Neurobiology Just Punched Me In The Face

Today at 1:04pm, I was sitting in my Theories of Religion class getting ready to talk about Max Weber’s theory of religion. My professor is a smart guy, he always passes around a bowl of assorted granola bars before class so we’re fueled for discussion. He’s got the whole professor thing down.

I reached for the bowl of granola bars with my right hand and instead of grabbing it, I swiped the air. It was then that I became conscious of the fact that I was entering into a migraine. I immediately got up and left class, leaving my things behind. The only thing on my mind was getting my medicine ASAP.

Let me back up and explain that I’ve gotten migraines since I was in 8th grade. They’re brought on by fatigue and dehydration. College life pretty much force feeds both of these tasty treats, so they’re tough to avoid.

Symptoms of my migraines listed sequentially:

  1. Loss of my right field of vision (I’ll clarify that my vision becomes extremely blurred, not dark)
  2. Right field of vision gets shittier, really fast…if I hold up my right hand in front of my face and look straight ahead, I can’t see it
  3. My right hand goes numb (this happens slowly)
  4. My tongue goes numb
  5. Loss of 75% of my field of vision leaving a sliver of my left field of vision still working
  6. Nausea
  7. Severe headache
  8. Get pretty pissed because my senses aren’t working the way I want them to

This list describes what happens when I don’t take my medicine.

Today, I left class, drove to my room with slightly impaired vision, took my medicine, and could see again within the hour. When I take the medicine none of the other symptoms occur. I get migraines 4–5 times a year, depending on how well I take care of myself, which is pretty well. My mom says:

Your body’s a temple, remember that

Based on some recently gained knowledge of the structure of the brain, I was finally able to think about the symptoms from a neurological perspective.

The left-brain controls the right side of your body…so it’s pretty clear that when I get migraines, my left-brain is having a shitty day. Today, sitting in religion class, my left-brain was like “Nah, I’m good.”

After I regained my vision, I went back to the classroom to get my things. I hadn’t talked to anyone or really talked at all since the episode had occurred a few hours earlier. I decided to call my mom to tell her what happened.

This is when neurobiology punched me right in the face>>> Here’s how the conversation went:

ME: Hey mom, I have a migraine…

MOM: Oh honey, I’m so sorry! Did you take your medication?

ME: Yeah…luckily…I had…I found…it was…the…

MOM: You found your medication?

ME: Yeah…

MOM: Oh good I’m glad.

ME: Me too. I’m really dis…mum..mum…mumbled right now. Bout to go inside…in a building.

MOM: Ok feel better, love you.

ME: Love you.

I hung up, grasped my forehead with both hands and said out loud: “What the fuck…”

This had never happened to me before. Anyone who knows me knows I talk very quickly and to the point. The phone call with my mom scared me so much that I was more or less trembling when I walked back into the building to get my things. Being able to think clearly and communicate is something I take for granted. The thought of losing those abilities was terrifying. For the first time, I felt a true feeling of empathy for people with disabilities that impair the senses.

Here’s a very surface level explanation of what happened on the phone with my mom:

MY WORDS WEREN’T WORKING

Subconscious conversation between me and my left-brain:

ME: Bout to grab a granola bar with my right hand

LB: Nope.

ME: Bout to use my right eye…to see stuff…

LB: Nah…ur good.

ME: Bout to have a basic conversation on the phone, using words…

LB: — |00008098)*****))^^%$$….?

ME: Word.

Anything my left-brain tried to do, it did them very poorly or not at all.

As you can see, neurobiology punched me in the face like 7 times…my head still hurts.

So what did I get out of reflecting on my migraine? Now, when I get a migraine, instead of being frustrated that my senses aren’t working well, I can make up fun conversations between me and my left-brain. Except now that I think about it, I’d need my left-brain to have a conversation with my left-brain…8 punches in the face.