HAWMC 2013 – Day 8: The Demyelinators are Langoliers


When I think of what’s happened to my body, resulting in a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, I think of tiny little creatures gnawing away at the myelin sheath that protects the nerves in my brain.

Something like these guys.

langoliers_hungry

Omnomnom… eating all that tasty myelin.

the_langoliers_1

Behold: The Demyelinator

Great miniseries by the way.

As part of WEGO Health’s third Health Activist’s Writer’s Month Challenge, I am challenging myself to write 30 posts in 30 days using prompts provided for the event. Wish me luck, or join me!

 

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HAWMC 2013 – Day 4: Sharing Resources for Natural Treatment


Today, I added a Resources page that includes links to the articles, blogs, books, and communities I have relied on over the past three years. Not all the links are about natural treatment, but were helpful to me in one way or another and the advice and information in some contradict with one another. Much like using pharmaceuticals as a disease modifying therapy, where some people try many different drugs until they find the one(s) that work for them, treating your condition with nutrition and lifestyle will also be custom tailored to you, your body, and way of living.

Spend time reading and watching everything you can and start making changes that make sense for you. If you know you are lactose intolerant, cut dairy completely out of your diet. If you really don’t enjoy running for exercise, stop running and start moving in a way you enjoy. Etc., etc., etc. Soon enough your treatment plan will begin to take shape and you will start feeling better.

Please share any additional resources for natural treatment that have been helpful for you. I don’t have much time for Internet research these days and would love to learn about what else is available.

As part of WEGO Health’s third Health Activist’s Writer’s Month Challenge, I am challenging myself to write 30 posts in 30 days using prompts provided for the event. Wish me luck, or join me!

Pulling My Head Out of the Sand and Coming Out of the Closet, In One Fell Swoop


 

I think I’ve finally arrived at the acceptance and getting on with it phase of what one goes through when learning they have a non life threatening disease or chronic illness. It took one year and four months to get here, but I have arrived.

Basically, it went something like this:

I’m living my life, albeit feeling as if I’m trudging through mud for some time, and one day my eyesight goes all wonky. The wonkiness persists for a few days and when there’s no sign of it letting up, my husband and I go to urgent care where my blood is taken. Results indicate I’m perfectly healthy. But my eyes tell me otherwise. I go to the eye doctor, where everything appears to be fine. But they aren’t! We enter the closet. Yeah, I think we entered together. Internet searches galore, and husband mentions what I’m experiencing to a colleague who tells him about someone they know who has Multiple Sclerosis (MS). We shut that closet door.

Once we suspect I might have MS, we look for neurologists with immediate openings in their schedules. But first, I must get a referral from my primary care physician. I don’t have one. My employer switched health care providers a few years ago and I never bothered to find one. So the scramble to find an available PCP begins. We find one, book an appointment, and at said appointment my blessed husband pushes for that referral so we don’t waste any time with further testing. An appointment with an available neurologist is made and within a week’s time I have an MRI  and spinal tap. A week after the spinal tap, we receive my diagnosis of MS… a month after my eyes went wonky.

I am fully aware of how very lucky I was to receive my diagnosis so quickly, and after experiencing my first relapse. I am so very thankful for this. I can’t imagine how torturous it is for those who experience relapse after relapse without a diagnosis. In all honesty, if it hadn’t been for my husband, I would have gone along with the further testing the PCP wanted. More likely in an attempt to delay the inevitable diagnosis.

It truly is a gift to know what is “wrong” with you. But as is said (in cartoon PSAs?), knowing is half the battle. In this case, the other half is figuring out what to do with that knowledge.

So, let’s see. I’m still in that closet. The door is locked and I’m communicating with the outside world through the walls of my closet. I’ve decided to treat my MS naturally and I’m really excited about what I’m learning. I want to share it with the world. So I fluff my feathers and start a blog. It’s going to be great! I’ll document everything I learn and help others newly diagnosed with MS and interested in treating it naturally. But some time passes and I’m not sure I like the idea of relegating myself to MS in that way. There’s more to me than MS. I don’t want to be defined, judged, and/or perceived by others in the light of MS. So I’ll just bury my head in the sand floor of my closet here, continue treating my MS naturally, and be angry that others might be judging me as a diseased person. People like boxing others up and slapping labels on them. I didn’t want anyone applying the diseased label to me.

Head. In. The. Sand.

That’s called denial. I could pretty it up however I wanted by telling myself things like, “I’m just a person who happens to have MS.” A true statement indeed, but in a roundabout way it becomes a belief system entrenched in denial. Especially to an MS newb. I’m new to this for goodness sake! I can’t yet own that statement in the right way.

Enter A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, by Eckhart Tolle.  I’m really quite appreciative of what this book did for me. It reminded me that I can’t do a damn thing about other people. They will box me up, put a label on my box, and shove me on a shelf in their mental craziness. No matter what. They did it before I was diagnosed with MS, and they will continue to do so. I’m sure I was already in a box on their shelves. My diagnosis provided them with the opportunity to create another pretty label and put it on my box.

