Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Doctor's Orders

Yesterday was my 6 month MS check up, with an additional 12 month MRI update thrown in. What's the verdict?


Not even one new lesion!

Of course my old friends are still there but not growing or glowing.

So, no relapse in a full year! This is quite encouraging to me because not only did I hold out just with Copaxone on my side (MS medication to lessen new lesions by 1/3), now, with the addition of my diet improvements, I stand in the absolute best position looking forward!

One thing MS patients desperately need is hope for our future. Near future and far.

My doctor asked what I had been up to so I told her I had gone back to school full time. She said that was great and so I then told her (with unrestrained exuberance) about my diet and asked what she thought about it. She said eliminating food intolerances and juicing were wonderful things to do. She believes... get this..

     "our diet is a lot of the cause of what is wrong with our bodies including autoimmune issues."

This is what I've been screaming! Who is "our" in that sentence? Society. Us. Our diet has become out of control and harmful to us. Let us fight back!

No, our diet can't possibly protect us from all illnesses, but I believe it can completely prevent many of the illnesses we are laden with today, and improve the lives and health of those who have disease, whether or not it is self induced.

On my way out of the appointment my doctor asked what degree I was going for in college, and I told her Psychology for counseling. She said "Let me know when you get your degree, we may have a job for you here. Wouldn't THAT be cool?"

Cool indeed.

Hope for the future... indeed.

Never lose hope.

Keep up the fight!


Monday, March 28, 2016

Juicing: Considering the Cost

Let's face it... fresh fruits and vegetables are more expensive than canned foods or processed foods.

I will be totally honest and say that in the last three weeks of purchasing groceries, our grocery budget has increased, especially considering we have 2 adults and 1 older teen juicing in this house. Remember we are only juicing for lunch and dinner, but our fridge is FULL of produce and our counters are too.

On a side note: in my experience, Publix's produce far exceeds and outlasts any other produce that I have purchased for juicing. An important tip to remember while shopping at Publix is to avoid "organic" labeled produce, as this really increases price. Also, visit and see what produce they have on sale each week and gear your juices around those items.

So, what are we saving short term?

  • with the energy levels increased by juicing, we are saving ourselves time by being more efficeient
  • we are saving our bodies from having to digest and process foods that we weren't made to process... preservatives, high fat, high sugar, etc
  • we are saving ourselves money on products intended to beautify our skin (I'm telling you, this skin is glowing!)
  • we are saving ourselves the expense and hardship of viral illness because our immunity levels are to the roof
Which brings us to, what are we saving ourselves long term?

  • by limiting viral illness, we protect ourselves from auto immune attacks in the form of new central nervous system lesions, for the MS patient
  • we are protecting our bodies from possible future disease, such as cancer and heart disease, because many of the highly concentrated nutrients of these juices promote healthy cell growth and doesn't clog up our blood with cholesterol
  • another positive point about the increased energy levels, we are more apt to move and exercise, which also increases our mobility and longevity
  • most importantly, our healthy lifestyle is a positive impact for our children to live healthy lives giving them all these benefits for generations to come!
Now, look over this list and tell me where an increased grocery bill isn't worth what you are getting in exchange? The benefits are much more than I can list on this blog. I wish I could list them because I believe it would somehow benefit every single person. Yes, this blog is geared towards MS, but I truly believe this can help any autoimmune disease.

I truly believe it can help with even congenital disease.

I believe it could benefit even the healthiest person on the planet because of it's preventative components!

Let me interject to MS patients here, that while implementing juicing into my lifestyle has been an unbelievably positive experience, there are still times that exhaustion can strike. So far, for me that has been due to over-working (i.e. literally cleaning the house 5 times in one week for showings because our house is for sell) and also, for women MS patients, several days before our cycle, we can become pretty lethargic.

All the juice in the world isn't going to completely eradicate fatigue from the MS patient, but during these times I think "imagine how much worse I would feel without juicing"! I have been there and it is considerably worse. It's lay-in-the-bed-worse and I trust me, people, I am not the lay-in-the-bed type.. I've got lots to do at all times!  

So, keep in mind if you decide to follow these steps, you WILL feel amazingly better, but we still have MS. It's not perfection, and it's probably not a cure, but it IS improvement of our daily lives.

This was key to me. I needed help with simple, ordinary life and I have gotten that from these changes.

For those interested, I am considering holding my very first MSforMS webinar! Even if it is just me and one other person, that is fine, as long as I can get the word out about steps to improve our lives, so stay tuned for that announcement,... until then...

Keep up the fight!


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

How goes it?

10 days in and where are we?

