A New Kind of Migraine Triggered by Malnutrition
Last updated: September 2023
I’ve shared several posts about the ways in which migraines have impacted me since childhood. In truth, I've struggled with migraines for most of my life - for as long as I can remember, honestly. When I was young, the doctors tried hard to identify the causes, but almost always fell short. For a while, they swore I must need glasses to read the board or do homework, but my eyesight was fine. In fact, every test they ran came back fine.
How did I manage migraine as a kid?
I got used to living with the unpredictability of migraines, and then I found ice skating. I write more about this here, but basically a combination of the cold air and the endorphins from exercise kept my migraines at bay for years. I felt so lucky and grateful.
What triggers my attacks now?
As an adult, my migraines have mostly been spurred by two things - changes in the weather (especially when rain is involved), and my hormones (especially high doses of estrogen, like during fertility treatments, pregnancies and miscarriages). This information has armed me with enough to work with a migraine specialist to try to prevent migraines before they spiral out of control, and to stop them in their tracks once they're full blown monsters.
This season, I've begrudgingly had to admit that I've been struggling with a new type of migraine.
How has my hiatal hernia impacted me?
I have another health condition - a hiatal hernia, or a hernia located in my esophagus, which has made eating very painful and problematic, and has caused an excessive amount of vomiting for me. During the last few months, I've been switched to a mostly liquid diet while I wait for surgery to fix the hernia, and it seems like no matter how many protein shakes I try to chug, I never feel full and my body never feels like it has the energy to do what it wants or needs to do.
Another side effect? A new version of migraines.
How are these attacks different?
This, to me, is different than the migraines I've grown used to. It's a slow start with a somewhat cumbersome buildup - pressure and then a dull ache turning into a giant roar. I've been trying to be better about taking abortive medication as soon as I notice the aching, but I also am getting worried that I've been using my abortive medication too often and that it in it of itself is no longer working as efficiently as it once was.
How long will I have them?
Unfortunately, this is a problem that I won't be able to shake right away, and that scares me. I'm looking at at least six weeks between surgery wait time, operation, and recovery, and I'm worried that many or all of those days will be filled with malnutrition migraines. While the medication I'm currently using (ketoralac and Benadryl via intramuscular injections) has been somewhat helpful up until this point, it's certainly not sustainable for daily migraine treatments.
Have you struggled with migraines when your body hasn't gotten enough nutrients? I'd love any advice you could share on how you've managed this, especially when the fix has to do with another part of your body and additional specialists beyond just your neurologist or migraine specialist.
Have others downplayed your migraine pain?