EATING MY WAY BACK TO FULL HEALTH
In April 2016 I made a huge decision to stop injecting copaxone every day. Copaxone is one of a number of disease modifying drugs MS patients are advised to take (the one Jack Osborne promotes on behalf of the manufacturer), as the trials have shown that it can (maybe) prevent relapses of MS or exacerbations, up to 30%. It was a very difficult decision to make as living with MS every single day, is a mental and physical torture, and to be truthful it took me over two years to finally decide on my new plan which would exclude for the first time conventional medicine and drug treatment on a daily basis. However for the previous ten years I've been reading anything I could find on the condition, trying to get as much info as possible, speak to as many authorities on health, wellbeing and how to manage MS as I could find, all in the hope that one day my body might make a full recovery and give me the energy to go on and live my life to the full.
The most disappointing thing in all of this in my own personal experience is the fact that I've had to work out the best way to live, manage and recover from MS more or less on my own. Although we have some excellent medical professionals in our health service who are dong their best, I have to say that I and the many people who contact me every day, every week and every month who also suffer from MS, feel extremely let down and isolated due to the lack of help, conflicting and dearth of advice, and everyday guidance on how to actually go about managing MS properly. It shouldn't be the case but given my profile in Ireland and the UK now as a person who is living very well with MS and also an endurance athlete, I am extremely aware of whats going on and what kind of advice MS patients are receiving and moreso not receiving every day. It's quite depressing!!
Thankfully for me I never gave up hope that if I could get the right plan in place, one day my MS symptoms might settle down to a point where I can get up in the morning, go to my work, do normal stuff, and go to bed without having any symptoms at all. The wonderful news is that over the last fifteen months since I started my new recovery plan, I've had many of these kinds of days. I've been keeping a diary pretty regularly throughout the course of me living with MS, and its only since I changed my recovery plan in April 2016, that I've started to experience what I call as "back to feeling pretty normal" days. I remember vividly in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 right up to 2016 that I used to crave just having "normal days" where I would have one day where I would experience NO MS symptoms. If you are reading this and you live with MS you will no what I mean. For those lucky enough not to be living with MS, I mean how you felt before you got diagnosed or your first symptoms appeared.
BACK TO FULL HEALTH
Dr George Jelinek is a very well regarded Australian neurologist who wrote an incredible book called Overcoming MS. Dr Jelinek's mum unfortunately died with MS and later in his own life he also was diagnosed with the condition. For me Dr Jelinek is one of the worlds leading authorities on MS and he is my go to person, the book my go to manual, if I need some information on how to manage the condition. He is more than qualified to talk about living with MS, and the book he wrote contains information that is evidence backed and scientifically qualified to help people manage their MS. It really is an incredible and very valuable piece of work. One of the things I am perturbed about is the fact that the world leading charity the MS SOCIETY, which also does some excellent work in this field of helping MS patients, (and has now an incredibly important role as an authority and point of reference for MS patients) for some reason or another doesn't appear to be endorsing, promoting or advising people to get a hold of this book and moreso advising patients to follow the evidence backed information that Dr Jelinek has set out. There is absolutely no doubt that if they did do this, and point people to this piece of work, many more people would be living a lot better with their MS. I simply don't understand this!!!
April 2016, I decided to stop taking conventional medicine everyday and go full tilt on a plant based whole food diet. In short I decided to cut out animal meat and all kinds of dairy products from my diet and only eat fruits, vegetable, grains and legumes. After a serious amount of research, and in particular looking at the recovery of Dr Terry Wahls from MS, and many others who have went down a similar path, I felt that if my body is to fully recover from the damage caused by the MS, I needed to get more nutrients, vitamins and minerals into it every single day, to allow this recovery to take place. The good news in my own experience is that I started to notice a difference within a 3 month period. By August/September 2016, I had a lot more mental clarity, the brain fog had disappeared, I had more energy to do my exercise and overall my MS symptoms had been reduced. It was an incredible feeling. Over the last fifteen months bar a few weeks in May 2017 this year, my health has been absolutely terrific. If you were to get a look through my diary from week to week, its as if the entries made are those experienced by someone else, compared to what I had written down for days and months some years before.
In Dr Jelineks book Overcoming MS, he sets out very clearly how MS patients can control and manage their MS. He also advocates a plant based diet and backs this up with scientific commentary and results based trials. For example he refers to the work of Dr. Roy Swank who carried out a trial that lasted over 20 years whereby he monitored MS patients who limited their intake of saturated fat to less than 15grams per day. The results were very clear. Have a look at this in more detail but in short, those MS patients who restricted their intake of saturated fat over the twenty year period had much better outcomes in terms of living with MS and disease progression. Unfortunately the work of Swank has been critised over the years and for the most part buried. In my own view in part due to the role and influence and conflict of interest the big pharmaceutical companies now have in the MS conversation. As they say there is NO MONEY in telling people to eat vegetables...!!
Next month I will going into my twelfth year living with and managing my MS. I am very grateful and moreso thankful that the path I am on has allowed me to stumble across the right information that has allowed my body to recover from alot of the damage and distress the MS has caused me over the years. Yes I still have symptoms and there are days that are quite tough. However since I've embraced this new way of living centred around a plant based whole food diet, the bad days are few and far between. Please note that FOOD hasn't been the only reason why I feel my body has been able to make a fantastic recovery, however it has played a central role in it in my view. The good news is that over the coming months I will be writing a new Ebook setting out in detail how I've been able to get my body back working in great order again. I'm hoping it will be available by Christmas 2017, so I need to get my skates on and get this sorted, but I am looking forward to sharing this information with you.
For those of you who follow and are interested in following my adventure racing life, over the next eight weeks I've got four races coming up. Sprint triathlon in South Derry, Dublin half Ironman (70miles of swimming, cycling and running) Olympic triathlon Belfast in September and a 40mile Ultra marathon in the North Coast at the end of September. Over the last few months I've been slowly but surely slipping into a really good place in my mind which has allowed me to experience good health and be very productive. My training is going well and I've been able to stick with the regime I've designed for myself. My energy levels and my form have been excellent and fingers crossed this holds up for the last two quarters of 2017.
I would also like to say that many people have contacted me of late to congratulate me on my new book Ironmind, Against all odds. I am very grateful for every piece of feedback I get on this as it drives me on and gives me the courage to continue on with my own personal journey of recovery. The great news is that the book has made a positive impact on a number of people with quite a few starting to take up running and triathlon, and even one MS patient telling me they have entered an Ironman race in 2018 - this is incredible.!!!
If you have read the book, please email me and let me know what you think. If you enjoyed it It would be great if you would leave a testimonial on amazon. Feedback is the one way I can keep in touch with you to make sure I am on the right track and also to ensure that the content I put out whether its through my books, blogs or social media is adding value to you and your life.
I want to engage more with you, and provide as much information as I can over the coming weeks and months, which will hopefully help you and those closest to you in your own life, deal with challenges and any kind of adversity you might face.
Whatever you do this coming week, try and eat a little better, and get some exercise into your busy schedule. You will feel a hell of a lot better for it - trust me!!
Have a great week.