It’s Chemistry!

It’s been a while since I posted, but I do have some updates that I hope are helpful to someone.

I am still on the diet that I have been following while posting here with the following exceptions:

  • I have successfully added almonds back into my diet as indicated by some of my later posts.
  • I have eliminated Craisins because I was finding that my migraines became more frequent when I ate them (see modification of this granola recipe).

As I’ve noted previously, my migraines decreased in frequency and intensity with my diet changes, but they were still debilitating enough to make a major impact on my life.  So, I kept trying to figure out what else to do.  Some of my attempts are noted under the “Thoughts” portion of this blog.  None of these was a complete solution though.

My research indicated that more women have migraines than men, and that women on synthetic hormones (hrt and birth control) tend to have problems in this regard.  I have been on synthetic estrogen for 15 years and decided that it was time to stop.  Getting off of hrt is not an easy task, and the withdrawal can actually induce migraines if it is done too quickly.  While it was difficult, I noticed a gradual reduction in migraine episodes while I was decreasing.  In fact, even though I didn’t take my last dose until the first week of December, I hadn’t had a migraine since the first week of November.  And I still hadn’t had one until the last 3 days…….

Both of these last 2 migraines were caused by exposure to chemicals in the air.  The November one was due to a Glade air freshener, and this second one was due to a very strong cream someone near me was wearing.  By eliminating the food triggers and the hormones, at least I was able to tell that fragrances seem to be my remaining issue.  I have had no migraines associated with weather changes as I had previously considered.  I have also been able to tolerate more light than I had been, but I still do use my clip and visor at times.

My conclusion is that chemicals that get into my brain are the cause of my migraines.  The tyramine in foods, synthetic hormones, and fragrances (or associated tag-along chemicals) are the culprits. Eliminating exposure to these has been helpful for me, but it is not always possible.  In fact, my life is becoming lonelier as I am having to refrain from being around people with fragranced cream, laundry detergent, shampoo, hairspray, etc..  Unfortunately, this includes most people unless they make their own or use products that are TRULY fragrance free.

I have found magnesium supplementation to be helpful when I do start having head pain.  However, it works best if the exposure to the fragrance is limited to a short time.  Once a migraine is full blown, magnesium dulls the pain, but doesn’t completely halt the migraine with all of its other symptoms.  My main course of action in these cases is to clear my schedule for a couple of days, hunker down with ice packs and ear plugs, and trust God.

I have not found stimulating the daith region of my ears to be of much help, and I’m glad I was able to determine this before having the piercings.  I get temporary minor relief by massage of the area, but it is not significant and does not consistently work for me.

I don’t plan any diet changes as this point.  Someday, I may be able to add more foods back in, but I simply want to enjoy having more pain-free days for now.  My hope is that, over the next few months, my body will adjust to the lack of estrogen and the migraine days will be far between.  I’ll post updates as I find out!

I Absolutely Know

I absolutely know how many of you feel.  You may think that because my focus is posting recipes and encouraging messages about how well my migraine diet has worked that I don’t still experience migraines.  Sometimes some of them are still pretty bad.  The past couple of weeks have been particularly challenging for me.  Many things besides foods still trigger my pain.  Many of them I cannot control.  That is why I am so glad that I am able to control my diet, which has reduced the severity of most of my migraines.  However, there isn’t much else I can do that really makes the pain go away.  Many of you experience exactly the same thing.  We’ve been to many doctors and tried many treatments to no avail.

I’m writing this post in the midst of much pain, because I want to testify for you how I make it through.  This pain (and the dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and the superpowers of severe sensitivity to sounds, smells, lights, touch, and some tastes) bring me to a point of utter helplessness – in myself.  The fact that there isn’t much that I can do to relieve the pain is very humbling.  This is exactly where God wants us to be so that we realize that we need something bigger than ourselves.  Sometimes, I feel that I need a parent’s lap to crawl into like I did when I was a child.  I need that lap and the enfolding arms to just make it all better.  This is what God provides through faith in Jesus Christ.  He just wants us to accept this gift He offers.

God absolutely knows how we feel.  He does not take delight in our physical or emotional pain, but He does use it for something good.  He promises that He will do this.  It’s just that His definition of good is very often different from our definition of good.  This is similar to a child who might think that eating 30 cookies would be good for him, but the parent knows better.  I’ve wondered what good could possibly come from feeling so much physical pain.  While I now trust that I don’t need to know, it is still helpful to me to reflect on how I have seen Him work and consider what He might still have in store.  I admit that this reflection is probably not something that I would have done if I wasn’t going through this trial.  He knows that, so He allowed the trial.  Awareness of God’s care and His promises to do so in the future is what helps me persevere.

Here are some of the ways that I have seen good come from this trial.  There are probably 10,000 other good things of which I am unaware.

  • My pain helps me to understand the pain of others.  If I wasn’t going through it myself, my testimony above would be harder for you to accept.  Also, the depth of pain and the relative relief I have found through diet changes is what inspired me to start this blog with the hope that something might be helpful to others.
  • Feeling so physically awful has caused me to think about death and trusting God to care for my family whenever my day comes.  I’m learning to accept that I can’t hold onto my kids forever.  I have loved being with them so much that I didn’t think that I could bear to let them become independent.  However, as I have become less able to do things, I am learning to be glad that they are increasingly able to do so.
  • These physical ailments are like little tastes of Hell that make me appreciate that I will some day go to Heaven instead.  I absolutely know this because of my faith in Jesus Christ.  The suffering makes me increasingly aware of the value of Christ’s sacrifice which is exactly what God wants me to focus on.  The glorified body that I will have for all eternity far outweighs the painful body that I have now.  I can wait for this comparatively short time to experience what is yet to come.