Sunday, December 28, 2008

MS Remission or Coincidence

Over a year ago I decided to look around for a good Multiple Sclerosis forum to post some of the thoughts I had on MS. I read articles and posts for a few months before I settled on a MS forum that I felt would be open to alternative care and treatment. I began to post a few thoughts to see how it would be received and everything went OK. After a few months I started a post about my wife being treated at a clinic with IV therapy and other treatments. I received a few good comments on the post and then I received one that really puzzled me.

One of the readers commented that she didn't think that what we were doing really helped. She felt like it could be explained as the MS going into remission or really good timing. I wrote back that we had done this many times over and every time the treatment worked and my wife became better. She still wasn't convinced and it has bothered me ever since. Multiple Sclerosis is a very funny disease because it will go into remission. What we have experienced over time is that we have more control over the disease than we first thought. Over the years, most of the stuff we read and doctors we spoke with told us that we were really helpless and that the disease would just run it's course. My wife says I am stubborn, and for once I am glad that is true. I was stubborn enough to not listen and find our own truth.

So, was her MS in remission or was it a coincidence that she became better? If you ask her she will tell you that she knows for a fact that what we have done has helped her. If you ask her family, which by the way has an ER Doctor, a Pharmacist and an Anesthetist in it, they will also tell you that it has helped. We have all seen her completely numb and then up and walking after a few treatments. We have seen her in total pain or completely dizzy and once she is adjusted by our chiropractor, she immediately is better. I have watched her have bladder issues and after one Bowen treatment, the issues are gone. It is amazing to watch and most of the doctors are amazed. What is really amazing is how few of the doctors have ever suggested or encouraged any of the things we have done.

I hope and pray that more MS sufferers decide to take matters into their own hands and learn about the disease they have. I honestly believe that most MS patients could live a more normal life by taking more control of their treatment plan and options. There is so much out there that we don't know about Multiple Sclerosis but there are also so many things that we do. Once my wife and I started listening to her body better, and studying and learning, we started to realize that we could make a difference. Was it remission or coincidence? There is no question in my mind that what we have done has had a direct impact on my wife's health, and it wasn't remission or coincidence, it was treatment.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Multiple Sclerosis Attacks Fast

Within an hour my wife's right side had gone tingley and numb. She awoke to a normal Sunday and showered and dressed as usual. There was nothing out of the norm happening to her body that morning. She did have a slight headache when she woke up, but it was gone after she was awake for awhile. We drove to church as usual and sat in our normal seats. About half way through the service, my wife said she felt an odd feeling in her back along the right side. By the end of the church service, her right ear tingled, her right leg was numb, her right arm ached and the right side of her back was tingling, aching and some parts were already numb.

We were set to leave out of town the next day so we had to figure something out fast. Her right side became worse as the day went on and her arm ached badly. We felt like a chiropractic visit would reverse the issue, but it was not a day our chiropractor was open. We called him anyway, and he felt like it was urgent enough to meet us at the office and adjust her on Sunday. When we met him at his office, the chiropractor checked her alignment and adjusted her spine using his Pro Adjuster equipment. Her neck was way out of alignment and her lower back needed adjustment and some muscle work. While being adjusted, she could feel the feeling come back into her right side. Within minutes, her right side began to return to normal and she could feel the difference.

We left the chiropracter's office and my wife was quite sore. Her lower back ached for a few days but all symptoms were gone by the next day. She had all feeling back and there was no aching in her arm. We drove for 8 hours the next day and she had no problems. It is amazing to me how her body can react so quickly to something when it seems like things are only going to get worse. Just 7 years ago, we would have let the attack run it's course and she probably would have been completely numb from the chest down. I am so glad we chose to learn and search out our own treatment path. She is doing fine now and was great all through the Christmas week. We owe a HUGE thanks to Dr. Kevin Atchley in Albuquerque for coming to his office on his day off to help my wife. THANKS!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Alternative Treatments for Multiple Sclerosis

My wife and I have spent the last six years researching and trying different alternative therapies for MS. We have worked with Naturopathic Doctors, Chiropractors, Multiple Sclerosis Specialists and a host of other therapists to try and figure out the puzzle of my wife's MS. We have found many treatments that work, and are still seeking specific treatments for specific symptoms.

I am going to try and give some specifics over the next few posts to allow others to see what has worked for us and what hasn't. We have found certain treatments that seem to stop attacks, and other treatments that reverse attacks. We are always looking for more options and will be seeking out a new doctor this coming year to learn and grow more. Hopefully through the network we have established we will draw closer to a way of life that will best help my wife.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Cold To The Bone With MS

Multiple Sclerosis usually acts up with heat. Many MS sufferers seem to have issues when they get overheated, and my wife sometimes is affected by heat when she overworks her body. The other side of that coin is the cold. She can physically ache when she gets cold, and it seems to take forever for her to heat back up. I have spoken with a few doctors and they mentioned something about core tempature problems.

When she gets really cold or really hot, the doctors have said her core temp changes and that it is much more difficult to regulate the core. So, when she becomes really cold, sometimes I will find her in a hot bath, under an electric blanket or huddled under a lot of blankets with multiple layers of clothing. Sometimes she will ache extremely bad. Once her core is regulated she stops hurting and she begins to feel more normal. This is very frustrating for her when she is having issues and has to turn the A/C or heat on high in the car to quit hurting.

We have taken many tests over the years for many different things and I have wondered what exactly is affecting her that would cause her core to change temp. One thing we came across quite a few years ago was a hormone panel. She showed the classic signs of her adrenals being shot and overworked, and many other hormones out of balance. She tried hormone creams to correct these issues and seemed to have some success with them. One thing the doctor told us about her hormones was that they were part of what regulated the water in your body. He went on to tell us that water can affect your core temp. When your dehydrated it can cause lots of issues, and the more research and testing we did, we quickly found out that she was dehydrated. I am not sure if this is what is causing the extremes in core temp, but I do know that it seemed like she did better when she was drinking plenty of water. For now, we will continue to keep an eye on everything and try to keep her from going to either extreme.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Can You Still Walk?

The last few years has shown me how little our closest friends and family really understand Multiple Sclerosis. I realize that I have studied and understand the disease, but neither one of us really knew how little they understood. A few months back we had a family member ask if Michelle could still walk. I kinda thought that was an odd question since she has been running around with kids at the Children's Home for months now. I have come to realize that they see the disease as something that consistently progresses, and don't realize that the majority of MS sufferers live out a fairly normal life.

I have tried to explain how MS works to my family and they seem to understand until she has an attack. Since she was diagnosed in 1990, she has had a lot of years to learn how it affects her body and what to expect. About two years ago she was having a lot of issues and we were unsure of what to do. After talking with our families, they just felt like the disease was going to progress and that we needed to just accept the fact that she was getting worse. We felt like there was something else causing the issues, so we started weeding out different variables to see what it was. We soon learned that it was the environment where we lived. The toxins in the air from the oilfield work surrounding us was making her have more issues. Once we moved, she immediately felt better and she was back to her normal self.

