Category: Diet and Food

Another Migraine, Another Show

Another Migraine, Another Show

I went to a neurologist once for recurring terrible headaches. He said to me, “My man, you are a migraineur!” which meant I was one of the lucky people who would get migraines probably the rest of my life. Actually, unlucky me.

If you are one of those people or know someone who gets migraines or bad headache, read on. I want to tell you my story and hopefully you or a friend won’t have to suffer as I did.

My migraines began when I lived in an old English Tudor in Belmont that just so happened to have an exit vent blocked by cement (the vent that lets go of the toxic fumes from your furnace). I worked from home, so my partner wasn’t showing signs of sickness, but I was. So, we didn’t get it that the problem might be the house until right atop the fireplace some strange yellow goo started seeping from the wall.

Once it was investigated, we realized that I had been exposed to carbon monoxide fumes in small amounts almost constantly for 2 years. During that time, I had debilitating bouts of fatigue and headaches. I would say it took about another year for me to recover from the fatigue, but the headaches remained.

At first, like most people, you assume that you should use over-the-counter medication and rest. I did this and most times the headaches went away. But as the years went by and as I got older, the headaches got more intense.

About six years ago, the headaches turned into migraines. Let’s define what a migraine is. The dictionary defines migraine as a recurrent throbbing headache that typically affects one side of the head and is often accompanied by nausea and disturbed vision. That is in short a small version of the headache. Mostly, migraines are so debilitating that I know I had to get into a dark room and put ice on my head and get completely quiet as I took the strongest pain medication I could find. Often that was something like Percocet or Hydrocodone.

Finally, and I’m not sure why it took me so long to go to the doctors to get it treated, but I rented out my apartment to a doctor for a year and he treated my migraines with actual migraine medication. Some of these are:

This version of migraine medications are Triptans that target serotonin receptors. These drugs cause constriction of blood vessels and bring about a general interruption in the chain of chemical events that lead to a migraine. They don’t stop other migraines, but they will help the pain of one that has already occurred.

Let me say this about these medications. They are miraculous, but they will break your bank account. Some are 15 dollars a pill. So, if you are getting a great deal of migraines, you won’t be getting a great deal at the pharmacy. The way to go is to find preventative or prophylactic medication instead, which are also expensive, but not nearly as expensive as these meds.

There are other versions of drugs used to help prevent migraines. These are:

Beta-blockers

            Calcium channel blockers:

            Tricyclic antidepressants:

            Other antidepressants:

            Antiseizure medications:

            Herbals:

When I began to experience 3-4 migraines a week, I went to the neurologist. He prescribed a beta-blocker. This made my heart feel like it was going to come out of my chest. I couldn’t stay on the drug, no matter if it was going to help my headaches or not. Though this kind of drug did not help me, it has helped many people with migraines.

The next drug I tried was an antiseizure medication, which was Topamax or the generic Topiramate. This medication is a prophylactic med, which means that you take it every day no matter if you get a migraine or not. The cost is $32 a month if you take 2 tablets a day or $16 a month if you take one tablet. You do the math. For many months, I took 2 tablets, but I am down to 1 tablet now.

Topamax was the first medication that really helped. I believe in one year of taking it, I only got 2 migraines. I felt as if the med had given me my life back. And for that, I will be ever thankful for the doctor at Vanderbilt who prescribed it.

I have also taken Amitriptyline, but not for migraines. There is a group ofgastroenterologists who believe that this drug in very small doses helps IBS and digestive problems that occur from the body digesting food too quickly. In other words, Amitriptyline in small dosages (25mg a day) can greatly help IBS patients not get diarreah. I have shared this with many clients who have had great results.

The last thing I want to add  that really helped me was a book called: “Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight: What to Do If You Are Sensory Defensive in an Overstimulating World” by Sharon Heller.  This book describes an illness called Sensory Defensiveness, which means there are people who can be over stimulated by sound, light, taste, people, and touch. These people are generally migraineurs. Heller takes you through ways to overcome over stimulation.

I truly hope this information helps someone. If you know a person who suffers with any of the above illnesses, please share the information.

