A couple months after I noticed an elevated heart rate, I started getting ocular migraines. The first time anyone has an ocular migraine, I would imagine they go through a period of panic. I did! I watched as a dark amoeba shape swam into my left eye, eventually spreading until I was blind. Instead of rushing to the hospital, I at least had the sense to immediately call my ophthalmologist. Fortunately for me (not so much for her), the gal at the front desk gets this kind of migraine fairly regularly. She told me to take pain killers and caffeine ASAP and find a dark room, because within 30 minutes, the pain would hit. And it did! I was hit first with nausea, but fortunately only retched a few times, then hid under my blankets for several hours. Dark sunglasses became my friend. The sun I'd waited so many months for was something I started avoiding.
The surprising thing about migraines is how exhausted they can leave you. Usually I'm abnormally fatigued the day before, and it can take up to four days after the migraine to recover, depending on the severity. If I have a migraine without ocular phenomenon, I usually only notice that I'm tired earlier in the same day and feel slightly hungover the next morning. With a bad ocular migraine, I feel sluggish and dull up to two days before, and my brain becomes addled after the migraine pain fades. Immediately before and then after my first migraine, I would mix up words, not be able to concentrate, and generally stare at my boss without comprehension when he asked for anything but staring at my screen to be completed. He'd have to explain things multiple times, and I would find myself making mistakes or mentally wandering several times throughout what would have normally been a fifteen minute project. Light sensitivity usually only continued for 24 hours after the migraine pain stopped, and my stomach was often queasy.
The ophthalmologist was great and had me come in to check my retinas for any abnormality, just to make sure it was a migraine. All veins also looked normal. It gave me piece of mind. The migraines hit at least every other week, which was very frustrating. In addition, I had fatigue, was irritable, craved "Crunchy" foods, was dizzy and easily carsick, and my nails started breaking off. I started researching health issues and mineral/vitamin deficiency that could contribute to the problem. I went into the doctor, convinced that I had a storage issue with Iron. In my mind, that meant an excess of iron. In reality, I had too little ferritin, or the protein that binds to iron that has been stored in the body for any period of time.
A diagnosis of Anemia was a relief to me. Finally, something "normal!" I was prescribed B12 and iron picolinate (I'm told this type of iron causes less side effects and is more absorbable). I also purchased a heart rate monitor with an audible warning. Any time it gets up to 180, I slow down or stop what I'm doing. With an abnormally high heart rate, there is potential for long term damage, and who wants to throw up at the gym? The monitor has been quite useful.
As with all things, I have no patience and was expecting my heart rate to normalize and workouts to get easier after the first few weeks. Apparently it takes 6-9 months. So I get to continue to wear my heart rate monitor. Some days are easier than others and my heart rate won't crack 170. Days like today I have to stop what I'm doing pretty frequently and take a breather. I have noticed that I'm actually improving at some of my exercises, like chin-ups. In the weeks leading up to diagnosis, I was actually getting worse at everything I did in the gym.