Monday, December 19, 2011

20 Hours

20 hours is how long my wife slept over the weekend. The insomnia, stress and our crazy life finally caught up with her. After falling on our trip to Thanksgiving and breaking a bone in her hand, we have both been very aware of the toll our current life is taking on her body and MS. On our trip back to Texas we were walking across a parking lot when a speed bump got the better of her. She thought she lifted her foot high enough, but it caught her foot and she wasn't able to react fast enough and hit the pavement. She hit the side of her face, bruised her shoulder, side and hip, and felt like she might have broken her hand.

After having her hand x-rayed, she found out she had a broken bone in her hand. Her body is still sore even this long after Thanksgiving, but it finally seems to be going away. In addition to her hand, we have been swamped with trying to take care of things at the children's home. This time of year is great for donors to think about us and support the Home, but that also means that we all have to work overtime to keep up with the groups that want to come to the Home. My wife has been the contact point for all of these groups and that has put a lot of extra stress on her. Since our Home is 100% privately supported by individuals that want to help kids, this time of year is vitally important and my wife is not one to hold back. She has been giving 110% and working everyday and most evenings.

Since Thanksgiving, we have only had a few days off so it has really stressed both of us. Her body began to show the stress through insomnia, fatigue, mood swings, brain fog and other issues. She kept the numbness away with regular massage and chiropractic, but the other symptoms weren't going away. So, over the weekend she laid down and slept for hours and hours. We know how important this is and are willing to shut down things when they need to so that she can let her body recover. She is doing much better today, and this week will be much less stressful. We are even planning on taking the whole last week of the month off to recover and take a break. This time of year is tough, and we are trying to be vigilant about resting, watching the stress and making sure we take care of our health.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Emotional Stress of MS

My wife and I recently celebrated our 16th anniversary. Through those years, we have had some very tough struggles with MS and some joys that could only happen through the struggles. At this point, I know that my wife's MS has only made our relationship stronger because through the mess we have been forced to rely on each other and God. There have been moments when we have felt completely out of control, and other times we found specific treatments that helped us to feel like we had some control. The emotional roller coaster of this ride can be very draining, and there have been times when my wife and I have had to be intentional about taking a sabbath from Multiple Sclerosis.

For my wife, the emotional stress of MS can come out in days of being tearful, extreme headaches, mood swings, fatigue and a lot of other ways. There are times when she just has to sleep, no matter how busy we are or how behind we are in life. This can add to the stress, but we just see it as a necessary part of life with MS. There have been times when we put our whole life on hold because the stress on my wife's body has become too much. The stress can also come out in pain in her legs or other parts of her body, numbness in body parts, stiffness in body parts, sour stomach and general feelings of being ill.

Sometimes life can get so busy that we neglect the rest that my wife needs, and there are times that we pay dearly for it. The thing we have learned is to take action when we need to and not put it off, and try to be proactive and build in down time in our life. The problem is that we are both very driven people with a desire to do more than probably what we need to, so we get ourselves overwhelmed pretty often. I guess the morale of the story for our family is to be aware, be proactive, and know our limits. Emotional stress in life can be overwhelming, and MS just seems to add to the issue, so we try hard to limit stress and live life as fully as possible.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tripping, Falling and Rolling With MS

Over the last few weeks, my wife has worked tons of hours at our Children's Home, along with keeping up with our 14 yr old daughter. Too many hours and not enough rest turned into my wife dragging her right foot. This is a fairly common issue when she is tired and her body is worn out. Normally she would rest more along with seeing our Chiropractor, but time didn't allow those things and she fell hard last week.

We were heading to get a smoothie for our daughter and my wife caught her foot on the curb while hurrying up to the door. By the time I realized what was happening, she had already fell hard, rolled a few times and hopped up. I could see the look of pain in her eyes as she started heading back to the car. She banged up her knee along with tearing up her hands, and feeling very embarrassed after someone in the store came out and asked her if she needed help.

