Enjoy what is

Decreasing stress is one of the components of the Dr. Wahls Protocol. Stress is known to be a catalyst for illness. My own experience proves that. I was under a great deal of duress building up to becoming sick. Life happens, sometimes it isn’t pleasant. I’m stating the obvious, but its important to look at the truth of that. I have learned over the years due to a different illness I have that relies on the practice of gratitude to stay in remission, how to live in the moment, to look at my part in relationships and mistakes, to do spot check inventories, to make gratitude lists and to enjoy what is. Like anything these habits require a commitment and daily practice. I have had years of successfully applying these practices to my life and I’ve had times when I let them go and let old negative habits creep back in to the detriment of my serenity.  It was during those times that I got sick and running scared, made bad decisions that made the situation ten times worse then it had to be.

How to practice serenity is to be grateful for everything. To remind myself to live in the moment. I like these statements, “God will only give you what you can handle in one day.” and “I have all the money I need provided I die at 12 midnight tonight.” That doesn’t mean that I don’t plan for this or that. It means, I make the appointment, research the information, jot down the idea, then let it go, putting it out of my mind till its time to deal with it. This takes practice and is sometimes easier said then done. However, like anything, practice makes it easier to do, then the rewards flood in from the practice.

Sometimes to get down to a free flowing serene state, I must look at unpleasant truths about myself, especially if the same set of calamities or repeated mistakes happen over and over again. That’s usually a sure fire sign that the fault is mine. Somewhere, there are deep rooted issues that must be unearthed, amends made, myself and others to be forgiven and then, if the work is earnest and sincere then peace for this situation or relationship happens. Other people are usually necessary to help with this, such as support groups, advisers, counseling, religious practices for some people, etc. Food for thought, the smartest and most powerful people on Earth have advisers, the more responsibility they have the more advisers they have. It is, paradoxically, not a sign of weakness, but of strength to seek advice and assistance.

Meditation is the practice of being in the moment. To be aware of all five senses, to quiet the mind, concentrate on breathing, build a deeper communion with a Higher Power if one so chooses, or to feel a deeper connection with the Earth with sounds of nature and thoughts of ancient trees and pathways thru the woods or how the Earth feels on your hands when you plant something. We can do quick, in the moment meditations with everyday mundane activities, like concentrating on the warm sensation of sudsy water as I clean the plate, listening for the sound of clacking silverware when I drag the bottom of the sink for silverware to clean. Or we can do long prepared meditations. Set the scene, a favorite spot in our home that we create the space for. Burn incense maybe, light candles, play serene music or sounds (I like the ocean) or listen to a guided meditation. Exercise and jewelry making are both deep sources of meditation for me. I am completely focused when I create, colors, sewing, the feel of beads in my hands, or exercise, I’m off in my own world. When exercising, I am completely riveted on the teacher, the movement I’m doing, the feel of the water, the weights in my hands, the flexing of the targeted muscles, my breathing. When I do these things, I am not thinking about the bills I need to pay in two weeks, or the appointments I have tomorrow or even in two hours, I am completely in the moment. This is one of the reasons I love doing these two activities. Anxiety, fear of the unknown, causes the body to do certain things, increases heart rate, gasping for breath, racing thoughts of fears and over dwelling on negatives. Meditation is the practice of clearing the mind, deep thoughtful breathing, bringing one’s thinking back to the present moment and the realization that one is safe in that moment. Many fears are of bogeymen that are not happening right now and in most cases may never happen. And if there is a difficult loss occurring, job, family, health, then the practice of these above can make them easier to handle, more manageable by making it possible to take the situation(s) piece meal.

To enjoy what is are all these practices, that is the goal for me. That and humor. A sense of humor can cut stress in half and help keep a heart light. There is always two ways to look at any situation. Most of the time there is something good to consider even when it feels unfair. Here’s a silly joke:

Four men from Boston meet every Sunday to play cards. Clancy, Taylor, John and Ian have known each other for decades. John is the upbeat positive chap in the group. No matter what anyone says he always answers, “It could be worse.” This always rubs Clancy the wrong way. One Sunday, only Clancy, John and Ian show up. Ian, visibly upset, breaks the news to Clancy and John that Taylor is in jail after coming home Saturday night and finding his wife in bed with another man, he shot and killed them both. To which, John says, “It could be worse.” Clancy yells back, “That’s the last straw! You drive me nuts, how could it be worse John, two people are dead and our good friend is in jail, how could it be worse, you tell me that?!” John replied, “It could be worse because he could’ve come home on Friday when I was there.”

