I Feel Lucky!
Guys, I have been needing to get this out in the open for a while now because I have so much to say! I have mentioned here and there on Instagram that I had some kind of mystery illness. Well a few weeks ago, I finally received word that I definitely have multiple sclerosis. Let me tell you, it’s felt like a long and rather crummy road to get to The Diagnosis.
I have been to something like 20 doctor’s appointments in the past 4 months, each one requiring me to drive 50 miles, figure out who is going to get the kids on or off the bus, who will keep the toddler, does hubs need to take time off work for this one, what will people eat if I am late. Will I have to wait around there for testing? Can I drive myself home? Thrilled to be DONE with all that.
Let me tell you my story.
Very suddenly, at the beginning of November, I started feeling really, really tired. I thought it was a bug, and took a few days to get some extra sleep. I went into a minute clinic to get tested for anemia and thyroid function. But then I started experiencing tingling and numbness, which moved around and got worse over a period of several weeks. I started to feel a little light headed, off balance, and then more severe vertigo set in. My short-term memory (lack thereof) had been bothering me for the months leading up, and I realize now that that should have been a warning. But I blamed it on living in a state of constant interruption as parents usually are.
The first several medical visits were so disheartening; I felt instinctively that something was wrong, and yet the practitioners were all dismissive of my vague list of symptoms. I went to the ER, a couple general practitioners, OB/GYN, chiropractor, anything I could think of. One particularly low visit, I was handed a prescription for non-drowsy Dramamine. Thanks. A month into visiting my general practitioner at least weekly to complain of worsening symptoms, he finally ordered an MRI, and six weeks in, I first heard someone utter “possible MS.”
I immediately got to researching, and was excited to find that many people are keeping MS in a state of permanent remission using super healthy dietary choices. I was thrilled! I LOVE super healthy food! Because MS is an autoimmune condition, the first thing I could do was drop all the common allergens that make the immune system go crazy; gluten, dairy, and eggs. After reading the story of Terry Wahls, a physician who reversed the progression of her MS, I started eating piles and piles of green leafy vegetables every day, the best quality veggies I could find. I eat wild-caught fish and grassfed meat, and healthy fats. Cup after cup of tea keep my spirits high, as does the occasional bit of super-dark chocolate 🙂
I started eating this way in the middle of December and after one week, my energy began to return. After two weeks, the tingling had receded and disappeared. Vertigo took longer, it was almost three weeks before I felt like it might be receding, and about 5 weeks before I felt like it was pretty much gone. I still need more sleep than normal but as long as I get my sleep, I feel great! Really great. Healthy and light on my feet.
In the midst of all that self-care and feeling better, I continued with my testing because I wanted to know. By the time I got the final word; yes, it’s MS, I was like “great, I can handle that.”
At the risk of being that annoyingly positive person, I feel lucky that this is the diagnosis. have always been interested in healthy food, really interested. I try to feed myself and my family the best way I know how and over the years that has variously meant sourcing raw milk, going gluten free, cutting out empty starches and packaged foods, buying direct from the farmers, and this past year it extended to raising our own chickens for the freezer and buying a pig from friends.
But sometimes, I got worn down, discouraged by the cost or the extra effort, or the petulant cries from this child or that who wants their comfort foods. So we have, over the years, swung back and forth between a few super healthy months and then a few months where we’d go to the store and actually decide to buy two packages of Oreos because one would get eaten too fast.
So I feel lucky now that I have a NEED, an actual need, to buy the expensive wild salmon. There’s a local guy who travels to Alaska to fish and brings it back here to sell. Perfect. I NEED to spend the extra time to get a giant salad on the table at every meal, and I NEED to banish packaged crap forever. Or I’m going to become disabled and won’t be there for my family. It’s good motivation.
I am working on adding the right supplements to my routine as well. I feel so strongly that our agricultural soils are depleted by decades of chemical farming and much of our food no longer contains the nutrients we need to sustain a healthy life. It’s a big job, though, finding the right balance, so that is a work in progress. I’ve found a functional medicine doctor to help me with this and I’m feeling really good about the process.
I also have a need to make time to keep learning about our food so I can make better and better choices for myself and everyone around me. I love that.
Thank you, if you are still reading this manifesto! I feel so grateful for my community and I wanted to get this big story off my chest so I can get back to sharing the everyday 🙂