Is There An Average Age When Hemiplegic Migraines Stop?


Asked by speckrig

Is There An Average Age When Hemiplegic Migraines Stop?

My headaches started at 12 years of age. I can remember it to this day.I thought I was dying. My left hand pinky finger began to tingle, and the tingle began to travel from the bottom of my finger to the tip and then progressed through my other fingers to my thumb,slowly traveling around my wrist and then up the bottom of my arm to my shoulder, leaving a dense numbness behind in every area that had tingled. This sensation traveled up my neck into my face, becoming most prominent in my left cheek as it slowly crawled into my lips. The sensation went into the interior of my mouth on the insides of my cheeks, including my tongue! Uncontollable salivation quickly became drooling as my face numbed and I would drool down my face without realizing it because my face had become numb. The tingle wound around my head through my temples into my scalp and then down the right side of my face, basically duplicating the sensations on the left side of my face and head. The tingle seemed to spin and twirl in my right cheek before quickly moving down into my neck and then past my right shoulder into my right arm. As it began to wind around my right arm to my hand, the muscles in my right arm began to pulse and twist visably, almost as if I were repeatedly using a grip strengthener over and over again at lightning speed until my arm muscles began to cramp and burn and then bind to the point of being as hard as a rock. My fingers would begin to bend and contort, resembling the digits of someone suffering from severe arthritis. At this point my peripheral vision began to go haywire as a spiraling,shimmering,spinning dead spot began to develop in both of my eyes. This visual phenomena caused dead spots in my vision from the center of my line of sight to the outer edges of my normal eyesight. I could hold either of my hands up and while looking straight ahead was unable to see them until they were directly in front of my nose! Then suddenly, the right side of my body from head to toe went numb. The right side of my face began to sag and the right side of my body began to feel as if enclosed in concrete. A slow steady pounding began in my right temple. I started sweating profusely and shaking uncontollably on the left side of my body. The tingling in my right arm quickly climbed into the right side of my face and seemed to lodge in the right side of my head where the pounding was beginning to turn into a sharp,intense overwhelmimg pain the likes of which I had never experienced before, but would come to know very well in the following years. Sudden violent contractions in my stomach began causing projectile vomiting of Olympic shot-put distances, causing the pain in my head to explode,bring me to my knees. My vision slowly collapsed to where only two small pin-sized holes directly in the center of my vision wre the only clear things I couls see, the surrounding areas of my normal eyesight having become swirling seas of nothing,dead spots being the only way I can describe them. My nose started running,the drooling became foaming at the mouth,my ears began ringing and the pain became unbearable. I felt parched and dehydrated. In a desperate attempt to assuage the gnawing thirst I drank a glass of cold water only to have it fly from my stomach almost immediately and the pain would burst in the side of my head. I had grabbed the index and middle finger of my right hand with my left hand and positioned them on my templar artery and then using every ounce of strength I posessed pushed on them as hard as I could with my left hand, desperately trying to stem the pulsing,agonizing torturous pain in my head. Having curled up into a fetal position ball on the ground the people and family around me did not know what to do. They carried me inside and left me lying on the sofa with a damp washcloth for my forehead and a large bowl for me to vomit in. My thirst became uncontrollable, and the more I drank water the more I vomitted and the more my head exploded. I was crying ,sometimes whimpering,sometimes screaming, sometimes writhing so violently that they would lay on top of me in a vain attempt to calm me. This went on for hours until at some point I became completely incoherrent. At one point I remember coming to and someone gave me a pill of some sort and a short time later I passed out. This was the first episode.

This was the beginning of the dark times. The headaches quickly progressed in frequency of occurences and severity of pain. The warning signs of an impending attack became gradually more well defined. The variety of symptoms I would experience, both mentally and physically, became a sort of sick recipe from the cook book of my migraine headaches.

If the first sign I had was a severe numbness in my right arm, the headache would come on with lightning speed and intensity, usually within minutes of the initial onslaught, but would last only a four of five hours.

If the warning signs started as I have stated with first headache, then I had twelve to fifteen hours of sheer bliss to look forward to. Crawling into a dark closet became my refuge of choice, with frequent visits to the bathroom to chug water and vomit. Not being able to hold anything down, taking medication was useless until after hours of vomiting my body had no strength left to throw up what I took or swallowed. Even so, nothing worked unless it was extremely powerful and knocked me out soon after taking. Liquid codeine being one of the few that I was able to keep down.