It could be worse.

 

Bonne Sante

Rise Above It

I use many ways to over come adversity. Life has its up and downs. I didn’t ask for MS, but it happened when I had two children depending on me as their main provider. Placed on temporary disability, I set to work finding other employment options. I went to college and excelled. Halfway through to a Bachelors in business, I suffered a particularly horrific MS attack that took my daughter away and caused my teenage son to lose the stability of his home and I became near homeless, bankrupt, and my car, which I could no longer drive due to cognitive damage was repo’d. I didn’t ask for that either. We all survived it though. My children are 17 and 27 now and have grown into responsible adults. We are all very close. It sounds simple (or maybe it doesn’t), but these set backs took years to settle. Its hard to describe in one paragraph what we had to do to overcome all of this, but we did and were stronger for it.

This is one of the strongest aids I have. I seek winning stories of others overcoming adversity. I seek people who inspire me to do the same. I seek their stories and examples in the media, in movies and books, in history and in everyday people I meet. What is important for me with these role models is to not see them as better or different than me, but rather to see them as ordinary people who have risen above their hardship and to let them teach me the method for their successes by observation. In every case, hard work, perseverance, a clear objective, and inner reflection were the ingredients that brought them through.

One of my favorite examples of this is the movie Cool Runnings about the first ever Jamaican bobsled team. Their first year in the Olympics was right here in Calgary, AB in 1988. I wasn’t here then, but I knew about them because of the movie. The movie itself is more fiction than fact, but no less inspiring because of it.  In the story, everything is running against them. Each must overcome some personal issue in order to push past all the naysayers and do the seemingly impossible. When they make that turn of attitude, they play a song in the movie titled Rise above it by Lock Stock and Barrel. I have sung that song many times in my head or out loud and it always works to cheer and bolster me up. Its a wonderful and very entertaining example. Now’s a good time for me to remember this one. Whereas I am working towards resuming employment, but before I do, I need to deal with the abject fear I have over the vulnerability of my situation, hence the MS psychiatrist and MS social workers I will be seeing.

Cool Runnings came up in conversation earlier today with a good friend. I have Netflix and looked it up and was excited to see that they do have it available to watch right now. That’s what I did, I watched it again and again, it inspired me deeply.

Rise Above It lyrics from https://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/coolrunnings/riseaboveit.htm:

Rise rise rise rise

Well, if you’ve got a problem, you’ve got to rise above it
When you face a challenge, you’ve got to rise above it
When you’re back against a wall, only way to go is up
Rise above it, come on and rise above it!
When you think you know your mind is really made up
When your dues have already been paid
Gotta know where to go where angels fear to tread
Only you and me against the world, against it all
If you’ve got a problem, you’ve got to rise above it
And when you face a challenge you’ve got to rise above it
When the sea bubblin high, all around is running dry
Rise above it! Come on and rise above it
When the road seems very long and narrow
Better make the shot go straight just like an arrow
To watch the movie, try Netflix or a movie ordering service on cable.
Bonne Sante

As A Man Thinketh, So Is He

Super busy day today. Did a lot, got a lot done. I’m tired, but happy that I am well enough to be busy and just be tired, not dying. Of course I may be singing a different tune tomorrow, I am looking forward to exercise in the morning and coffee with a friend after. On a different note, I am going to physio on Monday, I want to ask if there is anything that I can do to improve the vertigo balance issues I have. They are neurological, can’t change that except to hope that what I am eating and not eating will improve it. When I am tired, the tight rope feeling is markedly worse. Before, when my walking was so bad, I noticed less the balance problem. I knew I had the damage, but now that my walking is so much better, I notice the vertigo much more. Therefore, it is not a case of it getting worse, just more noticeable due to other neurological problems getting better. I’m wondering if balance exercises could counter an off balance teeter with muscles that control balance might be a temporary answer. Other than that, I practice the belief that I am healed. From the beginning of my Wahls sojourn. The first thing I did was return to an old habit of burning sage morning and night and saying that I am healed as I draw the smoke over me and then “think” abundance.

