)   
I think my husband completely understands your anxiety.........I have had basilar migraines for over 30 years now and they can be very scary for those people who have to sit by and just watch our brains freak out. I kind of think of it as a pachinko machine going off in brain with those little metal balls ping-ponging around my brain setting off all kinds of bizarre symptoms. It has helped me to avoid my triggers as much as possible - do you think that she may have some allergies that are aggravated when she is outside working in the yard? The other thing that I try to do (sometimes not very successful b/c very stubborn) is when I first feel one coming on to go and lay down in the dark and let it do it's thing - I think that it can cut down on the intensity of the symptoms if I can do that. Is she aware one when is starting? My major prodrome symptom is yawning.

I have tried drug after drug after drug and have found nothing that works with basilar migraines. My husband has asked my doc how do you know when something else might be going on beyond the migraine - he told him to trust his "gut" but that any new symptoms should be checked out. Migraine symptoms do change over time - mine used to just throw me to the ground - now along with confusion, numbness, aphasia I just slowly lose consciousness. I am sorry I do not live in your area but certainly ask your neuro to refer you to a migraine specialist - especially if they can help you learn how to help her manage them and know when you should make that run to the ER. Please take care and let us know how you are both doing.

GTAlumnus
New Member


Date Joined May 2011
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 5/27/2011 11:09 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks, we really haven't identified triggers other than most of the time they seem to be late in the day when she gets tired. A couple of times she had spells in a public place and I had to help her out of a restaurant, it appeared she was totally intoxicated. Her eyes half opened and mouth drooping. Once she had a mild attack while we were at Church on Sunday morning.

Sometimes I call on my way home from work and she doesn't answer. When I get home I find her at the kitchen cabinet, knife in hand and vegetables on the cutting board, but she is standing there totally paralyzed. Once I was sitting in my recliner and didn't hear anything so went in the kitchen. She was standing at the island trying to fiddle with her glasses. I notice her glasses were all scratched up. I asked if she had dropped them in the garbage disposal and she nodded. Then I noticed where a spot over one eye was starting to seep blood. Turns out she had gone outside (to smoke probably) and had fallen.

Once we were both in the kitchen, I knew she was having an attack and was standing with her hands on the counter top. I was at the sink, I heard a thud and she had fallen down right there! I had to carry her to bed where she slept it off and then was pretty much fine.

Seems that when she sleeps in off she recovers, then has spells in the evenings for the next several days.

She likes to mow and at least twice I have found her going in circles and had to get her off the mower. She loves to mow and refuses to quit, but it seems she is like a drunk in that her judgment does not kick in and tell her to get off the mower when she starts feeling an attack coming on.

Fortunately it has never happened when she is driving, at least that I know of.

jewishmother
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2011
Total Posts : 92
   Posted 5/27/2011 11:28 PM (GMT -6)   
First a couple of more questions...........are these episodes getting worse over time? Did they do a sleep deprived eeg or have they caught one on an eeg to rule out epilepsy? Some docs think there is a fine line between epilepsy and migraines and that is why they sometimes prescribe epilepsy meds for migraines. Migraines are usually a rule-out diagnosis and want to make sure that they have ruled out any other neurological disorders.

Also, I know it is a difficult discussion to have but have you talked to your wife about possibly giving up driving until these are more under control? I gave up my license in 1993 because I could not always know when one was going to hit and would be devastated if I hurt anyone else. How is your wife doing handling these emotionally? Sorry, for more questions..........L

GTAlumnus
New Member


Date Joined May 2011
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 5/27/2011 11:42 PM (GMT -6)   
The docs have never seen one of the spells at all. Most of the time they happen at home and sometimes they are short enough that they would be over by the time she could get in at ER which is 30 minutes away. We live pretty much in the middle of nowhere. She is not receptive to not driving, she says it never happens when she is at the wheel. I worry about it though....It would be tough not being able to drive as she stays and home and does the grocery shopping, takes the dogs to the groomers and the vet, etc. All of which is 30 minutes to an hour away.

She plays down the spells because to her she just gets tired and takes a nap. When I say she is slurring she denies it and and says she is "just tired". She also never gets a headache so apparently the spell is not painful at all. But from this end its pretty terrible.

I think the episodes last longer than they did 10 years ago. Back then it would last half and hour to an hour and she was totally fine. Now if it comes on she will have at least some slurring the rest of the night. The real bad part still only lasts an hour or so usually. Hard to say because sometimes she will sleep for 2 hours or more.

She had the bad spell beginning about 9:00 tonight and was totally out of it. By 9:30 or so she was snoring and just now about 11:30 she woke up. Still slurring some but much better, got out of her chair and took the dogs out.

jewishmother
Regular Member


Date Joined Feb 2011
Total Posts : 92
   Posted 5/27/2011 11:51 PM (GMT -6)   
Just a quick thought before heading off to bed....................I once had a friend video-tape one of my episodes...........not a pleasant thing for me to watch but it really hit home. Have they ruled out epilepsy? I also live in the middle of nowhere so I understand her reluctance................
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