This is a photograph of me and my great friend and director of photography Patrick McLaughlin capturing a sunset in Tofino, British Columbia.
One of the reasons I became a filmmaker was to be able to experience these beautiful moments and to share them with people through documentaries. It has been a wonderful career.
However, filming “Living Proof” wasn’t as pleasant as this moment on the beach. It was a challenging, painful and disturbing process.
But, despite the struggles and the drama, we were able to find the beauty in the people we met and the hope they shared.
We interviewed patients, families and some of the world’s top doctors. Conducting the interviews was an incredible honour and I was fortunate to make new friends in doing so.
In the end, the interview subjects, doctors, experts, advisers and production team created an award-winning documentary that sold out theatres at TIFF and is now weeks away from screens in Canada and the US.
And, most importunately, we created a documentary that shares hope and pertinent science-based information that MS patients and their families should be aware of!
And so, I find it unsettling that as “Living Proof” is about to reach wider audiences, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has asked it’s members not to promote the film through their self-help groups.
I also find it odd that the Canadian Multiple Sclerosis Society has declined an invitation to appear on a panel with two of Canada’s top journalists after a special screening of “Living Proof” at Hot Doc’s Ted Rogers theatre on January 29, 2017.
Is the documentary critical of the MS Society of Canada? Yes. But if the content in the documentary is incorrect, then why not address the inaccuracies in an objective public forum to which you have been invited?
Or, if the science-based information and hope is correct in the documentary, why not share it with your members?
It appears to me that with the release of “Living Proof” the MS Societies in Canada and the US would prefer to have their members, like me and Patrick after the sun set in Tofino, in the dark.
I started eating a level III diet today, I have been working back up to it, adding this, eliminating that. Tomorrow, I’ll skip breakfast and begin the fasts. As I’ve said before, I have healed on all three levels of the Wahls Protocol, but the third level was most remarkable, especially cognitively. How does Nutritional Ketosis heal? The Wahls Protocol book has detailed information on the subject. A simple description was found on this site: https://www.ketovangelist.com/fasting-destroys-your-cells-and-thats-a-good-thing/
The Wahls Protocol uses a combination of non toxic products, whole foods, clean meats, exercise, physio and meditative practices to reduce stress in conjunction with Nutritional Ketosis. In other words, its a lifestyle, not a fad or weight loss deal, although weight loss is just one of the many pleasant side effects.
Day two and I am already detoxing in ways I will not discuss here, but its all part of the process. What helps this time around is that I know the drill, I know what to expect. I’m excited to be back on this level. Swam and circuit trained today including my physio for my leg in the circuit training workout. One more brick in the wall done!
Change is not easy. It usually means the adoption of foreign ideas and concepts along with emotional and physical adaptations that take reasonable time to accept and implement. I often refer to my experience of quitting smoking because it parallel’s well with what and why I am doing the Wahls Protocol. My father was a jazz musician who played accordion. He was a product of a time when most people were smoking. Born in 1933, he began smoking at the age of nine. I grew up watching him chain smoke non filter Camels. He went through four packs a day, not an exaggeration. His two fingers that held the cigarette had permanent tobacco stains. You could hear the sound of him opening and closing his Zippo lighter every ten minutes, “Ka-ching”. Most people had ashtrays in their homes, even if they didn’t smoke, for guests who did. Smoking was expected and allowed almost everywhere. My father said often that it was his right to smoke. Even when it was killing him with Emphysema, he died at age 62 in 1996. A painful, long drawn out twenty-five year illness, the last fifteen in particular…..just like his father before him, who passed at age 60 from the same thing. I heard stories of my grandfather in the hospital under an oxygen tent, lifting his tent off so he could smoke his cigarettes in his hospital room. We think of that now and we think how ridiculous that was.