As a Man Thinketh is a literary essay and book by James Allen,  published in 1903.           It was described by Allen as “… [dealing] with the power of  thought, and particularly         with the use and application of thought to happy and beautiful issues. I have tried to         make the book simple, so that all can easily grasp and follow its teaching, and put               into practice the methods which it advises. It shows how, in his own thought-world,           each man holds the key to every condition, good or bad, that enters into his life, and         that, by working patiently and intelligently upon his thoughts, he may remake his               life, and transform his circumstances. The price of the book is only one shilling, and           it can be carried in the pocket.” [1] It was also described by Allen as “A book that will         help you to help yourself”, “A pocket companion for thoughtful people”, and “A book         on the power and right application of thought.”                                                                                                                                              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/As_a_Man_Thinketh

I was introduced to this book 24 years ago. It is a small little book with a big message. Emmet Foxes’ Sermon on the Mount and Around the Year with Emmet Fox are books that have greatly influenced me as well. Emmet Fox was a Christian Scientist who was a founder of The New Thought movement in the 1930’s. I am guessing that he and others were partly influenced by James Allen’s book above. I believe in this, when I start to shred myself and think impossible, then yes, the possible does become impossible and when I think that the impossible is possible, well then the impossible does become possible. I believe that this is what Jesus meant when he said, “The Kingdom of God is “within you”. “Within” means inside, “The Kingdom of God is [inside] you.” That, to me, is a clearly stated and unmistakable directive. It doesn’t mean that we are God, or that we are the Kingdom, it simply means that I have the Power of thought, which when rightly used (positive love) can build up and when badly used (negative fear) can destroy. If I am seen on the outside as strong, respected, educated, whatever, but on the inside I think that I am nothing, then I am nothing, because I will act like nothing. But, even if I am born on the outs, projects, uneducated, disrespected and prejudiced against, the outside world is telling me that I am nothing, but I believe that I am worth something, then I will be worth something. That is the Kingdom of God that I believe that Jesus was teaching about. If the Kingdom of God is inside of me, then I am with God everywhere when I remember to tap into it. I tap into it with thoughtful prayer and follow thru with hard work. “God will help you dig a hole, but you better bring shovel.”

On a side note it is important to explain that I do not consider myself to be religious, but spiritual. There is a big difference, while I respect other’s beliefs whether they be rooted in one religion that works for them, or they be atheist or agnostic, I practice the freedom to pray where I want, with whom I choose and in anyway that moves my Spirit. I have moved freely within many different churches, faiths, cultures and morays. I respect them all, they all had something to teach me, if I close my mind to only one way to reach the “inside” Kingdom of God then I will rob myself of the lessons I can learn from other walks of life and belief systems. What I described above, the power of thought, I am thinking day in and day out that, “I am healed.” And I am backing that up with action to heal myself. And its working. If I did the Wahls Protocol with the constant thought that, “This won’t work” or “this isn’t working” or “I say it is working” to myself, but I don’t believe the statement, then I am still thinking that it isn’t working and so it won’t. Because, you see, I really am what I think.

 

Bonne Sante

 

Picture from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-of-hand-over-white-background-316465/

 

 

 

Powerless? I think not!

I have my neurology appointment tomorrow. I’ve not seen my Neurologist since just before I began the Protocol. My last visit with him was an emergency visit because of an attack I was having and after three visits to the emergency room with excruciating back pain and a bad fall, I realized I was having an attack. My walking had deteriorated significantly and really had been getting progressively worse year after year. I had walked with a cane for four years, but now I needed a walker, even at times in my own home. The Doctor told me to take only half a dose of steroids. He was worried about what it may do to my bones where I have three fusions in my neck. I asked him for muscle relaxers. For me to ask for that, things are bad. I’m not big on taking drugs if I can help it. I chose to not fill the steroids script and took a half dose of muscle relaxers at the prescribed times. On day two of this, I was slurring my speech, sleeping hours during the day and drooling on myself. I said, “F@#k this!”, and started working towards what I knew was the answer all along having been introduced to the Wahls Protocol two years before. I saw the wheel chair and the motorized scooter looming ahead.

