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    The author shares a trick that may work for other low-frequency migraine sufferers.

Bossy wants a Lawyer
“HEY! You din’t even read me my RIGHTS! I wanna LAWYER! Are you gonna charge me you bums, or WHUT!!”

Start: You ever had a migraine?

I had my first one at the age of 14. It was a Friday and I was in junior high. I was sitting in class when I noticed patches of my vision began to turn into blind spots. I was deeply disturbed … what is going on? Am I going blind? I told my teacher (I think it was my second period class) that I was having some kind of problem with seeing, and I went to the nurse. She had me lay down for a while in a quiet corner of the office, and the blind spots turned into patches and patterns of shimmering flat blue-green lights which tapered off … as the pain started.

You know the pain. A throbbing vice grip that cinches down behind the eyes and screams at you incessantly with paralyzing intensity.

(Hey, don’t remind us, Daniel.)


I think the nurse had an inkling of what was going on, and felt I should go home. I called my mother to get me (the school was two miles from my home) and she refused.


(My mother had issues.)

So I walked. Half way home was the first and only time I threw up from a migraine.

Now, if migraines aren’t bad enough, to add insult to injury there’s the nagging, low-grade attention-dulling headache that follows you through the next day. (I suspect these feel a little like hangovers, but I’ve never had a full-blown hangover, so I can’t compare the two.)

Treatment? Ha!

Now, I am not a chronic sufferer of migraines compared to some, and back (eh-hem) years ago doctors had no way to treat them. Over more recent years the medical community has found treatments for victims of chronic migraines, but I didn’t fall into that category.

About fifteen years ago, my mother discovered something that cut off the headache before it could get started. It worked for my dad, too, who has a very different metabolism and physiology, and I discovered it worked for me as well.

She discovered that if she can catch the symptoms of a migraine coming on as soon as she could, taking a muscle relaxer would “short-circuit” the headache. She would be left with only the “hangover” part of the migraine, but even that wouldn’t be as severe.

Available in Your Over the Counter Dairy Case

One fine day I had the “blind spot” symptoms creep up on me, and I realized I had no muscle relaxers available (these are, after all, prescription drugs — blush blush — so I was pretty much stuck).

So I thought I would try a little experiment.

You know what L-Tryptophan is? It’s an amino acid that is produced in turkey when it’s cooked and in milk when you heat it up. I used to take L-Tryptophan in supplement form before it was removed from the market in the 1980’s. (It’s back now — the culprit was a specific manufacturer.) The common wisdom at the time was that L-Tryptophan is what makes you sleepy when you consume either of these things, though a quick search on the subject through the internet suggests the reality of it is more complex.

Taking the common wisdom for granted, I made the assumption warm milk could be used as a muscle relaxer, and so I quaffed about a quart of warm milk as quickly as I could.

It worked. Not only did it work, but the “hangover” effect did not seem to be as severe as it had been with the pharmaceutical muscle relaxers.

Caveats, Caveats

Now, I’m not going to suggest this will work for everyone. As I said above, my mother had a very different physiology than my father, but the muscle relaxer method worked for both of them. It’s possible the warm milk thing wouldn’t work for either of them, but it does work for me. Also, I am not a chronic sufferer of this malady, and I doubt this would be an effective treatment there.

To make this abundantly clear, I discourage using prescription muscle relaxers to do this without a doctor’s guidance. (I am making the assumption, of course, the doctor will actually listen to you … otherwise, you’re out of luck.)

(I tell you, it’s almost as hard as finding a good auto mechanic.)

If you want to try this (see my disclaimer*), here’s what to do:

  • You need at least a quart of at least two percent milk. I suspect that there is something in or about the fat content that does the trick, so I always use two percent fat content or higher.
  • Heat it up to as hot as you can take it without burning your mouth.
  • Drink it as quickly as you can manage it.
  • The sooner you catch the symptoms, the better. However, one day I couldn’t get to any warm milk for over a half an hour after the onset of the symptoms, and I was concerned the headache was too far advanced for the warm milk to do any good. It took a while, but it did.

As for the physiological reason this works for me, I frankly haven’t got a clue. I have to admit I’m not current on the mechanism for migraines, but even if I were, it wouldn’t change that it does work for me. (Though, next time I’m with a doctor and thinking about it, I’ll ask and see what he or she has to say.)