Repeated emergency room visits always had the same results. X-rays,cat scans,spinal taps were the normal routine. I remember one E.R. doctor giving me Heperin(sp?) in a vain attempt to quell the pain. I think it was to thin my blood. He was spellbound(the nurse told me about this later) as he watched the vein in my right temple visibly expand and contract seemingly in time with my heartbeat. This is the sensation that using my fingers to push into my head attempted to stop or at least lessen, as every beat of my heart sent an agonizing,overwhelming throbbing pain to my head.

Finally, after ruling out meningitis and clots and strokes and allergic reactions, an i.v. would be administered(following repeated almost vain attempts to find a vein) to combat the dehydration resulting from the sweating and the inability to retain anything in my stomach. Finally someone would bring in a shot of Demerol or whatever, place it in the i.v. and as the burn from said medication would start in my arm, I would mercifully pass into oblivion. Frequently I would wake a few hours later, usually as a nurse or doctor would be taking my vitals and scare the living crap out of them as they would tell me that I should be knocked out for hours from whatever it was they had admnistered to me. That said, the pain never went away. My body simply collapsed, exhausted from everything I had been experiencing. The pain became somewhat easier to deal without the rest of my body freaking out. Sometimes the headaches would come on rather oddly, with a hodge-podge of the onset symptoms, none of them being severe, and the sensations jumping all over my body. The pain would then start in my left temple, becoming sharp and acute but nowhere near the intensity of a right side occurence. My vision would become erratic, but would never progress t the tunnel vision I usually experienced.

Here is the odd part. As I would try to talk, the words coming out of my mouth would be almost gibberish. Every word would be in English, but words would be missing or completely out of place in the sentences I would attempt to utter, completely scaring the hell out of the people to whom I would be attempting to convey a message to. These headaches would not last long, but the speech side affects would take a while to lessen. I would then in a few days, or at the most a week, experience a full blown migraine of epic proportions.

Thus, these left side headaches became precursors for severely debilitating episodes. As the time between occurences gardually became shorter and infinitely more severe in intensity I began to try to keep a constant vigil on what I could be doing that might be causing them. I read that aged cheeses, chocolate and even red wine might be triggers for migraines, so I completely removed these from my diet, to no avail. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason, and after repeated visits to numerous physicians, ranging from neurologists/neurosurgeons to orthopedes.

I finally found help, not a cure, in chiropractic adjustments. This came from a recommendation from a neurologist whose wife suffered from what he called cluster migraines. She went to a chiropractor and had her neck adjusted and experienced instant albeit very diminished relief. I found that if I was able to quickly visit my chiropractor for a neck adjustment at the first sign of symptoms, I would get a lesser headache but by no means no headache at all. Luckily for me my chiro suffered from migraines and could relate, quickly placing me in a dark room and carefully adjusting me.

After years of suffering, I have learned to keep liquid ibuprofen caplets at hand at all times as these seem to work best when taken within minutes of feeling an onset. I fear that I have done irrepairable damage to my heart from the constant projectile vommiting but there is nothing I can do. Immotrex doesn't work and I think that I may even be somewhat allergic to this drug as severe skin rashes and heat flashes occur when I am given this medication.

As such, even if I die from heart failure from the damage vommiting has done, I will finally be at peace. I can only imagine how many unexplained and sudden suicides have been the result of migraine sufferers. If anyone can help, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks. Chuck


Hi Chuck,

I'm sorry you are having such a rough time. A Migraine attack itself can be scary, add those symptoms, and that brings it to a whole new level.

Hemiplegic Migraine (HM) is a rare form of Migraine disease made a bit more complicated because there are two variations: Familial Hemiplegic Migraine(FHM) and Sporadic Hemiplegic Migraine(SHM.) HM is difficult to diagnose its symtpoms are similar to various vascular conditions and often thought to be stroke or epilepsy. It typically begins in childhood and may end with adulthood. But no, there is no average age when HM stop, I'm sorry to say. For more information on HM read this article: Hemiplegic Migraine - The Basics

What is really important is that people who have HM be treated by an expert, a Migraine specialist. Since it is a rare condition, a Migraine specialist who devotes his entire practice treating people with Migraines and headaches, this expert would know best how to treat, diagnose and manage someone with HM. Current treatment options some doctors use for HM include calcium channel blockers and antiseizure medications. We have a list of patient recommended Migraine specialists you can see by clicking HERE.

Good luck


Answered by Nancy Harris Bonk