Three weeks after that I started this blog to help me stay on track and be accountable. I considered naming the blog “F@#k this!”, but thought that might detract from what it is actually about without an explanation in the title. So, Defeating MS – My Journey became the title, it says it all. As many of you know, I’m off the walker, then the cane. My mobility has improved back to what it was five years ago and gets a little better everyday, I’ve lost 34 lbs and my cognitive damage has improved dramatically as well. So, I’m going to see my Neurologist, who hasn’t seen me since all of this occurred. He’s been a good Doctor for me. I’ve had support. They know what I am doing and he sent the scripts and paperwork I needed to do Wahls electrical stimulation and physical therapy for my leg. He could’ve said no or charged me money for the paperwork. I have no resentment with him. The system, though, is too inundated with medication as the only resort for autoimmune illnesses. Someone debated with me not long ago, who is in the medical field, she argued the tired defenses that you can’t truly test if the Wahls Protocol works because you don’t know if their sticking to it and even if you do tell people, they won’t do what’s good for them. I agreed, that’s true in regards to the second point, but maybe 25% of them would if they at least knew that this exists and that it works. People need to at least know that this is an option and it comes with no ill side effects. And in answer to the first point, Wahls has suggested that they record their progress. Wahls Warriors she calls them. They are filming, writing, and blogging. Living proof they are. No its not a double blind study which costs millions to do. Right now the backing isn’t exactly there, but the testing is happening. Dr. Wahls is a published research MD aside from her Protocol, Autoimmune Wellness AIP are in the midst of research testing as is Dr. Jelinek of Overcoming MS OMS in Australia. Whether the pharmaceutical companies like it or not, it is coming.

Alright, back to my Neurologist. I keep side tracking the original thought. I have no idea what his reaction to any of this will be. I stopped my Copaxone about a month ago, they know that. Will it be indifference? Will it be interest? Might he be excited about my progress in the other, unexpected direction? Will he try to talk me into going back on Copaxone? No clue! I have a had an MRI confirming the attack. It showed two new lesions in my back, the year before, lesions were developing in my mid back. Scariest is the conversation I need to have with him in regards to seeking support and therapy to become ready to try working full time. I want to try this in five months, I understand full well, it may not be possible for me to ever work full time because of fatigue. While fatigue has diminished greatly, it is still around and must be factored in. My hope is that it will continue to get better. Then there’s the fact that I am 55 years old. Glass half full: I have at least ten years I could work, glass half empty: I am 55 and have MS, Wahls or no Wahls, like it or not, it is a major factor. I am confident I could work a little part time job. I have been considering doing this right now to help offset costs of the diet. This diet with supplements is costing me $500 to $600 a month. Ordinarily, $300 is what I spend on groceries and household a month. It’s a heavy amount on a small fixed income with no other source of income.

I am of this belief: Nothing is impossible if it is meant to be and you work hard for it. How do I know its meant to be? Well, the healing for one. I feel like I’ve been in some ways, frozen in time, unable to move forward. I feel free to once again work for future goals like school or work or non profit work. I have hope, when once I didn’t.

I am no longer a powerless victim of this disease.

 

Bonne Sante

Good Taste?

As I wrote yesterday, I am losing hair in unusual amounts. After some research for the other problems, which were sleepiness and depression, I learned that my dilemma was probably not enough protein and saturated fats on my Nutritional Ketosis diet. After increasing my fat and protein intake, this was proved to be true. It occurred to me, that maybe that is also the reason for the hair loss. I began research and read in a GQ article about various reasons for hair loss, that one could be not enough protein. I thought, “Aha!” You’d think that that would’ve been my first thought, but no, I did not equate the symptoms till I read that. I will wait two weeks and see, now that I’ve increased both my protein and fat, if my hair loss improves too.

