Well, I guess that’s only true if I say it is, but goshdarnit, I do!
Lunch today is 3 slices of Olympic Provisions Mortadella (yes, it has dextrose… don’t judge me), sliced havarti cheese, and half an avocado. Proteins! Fats! Hooray!
Yesterday was…. challenging.
Most of you know that I teach motorcycle safety classes on many weekends. I taught one on Saturday, and it was great! By the end of the class, I was starting to feel a little headachey. Given that I’ve been working hard in the direct sun for 5 hours in 90 degree heat, I didn’t really think much of it. I’d taken in well over a gallon of water over the day so I knew I’d remained sufficiently hydrated. I figured I’d just ‘overdone it’ a bit. By the time I got home, the headache was getting worse. I am historically prone to tension headaches, so while the timing was a little off from what I was used to, I again just shrugged it off. I took some tylenol at bedtime because it was still getting incrementally worse.
It wasn’t until 5 AM the next morning that I started to worry, because my head hurt unlike any headache I’d ever had. Right over my left temple, if felt, quite literally, as though someone were hitting me with a rock. Over, and over, and over. After an hour of trying to fall back asleep, I gave up and moved to the couch. My head was not getting better, and when I laid down, it got even worse. I can honestly say that I had never in my life experienced a headache that painful. If this is was a migraine feels like, then you regular sufferers have a renewed sympathy from me! I was starting to get scared that I might be experiencing some kind of trauma. Eventually, I threw up. Remarkably, within minutes, the headache was nearly gone! There was still some residual ache left over, but nothing that tylenol couldn’t handle.
By this time, Diana had already scheduled me in at the local ZoomCare, so a couple hours later, I was getting poked and prodded by an NP as he attempted to ascertain whether there had actually been any kind of neurological injury. Eventually, he was satisfied that I was not suffering from a stroke or aneurysm, though he strongly encouraged me to head to the ER for some imaging.
By this time it was nearly 10 AM. I hadn’t eaten breakfast and I was getting jittery, and I knew that I needed to spend the day focusing not necessarily on long term stuff, but more on getting my blood sugar re-balanced, keeping some food and water down, and resting.
And so it came to pass that on the way home (we declined the invitation to visit the ER), we stopped at the local convenience store to get some ginger ale. I set up on the couch while Diana scrambled up some eggs and I sipped on ginger ale with bitters.
In this way, Sunday became a day of resting on the couch, eating almost anything that sounded good (and was in the house), and football. Self-care at its most ‘Murican.
In debriefing the episode with Diana, I think the thing that was most interesting about the whole experience was that somehow vomiting miraculously cured my headache. I wasn’t feeling particularly nauseous before hand, nor did my gut feel particularly upset.
This concept of a gut-brain connection will come as no surprise to anyone reading this blog. The vagus nerve and its role as a connector between the gut and the brain results in a much more symbiotic relationship between the two than allopathic medicine is generally willing to accept (though we’ve definitely been seeing some movement in this regard). And it raises an interesting question: Maybe my headache wasn’t really a headache, per se. It would trivialize my experience to say that it was just a tummyache gone awry, but perhaps that works, as an oversimplified explanation of what I went through. It had been a stressful week at work, followed by a long day of hard, hot, sweaty work…. maybe it was enough to push my already cranky gut into overdrive, and maybe that’s why my head was so painful.
What are your thoughts? How do you see the relationship between gut and brain playing out in your own experience? Can our ‘second brain‘ so severely impact our first brain?