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.