Tag Archives: migraines

One step closer to a 100% fun-free diet

I’ve been a lazy, lazy blogger this week. I can’t blame the apartment search, because I found a short-term option for June and punted the hunt to next month. This week, there is one reason and one reason only for my lack of blog: caffeine withdrawal.

People who know me well know that I like my caffeine. When I told some people I was trying to go caffeine-free, responses included:

“You are?”
“Is anything else left?”
“So you’ll drink a 2-liter of caffeine-free Diet Coke every day now instead?”
and, simply, “…Why?”

My answers:

“Yes.”
“I hope so.”
“God no.”
and… “I don’t know.”

I don’t have a great answer to the last one. Caffeine isn’t bad for you—in appropriate quantities—and coffee in particular has been associated with lots of nice health bonuses. Diet soda has been associated with depression here, weight gain there, but the data is inconclusive. Both excessive coffee intake and excessive carbonated beverage intake can mess with digestion according to, oh, every list of tips for dealing with IBS ever; and the proteins in coffee have supposedly been found to be “cross-reactive” with gluten proteins in some people—not confirmed, but compelling.

Most importantly, I just don’t like being dependent on caffeine. I’ve spent the past several years playing a little game called “undiagnosed autoimmune disease vs. coffee” and, as of last week, was drinking 11 cups every morning (all at once, over the course of an hour), plus the aforementioned Diet Coke later on. I’m tied to the routine and it sucks up more of my time than it should. If most people are made up of 70% water, there’s a good chance I’m made up of 70% coffee. That doesn’t thrill me.

Photo © Amanda | Flickr

Photo © Amanda | Flickr

Caffeine is such a part of my routine that I nearly cried after reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild because I knew I couldn’t possibly carry a large enough supply of coffee and water to sustain me if I ever wanted to hike the entire Pacific Coast Trail. Kindly ignore all of the other reasons I would find it difficult to imitate Strayed (e.g., I’ve never hiked or even particularly wanted to hike). The point of the anecdote is this: I’ve come to see caffeine as necessary. But what if it’s not? What if I could retrain my body to exist and, such as it does, function—without caffeine? What if it would even function a bit better?

As I (half) joked to one friend, “I hadn’t given up anything major for a few months, so it just felt right.” It was only a half joke because it’s true that I don’t feel right about just spinning my wheels waiting for my magical gluten-free diet to magically kick in; I want to keep trying things. This is another thing to try. It’s something that, back in February, I didn’t think I could do. So, progress! Sort of.

I decided to go caffeine-free rather suddenly, with no prior reflection, when I found myself at the end of Saturday not having indulged in my usual afternoon soda fix. At that point, I just thought, “Why not?” I went cold turkey, which is apparently the exact opposite of the right thing to do. Caffeine withdrawal is real, folks, and I’m proof.

By Sunday evening a headache had banded itself around my temples and behind my eyes, rendering me useless to do anything but fall asleep. I woke on Monday and my head still hurtI don’t think I’ve ever had a headache that lasted overnight that way. It’s most likely the closest I’ve ever come to a migraine. I felt so sick that I actually stayed home from work on Monday and slept all day. “Caffeine withdrawal” may sound like a sorry excuse for a sick day, but trust me, I was sick enough. That morning, I came so close to quitting: I even brewed my normal pot of coffee and poured myself a cup. I was saved by the fact that I felt too ill to drink it.

Now, I think I’m past the worst of it, beyond the initial “I’m in hideous pain” phase and into the “I can’t bring myself to do or care about anything because it turns out coffee was the only thing powering my thoughts and actions” phase of withdrawal, which according to reputable internet sources shouldn’t last much longer than a week.

Photo © Christian | Flickr

Photo © Christian | Flickr

Like many of the things I’ve given up (alcohol, lactose, oats, eating out, anything made “in a facility that processes…”), I may not be done with caffeine forever. Heck, I may not make it through the rest of the work week. But, though not necessarily permanent, it’s worth a try. In the meantime, know that although I’ve been posting more infrequently recently, I’m still here and still gluten-free. That, my friends, is permanent.

I stole the phrase “fun-free” from this post on Gluten Is My Bitch. Have you read her book yet? It’s funny!

