It's been an unusually stormy few weeks, which means I've had a lot of migraines. I thought I'd gotten it under control lately, taking my feverfew tablets regularly, and generally getting used to the variations in humidity, pressure, and the large quantities of electricity in the air. I was beginning to feel blasee about distant thunder, thinking I could handle it. Didn't get so far as to laugh at the sky, or look the storm in the eye, but I was gaining confidence. And then it came back. This morning.
I'd been sitting in a big classroom with a bunch of colleagues who were participating in a workshop on teaching first year students. I was interested in a I'd'-rather-iron-my-tits-than-go-to-another-one-of-these kind of way. I definitely picked up a few ideas. But as the morning went on, I felt the migraine grow. I left at lunch time and did not come back.
By the time I'd started my second meeting of the day (that's right, two meetings in one day. That will make it two meetings this month. Ah, the life of the academic!), I was having to hold the right side of my head - to keep it contained - and speaking funny. Also, I was having sensory hallucinations.
The one time I went to see a doctor about my migraines, a GP in London, she asked me whether I experienced visual hallucinations. I said no. She smiled and nodded and told me that I was having regular headaches, not migraines. I don't suppose she could have helped anyway, but I could have done without being patronised.
I still don't have visual hallucinations. I have all the other symptoms: excessive peeing, digestive trouble, dizziness, and, oh yes, one half of my head is in incredible pain. But I also have hallucinations. It started with smelling coffee and toast with strawberry jam. Not quite toast, actually - more like pain grille. And definitely strawberry jam. Sometimes I smell the toast and jam when my husband is making coffee. That's usually ok. But if I'm walking down the street and start smelling them, I know a migraine is on the way.
Today, things went one step further and instead of smelling stuff I tasted it. I was tasting strawberry yogurt. Yogurt with strawberry jam in it. At least, when I tried to pin it down that's what I came up with, but it wasn't as clear and distinct as the olfactory hallucinations usually are.
So tonight I decided to read up on it. And sure enough, Oliver Sacks, in his book Migraines (why haven't I heard of that book before?!) talks about the different kind of sensory hallucinations that tend to come with migraines. He says tha olfactory hallucinations are usually of something unpleasant. But mine aren't. I have the wrong kind of olfactory hallucinations. You couldn't make this up.
Because it's a post about finding our weird things about oneself (ooh, I get different kinds of sensory hallucinations with my migraines, I must be special!) here's something else I found out today.
The leader of the workshop I was attending this morning gave us some questionaires that help determine what kind of learner (and teacher) you are. The theory is that you are either a visual, aural, reading and writing, or kinesthetic learner. It's to do with the multiple intelligence theory. My immediate thought - and I bet that's one other people in the audience shared - was that as academics, we were bound to be predominently reading/writing oriented, with a pinch of either aural or visual. Because I was bored I went through the questionaire. And for every single question save two I came up with an answer that marked my as a kinesthetic learner!
Now don't get me wrong - I have nothing against people who use their bodies to learn, people who are 'doers' and 'movers' and are good with their hands. I also realise that these people are greatly maligned and often misdiagnosed as having 'hyper activity' or ADD. But I just never thought I was one of these. For one thing I have no eye to hand co-ordination. Throw me a ball and I will run the opposite direction. (I actually recommend that everyone do this. Balls can be dangerous.) I'm not much of a mover. I can keep time really quite well, but I can't move to it in any interesting way.
But I do tick the boxes in some other respects. For instance, if you ask me where the coffee filters are, or how much spice to put in a dish, or anything, really, I'll be more likely to want to show you than try and explain. My response to my husband asking me where we keep something is to get up and get it for him. It's simply less effort than explaining would be.
Another thing is, I am not good on spatial awareness. I could not easily find my way by following directions. I coudn't give directions accurately (you'd have to check on the rights and lefts before following any directions I gave you!). A map doesn't help much. But I can find my way somewhere I've already been just by walking. And it's not about recognizing landmarks. I feel a bit like Ali Baba when in order to find the cave of the thieves again he asks to be blindfolded. It's about the way my legs moves, not about what I see.
So yes, I'm an academic who spends her time reading, writing and talking, I teach Plato, I write books, I'm completely un-coordinated, crap at sports and yet, it seems I may be a kinesthetic learner. What does it say about how much we know about these things? Also, of course, it may be the case that the categories of 'multiple intelligence' are a lot of balls...
If you want to find out what kind of learner you are, you can do the test here. I'd be really interested to know whether you get weird results too!
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