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Nothing has changed…yet everything has changed

When the email popped into my inbox, advertising an Overcoming MS (OMS) retreat to be held in Europe led by Professor George Jelinek, I replied immediately. Two years ago, it was a dark time in the days and sleepless nights after I received the results of an MRI test, which were suggestive of an MS diagnosis. One book changed all of this: Overcoming MS: An Evidence-Based guide to Recovery. Knowing that recovery was possible and that numerous people had bucked the downward descent of this insidious diseases was an emancipating moment. An opportunity to thank the person responsible for restoring hope to our family, face-to-face, was something I could not pass by. In short, we owed him everything.

It has now been just over a week since I have returned from what can only be described as a life changing trip. The week long retreat was set In Propstei St. Gerold, a monastery in Austria close to the borders of Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

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I had frequently heard that the OMS retreats are special experiences, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how impactful it would be. Going into the retreat I was expecting a peaceful and relaxing break punctured with a sprinkling of informative lifestyle messages to further reinforce the messages laid out in Prof. Jelenik’s book. The reality was far from this.

Aside from the food, which I will wax lyrical on shortly, it was simply refreshing to be among c.40 like minded individuals from around the globe,  who had all walked similar paths in having MS enter into their lives. The way people were prepared to share their stories and be there to listen without judgement, provided both a source of support and rejuvenation.

Everything about the location was conducive to healing, from the serenity of the landscape, to the marvellous food on the table. Every meal and break time were completely OMS friendly and in parts harvested fresh from the garden vegetable patch. For the first time in over two years, I did not have to anxiously scan menus checking whether something was OMS compliant. In this time and place we were all equal, a true inclusive dining experience. A large part of the food input was provided by Jack and Silvia McNulty who also provided a session in cooking and a heap of recipes to try out at home. Their website laughinglemon.ch (twitter @laughinglemon) is a treasure trove of further meal ideas.

Dr Sandra Neate, George’s wife, was also there to help facilitate the course and amongst other things provided an excellent insight into diet and the impact of food in the body. To my relief, Bonsoy milk (froths soooo well for cappuccinos and lattes!),Marks and Spencer’s veggie gummy sweets and Nakd bars where all confirmed as OMS compliant 🙂

Also facilitating were Paul and Maia Benson who led an exploration of meditation and the mind/body connection. They both seemed to have been gifted with a surgeon’s precision for filleting into the body and extracting emotions and the scar tissue of tensions that had been buried within for years.

Although being familiar with the OMS lifestyle before the retreat I found there was much to takeaway.

From a practical level, I had been having problems with my copaxone injections which I have been administering via an autoinject device. George showed me how to inject with just the syringe and although this method is harder for a needle-phob, it is actually less painful and leaves fewer lumps than the autoinject unit. I’m still not at the stage where I can impale myself with the needle, but I have a loving wife who is more than happy to oblige!

Positivity and reinforcement oozed around the group providing a plethora of healing energy and hopefully the bonds formed will be lasting ones.

The first day after returning from Austria, I went out for lunch with friends in a mainstream restaurant and was immediately reminded of what a luxury the retreat had been at not having to worry or navigate a menu finding the one dish that was compatible with a healing healthy lifestyle.

The hardest question to answer from friends and family on returning was “How was Austria?” The whole experience was so intense – (perhaps requiring a holiday just to reflect on all that had happened!) I found it difficult to express in words how the trip was. One of George’s final comments was that when you return home it will be as though you have changed but the world you had left would be exactly the same… and so it was, nothing has changed… yet everything has changed.

Sharing my experience, a friend offered an analogy which seemed to me quite fitting. It is in some ways comparable to a bereavement, where the world offers their sympathies at the time but then relatively quickly moves on leaving those close effected to shoulder the impact alone. Whilst I had not suffered a loss on this retreat I felt I had left a lot of baggage behind and had returned with reaffirmed belief in the benefits of the OMS lifestyle and a new sense of belonging with the people I feel privileged to have spent the week with.