If you’re an occasional migraine sufferer like me, I hope this brings relief to you, too.

I’m thankful I stumbled across this remedy, a remedy that turned out to be so simple and so effective for me.

And, of course, I am thankful for the cows … that are outstanding in their field.

• • •


* For those clowns out there (yes, clowns) who would want to somehow hold me responsible for this “warm milk method” not working:

The author is not a medical doctor and makes no claim of medical knowledge. The author furthermore makes no claim of guarantee of the delivery of said relief of headache with the use of the methodology suggested, and assumes no profit in the success or liability in the failure of the methodology to deliver same. (Nor do the cows, moo moo moo.) The use of the aforementioned methodology suggested is at the sole discretion of the user.

Use of said methodology by those who are lactose intolerant is discouraged, unless the user welcomes the company of his or her toilet.


Copyright © 2006-2009, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.

This article is revised from a previous version (no longer available)
which was published on this site, October 18, 2006.


    A reflection on Love, Family, closure, and the loose ends that Life can leave untied.

Marilyn, Bogie, and Lauren

Start: Date night.

My wife fresh from the salon, dolled up, sporting her red ensemble. A dinner at the steakhouse at a casino close to our home, the best restaurant in the house.

The restaurant had been recently given a subtle makeover and some new touches stood out. We were seated at a booth with a striking black and white celebrity photograph from the ’50’s: Lauren Bacall, Arthur Miller, a man turned away from the camera who may or may not have been Peter Lawford, and in the center, Marilyn Monroe.

My wife was radiant, and felt suitably indulged. The salad and soup course were very good, and the entrees themselves were excellent. Our conversation became more sparse as we enjoyed meals so large that half of them both would go home in a box. Paradoxically I was suddenly struck with a touch of emptiness.

I was here with my wife of nearly sixteen years, but otherwise, we were alone.

I twisted around to take in the celebrities in the photo over us again — Marilyn seemed openly, truly happy, laughing a laugh without a trace of self-consciousness that surprised me in how much it resembled my mother’s.

I found myself thinking about the people who weren’t here, who would be pleased our marriage had been as successful as it had, people I would be proud to show this to. My father’s mother, who lived to ninety, my mother’s sister, my parents. All passed, all taken.

This was not a great surprise with my mother — she had been dealing with several chronic illnesses that finally took their toll and claimed her just as she was entering her sixth decade. My father’s passing though, was a surprise to everyone. We had fully expected him to make it into his eighties or further, but was only in his seventies when an aneurism quickly took him.

Death had not just taken most of the older generations of my family, but had cheated me of something else. It had cheated me of finding common ground with a grandmother who never really understood me. It had cheated me out of developing an equitable relationship with my parents, a relationship where the buried and fossilized issues of my childhood and youth could be unearthed and laid bare under the glaring sunlight of Truth. To finally be scattered by a healing wind of absolution, to leave fertile soil where trust and an uncompromised love could finally, authentically be sown and nurtured.

A moment of quiet, rueful grief, a moment of mourning for the bonds of love that never came to be.

No, not in this lifetime.

And yet … and yet. The words of Gibran came back to me: You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore. You shall be together when white wings of death scatter your days. Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

Much later at home that evening I discovered these were Gibran’s words on marriage. And, yes, every family is a marriage, every family bound to each other through Love, Regret, Guilt, Shame, or any other shackle you care to imagine.

This is a certainty to me: the relationships persist, even after death.

Someday, perhaps, in some lifetime, some different existence, the wounds of this one might be finally healed.

MarilynMindful of the black and white photo of Marilyn and her attending celebrities, standing in the spotlight, center stage before the whole world — a woman who died a troubled death alone and broken — we left the restaurant and made our way home.

Perhaps, someday, her wounds would be healed as well.

For now, though, for my wife and myself, there was love enough.

I could close this with some solemn, soothing words on the people who aren’t here in your life, because you must have them.

I could close this with some exposition on the need to find resolution in relationships, the importance of authenticity, of honesty with self and others, of God’s omniscience and Infinite Love for us despite all He/She/It clearly sees.

But I won’t.


Copyright © 2009, by Daniel Brenton. All Rights Reserved.