Through that experience I guess I finally realized that my family was expecting her to just get worse some day. They thought that since she was getting older that her MS would progress. I don't guess I have every thought of it that way since we spoke with Dr. Swank so many years ago. His success rate for MS patients leading a normal life was off the charts and we knew that my wife's chances were great. Neither of us expect her illness to progress, but it could. We are already planning for those issues, but are not going to live our lives in fear of what might happen. For now we will continue to try and educate our families about the disease and try to help them see that she is doing great and will continue to as long as we take care of her illness.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Leg Pain In Multiple Sclerosis

We have been fortunate that my wife has not had the extent or the intensity of pain that others have felt with their Multiple Sclerosis. She has had some pain, but it usually lasts a short time and is rarely more than a nuisance. Over the last week, she has had pain off and on in her left leg. It usually hits at the end of the day after a lot of walking or stress. It seems to run up the side of her leg into her hip, and just aches. It has gone on for a few days now, and we have a chiropractic appointment this week to see if that will take care of it.

While we were at our families home for Thanksgiving, the pain increased and my wife began to drag her leg a little. Most of the time she can hide her pain and issues without anyone knowing, but this time it was more evident than usual. The strange thing about MS is that you can be in pain one minute and not feel it a few minutes later. This happened while we were at her parents. She was limping and having issues during the day, but by that night the pain was gone. MS is so strange in how it can do that. She did nothing different that day to make the pain go away, but was able to sleep well that night.

The leg pain was bad enough that it had been disrupting her sleep. For days she had been taking pain meds and putting heat on her leg to be able to sleep. We are not sure what started the pain, but we are glad that it has lessened. With our work schedule, we are on our feet much of the day. We have been blessed that my wife has been able to work 24/7 at our Children's Home for 6 months now without any major issues. This has been one of the few problems that has occured, and probably could have been halted early if we could have seen the chiropractor.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Multiple Sclerosis And Emotions Pt 2

After about four hours of crying, my wife finally managed to get her emotions under control. This was day one of a class we were taking to better understand how children handle emotions and what causes them to act out. That first night my wife and I were exhausted from crying, feeling and just processing everything that was going on around us. We had shared very deep feelings with each other that were all from the gut and were causing both of us fear and pain. We didn't really understand it at the time, but I think we may have found a way to better control our fears and anxiety.

Multiple Sclerosis attacks seem to be brought on by stress and other situations in life. We can pinpoint a physical stress or emotional stress for every attack my wife has ever had. We have also been able to prevent attacks by knowing that certain things would only stress her out more and cause more MS issues. The second day of class was one of the first times that I have ever seen my wife at total peace. We had gone through a very rough few hours in day one and I honestly wasn't looking forward to what we would face in day 2 of the training. We walked through the door to find that we had one more time on the mat to dig deep and let out any fears or feelings we had. My wife went first and I had noticed that she hadn't cried all morning. She cried a little when one of the other participants was sharing and it really touched her heart, but she hadn't cried for herself at all.

When you lay down on the mat to share, your partner supports you both physically and emotionally. We had been laying face to face for about 5 minutes when my wife looked at me and said that she didn't have anything she needed to say. She was at total peace with herself and her life. WOW!!!! I don't know that I have ever seen her that way before. There were no tears and no strong emotions and her body was completely relaxed. We laid there for another 10 minutes just talking about the peaceful feeling she had and how that was affecting her. The weird thing is that I have always been able to look at her eyes and tell you how she was feeling. I could tell if she was hiding anything or holding anything back, and there wasn't anything there. She really was at peace.

Now, that really made me think about her Multiple Sclerosis and healing her body. How would her MS do if she was at peace most of the time? How would her body react to feelings of no stress? Could she progress in the healing of her disease and go longer periods without any problems? Could she contain her emotions better? All of these questions were bouncing around in my brain as I watched her calmness and peace. Healing Multiple Sclerosis is not an easy task, and there are a lot of people out there that are treating Multiple Sclerosis daily that don't seem to know a thing about the disease other than what is in a textbook. I think we found a technique that we can use to truly help heal my wife's MS by eliminating most of the emotional stress in her body. We are going to continue to practice the techniques we learned and if nothing else, it will make my wife at peace. There isn't a whole lot of peace in the life of Multiple Sclerosis, but there will be in our home from now on. I would challenge anyone with MS to try to decrease stress in their lives, and if your brave enough, to get on the mat and see how much your body reacts to all of the stuff you're holding inside.

Multiple Sclerosis And Emotions

My wife has always been emotional. She has cried at the oddest things over the years and has grown angry over things that I wouldn't think really mattered. Mood swings have been a fairly common thing in our marriage, and last week we learned a lot about how the body is affected by those moods. We attended a training for our job to help troubled children with their emotions. The thought process behind the class had to do with a child acting out because they have no other way of processing their feelings. Little did I know that I was doing a horrible job of processing my own feelings.

My wife and I entered the class with some apprehension. There were mattresses in the corner and a group of about 30 other house parents in the room. We knew the class was supposed to help us with children that were suffering from attachement disorders and other disorders that they faced. We spent some time studying how the human brain handles stress and fear and how our bodies are affected by these feelings. I have always known that my wife's emotions and feelings really affected her physically, but I had never seen a presentation like this. We realized in the morning session that our bodies can give off all sorts of indicators that we are stressed, and that we affect the emotions and feelings of everyone around us through our physical actions and movements. Almost as if we give off a subconcious vibe to everyone around us that their subconcious reacts to. Sounds a little weird right?

That afternoon we soon found out exactly what the teacher was trying to get us to understand. Each one of us was placed in a group with a mattress. We then went through a breathing exercise designed to open up our lungs and allow us to feel what was going on in our body. After the breathing exercises we each took turns on the mattress telling a story from our childhood. I found myself lying on the mat telling my story and then I felt a lot of heat radiating from my face. One of the instructions we had been given was to find how our body reacted to the story, so I told the instructor and he also felt the heat. Over the next few hours we were shocked as each person shared about their lives and we could literally feel the heat or other reactions that their bodies were going through.

This was an eye opening experience for my wife and I. I had always known that her Multiple Sclerosis was affected by stress but what I didn't realize was how affected my body was by stress. I had physical hot spots and pain when dealing with some of those feelings. We spent the next day and a half getting in touch with gut level feelings and experiencing how our bodies, minds and others around us felt after these times on the mat. I honestly understand now why stress is causing my wife so many issues. Dr. Swank always told us that one of the first things you had to do if you had MS was to control the stresses in your life. I think I more fully understand that now. My wife's emotions usually come flooding out in crying or anger, and her body is usually punished for it. Sometimes she will lose some feeling or become very fatigued after a stressful situation and then she has to rest for a few days to get it under control. The first day we were in class my wife cried and cried and cried. She explains it as if her body is leaking the tears out because she can't stop them. This was only day one, so we had no idea how she would be affected later.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Overwhelmed With Multiple Sclerosis

MS can take over your life, and there have been a few times in our lives when it seemed like everything revolved around my wife's disease. We have had to be intentional about not letting the issues and problems take over and cause us to not live our lives to the fullest. Every once in a while we get complacent and stop doing the things we know that we need to do and then BOOM, MS strikes and brings us back to reality.

