“The countenance is pale and sunken, the right eye small and reddened.”
April 4, 2015 12:23 PM   Subscribe

A General Feeling of Disorder by Oliver Sacks [New York Review of Books]
“As an example of this, migraine is a sort of prototype illness, often very unpleasant but transient, and self-limiting; benign in the sense that it does not cause death or serious injury and that it is not associated with any tissue damage or trauma or infection; and occurring only as an often-hereditary disturbance of the nervous system. Migraine provides, in miniature, the essential features of being ill—of trouble inside the body—without actual illness.”
posted by Fizz (14 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Go Oliver!
posted by ReeMonster at 12:46 PM on April 4, 2015

I hope he gets some more quality time. Love his books so much.
posted by Lame_username at 1:37 PM on April 4, 2015

it does not cause death or serious injury and that it is not associated with any tissue damage or trauma or infection

That's the curious aspect of migraines: You know that you'll come out of it basically unscathed, sometimes even gleeful with pleasure and relief, and a physical sense of relaxation and well-being. But god, midway through a migraine is death warmed over.
posted by Gordion Knott at 2:16 PM on April 4, 2015 [11 favorites]

Thanks for posting this.
posted by brevator at 2:38 PM on April 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

This was a very interesting read -- thank you.

Occasionally, I get scintillating scotoma, and when it would happen at work I didn't tell anyone because I didn't know what it was and thought that people would think I was malingering or something. How could I describe it? "I have this floater in both my eyes and it gets bigger and bigger before it gets out of view?" I would feel dizzy and weak until it passed.

Years later I found out it was A Real Thing -- I wasn't going crazy or having a mini-stroke. I was sooooo relieved.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 4:35 PM on April 4, 2015 [6 favorites]

I teared up a little when I got to the part where he went back to working on his autobiography. This man is amazing. Thanks for posting.
posted by bread-eater at 5:35 PM on April 4, 2015

Remember when Oliver Sacks wrote that drug memoir in the New Yorker? Blew my mind. Milkshakes of ampethamines! He was doing drugs I never even heard of.
posted by jcruelty at 7:00 PM on April 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

And with no moralizing
posted by jcruelty at 7:00 PM on April 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Wow, that was a very interesting read and it was not about migraines. Glad I read it, glad his treatment was going so well. The body is surely amazing, in both its failures and its dogged attempt to maintain equilibrium.
posted by Miko at 7:28 PM on April 4, 2015

Except migraine is associated with the development of white matter lesions. I think the ramifications of these lesions remain incompletely understood, but it seems that migraines do cause tissue damage.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 10:30 PM on April 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:38 AM on April 5, 2015

Cool! I've had three episodes of scintillating scotoma, but without the migraine. Now I know what it's called. Although I had the TRON version, where the scintillating part is 100x brighter than the wikipedia images.
posted by sneebler at 8:06 AM on April 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I have had migraine since age 13. Both my grown children have migraine. If I'd known this ran in families, I seriously would have done whatever it took to get sterilized.

Women who get migraine are advised not to take The Pill. Migraine ups your odds of suffering a stroke, and the white matter lesions Tandem Affinity mentioned do occur...

Migraine often is relieved by Depakote, a drug used for epilepsy.

I'm pretty sure migraine causes damage.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:15 PM on April 5, 2015

I followed the Wikipedia link and was fascinated by the firefly aura. Those little fairies have been a feature of many of my migraines, but I never thought of it as a thing before.

Killing most of your liver to slow a cancer sounds extreme, but even if it ultimately doesn't extend his life it sounds like it has extended his quality of life, so yay!
posted by Autumn Leaf at 11:40 PM on April 8, 2015

« Older Extreme Makeover: Corset and Bustle Edition   |   2015 Hugo Nominees Announced Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments