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My a-ha moment of the week July 23, 2012

Posted by starshipexercise in MIgraine.

I just read a blog post by a young woman living with daily excruciating pain from shingles.  The shingles went away, but the pain never did.  How horrible.

I know what it’s like to live in constant pain, after suffering migraines on a daily basis for about 15 years.  Being in pain like that, every moment of every day, grinds you down physically and emotionally.  It’s so not fun.

I am sincerely grateful that I learned to control my migraines through diet.  I owe it all to the neurologist I saw after my primary care doctor gave up on me.  I’d had a headache for about 3 weeks, and they tried everything: pills, shots, even narcotics.  Nothing worked.  Toughing it out when you’re in constant pain takes it’s toll.  I started breaking down in the doctor’s office during each visit because I couldn’t live that way any more.

The neurologist said “Yup, you get migraines,” gave me a loooooooong list of foods to not eat, and sent me on my merry way.

If all it takes to avoid headaches is to stay away from certain foods, I’m all for it.

I know there are people who live with chronic diseases that can be improved (maybe not entirely prevented or eliminated, but at least helped) through diet, such as Type II Diabetes and heart disease.  Some people make diet and lifestyle changes, and some don’t.  I used to wonder about people with obvious weight problems who were diabetic: why didn’t they just do something about their weight?

Like mine, this woman’s ongoing pain from shingles is invisible.  There are probably people who wonder, while she’s whimpering in pain, why she doesn’t just buck up. Or thinking that she’s exaggerating.  Reading that post about battling constant pain was a sobering reminder of that thing Plato said about being kind to everyone, because they’re fighting a hard battle.

I know from my own weight loss journey how hard it is.  Maybe I’m lucky that I get migraines.

What?  Lucky?  Am I nuts? (Well, maybe just a little eccentric.  Special?  Unique?)

Look at it this way: it’s easy for me to maintain a dietary regimen because if I slip up, I’m reminded pretty immediately with really obnoxious pain not to do that again.   And unlike other conditions with repercussions, like acid reflux and atrial fibrillation, my slip-ups don’t come with permanent damage.  Once a headache is gone, it’s gone.

Added bonus: a lot of the foods that give me migraines are also the foods that make me fat. Well, to be honest it’s not the foods that make me fat, it’s my inability to control portions – ah, but therein lies the rub for most of us battling a weight issue.  But if I can’t eat macaroni and cheese at all, then portion control is a snap.

So yes, lucky.  I tell people this all the time when they hear about all the food that I can’t eat, and they say how awful that is.  Sure, it ain’t easy.  But this is a first-world problem.  I’m over feeling sorry for myself.



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