Two years today since that crazy time when I was sitting in Christchurch Public Hospital wondering what the hell the future had in store for me. The most frightening thing for me wasn’t learning that I had multiple sclerosis. It was that my MRI results would be reviewed and reported and that I would be visited by an earnest young intern who would sit at my bedside and say: “the comprehensive MRI scan has shown nothing more than normal degeneration for someone of your age”. I guess that might be supposed to be reassuring but it wouldn’t be, in fact this is the stuff that nightmares are made of.
It’s not that I wanted to be ill or be labelled as an “invalid”. Far from it! Yet I did want to have these incredibly debilitating symptoms validated in some way, particularly after having spent over four years becoming more disabled as I fruitlessly searched for the reason behind them. There are at least eighty different varieties of autoimmune diseases and the prevalence and incidence of these diseases is on the rise throughout the Western world. Some of these conditions have symptoms that can be regarded as being a bit ‘airy fairy’ – extreme tiredness, muscle fatigue, brain fog, etc. This should not detract from the very real problem they pose for the sufferer. I feel for the people who are stuck in this vortex, as I was, and the frustration of it only adds to the downward spiral. In the absence of any common genetic, geographic or environmental exposure, many sufferers of MS and other autoimmune disorders are arriving at the conclusion (like I did) that there is strong correlation between their emotional state and their dis-ease.
Having said that, I firmly believe that every autoimmune disease is uniquely personalised to the person who is experiencing it. For some people the emotional aspect may be number one, for others it may be the dietary/lifestyle factors, for others it might be a genetic disposition. But there is one thing that I do know for sure – your body is craving your attention. It is trying to tell you something through your autoimmune disease and you must take heed or pay the price.
I have recently stumbled across the work of Dr Terry Wahls and have started reading her book, The Wahls Protocol. Dr Wahls is a physician who was diagnosed with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis and now publicises and practices the application of strategies she implemented to achieve a dramatic reversal of her own symptoms, mostly based upon diet and lifestyle changes.
The first thing she advises is to start the journey by keeping a diary. She suggests that you tell the story of you and goes on to say: “I’m not asking you to pen your memoir right now while you’re dealing with everything else.” This is hilarious to me because that is exactly where I did start. I DID pen my memoir because I was absolutely certain, way before reading this book, way before I was diagnosed with MS even, that was where I needed to begin. My soul knew that. My body knew that. Now that I’ve shined the light on that dank fungus as it were, I am very much looking forward to embracing the Wahls Protocol because her thinking on this is very much aligned with mine. Dr Wahls book is proving to be the culmination of a lot things that I have suspected and a lot of things I’ve learned over the past two years. I think that it’s entered my life at the perfect time. I’m ready to enter Phase Two which for me is the dietary/lifestyle issues. I had attempted it earlier but I can see clearly now that it wasn’t the right time for me.
The actual physical disability from my MS in the past two years hasn’t worsened. In some ways it’s got better but I suspect this is purely because I’ve become more familiar with my symptoms and am a bit more confident. Two new symptoms have raised their ugly head: 1) I continually have a horrible taste in my mouth and can’t taste and enjoy food as I once did and; 2) I suffer indigestion and heartburn (something I’ve never had before in my life).
I’m still working three part-time days a week. I’d love to increase it if only I had the vitality, particularly since my insurance company has started to play funny buggers about when they pay me my partial income protection claims. Sometimes it’s paid a few days after lodging the claim and sometimes it’s paid a month later. This is a major stress. I can’t budget to this and I often wonder if the payroll clerks at AIA took such a laissez-faire approach to paying their staff how they would feel! It is only when I complain bitterly to the complaints department that I get any action and this is not exactly the “peace of mind” promise that I bought into.
Aside from all of this I’ve got to say that two years on is better than that day on 22 September 2016 when I was lying in a hospital bed and didn’t know what the hell the future had in store for me!