Celebrate small victories

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Some days are better than others. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and it’s as though all my fears and worries and feelings of inadequacy have all bubbled up to the surface where they hang over me, waiting to overflow and spill messy feelings everywhere. Yesterday was one of those days. I woke up feeling lost and sad. Thank goodness for k who handles those times so patiently and lovingly, pointing out reasons to be happy and making me talk through the fears to bring it all into the light. I spent the morning crying and the afternoon smiling at rude tourists at work and somehow I came out the other side feeling pretty positive with even a little energy for an after work trip to whole foods. K and I walked around the store and I wasn’t even tired and dragging my feet, it felt great! When we got home I had some black beans and rice with a tiny bit of tomato, avocado, onion and local aged cheddar cheese which really tasted amazing (between eating mostly bland food, getting over being sick and quitting smoking my taste buds are experiencing a whole new world of taste) Then we watched “As good as it gets” which i love and haven’t seen forever. Needless to say I turned the day around. I went to bed feeling good and woke up this morning with my normal feeling of weakness in my legs but also with a clear, focused and positive mindset and without the feeling of an emotional elephant sitting on my chest. Today is my mom’s birthday party and I’m really looking forward to a nice day with k and the family, particularly my two moth Niece that I just can’t get enough of.

And tomorrow I start my new job with a naturopathic doctor!

Lots of good, lots of celebrate.

Whining and silver lining

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I didn’t get enough sleep last night (6 hours) and today my body is not happy. I like to pretend that like my peers I can give up sleep here and there with no big consequences — yep, not the case. Everything feels terribly difficult today. Standing at work was hard, walking doing errands, going up and down the apartment stairs… I am however taking comfort in the idea today’s downturn is specifically sleep related because I do have power over that. I work at 5am again tomorrow and tonight I will be in bed by 8pm. I’m so lucky that I’m a good sleeper and if I just get myself to go to bed that early I will get a good full nights sleep.

Some positive things about today are that I put a roast in the slow cooker before work today and its now ready to be made into a huge batch of delicious hash (my new favorite breakfast staple), K and I got laundry done (I had a ton), and I have an organic sweet yam in the oven for another batch of gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, sweet potato brownies (so delicious). Speaking of yummy things last night I made gluten free bacon egg and cheese muffins (turkey bacon, local aged cow and goat milk cheese and local eggs) and had them for breakfast at work this morning — they were great!

Here are the recipes I based the brownies and the muffins on:

http://www.freecoconutrecipes.com/index.cfm/2013/7/19/coconut-flour-sweet-potato-brownies

http://www.freecoconutrecipes.com/index.cfm/2011/9/21/gluten-free-bacon-egg-and-cheese-muffins

I love that website, I’ve tried a bunch of things and with a little tweaking they’ve all been delicious and have fit into my diet.

Happy resting, happy baking!

Healing changes!

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It’s been a big month on my journey to healing.

I quit smoking! Above and beyond being great for me for all the usual reasons I think this will be monumental because for eight years, my whole adult life, I’ve smoked clove cigarettes which are ground clove and tobacco– clove which has a high salicylate content which seemingly I am allergic to. I am dreaming of how quiet and peaceful my immune system will be without this bad guy who I have bombarded my body with day in and day out for so many years. It’s been three and a half weeks since I had my last cigarette. I’m proud of myself and can’t wait to see how good I can feel…  But In the meantime I am grumpy all the time with no patience and missing cigarettes every day.

I’ve been six weeks gluten free, nearly sugar free, nearly dairy free, very low salicylate, and almost no processed food. It’s still a struggle but I’m settling into it more and finding more satisfying, filling things I can safely eat. I crave my “old foods” all the time but as time goes on I feel clearer about what I’m doing and why. I’ve stopped taking all OTC meds as well. My reasoning for this is the chemical, additive and dye sensitivity I’m experiencing and also to reduce the toxicity in my body in general. This has been tough, I especially miss Ibuprofen and Tums, but am eager to find natural causes and real remedies for all that ails me.

Four weeks ago I also got hit with a bad case of bronchitis that lasted for three weeks. As terrible as I felt and as hard as it has been at times I am actually grateful this happened. It forced me to pause, take a break from my life and created space from my habits and routines to make some real changes (like quitting smoking!)

I also told my work last week that I can’t do my job anymore. Totally scary for me and also a huge relief. Three years ago I made a great job change to managing a wonderful local coffeeshop but I know now it came with a price. I felt great when I took on the job and I didn’t tell anyone I had MS. I can see I’ve been getting sicker for the past three years which I think Is directly related to the amount of stress I’ve carried in that time and how I haven’t coped well with it. The company I work for is very supportive and it turns out my bosses already knew I had MS. They’re letting me do whatever I need and helping me to take care of myself. It feels so good to be honest and open with everyone and speak up for what I need.

