When were you diagnosed with MS? November 2012
What type of MS do you have? Relapsing-Remitting MS (RRMS)
#1: Can you tell us a little about your journey with MS. How did you feel about your initial diagnosis and how it has affected your life?
I began to feel my body starting to shut down on me very, very quickly. When I initially went to the doctor, I was dismissed and told "You're too young to have anything seriously wrong with you... It's nothing". I was 33 years old and just married. My first symptoms were pins and needles running down my spinal cord, which then spread down my arms and legs. I took it upon myself to investigate what could be going on and a few months later, I returned to my doctor asking to be referred to a Neurologist. Mainly because, my symptoms sounded very similar to MS and I was just getting sicker. After blood tests, a lumbar puncture, and an MRI scan, I was given the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. I had so many, many questions like...why did I have it, what caused it, what can I do about it, and/or do I have to change my diet and lifestyle? I was deeply shocked and distressed to discover that no hope was given to me within conventional medicine and the prognosis was not good, nor was it pretty. I continued to get sicker. At my sickest, I had no feeling from my chin down and my husband was spoon-feeding me. I felt so angry and frustrated. I was desperate to get answers and to feel well in my body again. It was a really scary time. Then I discovered Functional Medicine. There was Hope after all!
#2: What MS symptoms do you have and how do you manage them on a daily basis?
I currently don`t have any MS symptoms. However, I am very conscious that I have to be extremely careful. An infection, virus, stress, certain foods, and certain situations can trigger a flare or even a relapse. I live my life well with MS; but, I am forever checking in with myself to ensure I am feeling well and my needs are met. I consider it to be way more important for me to check in with my body, than I do my phone! This means breathing techniques, journalling, daily meditation, walking, eating foods my body recognizes, utilizing infrared machines, saunas, cold water showers, and having deep meaningful conversations with people that are good for my nervous system. My life is very different from when I was given the MS diagnosis. I have changed every single aspect of my life, so that I can live well with MS.
#3: Who/What has been your most important support system?
My dear husband without one shadow of a doubt has been and is the most important support system to me. I also consider the support that I give to myself to be crucial too. I have learned to love myself deeply and unconditionally. When we said our wedding vows "Through sickness and in health" neither of us knew what we were saying and what was about to happen. A few months later, he was having to spoon-feed me and take me to the bathroom. It was hugely humiliating and not how we wanted to start married life.
#4: Do you use any accessories like canes, walkers, or wheelchairs to manage daily activities?
No, I do not. I am doing all that I can for it to stay that way. Because, I focus on prioritizing progressive health and not a progressive disease.
#5: How do you stay positive and motivated in your daily life? What do you do for self-care?
MS happened for me...not to me. Before the diagnosis of MS, I was living my life in the fast lane, unable to enjoy its gift. MS forced me to slow down. I now live life in the slow lane. I actually prefer it there. I see more. I stay positive by journaling every day. I won't forget the time when I was unable to walk after my MS diagnosis and was advised to rearrange my home to accommodate a wheelchair. I have absolutely no idea what the future holds for me but, a wheelchair is not something I wish to have. I strongly believe that everything the mind says the body hears, so I am extremely careful about what I say to myself and how I speak to myself on a daily basis.
#6: Your story and experiences with MS are incredibly valuable and can provide encouragement and motivation to others in the community. What words of advice or encouragement would you give to someone who is newly diagnosed with MS or going through a challenging time right now?
Health starts with HOPE! There is so much that you have control over. The food that you eat, the thoughts that you have, the people you spend time with, the things you watch, read and your quality of sleep. Surround yourself with people that are good for your Nervous System. Look into Functional Medicine and be careful what meaning you give the diagnosis of MS. Symptoms are your body's way of speaking to you. What is your body saying to you? My body was telling me that I had to change.......and I have.
#7: Have you started a business or mission related to MS? Can you tell us about it and what inspired you to take this step?
I am the founder of First Food First. I am a Wahls Health Practitioner, Nutritional Therapist, and Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach for courageous individuals diagnosed with MS. I use Nutrition, Lifestyle, Mindset, and my own lived experiences so that they can reclaim their lives, look forward and follow their dreams.
I started this as a result of feeling completely lost after my MS diagnosis. I discovered there was HOPE by using the principles of Functional Medicine. My website is www.firstfoodfirst.com and my Instagram handle is @first_food_first. This is where I share my journey living with MS and I also sprinkle some HOPE to courageous individuals going through similar challenges with their health.
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