I don’t talked a lot about my head issues, mainly since I find that telling people “Part of my brain came out my ear when I smashed my head in 1991!” can produce a wide variety of reactions, most of which are not positive.

Fortunately, my epilepsy has gotten a lot better, but I do have an ongoing problem with migraines. I have both regular migraines, and occasionally, cluster headaches.  Those are very, very bad.

I don’t always have a visual aura when I’m about to get a migraine, but sometimes I do–and someone has made a movie that illustrates what it’s like!

Finally I can explain to people what it’s like to have my vision go wonky.  Click and behold.

I’ll be back tomorrow, when my head feels better.

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. That’s fascinating (sorry for the ghoulish interest). Is the columnar structure of the aura an accurate depiction?

  2. I had my last visual migraine when 1/3 of the way driving from Virginia to Vermont just before Thanksgiving. Mine are not so colorful. They kind of look like:


    only in a C shape. The points and slashes are bright white and the areas in between them black. They start with a flashing dot slightly to the left of center and expand out from there.

    Fortunately, traffic was very light and I managed to survive the drive to a rest stop so I could let it finish. The rest of the 10 hour drive was uneventful.

  3. RBH–Everyone’s aura seems to be a bit different.
    Mine is more diagonal than the one in the animation–it’s like the world is being torn across the bias.

  4. I rarely get aura with my migraines; mine’s more like insane tan geometric patterns jiggering about, or visual disturbances like this. Sometimes I get prodromal synæsthesia. Today I awoke with such a bad migraine that the Imitrex did nothing, and eventually my family had to take me to the doc’s office for a Toradol injection. So much for getting a bunch of stuff done on the first business day of the year!


  5. I TOLD you the Wii could be dangerous….

  6. Actually, I think it’s related more to not having the dehumidifier on. I get more migraines when it’s winter and really dry.

    The Wii was awesome, and I regret nothing.

  7. I’ve been a migraine sufferer for almost 5 decades now – but I’ve never had a visual aura, just the pain (oh, the pain!). I almost feel cheated ;-)

    After years of twice weekly Imitrex injections, I’ve finally found an OTC that works 80% of the time – Excedrin Migraine, if you can believe it. Now Imitrex is just a once or twice a month backup. Yeah!

  8. I sometimes get *just* the special-effects package – I found this video looks a lot like what I see:

  9. That’s awesome Ted! I’m so happy you have something that works.

    The aura is really handy, because it’s a clear signal to take the drugs NOW.

  10. fantastic video. Pretty accurate. I hope you feel better soon.

  11. arrogantscientist January 3, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    That animation makes me feel sick to watch – probably because if I see that, I know I’m going to throw up soon. Not that I have migraines very often, fortunately. Last time I saw the aura I didn’t actually get a headache, just numb lips and fingers. It’s all fun. (Apart from the blinding pain, nausea and disorientation of course).

  12. I have hormonal migranes – no aura just massive non stop vomiting for about two-three days with the headache pain and my sense of smell is really acute for a few days before and during. I do not take anything for the migranes, they simply do not work. I think you may be on to something about the humidity. I have heard sweat lodges help and that canabis will ease your symptoms immedialy but of course that is illegal at this time so we all just suffer on.
    I have found (this is mostly speculative and reading vintage Good House Keeping and doing a little research at the local library) people seem to get more migranes starting around the 1930s – the literature about women and their “sick headaches” appears more. I am just wondering if there is an enviornmental trigger other than stress or hormones. My doctor has told me that it is rare for women over 60 to have migranes. The mystery continues. I hope everyones will just go away magically.

  13. There’s plenty of documentation of migranes in ancient history–I think it’s just that the 30’s marked a time of increasing medicalization of….everything.

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