Wednesday, February 18, 2009
My Migraine Story – A Gluten Free Miracle
My first visual aura occurred when I was 12. My first migraine struck about 6 months later. It was like being hit by a truck. At that time they came every few months, lasted less than a day, but they leveled me. By 16 they were more frequent and we now knew what they were. The pain was excruciating, the auras made me vomit, so when I found food trigger lists I tried to give up everything on the lists.
Unfortunately gluten didn't make it to those trigger lists 30 yrs ago. Damn shame. But chocolate and red wine were there and by my early 20s I had vowed never to touch them again (I stayed true to that vow for over 20 yrs). It wasn't worth 4, 5, 6 days in bed in the dark in agony... Thinking I would never see the other side of that pain.
I have tried everything from radical and experimental drug treatments, heavy-duty painkillers, acupuncture, biofeedback, meditation, tai chi, ice packs, caffeine, hot compresses, sleep, and a severely restricted diet, but still never a mention of gluten.
And still averaged 3-4 migraines a month. Lasting an average of 2 days.
I do remember in my late 20's while speaking with a renowned NYC Migraine Neurologist that he recommended avoiding beer since that seemed to be a huge migraine trigger with most of his patients.
In 2000 I found out I had celiac disease accidentally. Through an elimination diet in order to control my fluctuating thyroid levels, I removed gluten among other things. When I reintroduce gluten I got a migraine - Every. Single. Time.
I ate mostly gluten free for the next 5 years and felt a little better but not great, but did not have a full understanding.
In April 2009 I made the decision to get super strict and super vigilant. No matter what it took I was going to get all the gluten out - I could no longer live with the constant bone pain, profound exhaustion and what had become daily headaches.
It took a lot longer than I thought to really feel a difference but the headaches started to lessen within weeks. After a few months it was clear the migraines were leaving. And they only occurred when I accidently ate gluten.
It took some time, and a huge effort, to identify and remove all the gluten traces in my diet. ALL the traces!
This coming April I will hit my 5 year mark of super clean. I have lost track of the last time I had a migraine... After 30+ years I never really thought I would ever see this day! I never thought this could be possible!
And the joy and gratefulness that I feel brings tears to my eyes. I do know that it is well worth the trouble to be gluten free and that I have to maintain zero tolerance.
This is not a diet to ever cheat on. You only cheat yourself.
Important note: Since going gluten free, chocolate and red wine are no longer migraine triggers... and I savor them every chance I get!