I'm wondering if anyone else has experienced this. Since Lucy was born I have developed an increasing intolerance to alcohol, to the extent that one drink these days will give me a hangover of collegiate proportions. It's not fun. Particularly because I really enjoy a glass of wine with a meal, or a ridiculously overpriced cocktail at any restaurant in this shi-shi town. To say I was reluctant to believe I was becoming intolerant to my evening glass of wine, is an understatement. I wanted so badly to believe that it was maybe just red wine, just sulphites, or stress, a waning moon, pixies, anything other than that one glass of something to unwind with at the end of the day.
It turns out that it wasn't hangovers I was dealing with. It was migraines. When Lucy was six months old I went back on the pill - except I couldn't remember what pill I'd been on in the four years post-Anna, so they tried me on a low dose hormonal thing. I spent the next two months with pounding headaches, pain like an iron stake behind my right eye, and vomiting every morning. Not ideal, so I changed over to a different brand which left me with the same migraines and vomiting, plus the hormones of a banshee. Without going in to details I will say that feeling emotionally precarious, having noise-sensitivity due to migraines, and living with two small children and running a busy medical practice - not a great lifestyle.
I know very well that there's medicines you can take, for both prevention and relief, but I've been reluctant to go that route. I think it's because I see so many patients with horrific, intractable migraines, that I've been unwilling to admit that I may have that future ahead of me. Unfortunately I do have to take migraine pills in order to just function on some days. The few I've tried generally just turn down the volume of the pain, do nothing for the nausea, or leave me a jittery mess with the parenting tolerance of a Victorian governess.
To cut a long story short I stopped the pill, and I stopped drinking. I officially gave up for Lent, in support of LK who also gave up booze for Lent. It wasn't such a stretch for me, obviously, as I'd all but given it up anyway. I do feel better, but not miraculously so. I still get migraines, but they are not as frequent. Sadly, it seems that all alcohol is a guaranteed trigger, and because I don't like what's out there to treat migraines, I want to try everything in my powers to try and avoid them - and that's why I've been looking at what causes them, just in case it's not just alcohol, or not alcohol at all. Briefly, migraine triggers can be:
- Sleep disturbance (I'm looking at you Lucy)
- Stress (ha!)
- Alcohol *sigh*
- Aged cheeses
- Processed meats
- Salt (increased blood pressure)
- Having any kind of fun AT ALL
To eliminate all that from my lifestyle reminds me of a 'Wellness' seminar I went to a few years ago. The speaker stood up and gave a run-down of the things you need to do in order to live a long life: go to bed at 9pm, wake at 6am, run, eat steamed fish, fresh vegetables, yoga, no stimulants, no alcohol, etc etc. He concluded by saying that this would not guarantee that you would live til you were a 100 - it would just feel like that.
I've spoken to my doctors - and the good news is (!) - roll on menopause, it seems this too shall pass, and I will be merry again. In the meantime I feel like I've been launched in to premature middle age. It's not that you have to drink to have a good time, it's just that not drinking is such a statement. No, I'm not pregnant. No, I don't mind if you drink, please go ahead. It's ridiculous that it's such a conflict. Maybe our culture out here is too booze-centric. We do live in wine country after all. I know I should be grateful that I have identified a trigger that, when avoided, cuts my migraines in half. Plenty of people live with this pain day in, day out. I just wish it was cheese, or processed meats, or even chocolate that I was sensitive too. Yes, I'd even give up chocolate for a glass of wine at the end of the day.