I had frequent headaches while growing up. I'm pretty sure I had my first 2 migraines in high school. Migraines became more frequent in college. Then, they really hit hard after I started teaching. I started having visual aura sometimes, but not always, before a migraine in my 2nd year of teaching. I also saw a doctor for the migraines (and started taking prescription meds instead of over the counter pain relievers) during that school year. Over the next several years, I'd occasionally see a doctor & switch migraine meds trying to find what worked best for me.
I had an e.r. visit in my mid-30's trying to get rid of a migraine. I'd taken a couple of doses of Excedrin Migraine, two doses of Maxalt, and a dose of Fioricet, and the pain still hadn't been touched. I was sitting in the e.r. at 10 pm with my hoodie pulled over my face & wearing my sunglasses. They eventually found me a semi-quiet place, shot me up with pain killers & Benadryl & let me sleep for a while before sending me home.
After that, I finally went to see a neurologist. He thought it was just stress. He put me on Norriptylene, told me to get more rest and to continue with my Excedrin, Maxalt,and Fioricet.
Migraines came & went, and I moved to another state. Eventually, at age 43, I had another e.r. visit--again after several days of migraines & that day not being able to control the pain at all with Excedrin, Maxalt, and Fioricet. The e.r doc told me, "A migraine isn't an emergency," but eventually gave me something to knock me out.
I went to my regular doctor the next morning. He thought it was stress, and prescribed Zoloft. (I had quit taking Nortriptylene.) My husband insisted on a CT, so the doc. finally wrote an order for it, and I went later that afternoon. The next day, they called to tell me to schedule an MRI ASAP. I had the MRI the following day (2 days after the CT.) That afternoon, my family doctor called, wanting to know who my neurologist was & which hospital he worked out of. I didn't have a neurologist in Texas, so I called to get the name of my father-in-law's neurologist. My doc said to head straight to the lab, pick up a disc with my scans, and head straight to the e.r.
The written report with the disc said I had an AVM. The e.r. (different from the one who told me that a migraine wasn't an emergency) didn't seem concerned. They checked for neurological deficits, then released me. The next morning, I started googling AVM & that's how I found out my diagnosis.