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DVLA, Karma & the Keystone Cops

One of the items on someone’s checklist in the UK after getting a diagnosis of MS is to notify the DVLA. For those who are unfamiliar with this the DVLA is the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency whose purpose is to issue driving licenses, demands for road tax payments etc from behind a faceless wall somewhere in the depths of Swansea (Wales).

On notifying the DVLA of an MS diagnosis they send you out a questionnaire in order for them to determine whether it is safe for you to be on the road.

As readers of this blog will be aware, the biggest challenge for me, aside from some cognitive trips, is my vision, which from what I can determine is trigged by cardio activity. Fortunately my eyesight remains at 20-20 vision; the bar for this is a lot lower than you would imagine, it is far from Superman style zoom. Thus on documenting this, the civil servants of Swansea verify this with your doctor and then they make an assessment on your ability to be on the road in a public environment.

At the time of this investigation unfortunately I had reason for more contact with the DVLA.

Myself a daily commuter via scooter, which comes with great advantages including being able to avoid the experience of cramped close encounters on the London underground, there is a however a downside. On one journey I committed the highway users faux pas of stopping in a cycle box. I remember in the lead up to this considering speeding up slightly to squeeze through the lights on amber but on this occasion opted for the leisurely cruise to a natural stop.

When I did in fact stop I was frantically signaled to by a roadside traffic policeman, (who had been concealed amongst pedestrians on the side of the road) and instructed to pull over and dismount from the scooter. Upon checking that my bike was fully taxed and that my license was registered to the correct address – which both were, he then checked I had a valid license to drive a scooter without “L plates” – which of course I did. Thinking this may just be a random vehicle check, the policeman proceeded to read me my rights!

My offense paradoxically was “contravening a red light” punishable with three points (to be added onto my up until this point virgin licence) and also a £100 fine. I use the word “paradoxical” as it was my actions of stopping the bike and not speeding through the traffic light which led me into the predicament of being accused of jumping said traffic light.

Given the profligacy of this heinous offence I thought that the handling of the matter was on the harsh side, particularly given no prior offenses. I haven’t intended this post to be a portal for a rant, but it really felt at the time I was dealing with a member of the Keystone Cops, so allow me some time to indulge. Here are some examples I snapped in the week that followed this incident:

Another scooter…

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a car and a London taxi…

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an Islington council vehicle…

 

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and my personal favourite… a double bill of scooter + a London Transport car… tut tut!

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I had actually thought that I had been flashed by a speed camera in the month before. I know I may not be sounding like it but I am actually a safe driver……honest! I was on a road which had all the hallmarks of a National Speed limit dual carriage way and I overestimated the speed limit alas it was a 30mph road and the speed camera flashed whilst I did almost 40. Fortunately this was not followed up with a ticket in the post and so no penalty.

My concern throughout this time had been that somewhere in a darkened room of the Swansea DVLA a civil servant had two pieces of paper in front of them… one detailing you as a suffer of vision problems … the second a penalty for “contravening” a red light. I now look back on the cycle box incident as Karma’s way of in some way returning balance to the universe, like when a zip comes our of alignment with its tracks and you need to intervene fiddle about with if for a bit to reattach the teeth to the runners.  Needless to say I was deemed as safe to be on the road and have now been issued a three year rolling licence – life goes on.

 

OMS UK workshop: a lifestyle MOT

Regular readers of this blog will know I am a big fan of the Overcoming MS lifestyle, presented by www.overcomingms.org. This weekend was the first UK one-day workshop by the OMS charity which was held in Bedfordshire. When the dates were advertised, I quickly signed myself up to attend and I found the experience of the day extremely empowering and inspiring. As someone who has already adopted the OMS lifestyle it was great to meet with other people with MS who were dealing with the same issues. These individuals have all had the same conversation with their neurologist at their initial diagnosis and would have experienced the same concerns and worries. It was nice to just talk to people on the same level, allowing your guard to be lowered and enjoying some respite from the busy world in which we go about our day to day lives. The demographic of the attendees reminded me how widespread MS is across society and that the condition is indiscriminate on who it touches.

