Taking better care of yourself does not have to be a daunting task. It is a game of experimentation. Baby steps of trying out one thing and then the next. There will be setbacks and disappointments when a hoped for treatment or self-care regimen does not work for you, but with experience, this just becomes part of the process. A journey in learning your particular body in a very intimate way.
Since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis four years ago, I have tried a number of diets to get my body to its optimum functioning. Many started off as promising and then, sometimes suddenly, no longer seemed to work for my body. Recently I was all fired up about the Wahls Protocol. I was not seeing the results I wanted being on the second stage of the diet, so after several months I modeled the diet Dr. Wahls is on herself, Wahls Paleo Plus. And then I felt relapse symptoms coming and I developed this crazy chronic migraine. The migraine has lasted a month now. I experienced some vision disturbance and a loss in sensation on much of the right side of my body. But my vision is back and the rest seems to be clearing. My hunch is that the large amount of coconut prescribed on this diet, a common migraine trigger, may not react well with my body. So I have dropped back down to Wahls Paleo and am experimenting with a possible food sensitivity by cutting out coconut (I tapered off of it over two weeks.)
This has been my biggest disappointment to date. There is so much positive talk about the Wahls Protocol. Dr. Wahls has improved so much herself. And so many other people with MS have too. But, like with everything, and particularly with MS, I have found that one size does not fit all. Where I have found solace in my disappointment is with the acknowledgement that Dr. Wahls crafted her diet by experimenting for years with what her own body responded well to. There is a science to what foods to eat and why but as far as what one body needs that another may reject, that is individual to the person. And I have also found that if there is an exception to the rule, I will be that exception!
I was tempted to go off the diet altogether and binge eat corn chips, rice cookies and grapes but the reality is that I cannot be bitter or resentful towards Dr. Wahls or my own body. My body is telling me something and I may not like what it has to say because it is “ruining” my plans, but it is yet another reminder to honor my body and honor my journey. This diet of eating 9 cups of vegetables a day is bringing me health and vitality I have never experienced before. I wished I felt better currently but I fed my body junk for so many years, I cannot expect that I can revamp it in just a few months. This will be a process just like it all is.
Maybe my body can’t handle coconut right now but will be able to after a year on Wahls Paleo. Maybe it is not coconut at all and was some other undiscovered trigger. Little by little I will chip away at what works best for me. I’d love for your support on my journey and I would love to offer you the same! Please leave comments below if you have experienced anything similar or have advice for others like me.
Since returning to work in January after recovering from mono, the past few months have been crazy busy for me. I haven’t even had time to think about MS…which has been great! If you would have asked me this time last year how I thought MS was treating me and my thoughts on the future it wouldn’t sound like it does now. A year ago I probably would’ve said “Yeah, well it’s slowly progressing, it sucks walking with a cane and all of these braces but…” These days thanks to my diet and Bioness I’m going stronger than ever.
First things first, going Paleo and since then moving on to the Wahls Protocol has entirely changed my life for the better. If I could give any MSer one piece of advice it would be to drop what you’re eating and pick up a paleo cookbook. Over the past six months I have dropped 40 pounds and gained my life back. No longer am I sluggish as soon as I wake up, I can even stay up past 8 pm! Seriously, dump your junk food and start getting your life back.
Along with the change in diet I have also been using a Bioness L300 Plus electronic foot drop system to combat weakness in my left side. This has been simply amazing, I now have the ability to walk normally again! If you have the opportunity to get your hands on a Bioness system give it a whirl and see if it works for you. This system isn’t cheap but if it works for you, you will find a way. People like to donate to a worthy cause, especially for an electronic robo leg that will help you walk.
None of this has been easy, I have worked very hard to become healthy again, but it has been well worth it. Do it, read up and start making the changes that you can, this is attainable. Send me an email if you need some encouraging words or if you want to know how I gave up sweets! Fight on!!
Be a Warrior Today,
During my bout with Mono I pretty much hit rock bottom as far as MS is concerned. I was soon to be piloting a wheelchair around instead of using my cane/braces combo and this wasn’t sitting well with me. It all came on too fast, I know MS is progressive and mine has been no exception but up until this point things had been taking a more leisurely pace. I wasn’t ready to be in a chair. I have a young son to look after, a wife, a house, a career and too many things to list.
So while I was feeling sorry for myself sprawled out on the couch I did a lot of soul searching, internet searching, and received many emails from friends, family and colleagues. Two things stand out as serious life changing events. Number one was an email from my mom. It was a link to Dr.Wahls’s TedX presentation on “Minding Your Mitochondrion”. Viewing this video changed everything for me, it was so simple...change your diet and give your body the energy it needs to stomp out MS. I started right away on the diet and the results have been amazing, every day I feel stronger.