My wife and I have had a lot of talks about this situation. We have had to really think about what would happen in our future if she became sick, or if she was paralyzed or if we couldn't afford the health care she needed. There have been nights that I have not slept due to the anxiety this caused, and I know that she stresses over everything. I have even considered changing careers to help MS sufferers and have looked into medical school and other education to gain the knowledge I would need to really treat the disease. We still have a lot of decisions to make, and the part that stresses me the most is that we will never get away from it.

I really hate to give her disease that much control or power. Every once in a while we go through a period where we don't seem to think about her MS because it isn't affecting our everyday routine, but that doesn't happen very often. I guess everyday brings us closer to the fact that we need to be more intentional about diet, rest and care. I know that it is fear that is causing me so much anxiety and for the most part, it is fear of the unknown. Multiple Sclerosis has a sneaky way of affecting things at the just the wrong time and in just the wrong way, and the unknown is just that much harder to deal with. I know that once I get more rest I will be able to deal with all of this better, but it is in these moments that I realize how little control I have and how little power I have. Tomorrow will come, and my wife's MS will still be there, so we will continue to fight the disease and deal with the complications, but in the end we will win. The disease only has the power that we choose to give it, and fear only has as much control as we allow it. I would choose no other way than to fight, and today that choice is to have no fear.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Multiple Sclerosis Chest Pain

Two times in the last 5 years my wife has had the feeling that she was having a heart attack. Both of those times, she felt extreme pain in her chest and arm. The first time we rushed her to the emergency room and waited 3 hours to see a doctor that told us it wasn't a heart attack, but a lack of a particular vitamin. Little did we know that the attack was brought on by a lack of Pottasium in her cells. As soon as she took Pottasium vitamins, the pain stopped and she was OK.

She had the same issue this last week. She had the chest pain with arm pain and a general feeling of dizziness and lack of energy. We realized quickly what it was and immediately started treatment. We learned the first time that salt can push the pottasium out of the cell, which literally causes the bones to ache. So, we have gone back through the routine of increasing pottasium in her diet and decreasing salt intake. We were amazed when the doctor gave us a list of the sodium content in normal foods we were eating. This has been a hard shift for my wife since she craves salty foods, but she has done great to stay away from the bulk of it.

We are not sure how all of this ties into Multiple Sclerosis, but I would be curious to know if anyone else has had this same issue. We know that vitamin deficiency and MS is an issue, and we have taken vitamins by IV and orally for a long time. This time, we were able to easily fix the issue but last time my wife's health deteriorated rapidly after the pottasium issue. One of the issues we realized was the blood tests for vitamins are not always accurate. The doctor told us that what you are seeing on the test is the vitamin outside of the cell. The problem is that you can't see what is in the cell, and it is hard to replenish those vitamins after they are pushed out.

The first time she had the problem, we had to take IV drips to increase the pottasium enough to make a difference. This time we caught it soon enough, but it is a reminder of how MS is always lingering. Living with MS is like living with a puzzle where you never seem to find all of the pieces. You get a piece here and a piece there, but it doesn't ever seem to come into view clearly. I will keep studying these issues and we will figure it out at some point, but until then, life is always interesting.

Multiple Sclerosis and Chiropractic

After our move to Albuquerque, my wife's health continually improved. She was bike riding, walking, working with rambunctious kiddos and all the while just enjoying her new found energy. A few weeks ago we travelled to a College to promote our children's home and found ourselves staying up late, getting up early and working all day long. Once we arrived back home, we had a few days to rest, then our children's home kids came home. The first few days were rough, and my wife knew she was out of alignment. We immediately went to see the chiropractor and sure enough she was way out bad. She had started to feel numbness creeping up her neck to the side of her face, and also some numbness in her toes. This wasn't anything new, and we knew we had pushed it too far and were paying for those long days.

After the chiropractor adjusted her with his Pro Adjuster machine, we left the office to go eat. At first, we weren't sure if the adjustment worked, but within an hour, all feeling was back in her neck and face. Overnight, she started getting the feeling back in her toes, and by the next day all numbness was gone. If this would have been 5 or 6 years ago, we would have weathered the numbness hoping that there wouldn't be any residual effects. Who knows how long the numbness would have lasted, or how many days my wife would have been sleeping to try to counter the tingling. Now, we immediately go to the chiropractor and usually see results within minutes if not hours after the visit.

I truly believe that chiropractic can help Multiple Sclerosis, and it is sad that more of our MS friends won't try it. She went back to the chiropractor two more times that week to make sure everything took, and she hasn't had anymore numbness since. We have made it a habit to schedule a chiropractic appointment regularly and also to schedule a massage regularly. We have learned that specific types of massage seem to compliment the chiropractic and that my wife's MS can be controlled better with the regular visits. We are still looking for the type of massage therapist we want in ABQ, but we know there is one that will be perfect for our wants and needs. Multiple Sclerosis and chiropractic can be a great team when you find the right Chiropractor with the right skills and knowledge.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Moving A Long

It's been awhile since I have had the time to add information to this blog, and part of that has to do with a recent move and job change. For the past three years my wife and I have been helping family members with their businesses. About 4 months ago we decided to follow our hearts and go back into full-time ministry work. We have always loved to work with teenagers and are now full-time houseparents working at a children's home.

This move concerned us since we were moving from West Texas to the arid desert climate of Albuquerque, NM. What we have noticed since moving to NM is that my wife's health is improving daily. She has been more physically active, lost more weight, had less allergy issues and has just been more healthy since moving. Our job requires us to live and take care for as many as seven kids at any one time. We have already had kids ranging from 6 yrs old to 16 yrs old, which puts a lot of pressure on us both physically and emotionally. My wife has handled it with flying colors.

I have become a true believer that your environment plays a huge role in the progression of Multiple Sclerosis. I can't pinpoint any exact thing, but we have lived in a lot of different places and we have seen very different reactions to the different climates and areas. Right now, my wife feels better than she has in a long time. It was about a year ago that we were forced to move from Midland, TX because her health had progressively gotten worse around the oil field. Even with the stress of two moves, changing careers, living with six children's home kiddos full-time and all of the other stresses we have been through, her health is improving.

My family says we should start a moving company named "Moving A Long" since our last name is Long. We have moved a lot since we married, but I don't regret a single one. Through those moves, we have learned more and more about Multiple Sclerosis, and we are better for it. We hope we have found a home for awhile in Albuquerque and look forward to the challenges and triumphs the new job and new place will bring.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Heat and Multiple Sclerosis

Almost every book or article you read concerning MS says something about how heat affects Multiple Sclerosis. It seems like most MS patients have an adverse reaction to heat. My wife is somewhat of an exception with this, and I have a feeling that there are others out there that are the same way. She can handle hot baths and hot days, and most of the time it doesn't seem to affect her at all. On the other hand, if she gets really hot or really cold it seems to be very difficult to get her body regulated again.