The course facilitators consisted of MS Nurse Miranda Olding, who maintains a blog here: mirandasmsblog.com , Phil Startin a meditation teacher and OMS lifestyle follower and Gary McMahon, CEO of OMS.

The structure of the day went through the the history of the recovery programme and the ground breaking work by Professor George Jelinek. This was followed up by an overview of the recovery program and then an OMS friendly lunch. In the afternoon we were given and introduction to meditation and the importance of Vitamin D and exercise.

I found it refreshing that an MS nurse was actually supportive of the programme, the attitude I have encountered so far from both my neurologist and MS nurse I have found to be defeatist.  Both seem to dismiss all things holistic, thinking it more as a strand of witchcraft. I found on the day that I was not alone in my experience and this was standard stance from the medical profession.  The OMS charity have now sent to the majority of MS Nurses Professor Jelinek’s book on Overcoming MS – hopefully a few of them will read it!

Takeaways

The biggest takeaways from the session for me were the reinforcement that the OMS lifestyle works.  One of the facilitators, Phil Startin was diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) and told us how he required the use of a walking stick. Now after adopting the OMS life style he is able to walk unassisted and is feeling healthier and stronger as time goes on – this is the complete opposite of what is expected to happen when in the stages of PPMS. On leaving we were given copies of  Recovering from Multiple Sclerosis: Real Life Stories of Hope and Inspiration

Meeting people at the early stages of transitioning to the OMS diet, reminded me of my first weeks of adopting the change. I remember living off a basic diet of fish and steamed vegetables and it made me realise how lucky I am to have a wife who has dedicated alot of her spare time to researching and inventing OMS friendly dishes.

Searching for cure is somewhat futile in the sense that it is not an infectious diseases or caused by a foreign body. Instead MS is caused by your own body and so the answer is not to fight it but understand and overcome it. There are certain things in life, in a world of quick consumerism which can be cured by taking a quick pill, in my view, MS will never be one of these. Instead an understanding of the body and mind is required in order for the healing process to occur.

I would recommend to all to attend these events if you get the opportunity to do so. Whether you are new to the concept, or if like me already on the programme, I think anyone could benefit from an “OMS MOT” to reinforce the lifestyle and the chance to meet fellow likeminded individuals. Details of future events can be found here.

 

 

 

Copaxone: Push the Button

“How did it every come to this?” I asked my MS Nurse as I prepared to inject myself for the first time with Copaxone. Not wanting to appear to show weakness, I pushed the button of my self injector for the first time and heard a bang as the device sunk the needle into my leg. My first thought was one of anti-climax as I was expecting to have felt the needle penetrate the skin, that I didn’t feel anything initially made me wonder if I had fired a blank… but then the squelch of the fluid made itself heard together with the visual red indicator on the autoinject device.

Copaxone is a daily injection therapy here is a picture below of the needle and my MacGyver style auto inject gadget.

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The auto inject device houses the syringe so that all you do is pinch some fat, hold the device on the skin and push the button.

Every month I get a delivery of new injection syringes and medicine to see me through. As they need to be stored in a fridge, I invested in a dedicated mini fridge which can be found in my instagram stream for those curious. It is amusing in a way, that as a new patient you are given a free rucksack – of all the things! – and a user guide which has the happiest looking people on every other page as though being a copaxone user was a cool thing to belong to.

My first “proper” injection away from medical supervision was a different affair – without the pressure of a nurse watching, my true wimpiness to needles was allowed to present itself without anyone there to judge. It took me about 30 mins to pluck up the courage to “push the button”. Even psyching myself up with chemical brothers playing in the background. Now I am much better and can do everything in less than a minute. The injections themselves are completely painless, similar to a diabetic on insulin I would imagine. The worse thing is the immediate after effects. My MS Nurse warned me it would be like a bee sting, fortunately I have never been stung by a bee so don’t know what that feels like, however I imagine that this is an understatement and the reality is more akin to being stung by a swarm of hornets! The sting lasts for an hour or so but I am told the body will get used to it and the pain will subside. Personally for me there are days when I feel like a walking pin cushion with the injection stings of days prior still loitering.

