Yesterday as I was driving into work in Belfast around 7.30am, I seen something I haven't seen in nearly six months, burning brightly in the sky.  I knew I'd seen this thing before but it took me a few minutes to work it out ..... yes it was the SUN.

What a tough winter this has been for everyone unfortunate enough to live in a climate like this.  It feels like its been raining since October and I know that I haven't been able to let my kids out to play in over five months.

However on a more positive note Spring is upon us and already this weekend we have seen temperatures increase and apparently that big bright sunny thing is going to be around for the next couple of days.

In just over eleven weeks I will be lining up in Barcelona to compete in their annual Ironman 70.3mile race, and in the last two weeks I've started to train for the event.  Following my exertions last year culminating with the full Ironman distance in Majorca, I've decided to keep food, exercise and adventure at the heart of my recovery plan with regards to living and dealing with Multiple Sclerosis.  This weekend I hope to get out on the bike for ninety minutes and also a 75 minute run which will mean I've been able to train seven to eight hours this week, which in my opinion isn't too much of a strain.

March is MS AWARENESS month and its a great opportunity for me as someone living well with MS to try and share some information on the subject.  MS is a lifestyle disease and by that I mean that once you are diagnosed with it, its been proven scientifically, those who change their lifestyles tend to cope much better with the condition.

For me I have made an enormous change in my own life in the last few months by migrating to a plant based diet.  This means I don't eat meat or dairy anymore.  I've been off dairy for a couple of years now but it wasn't until January that I decided to cut meat from my diet.

It's important to understand at this point that one of my main goals is to achieve optimum health and to get to a situation where I am completely MS symptom free.  This is a huge goal and would be one hell of an achievement considering where I was between 2006 and 2010.  However to achieve this I recognised the role food plays in our wellbeing, so I accepted I needed to carry out my own research in regards to my diet.  This led me to study the incredible work of Doctor Campbell in the China Study, a book that has in the last couple of years been getting a lot of attention in the USA and been endorsed by none other than former President Bill Clinton who himself had some serious health challenges around 2012.  

This is a fascinating piece of work that goes back some thirty odd years and along with the documentary Forks over Knives, amongst other research over the last few years, has helped cement my decision to go completely meat free fairly straight forward.

I have to say the transition has been a lot easier than I thought, and like most adventures its exciting exploring a whole new world of food and thinking a lot more about how I fuel myself to get around and more precisely working out how I can get enough protein, fibre and all of the other necessary nutrients into by body.  Like everything in life this requires a lot of discipline and effort, but these are two attributes that if I want something badly enough I can find in abundance as I have been able to demonstrate to you over the last few years.

MSAWARENESS month gives me an opportunity to share what I have learnt over the last nine years with others and I would highlight some of these take away points below;

  • MS is a lifestyle disease
  • Its possible to get better and live well again
  • You need to open up your mind to the possibility that you can recover
  • Food plays a key role in your bodies ability to recover and repair damage
  • Exercise is extremely beneficial to people living with MS
  • Vitamin D is now recognised as being a supplement that MS patients can benefit from 
  • Drugs - they cannot cure you however can prevent relapse rate.  They are only one part of your recovery plan
  • It is possible to lead a productive life, have a family, business and challenge yourself physically and mentally
  • You will have bad days, really hard times, but the pain will ease and clouds will pass.  The trick with living with such a debilitating condition is to NEVER GIVE UP.  If you do this and apply yourself, then you are giving your body and mind every chance to fight back and repair itself.

I am in my tenth year living with MS.  The teachers report to date would be; first five years absolutely horrendous.  Last five years - incredibly positive, productive and winning the war.

If you know anyone who has just been diagnosed with MS or living with MS, its important to point them in the right direction and encourage them to believe that they can get better both mentally and physically.  If this can be done then I firmly believe that more and more MS patients can start to take control of the condition and get their lives back.





Conor DevineComment