Eight vials of blood, one fainting spell, and three pages of lab results later, and I’m seeing just how much harm my months of malnutrition have caused. Year after year, my blood work is unfailing perfect other than showing slightly elevated cholesterol. I didn’t really think my “diet” would throw things too far out of whack. Boy, was I mistaken.
After five months of living on chicken, white rice, and gluten-free oats, and four months of compromised nutrition before that, my liver enzymes and thyroid hormones are elevated, my blood sugar is low, my folic acid is deficient, my cholesterol is through the roof, and I have a host of other alarmingly elevated or depleted levels. None of the damage is permanent and most of it can be reversed through diet, but the results are alarming nonetheless.
I knew I was taking a risk, but I didn’t expect to see evidence of it so quickly. I should be grateful that my body recognized it was starving and is working to protect itself, but mostly I’m angry at myself for thinking that malnutrition was a wise choice even though it reduced the frequency and severity of my migraines.
While going back to a well-rounded diet would be the quickest route to getting my body back on track nutritionally, I’m waiting until I get guidance from the dietician (tomorrow!) to figure out how to reintroduce foods in a way that tests whether certain food chemicals are triggers. Until then, I’m eating three servings of nutrient-dense foods each day. My brain fog is much better and my fatigue has changed from a body-filled-with-sandbags sensation to more of an achy feeling. The migraines haven’t drastically increased in severity or frequency so far.
Most notably, I’m not longer thinking of every food as a potential migraine trigger, but as an unknown. I’ve also recognized that my migraine symptoms vary throughout the day whether or not I eat a trigger food, so I’m not scrutinizing every symptom and connecting it to foods unless the reaction is obvious. These may seem like imperceptible shifts, but they allow me to feel freer and less afraid of food.
It’s astonishing to think I went from not believing food triggered my migraines to being so suspicious of food that I starved myself of nutrition to feel better. As if I needed more proof that the desperation of intractable chronic migraine messes with the mind.