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Unlucky in Stomach Acid, Lucky in Weight Loss

Unlucky in Stomach Acid, Lucky in Weight

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, there was a time I was trying to gain 10 pounds to see what it would be like to try to lose weight with my clients. This was to be a compassionate move for my weight-challenged dear ones. Everybody was against the move and said I was just lucky I couldn’t gain weight, because I tried like hell to gain, but just couldn’t.

Soon after, I went to get my yearly physical and told my physician that I had kind of a chronic stomachache after I ate almost every day, which is why I probably couldn’t gain weight. I mean it simply would be miserable to eat too much, so I’m not inclined to overeat.

So, my physician told me about a fix that gastroenterologists were using. They would take small dosages of the old antidepressant amitriptyline and use it to slow digestion for people with IBS, because they realized that IBS was most likely the body digesting too quickly. If you’re not familiar with the term IBS it means Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Well, I began to take the drug. Low and behold, the stomachaches stopped completely, almost immediately. But on the opposite end of the spectrum, my appetite widened and the ability for me to eat without an upset stomach made me gain the 10 pounds and a couple more.

So, yes, folks, I am now TWELVE pounds over weight for my taste, and I have a potbelly to prove it. I can barely fit into my pants. I’m on the verge of proud, and kind of disgusted at the same time.

I’ve always been told that I look better with a little weight on, so I’m not sure if I should just do a little more exercise and turn it into muscle or try to lose all the weight. But I’m ready to be the compassionate weight loss champ that I was going to be before without even trying. Yes!

I noticed that I’ve been sweating more—an interesting after affect. I never used to be able to sweat either. Maybe this drug is going to make me normal. “Bo, normal!” Is it possible? I won’t be special anymore. That makes me kind of sad. L

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Pig’s Feet and Cow’s Tongue

Pig’s Feet and Cow’s Tongue

My daddy ate all sorts of strange things—things that made my skin crawl, my stomach shake, and some other muscles contract. The thing I hated the most was when he made what the Italians call Mazzafegati. My dad’s family spoke pigeon Italian, so, they called it Fugadatz.—homemade liver sausage.  YUM YUM!

It was a major ordeal. His entire family, ten kids, would congregate at our house with their recipes. My dad took the helm at the head of a table of pieces of liver, sage, hot peppers from everyone’s garden, pig’s intestine and some other fillers I can’t remember. I recall the pig intestine the most, because I thought, if sausage was encased in pig intestine, I would never eat it again.  That could be why I spent 27 years a vegetarian.

One of my aunts would be in charge of feeding the intestines into the sausage-stuffing machine to fill it with the liver mixture. Then the  end product oozed out like Dog Doo. From there they would hang the sausage in the dank basement for about a month until it was properly aged, before it was fried and eaten. But it was certainly not eaten by me. I have to say that most of my brothers and sisters ate it—4 out of the 6.

I have a rule about food: If it looks back at you, I don’t eat it. If it smells worse than feet, I don’t eat it.

On the other side of that memory, some food tastes like my childhood. I have a client who brings me these Amish protein bars that remind me of DeAngeles glazed donuts, a mom and pop donut den that made the very best donuts ever. Every once in a while, I’ll go over to Cracker Barrel and buy a Mallow Cup candy bar, and it takes me right back to old Mrs. Calhoun’s Candy cupboard, where we bought candy as children.

It feels good to reminisce about times when life was pleasant and slow, when you had fewer cares than worries. But the past is tricky. It can pull you in and keep you there, until you meet the monsters that you never conquered while you were growing up. Then depression grabs hold, and what started out as a pleasant trip down memory lane, ends up bringing you down.

I think the past and memories of the past have their place, but most of the time, the past smells much like Dad’s Fugadatz sausage after it is fried up with plenty of onions and peppers. It stinks to high heaven, and it takes days for the smell to leave your home.

Make laws in your life about living in the past. I remember when I went to my first high school reunion. Most of the guys who were jocks and handsome then, were bald and had pot bellies now. But the kids who were living under the radar then were very much a part of life and society living in the now. At the reunion, while all the jocks wanted to talk about the good old days, the kids flying under the radar were talking about their prosperous and happy lives.

If you’re happy with the present, there is no need to live in the past.

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