It can be hard to resist a pretty label.

Fast Forward One Year

To now. All that above the headline was drafted in July 2011.

Hindsight is truly 20/20. Reading the post now is funny to me… I was putting a label on myself! The closet was a nice big giant box I stepped into, and apparently shut the lid on myself. Like I said, pretty labels are hard to resist.

I’ve chosen to go ahead and publish this year-old draft because I think it’s part of the process some of us may go through when adjusting to our new reality. And the part about labels is important. And then the new part about applying labels to yourself is even more important. To hell with people who box you up, slap on a few labels, and then put you on a shelf. The real problem is when you do it to yourself, limiting potential options and solutions, closing doors you didn’t even know were open!

Don’t do that to yourself.

The MS label is a limitation. If you don’t look beyond it, your options for treatment will be limited to the ones your doctor provides. MS is an auto-immune disease. Auto-immunity is caused by chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is caused by a myriad of things, one of which is diet. Which of these myriad of things apply to you and what can you do about it?

You are now free to begin a wonderful journey of learning and discovery as you choose how to treat yourself.

 

Why I Decided to Treat My Multiple Sclerosis Naturally


When my husband and I began to suspect I might have multiple sclerosis, we spent a lot of time trying to learn how this could have happened. What variables in my body combined to make MS possible for me? Kinda like an equation, y’know? (X + Y) – (A x B) / Z = MS

This line of questioning led us to approach our “investigation” from the perspective of autoimmunity, not MS. I could have an autoimmune disease named multiple sclerosis. We learned that I could manage my autoimmune disease, of which there are many, by changing the way I eat. I wouldn’t have to stab myself and inject my body with manmade concoctions… isn’t that what I have been doing with processed foods anyhow? Plus, the side effects were much better than any of those caused by the pharmaceuticals! (I’ve lost 15 pounds this year) We already had The Paleo Diet book, so I began reading it and it made a lot of sense to me. The premise being that our bodies have not evolved as fast as our food supply has changed – we just can’t process these processed foods and are making ourselves sick with what we eat.

At my spinal tap appointment, the neuro gave us 3 different binders on 3 different drug options. I knew then that if the test results were positive, I would pursue a natural treatment. As we left, with 3 binders stacked in my arms, I knew I wouldn’t be opening any of them.

Since then, I have read The Anti-Inflammation Diet & Recipe Book (Black), The MS Diet Book (Swank), and Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis (Jelinek). I also watched the 7-part series on YouTube, The Paleo Diet and Multiple Sclerosis. It’s a recording of Dr. Loren Cordain, the author of the The Paleo Diet, giving a presentation sponsored by Direct-MS.

In the past 8 months since my diagnosis, I’ve gone back and forth trying to decide which diet to follow. The best I felt was when I was caffeine/dairy/gluten free for a few weeks. It really truly was the best I’ve felt in years… and I was just diagnosed this year. I should have stuck with that, but reading Swank’s book convinced me I could do gluten. Then Jelinek’s book arrived, and his advocacy for no meat at all made me throw my hands up in the air! If I combined all these diet recommendations, all I could eat were fruits and vegetables.

Thankfully, this weekend I came across an article by Dr. Mark Hyman* which led me to his website and the “7 Keys to UltraWellness.” Based on what I read there, I returned full circle to what I had learned about The Paleo Diet. And you know what was really fascinating? The bit about our mitochondria and energy (Lesson 6). Now I totally want to order Minding my Mitochondria by Terry Wahls!

As my early research about MS led me to autoimmunity, so has my research on how to naturally treat my MS. It’s really a new way of thinking about how we take care of ourselves… PREVENTION by way of putting good things into our bodies. Doesn’t it make perfect sense?

This website explains it all so very well. Much better than I ever could. You can start by choosing one of the Lessons that interests you, and once on the site, can explore even further.

7 Keys to UltraWellness

•    Introduction: My Philosophy of UltraWellness
•    Lesson 1: Environmental Inputs
•    Lesson 2: Inflammation and Immune Balance
•    Lesson 3: Hormones and Neurotransmitters
•    Lesson 4: Gut & Digestive Health
•    Lesson 5: Detoxification
•    Lesson 6: Energy, Mitochondria & Oxidative Stress
•    Lesson 7: The Mind/Body and Body/Mind Effect

* Please know that performing a Google search for Dr. Hyman will return results where he is referenced as a “quack.” These are primarily in reference to either his view on mercury and its relation to autism or the fact that he is selling products. Please also understand that he is an advocate for “functional medicine,” a very serious threat to conventional medicine and Big Pharma. There will most certainly be opposition to new approaches! Also know that he does sell products on his website. Don’t buy them! Read the information on the site and determine what makes sense to you and what you can apply to your own personal health plan.