Migraine Elimination Diet Relief
When I first started experiencing migraines at the age of 25, I thought I was suffering from a 24-hour stomache bug. My head hurt, but by far my worst symptoms were nausea and vomiting. I still remember it was the first Friday in September because I had just started my first full-time teaching job when I found myself spending the afternoon vomiting instead of teaching. I couldn’t keep anything down for an entire day. It never occurred to me that I was experiencing a migraine because I didn’t know migraines consisted of anything more than a bad headache. This same “stomache bug” afflicted me once a month during my period for the next year. Finally, a colleague mentioned that it sounded like I was suffering from migraines.
I did eventually see a doctor and was prescribed triptans: zomig and relpax. The doctor and I decided zomig worked better for me, and I continued on zomig for about 7 years. Insurance made me switch to Imitrex, which seemed to work most of the time. As time went by my migraines worsened. I went from only 1 migraine a month to as many as 8 (some lasting 4 days) with a constant headache in the interim. Besides headache, nausea, and vomiting, I also experienced sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sound, confusion, difficulty thinking, and listlessness. It began to feel like I was constantly taking a triptan. I never felt like I was getting sufficient help from the medical field. My doctors either didn’t know very much about migraines or were dismissive. I was told to keep taking my triptans and to stop stressing about it. I saw 2 neurologists, both of them totally unhelpful, one of them the worst experience with a doctor that I’ve ever had in my life. Not only did he lose all my paperwork, not return my phone calls, and forget I had an appointment, he also was rude and dismissive during the appointment.
I read as many books on migraine as I could find and realized that I still wasn’t what one would call a chronic migraineur, yet I felt that my quality of life was horrible. I was constantly in pain. I was constantly exhausted. I never wanted to do anything with my friends or family because I was either recovering from a migraine or worried about the next one. I was worried about keeping up with my job and having enough sick days to make it though the school year. My life was being run by migraines. I couldn’t take it anymore. I was ready to try anything rather than continue as I was. This was at the end of November 2012.
I’d had increasingly worsening migraines for 8 years. I was desperate. Right after Thanksgiving, I went on the Migraine Elimination Diet recommended by David Buchholz in “Heal Your Headache: the 1-2-3 Program for Taking Charge of Your Pain”. Sometimes while reading the book, I was annoyed by the author’s attitude, but I still went on the diet. I immediately began to suspect that caffeine was my biggest trigger. Looking back, I started drinking coffee daily when I was 25. I started drinking at least 3 cups a day when I started teaching. It seems awfully coincidental since that’s exactly when I experienced my first migraine. 3 years ago my migraines jumped in number and intensity from around 4 a month to the 8 mentioned above. This coincided with moving in with my current boyfriend. We wondered if it was mold, wood smoke, my new teaching job. Now, I think it might have been the coffee. My boyfriend makes the strongest coffee I have ever had. Once I moved in with him, I started drinking this very strong coffee. I think this might be why my migraines became so unbearable. While I’m positive caffeine is a trigger, I’m not sure there aren’t others. I also started drinking red wine when I was 25.
So, I started Buchholz’s diet. It has changed my life. At first, I went through massive caffeine withdrawal, spiking a very bad migraine. I also had a constant headache for the first 2-3 weeks. I suspect, again, caffeine withdrawal. After about 3 weeks though, I began feeling much better. I had 1 migraine at the beginning of January during my period. I had a couple of headaches during January. Amazingly they started to respond to Ibuprofen like regular headaches. Before going on the diet, I gave up on using OTC medication because it didn’t even touch the headache. Now it stopped the pain! I rejoiced in these improvements. I began to feel like I had some control over my own body again. Now, it’s mid-February. I’m in my 3rd month of the diet, and I haven’t had a migraine since the one at the beginning of January. I haven’t even had any noteworthy headaches. I experienced my first period in 8 years without a migraine. I feel wonderful. I’m filled with hope. I’m so hopeful I could cry. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have found a cure? I try not to think about that too hard. I’m trying just to live each day that is pain-free pleased and hopeful. In 1 1/2 months I can start testing different foods to see what is a trigger and what is not, but I’m not sure I want to. I’m not sure I want to give up this pain-free existence even though eating out at restaurants is nearly impossible and grocery shopping consists of reading every single label carefully and putting most foods back on the shelf. I don’t really feel like messing with this new equilibrium I’ve found. I’m just hoping it keeps working!