9.21.2011

.Cysts and Migraines.

After reading the title, there are two reactions:

1. I suffer from migraines too, I understand your pain.
2. Oh, my grandmother, friend from school, brother, co-worker, lady from church (etc) suffers from migraines, I know it's extremely hard on them.

Migraines seem to be in every family, in every group of friends, in every office, in every school, in every church--Why? Why are there so many of us suffering? Why are certain bodies more susceptible to migraines than others?

I remember having headaches all the way back to elementary school. As the years progressed and my body changed, those headaches became stronger, more frequent, and more painful. By the time I was in high school, my head hated my body and my body hated my head. The two parts were never on the same team and it caused for one exhausted and frustrated teenager. My mother and I quickly realized the correlation between my menstrual cycle and migraines. I remember skipping parties, get togethers, movie nights, sleepovers, field hockey practices, basketball games, and even school days because of the intense pain I would experience in my head as well as cramping. The hardest part of missing these things was having my friends, coaches, and teachers actually believe me. For those who do not suffer from migraines it is hard to understand the pain, especially if they have never been around someone close who has them. My friends would give me a hard time about not wanting to go out with them and I often felt they thought I was faking just to stay home. This was not the case! While they were out having fun, I was in my dark quiet room laying in bed with an icepack on my head, definitely not my definition of fun! I so badly wanted to be out with my friends but I suffered from migraines.

During my teenage years, my parents brought me to doctor after doctor searching for a reason behind the migraines. It baffled us all--I was young, in good health, an athlete, and did not smoke or drink--why was my body failing me? My family and I had enough of hearing the word "tumor" tossed around by numerous doctor so we arranged for me to have my first CT Scan and MRI. Talk about a scary experience--as a 17 year old I had to strip, put on a gown, be escorted to room after room, lay on pad, be injected with dye, be inserted in a large noisy machine, told not to move a muscle or else they will have to start the process all over again, and left alone in the room while everyone else peered at me through windows. Verdict: Not fun and no tumors! Phew. We were thrilled by this news however we still left with no answers, no cause for the migraines.

Fast forward to my four years at college. My body went through major changes regarding emotions, diet, hormones, and migraines. I was in a new state, eating new (not so healthy) cafeteria food, drinking different water, and had no regular sleep schedule. This all resulted in many headaches and debilitating migraines. Liberty University had a strict attendance policy and required it's students to attend classes. Most professors allowed 2 unexcused absences and 2 excused and that was it. If you missed any more classes, you would fail. (Family emergencies, funerals, etc. were of course excused!) I remember going to so many classes looking and feeling like h*** because I could not skip. There were some profs who understood migraines and were lenient but the majority required you to attend class unless you were dying--literally! Though I felt I was dying physically, I had to drag myself to class and remember praying during the entire lecture for a bit of relief..for sleep..for even a "normal" headache. For those of you who have migraines, I know you understand how uplifting it is when your migraine turns into a normal headache, it's still pain but you can actually live life.

Ringing in my ears began during my time at Liberty. On winter breaks when I was back home, I would visit doctor after doctor searching for my answers. (Sounds familiar right?) I am known to faint and experience vertigo and felt this was all connected with the ringing ears and migraines. I went to specialists and had tests done, blood taken, and still left with no clear answers. Meniere's disease was brought up a few times and I recall having hearing tests and finding out my hearing in my left ear cannot hear certain low pitches which corresponds with the disease. There were further tests I needed to have completed but school started up again and then there was the financial aspect. My parents were so generous, took care of everything, and never hesitated to pay, but I knew the co-pays and "extra" work that insurance did not cover was adding up. It was never found if I had Meniere's disease because I chose not to have more testing done..I was simply sick of it all!

After college I married my best friend. With marriage came sex and began an entirely new slew of issues for this girl. Adam and I saved ourselves for our spouse and it is one of the best decisions we have made and are thankful God allowed us to do this. Without going into too much detail about this personal topic, I will simply say God did not create man from dust and woman from man's rib to join as one in sexual intimacy for it to be painful.  In the beginning months of our marriage it was. I knew something was wrong. During my period, I would be crippled in my bed with a heating pad and advil and under more pain and pressure I remember dealing with in the past. Something had to done. New doctors were now a part of my life and I went through more testing and numerous ultrasounds. This time was different, this time we found answers!--Cysts. My body continually produces cysts, some inside of my ovaries, others just "floating" behind or next to my uterus. Finding out about these cysts opened my eyes to all of those years spent in bed with cramps and extreme pressure on my sides and lower back--it was all coming together and connecting. I went on different types of birth control pills to prevent my body from forming these cysts but nothing seemed to work.  I stopped taking the birth control pills and though I was still in pain, I was happy to be "me" again and not the crazy, depressed, emotional person I became on the pill..the hubs was happy too :) Thankfully, the cysts that formed always burst on their own which was (extremely-drop to the floor) painful but a blessing at the same time because I never had to have any surgeries or procedures.