I have been trying new foods since I began the Wahls Protocol seven months ago. Some of the new experiences were good, others not so good. What I have learned about myself and that which took me by surprise was that I am a picky eater. I have never viewed myself in that light and have always considered myself to be open to most tastes. In the conventional North American diet, that is true. But, not on this one. Many things I have excepted with gusto, like fermented foods like Kombucca Tea and Nutritional Yeast, ground bison, the darkest of chocolate, the loss of my sweet tooth and black coffee. Foods that are hard for me to accept are oily fishes (best ones for Omega 3’s), organ meats, and seaweed. The best way to get your nutrients, if possible is always eating them, but if this is not possible, then the easiest way to deal with that if you can’t stomach eating any of this, is with supplements in the form of desiccated liver pills, spiralina capsules, and fish oil capsules or fermented fish oil.

First, Omega 3’s: It is suggested to take fish oil. If taking fish oil that is not fermented then it is suggested to also take a mixed E tocotrienols. If taking a fermented fish oil, then it is not necessary to take the mixed E. There are only a few places in North America that make fermented fish oil i.e. cod liver oil (the old fashioned stuff). You know the stuff mother’s tried to force their kids to take 60 or more years ago. I bought that, and I tried hard to learn to just take it. I mean, com’on, I only need take 2 grams of it daily. I invested $68 in a four month supply bottle. To my credit I did last a whole month. I’d shoot it with the dropper that came with it. But, its just disgusting! That leaves me with two solutions: Learn to like salmon, or take fish oil with the vitamin E. I opted for fish oil with vitamin E.

Second, Seaweed: Daily servings of seaweed, algae or spiralina powder are mandatory on Wahls levels II and III and with good reason. There are healing attributes for the brain and the thyroid. In short its a powerful source for iodine which acts as a natural metal toxin remover from the body. This is something that I really need to figure out a way that will be doable for me. I first bought spiralina capsules which worked out great, except they are pricey and money is an issue for me. I tried the loose powder because it is cheaper and I bought it in bulk, but its beyond disgusting, to me. I have a friend who has no problem hiding it in her smoothie, but to me, it just ruined my smoothie. Then, I tried to take both the fermented fish oil and the spiralina together in a shooter (shot of water mixed with 1/4 tsp spiralina and the 2 grams fermented fish oil. I lasted three weeks doing this. I think that this is what did it in for both of them for me. I bought some products to try to learn a way to eat seaweed. I bought SeaSnax, a dried kelp salty snack. I took one bite last night and to me its just hard spiralina, I don’t care how much salt and onion powder you put on it, that’s all I could taste. So, that was a disaster. I have algae noodles, which the package claims have a neutral flavor and therefore should take the flavor of whatever there tossed with. But, I am afraid to try them. What a baby I am turning out to be, jeesh, who knew?! Although, I think I should get an A for effort, as you can see, I am working hard to find a solution to this, because, I understand why its important. Medicine, I have a vision of my younger five year old brother with his mouth clamped tight refusing the teaspoon of cough medicine, spilling off the spoon, thereby making my mother swear up a storm. That’s my brother, that’s not me. And yet, look at me, its me.

Third and last, organ meat: My father was Italian, he’s deceased now since 1995, he was an old world eater and organ meat was an important part of his diet, it was food he relished. He ate cow’s tongue and head cheese (which is brain pieces suspended in a gelatin mass in the shape of cold cuts), the organs from a whole chicken, that my mother would throw away claiming that there were none. I have my mother’s disdain for organ meat. I settled on desiccated liver pills, which worked out well, but I ran out and can’t always replenish them due to lack of funds. Still working this out. Raw oysters can be eaten as an organ meat serving. Weirdly enough, I love raw oysters and have been eating them since my early 20’s after my friend dared me to eat one, we were drunk. Surprised me to learn that night that I love them. There is a restaurant in the neighborhood that has a special once a week on oysters and they even have the choice of west or east coast oysters, there is a big difference. I’m accustomed to east coast, the west coast oysters have a strong after taste that east coast don’t have. But, its still more than I can afford to do on a regular basis. For this month, I’ll be ordering desiccated liver pills. I’m thinking, it is only required that I consume 12 oz of organ meat per week. The suggested dose is four pills a day, I wonder if I could take four pills three times a week and have it be the same as three servings a week. That would stretch the supply out more than double, making them last longer and saving me money. I really can’t wait to begin making a pay check. However, it is important not to jump the gun on that and do it right, thereby giving me the best chance to succeed.

We’ll just keep a workin’ at’er.

 

Bonne Sante