Whew, it’s been a rough week. On Monday, I went to pick up groceries, at Senior Hour (when did I become a “senior”?), and on the way, I remembered I’d forgotten something on the order. I dashed quickly into the store, treating myself to a Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino and a fresh doughnut from the grocery store’s bakery. Since April 2018, starting with a 21-month migraine and continuing with the pandemic, I haven’t treated myself to anything from bakeries or restaurants, preferring to make everything myself. Since I’d eaten those doughnuts before and never had a problem, I had the coffee and the doughnut as soon as I got home.
In the middle of eating, I was slammed with such a fierce pain in my head that I thought I was having a stroke or an aneurysm. When I stood up, I almost fell down, I was so unsteady. And just like that, I had a severe hemiplegic migraine attack.
I know of only one food ingredient that triggers a migraine for me so quickly: maltodextrin (modified food starch). I called the bakery and asked them if they’d changed their ingredients. “Not recently,” they told me. I asked them to check the ingredients for maltodextrin. To my horror, one of the final ingredients, never present before, was “traces of maltodextrin.”
The young man who answered the phone was very distressed, saying that he didn’t know maltodextrin triggered migraine attacks. “We have the top 8 allergy triggers listed,” he said. “But I’m adding maltodextrin to that list.” I told him to be sure to add “honey” to the list since, as a person severely allergic to bees, honey is a huge – and dangerous – allergen. “Honey?” he said. “From bees?” Yes, Virginia, honey from bees. He added it to the list and noted also that allergens can trigger migraine attacks in people with that disorder.
I spent this past week flat on my back in bed with a severe hemiplegic migraine. Fortunately, I had no seizure. I also learned that I cannot eat some of the things I previously enjoyed, like the doughnuts from this particular bakery. The pandemic changed many things in our lives, including, apparently, the ingredients that some major bakeries put in their products.
I was still able to read sometimes on my iPad, since I can adjust the font size and read without my glasses, but mostly I listened to an audiobook this week. Here’s what I’ve been reading.