I have been married now for a little over two years and the cysts come and go, some more painful than others. I am learning my body and know when I have one or two present. I can feel them when I walk, when I laugh, cough, sneeze, and when I have sex. It has become a familiar pain, one that I can identify, so I shrug it off as nothing most of the time. Again, without going into too much detail, I will say sex with my husband has been much improved ;) I know many women have similar issues and learn to live with them. Doctors do not really have an answer and even after a recent trip to the ER, I was told to take it easy and come back if the pain worsens. Really? After all of the people poking, feeling, and looking inside of me that is what I get to go home with? After paying the ER bills and the radiology bills, I go home with nothing? I was offered strong pain medicine but how was I to know if my pain worsened when I was numb?--I opted not to take any and to listen to my body. This ER trip was about 2 months ago and I have not been back to my doctor for a follow up. I plan on going in the next week or so to have another exam and ultrasound done.

As many of you know, I have been working on getting healthy emotionally, spiritually, and physically and have made good progress. I have been seeing a chiropractor since January and have had major improvement with my migraines. Instead of 2 or 3 per month, I am down to just 1 bad migraine that lasts about 3 days which is so encouraging! I highly recommend visiting a chiropractor if you suffer from migraines. For me, it has really cut down on the frequency of my attacks. I have been studying my body and found I have definite triggers for headaches. They include:

1. Strong perfume or cologne.
2. Fluorescent lighting.
3. Temperature, if my body feels flush or overheated.

I have also noticed if I am in close quarters, do not feel like I am getting enough air, or do not have a glass of water easily accessible I get anxious..this leads to dizziness..this leads to fainting or a migraine.  Lately I have been keeping a close watch on the foods I have been eating. I've started to make mental notes about what I eat and how I feel. This has led me to food allergies and the possible connection between wheat, gluten, and migraines. Nicolette, from Momnivore's Dilemma, opened my eyes to this connection. She has written fabulous posts about her choices to go gluten-free and how her life, as well as her son's life, have improved greatly. After emailing with Nicolette back and forth, I am ready to be tested! Adam is taking me to the hospital tomorrow morning to have blood drawn. We will then be packaging and shipping it to a lab in FL where they will be testing it with 100 different foods.

Friends, I am so excited!

My fingers are crossed they find something--some reaction to a food/food group/protein/whatever I have been consuming my entire life. I am feeling so grateful for our blogging community that is has led me to something new, something that could possibly change my life! I will keep everyone updated when I have the results in 1 to 2 weeks. I am also going to have an eye exam next week since my last one was during my sophomore year of high school, whoops! I really do not like the way I look in glasses but I have come to the point of not caring if it will help my body. I need to help my body!

Please say a prayer for me and my crazy, issue-filled body. I am ready to say goodbye to my migraines and cysts for good! I do apologize if this was too much information and too personal for you. My mindset is to use this blog to help others and to help myself. I have learned so much by reading peoples' stories and have found being open and honest brings people together. Now, I want to hear from you..please share as little or as much as you'd like with me.


Do you know someone who suffers from migraines? Is it you? 
Have you dealt with ovarian cysts? What helped you?
Do you have any food allergies? How did you find out?
Are you living gluten-free? How has it improved your life?

Here's to answers! 

21 comments:

  1. This is such great news Katie! (the testing :) I can't wait to hear what they find. I REALLY want to live a gluten free lifestyle with my family but it's expensive and limiting but we have cut out quite a bit. I was a teacher before I stayed home with my boys and I had numerous kids that didnt have ADD after switching to gluten free. I did so much research after that cause I was so interested. I found do much out- our bodies aren't even meant to digest these foods and they provide no nutritional value! There is a great spectrum from a gluten allergy to just mild... And when I don't eat it even for a day I have more energy and feel less bloated! It's crazy!

