Even as a young child I often had headaches, but since my mother had endured them for years, and the prevailing attitude seemed to be to wait it out, no one paid attention to my headaches. As I got older, they gradually increased infrequency. In my late teens and twenties, they seemed to be tied to my monthly cycle, and I would spend about half of each month trying to function around them while, eventually, taking care of my first child. At thirty, while pregnant with my second child, my symptoms got worse. I was about four months pregnant when I started having visual disturbances – flashing light patterns, immediately followed by partial vision loss lasting up to twenty minutes. I would see half of everything or have gaps in the middle of whatever I was looking at. Next, I became unfocused and had difficulty absorbing information. Then came the pain in my head. While the pain wasn’t always intense, moving around too much or too fast would cause nausea, which also caused an intestinal reaction, and I’d be running to the bathroom. After the birth of my third child, they became so constant that a neurologist sent me for a brain scan.  Luckily this scan showed no abnormalities, but my headaches continued, even though I was now on medication. I excluded all the known triggers or possible triggers from my diet for years, but still they continued. After two years with no improvement, I stopped the medication and plodded on as best I could.

Since bright light was a trigger for me, I wore sunglasses almost everywhere. [Tweet this.] I restricted myself to local driving so that my familiarity with the roads would allow me to pull over if I sensed my vision might change. Over time, I began to recognize certain precursors such as yawning, mood changes, and a sensation in my face and head that told me a migraine would be coming.

I read everything I could about migraines, hoping to find something that would help. For fifteen years, I tried eliminating triggers identified in the literature from my diet. I was still plagued by frequent migraines. Then one day my husband brought home an article he found in a magazine that contained the usual information until the very last sentence. I am so grateful that I read it all the way through! The last sentence referred to an uncommon, but possible trigger for migraines: legumes  (nuts, beans, peas, etc.)! This changed my life! Those foods had been a huge part of my diet for years, and none of the doctors or written information on migraine had ever mentioned legumes as a possible trigger.

I have been mostly migraine-free for ten years.  I still cannot eat some of the well-known trigger foods (red wine, bologna, olive loaf, etc.) and, of course, the lesser known legumes. Yet, there are many known triggers that don’t affect me. The impact of those many years of unchecked migraines on my life is incalculable, and if passing on my experience will help someone else, I am happy to share it. [Tweet this.]