Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day 1100 - Migraine

More than just a headache.

Image borrowed from migraine-headaches.eu


I was diagnosed as a migraine sufferer when I was around eleven years of age.  My migraine is hereditary with my dad and his mother suffering the same affliction. If you get migraines you'll know they're so much more than a headache.  I'm not professing to be an expert on migraines. But I am the expert on MY migraines. In all the forms ....

I have discovered my migraines have many sources.  There are those that are food related, hormonal, stress, referred headaches from muscle pain,and the migraine you've just got to have for migraine's sake.  The migraines take on different forms.  The acute pumping throbbing pain with visual disturbance, numbness and nausea; the chronic pain that sits behind one eye and doesn't let up for days/weeks; the pain that takes over your head, face, neck and shoulders; and the migraine that makes you feel like you're having a stroke.  Over the years I have spent a lot of time finding out the WHYs associated with my migraines so that I can not only manage them, but prevent them.

Today I am going to focus on the food related migraine.



When I was a kid the Easter Bunny brought me carob Easter eggs on account I couldn't eat chocolate. As I grew into my late teens we also discovered I couldn't consume the "typical" migraine foods like oranges, pork and red wine. These were tested and promptly confirmed with intense throbbing, vomiting pain. 

Around 15 years ago I gave up coffee forever after discovering that while caffeine can help cure a migraine that is in full swing (gets the painkillers through the system faster by stimulating the central nervous system) it can also trigger a migraine because of the over-stimulation of central nervous system.  Tricky. But I gave it up except for the occasional Coke mid-migraine.

While my migraines were acute when I was young (throbbing, thumping, vomiting, blinding) they became more chronic in my mid 20s where the pain wasn't as severe in itself, but it would be constant and would last for weeks. These headaches would make my entire body feel heavy.  The pain would often sit behind one eye or the other, and take over my face, my neck, shoulders, back and my stomach would feel like lead. Sometimes I would throw up. The headache would be constant and persistent.  No break except for some dulling while on painkillers. I was hospitalised many times taking morphine or pethidine to break the cycle.  The doctors would treat the pain but nobody could help me find the source. WHY? Why am I getting these headaches? Why are these ones different?

In around 2001 I spend a good 10 months of my life with chronic migraine, daily vomiting and IBS.  I would literally drive to work each morning with a bucket on my lap, throwing up each morning on the way. I lived on panadeine Forte and mersindol, and was in a drug haze for much of my life.  Somehow I managed to maintain my career, look after my toddler, my husband and keep good house.  I got myself a new doctor in that time and demanded more testing. There had to be a reason.  This wasn't just migraine for migraine's sake.  This was different.

So, based on the stomach issues (vomiting and IBS) I went through a series of tests including colonoscopy, gastroscopy, poo samples, blood tests, ultrasound and allergy testing. It was the allergy doctor who listened to my symptoms and confirmed I didn't have allergies, but I did have sensitivities, and sent me to a dietitian. 



Pretty much the moment I walked through the door she knew what was wrong. I was a text book example of someone sensitive to additives, amines, salicylates and MSG.  She told me I fit right in with the The Royal Prince Alfred diagnosis requiring their elimination diet.  We immediately went through a month of cleansing and magically I was 'cured".  As long as I stick by my rigid diet, these chronic style migraines stay away.  I found my WHY.

But of course it is almost impossible to stick to this type of eating plan forever*.  So I tend to waiver.  And it's all good in moderation but when I let loose (like I have in recent weeks) I get some unwelcome results.  Cue migraine.

So yeah.  Right now I am struggling with one of those chronic lasts-for-days migraines.  But that's OK. I know WHY and I'm cleansing. It will be over by the end of the week.  In the meantime I am taking painkillers and drinking heaps of water. 

This is just one of my migraines. But it's a big one.  And it's the one that is the most disabling yet completely within my control.

Do you get migraine?

What form does yours take?

Could you be a candidate for the RPA elimination plan?



*Amines, salicylates and glutamates occur naturally in foods and in food processes.  These are not additives.  Food such as corn, broccoli and other yummy veges are high in salicylates; and ham, pepperoni and even steak frozen for any length of time are high in amines.  Tomatoes and mushrooms, for example, are apparently natural sources of glutamates (eg MSG).

Note: I have talked quite a bit about my migraines over the last few years and these sensitivities. In fact, if you Google images for amines, salicylates and MSG my picture comes up! Now that's a bit scary ...  