Overall I cannot express to you through this virtual means how incredibly BETTER I feel!

  • I have tons more energy (throughout the day, not just mornings)
  • My mind is sharp and alert
  • Pain I was having because of muscles spasms (these are an all day "pulling" in my muscles) are almost non-existent... this means so much to me
  • Elevated mood, I believe from just feeling better. It's difficult to be cheerful when your body is so worn down and you are in pain much of the day.
  • Increased desire to exercise. I have made myself exercise since the first episode in an effort to keep my legs and body strong, but usually, it was mind over matter. Now, my body is telling my mind to exercise, which makes it so much easier and enjoyable.
  • Weightloss? 10 in 10. Yes, 10 lbs in 10 days. Crazy but true. And the real crazy thing is, I'm NOT starving. This girl can chunk down some serious fat and protein with nuts, avocados and even sweet potato chips. Don't think I'm over here wilting. I'm chowing down!
  • The least of these concerns and an unexpected byproduct is my skin is really radiant. For a forty-something, this is a big deal.
Wow! What more can I say besides wow? This has been an incredible start. I am so thankful I jumped in and gave this a try!

I realise I am in the honeymoon phase here. I realise those birthday parties and holidays are coming to stare me down with their sugar laden, glutneous maximus. But, so far, when old favorites have come to visit, such as the chocolate chip cookies my darling daughter made this week... the temptation simply isn't there.

I don't believe this is from a matter of my will in the sense that I refuse to mess up what I have started. Those old cravings, pullings and yearnings are dead.

How odd.

If you happen to personally know me, you will understand, my sweet tooth was enormous, so, for me to go 10 days without sugar and then look over at a bowl of chocolate candies with disinterest is pretty amazing. Can I get a witness?

Which step gave the greatest benefit? I'm not sure. Eliminating the intolerances definitely was a boost in my energy with lack of sugar crashes and gluten induced fatigue, but the huge boost from the micronutrients of juicing has to be what nitrous oxide is to a race car.

As stated in my Juicing 101 post, I was only planning on juicing breakfast and lunch, and only Monday through Friday. I like to sink my teeth into actual food and experience some crunchiness in my life. But this past weekend I wanted juice for lunch, thank you. And I had it. Saturday and Sunday. It just makes you feel so good.

So, there you have it! Grand success! We will see how this goes long term and also see if my documented medical situation improves, or at least, doesn't worsen in the near future.

What will the benefits be to my health? Am I really employing a solution for my MS?

Only time will tell. I don't mind waiting so much if I'm going to feel this good doing it!

Interested in Juicing?

I believe juicing could benefit anyone on the planet, especially with any type of autoimmune illness.
I was considering holding an informational meeting on juicing. Text, message, call or comment on this blog (not anonymously) if you are interested and I will see what I can pull together!

Keep up the fight!


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Rest for the Weary

A major symptom of Multiple Sclerosis is fatigue. This teters more on the exhaustion side than the "I'm-tired-and-need-a-nap" side. This can be a life altering issue, but I believe there are things we can do to improve our energy levels and, perhaps get more in the bargain than we bargained for.

Several factors contribute to fatigue, namely:

  • progression of the disease itself (lesion and damage load)
  • depression
  • sleep disturbance
Which would you find to be the greatest of the three causes? A study published on the National Sleep Foundation's website said, 

"Specifically, the results of this study showed that all three contribute to fatigue in MS, but that sleep disturbance is the biggest contributor."
Of course, the disease of MS itself can present issues that disturb sleep such as, insomnia brought on by a brain lesion, spasms in the muscles that awaken you at night, among other things. What I am addressing here are the people who choose to limit their sleep because of poor time management or overloaded schedules (preaching to myself here).

While MS is such a "case by case" disease, the majority of patients do suffer from fatigue and I believe our lives can be improved by making a focused effort to rest our bodies and minds as much as possible in the evenings.

Let me make my next point by giving a simple illustrated lesson of what MS is.

The term Multiple Sclerosis actually means "multiple scars" which are found on the brain and spinal cord. To be more specific, the scars are damage to the myelin of the brain cell.

Above is a healthy brain cell. Notice the myelin, which is a covering of the axon cord. It's a lot like the coating of an electrical cord, in that it insulates the nerves and electricity they inhabit. (Did you know that our brain cells actually conduct electricity? Fascinating!)

This is a picture of what damaged myelin looks like in MS. The cord is exposed and nerves can misfire and can also be destroyed. Again, much like an electrical cord with exposed wire, the power flow can be disrupted or even severed when the coating is damaged.

This brings me back to the importance of sleep...