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  2. I've had pretty similar issues. A couple of years ago, a doctor suggested that I might have Celiac's disease. I've been tested a couple of times, but both times have come back "inconclusive"--which should be a swear word. Anyway, I've decided to go gluten free and even though I don't have celiac's disease, cutting back on wheat products has helped me soooo much! I couldn't believe it! My headaches/migraines have decreased a ton! I've lost weight, and I feel happy and energetic! Sometimes it kinda sucks not getting to have a sandwhich or a piece of my sister's wedding cake, but then I just remember how I feel when I did eat gluten and then I'm okay not eating it. I've been amazed at how much changing my diet has helped. Once you have the test done, you should try it for a week and see how you feel. That is what did it for me. I never went back. :) My prayers and thoughts are with you!

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  3. OMG! I feel like I wrote most of your blog today;) I have daily headaches/migraines:( I have done everything and I do mean everything to get rid of them and/or control them. They are better but I still get them every day.Very interesting about the cysts and migraines.....I hope the blood work helps once and for all for you. People who don't get them just don't get it. Dealing with pain in your head on a daily basis can be so draining. Please let us know how you make out. I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed for you:) Keeping you in my prayers. Good luck:)
    ~Debra xxx
    Capers of the vintage vixens

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  4. Migraines stink!! I suffered them during my last year of pharmacy school. Lack of sleep and strong smells lead to mine. And getting my period. At least I can help 2 of the 3. :P

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  5. Katie,

    I don't personally suffer from migraines, but have serious empathy for anyone who does! Have you ever read the book "Natural Cures They Don't Want You To Know About", by Kevin Trudeau? I read it a few years ago, and although it's a little on the "extreme" side-it really changed the way we look and view the medical system, and as a result-our bodies & health. I would definitely recommend it.

    On an other note: My husband's entire family has suffered from food allergies that have led to some pretty big health problems, especially my mother in law. After years of trying to get pregnant, she found out she had a food sensitivity to wheat. She cut wheat out, and BAM! Pregnant. So I just know that food allergies can cause all sorts of problems that the conventional medical community might not recognize. I sure hope you get the results you're looking for, and that the problem is as simple as a dietary change.

    On one more note: I totally know how painful cysts can be (I think). This summer Michael and I lost a pregnancy, and long story short-I went in to the doctor's with heavy bleeding and significant pain. They determined it was either a tubal pregnancy that had naturally miscarried, or a miscarriage + burst ovarian cyst. I personally think it was a burst cyst causing the pain, and that it had just happened the same time that I miscarried....so I feel pretty confident in saying that it's very painful! I can't imagine having cysts constantly. And yes, when I was on birth control at the beginning of our marriage I was crazy-lady. I totally think our bodies were meant to do what they do-messing with nature is never a good thing!

    Wow. That was a mesh-mash of comments and thoughts. I just think as women, we ALL can relate in some way to something you wrote here! Good luck with your plight, and I hope that your suffering quickly ceases!

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  6. Katie oh I'm so sorry to read about how migraines have plagued you for so long!! I remember you writing, a little while ago, about a horrible migraine you had...I can't imagine! When I have headaches I feel like it distracts from everything I'm doing and I just try to get through it...but full on migraines I've heard from a couple friends are just HORRID. Prayers for you that the food alergy test comes back with some answers and possible solutions to your improvement!! :)

    And one of my best friends growing up would go through h**l every month during her period...horrible cramps that would cause her to miss school days in a row. She later found out it was cysts... I'm so sorry you have them! But again, I hope that you get some answers/solutions soon! And with all of this suffering you've gone through, you absolutely have more compassion for others who have gone through it too. <3

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  7. I've dealt with this since I was a kid too. Some of the migrain stuff is hormonal - when I was pregnant I had a couple of really really bad ones, but mostly they are brought on by the scents / heat etc as you mentioned. I also find that the weather plays a role. Sudden switches to heavy overcast days usually bring them on as well. I hope you can find rest and peace from this :(

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  8. My older sister suffers from severe migraines and she has found that it was most often due to the foods that she was eating. She no longer can eat fresh bread as active yeast bothers her, so does peanut butter, anything with msg, and certain berries. Her migraines have decreased significantly since she started watching her food intake. I wish you lots of luck and send prayers your way while you try to find answers.

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  9. I do suffer from migraines. I recently started living gluten free. I am still figuring things out with the 'lifestyle change' but it IS HELPING. It really is.

