Using the small windows of opportunity available to me when I wasn’t dealing with WINZ correspondence or sitting on the loo earnestly trying to persuade my bladder to function so that my efforts generated more than a tablespoonful of product, I dipped a tentative toe into the online world of wonder once more and stumbled across an excellent website called Improving Life with Multiple Sclerosis.
Developed by Professor George Jelinek the well-researched Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis site outlined a program of diet, exercise, stress management, sunlight, vitamin D and omega-3 supplementation, and medication, if needed. There were many case studies of people who had experienced a level of relief by following this program. I figured I had nothing to lose aside from a few kilograms, so I decided to give it a shot.
I have always considered myself to be a reasonably healthy eater. I don’t eat a lot of fast food and am more likely to make things from scratch myself rather than buy a lot of processed food. According to the website, the big nasties to avoid were dairy products and saturated fats, which meant no meat, no eggs and worst of all – no cheese! Alcohol was OK thank God, otherwise I’d have been out of that website faster than you can say unoaked Chardonnay.
My biggest problem was probably going to be the dairy products which is something I’d always considered in dietary terms to be reasonably healthy. I’d bought into all the propaganda that it was good for the bones and helped prevent osteoporosis. But apart from this I liked nothing more than organic milk, free range eggs and of course, cheese. How would I cope without my beloved cheese – Havarti, Castello, Double Brie, Camembert, or even just your standard block of Colby? What was a baked potato without a knob of butter and a generous dollop of sour cream? What about the occasional Sunday morning breakfast of streaky bacon with my perfectly cooked scrambled eggs on toast?
I did an inventory of my current stock on hand. I wasn’t exactly flush with cash so I was therefore reluctant to ditch all the ‘offending’ food and start from scratch, particularly since most of the vegan alternatives are very expensive. The dairy products could be demolished by my daughter but there was a pork roast, a whole chicken and some rather nice ribeye steak that she’d doubtless need some assistance with. Oh yes, and there was also a kilogram of Manuka smoked streaky bacon that I sincerely wished I’d spotted prior to discovering the website. I was also a bit concerned about Christmas which would soon be upon us. Deviations from the suggested diet however small, were very much frowned upon and there was bound to be dodgy food floating around in abundance. I promised myself to follow the suggested diet as closely as I possibly could however I didn’t want to get too too pedantic about it and make everyone feel nervous about feeding me.
Apart from a few minor indiscretions adhering to the diet over the Christmas period, I was coming along pretty nicely and embraced the arrival of 2017 confident that surely this had to be a better year than 2016 had been. I still used the walking frame occasionally but had begun to use my crutches more and could now walk up and down the slope that led to my home without having to use either for support. I had also started to do some yoga and although I was nowhere near as supple as I was before I had the spinal surgery, I was surprised at how much I could still do. The warmer days meant that I could lie out in the sun and soak up the recommended Vitamin D quota and on one particularly sunny day my daughter took me to Purau for a swim in the sea which was heavenly. The weightless feeling of being in the cool, salty water with the sun beating down on me was pure bliss. I felt like one of the elderly people in the movie Cocoon, absorbing the life force of the healing water that temporarily banished my disability. If only I could drive my car, I could come down regularly as Purau is only a short drive from my home.
I was excited at the prospect of driving the car again as this had the potential for me to regain my lost independence and also enable me to take on some more work so that I could say goodbye to WINZ with their miserable benefit and endless computer-generated letters. Unfortunately, there were still some hurdles to go through as I was on a six-month waiting list for assessment, although there was a glimmer of hope that it might be sooner as I needed it for work. Apart from the fact that I still didn’t know whether I would be able to claim on my Income Protection insurance, things were coming along fairly nicely.