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.
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:
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 😀
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.