The second life changing event was reading a blog on this website. It talked about electronic stimulus devices and there were links to the different types of systems, including the Bioness Foot Drop System. I hadn't heard of this before. So at my next PT appointment I brought it up to my therapist Mary and she said they had something like that in the office. The system they had in the office was a glorified version of a TENS device, not the advanced system that was offered by Bioness. So we hooked up the sticky pads to my gimpy failure of a left leg and turned on the juice…nothing, the batteries were dead. After changing out the batteries, the required electricity now became available, so Mary pushed the button and...I felt a little twinge in my foot. Not bad, since I hadn’t felt anything down there since 2010, but not quite enough to get me going anywhere. So Mary cranked up the Juice and voila my foot turned on! It was uncomfortable to say the least. I think Mary liked zapping me too, but it was working.
So now I’m walking/gimping around the therapy office tethered to my mini therapist (I’m 6’6” and she’s about 5’2”) by an electrical cord with a button that she has to push every time the machine needs to zap me. I still had my cane but no braces at this point. The machine was working pretty well but it wasn’t meant for an all-day kind of event. Mary and I talked about the Bioness system and decided it couldn’t hurt to contact the sales rep in the area and see what they thought.
After contacting the rep Dianne, we set up an appointment to fit the system and see if it would work for me. Dianne met me at my next PT session and talked with Mary and I before fitting the device to my leg. I couldn’t take the excitement. It was killing me after watching videos online of MSers walking with their devices. I was sure I’d get up and run out of the place! Dianne put the cuff around my knee, plugged in a little control box to a bigger computerized head unit and turned on my leg…Seriously, this was crazy, but my entire foot went from hanging there doing nothing to full of energy, one of the craziest things I have ever seen. Not only did my foot turn on but my calf flexed and my knee felt like it “pulled together”.
Now I’m powered up and I take a few steps away from the table and go for it, I walked around the office once and stopped for adjustments and to drop off my cane. It was working, I couldn’t believe that there was a way to turn my leg back on and I was wearing it! Dianne told me that we could talk to insurance about getting it covered but it was a long shot considering the $6,500 price tag, but she would work on a loaner system for me to try out.
In only a few days’ time I had gone from lying on the couch contemplating life in a powered chair to walking around under my own (limited) power. I couldn’t believe this was all happening to me, for the first time in years I had hope. MS was not taking me down not without a serious fight.
Be a Warrior Today,
Review of the New Wahls Protocol Book: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine
The Wahls Protocol: How I beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine
Let me begin by telling you that the latest book by Dr. Terry Wahls The Wahls Protocol: How I beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine is much less of a diet book than it is a field guide filled with the instructions needed to reclaim your life from Multiple Sclerosis.
Dr. Wahls tells the story of her sickness and recovery explaining the route she took to pull herself from the tightening hold of Progressive MS, all the while guiding the reader along the way. Let Dr.Wahls be your Sherpa on the trek up the mountain to better health, the trip will be demanding but the view from the summit will be beautiful.
By breaking the book into three parts Dr.Wahls has mapped the transition to better health for her readers, making each leg of the journey attainable. Beyond diet Dr.Wahls will guide you through exercise and electricity as well as stress management. Once you’ve selected your track you can build your way up to becoming a full-fledged Wahls Warrior.
Suffering from RRMS has been an up and down battle for me since 2010, there has been a progression of symptoms from cognitive function and fatigue to balance and a decrease in my mobility. For my fellow MSers I know your story is different but probably similar. By drastically changing my diet and adopting the paleo lifestyle I am beginning to recover from MS. Fatigue is no longer an issue, I’m building stamina and cog fog has cleared up, so let’s have similar recovery stories.
This book has the ability to change your path, but you need to initiate the change. The tools for the job are all here.The Wahls Protocol: How I beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine is the opportunity you are looking for, take back your life and kick MS to the curb with functional medicine.
The Wahls Protocol: How I beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine will be available on March 12th, 2014.
Be a Warrior Today,
Being back in the routine of work has been both great for me and also quite a challenge. I love getting up and getting at it, I know most people hate the grind but I like doing my part. While I was off work I felt like I was aimlessly floating and not doing anything purposeful. I was recovering and taking care of myself but I missed contributing to the well-being of others.
Now that I have been at work for a while I do miss the peace and quiet but I’m having a great time teaching kids how to read and do math. Also I have started a pretty neat writing program that is teaching kids to have a voice as a writer; it’s going pretty well so far. Also I have been spreading the word about MS both to kids and the staff. I’ve learned that I have a parent of a student with MS and some staff members that have family members with the disease. Everyone has been very supportive and interested thus far.
