Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Migraines... And My Example of How Not to "Offer it Up"

Despite this cute smile I snapped,
she was actually worrying quite a bit
because she could tell something just
wasn't right...
This last pregnancy had one fantastic side effect that I was longing for last night: it was almost entirely migraine free.  Sure I developed asthma in the first trimester but if it was a trade between these two inconveniences (for lack of a better word) I would have gladly made that trade.  After all, doctor's give inhalers a hearty yes during pregnancy and breastfeeding whereas every single migraine medicine I've found effective has been a no-no for the pretty much the past five years as we've cycles through pregnancy, nursing, pregnant and nursing, nursing, pregnant and nursing, nursing, and pregnant and nursing over and over again.

Throughout the pregnancy I wondered if the trade off would reverse itself after Patrick was born and sometimes I was even bold enough to hope that both would disappear... especially after reading that asthma that begins during pregnancy usually disappears after the baby is born.

Alas (can you tell I'm feeling dramatic this morning... I think that's a side effect of last night... and the night before...) no such luck.  I got to keep them both.  Figuring out my migraine triggers (large amounts of candy or soda, caffeine, nitrates and especially aspartame) reduced the migraines... but apparently didn't get rid of them altogether.

Last night I found myself curled up in a ball on the kitchen floor next to Patrick's bassinet, wondering if this is what a stroke feels like.  It felt like one of my aspartame triggered headaches, which usually happens when I don't realize that something is "diet", although I've become quite vigilant about checking labels.  The right side of my face went numb, including my tongue.  I'd begun slurring my words while reading to Sadie (always a sign a migraine is imminent).  And then there was the pain.

Apparently my head was only numb on the outside because the inside felt like it had been hit with a sledge hammer.  So I lay on the floor next to the bassinet and pulled myself up to put Patrick's pacifier in his mouth when he started to fuss, and tried not to get sick, and then somehow got the girls changed and into their beds before stumbling into the bathroom and taking two of the last tylenol sleep pills that we have (note to self: Buy more!  Soon!), which were not to sleep, because I had orders to get out, but which have diphenhydramine in them, just in case this was some kind of an allergic reaction.

Then I lay down next to the bassinet again and waited.  Half an hour later the migraine began to ebb.  Within an hour it was gone.  That makes it an allergy triggered migraine.

Whereas Patrick's little frown illustrates
much more clearly my attitude last night...
And I have no idea what I ate.  And I hate aspartame because it's almost always the one that sneaks up on me and I find myself thinking: stupid FDA... with their constant statements about how harmless it is and how it's super awesome for everybody and how all anecdotal stories to the contrary are incorrect because it's been studied more than any other substance ever and it doesn't cause headaches or anything else because it's just as great as great can be.

Whatever.  <-- i="i">Can you just feel the contempt for those studies radiating from that whatever?  Because I just don't buy it...

But I do know that while laying on the kitchen floor and wondering why migraine symptoms have to be so like stroke like symptoms sometimes, and whether it was a stroke and Paul was going to come home and find me dead on the kitchen floor from the stroke that I thought was a migraine, I was also able to ponder how much I stink at suffering (that's probably why all of Calah's posts on the same subject resonate with me).  I think I've been able to joyously embrace physical suffering like... one time... since I was introduced to the idea of "offering it up" six or seven years ago.  And that one time definitely felt like grace pouring in from somewhere else and not really like suffering at all...

No... I'm only a fan of the value of suffering from afar.  I like the idea in theory.  I always think that this next time I'll be awesome at this particular heroic virtue and it'll be grand.  Then a migraine hits and if I manage to pray it's a flimsy little "okay I'm offering this up BUT PLEASE JUST TAKE THIS THING AWAY!!!!" which probably isn't worth all that much anyway because it sounds as whiny in my head as it does when I'm typing it out.

So yeah... something to work on...  baby steps... baby steps...


  1. Hate that you had to endure a migraine, on top of everything else! I, too, believe aspartame is nasty, nasty stuff. My SIL was just talking about some research he read which was very scary with regard to various neurological problems associated with it.

    So glad Patrick is better. My daughter had to be vigilant about her long hair around Ben; he managed to swallow a few strands once and vomited, and she would regularly find a strand in his diaper!!! (He liked to hold on to her hair while nursing.) I believe she had to unwind some from his toe at least once.

    Here's praying for a very uneventful rest of the week!


  2. I'm so sorry to hear that your migraines have returned. :( It must be very difficult to endure. Continued prayers for your health coming.