Besides the obvious advantage of simply feeling better, did you know that sleep is the state of being in which our bodies not only grow our myelin, but it is also when our bodies repair our myelin? Growth and repair does NOT occur when we are awake.

If I am choosing to only sleep 4 or 5 hours a night, I am limiting the process in which my body has the capability of, not only normal brain cell growth, but also healing.

We desperately need that healing.

And, don't forget that in addition to repairing the myelin, you are also combating that fatigue! Smart move!

So on to another step in my solution for Multiple Sclerosis..

Step Three: Focus on getting as much sleep as you can each and every night.

This won't always be possible with babies cutting teeth or sick children, and for those who suffer with bouts of insomnia, which I have from time to time, don't be tough and refuse any sleep aid (again, preaching to self). It's not weak to accept help when the results are your increased strength.

Much like the other ideas of self improvement I am purporting on this blog, this is one I am just now truly implementing. If the results are anything like my diet results have been, then I look forward to the days ahead!

I will be updating on the food intolerance elimination and juice diet soon, so far, so great!

Keep up the fight!


Friday, March 18, 2016

Juicing 101

The second radical step I have changed in my diet is the addition of juicing.

To get the full skinny on the benefits of juicing, I highly recommend watching Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (you can see the entire film free through this link) and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2, which are both available to watch via instant play on Netflix, or you can purchase the DVD's from either website.

The first film documents Joe Cross as he implements a diet solely based on juicing in order to lose weight, reboot his immune system and get his health back on track. His book, "The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet" explains how to get started, various juicing plans to follow (such as: 3-day, 5-day, 30-day, juice only or juice-plus-food plans), in addition to recipes and testimonials.

Joe Cross

The second film deals more with maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle after the initial juice diet, and how to incorporate it into your life permanently, verses "yo-yo dieting". This film helped me better understand how the autoimmune system is effected by our diet.

In a nutshell, the average American diet is nutrient empty, sugary and processed, not to mention genetically altered and chemically laden. This has affected our bodies tremendously. Juicing provides an extremely high amount of micronutrients that most bodies are starving for.

What does this have to do with my solution for Multiple Sclerosis?

It again deals with our auto immune systems. If we continually consume unhealthy foods, as they are presented to our immune system, our healthy cells become confused about how to handle the chemicals and byproducts therefore becoming unhealthy, and they will begin attacking our own body. This applies to any autoimmune disorder. So this brings about...

Step two: Implement juicing into your diet with an array of fruits and vegetables. 

I'm not talking about having some fresh apple juice occasionally. I'm talking about throwing some green leafy vegetables in that juicer, along with some fruits, even some roots and give your body the nutrient boost it has been starving for! You will be amazed at how much better you will feel!

If you are concerned about what should go in your juice, I use the "101 Juice Recipes" book, also from Joe Cross, which shows me exactly what to juice, how to juice it and the health benefits of each juice cocktail. Easy! (and trust me, I need easy)

While some take the plunge and solely drink juice for stretches of time, I have opted to juice a little less radically. Monday through Friday, I have juice for both breakfast and lunch, but solid foods remain in my diet by eating snacks and dinner, along with regular meals on weekends. This is not only because I personally need to chew some food each day to feel complete... it also allows for me to maintain this lifestyle long term.

Of course, this excludes any foods on my intolerance list, but after a trip to Publix for gluten, dairy and sugar free snacks, I don't think I will starve anytime soon (fair warning: NEVER go to Publix hungry).

Am I ever tired? I have 7 kids, we home school, my house is for sell, so I am having to work on the house and clean it a lot, I take a full time load of college courses, I have permenant nerve damage, so, yes, I do still get tired. But I believe I am at MY physical best with these healthy lifestyle changes.

Do you believe you are at YOUR physical best? It's not that far out of reach.

I began steps one and two only 5 days ago and the difference is remarkable!

No more headaches, no more crashes, no more dependence on coffee! My intention wasn't weight loss, but regardless, I have shed 7 lbs in only 5 days!

I will be seeing my internal medicine doctor today to regroup and see what the food allergy test means long term. Should I retest? What is the best path for my MS concerning my diet from this point on?

Also, I see another brain/spine MRI in the near future.. so I will also share what I learn from my Neurologist/MS Specialist concerning my solution plans.

Any juicing questions? Comment below!