My mother who also was a heavy smoker, managed to quit in the seventies. As young children in the sixties, my brother and I had candies in the shape of white cigarettes in a “pack” box. We held the cigarette candies between our fingers like we saw our parents and pretended we were smoking, sucking in and blowing out imaginary smoke, then we’d tap our cigarettes on the edge of the imaginary ashtray. So, its no surprise that I started smoking when I was eleven in 1973. Marlboro’s, I loved Marlboro’s. They were apart of my identity. I always had a pack of red and white Marlboro’s with me everywhere I went. The first time I experienced a public restaurant that had a “No smoking” sign in the window was in 1983. It was a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop in Western Massachusetts. I’d never heard of them and I was incensed that I couldn’t smoke inside. That was unheard of, “Who do they think they are?”, I exclaimed. I refused to go in and waited outside while my friends had their ice creams. Fast forward to 1992, the hospital I worked in went no smoking on July 4th, Independence Day, now that was maddening. I spent the last three years freely smoking cigarettes out on the floor at the nurses desk. In the mean time, my father, long on oxygen, was getting sicker and sicker. At night when I slept, my feet were cold, and I felt bad in the morning. It became obvious that I had to do something about my smoking and I was furious about it.
It took me the next three years, stopping and starting before I finally quit for good in 1996, not long after my father’s death. That year, we lost five close friends and my father to smoking related illnesses, lung cancer, Emphysema and throat cancer. Five of us, together, supported each other to quit. Three of us stayed stopped. After my diagnosis’ of MS and a compression on my spinal cord that would result in an immanent surgery, I picked cigarettes up again after nine years of not smoking in 2004. I thought, I’ll just smoke for a short time, just to get through this. Feeling like an idiot buying cigarettes at the store the first time and lighting up at home, to have my 14 year old son catch me, calling me, “Puffer!” It was no longer acceptable to be a smoker anymore and I was very embarrassed to be seen smoking and even more embarrassed to smell like a smoker and it had become horribly expensive too.
I couldn’t smoke for a short time, my habit came back full force, only this time it was harder to quit. Cigarettes were different. They had more addictive chemicals added to them, they burned faster too. It seemed no sooner had I lit up, that the cigarette had a long ash already. I spent the next five years starting and stopping till I finally became willing to go to any lengths and stopped for good. This time around though, it took a whole year to be rid of the obsession to smoke as compared to the first time I quit in 1996, just one month for the obsessive cravings to dissipate then.
Suffice it say, that profiteers will do anything to make money. Fillers, chemicals, sugars, and whatever else, inundate our food source, like the increase in addictive fillers in cigarettes. Commercials assault our senses with melted cheese pizza’s, snacks and sweets beckoning us to be hungry, setting off cravings. Illness is rampant these days in a day and age when it should be the opposite. There have been no cures for much of anything in decades. How is that, when we eradicated polio, mumps, scarlet fever, and other childhood illnesses in the 50’s and 60’s. My father is deaf in one ear from his bout with polio. We have drugs that cost tens of thousands of dollars that only manage symptoms and poorly so. That then, need other drugs to combat the side effects, one leading to the next, leading to the next. If you replace all this with cigarettes, it is no less insane and just as outrageous. And like cigarettes, it is just as hard to change eating habits in a culture that, largely, still accepts this as the norm.
Change is hard, but I want my life back and for that, I’ll learn to eat healthy, untainted whole foods, that unfortunately includes wheat products. There is nothing wrong with wheat, the problem is what we’ve done to it in the last one hundred years that is the problem. Watch, “What’s with Wheat” on Netflix to learn what I am referring too. All I know, is ever since I stopped eating sugar, gluten, dairy and began eating six to nine cups of fresh, mostly organic vegetables everyday, I’m healing at a profound rate. Just like smoking, a few people had to make an unpopular stand against it. So, thank you Ben and Jerry’s and anyone else who had that courage.
Matt Embry’s documentary Living Proof is an example of standing up to several such Leviathans, one of which is the MS Society, which has long been tainted by pharmaceutical companies. This is the letter put out by the US MS Society in reference to Matt’s documentary:
Below is a message that was sent to all the National Multiple Sclerosis self-help groups in the United States of America about our award winning documentary ‘Living Proof’:
As you are aware, filmmaker Matt Embry is promoting his film around the United States. At this time, we ask that you please refrain from promoting via your Self-Help group.
The National MS Society is a trusted and reliable source of information and resources for people affected by multiple sclerosis. We continue to be here as a supportive partner for each person affected by MS. The Society has not yet reviewed the film and therefore not promoting it. The National MS Society only promotes or endorses content – information, sources, video, film, etc. – after a thorough review of the material, including scientific or clinical review where needed. We only endorse content that is aligned with our strategic plan, including our research strategy that engages leading MS experts around the globe.
