In 2012, when I was diagnosed with MS I was devastated and determined. Determined to do all I could to halt the progression of this potentially horrendous disease. Determined to be ‘benign’.
Changing my diet and the way I lived my life enabled me to do this. I could ‘watch and wait’ or I could do something. Finding ‘Overcoming MS’ and switching to a plant-based diet was the only option I found that gave me any hope. My head strong nature and skills at finding the right information were my tools. Everything I read about changing my diet and lifestyle made logical, intuitive sense. Nothing I read could put me off.
A plant-based diet rich in omega 3 helps the body sustain an alkali balance which is ant-inflammatory. Taking vitamin D supplements is increasingly becoming a mainstream recommendation for all MS patients. Doing regular exercise and keeping saturated fat intake low is increasingly the diet of choice for everyone. These were the basic building blocks. Nothing crazy.
Lifestyle changes are as big a deal as you consider them to be. And as easy as the support you have around you. I have always said that for me, it was a choice between pizza and a wheel chair – and I never really had to think too hard about that.
Have I ever slipped ‘off the wagon’? Sure.
Have I ever doubted the validity of what I was doing. Never.
Did I receive any active support, encouragement or validation for the approach I was taking from mainstream medicine. None.
Still, when I slid into the MRI scanner at the tail end of last year I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about what the results would be. It was almost 5 years on and the stakes could be potentially a great deal higher.
My new neurologist had pragmatically and supportively talked through options with me. If the scan showed that I had experienced progression, all be it with very few symptoms, perhaps it was time to consider treatment. He was running a trial.. Lets wait and see what the scan shows we agreed. And the scan said:
In comparison to the previous imaging of 2012 things appear to be stable with no obvious new T2 lesion… There are no contrasting lesions. Overall there is no evidence of ongoing active disease.
I knew that the actions I had taken had changed the course of my MS. My invisible illness, which neurology told me was attacking me even when I was not experiencing symptoms – well, it hadn’t been. At all. Every action has a consequence and I was living proof that some of us are able to stop MS in its tracks by changing the way we live. The evidence is growing year on year that the changes I have made can improve symptoms of MS and promote general wellbeing (see the HOLISM studies: https://overcomingms.org/holism-study/ ). For some people they are life changing. For others they slow things down.
So, do I believe there is a viral component that underlies MS? Yes – I believe there is.
Do I think some people are predisposed to MS? Yes, I do.
Do I think lifestyle factors play a part in both it’s development, and recovery? Yes I really do.
Did I change the course of my illness by changing my life. Of course I did.
Change affects change. Food. Stress. Choices. By changing one thing you automatically change others. Taking a logical, sensible approach to my illness changed the course of the disease to a greater or lesser degree.
Having the resources and the determination to educate myself has protected me. Now I want the information that I had to be available to everyone who has been diagnosed with MS. I’m devastated it’s not, and I am determined that it will be. If you can help me with this, please do get in touch.