Friday night, we're getting ready to go to a friend's birthday get-together, and my left forearm and hand suddenly go numb and tingly--like I'd whacked the hell out of my funny bone, but painlessly. Nothing seemed to have caused it; I'd just sat down to check something online. Then my hand starts twitching--not like a tiny muscle thing you can barely see, but the whole hand jerking back a few times, and I found I couldn't move or otherwise control it. I'm thinking "that's weird," and got up immediately to go tell Nic. While doing so I realized that my left cheek was also numb and tingly.
Dimly aware that partial or one-sided paralysis or numbness is sometimes symptomatic of stroke, I was pretty relieved when the feeling came back a few minutes later (my hand twitched for less than 30 seconds), but then noticed a visual aura developing in my field of vision similar to those I had in my adolescence when I had semi-regular migraines. I described this to Nic, who suggested I call the dial-a-nurse service at Providence, which advised me to get to the hospital ASAP. Nic drove me to the ER, convinced by the call nurse's urgency that I was sustaining a neurological trauma. The triage nurse saw that I looked and sounded ok, but ordered a CT, a blood draw, and an EKG. Since my condition didn't appear to be extreme, we had a seat.
About 4 hours later, the end result: CT and blood draw came back normal so the doc canceled the EKG, explaining that the spasms and numbness were likely migraine-related, given my history and the presence of the visual aura.
At home, I checked Wiki's article on migraine, and there it is:
For the 20–30% of migraine sufferers who experience migraine with aura, this aura comprises focal neurological phenomena that precede or accompany the attack. They appear gradually over 5 to 20 minutes and generally last fewer than 60 minutes .... Symptoms of migraine aura can be sensory or motor in nature.
The somatosensory aura of migraine may consist of digitolingual or cheiro-oral paresthesias, a feeling of pins-and-needles experienced in the hand and arm as well as in the nose-mouth area on the same side.
Sigh of relief. Well, until the bill comes. I'm not insured right now.