Being back at work I have been more tempted to fall off of my diet as there is the endless supply of birthday treats offered up daily by happy little students! Not to mention bagels and treats in the teachers lounge. I haven’t slipped up yet but I can’t say that I’m not temped.
Packing lunches has been like having a second job at this point, my salads do get many envious glances in the lounge. I can’t blame the gawkers as my creations include nuts, fruit, chicken and bacon lately along with a pile of spinach, arugula and anything else green I can cram in there!
This year’s annual Michigan MS Society meeting was very exciting, my wife was honored along with other top fundraisers in the state! Way to go Jill!! This week is MS awareness week...do you have any plans? Keep up the fight!!
Be a Warrior Today,
A Bit About Donn: Donn is 38 years old and was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 2010. He lives with his wife and son in Plymouth, MI.
“The Wahls Protocol: How I beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine” First Glimpse
While navigating through the first few chapters of “The Wahls Protocol” the common theme that Dr.Wahls is expressing is that your body is a complex machine and it requires complex nutrients to function properly, especially your cells and the mitochondria powering them.
“What your cells use to fuel the chemistry of life comes directly from what you feed yourself.”(Wahls) Unfortunately many of us never take this fact into consideration, as we are too busy choking down a breakfast burrito on the way out the door at 7:15 AM already late getting the kids off to school and stressing about a 9:00AM meeting that we are presenting at. If we don’t take time to keep our body properly fueled it will sooner or later start to backfire and eventually breakdown. Try filling up your snow blower with sausage gravy the next time you need to dig out from a snowstorm and see how far it goes?
“Food can directly influence the firestorm of destruction inside your body. Will you continue to fuel the fire, or will you douse it by infusing your body with the particular and extensive nutrients it needs to best fight its way from the debilitating effects of an autoimmune condition back toward steadily greater health and vitality?”(Wahls) These are very powerful words that not enough people have heard yet. Are you always fatigued, mind is foggy and you are taking too many prescription drugs...sound familiar MSers? Chances are you are starving your mitochondria and in turn not letting your body function at a high level. Cramming down low grade ready-made meals every day is not helping your body fight the disease that is ruining your life; it’s actually making it easier for the disease to be victorious.
Two days with “The Wahls Protocol” and I can’t put it down, I keep reading and re-reading dumbfounded by the facts. This should be mandatory reading for everyone, there is no reason to continue feeding your disease, feed your body what it craves and it will make your journey a comfortable one!
Be a Warrior Today,
After the mono episode in September my journey has taken a better course, I’ve changed my diet and my outlook has brightened. I was gone from work for about four months, September through January, the longest time in my life that I wasn’t working. Over that time I got my body back into shape and really started the assault on my MS. My goal was to get back to work and continue on with my life.
Being in the education business, more specifically the special education business I had to make sure that my energy level was going to sustain me throughout what is generally a strenuous day. I didn’t want to go back to work unless I could do a great job, there’s no such thing as an easy day and I had to be sure I could do it.
The last few weeks before I returned to work I really hit the exercise bike hard doing 30 minutes a day to regain some stamina and strength in my legs. Yoga was also a big key for me; now that I’m back to work I’m really missing my adaptive yoga courses. Yoga helped with my mind body balance and I try to implement controlled breathing throughout my day, “relax your shoulders and breath in deep.”
Now that I’m back to work I’ve been doing great, I pack a huge lunch with a few pieces of fruit and a massive salad each day. It hasn’t been easy by any means, and I’m tested nearly every day, being one of the only male teachers in my school I get a cupcake almost every day! I work on stretching whenever I get a chance and drinking water while I snack on some veggies.
It’s been a long hard struggle to get back to where I am but I’m feeling great about myself and I’m looking forward to continued recovery.
Be a Warrior Today,
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Important Safety Information
Before beginning treatment, you should discuss the potential benefits and risks associated with Rebif with your healthcare provider.
Rebif can cause serious side effects. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the symptoms listed below while taking Rebif.
Rebif will not cure your MS but may decrease the number of flare-ups of the disease and slow the occurrence of some of the physical disability that is common in people with MS.
Do not take Rebif if you are allergic to interferon beta, human albumin, or any of the ingredients in Rebif.
Before you take Rebif, tell your healthcare provider if you have or have had any of the following conditions:
Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbal supplements.
The most common side effects of Rebif include:
Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.
These are not all the possible side effects of Rebif. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Rebif is used to treat relapsing forms of MS to decrease the frequency of relapses and delay the occurrence of some of the physical disability that is common in people with MS.