Please continue to connect with me with any questions on promoting any third party events. Also, please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns. I appreciate your dedication, commitment, and support to the MS community and this request.
Enjoy your day!
Christy A Bomba, MPA CTRS
Manager, Program Implementation and Engagement
National MS Society
Includer, Arranger, Woo, Positivity, Communication
JOIN THE MOVEMENT®
Consider a gift to the Society (and get a tax benefit!) Learn more about the ways you can give.
1-800-344-4867 (Information and Referral)”
Note: to see the comments to this click on Matt Embry’s name. Well worth the time to read.
After premiering to sold-out crowds and standing ovations at the Toronto International Film Festival, LIVING PROOF will hit theatres across the United States and Canada beginning February 1, 2018. Take a stand for patients, take control of autoimmune disease. Visit www.SeeLivingProof.com to find a screening near you.
I am busy renewing my resolve, not that I have for a minute considered giving up, but I have slid back a bit on my enthusiasm. I am blogging daily again, taking in written and viewing materials like What’s with Wheat on Netflix and The Wahls Protocol in preparation for preparing for Wahls level III. “Step by step and habit by habit”, was a wonderful line someone said in What’s with Wheat. It is how its done. It is change in many ways. Exercise, nine cups of varied vegetables a day, whole foods, organic foods, gluten free cooking, fermented foods and probiotics, bone broth, seaweed, organ meat, extra time cooking from scratch resulting in more dishes and more time doing them, e-stim, physio, detoxing via sauna, mud baths, Epsom salt baths, and or steam baths, meditation and other stress relievers, supplements, non toxic household products, juggling finances, learning how to make everything homemade because its ten times cheaper than buying it, etc.
I just learned to make bone broth, finally. Now that I know it isn’t that big of a deal, I will make more next month. I am working up to making my own Kombucha tea. Kombucha tea is a fermented drink. Fermented foods help to build good bacteria in your stomach, which you want. To buy it is expensive, but far cheaper to make it and by all accounts not that difficult. But, its still something new to learn about, what is it, why is it good for you, what materials do you need, how much for the base materials, and so on. Kombucha tea is organic black or green tea, filtered water, sugar and flavorings like ginger or berry. To start its suggested that you buy a kombucha scoby or “grow” your own. Now there’s an intimidating word, “scoby”. What is a scoby?! I will let this very good and simply explained and illustrated blog on the subject explain it: https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-your-own-kombucha-scoby-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-
My plan is to learn to grow my own following the instructions above. I need a large glass pitcher, therefore, the end of the month is when I will be fully committed to this lab experiment. I will take pictures and share my scoby journey with you. In the mean time, what definitely helps my enthusiasm is, as I’ve said before, the fact that hardly a day goes by without someone mentioning my remarkable transformation these last nine and a half months and today is no different. At the gym where I swim, a woman, who was my cane buddy, remarked today, “Where’s your stick (cane)?” As always, when someone asks, I take it as an opportunity to introduce them to the Doctor Wahls Protocol, which I did. Most times, even though they asked and I am living proof right before them, when I mention the dramatic eating changes, I watch their face fall flat, my cue to discontinue the conversation. Which was the case with this woman, but later, at my physio appointment, something truly remarkable happened.
I’ve had a course of nine physio appointments one every two weeks. I have one more after today. I’ve explained what I’m doing, and all have been interested, but today was something. Of course they’ve had time to see me transform here as well, because its been a couple of months and I am continuing to heal. My physical therapist is actively researching the information, and while I rested with the heat at the end, two other people asked questions, a lot of questions about my illness and what I am doing and what the Wahls Protocol is.
Now, if that doesn’t make one feel enthusiastic, then there’s just no hope for me!
This is a short one today. I’m anxious to start Ketosis and have decided to begin this Wednesday. I’m mostly out of foods not okay on that level. Living alone, I have the benefit of not having anything in the house that could make it hard for me to get started on Level III. Most people live with others and must share the household cabinets and fridge with other foods, that is a benefit of living alone that I like. Not that its impossible to do this in those situations, I listen to Wahls members who tackle this very problem successfully. Although, I have noticed that the ones who do best with this are the ones who have supportive family who also adapt to the Wahls Protocol, although usually to a lessor degree, whereas they’re not sick, it isn’t necessary for them to be as strict as those of us who are battling an illness.