She was OK, but pretty beat up and we knew that if we didn't have her adjusted by the Chiropractor she would be headed to a lot of issues. Within hours her foot was already numb and her fingertips were numb. She was exhausted and slept for a few days to try to catch up and keep her body from spiraling downward. She went to the Chiropractor on Monday and immediately started getting feeling back into her foot and hands. By the end of the day the feeling was completely back and her body was recovering quickly. She also found a new massage therapist that she was very happy with this week which has also helped in the past.

It still amazes me how the warning signs are always there when her body is starting to get tired and her MS is starting to flair. If we ignore it, we ask for the problems to come and if we will just do what we know to do, we can create the environment for her to stay healthy. My wife commented that tonight she overdid it and that nothing was worth wearing her body out, so I have a feeling that this was a wake up call for her to take better care of herself. This last week she started the Swank MS diet again, and has been very focused on taking back control of her diet and health. The last four months have been very hard with both of us having to work long hours but the light at the end of the tunnel can be seen now. She is already doing better from her fall the other day, and I know she will continue to get stronger and healthier.

Friday, July 29, 2011

MS in Wichita

It's been a while since I posted, and we are now living in Wichita KS where I work as the CEO of an all girl's children's home. My wife's MS has been pretty good since we have been in Wichita and I think she is finally acclimating to the heat and humidity. Over the last week she has dealt with some headache issues where it hurts in her eye, and had some fatigue and stomach issues. These issues are more annoying than anything, and she has done very well with the stresses that have come from moving and taking over a children's home. This last week has really brought the emotional stresses as we have dealt with some girls that we took off the streets and gave homes on our campus.

Overall we have been very blessed and her MS hasn't reared it's ugly head much. Over the next months we are hoping that we are able to settle in and increase my wife's health. We will be searching for a natural doctor and continuing to along the path of natural health. We are excited to be plugged in and back in a city with healthcare options, and I know that my wife is excited that her health has continued to be good.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

One of the Three Deadly Sins of MS

Dr. Swank used to always tell us that there are three main life stresses that really seem to impact Multiple Sclerosis - Moving, Death and Marriage. Well, we have made it through all of these, and are in the middle of moving once again. I have taken a CEO position with a Children's Home in Kansas, so we are loading up this Friday and moving to Wichita. We have been packing for over a week now, and the stress load is weighing on my whole family, and especially my wife.

She has been very fatigued lately anyway, and with the added moving stress, she has been sick after every meal, had bad headaches, struggled with tight muscles in her neck and shoulders, and just had to push through all of it to pack and get ready to move. It amazes me what she can push through and how willing she is to work even when she feels like she's been hit by a Mack truck. She is finishing our kitchen today, and I am so proud of how hard she works and how positive she is even during these times.

One of the reasons we even looked at this job was because of the health care available in Wichita. We have been two hours from our Chiropractor which has been a pain, and I really think it has caused her to have more issues. When she is seeing the Chiropractor regularly, she is a different person. And if we have a good massage therapist to work her shoulders and back, it multiplies the effects and she does even that much better. We have learned how important it is to live somewhere that we can have easy, quick access to natural Doctors and a good Chiropractor. We are excited for the move and will be seeking a new Naturopathic Doctor as soon as we get there.

So, we won't be able to avoid one of the big three stresses on MS this time, but we know that this will be a better place in the long term. Controlling stress in your life is vital for MS patients, and I know for us it is probably one of the most challenging things we manage. When stress is minimized, we've noticed that life is so much easier, and my wife's MS begins to take a more back seat to daily living.

Friday, April 15, 2011

How Many Weird MS Symptoms Can There Be?

Ok, so we've seen a lot of weird stuff through the years of my wife's MS. She has lost control of her throat and couldn't swallow, lost color and complete eyesight, felt weird pains and tingling, been numb all over or just in little spots, felt like her nerves were on fire, and a whole slew of other symptoms. This past week we were introduced to a couple of new ones for us. Now, we have been under a lot of stress lately. Life changes are happening and we are stressing, and hopefully we will have some kind of direction soon.

