'I went to bed with a migraine – and when I woke up, I couldn't talk or write'


Michele Cloete (46) from Bloemfontein battled with migraines on her own for years, taking painkillers instead of visiting her doctor. But a terrifying ordeal one night made her wish she had. "One evening, I was suddenly struck with an agonising headache. I thought the best thing to do would be to take some painkillers and go to bed. When I woke during the night, I tried to drink some water – but it just ran out my mouth as if I had no control. I thought it might just have had something to do with the painkillers, and fell asleep again.

'He kept asking me what was wrong but I could not answer him'

The next morning I woke up early and went to sit in the lounge to watch some TV. My head felt better – but when I tried to drink some water, it ran out my mouth again. I felt like I could not swallow.

In the meantime my cat came into the lounge and started scratching the lounge chair. When I wanted to tell him to stop it nothing came out my mouth but a strange slurring sound!

Panicked, I went to wake my husband up. He kept asking me what was wrong but I could not answer him. I then tried to write him a note, but I couldn't – no matter what I did, my 'words' came out like scribbling! Desperate, I drew a vehicle with a light on top and wrote '082 911' and showed him to phone.

For four days I could not talk. It was the scariest situation I've ever been in! I could think clearly and knew what I wanted to say, but it just did not come out my mouth.

At the hospital I was seen by a neurologist, had an MRI, a spinal tap, heart tests, blood tests you name it! I felt like needle case after day two.

Only four fingers on both hands were numb and I had a bit of numbness in my face.

Finally, the doctors gave me the results – I had a stroke due to migraine. I have lesions on my brain from previous suppressed migraines.

Thank goodness the only lasting effects from the stroke are that I slur my words when I get tired, but mostly I'm okay.

So I want to warn people that suffer from migraines -- don't try to self medicate! Go to your GP asap."

Ed's note: According to, there is little evidence to suggest that a stroke is more likely to occur during a migraine attack than at another time.

In some people migraines and strokes may occur simultaneously, but "the nature of the causal relationship, if any, is difficult to establish firmly."

"Migrainous infarction is the term given to an ischaemic stroke occurring during a migraine attack. But does a migraine cause a stroke or vice versa? Research doesn't show that.

"Studies do show that if you get a lot of migraines, you may have a higher chance of having a stroke later in life. But the risk is small."

This story was submitted to YOU by one of our readers and has been minimally edited.

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