Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Diary of a relapse - Day 28

Four weeks since this relapse began and I'm still weak and exhausted most of the time, but thankfully with no other neuro symptoms left. So I am recovering, but oh-so-slowly. It's very hard to predict too - I can feel perfectly fine for a few hours, and then suddenly so totally drained I don't even have the energy to get myself upstairs to bed! 

As I mentioned last week, it's clear that medication is no longer an option for me, and rather than thinking of so-called "alternative" options as a complement to conventional medication, I now need to consider the possibility that they really are my only alternative.

So, what are my options?

Prof George Jelinek's masterful book and programme Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis sets out a whole bunch of evidence-based diet and lifestyle changes which, if implemented fully and consistently, in time can lead to full recovery from MS. Tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are now recovering from MS by following this programme.

So, you many quite reasonably ask, why am I not doing all that already? Well, in fact, I have been doing my best to follow this programme over the last year since I first came across the book.
But it's tough. Even with a supportive hubby, the demands of the programme are fairly drastic, and involve every area of your life.

The programme isn't just a complete change of diet, it includes daily exercise and daily meditation, both of which I have really struggled to take on. I suppose you could say I've spent the first year just getting to grips with the diet, and have certainly felt some benefits already.

But what this most recent relapse has taught me is this: I can eat the most consistently healing and nourishing foods, sleep well, and rest rather than work when that's what my body needs. But without the peace of mind and equilibrium that daily exercise and daily meditation brings, my overactive immune system can still "freak out" and bring on another relapse. As I've learned to my cost. 

You see, in the weeks and months before this relapse I was excessively stressed and unhappy - even more than usual. This state of mind often tipped into uncontrollable anger, which led to frequent rows with the people around me - mostly my poor hubby. And that led to me feeling really ashamed of myself, and rather desperate and depressed. I could see that I was stuck in a negative feedback loop, and just couldn't seem to break out of it. And all this anxiety, rage, despair and self-recrimination triggered the acute inflammation that created a new relapse. In short -

I got sick because I got stressed!

I'm not talking about the every day, passing stress that we all seem to live with. I talking about the severe, ongoing, hanging-on-for-dear-life extreme stress that can lead to burnout, breakdown, or illness.  
In fact, it was not unlike the excessive stress I experienced in the year before my first MS attack - losing my father suddenly and unexpectedly, dealing with the pressure of university studies while acting as my mother's executor and keeping up visits to her in the nursing home, trying to maintain a long-distance relationship by telephone, and living in a shared house where 5 hours a night of undisturbed sleep was impossible.

That's why the OMS Programme, like most systemic approaches to healing, emphasises meditation and self-care as crucial components of the recovery process. In my attempts to follow the programme, I had unconsciously focused on only those parts I felt I could handle: the diet and supplements side of it. I'd pretty much ignored the rest, because I think I'd feared that it would just be too hard. Cutting out dairy, meat and almost all saturated fats and trans fats, and trippling the amount of delicious veggies I eat every day - a piece of cake compared to loving myself enough to get into regular exercise and meditation!

But I was wrong. What I have learned is, no matter how hard I may believe these things to be, they are not as hard as being unable to walk up my own stairs, or having to leave a job because I don't have the physical energy, or missing out on seeing my niece and nephew grow up, because the 2 hour drive to visit them would exhaust me.

So I've been wondering, praying even, for some help to answer this key question.
Now that I know pretty much everything I need to do to heal my body:
How can I motivate myself to do it ...
consistently ... every day ... for the rest of my life?

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Diary of a Relapse - Day 22

When "the drugs don't work" ...

The Drugs Didn't Work

Now that my body is clear of the steroids, I am still dealing with an MS relapse that was not in any way helped by those drugs. 

Putting myself (and my poor hubby) through the hell of steroids made no difference whatsoever to my symptoms.

None. Nada. Zip.

This is a first for me: an exacerbation in MS symptoms that is totally impervious to the effects of high dose steroids. It appears I have reached the point where the only thing steroids can give me is the most atrocious, mind-bending side effects, without any benefits.

My doctor has nothing else to offer me that I haven't already tried.

I've always believed that medicine has a rightful place in health care, and still do. But we'd be idiots to think that medicine can fix everything, and it clearly can't deal with life-long, chronic illnesses like MS. 

"Alternative" medicine?

It's time to accept that good rest and Mother Nature's finest foods aren't just the best "alternative" for me: they're my only option. The question is, do I really believe that they will be enough?
... can Mother Nature help me?