With all of the stress, I expect my wife to have issues. This time is no different, and she is having some weird stuff going on. The other day she woke up and had a pain shooting from her chest to the middle of her stomach. It was a piercing pain that would let up for awhile, and then come on full force. The pain stopped her in her tracks, and she wasn't able to do anything that day, but try to get in a position to stop the pain. This lasted a full day and even caused her discomfort when she was trying to go to bed. After a full night of sleep, the pain was gone, and there were no signs it had ever happened.

If it would have stopped there, I wouldn't have thought a whole lot about it. A few days later, she began to have severe stomach pain. If she laid completely still, the pain would subside for a bit, but as soon as she moved the pain would hit full blast and she would be bent over in agony. Again, the pain went all day and didn't subside until a full night of rest. The next day, the pain was gone, and her stomach was sore but it wasn't anything major.

On top of those issues, she has had shoulder issues for the past couple of weeks. Her shoulder catches when she raises it and she isn't able to raise her arm fully over her head. I know this, and maybe the other symptoms, are not all MS, but I do know that the stress the MS puts on the body seems to fatigue it to the point where she is more susceptible to other issues. This catch in her shoulder has been going on for awhile, and we are going to see the Chiropractor today to see if he can help.

It seems like through the years of writing this blog, I have repeated the mantra of stress and MS more than I would like. It truly amazes me how stress impacts the body, and how MS just magnifies that. We hope to find out some very important news over the next few days about our future, which should help to alleviate some of the stress, but until then we have to find ways to relax. Tonight we are going on a date, to relax and spend time just enjoying each other. It almost scares me to think of all the weird ways MS affects the body, and I would just as soon not find out. Stress, please go away!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Daughter Asking Hard Questions About MS

The other day me and my daughter went to the gym to shoot baskets. While at the gym, she and I were talking about how my wife has been struggling some and how she wasn't able to go with us that night due to her leg's being tired. So, during our conversation I really didn't think about any of it too much, but just tried to be as open and honest as possible with her. She asks questions periodically, but usually it is short lived and she doesn't dwell much on it. After we made it back to the house, she made an off hand comment that really got my attention.

She walked by me and told me to never let her get paralyzed. She had been thinking about how my wife has been numb a few times and how she didn't want to be that way. I talked to her for a minute about it, and she asked me if I thought she was going to have MS. We had talked about this before, but for some reason it was really on her mind that night. We talked for a short time about the chances that she had it, and she went on and didn't talk about it again. I know she is concerned about it, but I also know that she doesn't think about it much until my wife has been having issues.

I guess I feel a little more comfort right now in talking to her about all of it since there are some strides being made with CCSVI and the testing for vein issues. If and when we get to the point of testing my wife for vein issues, we will go ahead and test my daughter to see if she has any blood flow problems. I guess I'm pretty paranoid because lately she has been talking about being light headed and having some black out spells where she says everything goes dark. I pray that she doesn't have Multiple Sclerosis, but I have to be real and know that there is a chance. That's the last thing I would want for my little girl, to have to struggle with this dreaded disease like my wife has. I am sure she will talk to me about it again, and I'm sure I will have to answer some hard questions, but for now she just needs to be a teenage girl loving life.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New CCSVI Detection Technique from Dr Zamboni

Wow, Dr Zamboni just keeps pushing forward with ways to help the MS community. One of the issues with CCSVI detection to the point has been the detection of a blockage by neurologists. So, you have many MS patients being misdiagnosed because of a flawed detection process. Now, Dr Zamboni has figured out a way to take the user error out of the equation. He has come up with a process that records blood flow through a plethysmography machine to see if you have blockage. This method eliminates the operator's special training dependency, and makes detection so much quicker and easier.

