Monday, October 1, 2012

Another Trigger Identified

And this one hurts. I've discovered MSG is probably my biggest migraine trigger at this time. You know how people say MSG is in everything? Well, I like to say it's in everything else, too. From what I understand, MSG is a very cheap way to add flavoring to food. So naturally, food manufacturers love it. But lately, people are coming down hard on MSG. Some of the research shows it can actually trigger hunger. So there are food manufacturers/restaurants that are promoting themselves as "MSG-free" to provide what is referred to as a clean label.

The FDA requires a food manufacturer to list MSG (short for monosodium glutamate) in the list of ingredients if a food contains actual MSG as a stand-alone ingredient. However, food companies have gotten sneaky and have found ways to hide MSG in their foods without listing it so they can label themselves "MSG-free". It turns out, if an ingredient already listed in the ingredient list of a food contains MSG, the FDA does not require the manufacturer to list MSG.

I thought I had gone all MSG-free, but was still getting these multi-day, super severe migraines which were reminiscent of my MSG-triggered migraines. I was eating a ham and cheese sandwich almost every day for lunch, assuring myself it was an MSG-free meal. I did some research and came across this website: I discovered that my cheese slices contained whey protein concentrate and my bread contained yeast nutrient, both of which contain MSG. The website I referenced lists 46 ingredients that either always or usually contain MSG.

The list of foods I can eat is now much shorter than the list of foods I can't. And although there are a few restaurants that claim to be MSG-free, I can't eat out unless I can read an entire ingredient list for everything in my food. For example, Arby's claims to be MSG-free but their sesame seed bun which their roast beef sandwiches are served on contains yeast nutrient, which contains MSG.

It has been very difficult to completely cut MSG out of my diet (I'm a processed foods, eating out kind of girl and I really don't like too many whole foods). But the few times I've slipped up the result is terrible pain and I'm just not willing to risk it. I know I've only scratched the surface of what I know regarding migraines and my own personal triggers, and I still suffer daily migraines, but the intensity of the pain has definitely lessened now that I've nixed the MSG and I'm so glad I figured that one out.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Prayer unanswered?

I haven't blogged in a long time, not because I didn't have anything to say, but because this blog is supposed to focus on the positive things in my migraine life, and I didn't have anything positive to say. I've been in a pretty dark place for several months. I've been questioning my belief in prayer, and at times, whether God even cared about me. My prayers for many things, not just personal relief from the pain have gone unanswered. I wondered if God was even listening. I believe a lot of my doubt was my own doing: I rarely go to church and I hadn't picked up my bible in weeks.

This past week I've been staying at my local church camp, participating in both the family camp activities and helping the teen camp staff as much as I've been able. I've always loved the teen camp here and I wanted to be a part of that ministry so desperately. I'm seeing now that God has been very gracious to me this week, both in lessening the intensity of my pain and in allowing my head to respond well to the pain meds when I've needed them. I've had a great week, but I couldn't stop those same doubts that have been my constant companion these last few months from creeping in. I had a great conversation with my former youth pastor about what I was feeling, and I told him I felt like I was at a crossroads where I either let God restore my faith in prayer or I stopped praying altogether. He recommended a great book for me to read and the last three days I've been diving in to both that book and my bible.

I realized I missed my Abba Father immensely. Last night I came across Lamentations 3. This is a chapter I've read many times in the past, but it had new meaning for me.  Verses 22-24 state, "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.'" I so desperately needed to be reminded that the Lord is compassionate toward me, and that when it feels like my prayers aren't being answered, I just need to wait for him.

My motto used to be "Life sucks, but at least it's short." My new motto comes from another book I recently read: "I'll be okay. God's carrying me." (Coming Home by Karen Kingsbury)

I found myself in Psalm 46 tonight and verse 1 hit me like a wave of reassurance and mercy. I like it best as it's written in The Message: "God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him." You might more easily recognize this verse as it's written in the NLT: "God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble."

The book my pastor recommended is called God on Mute, by Pete Greig. In it is a short section titled Engaging the Silence. I'm going to copy it here as it is written and formatted:

There is
And where there is prayer
There may be
But where miracles may not be
There are
And where there are questions
There may be
But silence may be
More than
May be presence
May not be nothing, but
To explore
Defy accuse
This is
And where there is prayer
There may yet be