There are plenty of disease modifying treatments available, even those that don’t require daily self harm rituals. The most important thing is to adopt one which feels right for you. After many late night reading sessions into each of the drugs, their “success” rates and side effects, for me Copaxone was the only option for me at this stage in my journey. I don’t like needles, but sometimes you need to face your fears to overcome them and after almost two months of daily injections, I think I am almost there – I am still not of the ability to inject without my trusty auto inject gadget :). Copaxone is the better tolerated of the drug therapies and so has the least side effects, some of the others alter the immune system in ways which for the minority have unintended consequences – this is a risk I am not prepared at this stage in my life to take.

For those interested in the science, Copaxone is a brand name for what is genetically called Glatiramer Acetate. It was discovered by Israeli scientists who were trying to create artificial substances to induce experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in mice which is a similar to multiple sclerosis. The Glatiramer Acetate actually had the opposite effect and did not induce EAE but even reversed the effects of it in animals which had EAE.  Glatiramer Acetate is a compound of amino acids which are similar to myelin and so the thought is that they act as a decoy in the body so the immune system attacks this instead of the hosts actual myelin therefore slowing down the progression of multiple sclerosis. It is by no means a cure but hopefully it will buy some more time for the scientists to understand MS better and invent something which is.

In and ideal world I would do battle with MS through the lifestyle changes which I have adopted and which are keeping me well.  However, this is not an ideal world and I have this invisible disease and for myself, my family and my friends I made a promise to myself to do what ever it takes to stay healthy and if that means injecting myself daily then so be it.

 

 

Instant gratification is not soon enough

Taking up the OMS diet has not by any means been an easy transition. Jettisoning meat and dairy has been particularly challenging for someone whose food porn pleasures included a byron burger and ice cold vanilla milkshake, a tub of Ben and Jerry’s cookie dough ice cream and caramel lattes topped with cream – yum!    

However, with the enjoyment of eating such indulgences lasting merely moments, compared to the average digestion time of food to pass through the body at 40 hours (according to the Mayo Clinic), the short term enjoyment garnered from food plays to Meryl Streep’s message ‘Instant gratification is not soon enough’. Given the transient nature of food and with the knowledge that observing such a diet as advocated at Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis (OMS) can ward off the shadowy tentacles of multiple sclerosis for longer, it really has been a no brainer for me in taking the decision to “diet”. Testament to this is that I no longer see this as a “diet” anymore but now a way of life. Indeed embracing this veganesque lifestyle has even made me think of animal welfare in a way I was completely ambivalent to before. 

The hardest part I have found of the whole lifestyle change has been the lack of readily available snacks, aside from staple fruits. Whilst I have always enjoyed eating a banana or kiwi fruit, being faced with these as my snacks for the rest of my life was quite disheartening. It took a while for me to uncover some of the naughtier snacks that were compatible with the OMS lifestyle but I got there in the end. On a long motorway drive, my wife and I stopped off at a service station, and whilst aimlessly scanning the sweet aisles not intending to find anything I could graze on, we found a tin of travel sweets that did not contravene the OMS diet. From there, with a little research by my wife, we’ve identified a number of snacks (see below) that can be found in the majority of high street convenience stores. 

The sweet, dairy and meat aisles are still hard to navigate, not because of wanting to buy and consume the saturated fat delights, but more because they act as a reminder of my life before MS, as is the case when I look back at old photos, the smiling faces looking back at me are full of innocence and are completely unprepared for the change in life which is on the horizon.

Whilst the lifestyle remains challenging, the benefits it brings outweigh the short term instant gratifications of ‘junk food’ and it has helped me explore and appreciate the things in life I previously took for granted.


Here are some of my favourite OMS friendly snacks to date:

Smith Kendon Travel sweets – very flavoursome but can cause sores on the top of your pallet with over consumption

M&S Veggie Percy Pigs -the M&S is short for Marks and Spencer but it has now become synonymous with MS for me!

M&S Veggie Colin the caterpillar – not as good as the Percy Pigs, but nice for adding variety

Alpro Soya creamy vanilla dessert – one that gets tastier with time!

