Thankful Thursday’s: Freedom

Happy Thanksgiving!  For this final post in the Thankful Thursday’s series, I wanted to share how my life has dramatically changed since last Thanksgiving.

Ever since I was nine, I have suffered from migraines.  I’m talking about the kind that put you in bed and make it incredibly hard to think because the pain is so bad.  With the help of preventative drugs, I was able to reduce them to around 2-3 a week.  I also took up to nine “triptans” a month (medicine you take when you have a bad migraine) and muscle relaxers for my TMJ and neck pains related to the migraines.  You would expect that with this much medication, the migraines would have been fewer than that.  They weren’t though.  I didn’t really complain but just accepted it as part of my life.  I found comfort in the fact that I wouldn’t have this problem once in Heaven.

Last fall, when Michael Luke and I started to plan to expand our family, we also began to look at our options for migraine pain management.  I wouldn’t have been able to take any of the medication I was on while pregnant and needed to come off of everything before we even started trying.  This completely terrified me… I knew my migraines would only get worse, and I didn’t know how I would function.  My neurologist suggested I try a nerve block… it didn’t work.  We were left wondering what to do.

Meanwhile, we started noticing trends that might be triggering the migraines. One of them was food around the holidays.  Christmas of 2009 I basically had to skip out on because of a two day migraine.  I just traveled from house to house, found a bedroom and hoped the pain would stop.  The same thing happened last Thanksgiving.  Even causing me to miss work the following week.

After beginning to question the effect of food on my migraines, I started doing some research.  I found the book Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Program for Taking Charge of Your Pain.  The reviews on Amazon were great, so I decided to order it and give the program a try.  Dr. Buchholtz does an incredible job of explaining why we have headaches and how we could be making the problem worse.

What does the program consist of?  First, you have to come off all your medicine… cold turkey.  This part made me nervous.  Even the reviews I read said this was the worst part.  And it was.  I had to give up everything I had ever found any relief in.  I remember having one of the worst migraines I had ever had after doing this; and to top it all off, I couldn’t even take any medicine to help ease the pain.

Thankfully, step 2 was simultaneous with step 1 and helped to decrease/eliminate the migraines.  Step 2 was to remove any foods that could be a trigger for migraines.  It was a long list of food… a list that contained many foods I loved and depended on for cooking, such as chocolate, onions, cheese, and citrus fruits.  Can you imagine giving up chocolate during the holidays?  Do you know how much willpower that takes for a chocolate lover like me?  I seriously doubted myself at first but really wanted to know if a life without migraines was possible.  So I decided to bite the bullet and give it a try.

The elimination of medication and trigger foods was a way to detox the body.  All possible triggers had to be eliminated for eight weeks.  I went twelve for good measure.  Within 2-3 weeks of being on the diet, my migraines were almost completely gone.  And if I had any pain, I was able to treat it with plain old Tylenol.  Tylenol had never worked for me before!

This new found life without pain was amazing!  I didn’t wake up every morning wondering if the day would be pain free or not.  After eight weeks of the diet, foods can be added back one at a time each week to find out if they are triggers.  My triggers are MSG, soy, pork, and nitrates/processed foods.  Since MSG is in so many foods (not just Chinese food, people),  we eat a more “whole foods” diet.  At first, it was a little difficult because I had to tweak the way I cooked, but now it feels natural.  Plus we are eating healthier.

The best part of the whole diet is that I didn’t even need step 3.  Step 3 was to add a preventive medication if there were still occasional migraine headaches.

This program allowed me to try and become pregnant without suffering from migraine pain.  The diet that I once dreaded I now find gives me freedom.  Freedom because I don’t have to worry about when my next migraine will be anymore.  How crazy is it that I don’t even need medications to prevent my migraines?  If you suffer from them and are looking for freedom, give this diet a try.

Note:  I’ll be back next week with more design projects!

Update:  Heal Your Headache: The 1-2-3 Program for Taking Charge of Your Pain   can be found to the right on the Products I Love Amazon Affiliate Link.

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