As someone who works with me said, walking away like this and going into the unknown makes room for personal magic to happen. That idea has stuck with me and helped give me comfort during this time of uncertainty. I’m operating on faith that I’m doing the right things and that it’s going to help. All I have left is the idea that radical change in my life and my choices is my best hope for feeling better and healing my MS.

I want to feel better so badly. The weakness in my legs is unrelenting. It’s been worse sometimes lately. Standing is hard, walking is hard, and that terrifies me. This is where the faith comes in. One foot in front of another seems especially appropriate. I’m gonna keep making the hard choices that I know are good for me even without getting any immediate reward, knowing the benefits lie ahead… I just really hope it all pays off soon. I have a good feeling about it.

 

***Tecfidera update: I’m still only on a half dose (once a day at night) but have done a really good job of taking it every day for more than two weeks. Been feeling OK so far — only a little flushing, no stomach problems. I think next week I will try taking the full dose see what happens. I wonder how other people are doing. It sometimes feels like I must be the only one who has a hard time getting myself to take it.

I’m doing it!

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Wether I’ve consented to be on it or not, my whole life I’ve been on a path to deep, genuine wellness. The first part of my life was spent fighting and resisting in a fear-based, passive and neglectful way. In large part I was mirroring what I saw from my Dad in his reaction to his life with Primary Progressive MS.

I used food as my pacifier, my crutch and my drug (something my dad had done his whole life too.) Because of this I spent my adolescence and young adulthood significantly overweight. My negative feelings about myself and my body led to an inner monologue of criticism and self-loathing.

My own diagnosis with MS in 2007 forced me to face some old challenges but it created some new ones too. A lot of positivity, openness and growth have come into my life in the last 6 years- I’ve discovered my spirituality, I’ve changed my relationship with food and my body, I’ve worked through some emotional and mental hang-ups, I’ve gotten on top of my finances, and perhaps the best thing of all, I’ve found the love of my life. Amidst all that triumph and change however, two major themes have developed that are causing me harm. The first has been a denial of my MS- on the mind, body and spirit level. The second has been my job of the past three years- which as much as I love it is just too much stress, too many hours and too physically taxing.

Today I can confidently say I am whole-heartedly on my way to overcoming both of these challanges- It feels big, it new and it feels important (and pretty scary!)

The job thing is a big one because I really love my job, but I’ve realized that for the last three years I’ve been getting sicker, and for the last three years I’ve held this job. I think other things have been factors in my decline in that same time span, but still I can tell this job isn’t good for my health. Another interesting correlation I think is that at my pervious job everyone knew about my MS because I went through my diagnosis while working there. At the new job I decided not to disclose the fact of my MS since I was feeling so good (and so much in denial perhaps?) and so I internalized this new environment of secrecy around it. This fed directly into my whole MS denial thing- which is obviously critical to my wellness- or lack there of. If I know one thing for sure I was never going to heal my MS while resisting it’s very existence.

I was already on the path to accepting and embracing my MS when I started this blog in the spring. I realized then that I had to reach out and be vocal and connect to others and allow MS to play an active and positive role in my life. Since then I have really opened myself up to the truth of my health and body and what I need to be deeply well. This has honestly been one of the hardest things I’ve ever  done- I’ve felt sick and scared and totally unsure… but I’ve also felt determined and strong and confident that this is the most important thing I can do for myself. If my life were a book the title of this chapter would be “healing myself.” It feels like a mission and a calling and a full time job.

I have truly set about to heal. I will bring real peace to my body mind and spirit. This is my life’s purpose and my number one priority. As I set out upon this road the universe will rise up to meet me and help me accomplish my divine goal. This I am sure of. 

Those words feel so good to say and really believe. It’s an incredibly profound shift for me from what I have done and known in the past to what I am creating in the present moment.

Now, as I walk this path, that confidence and faith in what I know to be true, gives me the strength to keep going- keep fighting. But I am just human, and man is it HARD!

But what exactly has been hard? Here’s the nitty gritty of what I’ve been up to-

What are the root causes of my MS? What is contributing to/causing inflammation in my body? Where am I out of balance physically, mentally and spirituality? What old patterns no longer serve me? Where am I stuck in old habits? What limiting/self-defeating thoughts and beliefs am I holding onto? What do I need to let go of to be well? What do I need to manifest to be well? How do I deal with stress? How do I heal my energy? What does my community of healing and support look like? What life do I want to create for myself and my partner?

In other words- a lot of questions. Many more questions than answers. But there’s a lot of power there, and a lot of learning.