We recently moved to Albuquerque, NM to work at a children's home as house parents. Albuquerque is at about 5,000-6,000 ft elevation and is around 80 to 90 degrees this time of year. It is beautiful! Most days start out in the 50's or 60's and at the hottest time of the day, it is still comfortable. This week we are back in our home town in West Texas. The average temp during the day is around 105 degrees. My wife noticed in Albuquerque that her body regulated very quickly to the temp and the heat gave her no issues. Once we came back to West Texas, she has felt weak and becomes tired very quickly from the hot days. She has been staying indoors most of the day so that her body stays cool and comfortable.

I guess I write all of this because your environment seems to play a huge role in the quality of life you live when dealing with MS. Heat doesn't seem to affect my wife's MS unless it is extreme one way or the other, and we have already seen how living in a more temperate climate helps her have more energy and stamina. My wife commented the other day that if she knew that it would be that much different to live in NM, that we would have moved sooner. I guess we all need to take a look at how our environment is helping or hindering the quality of life we hope to live. We are going to continue to evaluate how and where we live so that my wife can live a full life.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Chiropractic Care for Multiple Sclerosis

Chiropractic care has been blasted by some as useless or harmful, and others have praised it's success for patients. I can only give a testament about how it has affected my family and others around us, but I think it may be helpful to anyone considering chiropractic care. Until seven years ago my wife had never stepped foot in a chiropractor's office. She didn't grow up in a family that went to a chiropractor and she was very nervous about the cracking and popping she had seen on TV. When she was numb from her chest down we were asked to see a chiropractor near the clinic we were being treated at. He was a typical pop and crack type chiropractor and took the time to completely examine my wife's issues and adjust her. The first time my wife's neck was adjusted, she began to cry uncontrollably. I knew that her MS seemed to have an affect on her pain tolerance, and this was no different. It hurt, and she didn't want to ever have that done again.

I had been to a chiropractor many times for low back issues, and had no problems with their adjusting techniques, but her body just couldn't handle it. So, we decided that chiropractic wasn't for us and headed home after the treatments were done at the clinic. Once we were back home my wife kept having numbness in her legs even though she could feel her legs and walk normally. It was in what she described as stripes that circled around her legs all the way down to her feet. Since it wasn't going away, we asked our doctor what to do. He recommended a different kind of chiropractor in our area that he felt could help us. That was the first time we met Dr. Darci Stotts. She is a board certified Atlas Orthogonal chiropractor that uses instruments to adjust instead of popping and cracking.

Our first visit really impressed us. Once my wife described the numbness, Dr. Stotts immediately knew what was going on. She explained how the nerves spiraled around the legs and that a damaged nerve could cause the feelings of numbness. After a thorough examination and x-rays, she showed us the problems. She then took us into a room with a special AO device that would adjust my wife's neck. It only applied 8 pounds of pressure and didn't hurt at all, so my wife was never in any pain. Dr. Stotts told us not to expect much after the first few visits because the nerve would need time to heal and it could take up to 6 weeks to start to notice a difference. What surprised us was the fact that my wife felt so much better after the first visit. She immediately had more feeling in her legs, and also felt better physically. Within a few weeks her numbness was completely gone in her legs and she was feeling great.

Since then, we have continued to use Dr. Stotts services on a regular basis and it has worked wonderfully. My wife can now tell when she is out of alignment and will immediately go see Dr. Stotts and get adjusted. If my wife is feeling an attack coming on, like numbness in an extremity etc., she immediately sees Dr. Stotts and we have found that it stops the attack as soon as she is adjusted. It may take a few adjustments to go away, but the attack will not continue to spread and cause issues. Since the first time we visited Dr. Stotts, she has started treating with a new technology. It is a machine that gives real time graphs to show your alignment and she adjusts you with a device attached to the computer. There is no pain and my wife is still getting great results from her adjustments. We know that this has helped with my wife's health and we will continue to see a AO chiropractor. We moved off once where we couldn't visit Dr. Stotts easily, and we saw what could happen when we didn't have access to a AO chiropractor. My wife would have numbness or tingling and it would continue to get worse until we made the trip to see Dr. Stotts. Chiropractic for us has been a life saver. We will never go back to a pop and crack chiropractor, but we will find a BCAO chiropractor in our area to continue to receive treatments.

Blessing or Curse of MS

The first time I met Dr. Roy L Swank was over 12 years ago. My then fiance wanted me to go with her to discuss what life would be like for a spouse married to a MS patient. We walked into his office and there was this small little old man that was full of life. He was in his 90's when I met him, and he was still travelling around the world. He loved his work and took plenty of time to discuss our upcoming marriage and the prospects of having a family. I will never forget the few times I spoke with Dr. Swank because he was always so full of life and passionate about his work. One of the things that really struck me was his description of the typical MS patient. He told me that most MS patients were beautful, vibrant, successful individuals. He said many of them were athletic and full of life, and the thing he seemed to fear most was the affects the MS would have on the psyche of the patients he treated.

I met many patients when we would visit his office, and some looked like they were taking the MS news head on and others looked like it had already beat them. I guess that is what bothered me most about visiting any of the MS centers we have gone to, the affects of the depression and emotional issues. So many of the patients look beat up and depressed and without a fire in their eyes. I have seen that look a few times in my wife's eyes, but the feeling of defeat doesn't usually last very long. I know that a major part of Dr. Swank's practice was to motivate and encourage his patients to live and to not let MS discourage them or control their lives. He was always so positive, and after 50 years of MS research, he had the results to back up his claims.

One thing I have learned about many MS patients is that they are overachievers. My wife is always trying to do more than she can, and reaching farther than her health with allow. She pushes the envelope with what she can accomplish and I love that about her. Many of the other MS sufferers I know are the same way. We have a good friend with MS that just ran a marathon and is in great physical shape, even though I know she has days that she struggles to make it through the day. We have another friend that plays on a softball league and goes hiking with her kiddos regularly. Sometimes she can't walk well for a few days after these activities, but she is smiling and enjoying herself the whole way. My wife is no different. She still skis and is extremely active.

Dr Swank told me one time that success seems to be a trademark of MS patients that he treats. He would describe the people that were successful in their careers and successful parents and would speak about their accomplishments. It was always a blessing to hear about so many MS sufferers that didn't allow the disease to control their lives. I know that my wife will continue to push the limits with her disease, and my daughter and I will continue to be beside her to encourage and sometimes hold her up while she reaches to achieve her dreams. I was asked a few days ago about how my wife's MS has affected our lives, and my immediate response is that it has been a blessing. I honestly believe that. I have met so many great people, seen so many beautful places and had many great experiences in my marriage, and so many of those things have happened because of Multiple Sclerosis. We can view MS as a curse or a blessing, and it truly is a choice. We have made the choice to view it as a blessing.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Toxins and Multiple Sclerosis

A few years ago my wife's MS seemed to be progressing and causing her more issues. Up until that time, she would have problems for short periods of time and then have longer periods of remission. We were unsure of what to do so we started to ask our doctors and others that we trusted about this situation. Everyone had a different opinion, but our family's advice was the hardest to choke down. We have quite a few medical professionals in our immediate family, and we have dealt with everything from Cancer to Lupus to Alzheimer. Our families felt like we should prepare for the worst and start planning for her to have more issues and for her health to decline. We just couldn't accept that, and decided to take action and make some tough decisions.

