This weekend, after three weeks on a new medication and naught but auras and some twingy left-side non-happenings to report, I triggered a migraine.
Three weeks was my new record, besting the the previous record of nine days set in October 2014. The previous previous record is unknown to me, as migraines have a way of bleeding in to one another and distorting time and space. My migraines are a TARDIS: they are but a relative dimension in space (and time), and they’re bigger on the inside. I’m not sure which incarnation they are at this point, but I know my TARDIS-brain has gone through several Doctors (literally and figuratively).
I become very stream-of-consciousnessy when I descend into a migraine. My anxiety heightens. My auditory processing slows; I say, “What??” a lot. I try to eat all the starches.
The trigger this time? Nightshades. I’m almost positive. I have been on a restrictive diet (affectionately dubbed BlandFest) for three-and-a-half months that eliminates all (and I really do mean ALL) potential migraine triggers, and then adds them back one at a time and assesses my symptoms for 72 hours. It never takes 72 hours. It usually takes 30 minutes. At most, it takes 4 hours, at least for single-ingestion triggers. Butter, and raisins, and dried plums all triggered me within 30 minutes, but required upwards of 7 days to quell. I have not been eager to add back many foods when the consequence of a poor choice means a minimum of a week’s worth of time travel and excruciating pain.
Potatoes came back “clean.” Tomatoes, too. Both belong to the same botanical family known as nightshades, which are inflammatory to some chronic conditions. I have friends with fibromyalgia and arthritis and neuropathy who can’t eat tomatoes or peppers because it causes actual physical pain. Well, on Friday, I ate potatoes and tomatoes and peppers in the same day. I should have just gone for the inflammation Connect Four with eggplant at that rate. Add that to the List of Bad Choices Danielle Made in 2015. I spent the rest of the weekend feeling like I was trying to claw and swim my way up through fog made of memory foam. I choose this image carefully, as there are small bits of the weekend missing from my recall. That’s my best analogy for fighting an impending migraine. What I usually call “head down and power through” is a very concerted effort to push back and keep my head above the choking, smothering, formless void of mattress that beckons me to carb-load and take an 18-hour nap.
So nightshades are a cumulative trigger. Good to know. I now have to work a full week with a migraine. And nobody likes Migraine Mondays. I’ll likely post on this later this week, as chronic conditions like migraines, anxiety, depression (and the above mentioned fibromyalgia, arthritis, neuropathy) are invisible disabilities that are misunderstood by almost everyone. And since I’m not a fan of ranking and grading disabilities (because intersectional feminism should be about tearing down all the hierarchies!), I’d like to do my part to spread understanding for the kinds of accessibility issues we migraineurs face. And what the people in our lives can do to help. Because when I’m in one, I don’t always know what I need, but when I get it, I can’t believe how much it helps my quality of life.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some Doctor’s instructions to follow.