Here are the details I have right now. The patient wears a collar that measures the volume of fluids in the neck. At first, the patient sits upright in a chair. When the volume stabilizes, the chair is aggessively tilted and the patient is in the supine position. The volume is continuously measured, and this position increases the volume in the neck. Again, the patient is agressively tilted back into an upright position and whamo, an MS patients blood flow takes a long time to decrease again. A normal subjects blood flow decreases almost instantly.

This is so much simpler and more accurate to see if a patient has CCSVI present or not. After they get a positive that the patient has blockage, then they can use doppler and see what extent the blood flow is impeded. This is going to be so much simpler and more effective in diagnosing since it will remove the user error. This is literally a push button method of testing, which should in turn make the whole diagnostic process easier and more reliable. Thank you Dr Zamboni for continuing to find new and creative ways to help MS sufferers. I am so grateful for men like Dr Zamboni and Dr Swank for not giving up when the medical community pushed back on them and tried to disprove their theories. I will keep my eyes open for a diagnostic center that begins to use this technique, and have my wife and daughter tested.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lasting Effects of Being Blind with Multiple Sclerosis

This last week my wife went in to get her eyes checked for the first time in a while. The poor Optometrist really didn't have a clue about MS or the condition of her eyes. When we explained to him that she had been blind four times, had a retina detachment with a buckle, and how one of her eyes is dim, he seemed a little overwhelmed. It is almost humorous to see doctors that don't have any kind of background in MS. He looked her eyes over and started the process of getting her a prescription, and we were happy that her eye sight hasn't changed much from the last time she had her eyes checked.

With the damage that has been done to her eyes, it is no wonder he couldn't get 20/20 vision in both eyes. Her left eye he was able to get to 20/20 even though she has gone blind in that eye, and we know that there was damage. She sees pretty well out of that eye, with full peripheral and good depth perception. The right eye is a different story. With the times she's gone blind in it, her optic nerve has apparently been damaged. She can see, but it is half the brightness. He was able to get her to 20/60 in that eye, and I know she has some issues with night blindness and peripheral in her right eye. She is still blessed to be able to see out of that eye as well as she does, and we are hoping her new prescription will help even more with some issues she is having.

In both eyes, she has gone completely blind for days, and then the eye sight came back through using steroid drips. This is one of the few times that we use any type of drugs to treat her MS, and we both feel it has saved her eyesight. I have had a few questions about whether you can get your eyesight back if you've been blind with MS, and my wife is a living testimonial to that. She doesn't see great out of her right eye, but her left eye is still normal. We also found out that she has some issues seeing colors. The doctor ran a few simple color tests, where they have letters or numbers in color on a page with other dots or designs, and she had a hard time seeing very many of them. Yes, the MS has affected her vision, but she is so happy that she can still see and enjoy her eye sight. Her few bouts with going blind have damaged her eyesight some, but overall we are very pleased with how well she can still see.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dizzy, Light Headed, Nausea with MS

Last week my wife hit a point where we knew we were going to have to take action or watch her continue toward a full on MS attack. We went to see our special Chiropractor and immediately she started to feel better. Normally it takes a few days for her body to get back to some kind of normal state, and this time is no exception. Over the last few days, she has had moments of dizziness, feeling light headed, nausea and a general feeling of being woozy. It seems to hit out of nowhere and sometimes lasts just a few minutes, and at other times it goes on for an hour or longer. This has only made her car sickness worse, and she has been having to lay down and rest a lot.

I can feel her frustration with her body not cooperating. She is trying to finish up our taxes, and she hasn't been able to focus on much due to dull headaches. The Chiropractic visit helped to stop the immediate threat of vertigo, and we will probably go back this week to make sure her vertebra didn't just move back out of place. This is a four hour round trip for us, and we wouldn't do it if we didn't feel like it truly made a huge impact on her health. I guess I have learned there are no magic pills, magic diets or other get fixed quick treatments for Multiple Sclerosis, just persistent warring again the disease and constantly learning to find new ways to make daily life better.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spinning Head With MS

Yesterday my wife woke up feeling pretty good, other than an unsettled stomach. She met me for lunch and right after she arrived home, her head started spinning and she began to vomit. She wasn't able to leave the bed for the rest of the day, with her head spinning. By mid afternoon her head hurt so bad that she wasn't able to sleep, and she was trying everything to relieve the pain and spinning. She wasn't able to sleep well through the night, and woke up feeling worse. From the time the spinning started, her body struggled to regulate her body temperature. She would become overheated easy which made the feelings of sickness even worse.

