Anxiety, Humor, Life, Menopause

Wine and Migraines and Succulents (Oh My)

I have had a torrid love affair with wine my whole adult life. When I began socially acceptable drinking (ie-legally), I opted for wine coolers. They were just enough to get you drunk, affordable, and looked really good in your hand when chair dancing at your favorite club.

 

Circa 1998 courtesy/Rachel W.

 

See?

No hangovers that I can recall other than just being really tired. I mean, to be clear there probably was like 2% wine and 98% sugar but it was my first dance with wine and I liked it. As I got older though, I would discover that I am more of a hard liquor kind of chick. I first had an amaretto stone sour at a wedding reception in the early ’90s and was hooked thereafter. Then came margaritas, vodka cranberry’s, and Jack and cokes. But when you are young, broke, and don’t have the setup to create a bar in your dumpy apartment, you settle for what you can afford for parties and cheap wine it was.

 

 

Clear Steam Drinking Glass

 

It was in my mid-thirties that my migraines began. I remember the first mind-crushing migraine I had was on the day I found out my parents were going to be transferred three hours away. Anna and I were living with them at the time, I was a single mom, dating my now-husband at this point for three years and we were getting ready to move into our current home, which sits literally five minutes from the house my parents lived in at the time.

I noticed my migraines slowly getting more and more frequent with each year. I attributed them to stress because I had a lot of stress going on at the time they began. I was finishing up my degree and going to school full time, I was working two jobs, my parents had just moved, my mom was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, Anna was starting kindergarten, Mike and I were planning a wedding.

My doctor at the time thought it was sinuses and told me to quit smoking. Then they thought it was allergies and told me to get rid of the dog. Then they thought it was hormones and told me to get rid of my period. Kidding, just seeing if you’re still awake.

But they continued to get worse even after things slowed down, after I stopped smoking, after getting rid of our beloved dog, Riley (long story that I am not brave enough to share yet) and it was decided after nine years of suffering, that I should start seeing a neurologist in 2014.

Everything is fine, I don’t have a brain tumor, I just feel like I have one most days.

 

Grayscale Photography of Crying Woman

 

Over the past 15 years, I have been on different trigger-free diets, countless medications and preventatives and therapies, and even PHYSICAL therapy. Blood pressure medications, Topomax, antidepressants (yes they can help migraine), vertigo medication, and so on. I know some people have lovingly given me suggestions here and there and trust me if it’s made for migraines, I most likely have been prescribed it.

In the last two years, however, I have been on two injection therapies, one of which I just began back in February. I inject myself three times in the legs and abdomen, once every three months. This preventative seemed to be really working. Working so well, that I began slacking back into triggers that I had avoided for a long time.

Triggers such as MSG, chocolate, specific cheeses, and wine.

On Mother’s Day, I began a 17-hour migraine journey that I don’t ever want to encounter again. For the first time in 15 years of suffering, I had to go to the emergency room to get rid of the pain. During a coronavirus pandemic.

Backstory, I had decided to treat myself on Mother’s Day with two big glasses of wine washed down with some very flavorful Chinese food from a restaurant that we had never tried before.

I paid dearly for that decision on Monday morning by being hooked up to an IV with a mix of fluids and strong meds. Four hours after being admitted, I was finally pain-free but the shit I had in my body to make me not feel pain was staggering.

 

 

 

While I was writhing in pain overnight before I went to the ER, I had one constant thought come in and out of my mind somewhat incoherently: I should have listened to the Universe.

We had been trying to find Chinese food since my birthday as our local place has been closed due to limited hours, staff, and let’s be honest, probably stigma. Which pissed me off for many reasons but mostly because I selfishly really, really wanted Chinese food.

Strike one.

So when we couldn’t get my favorite food on my birthday, my husband said we would get it for Mother’s Day. Our neighbors had told us about their favorite Chinese restaurant and to give that one a try but on Mother’s Day, it was booked solid with pickups and no more orders were being taken.

Strike two.

We found a restaurant that had great reviews but they were a 20-minute one-way drive to pick it up. But we decided to try them. So Mike made the drive to get the food, God bless his soul. Granted, he selfishly wanted Chinese food too but it was DELICIOUS. I even said to my family, “this is the most flavorful beef with broccoli I’ve ever eaten!” while eating it.

After saying that, I literally looked at my plate and realized that it’s most likely flavorful because there is MSG in it.

Add in the two glasses of wine, the dehydration that comes along with wine and MSG, and the weather (rain, pressure from the rain, etc.), it was a fucking shit storm.

Two hours later, it began and I knew immediately.

I didn’t listen to the Universe with each restaurant closing or unavailability or distance to get the food.

wine glass succulent planters
Courtesy of Craftwhack

 

A day after I went to the hospital with migraine pain, my friend Jeanette shared the above craft on her blog, Craftwhack. I laughed because the Universe was indeed speaking to me and putting things in my path.

