“Lifting, Lights and Little People”
Not every migraine has a prologue or “aura,” and not every aura is followed by a headache. Nevertheless, these overtures to pain or isolated events are the most peculiar aspect of the illness and may offer insights into the nature of perception itself. As a child I had what I called “lifting feelings.” Every once in a while, I had a powerful internal sensation of being pulled upward, as if my head were rising, even though I knew my feet hadn’t left the ground. This lift was accompanied by what can only be called awe — a feeling of transcendence.
I variously interpreted these elevations as divine (God was calling) or as an amazed connection to things in the world. Everything appeared strange and wondrous. The lights came later in my life — showers of stars that begin on one side, usually the right, sharp black points surrounded by shining light that cascade downward and then move toward the center of my vision or brilliant lights surrounded by black rings or just tiny black spots swimming in air. I’ve had fogs and gray spots that make it hard to see what’s in front of me, weird holes in my vision, and a sensation that there’s a heavy cloud in my head. I’ve had feelings of euphoria that are indescribably wonderful and supernatural exhaustion — a weariness unlike any other I’ve experienced, a pull toward sleep that is irresistible. Sometimes I have fits of yawning that I can’t stop. Also, often just before I wake up with a migraine, I have an aphasia dream. I am trying to speak, but my lips won’t form the words and every utterance is terribly distorted. But my most remarkable pre-migraine event was hallucinatory.
I was lying in bed reading a book by Italo Svevo, and for some reason, looked down, and there they were: a small pink man and his pink ox, perhaps six or seven inches high. They were perfectly made creatures and, except for their color, they looked very real. They didn’t speak to me, but they walked around, and I watched them with fascination and a kind of amiable tenderness. They stayed for some minutes and then disappeared. I have often wished they would return, but they never have. Read the rest of the post.