Reporter Jo Henwood has suffered with migraine since childhood so was more than ready to take part in vital new research into the condition being carried out at a North West hospital.
Ihave suffered from migraine since I was 11. I remember being sent home from school regularly with flashing lights in front of my eyes and numb hands and feet.
My mum would be telephoned to come home from work and I would take to my bed. For days afterwards, I would feel washed out and nauseous.
My attacks were so frequent that eventually I wasn't sent home but dispatched to the 'sick' room to lie down and the lovely Mrs Jeffries, a needlework teacher, would look after me.
Migraine is a debilitating condition that affects all ages. One in eight people in the UK suffer and it affects over twice as many women as men.
My migraine was diagnosed by a friend before my doctor put a name to it. Bruce, a New Zealander who had suffered since a child, told my mum that my symptoms were classic for migraine and suggested trigger foods I might avoid.
From then on I avoided chocolate, coffee, dairy produce, citrus fruits and later red wine. I discovered other triggers like strawberries, the sweetener aspartame, pear drops, some nuts and very strong perfumes.
The flavour enhancer monosodium glutamate (E621) is a big no no and one thing I can't do much about, that monthly period, is a large factor.
I can't miss meals, sleep too much or too little and have to shut my eyes when a strobe light is flashing. The list is endless.
The upside is that as I have got older, the attacks are less severe, the pain in the head is moderately bearable and I don't actually vomit, although I can feel pretty nauseous for days.
I receive a copy of Migraine News every quarter, from the Migraine Trust - a magazine I fully expect to feature as a 'guest' publication at the end of Have I Got News For You.
A recent issue featured an article about scientists who are investigating a possible link between migraine with aura, the type I suffer from, and a hole in the heart. The research is being carried out at Wythenshawe hospital and the team is looking for volunteers from the North West.
With trepidation, I contacted the study investigator, Dr Uma Velupandian, by email who telephoned me the following day. After an extensive questionnaire with my full medical history, I was accepted on to the programme.
The researchers are looking for a hole in the heart known as a Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO), which is a link between the vein and artery sides of the heart. These communications between the two sides can also be described as venous to arterial Circulation shunts (v-aCS) and are detectable by a simple ultrasound test called transcranial Doppler (or TCD)
The 'hole' usually closes at birth but in one in four adults it may re-main open throughout life without necessarily causing problems.
The suggestion of a connection between PFO and migraine with aura was prompted by the results of studies involving young patients with stroke. Patients who had an operation to close the hole noticed an improvement in their migraine symptoms, with symptoms disappearing completely for some.
I made my way to Wythenshawe to have what was described as simple non-invasive tests.
I was greeted by Dr Velupandian, a pretty, petite Indian woman, who talked through what the tests would involve.
First I had blood tests for routine screening of things like blood glucose, cholesterol and other lipids and a cannula was placed in my left arm.
Next, I had a headband put around my hand with an ultrasound probe to detect one of the arteries which supplies blood to the brain. I was then monitored by one of the research team for an hour.
After an hour, I had a solution of micro-bubbles injected into my arm and almost straightaway the team was able to see if there is a communication between the vein and artery circulations in my heart - that is, whether or not I have a PFO.
The team is looking for more volunteers who suffer from migraine, with or without aura. Volunteers can choose whether or not to be told if they have a PFO and the results of the blood tests are forwarded to their GP.
If you are aged 18-60, suffer from migraine, with or without aura, live in the North West and would like to take part in the study contact Dr Uma Velupandian on 0161 291 5846 or 0161 291 5842, by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or via the study website at www.surgery.man.ac.uk/migraine.
The team are also looking to recruit a control group of about 70 people who do not suffer from migraine.
Contact point Charities working towards understanding migraine and helping sufferers include The Migraine Association (www.migraine.org.uk) and Migraine Trust (www.migrainetrust.org).