I'm so inspired and moved by Helen's experience with MS. She has adamantly decided that she is in control and I love this 'fighter' attitude! Her body has responded so quickly to the diet with her symptoms improving drastically in such a short period of time. I put this down to her unwavering determination, her creativity and disciplined mind.
Helen joined the MSDFW community a few months ago and has been so pivotal in helping the ladies with their diets and juice fasts. In this interview, she shares her story. I know you'll enjoy reading about how she took the bull by the horns and hasn't looked back. Over to you Helen!
Interview with Helen
When were you diagnosed with MS and what symptoms have you experienced?
I was Diagnosed with MS in September 2015. Looking back I think it all started in March 2014 after acupuncture. I was really wonky for a few days and had ringing (tinnitus) in my ears from that moment. My first noticeable symptoms started on the 1st of September 2014 with a slight numbness in my left armpit. Overnight it had progressed all down my left side. It was like a line had been drawn down the middle of my body. I could feel my right side but not my left. It was such a strange feeling when brushing my teeth. After a few weeks feeling came back to most parts. My left hand was so super sensitive that I could not touch anything without a glove on, as it hurt so much and this lasted about 2 months. I still have numbness in my fingers and my left thigh.
I had a pretty major operation in November 2014 and on waking from the anaesthetic, if I tilted my head down a very strong vibration went all down my spine. My legs were quite weak and I was constantly dealing with restless legs. I was having moments of feeling overwhelmed and anxious with possible confusion too. My body almost felt itchy on the inside. I also noticed that my words were not coming out right and thinking was something that I had to really work at. To begin with, I put it down to the operation and anaesthetic effects.
I was very foggy brained, fatigue was debilitating at times, and my memory was not good. I could not seem to retain new information. Tremors had started in my body just before diagnosis. I was also dealing with very active Fibromyalgia. My body was is so much pain I was living on pain killers.
2. Learning that you have a chronic illness is always a shock, how did you cope with being diagnosed?
I was in shock for a few days, even though deep down, I was still hoping it wasn't MS. I did break down a few times and did the whole "why me" routine. Then I pulled myself together and decided that I was not going to tolerate this invasion and I was not ever going to own it. I will never call it My MS! I was never in denial, I know I have it, I just decided that I was going to treat it as an enemy and go into battle against it. This gave me a purpose and a strong resolve. I didn't want to be sick and burden my family. Most of all I wanted a quality of life. I have too much to accomplish.
3. How did you come to realise that you could change your disease course?
I am a complementary therapist. I am trained in Bowen Therapy, Raindrop Technique, Reiki, among others, so I know every negative has a positive and energy is the answer to everything. There is always an answer to a question. So change the energy and bring in the positive. I already knew a few types of food that hurt my body due to the Fibromyalgia, but strangely enough I never thought to pursue that further. I read about the Paleo diet being good for MS but that didn't really sit with me due to all the protein. This would be too painful! I read about the Swank Diet as well but it just didn't resonate. I then came across MS Diet for Women and all the information I read there made sense and I was able to understand how the immune system worked with food and the body. It all made so much sense and was so easy to follow.
4. Can you describe the changes you made? What was the result of those changes?
I printed all the information on foods that harm. I read it over and over and understood what I needed to get rid of. I decided the next morning that I would do this bit by bit so that I didn't get overwhelmed. I started the elimination with gluten. I decided that every 3 days I would eliminate another group. The first two days I didn't notice much. The third day I woke up and I was clear headed and I felt refreshed, the fatigue was gone. I was wide awake for the first time in a long time.
I then eliminated dairy. On day five of no gluten and no dairy I realised that I had no pain in my body. Incredible! The sky was filling up with rain clouds which would usually have me fortifying myself with pain relief. I had only just then realised that I had not needed any pain tablets in the last 5 days. This is when I decided that I would do the 7 day juice fast. I kept eliminating the groups and I arranged my week of juice. By the end of the juice fast I was running up and down the stairs, no pain at all, no fatigue, no fog, no tremors, no vibration. I felt like I had a different body.
5. You were also very successful with the juice fast and used a unique strategy to stay disciplined. Would you mind sharing this with us?
I purchased a juicer and I already had a bullet blender. I lined up my family and told them what I was going to do. I wrote a menu for the family so I wouldn't have to think about what to give them each day and bought their food.
I then went shopping for my fruit and veg and nearly gave up at that moment! When I unpacked the fruit and veg on to the bench I was so overwhelmed that I cried and said I could not do it. There was just too much, how was I ever going to figure it all out and where would to put it all.
At that moment, I remembered an advert for a weight loss eating plan on TV called Light 'n Easy. The lady goes to the fridge and grabs her lunch which is all bagged up ready to go. AH HA! I did meal by meal, day by day. I got zip lock bags and put each days Breakfast, Lunch, Afternoon tea and Dinner ingredients into the bags, marked them all for the meal and the day, and thankfully we have two fridges so I put it all in the second fridge. Easy and not overwhelming anymore.
I followed Kim's plan and it was wonderful to have a focus. I took all my supplements and medication at 7am. I then meditated for half an hour and then got my 4 bags for the day, and juiced at about 8am.
Day two was really tough. I was detoxing so I felt sick and had a really bad headache, I was so hungry it was making me feel sicker and I was ready to chuck it in. Then I thought about what I had to gain. Everything! So I told my sick, hungry self that we would go one more hour and then chuck it in. I looked at the printed plan and it was time for a drink of water YAY! So one more hour and that's it, we are chucking it in! Oh look afternoon tea! So I continued with the one hour thing and my sub conscious seemed to be satisfied with that. It was like I was giving myself a choice.
My biggest hurdle that day was getting ready for bed. I was so hungry I knew I could not possibly sleep Water was just making me feel sick. So I had a cup of tea with a dash of rice milk. I know it wasn't part of the plan, But it settled my stomach and I slept through the night. It was a little trick for the mind as well. I told myself that I could have a cuppa if I got so hungry again and that would be alright. I didn't need to, I think it was enough that I could!
On Day 4 I needed to crunch something. So again I talked to myself and decided that 4 grapes was acceptable and that's what I did. Crunch craving satisfied! The next 3 days were a breeze. I worked out that if you have a problem talk to your self, just ask for a solution. There is always a solution to any obstacle.
6. Overall, how has the MS diet changed things for you?
I cannot recommend the MS diet enough to anyone. From the moment I read your website information Kim, my life has completely changed. Twice in the past 3months since starting this change I have had 2 set backs and both times were from gluten. The first was 2 slices of bread, the second, eating sauce that was not gluten-free and both flares within an hour of eating it. So needless to say that gluten is out of my life forever. I won't deny it is a challenge, especially when you are away from home. But I take my own rice or almond milk and if I have a decaf the cafes are happy to use my milk if they don't have a dairy alternative. I pack rice cakes and home made muffins and bikkies or some nuts for snacks. It is a little more work and planning but the results are well worth it. As much as I might miss certain food, like bread which I loved so much, I love feeling pain, tremor, fatigue free and extremely well most of all.
Giving my body good clean energy to work with is most important. The MS diet has given me this opportunity, and I am confident that with time, the nerve damage that happened in the beginning may just heal.
Thank you Kim for all of your time and research and most of all for sharing with everyone. Your MS Diet has really changed my life.
For more information on how to purchase meal plans and get involved with the MSDFW community, please visit the MEAL PLANS page.