Michele Bachmann’s Migraines

Dear Michele Bach­mann:

I’m not one of your fans, but my heart goes out to you if you real­ly do suf­fer from migraine headaches. Michele, I can­not say that I have felt your pain. But I have felt pain that was prob­a­bly sim­i­lar to yours. Some reporters are call­ing migraine a stress-relat­ed dis­or­der. In many cas­es, how­ev­er, it’s real­ly a food-relat­ed dis­or­der. You might be able to end your suf­fer­ing just by iden­ti­fy­ing and avoid­ing the foods that trig­ger your headaches. Anoth­er pos­si­bil­i­ty is that your headaches are being caused by the very med­ica­tions that you are using to treat them.

Although migraine pain can be unbe­liev­ably severe, the pain isn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly the worst part of a migraine episode. I’ve known peo­ple who go prac­ti­cal­ly blind from the migraine aura, some­times while they are dri­ving. One of my friends would speak gib­ber­ish dur­ing her migraine auras. Some peo­ple get par­a­lyzed on one side of the body. And then, there’s the nau­sea and vom­it­ing and inabil­i­ty to tol­er­ate light and noise. Some­times, the migraine will start while you’re sleep­ing. I’d wake up and think, “Holy crap, am I hung over!” Then, the hor­ri­ble real­iza­tion would dawn on me that I don’t drink and that the liv­ing hell could last for days.

Migraine can be a dis­abling con­di­tion. How­ev­er, most migraineurs just put on their sun­glass­es, stick close to some­place where they can vom­it, and just some­how man­age to drag them­selves through their day. Med­ica­tions can help a lot. Some peo­ple can get relief from an over-the-counter com­bi­na­tion of aspirin, aceta­minophen, and caf­feine if they take it at the ear­li­est sign of a migraine attack. Oth­er peo­ple need a pre­scrip­tion tablet. Some peo­ple with severe migraines need to keep a suma­trip­tan injec­tor with them at all times.

The good news is that many peo­ple can get sub­stan­tial relief from their migraine attacks if they make some sim­ple changes in diet. The good news is that most patients can elim­i­nate their migraines if they sim­ply elim­i­nate the dietary trig­gers of their migraines from their diet. I went from hav­ing about one migraine attack per week to hav­ing maybe one mild attack per year, sim­ply by elim­i­nat­ing gluten-con­tain­ing prod­ucts (wheat, rye, and bar­ley) from my diet. Oth­er peo­ple can eat wheat with no prob­lem but get migraines from some oth­er trig­ger.

If your doc­tor can’t stop your headaches, talk to a reg­is­tered dietit­ian to help you work out an elim­i­na­tion diet. The dietit­ian will give you a plan that elim­i­nates ani­mal prod­ucts and fat­ty foods and the foods that are most like­ly to trig­ger aller­gic reac­tions. Once you are headache-free, you can rein­tro­duce sus­pi­cious foods one at a time to see if they were respon­si­ble for trig­ger­ing your headaches.

Remem­ber also that you can get into a pat­tern of chron­ic headaches from the drugs that are used to treat headaches. Any kind of pre­scrip­tion or non­pre­scrip­tion headache rem­e­dy could be respon­si­ble. The only solu­tion to that prob­lem is to stop tak­ing the med­ica­tion com­plete­ly and suf­fer through the with­draw­al phase.

I hope that this infor­ma­tion deliv­ers you from the evil of migraine. If it does, you owe me a favor, and I’d like to call it in. I’d like you and your hus­band to stop being mean to gay peo­ple.

Note: Since I wrote this post, an excit­ing new way to deliv­er a tra­di­tion­al treat­ment for migraine headaches and oth­er face-pain syn­dromes has become avail­able. It involves a safe and easy way to deliv­er a dose of top­i­cal anes­thet­ic to a spot far back in the nasal pas­sages. Under­neath that spot is an impor­tant bun­dle of nerve cells, called the sphenopala­tine gan­glion. The tech­nique is quick, easy, and com­fort­able and does not involve a nee­dle. The effects can be pro­longed:

Sev­er­al brands of catheter are avail­able to do this treat­ment.

Pho­to by Gage Skid­more

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