In the last few months, in my attempts to learn to like various foods required on the Protocol, I have focused on what I don’t like or have not found a way to adapt to more than what I have learned to like. Here are some of the weird and not so weird foods that I’ve come to love, or have always loved and didn’t know could be considered good for me:
Coffee with full fat coconut milk and almond butter blended in my Ninja Professional blender
Full fat coconut milk
Raw veggies, I crave them daily
Bacon (the Protocol calls for antibiotic, hormone and nitrate free, but I can’t afford the nitrate free, I buy antibiotic and hormone free, but with nitrates. When my financial situation improves I’ll go back to nitrate free, I figured 2 out of 3 is better than nothing)
Greens salad with fresh organic strawberries, almonds, purple cabbage and avocado
Cauliflower recipes, like Nom Nom Paleo’s Asian Fried Rice, mock mashed potatoes and Alfredo Sauce
Ground bison, which tastes infinitely better than beef hamburger and digests better
Chia seeds and chia seed pudding
I’m sure there’s more than this, but I can’t think of anymore right now. I had a great workout this morning and a wonderful visit with a friend. I’m off to ready myself for Physio and exercise tomorrow.
Picture from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/search/eye/
Hot soup on a cold day is an understatement when the temperature is -27C/-16.6F feels like -36C/-32.8F and the heat failed in my building due to burst pipes……again. And so, sitting in front of my little space heater eating hot soup is the perfect remedy. I am in a building with a very good landlord. They have been super good about getting the problems repaired immediately. The little space heater was given to me to use till the building heats up again. The heat is up and running, but the building won’t heat up till the cold snap is over, which will be Saturday when the temperature will read 3C/37.4F, a 12.2C/53.9F degree change. Crazy up and down weather that is typical of Calgary, AB.
I came up with this modified recipe for Italian Wedding Soup when I saw a soup featuring meatballs and spinach from a friend on the Wahls Facebook Group. It brought a craving for Wedding Soup. This is my gluten/dairy free version:
Italian Wedding Soup
For the meatballs
1/2 lb hamburger (I used grass fed beef)
1 egg (eggless option: 1 tbsp chia or ground flax seed with 3 tbsp water heated up)
1/3 small onion diced small
1/3 cup hemp heart seeds (you can try coursely ground nuts too, I thought almonds or walnuts would be good too)
salt and pepper
Herb of choice (I used 1/4 tsp of sage, I would’ve preferred parsley, but didn’t have any)
1 tbsp nutritional yeast (in place of the Parmesan cheese)
1 tbsp bacon grease or other fat of choice
For the Soup
10 cups chicken bone broth
2 carrots in half inch pieces
1 onion coarsely chopped
1 rib celery sliced
3 cloves garlic minced
1 cup chopped spinach or escarole
salt and pepper
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp ghee
Mix the meatball ingredients and form into small one inch sized meatballs. Fry in bacon grease on two or three sides (about four minutes, they won’t be cooked through, they will continue to cook in the soup).
Saute the carrots, onions, celery and garlic in the ghee 3 to 5 minutes. Add the broth with the meatballs, spinach, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast. Bring to a gentle boil and cook ten to twelve minutes.
I was happy with how this came out and had two bowls! Me, my gloves, my double woolly socks, my heavy sweater, my Nordic hat with fur on the inside, my space heater on one side and my cat glued to my other side and my hot bowl of soup. This is the kind of food that is making me heal.
What a bummer. Well, at least it only happened to the two large bottles. I still have the four small ones I froze, two small jars in the lower fridge and a cup I drank yesterday. I threw these two out. I know what happened too. I did cool the liquid first, then bottle and cool further in the lower fridge before transferring to the freezer. I had filled the smaller bottles first, taking care to leave an inch of space at the top of each jar to allow for expansion when freezing. I forgot to do the same for the last two larger jars. This is what happens when you don’t leave space. Without the room to expand, the bottles broke. Oh well, lesson learned.