We were living in an area at the time that had heavy oilfield drilling. I had spoken with a few area doctors that felt like the toxicity in the air surrounding the city we lived in could be causing a lot of our issues. That kinda made sense, and I started checking out what type of toxins were being pumped into the air. The EPA has a website that records the worst air pollution in all major cities in the US. I started digging into the records, and the city we lived in had high concentrations of Lead, Arsenic, Styrene and other toxic gases that were byproducts of the oilfield industry. Most of our friends thought we were looney to think the air could be causing the issue, but we knew that something was affecting my wife's health and it wasn't because the disease was progressing.

After a year and a half of trying to figure out what was causing the problem we decided to move back to an area where we knew my wife did well with her MS. Within weeks my wife's health started getting better, and we knew then that something was causing issues with her MS in the other city. There was one more thing we felt like could have caused some problems. The area we lived in was once a country club, and the houses were older and built sometime in the 1950's. We found out that the house across the street had black mold at one point, so we have wondered if our house had some kind of mold or other problem. We had cleaned the house extensively before we moved in, but there could have been mold in the walls and we would have never known. So, we are still unsure if there was any kind of mold or other problem with the house we lived in.

My wife's health has continued to improve since we moved, and now we know for sure that it was something either in our past house or the air quality. There really isn't a way for us to know now, but it is amazing how her health can be affected by things that we can neither see or know is hurting her. We loved the city we lived in, and wouldn't mind moving back if her health would hold up. We are now much more careful about picking environments where we live and houses that we live in. There are now self tests you can perform in your home to check for mold, and I wish we would have known about those at the time, but we will always wonder what hurt her there. Multiple Sclerosis is a weird disease in that it can change so quickly and without warning. We would move again if we felt like there were reasons justifying it, but for now, we have learned our lesson about checking air quality where we live. We won't go blindly into any new places without checking for toxins and other issues so that we can minimize the risks of her MS acting up. The scary thing was that our doctors and family were ready to start full on drug treatments because they just knew that her MS was getting worse because of her age. I guess it just shows you that the only person that really knows is the MS sufferer and that they are the only ones that can listen to their bodies and understand what is going on.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Love of My Life

My wife and I have known each other for about 13 years now. We have had some very rough times and we have had some really great times, and I can truly say that I would have it no other way. My wife's Multiple Sclerosis has been a very interesting adventure in our marriage. There have been times when I wondered if she would be able to physically walk or pick up our daughter, and there have been times when she seems as healthy as ever. One thing that has rang true through all of this is that we truly are best friends.

I am a very distracted person. I like change, and I like new challenges on a regular basis. Our marriage has been a series of ups and downs and my desires for change have not helped to keep things steady. We have moved a lot, and I have struggled to find a career that really fits me. The amazing thing to me is that my wife has supported me the whole way. She asks questions and gives her opinion, but she has always supported me 100%. Recently we were asked to go back into ministry work at a children's home, which means another move and quite a bit of life change. We will be caring for three third grade boys, a sixth grade boy and a sophomore girl. We will be moving about 10 hours from our family, and we will be making a major shift in our daily lives, but we know it is what we want to do.

As excited as I am about going, my wife is more excited. She loves this kind of work, and is willing to do whatever for us to be caring for these kiddos. She amazes me with how willing she is to care for others when I know that some days she struggles to just care for herself. We are already beginning to pack and get things ready, and I know this is going to be another adventure for our family. Our daughter is stoked about the move, and I am so glad that I married the woman I did. Thirteen years ago I wouldn't have dreamed of all the adventures we have already had and I can't wait for more. I truly married the love of my life and we couldn't have a more loving daughter. Sometimes we get too caught up in MS to see that we have already beat it, and I guess the last few weeks have shown me all over again that disease or not, we can and will live our lives to the fullest!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dr Pepper-holic

I don't know how many people out there remember the old Dr Pepper commercials. The ones where they promoted drinking a Dr Pepper at 10,2 and 4. I sure do. My grandfather lived off of Dr Pepper and would religiously drink one at least 3-4 times a day. My wife also has this love of Dr Pepper, and can become quite cranky when she doesn't have one. Quite a few years back, she quit drinking any "cokes" and went through the whole sugar and caffeine withdrawals. Those were not fun days, but she felt so much better after it was all out of her system. Now, she will drink one and then wonder why she can't go to sleep at bedtime.

Cokes have a very real affect on my wife's MS. If she gets back in the habit of drinking them, I notice a change in her mood and a growing problem with insomnia. And when she quits them again, my daughter and I both notice the changes in her personality. This is one of those things that she really struggles with. The 23 flavors of Dr Pepper seem to call her by name and every once in a while I find one stashed somewhere that she was drinking or find one placed at the back of the fridge out of sight. She knows that she shouldn't be drinking them, and I give her fits when she does give in and has one. It has kinda become a game between us over the past few years, but we both know that cokes can cause real issues with MS.

Regular sodas have so much sugar in them that they can't be ignored when a person is trying to improve their health. Diet sodas are even worse. We know of a MS patient in Texas that was stuck in a wheelchair before he quit drinking diet sodas. He had been wheelchair bound for years and then started a diet and supplement regimen and was playing golf within a year. If I remember right he was even featured on Good Morning America. It was pretty incredible to see the transformation. One thing they found out was he had been drinking diet sodas continually throughout the day. The doctors felt like the artificial sweetener was the cause of many of his MS issues. The strength slowly started returning to his limbs and he began to slowly exercise and work his muscles until he was finally able to live a regular life.

I have seen too many cases like this to ignore them. I joke with my wife that the Dr Peppers are what's causing everything, but we both know they are just a piece of the overall puzzle. We know for a fact that she has less insomnia, better emotional control and is in a better overall mood when she is not drinking sodas. Even knowing those things, I know they are one of her weaknesses and she tries to enjoy them in moderation. I would almost bet that today she will have a Dr Pepper and that those 23 flavors will be calling out to her to drink more.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Stress and MS

I have been reading some new material by the Rocky Mountain MS Center that we received when we went to visit them. One of the books is a collaboration of multiple doctors that is supposed to be a field guide to Multiple Sclerosis. The first of the book went through the usual explanation of what MS supposedly is and how it affects the body, then they go into different treatments and theories behind what you can do about MS. As I was reading through it, one paragraph really caught my eye. The authors were talking about how stress affects MS and if you could bring on an attack by too much work, stress, exercise etc. Their conclusion was that even though many MS patients and their "supporters" believe that these things directly affect their MS, the doctors didn't believe that MS could be aggravated by those things.