Foxes fruit glaciers – an alternative to the mint variety

Moofree Vegan Chocolate – this is great for cooking with too, plus they do christmas advent calendars

Pecan Nakd bars – viewers of my instagram feed @myjourneywithms will be familiar with these

 

 

 

 

Lumbar Punctured Dreams

I have frequently been told that MS will have its good and not so good days. My experience undergoing a lumbar puncture process fell into the latter.  A lumbar puncture or a more common alias “spinal tap” helps to complete a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis or demyelination.  

The procedure entails inserting a needle into the spine, through the bones and puncturing into the spinal cord in order to drain some of the fluid. 

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My lumbar puncture was scheduled to start at 17:00, I was taken into my room for 16:50 where I was left to change into a paper gown and wait for my doctor to arrive. The needle and other paraphernalia was left beside the door ready for action. I kept telling myself that within an hour everything would be done and I would be able to get back to the nicer environment of my home and family. However it wasn’t to be that simple, I had to wait in solitude until my doctor finally appeared at 18:45.

He greeted me with the news that new lesions had appeared on my latest MRI scan, which was not good as it implied that my MS was active. I had read that when MS is active steroids could be used in order to calm the body down and reduce the inflammation. I had hoped that these steroids would be an option for me in helping my vision problems which tended to manifest themselves when my body temperature increased and had been causing me problems whilst playing football. It was when I was curled up in a ball on the bed that we were discussing this and the news was delivered to me that the steroids would not help my vision and that it would never improve again. The read across was that competitive football/ squash and any physical sports was now over. To me this was something that no amount of local anaesthetic could numb. Sport has been a large part of my life, it has been a means of stress relief of achieving satisfaction, a way of escapism. Football in particular holds a place with me where the troubles and stresses evaporate when you strike a ball into the back of the net or play the incisive ball for a team mate to score, when you push your body to make that last ditch tackle just before your opponent pulls the trigger…. and now no more. 

The doctor proceeded with the lumbar puncture, despite the body being numb I could feel the pricks every so often and sporadically I could feel him hitting the bone. At one point the nerves in my leg were set off and pins and needles went through my left leg like having a funny bone hit. Despite words of encouragement the procedure had to be aborted after three unsuccessful attempts… I could not believe it – all of that pain an palaver for nothing.  I was told that it would be carried out again with the help of a guided X-ray machine …. why this isn’t the standard procedure I have no idea!

Lumbar Puncture Part Deux

I arrived for my second lumbar puncture at 8:30am the following week, it was scheduled to take place at 9am.  The warden who escorted me to my room attempted to make small talk asked me what I was in for, when I told him he said “Oh sorry I feel for you!” –  Great! After waiting two hours in the room I was told the consultant was no longer able to perform the procedure and that they would need to try and find someone else. In the meantime I was ambushed with some blood tests – I am not the best with needles. I hoped someone else would be found to step in as I didn’t want to have to take another “long weekend” out of the office. Another person was found  – a good one I was told. I recommend anyone going for a similar procedure to also ask for someone “good”.  The new procedure time would be 13:30 and I would be under sedation. The “good” consultant came to see me at 13:33 and explained how the procedure would work.  

I was then taken down to the operating room. I was not expecting the operating theatre to be so big and busy. There were about 8 people in the room, nurses and assistant radiographers. They put a cannula in my arm – in case I needed the sedation, I expected I would be ok just with local anesthetic given I had had practice the previous week. I found the whole experience pretty intense. There was a big screen with my X-rayed back in front of me I kept my eyes closed for most of it and just kept counting to 10. Each injection induced a sharp pain but the numbing was more effective then previously as I did not feel the actual bigger insertion. After 10-15 mins the consultant hit the right spot and drained a few samples from my back.

After the procedure I reminded one of the nurses to take some more blood samples – given there was already a cannula in my arm. There was some confusion as they took one sample but i was convinced the nurse who was with me earlier, had asked for more. Suffice to say when I was back in the recovery room thinking the whole episode was over another nurse came into the room for more blood!! 
 
