Long before I reached camp last year God had been using people and circumstances to teach me about the things I could do to improve my health. I was 28 when I woke up to find the left side of my face numb as if someone had played a dirty trick and rubbed Novocain on me in my sleep. The numbness lasted for over a week so I decided to see a doctor. The doctor sent me to a neurologist and one MRI later I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). As you can imagine my world turned upside down.
For those who don’t know what MS is it is when the body’s immune system malfunctions and mistakes the myelin in our body as a foreign invader. Now the myelin is the protective covering that wraps around our nerves kind of like the plastic coating that covers the wires in an electrical cord. It keeps the electricity in and flowing along like it should. Well my immune system mistakes that myelin coating for a foreign invader and deploys the troops to go forth and destroy it. This unfortunate scenario results in deterioration with visible scars (aka lesions) on my myelin. These scars prevent the signal traveling from the brain to reach the rest of my body in proper time. Just like that lamp that sometimes flickers because there’s a short in the wiring. Sometimes the scars are just road blocks creating delays but at worse they can prevent the signal entirely. With my face the signal was blocked but over time my body was able to repair itself enough that most of the feeling returned. This is the ongoing cycle for the patient with MS – one part of the body trying to repair the damage caused by another.
It was a simple enough issue to deal with, more annoying than painful in the beginning. The fear of having a disease was just what I needed to get serious about taking care of my body. At the time to me that only meant losing weight. Little did I know that the weight issue was just a small drop in the affliction bucket. So I began to read and read some more. I exhausted the MS library and it only increased my anxiety about my disease – no cure, no idea what’s going to happen to you in the long run, and not really sure why it happens in the first place. Then I began to exercise.
Growing up I had always been “the heavy girl”. I started putting on weight in second grade and it steadily increased from there. After high school I ballooned into full blown obesity tipping the scale at 215lbs. [I would love to show you a picture of me then but I refused to be photographed during that time. Maybe one of my family members can find one for me.] I was around that size when I was diagnosed. So with fear sitting on my shoulder cheering me on I lost around 40lbs the first year. I was back to my high school size and I thought that was good but slowly I began to slack off. When everything is happening on the inside it’s easy to forget your body is in self-sabotage mode. By 2007 evidence of that battle began to emerge and I soon began to realize that the numbness was just the beginning of my MS symptoms. I had been in the calm before the storm and didn’t know it.
2009 was my worst year ever. My disease had progressed until I was the walking dead – chronic fatigue, memory loss, foot drop, vertigo, plus flu-like symptoms and severe dehydration from my medication. I was unable to find rest and my only comfort was a pan of brownies. Needless to say I gained some of the weight back. I was drowning in a sea of depression and only God could have orchestrated the series of events that pulled me out of it. It began with the opportunity for me to start working from home. This meant I could roll out of bed and right into my office. This meant that when I was having the crazy vertigo spins I didn’t have to worry that someone might see me lying on the floor. And this meant that I would have access to the internet. Via the internet I had access to a whole world of knowledge I was not even aware of here in small town Maine. I stumbled across the world of holistic medicine and alternative therapy. I spent hour after hour reading others testimony about what they were doing to combat this disease. My doctor told me there was nothing I could do – just take my meds and hope for the best but I was watching videos and reading about people helping their bodies fight the disease.
I’d like to say I jumped right in and practiced everything I learned immediately. I was skeptical about everything, mind you I was bitter and outraged in having to deal with it all in the first place, but once the pity party was over (took about a year) I started to put into practice a thing or two and the healing began. The grand total weight-loss as of today is 70lbs. I’m almost entirely symptom free – the foot drop comes and goes. I’ll share with you next week just what those things were that changed the course of my disease and my life.
Thank you for taking the time to read all of this. The comments last week were great! It helps knowing someone out there is listening. Of course I’m used to talking to myself but sharing with others is what life is all about.