I almost put the book down! For the last 12 years I have watched as stress, exercise, work, child rearing, etc. has caused numbness, fatigue, visual issues, tingling, bladder issues and a host of other symptoms. How do I know that these things caused the attack? I watched every step of the way, and at this point in our marriage, I can tell you the progression of how it affects her. For instance, a few years ago she began to exercise regularly so that she could run a marathon. A few months went by without any problem and things seemed to be going well. One day she woke up with numbness in her side and her body began a downhill slide for well over a month. I have story after story of her having an attack because of physical and emotional stresses.

Dr. Swank used to tell us that we had to make sure my wife rested everyday and would recommend laying down for at least an hour a day. I have watched as family stress has brought on physical pain in my wife. My wife is very emotional and when she gets upset, it can cause her to physically hurt and to sob uncontrollably. Movies can make her tense and make her body tighten up and hurt. To this day, she will do other things while we are watching a movie so that she doesn't get too involved in the action or suspense. I have watched her have muscle spasms and leg pain from walking too much or from stressing out at Christmas time in the mall. I have felt the knots and tightness in her neck and shoulders after a stressful day that will often lead to numbness or tingling in her arms and hands. I have watched her loose her eyesight after a stressful activity like rock climbing.

I am not sure where these doctors came up with this theory, but apparently none of them have MS or have someone with MS in their immediate family. It is so hard to watch the newly diagnosed MS patient walk into a neurologist office to be told these types of things. Do we have all of the answers? No. But, we have figured out how to keep my wife functioning at a very high level and living a good life. She just walked into our office a minute ago, and she looks great! She had some numbness earlier this week, but we were able to make it go away with chiropractic and rest. Today, she is working on her new desk she bought, just enjoying the challenges of owning her own business. I guess I wonder where we would be if we listened to all of the "MS specialists", Neurologists, MD's and other doctors that wanted her on the MS drugs and steroids. I feel like I know what our lives would be like. We would be stressed out about how to pay for the drugs, my wife would be messed up from the side effects of the drugs, and she would probably be in a wheelchair by now. That seems to be the course we have seen from others around us that have taken that route. Not all of them have turned out that way, but a majority have. I am just not convinced that in a majority of these cases, they could have dieted better, taken supplements, done other alternative care and had a better life without all of the side effects caused by the MS drugs.

Her mom took that route and has been in a wheelchair most of her life. She is completely crippled up at this point, barely able to function. Yeah, MS won't kill you, but it will take your life away. I wish we could help her, but she is adamant about doing things the MS doctor way, so we have to sit and watch as she gets worse each year. To anyone out there that has MS, I would say educate yourself. Listen to your body and make informed decisions based on your bodies needs, not on what the drug companies tell you. Make sure you don't discount the affects a good diet and supplement program can have, and never ever discount the affects alternative health care can have. We have been blessed in our lives to find good doctors that are more interested in helping figure out what is causing the problem than giving a drug to help with a symptom. Can stress cause MS attacks? In our experience, I would have to say YES!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Ups and Downs of MS

For most of my life I have been a mountain top and valley kind of person. I don't seem to ever be in the middle, where everything is just OK. My wife is kinda that way too, and we seem to either be 100% or nothing at all. We are not status quo kinda people, and when you deal with MS, you can have ups, downs and sideways on a daily basis. Right now we are going through one of those sideways times where we are just overwhelmed with life.

Her health has been all over the place lately. Some days she wakes up and feels great and others she wakes up and feels like garbage. Yesterday she woke up with her right side feeling very heavy and tingling in some places. I think it all started with a really bad headache Saturday night, and her body decided to give up on her yesterday. She slept for about 10 hours yesterday, and recovered some, but she will need to go to the chiropractor today to make sure her body doesn't keep going numb. Stress is high right now which is not good for MS patients, and her business is taking off more than we expected which has added a lot of pressure.

So, we find ourselves at a crossroads with her business, her MS, and our other life stuff. We could easily push her business into a very profitable operation, but at what expense? I think this is definitely one of the most frustrating parts of Multiple Sclerosis for me. When things start to go good in certain parts of your life, the disease seems to put a cramp in it, and since we are 100% type of people it really frustrates us. She has an interview today for a new employee, but if we hire someone then we have to press on and grow the business. If we don't hire someone then we have to scale back so that there is not as much pressure on her. It really is a good problem to have, but it is not an easy decision to make.

One of the hardest parts of living in the highs and lows is contentment. I am very rarely content with anything. I think that is why I have been successful at helping small businesses grow and become profitable. I see the problems and know that it can be better, and then I just figure out how to do it. It doesn't seem hard to me, and once I have it on the right track and figured out, I get bored and want to move on. I guess in some ways I have treated my wife's MS the same way. I have done the research, figured out what we need to do for optimal health, and we have done those things for certain times in our lives. The problems comes in long term. Once she starts to get better and life smooths out, I get bored with it and decide we need to do something new and of course more stressful. Not good for MS!

So, today seems to be starting out as a "up" day, but we will see. This week is like all of the others, it is already packed full of stuff and I am not excited about much of any of it. My wife's health will probably be all over the place this week since she has so many things going on, and we will buckle down and do what needs to be done for her to live a normal life. If we would only do those things more consistently, then we could live at a higher level of health and success than what we are. I guess that is why the largest section in the book store is self help. Everyone is struggling with these things whether they have MS or not, and most of us are trying to find that elusive side of the mountain where things are OK.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rocky Mountain MS Center

This past weekend we ventured to Colorado to the Rocky Mountain MS Center to see Dr. Allen Bowling. I had been researching Dr. Bowling for awhile, but we weren't sure he would fit what we wanted in a doctor. We have had issues finding a doctor that wouldn't push all of the MS drugs on us, and we were hesitant to see a new neurologist. Dr. Bowling was very pleasant and was open to listening to what we had done to help with my wife's MS, and wasn't pushy about following a typical MS protocol. We found out that Dr. Bowling had met with Dr. Swank a few years back so that he could make a professional decision on Swank's research and diet. The diet that Dr. Bowling recommended was very similar to Swank's MS diet in that it limits saturated fats, but it is not nearly as restrictive. He performed a physical exam and my wife passed with flying colors. I think he was surprised she was doing as well as she is since she was diagnosed over 18 years ago.

We also found out about some new research that shows that if you have had mild symptoms for the first ten years of your disease, you will have a 90% chance of the disease not progressing. That was interesting and was a relief since there has been very little on the progression of the disease. Dr. Bowling suggested we go ahead and get another head MRI done, so we are looking into what the costs will be. My wife is very hesistant about having another MRI done since she feels like it will only make her more paranoid about how the disease is affecting her. She had 3 MRIs done during the first few years of the disease, but she hasn't had another one done since. I think she realizes it would be good to go ahead and see how the disease has progressed, but I also know that she worries that there will be very bad news and that the results will only stress her out more. Neither one of us are crazy about what the doctors would recommend if she does have a lot of plaque on her brain, but we also realize we need to know if the disease is progressing without visible symptoms.

