Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Day 17: First Migraine Since I Made the Switch

I had a migraine yesterday. I was wondering when and if this would happen.

I get a few of them every year, and most of them are doozies. They always start off with visual aurae, sometimes spots in my vision or an increased number of "floaters"; other times I'll get black patches or dead spots in my visual field. One time it was so bad I'd lost a significant portion of my peripheral vision in one side and had fiery arcs zigzagging through the middle portion of my visual field in the same eye.

That's just how they begin. Usually within an hour of the onset of the aurae, the photosensitivity kicks in. I have to turn out the lights, and preferably lie down in a darkened room. I am sensitive to sounds as well, and can't even really tolerate physical contact. My whole body is like a bristling, sensitive, hurting organism.

Then the nausea strikes right before the headache hits and boy does it ever hit.

I had an acquaintance whole told me once that all migraines are triggered by food, and she went on to give me a list of known migraine triggers: alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, cheese, chocolate, coffee... basically anything that might give some joy to life. I'm surprised that orgasms weren't on the damned list. She told me that I must have eaten or drunk something off the list, more than usual and presto, migraine.

Now I've never noticed a common food denominator, and tried to tell her, but she said I must have been mistaken, because this was never wrong. ("this," or SHE?) Anyway, I've always found that my migraines seem to cluster around monthly fluctuations in hormone levels, especially if those are accompanied with a funky weather system (those sudden summer storms do a number on me). If you add stress to the mix, then BANG, the worst of the worst migraines.

Then there are those which defy calculation or prediction. They just seem to appear with no apparent trigger.

Since this switch to a vegan diet, I have eliminated just about all of those common food triggers, God, I haven't even had any chocolate since I started this! I really believe that food is not the source of my migraines. I did have pretty regular garden variety stress headaches for the past 6 months, and they disappeared pretty quickly once I cut the meat and dairy from my diet. Those horrendous caffeine-withdrawal headaches would set in rather quickly if I didn't start infusing the coffee almost immediately after I got up, and once those puppies strike, there is nothing you can do to ease the pain. I have cut out the daily caffeine ritual, but gradually, and have not had one of those skull-crushing headaches yet.

I was astounded that it all had happened so quickly. I guess I was hoping for a miracle that this would also rid me of migraines forever. I don't want to seem optimistically simplistic by pinning all of my hopes on this dietary change

Coincidentally enough, I have an appointment today with a Neurologist, so I'll mention the migraines.

And here's a recipe since I am moving to too much talk and not enough cook:

Homemade Falafel
  • 2 cups of dried chickpeas, soaked in water for 8 hours overnight*
  • 1/4 cup of bulgur or quinoa
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • 1/2 t coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 Tb of sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 2 t baking soda

  1. Put the bulgur or quinoa in a bowl and add enough very hot water (just short of boiling) until it's about an inch higher than the layer of grain. Let sit 30 minutes until softened. Drain well.

  2. Rinse the soaked chickpeas and put them in a food processor with the bulgur/quinoa, garlic, onion and spices. Pulse until you get a rough texture; you can add a little water if needed. Be careful you don't pulse too much. You don't want a soupy paste. We're not making hummus here. We still want some texture.

  3. Move the mixture into a large bowl, add the sesame seeds and breadcrumbs and put in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, for 30-60 minutes.

  4. Add the baking soda to the mixture and knead a little.

  5. Shape the mixture into little balls. Pan-fry until you get a deep brown shade. I have also baked these to make them healthier.

  6. I like to serve them in a pita or folded in a flatbread with saffron basmati rice, baby spinach leaves, chopped tomato and cucumber and a tahini sauce or a tzatziki sauce.

*You can do a quick soak for the chickpeas. Put them in a pot with about twice as much water, cover it, bring to a boil and let boil for 2 minutes, the turn off the heat and, leaving the lid on the pot, let them sit for an hour and a half. Then rinse and proceed with the recipe.

Or if you're super lazy just use canned chickpeas. :) But make sure you rinse them very well. I've always thought that the thick gel-like fluid in the can with the chickpeas is gross.

Also, in case you didn't know and are having a difficult time finding chickpeas, they are also called garbanzo beans or ceci.

In the days when I first started making these I had no food processor. I used to put the chickpeas on a large plate a small mound at a time and mash them with a fork. Once they were mashed, I'd add some more. After they were all smashed up pretty well (the mixture still has some texture to it) I'd dump it into a large bowl and add finely diced onion, minced garlic, the bulgur (I prefer quinoa now, but bulgur was nice too), breadcrumbs and the spices. It was incredibly time-consuming, but also very satisfying and peaceful sitting there at the kitchen table in our dumpy little apartment over Mrs. Robb's store looking out the window occasionally to see what was going on.

The ex used to say, when we still lived there, that someday we'd look back at that time as "the time we lived in that dumpy little apartment over Mrs. Robb's store and were poor and happy and in love."

A self-fulfilling prophecy, but for once not MY negativity. Maybe he always assumed it would always fail and set us up for the eventual separation and divorce. Hmmm.

Anyway, try the falafel, they're awesome!


armouris said...

info on migraine here - Migraine - Half the Head

Babs said...

Thanks for posting that link. I've tried some of the alternate therapies, such as massage and accupressure.

They've been successful in alleviating the pain f my regular tension headaches, but not the migraines with the auras. :/

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