Sincerely Carolina

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Relieving Some Press-ure

by caroline

I lo(ooo)ve coffee. The smell of it. The taste of it. The way it makes you feel all warm and toasty inside …

Love it.

But I don't love migraines — not in the very least bit.

I know — what the heck does that have to do with coffee?! Well, before I get into where I'm going with this (and I am going somewhere), let's rewind a bit.

I have been suffering from migraines since the first grade. I would come home from school in tears, having no idea why my head hurt so bad or how to make it stop. I ended up needing glasses, and that helped for a bit, but once bodily changes and hormones started happening, the excruciating pain in the back of my head kicked up again.

Even at a young age, I wasn't totally unfamiliar with migraines. My mom suffers from them as well and I remember her having to lie down in a dark room, icing her head until they subsided. This was, of course, before helpful medicines had been created, and you were pretty much left to fend 'em off with Ibuprofen and sheer will.

But I had no idea just how great her pain was until I began to experience full blown migraines of my very own. If you have ever suffered from one, you know that the smallest noise and tiniest bit of light can send your head reeling. Sometimes the pain is so great that I actually begin to contemplate (A.) How anyone is supposed to be able to endure this kind of pain (and still live), and (B.) Can I please remove my head … just for a bit?

I don't take prescription drugs out of sheer stubbornness (not that I am putting down people who do — you are much smarter than I) and I know every trick in the book for trying to ease the pain.

Of course, going gluten-free as a result of my Celiac disease diagnosis has helped, among other things, lessen the number of migraines I get. But there's always that most wonderful time of the month when every gal's hormones flare up and, boy, does my head enjoy reminding me like a royal king's entrance that it has arrived.

So, last week when it blew it's triumphant horn, the pain hit full force. It was a doozy. And when I experience migraines like this, I have learned that it generally helps to lay off of any stimulants that might aggravate it more, including two of my favorites: chocolate and coffee.

Now, prior to the migraine, I had really been packing in the caffeine, especially since a new local coffee shop opened that serves only delicious French pressed coffee. Ah, it's so good.

So, when the first two days of the migraine had passed and I wasn't drinking any coffee, I realized that the pain had actually intensified instead of beginning to alleviate. I usually experience some sort of withdrawal symptoms from laying off of stimulants when I have a migraine, but it's nothing like the ones I was experiencing on that day.

That's when I realized it was most likely because of the large amount of caffeine I had previously been consuming and that I had just ripped my body away from it, completely cold turkey.

No joke — the migraine endured for another three days, and somewhere within those three days when I was able to complete a full thought, I decided I was going to lay off of coffee for a bit. I figured, if I had to go through all of this pain to rid my body of it, how much could be helping my health?

So, no coffee for me — for now at least. And I say "for now" because my momma once told me that absolute statements are not something we should take lightly. So, instead of saying, "I will never drink coffee again," I'm going with "I am not drinking coffee because I think that's what works for me right now."

And that's always been my philosophy about my health. Obviously, bringing gluten back into my life is not an option and I am better because of it. But I have always experimented with other health choices — because I can. For example, right now I am a gluten-free (ALWAYS — and that's an absolute statement I can make) gal who occasionally eats dairy and fish, but lives on a pretty regular vegetarian diet. Total veganism has always been something I am working toward (and I have done it), but I also work every day to understand more about my health and the way my decisions affect my body.

That's not to say that other people aren't completely entitled to their java or that I think it's a bad thing when consumed in moderation. It just doesn't work for me right now.

So, here's my goodbye to coffee (I'm thinking "Goodbye my loooooove!" à la Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber). So far I feel just fine and I'm not missing it, but that's not to say my deep feelings for it won't resurface.

One thing I will NEVER (ah, yes, another absolute statement worth using) miss? The migraines.

I'm curious: Have you ever given up a vice to better your health? Did it work?

** Need help with migraines? Check this out.

** Living in the Dayton, OH area and want to have AWESOME-LY French pressed coffee? Check out Press.