11 comments :

  1. I feel so guilty in admitting that I once doubted migraines were anything more than a "bad" headache, then I got my first one at the time I was a swimming instructor and didn't know how I could possibly keep teaching a class of toddlers when the pain in my head was searing. I think I am one of the lucky ones my migraines always seem to be sinus related so I only have them a few times a year usually in the changing of the seasons. I cannot begin to imagine what 10 months of constant pain could feel like.....Sending you positive pain free thoughts so that hopefully this days long migraine disappears xx

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  2. Thanks Rae of Sunshine. As you can see I'm not that bad today. It's been going on for days but nothing like it has been. At least this time I can actually get on the computer and even went for a walk on the beach. Definitely a more moderate version. Still cleansing ....

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  3. Urghh, I can't fathom having a migraine for longer than 24 hours. Mine see totally hormone related as they pretty much started with puberty and I only really get them when I get a big hormonal shift. Or if I am particularly stressed and the stressor is removed, thats when I get them. I get a classic one with the aura - blurred vision, leads to facial numbness, dysphasia, arm and hand numbness, then the headache and vomiting. I usually have around 1 hour of aura to get home, into bed before the headache starts. The headache usually lasts for about 8 hours, but then I remain in a hazy fog for about the next 2 days and my higher cognitive function is a bit dulled down.
    One thing that gets me is when people complain about having a migraine, but then continue on with their day to day activities. That's not a migraine, that's just a bad headache :) glad you found your triggers!!!!!!

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  4. I get them very occasionally with no seeming rhyme or reason. I think its stress related? And sometimes I will get one after an asthma attack. I get plenty of warning though with the blind spots in my eyes, so if I take drugs quick enough and go to bed, I can keep it as a bad headache and not reach migraine status.

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  5. I get them very occasionally with no seeming rhyme or reason. I think its stress related? And sometimes I will get one after an asthma attack. I get plenty of warning though with the blind spots in my eyes, so if I take drugs quick enough and go to bed, I can keep it as a bad headache and not reach migraine status.

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  6. Oh how awful for you. I first started getting mine in high school, but I was never sick. I'd just get funny eyesight and be numb down one side, followed by a cracking headache that would last a few hours. As I've gotten older they've become so rare, and when I do get them, it's often just the funny vision, and a dull ache. What you live with is insane. On the plus side, your new photo is gorgeous.

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  7. Well, you know I get them almost the same as you. My family luckily is wonderful when I do get one...they keep it quiet, get me my eye mask, I take a Maxalt and drink a coke and I go to bed.

    And as I type this, my youngest Nicholas, is actually at home today with a migraine---including the vomitting...not sure what triggered his, but we are cuddling on the couch and I am rubbing his head trying to get to go away. Feel horrible for him as I know how he feels.

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  8. Wow, so many migraine sufferers and I relate to ALL those symptoms. My acute ones (the ones with the thumping pain and the aura etc) only ever last 24 hours. I haven't had one of those for a very very long time. Touch Wood. I usually get the chronic ones now. I still call them migraines though. The pain isn't as severe it just lasts so long. Very tiring. Overtakes the entire body. They are equally disabling. To be honest I actually prefer (for want of a better word) the acute migraine with the vomiting and aura etc, because while it is intense, I know I can go to bed for a day and it will be all over by the next day (except for that dreaded post-migraine "hangover" Bossy Mummy talks about). THe ones that last weeks ... I can't escape. But there is always light at the end of the tunnel now that I know my WHYs. This one has finally gone and with every passing day it became less migraneous and more just a headache. After writing that post yesterday I even went to the beach for two hours and sat on the sand. Came home to bed though, but at least I went out! Touch wood I have cleansed and I will be VERY careful with my food from now on. Bodnars - I am so sad to hear that Nick Nack has one! Poor little man. How is he feeling today? Does he have the same triggers as you?

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  9. Must have been something in the air recently, as I had one yesterday... So I feel your pain...

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  10. My God! 10 months! That is just unbearable...

    I am currently recovering from a three and a half week long migraine. I used to get them a lot in school but hadnt had them in years. Until I fell pregnant... cue headaches and migraines. It was there all day, every day and no amount of panadol or water was doing anything to fix it! I just woke up one day and it was gone... well, going.

    It was the hardest three weeks I have had in a LONG time! I do not know how you survived ten months!

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  11. My God! 10 months! That is just unbearable...

    I am currently recovering from a three and a half week long migraine. I used to get them a lot in school but hadnt had them in years. Until I fell pregnant... cue headaches and migraines. It was there all day, every day and no amount of panadol or water was doing anything to fix it! I just woke up one day and it was gone... well, going.

    It was the hardest three weeks I have had in a LONG time! I do not know how you survived ten months!

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