So, I guess we are happy with the visit. Dr. Bowling seemed happy with her current physical condition and was very optimistic about her future. We will probably go ahead and have the MRI done, and we will probably set another appointment to see Dr. Bowling. Only time will tell what all this visit will accomplish, but I know that we both would like to find a neurologist that is open to treatments outside of the typical MS drugs. We did accomplish one thing, and that was to get a baseline to start working from so that we could see how the disease is progressing. We are really unsure of whether the disease has caused any permanent issues since we are both so close to the situation. Her symptoms have been pretty small lately, and we are happy to say that moving back to San Angelo has truly helped her MS. It is amazing that the air and water quality can have so much to do with how her MS affects her. You can find more information about the Rocky Mountain MS Center at

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Black and Blue

A few days ago I noticed some huge bruises on my wife's legs. I asked her about them and she didn't remember where they came from or how long they had been there. This is not the first time this has happened, and it seems to happen quite often. I am not sure how Multiple Sclerosis and bruising go together, but I know that my wife bruises very easy. She can just barely bump into something and by the next day a huge black and blue bruise shows up. Most of the time she doesn't even realize that she had caused anything to happen, and then the bruise pops up. This seems to be another of those weird things that comes along with my wife's MS.

I know it frustrates her when she doesn't remember how the bruises happen. Her memory has been an issue off and on throughout the course of her MS. Sometimes she can recall things that happened years ago and sometimes she can't remember what happened five minutes ago. It especially frustrates her when she is talking to someone and forgets what she wants to say. I know this happens to everyone at some time or another, but this happens quite frequently to her. She describes it as brain fog. She says it is like she can't get her thoughts straight and focus, and then she has a hard time remembering anything. I have watched her struggle on these "brain fog days" to remember names, places or sometimes what happened a few minutes ago. We haven't found much that helps other than rest.

As far as the bruising goes, we are at a loss. We have had her checked for the normal issues that cause bruising but the tests always come back OK. Just this week my whole family had to have a test for child care licensing, and my wife's arm bruised right up where the test was administered. My daughter and I have clean arms with nothing other than a little spot where the needle was inserted. I don't know if this is a normal MS issue or not, but I do know it is normal for her. A few weeks ago she fell at a movie theater because she has a hard time seeing in dim lighting. She fell on her right knee, and it bruised up immediately. After two weeks it is finally starting to go away. We are going to keep trying to find the reason for the bruising, and I guess until we do, she will continue to be black and blue.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Will My Daughter Have MS?

When my wife and I were trying to decide if we wanted to have children, we started researching some of the issues we were worried about. One of those issues was whether my wife's MS would be passed on to our child. Since we have doctors and other health care professionals in our family, I started asking around about what the medical schools were teaching. It was almost funny because I couldn't seem to get a clear answer on what they thought. One of the more recent medical grads said that when he started school they were adimant that MS was not hereditary, but then they revised their medical books to say that there was a chance that it was hereditary. Does anyone really know?

My wife was one of the first women diagnosed with MS in the US, with a mom that also has MS. Her diagnosis was in 1990, so it wasn't that long ago that the medical community thought it wasn't hereditary. So, we started doing more research and trying to find out if we would be bringing a child into the world that would deal with the same issues my wife is having. After a lot of reading and studying, we really couldn't find any clear cut answers. We did find out that Multiple Sclerosis seems to go into remission when a women is pregnant, and that after the pregnancy, many of them have MS complications. We were lucky enough to be seeing Dr. Swank at the time, and he reassured us that if we would follow his protocol we would have minimal issues. He recommended that my wife get plasma after the pregnancy and she did great. Not only did she not have problems, she actually felt better and had more energy after the pregnancy than before. We have used the plasma protocol since then for surgery and other tramatic events, to try to keep her MS from causing issues.

Now we have a beautiful ten year old girl on our hands that we really don't know if she will have any issues or not. There have been some signs that point to her maybe having something down the road. Who knows if that will be MS. We do know that after live blood cell testing, our daughter has the same borrelia in her blood that my wife and I have. We're not sure what that means yet, but we are hoping that her body continues to fight it off. We also know that when we started natural treatment for the borrelia, she couldn't take the kill off of the bugs. She would ache all over and have physical pain from the medicine killing the borrelia. This is normal, but not to the extreme that she was feeling. We had to stop treatment because she couldn't handle it. Since then, we really haven't attacked the issue. I think part of reason is because we really don't know what to do.

As a father, I worry constantly that she is going to have problems. Right now she is a normal child with normal kiddo issues, but I know my wife's symptoms didn't show up until her late teens. Every once in a while we see one of the weird issues pop up that makes us wonder. For example, she has had some pain issues in her hips and legs that really can't be explained. She hasn't compained about this for awhile, but the doctors didn't know what to do with it either. Her hips would hurt so bad that we would have to rock her to sleep at night because when she laid down she couldn't handle the pain. We tried all sorts of things, but nothing seemed to help. Then it just went away. We were relieved and worried all at the same time, but we haven't had anymore major issues in a while. She is extremely active and competes in gymnastics, and her body had held up fine over the last few years. It's those moments though, where we know that something is not right, that really worries us. The other day I shared some news with her about something she was excited about, and she became so excited that she just started crying. It was way over the top, but I don't know if it is something wrong or her just being a girl. Either way, it still worries me.

We will continue to keep an eye on her, but I don't know that anyone really knows if MS is hereditary or not. The answer we hear now is that they may have a genetic disposition to the disease. To me it still sounds like they don't really know. One thing I do know for sure is that we will continue to love her and support her as she grows and matures. She is going to do some amazing things in life and I hope and pray that she never has to deal with MS. Maybe one day we will find that answer to MS, but for now, we will take it one day at a time and live life to it's fullest.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

ADD, ADHD or just MS

My wife has thought for a long time that she was ADD or ADHD. She has always had a hard time focusing on things and quieting her mind. Last night was no different. I woke up in the middle of the night to find that I was the only one in bed. My wife had tried to come to bed but couldn't get her mind to quit so that she could go to sleep. She has always complained about an over active mind that just won't quiet down and stop thinking. She finally came to bed and fell asleep about three this morning.

She is exhausted this morning so she just stayed in bed. We are very fortunate that she doesn't have to work so she will be able to sleep until she has to go and pick up our daughter. This is a fairly regular routine for us when she is having insomnia issues. We have spoken with other MS sufferers that have the same over active mind issue. I know that we have tried all sorts of things like sleeping pills, relaxing bath and massage, but when the insomnia hits, there is very little we have found to help.

She will usually end up watching a lot of TV and trying to take her mind off of things. Sometimes she will lay in bed and watch TV for hours and still not be able to go to sleep. I have noticed that she does better when she goes and lays down the instant she becomes sleepy. Otherwise, it is a battle for her to quiet her mind and drift off to sleep. If she has been overwhelmed that particular day, it is even worse. She will not be able to stop thinking about all of the things she has to get done and it drives her insane.