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  10. Take care and hope everything takes a healing turn. We've had people with acute migraines in the family and I know how painful it is. My sister has ovarian cysts and she faces a very similar situation. Meditation is really helping her. I know this is a very controversial remedy but it did and I dont know how.

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  11. My daughter found out she was "wheat sensitive" two years ago. She maintains a gluten-free diet, and I just now realized that she doesn't complain of headaches too often anymore. Hmmm, you gave me something to think about. Good luck with your journey!

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  12. luckily i do not have first hand experience with either of the afflictions you mentioned, and i truly hope you are able to get some more answers.

    as far as the migraines go, i wanted to tell you about my boyfriend's situation. a few years ago, the left side of his face, including his tongue, and all the way down to his fingertips became numb. numb and tingly. the only thing that felt bearable to him was lying on his back, on the floor. he was tested for lyme disease, bells palsy, etc, etc. so much poking and prodding. it was hard on both of us, b/c we never knew when the plans we made would have to be cancelled so that he could just lie on the floor. i didn't want to feel resentful, but it was something i couldn't help.

    some doctors attributed it to depression, which is so unlike him it was a joke. finally, he went to the right neurologist who concluded that it actually was migraines, but they were manifesting themselves thru numbness. for the last few years, he has been on a strange combo of meds that aren't particularly for migraines, but they have found do treat them in some people. when he forgets to take them, he does get numb and tingly. so sadly, he probably will have to take them forever. but, at least it's something, and he (and we!) are able to have a functional and normal life.

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  13. I have recently been diagnosed with ovarian cysts. I'm 28 and have only been married for one year. The pain during sex is very disappointing for both me and my husband. I have been having constant pain, but sometimes worse than others. One day it was so bad I too was curled up in bed with a hot pad considering going to the ER and just wanting to die. Nothing I have found touches the pain. I was quite concerned when the dr pretty much told me I just had to live with it and to expect the horrible pain when they ruptured. It is very comforting to know I'm not the only one experiencing this and it is not that unusual. I just wish there was something that would help besides birth control and surgery. Thanks for sharing you story.

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  14. I'm glad to hear your migraines are getting better. I hope they can find a reason why you are getting them so you can know exactly how to avoid them, and maybe go without episodes for months at a time. That is my wish for you! Don't forget I've taken a million nutrition courses so if you find something out and need a diet plan or help with researching-I'm here! :)

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  15. I will try to be brief about everything. I am glad that you are doing with the Migraines. I am sure you have - but have you done an in depth migraine journal before - you know were you write down EVERYTHING that goes on during the day. It looks like you are figuring out what some are your triggers are {and for alot of people that does help decrease the number}. Migraines are very hard to treat because they are so subjective and different for every person. Have you tried acupuncture? I know it can be controversial but I have heard good things about it. Also, yes, eating wheat/gluten can bring on Migraines {if that is 1 of your triggers} -yet there is no way to test to see if you are sensitive to gluten - you will just have to do a trial and error. There is also medication that can decrease the # that you have a month but Im sure you have already tried most of those. Good Luck!!!

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  16. I'm so glad I found your blog! I got a link to it for some wreath, but this is the post I'm glad I found. I suffer from migraines too! Mine didn't come in any strong fashion until after college. And on the grand scheme of things mine are mild, but bad enough to send me to a dark quiet room for a day. Mine are related to my period to, and I loved birth control because I had them much less frequently. I'm also sensitive to certain fragrances (no smelly lotions for me!) and will get one if I don't eat regularly. I have a few more triggers, but they don't ALWAYS cause the headaches. Getting glasses also helped. Seeing a chiropractor hasn't helped as much as I hoped it would.

    I also have food allergies, but I'm allergic to nuts, so my throat swells up if I eat nuts. No fun. I've never noticed a correlation between foods and headaches luckily because nut allergies are enough for me.

    Good luck with your tests and finding answers! It's always comforting to find out you aren't the only one, isn't it?

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  17. I'm so moved that I helped you. I suffered from migraines for 20+ years. Now I get a mild headache maybe once a month...

    The first year of GF will be a rocky one, Katie. But I promise you WILL feel 1000X than you ever have. Our stories are SO similar...

    God bless...

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  18. Migraine is three times more common in women than in men. Some people can tell when they are about to have a migraine because they see flashing lights ovarian cyst

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  19. Chiropractic care can also benefit migraines because it emphasizes healthy eating and sleep in addition to just pills.

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