Good-bye chocolate. :( It’s been great… kind of

Shot down... again! Augh!
Shot down… again! Augh!

This is terrible. I have to stop eating chocolate. My go-to for those times when I need a pick-me-up and I want to avoid coffee, has now officially failed to serve its purpose.

I’ve had a steady headache, now, for many weeks. And after taking a close look at my past several months of diet and exercise patterns, I found a number of things that I started doing over the holidays, which probably contributed to the headaches.

First of all, I started eating more candy after Halloween. We don’t get trick-or-treaters at our house, but we bought candy anyway, partly to take to other events we were attending. I didn’t overdo it too terribly — I had a couple of those little Hershey’s mini candy bars during the day, and then again in the evening when I got home from work.

Then I ate like crazy from Thanksgiving, on. It wasn’t like I binged on cookies and cakes and junk food (although I had a lot more pie than was good for me). I was good about it, overall, steering clear of the junk food and Christmas cookies. But I did have two full Thanksgiving dinners, with a ton of carbs, and lots of sweets, and more coffee than I was used to (I had to keep going, after all). And again, the chocolate candy became a staple at our house, with a bowl in the living room being almost constantly filled… being emptied… then filling up again.

Then, over Christmas, I continued to eat chocolate. Not bingeing, but a steady flow — a couple of pieces (or 3 or 4) in the early afternoon, a couple (or 3 or 4) later on, then another couple (or 3 or 4) in the evening while I was making dinner. Just to keep going. I didn’t want to drink more coffee, because my headaches have been so much better since I cut down drastically to 1/2 cup in the morning and 1/2 cup in the afternoon.

Christmas was a sleepy time, and I started drinking regular black tea again. Red Rose is my favorite. Especially with a lot of honey and some butter. Just the thing to pick me up.

But then the headaches started again. And a lot of things started getting worse, too. My balance has been off. The ringing in my ears… deafening at times. Light and noise sensitivity… much worse, lately. And my ability to attend to things happening around me really tailed off during the week between Christmas and New Years. I started to snap at my spouse. Freak out over little things. Get aggressive and hostile, like before. Not good. And a lot of the progress we’ve made over the months before, really suffered.

I got better, behaviorally, after I went back to work with my regular hours. But the migraines continued. Along with them… Nausea. Tingling and tics on the left side of my face. My left eye weeping. The tremor in my right thumb.

So, last week I decided to get OFF the caffeine and chocolate completely. I just stopped eating chocolate for a few days. I stopped drinking the tea and sneaking extra coffee when I felt a little low. I started keeping my energy up by eating healthy snacks — coconut milk yogurt, fruit, nuts, and gluten-free stuff. And I drank more water.

At first, I didn’t feel much difference. But after a couple of days, the migraine really subsided, to the point where it was … gone! As long as I kept my blood sugar up and drank my water, I was in a good place.

Then, last week, there was a lot going on, and I “fell off the wagon”, so to speak. I didn’t go back to the tea and excessive chocolate, but I started having extra pieces of chocolate in the afternoon. And when I was short on sleep, I had some extra coffee in the afternoon.

And I paid for it. At first, I didn’t feel anything. I actually felt great, to be eating chocolate again. And I was actually awake, thanks to the extra coffee.

But then the headaches returned. And with them the nausea, the facial ticks and tingling, the tears in my left eye, and an overall sense of sh*ttiness that I’d thought I was past.

So, again, I’ve cut out the afternoon coffee and all chocolate — and just when I’d stocked up on “healthy” dark chocolate with almonds and sea salt… Augh! I didn’t see changes right away — I only just stopped it, in the past day or two (I can’t remember exactly when), but I can tell a difference. I don’t have as much of a sick headache. I have a bit of one, but when I drink my water and keep my blood sugar up, and I don’t have the chocolate that is calling to me from the cupboard, I don’t have the same level of pain as I did before.

Plus, I need to keep my schedule steady. I find that if I laze around, I feel worse. I really do. And if I sleep too long on my naps, when I wake up, I’m in ragged shape and tend to snap out at my spouse, which is never good. I am groggy and confused, which makes them anxious, and our arguments escalate very quickly.

