Monday, April 28, 2008


Only semi-panic because I wasn't the one panicking -- it was everyone else around me. (How's that for a change?!) The reason? Those damn rolling balls of light. Holy cow, please let this be the last time that I have something to say on this topic.

The quick recap: I've had migraines since I was 19. I usually get 1-2 migraines each month. Very few of them (maybe once each year) are "mildly classic migraines" which means that, a few hours before the headache, I get visual disturbances ("auras"), usually opaque blobs of color floating across my vision. During my first trimester, I had zero migraines. Woo hoo! Several weeks ago, they returned, but noticeably different than usual. For one, they're suddenly much more frequent, averaging ~4 each week (yep, that's a frequency of every other day). And second, the visual disturbances are happening several times a day, every day, in the form of little rolling balls of light on the periphery of my vision.

I fully believe (and several commentors on an earlier post agree) that the balls of light are migraine auras, accompanying my newly frequent migraines. But, just to be sure, I mentioned it to my doctor at my last appointment. After consulting with every obstetrician in the office that day, and a few that weren't, my doctor concluded that it was nothing wrong with the pregnancy, it was probably migraines, but I should see my general practitioner to rule out any neurological problems.

My general practitioner ran every neurological test she could think of that wouldn't involve irradiating my baby (though S did mention that having little Barack born with super powers, like Spiderman, might be kinda cool). Her conclusion: I'm totally fine neurologically. It's probably migraines. (There's a worthless copay I'm never getting back.) But then she adds this: it's also completely consistent with a partially detached retina. I need to make an appointment with my eye doctor ASAP, but whatever I do, do not let them dilate my eyes. (See previous notes about not doing things that will kill the baby.) At this point, everyone in my family panicked, convinced that I was going blind. (Everyone except me, that is -- see previous point that it's probably just migraines.)

Okay, appointment made with eye doctor. Appointment then moved up when eye doctor calls back in a panic to say, "OMG -- you DO probably have a detached retina! Someone needs to see you as fast as humanly possible!!!"

So, I end up seeing an eye doctor I've never met before, because she had the earliest open slot. She notes all of my symptoms, does a full exam, and then gives me the news. Actually, it's probably not a detached retina, it's probably migraines. (Duh.) My symptoms aren't as consistent as originally thought, because the ball of light wouldn't be moving, I'd see it just about all the time, and (most importantly) it would be accompanied by vision loss. Also, she examined the 90% of my retina that she's able to see without dilating, and everything looks healthy.

Now, the fun part: she's not ready to let me go, though, until she's looked at the last 10% of my retina, just to be sure. So ... (you saw this coming, right?) she wants to dilate my eyes. And I refuse. And we argue. A lot. The decision seemed really obvious to me: if it is a detached retina, then any vision loss could become permanent, but since I don't HAVE any vision loss, there's no risk to waiting. Combine that with the inconsistency of the symptoms and the 90% already OK'ed, and it really just doesn't seem worth the risk to my baby.

Ultimately, I signed a release saying that I'm going against strong doctor's orders, and if I go blind, I won't blame them. (I will, obviously, blame Barack.)

So. It's migraines. Shocking, eh?


  1. AHHHHH send in the alarmists!

    I am glad to hear that you are the calm one in this equation. Take care of yourself.

  2. I can't imagine what the eye doctors argument was, to put your baby at risk, just to see that last 10%.
    I will now go and Google why that can harm the baby.
    And, I think I love that you nicknamed it Barack.


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