These migraines that have plagued me for the last 15 years are finally coming under control. For years, I sought a solution from a variety of medical professionals. Nothing ever seemed to really resolve the pain. Prescription medications either didn’t work or made me feel worse. MRIs revealed nothing “remarkable.” Each time that I was referred to physical therapy, I tried to convince myself I was getting better, but the benefits never lasted even though I continued the prescribed exercises. Elimination of caffeine, wheat, and chocolate from my diet made a dent in the daily pain throughout my body including my head, but I still had migraines (just not every day).
Since no prescribed treatment helped, I decided that I would have to learn how to cope with the pain on my own. Each time I had a migraine, I went through the tools that temporarily relieved pain or distracted me from it: heat or ice, sleep or rest with a cloth over my eyes to block out light, a bland carbohydrate snack if I could keep it down, earplugs to block the daily noise that was too much during a migraine, and humble pleas to family members for hairbrushing (sometimes all out hair pulling helped more:)) or massage.
Last fall, the migraines progressed to daily occurrences once again even though I had not resumed eating wheat, chocolate, or caffeine. Since I was also coping with other medical issues that impacted my sleep, I really wasn’t able to process what to do about the pain beyond my standard tools. Finally, after almost 3 months, I recalled someone once telling me that she couldn’t eat tomatoes because they gave her headaches. At the time, I thought this was really weird and not something that I wanted to consider would ever be an issue for me. I think I really just didn’t want to think about a time that I couldn’t salsa:) However, the daily pain last fall convinced me that I was ready to try something – anything – even getting rid of tomatoes.
Internet searches revealed that foods can definitely cause migraines for some people. Banned food lists on different sites varied somewhat, but there were some foods that were on most of the lists: dairy, chocolate, eggs, citrus, wheat, nuts, tomatoes, onions, apples, bananas, some beans, caffeine, alcohol, and food additives like MSG. I hadn’t had alcohol in a long time, and I had previously eliminated chocolate, wheat, and caffeine. So, it was time to get rid of all the rest – except beans.
For years, I had worked hard to accommodate my child with food allergies. Much of our diet was based around beans, and I figured the problem couldn’t be beans. It just couldn’t be. I eliminated all of the other foods on the banned lists and felt quite a bit better – most of the time.
Even though my migraine frequency had reduced, I started to notice that, strangely enough, every time we had a bean dish, I would get a migraine. It must have been the weather, loud noises, fragrances in the air, or some other food that just hadn’t worked its way out of my body yet. After all, these things do all contribute to my overall migraine trigger load, and it couldn’t be the beans.
Just before Christmas, I had the worst migraine I could remember. It was an astonishing 9 days long. In addition to the head pain, I had insomnia, night sweats, nausea, and pain in much of my upper body including my rib-to-sternum joints. Once heart palpitations started, I wondered why I wasn’t going to the hospital. But then I remembered, there hadn’t ever been any medical treatment that had made any difference. Why would it now? There had to be something else that I could do, but what was it?
I had to stop eating beans.
Since this elusive mystery was solved, and I stopped eating beans, I have only had a couple of migraines. These were both attributable to tomatoes. I had eliminated all of the other foods on the list, so it was easy for me to figure out what the problem was. Shhh….I was still occasionally eating ketchup, but not anymore. It’s just not worth it.
I guess sometimes we have to learn the hard way. I’m glad God is patient.
Note: The most helpful information I was able to find was in the book “Heal Your Headache” by Dr. David Buchholz. The cover of the book could mislead a potential reader to think the book would be silly and unworthy of reading. However, the book did explain what is going on in the body when a migraine occurs. I found it helpful to understand that there can be a variety of triggers (food and other) that all add up. Once a tolerance level is reached, the pain starts. While many of the triggers are not controllable (weather, fragrances, etc), I can learn to control what I eat.