For me the pain of the lumbar punctures faded over time, however, the inability to compete at sports remains and is what still hurts. My dream is that through the OMS lifestyle I will be able to prove my doctors wrong and overcome MS.  I always try to take the positives from situations and looking back, my experience at the hospital finally ended on a high:

  • My cholesterol levels were reported to be down to 4.3 from 6.4 three months prior.

  • Similarly my Vitamin D blood test, revealed levels of 243 vs 67 prior.

  • Most importantly, my wife was there in my hospital room waiting to greet me with a cup of coffee – dairy free 😉

Do as I say, not as I do

Soon after the first prognosis from my neurologist, a followup visit was arranged, this time with my wife in attendance. Multiple Sclerosis does not just affect its victim, but also the lives of those around, in particular those closest.  I am lucky to have a strong network of friends and family, but I am cogniscient to the fact that when the front door shuts and night’s cloak descends it is only my wife who shares my burden.

Armed with some basic knowledge of the holistic research pointing towards management of MS through lifestyle, in particularly diet and meditation, we entered the appointment in a positive mindset.  With this in mind we wanted to know what we could do to stave off the tentacles of MS for as long as possible whilst accepting that there is no cure.  My Neurologist remained sceptical about this approach and advised not altering my current regime, but did concede that Vitamin D supplements would be a worthwhile pursuit.  The significance of Vitamin D and MS is due to the nature of the incidence of MS being greater in colder climates, which are further away from the equator.

It is my belief there remains a wide disconnect between the actions of neurologists in the prescription of advice/medicine to patients and the the decisions they would take should they be unlucky enough to be diagnosed with MS.  This “do as I say, not as I do” approach is given credence in a recent survey of 10,000 Neurologists where it was revealed that they would take a 10,000 IU daily Vitamin D supplement if they were diagnosed with MS,  but are not prepared to prescribe them to their MS patients.  You can download this survey via the Overcoming MS website here.  I have found 10,000 IU strength supplements can be bought in yearly quantities relatively cheaply here.

The next step for us was to schedule in a lumbar puncture and a repeat MRI scan to take place at  around the same time in order to be able to provide, in conjunction with the initial MRI scan, a dynamic perspective of my demyelination.

Leaving the neurologist we were less positive than when we entered, given the lack of endorsement to the lifestyle  changes from  a medical practitioner.  Despite this I was resolute to maintain the lifestyle I was becoming acclimatised too given the success stories from others who had walked this path before me.

Meditation – in search of neuroplasticity

Over time, as new lesions form, the natural progression of Multiple Sclerosis is disability, as on a long enough time line, under the Russian roulette nature of the disease, a key link between the brain and a limb will become impaired.

Given this, I find the concept of neuroplasticity, that is the development of neural pathways fascinating.  It was once believed that neuroplasticity only occurred in babies, at an infant age the mind is likened to that of a sponge and in part explain why children can learn languages easier than adults. However, the school of thought today is that the brain can develop new neural pathways at any stage in life.

Anacdotely I think evidence of this can also be seen in the elderly, those who keep an active mind be it through exercise, mental puzzles, or social interaction seem to stave of the like of dementia and alzheimer’s disease.

One method of neuroplasticity is via meditation and it is no surprise that the OMS lifestyle advocates this daily. After reading about the benefits that meditation has had for others I ventured on my own discovery of the discipline. All I really had known previously consisted of the teachings of Yoda and Mr Miyagi.  Both of which are respected mentors in their own worlds, however I felt I needed a more tangible guide, so off I went into the amazon and found this book Teach Yourself Meditation 20 simple exercises.  I found it useful in introducing the concepts of mindfulness and being cogniscent of the breath, this is a handy constant and something you can pick up throughout the day.

In addition to this I downloaded the free app from getsomeheadspace.com which gives you a course of 10 minute daily meditations and is led by Andy Puddicombe who has gained full ordination in a Tibetan Monastery in the Himalayas.  I was impressed by the free trial enough to purchase an annual subscription and am working my way through his daily meditations.

