Life­style changes help­ing me through MS

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Lara Flana­gan

Ivividly re­mem­ber the day that I got my first symp­toms. It was the morn­ing af­ter my 41st birth­day I had over-in­dulged the night be­fore. I at­trib­uted the strange sen­sa­tions I was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing to a hang­over. When I went to see my GP, he vaguely men­tioned that MS can have strange pre­sen­ta­tions, but I did not take that se­ri­ously as I was more con­cerned that blood tests would re­veal some sort of vi­ta­min de­fi­ciency. The GP’s con­cern did lead me to a neu­rol­o­gist who gave me an MRI.

Af­ter an MRI and see­ing two more neu­rol­o­gists I re­ceived the di­ag­no­sis of mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis three months later. For a while my whole world shut down. Thus be­gan the start of a pretty in­cred­i­ble jour­ney. Ini­tially the strug­gles were all about com­ing to terms with the di­ag­no­sis. As a sin­gle mum with 5-year-old twins my main fears were about be­com­ing a bur­den with such young chil­dren. I was also strug­gling with the dis­ease mod­i­fy­ing drugs that were pre­scribed to me. To say the side-ef­fects were

se­vere would be an un­der­state­ment. It got to the stage quite early on that I knew that my life would be a con­stant strug­gle if I had to con­tinue with the treat­ment that I ini­tially fol­lowed.

It was about 5 months af­ter my ini­tial di­ag­no­sis that I dis­cov­ered the teach­ings of Dr Ge­orge Je­linek, a med­i­cal doc­tor who had him­self been di­ag­nosed with mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis. He had writ­ten a book called ‘Over­com­ing Mul­ti­ple Scle­ro­sis’. The term ‘Over­com­ing’ was the word that had me hook, line and sinker. I was so busy com­ing to terms with a dis­ease that was de­gen­er­a­tive and in­cur­able that I had never even con­tem­plated that I would be able to over­come this dis­ease.

I went on the first ‘Over­com­ing Mul­ti­ple Scle­ro­sis’ re­treat that was avail­able at the Gawler Foun­da­tion in the Yarra Val­ley and ab­sorbed ev­ery­thing like a very needy sponge! It was a com­pletely life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence though I did not know it at the time. His rec­om­mended pro­gramme in­cluded a whole food plant based diet in­cor­po­rat­ing seafood. This diet also strongly re­lied on omega-3 fatty acid sup­ple­ments pro­vided through the ad­di­tion of flax seed oil. The pro­gramme also in­cluded Vi­ta­min D sup­ple­men­ta­tion, daily med­i­ta­tion & daily ex­er­cise. He was not anti-med­i­ca­tion and he ad­vised that it could go hand in hand with his pro­gramme. He ad­vised that many suf­fer­ers may not need med­i­ca­tion but that many might feel more se­cure with it and that drug se­lec­tion should be care­fully weighed up against side ef­fects.

I walked away ab­so­lutely in­spired, though it took me a few months to ac­tu­ally come to grips with it. My big­gest prob­lem was that I still did not be­lieve I was sick and even toyed with the idea that my di­ag­no­sis was a mis­take. Twelve months af­ter my ini­tial di­ag­no­sis a fur­ther MRI, the neu­rol­o­gist made me re­alise that that sort of think­ing was just fool­ish; very much in keep­ing with a woman in de­nial. The MRI showed an in­crease in the size and num­ber of le­sions. My neu­rol­o­gist sim­ply told me that the dis­ease was ac­tive and pro­gress­ing rapidly. He said I had to go back on the med­i­ca­tion. I re­turned to the med­i­ca­tion and re­alised 6 weeks later when the ex­treme side-ef­fects re­oc­curred that it was sim­ply not an op­tion for me.

At that point I stopped the med­i­ca­tion and re-vis­ited the teach­ings of Dr Ge­orge Je­linek and his Over­com­ing Mul­ti­ple Scle­ro­sis pro­gramme. It was then that I de­cided the smartest thing for me to do was to com­pletely em­brace his pro­gramme to sim­ply be­lieve in the pos­si­bil­ity of a re­cov­ery.

I com­pletely changed my diet to that of a ‘plant based whole food’ diet. I made sure that I ex­er­cised daily in a way that was al­most re­li­gious. I sup­ple­mented my vi­ta­min D and med­i­tated on a daily ba­sis. I stopped be­liev­ing any­thing apart from that I was go­ing to re­cover. An MRI al­most 18 months later in

I had never even con­tem­plated that I would be able to over­come this in­cur­able dis­ease.

Septem­ber of 2015 showed some ac­tiv­ity in the brain which one would as­sume is nor­mal for an ‘in­cur­able’ de­gen­er­a­tive ill­ness. What was un­ex­pected though was that the le­sions on my spine were re­duc­ing in in­ten­sity and size. One le­sion was no longer dis­cernible.

When you are di­ag­nosed with a de­bil­i­tat­ing ill­ness like MS it is dif­fi­cult to find hope. How­ever, doc­tor Ge­orge Je­linek, who him­self had been di­ag­nosed, gave peo­ple hope. Through nu­tri­tion, diet, ex­er­cise, sun­light and med­i­ta­tion, there is hope. My life has changed in so many ways. I truly be­lieve you can take con­trol of your own health and that there is al­ways hope. I am liv­ing proof.

The con­clu­sion was that the vol­ume of spinal dis­ease was re­duc­ing.

Lara Flana­gan writes for My Notes from New Eng­land. My Notes from New Eng­land was in­spired by chal­lenges I have faced since em­bark­ing on a com­plete life­style change, sparked by a ma­jor health cri­sis in the form of a di­ag­no­sis of MS. This was com­bined with the new ad­ven­tures for my city slicker fam­ily of liv­ing in the coun­try. Through­out this jour­ney my com­pan­ions are my young twins Archie and Larissa, my two mad dogs Kevin & Rosie and the beau­ti­ful world of New Eng­land. Please visit me on Face­book or my web­site.

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