Thursday, January 8, 2009

looking behind and looking ahead

Well, the holidays seem to have gotten the better of me, as I haven't posted since Thanksgiving. My humble apologies to all of my dear readers out there.

To be honest, I'm not even sure what happened in the past month. The holidays were coming up, sure, but it's not like I was doing last-minute Christmas shopping... or any shopping. DBF and I are still among the ranks of the unemployed, so our gifts to others were very minimal this year.

Our holidays were filled with love, all the same. We spent five days with my family, filled with snow and quiet enjoyment of each others' company. DBF shared some of the cooking duties with my family and left some recipes behind for my mom. It was a nice and recuperative time.

We took the train 500 miles south to visit DBF's family and spend the remaining five days of our trip back east. While this part of our trip was anything but calm, it was a wonderful chance to see family that we don't normally see. Even though it's been two years since I've seen (met) many of them, they hugged and kissed me like I was one of their own. And this year I felt like I was.

There was a lot of stress surrounding Christmas this year - a lot of traveling, including flying; trying to find food safe for me to eat; tight finances and few presents to give out - but it is one of the best I have had in a long time. I'm left with warm feelings of gratitude and fulfillment, like I spent a cold winter's day by the fire with a good book and fuzzy blanket. This is the first Christmas DBF and I have spent together, and it just felt right.

Unfortunately, I caught a pretty nasty cold while we were away, and by the time we got home, I was in poor shape. I very rarely get sick - it's been a couple years, in fact - so I got pretty slammed. Plus, we started moving to our new apartment the week we got back, so I'm still searching for some sort of routine in my life again.

But, I actually feel rather optimistic for 2009. And that is a good feeling.

At the beginning of last year, I wrote:
I don't believe in new year's resolutions, but I am rededicating myself to my healthcare. I have my first appointment with a new headache specialist next week. I am willing to do what it takes to find a treatment regimen that will get my migraines under better control.

I am looking back toward 2007 as a year of growth for me. I've learned much more about my disease, and have started keeping a headache diary to better understand my patterns and symptoms. At least now I feel like I'm doing something toward getting better. I am looking forward to 2008 as a year to continue to learn about my disease, but also to take my life back piece by piece.
2008 certainly was not an easy year, but I feel like I did achieve what I set out to do: continue to learn about my disease and take my life back, piece by piece. I did lose ground to the Migraine beastie, when I had to resign from my board position with the AIA. But I feel I'm better able to cope with my illness than I was a year ago.

Something else I wrote about a year ago:

I think the time has come to make the jump and completely eliminate gluten, dairy and sugar. All three intolerances have a strong genetic run in my family (eggs, too). I think it's worth it to give this diet an honest try. If nothing else, I may lose some weight, which would not be a bad thing.

My problem these days is it seems like anything and everything will trigger a migraine. Stackable food triggers (or suspected triggers) currently include: MSG, sugar, soy sauce, salt, wheat, dairy. There are others I can't think of right now. I've already made the switch to organic meat (which tastes a lot better anyway).

I think that I just need to jump in with both feet and give this diet a real chance. I have migraine pain every single day. If cutting out these foods will cut down my head pain even a little, it's worth it to me right now.

I've now been gluten-free for a year now. The full diet eliminates gluten, cow dairy, MSG, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and caffeine. I've also limited my intake of alcohol, sugar, salt, eggs, nitrites/nitrates and non-cow dairy. I eat organic vegetables and meat as much as possible. I'm proud to say that this diet has massively improved my IBS and cut out my (few) Migraine food triggers (MSG, some wines and artificial sweeteners). I've also lost about 45 pounds, and am a much healthier size 12.

I certainly didn't start the diet with the intention of losing weight, but I've found a much healthier self. I still have a long way to go before my Migraines and IBS are well controlled, but I've actually made a lot of progress in the past 12 months. 2008 was a hard year for many reasons, but it was also a year with many successes, and I need to remember that.

So, here's to 2009. I still don't make new year's resolutions, but I will start out 2009 with much the same intention as 2008: I want to continue to learn as much as possible about Migraine disease, and take the best care of myself that I can.

Happy new year, all.

Be well,


Leslie said...

MJ, I'm glad you're back to blogging, and especially glad to hear that your holidays were good.

Debbie said...

Glad you are back blogging. I trust you got the book. Hope you find it useful.

Kudos to you for going gluten free. I tried and lasted 3 months. I couldn't find a difference. BUT, my IBS is raising its ugly head again, so I may go back. I have to use up all the rice and tapioca flour in my cupboard.

MaxJerz said...

Debbie, I did get the book. Thanks again! It was waiting for me at home when I got back from the east coast. I plan to start reading it over the weekend.

I'm working on getting the links on my sidebar updated - soon I will have some of my favorite gluten-free resources. Hope they help you should you decide to go back to that diet.

Leslie, thanks for your well wishes!

Be well,

Debbie said...

The best gluten-free blog I know is Gluten Free Girl ( Shauna is a great writer and her husband is a chef. He works in a restaurant that is totally gluten free. I think they live in the Seattle area.

Jasmine said...

That's fantastic - grats on getting healthier (I'm once again on an elimination diet myself). And don't you ever apologize for taking time off from blogging. If anyone understands the need for breaks it's your readers :)

maria said...

Great to see you're back - looking forward to keeping up with you in 2009!

Take care~