Like I said – not good.

So, there it is. As much as I love chocolate and have happily used it as a substitute for coffee, it’s still got caffeine in it — as well as other substances which I’m told contribute to migraine. None of this is good for a person like me, so it’s good-bye to chocolate.

And black tea.

And that afternoon coffee.

Fortunately, I still have my coconut milk yogurt, fruit, and nuts to keep me going and keep my energy and blood sugar levels up. I also keep an eye on my heart rate, and when it (and my blood pressure) rise to an intense level over events happening around me, I lower it with the system I devised over the years. That’s also an important consideration — and during the holiday blow-ups and meltdowns, my HR and BP was definitely elevated.

Enough of that, already. Enough.

So, I’m on the mend. The headache is much less than before, and I’m feeling more functional than last weekend, for sure. It does make me feel better, to have identified what the heck causes the misery. It lets me do something about… which I do.

As always… Onward!

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Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

7 thoughts on “Good-bye chocolate. :( It’s been great… kind of”

  1. My doctors mandated a few weeks ago that all caffeine and candies go. I’m still in the early stages of TBI Recovery (as you know) and my migraines have been off the charts. It was brutal at first. My neurologist was nice enough to give me a steroid treatment for the headaches from withdrawal, but it was still not pleasant. Once I made it to the other side I felt so much better. My memory is still not great, but from the entries I have put in my migraine notebook, they seem to be improving.

    I’m also on a blood thinner though and I just got the approval for Botox for my neck pain and the migraines.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for that reminder. In case it helps, I have been helped with the headaches by using magnesium and B vitamins daily. It also helped my headaches, believe it or not, when I had a good neuropsychologist making sense of things, creating a context and a structure! Hope it keeps getting better.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good luck with that. I can’t imagine the steroids were very pleasant. I could never do it – I already have anger and impulse control issues that get worse when I’m not feeling well. And it’s intolerable when I’m on any kind of steroid. I’ve had to remind doctors that I just can’t do them, because they keep suggesting them.

    What works for me with my migraines, is keeping my heart rate and blood pressure steady and keeping my blood sugar steady. Also, making sure I drink plenty of water. What I’ve been told – and learned on my own – is that migraine results from pain sensors in the brain turning on, and then staying on. So, if I can keep those sensors from going on, in the first place, then I’m ahead of the game.

    I also have been working on heading these things off at the pass – when I feel a headache coming on, I step away (if I can) and get my breathing steady.

    As for the other treatments, just be aware that if you’re using a lot of meds to control your issues, your system may not “learn” to handle them, itself. It’s great to have an injection or pill to solve an issue for you in the moment… and it’s also great to train your system to handle things on its own.

    Just a thought.

    Glad to hear you’re doing better – these things take time, especially with the brain. Onward!

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  4. Thanks for writing. I take my B-complex each morning, but I have been skimping on the magensium. I have some cal-mag tablets that I have been planning to take with dinner, since it’s supposed to help with relaxing and getting to sleep. But I’ve been forgetting. I need to make a note for myself. It’s important. And yes, having someone who helps you make sense of things is definitely a help. I wish we all had that available to us on a reliable basis. Be well!

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  5. I hope the headaches stay generally gone – sucks to give up chocolate… and coffee. 😦 Those were migraine triggers for my grandmother; I am fortunate that I don’t tend to have migraines often (my ‘injury headaches’ feel a bit different than that, and most commonly triggered by fatigue at this point).

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  6. Thanks – yeah, the migraines have subsided, thank heavens. I’m back to the place where I can sense one coming on along with increased pulse and blood pressure, so I do my breathing, and things level out. Have a bit of pain in the background, but it’s nothing like it’s been for the past weeks.

    Thanks again for your thoughts.

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  7. Thanks – yeah, the migraines have subsided, thank heavens. I’m back to the place where I can sense one coming on along with increased pulse and blood pressure, so I do my breathing, and things level out. Have a bit of pain in the background, but it’s nothing like it’s been for the past weeks.

    Thanks again for your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

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