No Grain, No Pain
How I Found Freedom From The Grip Of Migraines
I had just turned 18 and was training to play soccer in college when I got my first migraine.
I was on the phone with my boyfriend, Ryan (now husband) when all of sudden there was a “splotch” in my vision. I looked at a family picture hanging on the wall and I could only see half of their smiling faces. It was the strangest feeling, and that was weird too, I could FEEL that my vision was different, my left eye felt like there was a strange substance inside of it. The splotch grew so that I couldn’t see anything out of my left eye. Then the pain hit.
I had never experienced that type of pain, I felt like my head was being split open from the inside.
I had NO idea what was happening to me.
Over time I learned that my migraines were somehow linked to my hormones and that they worsen during times of stress - If anything was causing me anxiety I could guarantee that I would get at least one around my period. When I found out I was over 2 months pregnant just 5 months into my marriage, I had a week of migraines almost everyday.
(hahaha, I wonder why I was stressed? 19 and pregnant? No college degree? 20 year old husband in the same boat? Nothing but bliss and ease, right?)
Five years later we moved back home to Seattle and started EastLake. I was responsible for the growing kids programs. I had never done anything like that before and stress filled almost every minute of our lives. I had migraines so bad that 2 times I ended up at the Emergency Room, throwing up after the pain medicine kicked in.
I tell you all this to drive the point home that migraines have been a big scary monster looming in my life - I was never certain when they would attack. When they did, I would lose a whole day of my life locked up in a dark room writhing in pain.
I started taking medicine everyday to give me some sort of assurance that they would hopefully go away. I thought for sure I was doomed to have them forever. My maternal grandmother had them so bad she would be in her bedroom for a week straight. She tried to comfort me by saying that menopause took them away for her. So… I guess I had that going for me :)
It wasn’t until my 35th birthday that I found some real relief. It came in a very unexpected form.
A belly massage.
I have always struggled with regularity, tipping to the, uh [dry swallow] congested side of things ...if you know what I mean. So I decided to get a colonic - during that procedure it was recommended that I get a belly massage to check for any tight spots and help relieve them.
During this massage at the TUMMY TEMPLE , the clinician listened to my whole life story - it was very much like a therapy session. She happened to suggest that I cut out all grains - I had been mostly gluten free up until then, so this surprised me. She said to try it out for a month and see how I felt. It happened to be perfect timing, my husband had just left overseas for 20 days and I knew I was going to be stressed. No matter how many great family and friends came to help, parenting my kids without their dad is A LOT. At the time, they were 14, 11, 5 & 2.5 - so stress was abundant in the form of tantrums, bonks and bruises, and junior high girl drama.
I say this was good timing because my migraine pattern was:
Stressor → Relief → Migraine
So almost without fail, I would get one after he got back from a work trip.
Side note: Single Parents - you have my undying respect!
The day he was set to fly home he told me that he really felt awful, like he might be coming down with the flu. He had a 14 hour flight ahead. I pictured his tall lanky frame, cramped up in that tiny airplane bathroom. I hoped he could hold it together enough to get home alright.
He almost did.
I was waiting at the cell lot of the airport with my 3 boys, when I got a call from the airline. They informed me that he had been taken to the closest emergency room and that I would need to collect his bag at the airport before I could go see him.
When we left the hospital a few hours later, I was terrified - it felt similar to leaving with our first baby - I distinctly remember thinking, “you think I am qualified to take care of him?” He was so weak and shaky and any movement was extremely painful for him.
STRESSSSSS!!! So much stress
The next few days were a blur of watching him shake, going in for tests, more shaking, more blood work. Eventually he healed up. We were so relieved. Our friends he visited in Cambodia believe he got bit by a mosquito that gave him what is known as “bone break fever”.
With him on the mend, I felt a huge rush of relief and at the same time a touch of panic. I was certain that I would get the migraine of all migraines after the crazy amount of stress I had just experienced. Pretty much a month straight of stressors. I was pleasantly surprised when day after day I was migraine free.
I couldn’t deny that the only thing different was this new way of eating! It was well worth any frustration with reading labels or asking questions at a restaurant. For the first time in 17 years I felt free from the fear of migraines.
4 years have gone by and I have dropped my daily medication. I have learned the ques my body gives me if I am getting close to having a migraine. Steadily I have gone from 1-2 migraines a month to maybe 2 a year. Whenever I do get one, I can look back at the week or so before and see that I had been lazy about keeping gluten and grains out of my diet.
If that weren't enough, the side benefits are pretty killer too. My chronically swollen ankles are no longer inflamed, the seasonal "rash" on my fingers has disappeared and my digestion has dramatically improved. This little experiment propelled me on my health journey, to see that food is my first medicine. A few foods are toxic to me, but SO many are healing.
I strongly believe that a vast majority of us have gotten used to feeling pretty terrible. We are resilient, and honestly, there’s so much to do and get done that we stop listening to our bodies and keep pushing. Many times that turns into auto-immune disorders, heart disease, achey and inflamed joints, gut permeability, and so on and so on.
One of my greatest joys is helping people fine tune their nutrition to optimize their health, reach their goals and live a more abundant life. If you have a chronic issue that pesters you, I would love to help you support yourself nutritionally, and take back your life.