Keep up the fight!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Diagnosis and Elimination Diet

Let's jump back a moment to March 2015, around the 8th month of my last pregnancy. This was the sequence of events:

  • I had a severe lay-in-the-bed-for-three-days-straight type flu
  • Within that week, my son went through open heart surgery
  • A few days post surgery, my feet began going numb again, causing a hard fall
  • Over the course of several days, the numbness ascended to my mid back (which I still remain numb from that point down, to one degree or another)
  • OBGYN sent me to neurologist who asserted I had a new lesion on my spinal cord and diagnosed me with Multiple Sclerosis, and scheduled an MRI of brain and cord to be performed postpartum
  • MRI confirmed a new lesion on my spine, right where the numbness ceased ascending, plus, it revealed (undeniably) my first significant brain lesion

I would like to point out that having the flu, in addition to an extremely high stress load, preceded this relapse. Viruses such as the flu, are thought to trigger the autoimmune process that causes attacks on the central nervous system in people with Multiple Sclerosis.

That is also the theory about eating foods our bodies are sensitive, allergic or intolerant to. The theory is that eating those foods trigger our immune system, which for those with autoimmune disease, causes your body to attack itself.

Since diagnosis, about 10 months ago, I had not forgotten about those food allergies. How could I, when my body let me know in a myriad of ways, it didn't appreciate my partaking in them?

The nagging question was, if I could improve symptoms of fatigue or possibly even lessen the possibility of more lesions, why wouldn't I?

Is eating sugar, wheat, milk or any of those other foods listed on the previous post, more important than my mobility? Sounds like an easy answer but, it has taken me 10 months to come to a conclusion.

No. It shouldn't be, and it isn't.

That brings us back up to the present. Having paid a whopping $85 for the test, you can be assured I still had the results filed away in safe keeping, just in case I might care later. Well, that time is now.

This gives us my obvious first step.

Step One: Eliminate all food allergies/intolerance from your diet.

These will be different for everyone. My daughter has food intolerance also, and we share a few, such as wheat and lettuce, but unlike me, she can have strawberries and sugar (yes, I am jealous... insanely). 

To find out your unique food intolerance, you can obtain a test through an internal medicine physician or even order testing online from various labs. My doctor used the 96 Comprehensive Food Panel from Alltess Medical Laboratory which you could purchase online and ask your family doctor to order, run, and send it in for you.

This is day three of my elimination diet and it hasn't been too difficult. I can honestly say I do have extra energy and feel more alert, instead of the constant fog of fatigue and forgetfulness I had been in (especially apparent after eating a super sized amount of homemade bread recently).

There is another key piece to this combat plan which I will address next time, but here is a sneak peek...

Keep up the fight!


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Introductions and Purpose


Hi! Let me introduce myself and the purpose of this blog. 

My name is Laura, a 40-something mom of seven. I wouldn't consider myself a die hard health nut. I have exercised somewhat regularly over my lifetime, and have had waves of extreme diet changes... some healthy, some not (such as the "cookie diet" of  '91).
I began having some serious health issues about 3 years ago, beginning with a bout of Transverse Myelitis (a lesion across the spinal cord) high in the spine at level C2, which left me severely numb from the neck down and hospitalized for a week. Several doctors wanted to take the plunge and call it Multiple Sclerosis (scarring on the central nervous system caused by an autoimmune process) from the beginning, but as we all know, it isn't that easy. 

One lesion doesn't fit the criteria for Multiple Sclerosis.

From this initial attack, I was left with hands and feet unable to feel normally, continuous body spasms, heat intolerance (body goes numb when the body temperature rises), extreme fatigue at times and some walking issues. After years of testing, starting medications, stopping medications and neurologists in conflict over a diagnosis, I decided to go to a natural health physician to see if she could give me some answers that may improve daily life. This started with testing.

The testing was to evaluate my blood for vitamin deficiencies, thyroid problems, clotting issues and food allergies, among other things.

Between the initial test and obtaining the results, we were in for quite a surprise. Upon instruction of my physicians, and based on my current abilities to care for my family (I felt I was at my limit) we decided to use a non-hormonal IUD to prevent pregnancy. Long story short. It didn't. 

I've always had a difficult time with nausea and food issues while pregnant, so when I arrived for the results of my tests, a diet upheaval was definitely not on the table (pun intended). Still, here was my list of food intolerances:
  • Sugar
  • Wheat (plus gluten)
  • Baker's yeast
  • Eggs (white and yolk)
  • Cow's milk
  • All cheese
  • Lettuce
  • plus a few non-staples: cantaloupe, cinnamon, coconut, chili pepper, rye, strawberry, and black walnut

My diet IS sugar, bread and milk (and in that order)! To remove these items from our diet truly appeared to be an insurmountable task. 

Frankly speaking, it wasn't going to happen. 

How could I live without these foods in my diet (ever)? And, how could a wife and mother of such a large family change how we have been eating for nearly 25 years?

Stay tuned...