This morning I offered to take her to our Pro Adjuster Chiropractor and she felt like she would get better as the day went on. Around lunch time she showed up at my office struggling to stay on her feet, dizzier than the day before. We immediately contacted the Chiropractor and headed the 2 hours to see him. He adjusted her in about 10 minutes and she began to feel the rush of blood flow and feeling spread through her body and head. After about 10 minutes her headache had subsided to a dull pain and her dizziness was almost gone. After another 30 minutes we were sitting in a restaurant eating, with her continuing to feel better, laughing and talking like nothing was wrong. It still amazes me that a simple adjustment can radically change her well being.

While at the Chiropractor's office I spoke with him about the CCSVI research I have been studying. I explained the lack of blood flow due to twisted veins, especially the jugular veins, and asked him how the adjustments might affect this issue. As we talked about my wife's specific issues he adjusted each time she visited, he pointed out that the C1 and C2 vertebrae were always an issue for her. He explained to me that the jugular vein can easily be affected by these two vertebrae and that today was no exception. He also explained that a Chiropractor adjusts to affect nerves, but an Osteopath adjusts for blood flow. We talked for some time about how both of these issues, nerves and blood flow, are affected by adjustment and how my wife can see such drastic results from the adjustments time and time again. I am definitely not a doctor, and I am only passing along what this particular Chiropractor spoke to me about, but it sure does seem to make sense after he explained how the adjustments could be affecting the blood flow and potentially a CCSVI issue. We will continue to work with Chiropractic care until we decide whether we are going to pursue the Liberation treatment. I can honestly say that we are very excited about the future and my wife's health, and am very pleased with the current treatments we have found to help along the journey.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Forgiving with Multiple Sclerosis

My wife and I joke all the time that she is a very forgiving person, which she really is, but our joke has to do with her lack of memory. We were having a conversation the other day and I brought up something that she had been upset with me about, and she had to ask me when it had happened. She didn't remember any of it, and this is a very common occurance. She and I will have a disagreement and within a few hours, she has completely forgotten about it. I have noticed that this happens more often when she is stressed, and it has seemed to happen a lot lately. I can tell when her memory is slipping because she will forget simple things that normally she is very good about remembering. It definatley makes for some interesting disagreements because she will get fired up about something, then totally forget it within a short amount of time. Some of this is probably her ADD. She always struggles to stay focused, and I know that is one of the reasons she forgets so easily, but I also know that her memory comes and goes depending on how she is doing physically and emotionally.

I am not sure how much of all of this is MS, or if any of it is MS, but I know from some of the studies being put out right now about CCSVI that there are some major issues that can result from the blood flow being restricted. I read a study the other day talking about how the blood going into the brain is actually cooled down before it enters, and how the blood flow affects how our bodies deals with temperature changes and all sorts of other issues. I want to write more about this later, but for now, I guess I am just curious if anyone else out there is struggling with memory issues. Multiple Sclerosis affects so many different areas of your life, and this is one that has helped my wife in some ways. Because she forgets some things so easily, it actually lessens the stress on her body and she forgives very easily. Now, don't get me wrong, there are some things that she never forgets and she definately reminds me of some of those on a regular basis. :) She really is an amazing woman that is truly forgiving and is always trying to make the right decision, no matter how hard that is on her. Dr Swank used to talk about how amazing the MS patients were that he treated, and I would have to agree that I have an amazing MS woman!

