Now I feel I have a licence to talk. Its officially one year since NO MAJOR RELAPSE. A huge marker for me. I remember saying to a lot of people that when I got here, I would feel braver and stronger. And I do.
There have been a million different factors that have contributed, and forgive me if I keep things positive here. Of course the dark times have been pretty freaking dark…but today I’m going to share how I have come through my first year post-diagnosis feeling healthier and happy (most of the time ;-)) and give my tips for overcoming MS (at best) and feeling in control of your life (at least; both of which some research tells us can make as much difference as drug treatment)
1) Food: change your diet. Swanks work which started in the 1940’s pioneered dietary change to manage and overcome MS. When you see the evidence gathered prospectively over 50 years you will be convinced. Swank concluded that if people with MS can rigorously follow a low saturated fat diet, with no more than 10-15 grams of fat per day, they can expect to “survive and be ambulant and otherwise normal to an advanced age”. In a nutshell – don’t eat dairy, meat, processed food. Eat lots of fish (anti-inflammatory), vegetables, fruits and superfoods like kale, spinach, ginger, turmeric. Avoid gluten. Make the change slowly over a month and make sure you get enough protein (lentils, beans etc) & calcium. Do not take a multi-vit. After a year on the new diet my friends, family & colleagues are (I kid you not) really amazed by how well I look. My eyes have got their sparkle back ;-)
2) Vitamin D: get your vitamin D level tested. Studies show that people with MS should keep their Vitamin D at around 150nmol/L (check the measure differs between US, UK & Aus). Take a Vitamin D supplement, and bear in the mind that government recommended levels are way too low, even for the general population. Do your research and find good advice at wwww.overcomingmultiplesclerosis.org, especially if you have children who you may want to supplement too as a preventative measure. It is not uncommon to hear people with MS talk about how their Neurologist told them they give Vitamin D supplements to their own children…
3) Exercise: be it moderate, minimal or most exhausting, find your thing. Depending on the level of your difficulties or fitness. Try and exercise everyday, even if that is simply the big hill on the school run, taking the stairs at work or regular swim or gym with friends, signing up to the Breast Cancer 5K. The stronger you are to fight this, the better. It has the added bonus of a great buzz when your release all those feel good hormones, not to mention when your body starts to look pretty toned.
4) Do yoga: This will help you in a multitude of ways. Yogi science approaches mind and body as one. Asanas & postures work specific parts of the body to relax and calm them, activating your vital organs with fresh blood to the brain. Yoga stems feelings of pain, fatigue, despair & makes you more agile. Calmer. Chances are you will join a group of like-minded people which in itself brings benefits and supports you in the changes you are making. It helps you meditate…
5) Meditate: Start small. If you have a buzzy mind (like me) try and introduce small amounts of stillness in your day. Download the mindfulness Bell App on your phone (yes, really). (Better still turn your phone off). It will chime at intervals and help you stop, take a moment, focus on what you are doing, with who. Buy a meditation CD and listen to it as often as you can. If you find it hard seek support online, or sign up to a meditation course like those offered at http://www.bristol-buddhist-centre.org. Read about Mindfulness & practice it. At minimum keep a journal of your feelings. Write a blog…
6) Talk to like minded people: You need to do this in your own time. Email that friend that *your friend* told you about (“she’s got MS too”) if you want. Chat on a forum at the MS Society, or on http://www.shift.ms which is a great website for young MSers to meet and share experiences. Ladies, please explore Kim Austin’s amazing website http://www.msdietforwomen.com and I dare you not be impressed and motivated. Draw on the experiences of others and be inspired by people like Polly Noble who has twice been diagnosed with Cancer but is FIERCE in the face of it, responding with a Raw diet and determination to live. See her at http://www.pollynoble.com.
7) Decide: Make a decision to be well. Do whatever you can to be well. And live it as much as you can.
If you are someone, or know someone who might find this helpful. Please share it. Thanks for reading.