I am working my way back to Wahls level III (nutritional Ketosis). As I’ve said, there was a difference for me with level III as compared to the other levels. I had a greater result in healing, although, I have had healing on all three levels, but it was significant on level III, especially cognitively. I have some foods left over from the other levels, throwing away good food is not something I can afford. I am finishing off the Gluten free flour, dried whole cranberries and baby potatoes. That’s all I have left, once those go, I’ll begin level III again. Right now, I’m getting ready for it psychologically and physically. Some people can jump right into things, I have to prepare myself, which takes time. When I do this, whatever it is I am working towards has a far better success rate.
I am still hearing almost daily, people’s astonishment over my continued transformation. With the Protocol, it is dramatic and its fast. It’s only been nine months. I don’t look sick anymore. My gate, my sense of balance and my cognitive abilities have all significantly improved. However, I still have a lot of healing to do yet, hence level III. From what I understand, level III, over time replaces cellular structure with new cells, seven to ten years for complete replacement, to then be sustained by continuing the good habits I am learning and working on implementing into my life in a second nature way.
I am still stubborn about eating organ meat and seaweed. I have to find a way to include them. What worked best for me was taking desiccated liver and spirulina pills. But, I can not afford them. I need to research further ways to cook with organ meat, which can effectively hide them and the taste. I have looked into it here and there. What I need to do is compile a list of recipes, which I have been doing with notebook on my computer. I need to take the time, look at them again, compile them into one category and begin testing the recipes till I find the ones that work best. I am rebuilding my resolve to not settle for less. These are my upcoming goals.
In the mean time, I am still exercising four days a week and have two more physio appointments for my leg. The physio social worker asked if I wanted them to apply for more physio, but I said no. I said no for a couple of reasons. One, I don’t want to inundate myself with appointments, I am satisfied with what I’ve been taught and have been incorporating the exercises into my workouts with great success. The second reason is that it was made clear that I was allowed a max of $800 that could be spent on physio from disability. I don’t want to aggravate my worker, I’m going to further need her help with career counseling and my readiness to work. I am going to make an appointment with her around mid February. The end of this month, I have my appointment with the MS psychiatrist and the MS social worker to counsel about my goal to go back to work.
Whew! A lot to prepare for. There, now we’ll let that go, get ready for my workout tomorrow and take it a day at a time.
I realize it is ridiculous that this is a big deal to me, but it is. I have waxed and waned over this for months. Each time I must learn a new eating lesson (cooking, budgeting to afford it, tools to make it, overcoming my fear of, “is it going to be gross?”, etc), that when I finally do it, I find that most of the time, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I spotted a recipe that was the simplest I’ve seen. One of the reason’s I dragged my feet on this, here are reason’s (excuses):
I don’t have a crock pot and can’t afford to buy one
I can’t afford grass fed chicken bones and chicken feet
I’m afraid to let anything cook on my stove top for twelve hours or more
What if its disgusting with all that dissolved bone marrow, “bleh!”
Reason’s why this recipe worked for me:
Timing was right, I just baked a whole chicken (unusual for me, I live alone)
The directions were for on the stove with a second option for the crock pot
It was specifically for a whole roasted chicken carcass (something I can better afford, because I get the meat from it too for other meals)
Simply and directly written
I had the suggested tools on hand (for a change)
Simple everyday stuff. Stainless pot, fine mesh strainer, large strainer, large bowl, ladle, glass jars (as you can see, mine are recycled).
~Do not boil. Boiling can destroy collagen molecules. A slow simmer is best.
~Use vinegar when possible to pull out the trace minerals & collagen from the bones.
~Use an organic chicken, one with no hormones & no antibiotics. Whole Foods has organic rotisserie chickens.
~Celebrate if you see that the broth become gelatinous when refrigerated. That is a great sign that you extracted all the good stuff from the bones. That is liquid gold!
~Want to pull even more health benefits from the bones? Soak the bones in cold water with the vinegar & vegetables for 15 minutes to an hour before turning on the heat.
~Oftentimes, there will be wonderful gelatin left in the bottom of the rotisserie container if you have refrigerated the chicken before preparing the broth. Don’t let that go to waste! Dump it right into your broth or save it with your chicken to add later to the soup or whatever dish you are making. You can see it in the picture below.
For your information on Dr. Wahls research is this research update from Dr. Wahls letter to her mailing list:
2017 has been a tremendous year for our research team, and we are looking forward to the progress that 2018 will bring.