Seeing Vegas with Multiple Sclerosis

Two weeks ago I was invited to speak at a conference in Las Vegas, NV, so we loaded up and headed that way. We had never been to Vegas so we wanted to make sure and give ourselves some time to see the sights. The first night we arrived around 4 and headed out on the town. We drove to Cesar's Palace and started walking from there, knowing that my wife could struggle to walk to all of the areas we wanted to see. We took in the Volcano at the Mirage, walked over to Treasure Island and took in the show there, then headed on to the Eiffel Tower and saw the Bellagio fountains from the top of the tower. What an awesome sight to hear the music and watch the fountains from above. After quite a few hours of walking I turned to my wife and asked about her legs. She said she felt fine and we made our way back to Cesar's Palace and our car. On our way back, things got a little tricky, and I thought I might have to carry her.

We had made it through most of Cesar's Palace when her legs finally decided to give up. Her left leg started dragging and she found herself almost tripping many times. I was a little concerned because we had quite a walk left before we were going to be back at the car, and I could tell that her legs weren't cooperating. She seemed to "feel" OK, but was stumbling and struggling to walk at all. We were joking that most people probably thought she was just drunk, like most of the other people in the hotel. We finally made it back to the car and headed to our hotel, where she went straight to bed. Her legs ached a little that night, and she tried to rest as much as possible for the next day.

The next day we went to the event I was speaking at and she had to sit for quite a few hours. After sitting for some time, her legs began to get out of control again. She kicked the seats in front of her as her legs jumped uncontrollably. She was so frustrated by that point and couldn't seem to get control of her legs. When we got up to leave, she noticed that she began to walk funny. She would lift her left leg up very high and walked very differently than normal. After walking to the car we decided that she probably shouldn't do much else for that day. Frustration set in again! She was so mad that we were in Vegas, by ourselves, and she was being limited by her Multiple Sclerosis again.

Over the next three days she struggled with everything from jumpy legs to achy legs to even struggling with stomach pain and headaches. The over stimulation of the lights, sounds and activity in Vegas was so hard on her body. Just about everyday she had a dull headache, and with the leg issues, it was a struggle for her to enjoy very much of the trip. She struggled with her body keeping a constant temperature, and would need the A/C blowing full blast at times, and then the heater warming her up later. Her MS was truly wreaking havoc on our Vegas trip, but she worked through the issues the best she could and we still walked some more and saw some more. I guess we have learned through the years that there are going to be times when we are going to have to create some down time so that we can enjoy our time actually participating in whatever we are doing. Our trip to Vegas turned out OK, but it sure is a struggle to watch her have so many issues within just a few days just because of the amount of walking and activity.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New Year, New MS Discoveries?

2011 could shape up to be an amazing year. With Dr. Zamboni getting the OK to start his Clinical Trial for CCSVI and MS, many others already having the Liberation treatment done and so much dialogue being done about new ideas about Multiple Sclerosis, this year could be a turning point for so many facing this disease. My wife and I have been following all of this very closely but are not at a point to where we feel ready to jump in yet. There is still a lot of details to be worked out concerning after care and a way to create long term opening of the veins, that we are not ready to move forward with the procedure. But, it has been amazing to read stories about progressive MS patients that have seen miraculous recovery from this surgery. We will be following everything with anticipation to see what new technology or technique or method may fix some of the issues that are currently hindering a full recovery for many of the patients.

I know for my wife, the last year and a half have been very interesting. I can honestly say she has had more daily issues with her MS where we live now than almost any other time since her diagnosis. She hasn't had any major attacks or major issues, just annoying issues that have disrupted the routines of our life and affected our daily living. We have made some commitments in 2011 to begin to shape our lives better so we can control more of the things that we know are affecting her health. She is already beginning to take control of some of her dietary habits again, and we are gearing up for some much needed physical training to strengthen and build up our bodies. We have already began to make some major changes in our lives, and I am excited about what the future holds for treatment of MS.