Multiple Sclerosis & Inflammation
an unconventional approach to living with MS
Hi! I'm Amber, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis about 12 years ago, not long after my third child's first birthday. Frankly it was devastating, I was at the time working at a retirement home and taking care of 2 residents that had the condition. One man was 40 and in the late stages of the disease, in the two years that I worked there I unfortunately watched his steady decline and eventual death, it was so sad. The other woman was 75 or so and had not been able to walk since she was 50 but was now confined to a wheelchair with pretty severe tremors all of the time. I remember the day that I was helping her get ready for bed and she made the comment, "well at least you don't have MS" and then her crying when I revealed to her that I had just recently been diagnosed. All I could think about were my 3 young kids, my husband and the end result of the disease.
It started out suddenly, I had been working the night shift- 11 p.m-7 a.m. pretty consistently, coming home in the morning to 3 toddlers while my husband went to work during the day and not really sleeping much along with eating a crappy diet of whatever I decided to buy from the vending machine at night. MS activators are stress, heat and fatigue- I was batting 1000 in all three. I went to the doctor because I was numb from toes to armpits and didn't know why. Not the can't feel anything kind of numb, the overstimulated pins and needles, ants crawling all over your body kind of numb. I was a wreck. It took weeks to get the MRI and proper specialists to diagnose, but when I finally did I felt like my life was over. I didn't know what to expect I just knew the end result and I didn't like it. Over the next couple years I used a self injection drug three times a week called Rebif, it was essentially low dose chemo and left me with flu like symptoms on injection nights and I hated it, it lowered my immune system enough that I was in the instacare facility almost weekly for UTIs, Strep and sinus infections, not to mention frequent cold sores and restless nights of fever and chills. But I continued on that path because I think we are trained to look for something, a drug, to "fix" our condition when really the most simple solution, like adjusting what we are eating and how we are living our lives may be the most helpful treatment of all.
I discontinued the use of Rebif when I found out that I was pregnant with my fourth child and called the drug company and several doctors trying to find out if it was safe to continue treatment and could never get an affirmative answer, now almost 10 years later and reading reports of this drug causing all sorts of cancer and death, I am so grateful that I did. She literally saved my life, I will be forever in her debt. Now MS doesn't have a cure, don't get me wrong, I am very aware of that. Food is not going to cure me of the disability and effects of this disease, but I know through trial and error and a lot of self experimentation that it is my best option and in my opinion a way to live a full and enjoyable life until a cure comes along, if that ever happens.
Side note- Do you ever wonder if God slows you down with stumbling blocks to save you from your crazy self or to make sure you are put in the path of the ones that you are supposed to help?
Fast forward 12 years, I have learned so much about myself and my condition, the effect that food has on our well being and the prescription drugs that make your life worse. As I struggle with this, I am focusing on food to heal and to treat Multiple Sclerosis. I will document from this day forward what I am eating and my current condition in the hopes to help and inspire those who may be struggling with an auto-immune disease and are seeking a boost for their current treatment, or those who haven't found relief and are searching for what others are doing to help themselves. I am going super clean again, as in diet because walking this week has suddenly become more laborious than it has been in the past. It's 100 degrees outside which is complete Kryptonite with MS and that could be part of it, but it is making me crazy to drag my left leg around like a false appendage and to not have the normal heel-toe gate as foot drop on my left leg has become very pronounce.
So here we go! Yesterday I had an Almond Milk, strawberry, raspberry, banana smoothie for breakfast. Oven baked zucchini for lunch with dairy free Parmesan and olive oil for lunch. Dinner was baked yellow summer squash crusted in dairy free parm, sliced garden tomatoes and some iceberg lettuce drizzled with low-fat Italian dressing. Late night snack was a handful of walnuts and pecans drizzled with our friend's organic honey and kosher salt, microwaved for 20 seconds. 40 ounces of water total for the day.
Essentially I'm doing my best to go dairy, gluten, meat and sugar free to see if my condition improves over the next few weeks.
Books and doctors that have helped: The MS Diet Book by Doctor Roy Swank, Dr. George Jelinek who created "Overcoming MS" overcomingms.org book and website, Dr. Terry Wahls, Chef Michael Symon and his cookbook "Fix it with Food".
You can find more food inspiration from me on Instagram @ajandcompanystore.com