Sunday, December 23, 2012

Day Sixteen

(Second post in my migraine journal) Sixteen days without a migraine is nowhere a record for me, but I've been having a rough go of it lately, so it's notable. My poor Jim has gotten so he's skittish about my mentioning days without migraine because he thinks it might trigger one. He has been right there with me on this pain-filled journey.

I've given up migraine trigger foods before, for a few weeks, but I've never known nor given them all up at once, and the list is staggering at first. Actually, it lists nearly all of my favorite and daily foods. There are tons of trigger lists in books and online, and they all name many of the same foods, but there are significant differences, and I decided to follow this one for now. If it doesn't do the job, I'll subtract foods on other lists from my diet. But when I began reading in the Buchholz book, I thought "Well, goody. At least he says I can drink water."

The main foods I've put aside for at least 4 months are caffeine (I adore coffee but thought I was being so good drinking decaf coffee, green tea, or Teeccino....Nope! to all of these.), cheese (Except for un-aged American cheese; I hadn't considered how many of my favorite foods have cheddar or mozzarella, or Parmesan in them.), chocolate (except for white chocolate), avocados, (What's a salad without avocado?) balsamic vinegar and apple cider vinegar (For years, I've cooked with, drunk, and bathed in ACV), MSG (been trying to avoid that stuff for years), processed meats (like deli turkey, canned tuna and salmon), nuts (I couldn't believe nuts. They've been my healthy go-to food forever.), alcohol (I'm not much of a drinker, but I have enjoyed my frozen Margarita once a week or so at our favorite Mexican restaurant. Instead, I can have vodka. Woohoo.), citrus fruits (Fresh squeezed lemon juice is a staple for me, and when I get a cold, I want a bag of Clementine oranges.), pineapples (Who knew? There have been times when I bought one or two fresh pineapples a week, sliced them up and kept them in a ziplock bag in the fridge. What could be a healthier snack?), sauerkraut (I've even learned to make my own.), onions (Almost everything I cook has dehydrated or fresh onions in it.), freshly baked bread (I've been baking loaves of bread and pans of crescent rolls my whole adult life. Turns out, even store bought bread is less likely to trigger than fresh bread.), and there are others, but these are the ones having the biggest impact (apparently) on my life.

Of course it's somewhat easier eating at home than it is in restaurants or other people's homes. My first Christmas party was an eye-opener. First, the spinach, almond, and strawberry salad with raspberry dressing, I put my slivered almonds on Jim's plate and didn't have any dressing. Dry, fresh spinach. Yum. The fresh dinner rolls looked and smelled amazing, but I passed the plate on around. The main course was okay, and then for dessert, we had a choice of cheesecake or chocolate cake. Usually, I would have gone for the chocolate, but the cheesecake was amazing.

As I mention foods and excerpts from my current program in David Buchholz's book, I hope you won't think you can find everything online and don't need to own the book. The program is easy to summarize, but there's so much wisdom in his book, insights I've never known in 40+ years of searching for answers. And I've done a lot of reading in these years, so if I slip up and mention a food that's not in his book, all the more reason to have his book to check the facts for yourself.

So that's where I am as of this moment. I was thrilled beyond words that giving up the caffeine didn't give me a rebound migraine as you might expect. And I've had some head-achy mornings and nights when I felt it could be the aura of a migraine creeping up on me, but I've taken one of the NSAIDs he recommends, and so far, so good. Leave me a message if anything I've said isn't clear. Have a wonderful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Heal Your Headache, a Migraine Journey

I haven't talked much here about migraines. I don't talk much about them in my day-to-day life, either. When the neighbors notice that I haven't been around much, Jim knows to tell them I've got a cold or something....I don't want to be known as that poor lady who has those awful headaches. But I've been struggling with migraine my whole adult life. At one time or another, it has ruined Christmases, vacations, and keeps us from planning outings more than a couple of days ahead. I have the best husband in the world, and if I said I wanted to go to Venice with some friends, he'd make sure I had everything I needed. I don't go, though, because it's bad lying in a hotel room in some fun destination, staring into the black haze. At least now, I can go to bed and deal with it in the darkness of my bedroom. The real hell was teaching and counseling through the blinding pain. Yeah, those were the worst of times.

I've run the gamut of doctors and specialists, enough to make me extremely cynical toward the medical profession. I've gone to emergency rooms in the middle of the night, where they knocked me out with drugs, and I woke up with the migraine. I've studied migraines voraciously. I read books, scour the net, and try every remedy that friends, family and strangers mention, no matter how far fetched. Some said that when I went through menopause, the migraines would stop. Ah! Now there was a light at the end of my tunnel. Well, I've done menopause, and the migraines didn't change. I don't want to know how much money I've spent chasing this elusive dream of a migraine-free life.

On an average, I have a migraine every two weeks, and they usually last 1-3 days, but there was a time when my migraine journal showed me with migraine 70% of the time. It varies. Just after Thanksgiving, though, when I usually decorate with gay abandon, inside and out, for Christmas, I got a killer migraine. Yes, they come in varying degrees, too. This one lasted 14 days, and when it was over, Christmas had been sucked from me. I didn't want to decorate or shop. Then it took another 3 days to stop wobbling around like an old lady. Hush! I am not an old lady, but I'm getting older, and it takes longer to recover from the ordeal. Lately I've been taking Axert, one of the Triptans. They rarely end the migraine but take the edge off, sometimes. I'm afraid of Triptans. When I was giving myself Sumatriptan injections, I felt as if it would stop my heart. I would sit on the edge of the bed, inject it into my thigh, and fall backwards into near unconsciousness, first telling Jim to keep an eye on me to see if I were breathing.

I recently discovered Pinterest. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. It's like getting a stack of new magazines each day in 101 subjects, the number of Boards I currently have. My latest Board is titled Migraine. I'm coming out of the closet a bit. And that's how I stumbled onto Dr. David Buchholz's book and ordered it from By the time it arrived, I had come to think this was more wasted dollars. The book has hundreds of glowing reviews, but it also has some loud detractors in reviews and blogs who have called him an arrogant jerk who looks down on his patients and readers. So, I opened its pages with much skepticism. When he said that I would have to get off my Triptans, completely, I wrote smart alecky comments in the margins. (I carry on a conversation with most of my books, in ink.) But then, I settled into it and grudgingly admitted he was making sense. And then I decided to follow the program, and that's why I'm blogging. I first dedicated myself to 4 months, but today I read a girl's blog who didn't see results for 8 months. Hey, if I get results, I'm in for the rest of my life. I plan to share this journey on my blog.

In between, I'll still blog about whatever catches my attention, but I hope blogging my experiences, whether the David Buchhuolz program works or not, will help some other migraineurs (still now sure if I like that word). It's not an easy program. The diet lists each an every one of my favorite foods, but I remind myself that no food is worth the agony of a migraine. Yes, he is a doctor, but he seems to have left the herd behind. And yes, he's making money off his book, but his program is geared toward getting migraine sufferers to the point of being self sufficient, not making lifelong dependents on meds and office calls. We'll see.
Wishing you Blessings and pain-free Holidays,