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Gluten-Free Astrology: Aries (born March 21 – April 19)

Photo © Jason Hill | Flickr

Photo © Jason Hill | Flickr

Yesterday was the first day of spring, and I totally missed out on marking it. Whoops! To demonstrate my awareness of the passing seasons, particularly at this time of new beginnings, I’m introducing a new monthly feature. That’s right, I’ve decided I’ve been at this Blogging Thing long enough to start having Features. I hope that you’ll find this only as presumptuous as unnecessary capital letters, and not more.

Now, for the preamble: there’s a hypothesis that celiac disease may be more common in those with spring and summer birthdays—especially spring. Yup, April baby showers bring May rice flour. The increased prevalence, so the hypothesis goes, has to do with the time of weaning (and, therefore, first gluten exposure) coinciding with the season of viral infections, which play a role in the development of some autoimmune diseases. For me, this brings a whole new meaning to family planning. If I’m ever in a position to conceive a child, I’ll be sure to do it in the spring. Or raise my child in a bubble, which just might be possible by the time I’m in a position to conceive a child.

But I digress. My point is, date of birth is a important piece of the celiac puzzle. And since we don’t know much of anything at all about non-celiac gluten-sensitivity, I’m happy enough to lump everyone in to the hypothesis and my New Feature. It’s called Gluten-Free Astrology and it will explain what else your date of birth means for your gluten-free status.

Photo © Manuel M. Almeida | Flickr

Aries’s symbol is the ram
Photo © Manuel M. Almeida | Flickr

Aries begins today, March 21st, and extends through April 19th. If your birthday falls in that span, here are my thoughts on what you can expect from the month ahead. (And by “my thoughts,” I of course mean “eternal and incontrovertible message from the stars.”)

The Gluten-Free Aries is ruled by the planet Mars, named for the god of war, aggression, and conflict. As a GF Aries, you likely have a conflicting relationship with your gluten-free diet and often argue with your doctors or yourself and lash out against others who question it.

You are a “me-first” type who should follow your natural impulse this month to put your gluten-free needs front and center in every encounter, whether it be at a friend’s home or at a restaurant, thereby increasing awareness for the rest of us. We will hope that a GF Libra, your polar opposite, comes along shortly thereafter to soothe any hurt feelings you may have caused, thereby increasing good will toward the rest of us.

However, this month you should also strive to overcome your innate tendency to be self-centered. One good way to do this, I’ve heard, is to comment on other people’s blogs, such as mine.

GF Aries stands for new beginningsoptimism, and change. This month, be open to new activities, friends, and channels for your boundless energy. You may find your life takes an unexpected direction (or you may not—this is astrology, after all). Perhaps your inborn desire to take the reins will encourage you to finally open your own business, and if so, I hope that it will be a gluten-free restaurant around the corner from my apartment.

Because of your extravagance, you may find yourself in debt this month of tax-paying, particularly if you’ve been pouring your extra money into that gluten-free restaurant. You’re a creative type who will always find your way out of such a bind, though, so please don’t let that stand in the way of your dreams. (Thai would be nice, or Mexican—hold the flour tortillas.)

The body part ruled by GF Aries is the head, so this month watch for migraines and facial injuries that may signal the start of a renewed battle with gluten.

And, if you’re interested in such things:

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

A fellow celebrity with the sun in Aries is Maya Angelou. Though she has no trouble at all with gluten, so far as I’m aware, she’s still a great lady (and I turned up this great post about her from last year on Celiac and Allergy Adventures).

Russell Crowe

Russell Crowe

Russell Crowe is another celeb who apparently does fancy himself a GF Aries—though I think he did it to lose weight, and we all know that man does not lose by gluten-free bread alone. (Plus, the paparazzi caught him carrying a pizza—no, Russ, “thin crust” does not mean gluten-free.) Hey, no one ever said celebrities have to be good role models. (On that note, Hugh Hefner is also an Aries.)

As a GF Aries, you lack patience and therefore have probably not bothered to read to the end of this post. That’s okay, as long as you hit the part about the new restaurant you’re opening for me this month. Just let me know when you’re open—I may be a flighty GF Gemini, but I am committed to bringing my spring-birthday-and-therefore-celiac-having self in once you’ve got it together.

The “information,” such as it is, in this post has been largely ripped off from The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need, by Joanna Martine Woolfolk, which is in fact the only astrology book you’ll ever need (need here being a relative term).

Let me know what you think of my New Feature, and what your sign is so I can get started consulting the stars about your destiny. 

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