Abigail’s story

The headache was severe and prolonged and I felt a tingling sensation in my left limbs

Abigail Kabirou

I still remember the day I had my first hemiplegic migraine. I was generally a fit and healthy teenager who was very active but for whom a headache now and again was certainly not unusual.

The day I had my first migraine, I remember I had been at home from school and was feeling quite under the weather. I was very independent so being left at home when I was unwell on my own wasn’t something that frightened me and I knew to always contact my guardian if things got worse.

One thing was different though; the headache I was experiencing was rather severe and prolonged but besides this I felt a tingling sensation in my left limbs. I was alarmed but figured I’d probably been lying down in a strange position. It wasn’t until I went to the toilet later and looked up in the mirror when I noticed a significant ‘droop’ in the left side of my face. Adding the fact that I had struggles to even walk to the toilet I slowly started to become petrified.

Trying to work out what it was

Fast forward, I was in A&E and being seen by a wonderful paediatric consultant. Initially they thought I was experiencing a stroke, then followed the possibility of it being Bell’s Palsy. After being taken in for several scans the doctor made me aware that they wanted to rule out any possibility of a brain tumour. I must admit it was pretty terrifying hearing all these potential diagnoses. I was kept in hospital for about a week and referred to neurology. Many hospital appointments followed and the occasional A&E trip.

My hemiplegic migraine were the worst throughout sixth form and as a result my performance and attendance at school weren’t great. What hurt me more than anything was the lack of understanding; which I still experience to this day. People often think having a migraine was just a really bad headache, and never really understood what the hemiplegic side of it is.

I remember that I felt like no one understood or took my condition seriously until I nearly enough passed out in school. It was the same with my GP. Although I was under neurology I would still visit my GP when I would experience really bad episodes. He always tried to give me the most basic migraine medication which I had been told not to take by the neurologist. I never received adequate pain relief from my GP until I collapsed in his office and had to be wheeled out in a wheelchair.

More manageable

Today my migraine are a bit more manageable. It’s become easier for me to identify the triggers, however, the social effects are still apparent. The second guess and doubt from employers still remains and most people don’t even know I suffer from hemiplegic migraines.

I tend to come across as an empowered young woman who has no struggles but this is a battle I’ve been fighting for the past five years. I want to share my story not only to inspire other but also myself. Despite of my flaws and imperfections I am perfect the way I am, I can and I will overcome anything and the same goes for you!

The views and opinions expressed in this ‘Migraine story’ are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Migraine Trust.