    I also have a sensitivity to aspartame that I've known about for a long time. I have also had debilitating chronic pain and illness for many years that went wrongly diagnosed and untreated. I have spent countless hours at the doctor and hospital undergoing tests and thousands of dollars (even with insurance) to pay for it all. Within the last year, I have experienced a complete reversal of symptoms. I cannot stress how dramatic this change has been and I want to encourage you to read my story.My change came at a point of desperation... and now, I am living a new life. I wrote it all down recently with the hope that someone else out there might benefit. Since you already have a high body awareness, I think some of it might resonate with you. http://mamaslittleditty.blogspot.com/2013/01/life-without-bread-part-one.html

  3. You poor thing! It's so horrible when you can't get away from the pain. Hope you don't get too many more.

  4. Glad Patrick is better. With the allergy migraine, have you considered possible a gluten or diary allergy as maybe the cause. Like you I have migraines since a young age, and once I discovered the triggers I was able to prevent most, I discovered that one of my triggers was allergy related to diary. With me sometimes my asthma attacks can lead to migraines. Praying for you.

  5. I was also going to suggest experimenting with removing certain things that can trigger allergic reactions, including dairy, legumes, and grains. Maybe chocolate (but I'm not sure how desperate you are.) I don't think anyone is joyful suffering - that's why it's suffering. I mean, Jesus felt the same way about pain that you do - "take it away", right? My experience with offering up pain is just to give it to God and let Him make it into something beautiful. I don't have a lot of experience with major pain, and am SO grateful not to get migraines. But - when I crushed my ankle/foot, even in the pain, I prayed to Jesus to stay with me, and also just released my pain to Him, basically telling Him that He can do what He likes with it. But that did not stop me from getting that morphine drip! I guess everyone deals with pain differently.

  6. Wait a minute...what was the final diagnosis on Patrick's toe? You left us with a cliffhanger! Which Dr was right, and was it, in fact, a hair on his toe?

    I'm sorry about the migraines. I get them only after childbirth, when my hormones crash, and I always have so much symPathy for those who suffer from them on a regular basis.


  7. Hi Theresa,

    It does look more like the pressure was released now and the swelling has gone down so it's just a red cut where the hair was (actually I guess "is" would be more correct because the hair was cut in two, but they couldn't actually get it out). But his toe itself is a normal color again, so it looks like the second doctor was right and that it just took a lot longer than the first doctor thought that it would to begin going back to normal. I think the antibiotics definitely seem to be helping with the redness too (he's supposed to take ten days of it).

    We're going to our pediatrician on Thursday afternoon for a checkup though and I talked to the nurse there and she was shocked by the whole thing! She'd said she'd never heard of it happening before!

  8. Wow, sounds like your headaches are awful. I also really struggle with food additives, they give me migraines (although not as bad as yours) and stomach aches. For me, in addition to aspartame, it is also that splenda like stuff (basically anything that is labeled 'sugar free', but is actually sweet, is off limits, such as sweetened waters, all gum, some ice creams and so on). I also know some people struggle with those artificial color ingredients such as yellow 5, blue 5, ect). Those may be two other types of ingredients to investigate. If you eat any processed food, those colorings show up in a lot of places (cereals, chips, ect). I find I do best when we really eat like no processed food at all. Oh! and I remember from reading some of your recipes that you use a lot of canned soups. Watch the MSG in some, I have heard of that triggering headaches as well. I hope you are able to figure out all your triggers soon, migraines like yours are scary. Prayers!

  9. Sweetened waters are the absolute worst offender for me! And it took me like a year to figure out that they were the offender.

  10. I found nothing really worked super well. I did try to keep to regular hours and not stay up late or sleep in. I did get relief during pregnancies. The biggest thing that happened was that nearly 4 years ago they stopped completely and the only thing I can say is that they must have been hormonally supported and in my late 40's my hormones were ebbing and so did the migraines. Sort of a silver lining to aging. I know it sounds like a long time away but if nothing else happens I hope it happens for you too.

  11. I think that might actually be what it is with me too Patience. Mine started when I was a young teenager and definitely seemed to center around my cycles. That's one reason I was so surprised when cutting out foods worked at all. Stress seems to trigger them too.

    That definitely would be quite the silver lining! I'm glad that yours stopped completely! I do hope that happens with me someday too!

  12. I can relate on the offering it up. I am back to getting migraine's monthly now too (sigh). At least I generally remember to try to offer it up...

  13. I suffer from migraines and only the triptans get rid of them. I thank God for them as before I couldn't function and they wouldn't go away. Apparently when I had a brain scan they found at some point I'd had a mini-stroke and just thought it was a bad migraine - but that's how bad migraines can get - you literally want to chop off your own head! I am allergic to bread and wine/alcohol and chocolate and also sensitive to the sun - if i don't have my sunglasses I get a migraine. So different trigger factors. God Bless

  14. Hey, I found your blog through Veils by Lily. I just got my very first veil, so I began looking for photos, because I want to make sure I wear it correctly...not that anyone in my parish will have a clue. =) I struggle with migraines too, but yours sound worse..mine are more like a dull 5-day pain. I'll keep you in my prayers. I wish I completely understood the offering out up thing too, but I just do the best I can. God bless you.


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