The First Signs of Multiple Sclerosis
I received my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis in early 2000.
I remember it very clearly. The year was 1999. I was thirty years old.
I was boarding a plane to Wisconsin to visit my stepfather, who had just been given three months to live. He had a terminal lung cancer diagnosis despite being a runner, an outdoor enthusiast, a whole-foods eater, and a nonsmoker.
As I stepped onto the plane my balance wavered and I felt a spec of something in my eye. I went to the plane bathroom and looked in the mirror but couldn’t see anything, but my eye hurt and my field of vision now had a spot in it. By the time we landed, I was exhausted. I figured it was just stress, emotions, worry.
My parents, weary from my Dad’s diagnosis, were there to greet me. When I woke the next morning my vision in my left eye was almost gone. A large black spot was in the center of my eye and I had only some peripheral vision. My balance was off due to my lack of vision in my left eye so I started to wear a black patch. I was a pirate.
My Multiple Sclerosis Diagnosis
Post-trip, at home, I went to see an ophthalmologist and eventually, a neurologist, and I get the probable diagnosis. My symptoms, combined with the optic neuritis (that pesky black spot that had grown to take nearly all of my vision in the one eye) – pointed toward a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis.
I left the doctor’s office and I went down the hall to the reading room – there was no ready internet at this time, so I dove into books to research MS. I read and I read and I read. And when I got home, I started looking up original scientific papers on Multiple Sclerosis. I’m a scientist, and I wanted statistics and original academic peer-reviewed journals.
Soon after, my diagnosis was confirmed with an MRI that clearly showed lesions on my brain, bright white spots on the film. I went home to research more until I had so much information in my head, it was a jumble of terminology and science (and, apparently, white scars).
I was totally overwhelmed but I followed my doctor’s orders. Back then, alternative medicine was just that, very alternative. No one ever asked me about my diet. No one ever asked about my lifestyle. They just did what they knew how to do. They gave me drugs – and then they gave me more drugs to counteract the side effects of the first drugs, and so on. I was on drugs to combat muscle spasms, drugs to combat fatigue, drugs to counteract drugs. And I just kept getting sicker and sicker.
Every single day, I was taking all of these prescriptions and I was telling myself, I’m sick, I’m sick, I’m sick. I knew, after all of my reading and research, that these drugs don’t have very good success rates, but I was listening to my doctor and doing what he told me to do because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Right?
My doctor did not discuss alternative therapies, he never asked me about my diet or my lifestyle. I continued to get sicker and sicker, which led to an utter feeling of hopelessness.
Flash forward to 2002. I have quit the job I love (teaching biology). I use a cane during the day and often a wheelchair at night – and that’s on days that I can get out of bed. I am so fatigued I am often bed-bound. My left side simply doesn’t work. Sometimes a book is too heavy for me to pick up. My concentration and memory are shot – mostly due to fatigue I think. I am a shadow of my former self. I had been a vibrant, healthy woman – just thirty years old, and everything was stripped away, just like that.
My Journey to Wellness
I woke up one day and realized that I wanted more. I wanted to have a child. I wanted to get healthy again. I decided it was time to make a change. So I took charge of my own health.
First, I went to an Ayurvedic physician who started me down the right path. I quit the daily injections. I decide that the psychological damage done by a daily dose of “I’m sick” outweighs any possible benefit of the drug I am taking.
With that drug gone, I was able to get off of the drug that I was taking to counteract that drug. Two down…
I was feeling hope for the first time.
Ultimately, it was Ayurvedic medicine, Naturopathic medicine, Acupuncture, herbal medicine, and a lot of my own research that led to my healing from Multiple Sclerosis.
Over time, I crafted my own holistic wellness plan and I still follow it to this day. I’ve altered it over time. There has been a lot of trial and error with nutrition, and I had food sensitivity tests that helped me determine which foods will support my body and keep me healthy, and which will ultimately hurt me. As a result, I have chosen to eat gluten-free. I eat an anti-inflammatory diet. I mostly eat ketogenically. I do intermittent fasting. I eat to stabilize my Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. I protect my nerves. I take Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and Turkey Tail Mushroom tinctures every day. I do all of these things to decrease inflammation in my body and mitigate my stress response. I avoid illnesses like the cold and flu by taking herbs that help ensure I don’t get sick.
The foundations for my self-healing Multiple Sclerosis are rooted in my diet, my vitamin levels, the supplements I take, and herbal medicine, as well as lifestyle and exercise. I also put a lot of focus on, mind-body connection, nature connection, and personal cultural repair.
I have also created my Warrior Bundle – all of the herbal tinctures I take daily in one easy-to-find pack. Here’s to thriving!
Share this with someone with an autoimmune disease
Do you know someone who has received a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis or has another autoimmune disorder? Please send them my article on what I do every day to manage my Multiple Sclerosis where I outline how I continue to stay healthy and strong in spite of MS, both mentally and physically. I hope that my journey back to health will help others get and stay well.
Here’s to thriving!