Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Reading Problems with Migraines

I know that I’ve blathered on about this before, but I’m still having a hard time coming to terms with my reading problems with my migraines. After being such an avid reader, I find it is agony not being able to read the books I want to. The size of the print is a huge factor, plus my blurry vision problem and my loss of concentration.

I’ve found through the years that what I choose to read really reflects my life at the time. In my late teens, I was all about the classic authors like Thomas Hardy.In my early twenties, I switched to Philip K. Dick and Frank Herbert. Later, I switched to British chick lit.

Now I’m reading short dose humor books and light biographies about people like The Spice Girls. Also, I've rediscovered the Beatrix Potter books after watching the movie Miss Potter. I loved those little books in my childhood, so now I'm going to read them again. Another thing, I've found are young adult novels like Gossip Girl.

In my office though, I still have a huge stack of books waiting to be read, and I just couldn’t bear them staring at me any longer. I could swear they were mocking me.

I divided them up into new stacks. One pile are the books which I will hopefully read someday and the other stack are the books I can handle now. The someday pile went into the closet where I can’t see them. I can still feel them in there, waiting, but I feel as if some of the pressure is off me.


suzanne said...

I quit blogging because of the vision and concentration problems you describe. But what I miss most is reading.

I recently found a list of books I had read 7 years ago when I still had a brain. Made me really sad to see how much I could do then when my life was more busy.

It just takes much more time and concentration to read and even then I'm not sure I'll retain what I've read.

Reading this post made me cry.

Anonymous said...

Dear Migraine Chick, Your post made me think of all the things I have given up in the 20 plus years of living with chronic migraines. I have had to give up volunteering, something very important to me; the stress of new things and new people too much for my sensitive brain. I had wanted to take classes but there's no way. And most recently, exercise, something I had relied on to keep me steady, became a trigger. It was like the final straw for me. I am very sorry you are having books upon books you can't read. Have you tried books on tape? Your local library may have them. Hang in there. This is a very trying disease.cas

Emily said...

i'm sorry you have problems w/reading! it's one of my best migraine activities...is your blurry vision despite glasses? i'm just curious if it's due to the migraines or a separate thing :)

Kerrie said...

I've had to give up books recently. I can read a little bit, but am spending that time blogging etc. instead. I miss it.

I'm not sure how I feel about audiobooks. I've enjoyed some, but haven't been able to pay attention to others. It may be the quality of the book. I also tend to fall asleep while listening. I've listened to some parts of books three times and other parts not at all.

Looking back on books I've read is so sad -- I can't believe my mind used to work so well!

I hate thinking about what I've given up.

Kerrie Smyres

Migraine Chick said...

My vision is blurry despite reading glasses because of my migraines. And it's the loss of concentration, too. I've been trying to do audiobooks, too, but I have the same problem as Kerrie. Maybe if I can find some light reading audio books, I might do better.

Myth said...

I love to read and consume a good four books a week on average. I find it distracts me from the pain of a mild to moderate migraine... with the proper lighting and with a certain size print. Double vision is the hardest thing and usually I have to hold the book at a certain distance for it not to hinder me. With concentration problems, when they are bad, well then you can't get through a paragraph to understand it... but when it is mild I read books with simplistic plots. I have plenty of books in my to read stack that I cannot read, because I will not be able to follow the plot... but on a good day I will get to them, maybe. It does really help to mess around with the lighting in the room, to have it indirect.

migraineur said...

I was going to suggest audiobooks. There is something a little weird about them - if you didn't quite catch something in a print book, you just turn the page backward. In an audiobook, it's a little harder to find the precise part you want to hear over again. So I never really listen to anything other than fiction, and then usually not complex, "literary" fiction.

But I love 'em because I can "read" a book and do other things, too.

Audible has a neat feature where you can listen to an excerpt. I do that a lot because the quality of readers on different books is quite variable. Hint: avoid anything read by the author. You want a trained reader or actor.

TheTalker said...

Hi –

I was very pleased to find your writing. As a male victim of migraine headaches, it seems that so much of the literature out there is specifically geared towards migraines and how they are related to women’s health. There is not much out there regarding men and their battles with migraines.

These headaches often undermine my ability to use and understand language, both printed and verbal. Classic migraines have afflicted me since I was about ten years old, and I often see blind spots and flashing lights within my field of vision.

However, I find that it may still be very difficult to read even after my vision clears. It feels as though I can see letters and words very clearly, but it’s nearly impossible to understand how the words and letters relate to one another. For example, I could say the letters I see but not read the words. Sometimes I could say the words, but not read the sentence and understand what it means. It was also sometimes difficult to put thoughts or feelings into spoken words. When people were speaking to me, it was important that they speak slowly or be willing to repeat themselves.

For many years I was a reporter for a local public radio station, so this was particularly devastating. Luckily migraines became less frequent and less severe with time. However, I still have migraines and struggle with how they seem to effect my ability to use and understand language.