The first few days of meditating I found very difficult. Sitting still was actually quite challenging, I experienced itches all over my body that wanted to be scratched and pains that wanted me to adjust my position. However I learnt to listen to the body and embrace those feelings, exploring them further to the point where now I can sit for 20-30 minutes with ease. I don’t think MS is a pre curser for people to explore meditation, and think all can benefit from it’s practice. I’m glad that I have found meditation and wish I had discovered it sooner, given the power of relieving stress.

Extreme dieting: How to fillet fat… just add willpower

A consequence of adopting the OMS lifestyle (Vegan +seafood) and something I had not expected to happen so quickly, was the rapid shedding of weight. My weight dropped by  over 10kg (1st 8lb) from 86.1 – 75.7kg in just over two months, that’s a 12% reduction in body mass. As a stat geek a couple of years ago I had treated myself to a set of  Wiithings scales.  If you have not come across them before, they basically connect to your wireless network and so whenever you stand on them it sends your weight to a mobile and online app. As an aside it is somewhat amusing when guests stand on them and you get an alert on your phone with the biometrics of the user… especially if you are not at home at the time … anyway I digress. The data you get, present you with cool stuff like body fat percentage and give you fancy graphs to monitor and track your body.  Here are the two months of my personal statistics after commencing the overcoming MS lifestyle:

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Non of this was due to any particular strenuous exercise and I believe this could be replicated by anyone who follows the same dietary regime:
  • No meat
  • No dairy
  • Limited saturated fat
  • A daily Vitamin B12 tablet
  • Willpower (a lot)
I would be interested to hear from others who have adopted this regime if they have had similar results.

At first I found it a challenge in cutting out meat and dairy, as someone who had gained a reputation for being a waste disposal unit at the dinner table, hoovering up any leftovers. However, I am blessed with a culinary family who have discovered lots of tasty alternatives to meat and dairy. It is my intention to share some of these on this blog in the coming weeks.

An unintended consequence of such weight loss ended up being that non of my trousers fit – meaning added costs of getting them taken in. I presented my whole wardrobe of  jeans, casual and smart trousers to my local dry cleaners/ tailors and was able to negotiate on account of the quantity 😀

Regaining hope – OMS

As a self-professed google searching geek/researcher, it did not take me long to come across Professor George Jelinek’s website overcomingmultiplesclerosis.org. Diagnosed with MS in 1999, Professor Jelinek has gone 14 years without relapse. When you have a chronic disease like MS and your neurologist tells you there is nothing you can do, hearing that someone has travelled the path before you and remained healthy gets your attention. When someone with a medical background, who has witnessed the ugly tentacles of MS drag his mother to incapacity and suicide you take an interest in what they have to say.

It seems to happen quite a lot in life, you can be trundling along unaware of something then when it is related to you,  wherever you look there it is! This was the case with MS and Professor Jelinek.  Soon after finding his website I found this Australian appear in the UK Daily Mail (link here).

The Professor after his diagnosis had poured his energy into researching what MS was, what causes it and more importantly how to overcome it. I downloaded his book via amazon and absorbed its text within a week.

It was revitalising to discover more about the disease and learning that many people were living fulfilling lives, free from the usual disabilities of the illness. I felt like I had a new understanding of the condition which for me was extremely empowering.  In contrast to what I had heard from my neurologist, there seemed to be lots of lifestyle changes I could adopt if willing to do so. This brought back some memories of what the Moorfields ophthalmologist told me – I went along to him the day after my neurologist meeting for the glaucomar examination my health insurance had already approved. He told me that the word for doctor comes from the latin docēre which means to teach/advise and that I should treat doctors in this way. Listening to their advise and making your own choices. A 10 minute consultation is one thing, but the condition is with the individual for the rest of their life.

The lifestyle changes are radical, but so is the descent of multiple sclerosis. No meat, no dairy, as little saturated fat as possible, combined with vitamins and meditation every day. Through the inspiration and hard work of the pathfinder, Professor Jelinek,  there is now real hope for everyone who is inflicted with MS. Over the coming weeks I will go through each pillar in more detail, for those wanting to explore the book for themselves, here is a referral link , any purchases via this link will go to the maintenance of this site.