It’s time to retire the wine glasses forever, Kari. Put a fucking plant in it instead. You love plants, remember? 


My pain has caused considerable anxiety over the years on top of my already current anxiety. I get into pain spirals after massive migraines, most likely from the number of medications it took to make it go away. They are called rebound headaches. But my anxiety sits in a place of worry that I will never be able to get rid of the pain. I get into a deep depression about my pain and not being able to handle it. So going to the ER for the first time for migraine is considered a setback for me and because of that, I have had a rough week emotionally and physically.

It is within last week that the quarantine finally became too much for me. My husband’s long hours compounded with me being the primary mental health caretaker for my girls (imagine THAT) and dealing with rebound headaches and panic attacks daily, AND not being able to see family or friends for more than short visits to take my mind off of it, overtook me. It is within the last week where for the first time in over two months I felt trapped, suffocated like I couldn’t breathe, like I couldn’t do it anymore. It was one ugly fucking week.

Where are those wine glasses? Think I will make a succulent garden. Dammit.

22 thoughts on “Wine and Migraines and Succulents (Oh My)”

  1. I’m so sorry that you were not able to HEAR what the universe was telling you. But way more sorry about the migraines, anxiety and ER visit.
    I’ve never had a migraine (I’m not bragging, I swear) but I can only imagine how very painful and debilitating they are.
    NO WINE FOR YOU.
    NO MSG-laden CHINESE FOOD FOR YOU.

    I do love the little succulent gardens; you should get on that with your girls and the unused wine glasses.
    Big hugs my friend. XO

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am SO sorry you are going through this. And to go through it without a support system right now must be terrifying.

    You are brave even if you don’t think you are. To be able to withstand 15 years of pain? You are so strong and brave.

    Going to the ER wasn’t a show of weakness it was a show of strength. Don’t ever forget that.

    Sending you so much love.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yikes Kari, this sounds so awful. Sorry it all came back to bite you. I had a horrid headache on Thursday and even slept for a few hours In the afternoon and it was still horrible when I got up. It seemed like the kind of headache that Motrin would not help, so I wanted to kick myself when Motrin did help and WHY had I not just tried that early on? Ugh. I can only imagine how terrible it would have been if I had to get to an ER.

    I LOVED myself a Bartles and James wine cooler back in the day. I initially didn’t like beer, but then I lived in Ireland for a year and, well – liking beer is sort of a prerequisite. I, too, had my first amaretto stone sour at a wedding in the 90’s – ha! Those became my favorite wedding drink. I do like wine, but I rarely drink it – I need nothing to make me MORE sleepy. Oh, and since getting diagnosed with celiac no more beer. That was really OK with me, in fact I remember reading what I could no longer eat and when I saw beer I was like ‘thank God it is not wine, I can live without beer.’

    Hope you are feeling better. I think the weather is going to improve in a few days and I think getting out in the fresh air helps the claustrophobic feeling. Hope that works for you. There is a light at the end of the tunnel my friend. Stay strong.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry this happened to you. It sounds painful and scary, but perhaps now you got the message the Universe wants you to know? Pushy thing, that Universe. Last week got to me, too. I understand how you feel about this forced weird lifestyle. Enough already, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. First and foremost, I am so sorry you had this horrendous migraine again. And that you’re now struggling with anxiety and depression again. It’s understandable. I just read a short article in the latest issue of Eating Well about migraines and I immediately thought of you. I know all your well-meaning, loving friends have sent you suggestions, but I’m going to take photos of this article and send it to you (Messenger) anyway. Because you just never know if there’s something in this article you haven’t heard or tried. Don’t roll your eyes at me – I’m doing this out of love and concern. 😉

    The wine…is it the sulfites in the wine that cause your migraines? If so, there’s some sulfite-free wines out there.

    I am having a lot of anxiety over a current medical issue, too. It’s too personal to write about here, but you can PM me if you want the deets. I was talking to my cousin the other day and she told me, “You’re pretty fierce, so throw that shit in the fuck it bucket and move on!” That totally made my day and her words keep coming back to me. She’s right. I will – and you will, too – get past this.

    xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am so sorry to hear this! I have only had chronic pain for the past year (and know I have an end in sight with surgery).. I can not imagine struggling with migraines for so long!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so sorry you had to go through that. I knew it had to be really bad because you went to the ER during this pandemic. Get your fingers out of your ears and listen to the universe! Hahahaha I’m so glad you’re feeling better.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m sorry you were in so much pain. I get migraines, too, but nothing like that thankfully. What injections are you taking if you don’t mind me asking?

    I hope the anxiety and migraines give you a break in the coming weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. ❤️

      I was on Emgality for a year but my neurologist didn’t like how I was responding so she had me switch to Ajovy in February. Fingers crossed it seems to be helping more (this last migraine was an exception).

      Liked by 1 person

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