My mother did not have a TIA last Thursday! We went to see a neurologist today, as she had been directed, and he said that from what she described, coupled with the fact that she had a headache later that day that went to the following night, it sounded much more like a migraine with aura than a mini-stroke.
This was such good news to hear!
It did get me thinking, though, about the popular image of migraines in culture. A large number of people use the word 'migraine' to describe a bad headache, and while head pain is common in migraine sufferers, the two are not one in the same. This has also led to people who actually suffer from migraines being told, "Oh, you just have a headache. Stop complaining and just deal with it."
On the other hand, my mother's migraine was mistaken even by doctors as a potentially dangerous attack of something else entirely. If a migraine can look like a mini-stroke, tingling limbs and slurred speech and all, you'd think that would make people give it a little more credence.
But most people don't know that. Heck, it fooled all the doctors she saw except for a specialist.
Much like my roommate's IBS. People brush it off and tell her that a stomach ache is no reason to miss work. On the other hand, the pain associated with it has been compared to the pain associated with childbirth. She's been tested for kidney stones, more to rule it out than because they seriously suspected it was happening, but they wouldn't have wanted it ruled out if there wasn't a chance that it could have been happening. They don't X-ray your hand when you sprain your ankle, after all. Kidney stones are notoriously painful. She has that pain. And yet people tell her she must be exaggerating her illness because "no stomach ache can be that bad."
Which is why I'm spreading the word. Misconceptions like this cause poor quality of life for the sufferers, because not only do they have to live with the condition, they have to live with nobody taking them seriously and nobody making accommodations.
I'm glad my mother's doing well and that things aren't as serious as we both thought. But I hope this doesn't mean that even she'll ignore such health problems again, figuring that it's nothing the way so many other people do.