The ADD affects more than just her sleep. She has a very hard time focusing on certain types of tasks. She very rarily will read a book because she finds herself re-reading the same words over and over so that she actually processes them. I guess the odd thing about her lack of focus is that she has worked in an accounting office in most of her past jobs. She is very smart and capable, but she still finds it hard sometimes to stay on task because of her wandering mind. We have a good friend that tests for ADD in schools, and we asked him a few years ago about my wife's habits. He immediately commented that she has an adult form of ADD. I guess it came as no surprise to us, but we would like to know if it is connected in some way to the MS. Maybe one day we will know if it is ADD, ADHD or just MS.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Balance of Life with Multiple Sclerosis

The last few weeks have been frustrating. My wife's MS has always affected the way we do things and we are used to changing things in our lives to accomodate the needs of her disease. We have changed jobs, moved to new places, tried different therapies and radically changed the way we live, but lately we have struggled to find balance in our lives. Her MS is not really causing any major problems right now, but it is the knowledge that it can hit at any time, to any degree, that really gets me. We really have no idea what tomorrow will bring. Lately we have been trying to figure out what our next step will be with our career and her health. I am currently helping my parents with their business and we know that we want to do something else. We have never shied away from taking control of our lives and making changes, even though we know that stress can have a negative affect on her MS.

I have been participating in MS forums lately, and I see all of the people out there that are hurting and trying to find answers. Some of these people have gone from great lives and careers, and now are on disability with little hope for a future. It really hurts me to see all of the pain and sadness, and especially the feeling of not being able to help. I have considered going back to school to study MS in some type of medical career or psychology, but I am just not sure what would help most, and what would fit my personality and our family. My wife's health has been OK lately, with small problems and fatigue, but we know that my current career is temporary while we try to piece together the next step.

So, we find our life at a constant flux with the knowledge that we will probably not be living in the same town or doing the same job a year or so from now. We are even considering home schooling so that we have more control over how much rest my wife can get in a day. Right now she is at home sleeping because she is just not getting enough rest. Trying to find a balance in life is so hard, with or without MS, but I feel more out of balance right now than I have in a long time. Along with helping my family, I am running another business and trying to help my wife with a business she has started. Sometimes it amazes me at how resilient and strong my wife is. She so badly wants to contribute financially to our family, and she isn't afraid to jump out there and try new things and push her limits, even thought she knows it could mean problems with her MS.

She started an all natural cleaning service a few years ago, but has recently taken it to the next step and is really pushing the business. She is doing great, and is actually having problems getting to all of the work because she is getting so many calls. This business has been great for her, and she does a wonderful job with her clients. With her business, and the two businesses I run, our lives are just too full. I guess it all comes back to our priorities in life, but I want to spend time with my daughter and wife, and I want to make sure my wife's health is taken care of. We will figure it out! I will decide on what the next step will be, and the MS in our lives will be there, but it will not rule the day. Sometimes I think our lives are complete chaos, but maybe that is balance for us. Maybe, just maybe we are most balanced when we are stretching and growing and living in spite of MS or any other inconveniences in life. Maybe we are in balance when we are totally out of balance, or maybe we just like to punish ourselves with so much stuff. :)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Physical Exercise and MS

A few years ago my wife decided that she wanted to run a marathon. Her health was pretty good and she was having minimal MS issues, so we decided to try some light exercise. We met with a certified personal trainer and setup an exercise regimen that would supposedly work for her physical needs. We started with the basics including weight training and cardio on a bike and treadmill. At first, she was doing great! She was handling the weights and was even able to walk a fair distance on the treadmill.

We would leave the house in the morning and workout together for about an hour. It was interesting to watch the other people in the gym since we were the only couple working out. This went on for about 2 months and still no problems. We knew that she could only push her body so far, but it seemed she was staying within those limits because we weren't seeing any adverse effects from it. When we first started she could only walk on the treadmill. By the second month she was running for short distances and starting to see a pretty major difference in her body.

Since we worked out together, I could see that she was lifting more weight and getting stronger. What was really funny is we started seeing other couples working out at the gym, and we later found out that we had influenced a whole new group of people that were working out with their spouses. We really enjoyed it, and she kept pushing herself further and further until she was running at full speed on the treadmill and was still feeling great. It was one of those moments when life was kinda normal and her Multiple Sclerosis wasn't rearing it's ugly head. We even started looking at short races that she might be able to enter and run in.

Then it all started. One day she woke up with a tight spot on her side. It wasn't very big and it was more of an annoiance than anything else. We were a little worried about it, but we had been through the numbness and tingling with her MS before. Then it started spreading until it wrapped all around her abdomen. I have heard this described as the MS hug. The tightness incread around her abdomen until it started to hurt and become really uncomfortable. She was having problems wearing anything that put pressure on her waist and then it started to spread. Within a very short amount of time she was completely numb from her chest down and couldn't walk without help.

I tried all sorts of things to make her more comfortable, from buying high end sheets to trying to find clothes that wouldn't cause issues. At first, we thought it would pass quickly. She had only been working out for about three months and her MS seemed in remission. Her complete numbness went on for about a month before we found something that we thought would work and help. To be honest, I was worried and we even began to think through the possibility of her being in a wheelchair for the rest of her life. I came across an ND that I thought could help and little did I know that this new doctor would change the way we thought about Multiple Sclerosis.

Once we started his treatment she became better, but we learned a lot about exercising and Multiple Sclerosis through this whole process. One thing we learned is that taking care of diet is extremely important whether you are exercising or not. You can't push your body when your gut is not working properly and your body is not absorbing nutrients. We found out that my wife had a leaky gut and her body was not expelling waste properly or absorbing nutrients properly. So, she was pushing her body and it wasn't cooperating to stay up with the exercising. You can't exercise and ignore what you eat and how well you're taking care of your digestion.

Another thing we have learned is you have to hydrate and make sure your hormones are balanced. Hormone imbalance has a lot to do with how your body uses the water you take in, and my wife was very dehydrated even though she was drinking a lot of water. Even now, we can both tell when she is not drinking enough water because of certain symptoms that start to pop up. We have also tried other exercises like yoga and tai chi. She loves yoga, and her MS seems to do better when she is stretching and moving her body through the movements.

We are continuing to learn how much and to what extent she can exercise, but we would both caution anyone with MS when it comes to physical exertion. Some MS patients seem to do OK with exercise but the majority we have met can't exercise much because of fatigue and how it affects them. I guess our advice would be to take it slow, rest a lot, eat great and drink plenty of water. I know that it frustrates my wife that she can't run like she did as a teenager, but I also know that she is thankful that she can still walk, hug our daughter and participate in other activities. I know my wife, and she will continue to exercise but she will take the time to listen to her body and continue to learn as she goes. She still wants to run that marathon, and maybe one day we will do it together.