Here’s what it looks like right now:

Food sensitivities and intolerances causing inflammation and poor digestion-

I’m working on a diet overhaul. This is the one of the biggest day to day challenges I’m facing. It’s a short list of OK foods I’m working with right now… and a lot of questions… and a LOT of trial and error. Part of this too is that I have to quit smoking. I’ve known for a long time that needed to fall away for me to be well, but it’s become even more pressing feeling lately. The farther I go into my journey of wellness the less the cigarettes serve me, making it more and more obvious they need to go. I’ve learned I’m likely reacting to salicylates and the cigarettes I smoke are cloves, which contain tobacco and ground clove, which is one of the higher salicylate items.

I’m also building my village of healing-

Right now it consists of:

  • Innershores- Homeopathy, Kinesiology, Attunement
  • Vibrant Health- Kinesiology and energy work related to food intolerance
  • Soulpath Counselling- My faithful therapist of three years
  • Jackie- Mindfullness and meditation coach, medical intuitive
  • K- My amazing, supportive, loving boyfriend
  • Mom- My rock
  • J- My good friend, sounding board, and reiki master
  • My neurologist- She feels the least helpful in this mix, but important to a balanced approach
  • My PCP- again not super helpful but there when I need her, and at least is open minded

Another big thing is that I’m working to forgive my dad. Forgive him for not being there for me as a kid because of his MS and how he handled it. I’m releasing all those old toxic thoughts and clearing  my cellular memory of this part of my past.

I’m also reading and researching, learning as much as I can and trusting my gut to steer me in the right direction.

Rest and sleep-

I’m committing to myself to get extra rest and lots of sleep in this time. It’s a hard thing to do, because it feels like there are never enough hours in the day… but I know it’s a critical piece of my healing process. J told me the other day she read that Myelin regenerates in our sleep. I know I don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis and that my body desperately needs this time to heal and restore wellness. This winter is my healing hibernation. All my energy is focused on being well.

My journey is only just beginning but I feel I have come so far already. I know dark days still lie ahead but I have the vision of what I want to create that will carry me through. Today was one of the hard days- I took Tecfidera last night right before bed (I know it makes me sick if I lay down immediately after taking it, but I was feeling badly about having missed a couple doses and I wanted to take it.) I lost all day today to being sick. I went into work early this morning and had to leave because I was throwing up. I’ve been in sick recovery mode all day. Everything is a learning and growing experience though, and I did learn from this. Tomorrow morning I will wake up feeling great (fingers crossed!) And today a great blog post that has been good for my soul was born- something that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been home sick. Always a silver lining.

Ooh! Some SWAG!

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Finally! It’s like I’m on a real DMD! In general I resent the drug companies for their profit seeking and big money but I secretly like the SWAG that comes along with that. Up to this point Biogen had sent nothing to support my start on Tecfidera. That changed yesterday with this nifty ‘pill folio’ that is just what I’ve been wanting to carry and track my pills, and also a useless pamphlet and pouch. But hey, one outta three isn’t bad!

Love lifts you up

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Love and support brings light to the darkness. I’m quite sure that without my mom and boyfriend I would still be in that darkness. I am filled up with love and gratitude thinking about what they each do for me in my life. My mom is a hospice social worker, she embodies compassion and empathy. She is also a terrific problem solver. Two things in particular that she did for me when I was feeling at my worst have become key parts to my healing. She bought me a book and had the idea for a friend of hers to become my “health buddy.”

The book is “Healing Multiple Sclerosis” by Ann Boroch, CNC. The book has been incredibly helpful with giving me optimism, faith, direction, focus and understanding. Before I looked at the diet guidelines Boroch sets out in the book I had started my own research, and with that and my knowledge of my body, I was starting to make some pretty big changes. Last week I found myself overwhelmed and frustrated, not knowing what food advice to listen to, how to prioritize reducing and cutting things out, what I could eat, etc. I was pretty much hungry and cranky all the time. My stroke of insight was to flip ahead in my book and see what Ann had to say about it all (revolutionary, I know!) From her I got just what I needed, a five week nutritional makeover  (most of which matched up very well with what I felt to be important already), a list of foods to avoid and foods to eat, a list of meal ideas, a sample two week meal plan and some recipes. I am currently working on the five week nutritional makeover, which for me is more like eight weeks. So far I’ve cut out all gluten and dairy, most soy and white rice and corn. It seems that the weeks after gluten and dairy are tough for me because many of the new substitutions I’m eating need to then be cut out- like rice and soy and corn, and next sugar (kind of my one last comfort) and after that fruit (really my last comfort!) Coffee and alcohol are in there two which will also be tough (I work in a coffeeshop.) But I am already feeling so much better, with more optimism, energy and no chronic stomach ache, so I know I can continue. It feels good to change what’s within my control and fight for what I want: a strong, healthy body, a peaceful and healing immune system and joyful, vibrant energy.