In this last year, seventeen out of forty-one enrolled participants in our clinical trial, Dietary Approaches to Treating MS Related Fatigue, completed the full study. This current study is funded by a $1 million grant from the National MS Society to compare the effectiveness of a low-saturated fat diet (Swank) and the modified Paleolithic diet (Wahls Elimination) at reducing the severity of MS-related fatigue. From the clinical trial participants, we have been able to collect microbiome samples and extract the DNA. We plan to study the bacteria diversity within this next year. Learn more here.
In 2018 we look forward to publishing the Protocol Paper. This publication will focus on the dietary aspects, and provides a precise scientific description of the Wahls Elimination diet. Additionally, projected for publication in the New Year will be the Wahls vs. Swank Menu Analysis. The team has been studying the nutritional adequacy of both diets in their “ideal” state within the recommended daily allowance (not how they may be consumed in real life) using statistical analysis and standard research protocol to compare the nutrient intake of the two diets. Learn more here.
For the future, we look to expand our research with our inter-disciplinary team at the University of Iowa and add an advanced vision study for MS patients. We also hope to study the Wahls Elimination diet vs. usual care for newly diagnosed (pre-medication) MS patients. Lastly, we look forward to expanding our research to conduct a safety study of dietary approaches in treating ALS related symptoms. Learn more here.
Thank you to all that have believed and invested in our work—it is because of your generosity that we are able to explore this ground-breaking research. I wish for you strength of mind, body and heart in the New Year!
I read once that the highest percentages of car accidents happen within one mile of home. That’s because we switch to auto pilot and become less observant and alert, over confident and driving on memory. Whereas, less familiar routes, we need to pay constant attention. Also, anticipating home, we might speed up, anxious to get there. I’m a jewelry artist, working mostly in bead embroidery. My pieces can sometimes take months to finish. Within hours of finishing the piece, I speed up and make near fatal flaws, because I can see the end in sight, I am excited to do the finishing touches and complete the piece that I have been meticulous with up to that point. Same theory. I’m going through that right now. I can see the finish line for my foray into the work world and greater independence, but I’m not quite there yet. Here is where I must be particularly careful, lest I jump the gun and undo half of what I’ve achieved so far.
I take something called Access Calgary, which is a door to door service for the disabled using handibuses, vans and checker cabs. I’ve utilized the service for three years now. When I started the Wahls Protocol nine months ago, the drivers knew right away I was the one they were picking up, I either had a walker and always my cane. I just didn’t look well. Now, especially at the Southland Leisure Centre where I work out, they don’t make a b-line for me anymore and twice this week, they went back in their vehicles and phoned Access that they could not find the rider. When I called Access and was directed to the correct vehicle, in both situations, the drivers said, “I saw you, but didn’t think….”. Today too, again. Obviously, I’m looking healthy and compared to most of the people were picking up, I am. And I am grateful. But, as strong as I look, I’m not ready to give Access up yet. Where I work out would take a bus, a train and a bus to get to. An hour of transit one way, carrying a gym bag. The same gym bag will be filled with wet clothes on the way home and a fatigued leg from working out. I take regular transit for local trips and reserve Access for complicated trips like the above. I still suffer from fatigue. I walk strong, but I still have an expiration date and will still fatigue. Eventually, I think I will most definitely be able to let go of Access. But right now, I need them to help me continue to rehabilitate.
I guess, I’m experiencing an in between point. I am rehabilitating to the point of feeling well enough to work and stand on my own two feet, but not quite there yet. I have three more months of intensive rehabilitation to go before I am ready to take the first really big step out. I have an appointment with the MS psychiatrist and the MS social worker at month’s end to discuss psychologically getting ready for the possibility of working full time. Now, I say possibility because I have not one but two neurological conditions to consider. I have a fused neck, a result of a stenosis and compression. The last thing I want to do is aggravate that. I’ve had two surgeries there, don’t want a third one, because then were talking c/1 and c/2, into the base of the skull. And I’ve read nothing but horror stories about that. This is one aspect I will carefully discuss with my doctors. It may be when its all said and done, that part time is the best I can do. I’m shooting for full time, while reservedly, remaining realistic.