While this blog is not about Multiple Sclerosis, when people find out I have MS, they often want to know how I manage my symptoms and what they can do to help live better with a specific disease or how to improve poor health in general.
As it turns out, the things I did when I was diagnosed and the things I do now are not just for MS. While I don’t have experience with other diseases, I think these ideas would work for many scenarios. I’m not offering a cure for anything here, but instead want to share hope that we have the power to heal ourselves.
I’ve experienced long (months) episodes of vertigo and fatigue, tingly fingers and face, and mild depression with my MS. I have been almost symptom free for many years and I attribute that to fighting for my health.
The hardest time to feel powerful is when we are sick, newly diagnosed or just feeling down but I knew I had to do something to change the course of my disease or I would continue to decline. Here are the things that made the biggest difference and I think can help you too.
- Research diets and healthy eating plans. Read The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health and other books that talk about inflammation. Change your diet and do whatever it takes to feel well.
- Move everyday. Start where you need to start. Work within your pain levels, recognize fatigue and either stretch or walk and do something more high energy when you can.
- Connect with others living well with your disease. Stay away from forums and message boards/blogs where people are complaining or rehashing all the negatives you know. Instead reach out directly to someone living symptom free or that is very active and ask them how they did it.
- Partner with your doctor. You have more to gain/lose in this relationship. Ask questions, present research, get second opinions. Be the boss of your health and your healthcare team.
- Don’t listen to the doctors all the time. You know your body better than they do. Just because this disease produces certain symptoms in some people, does not mean that has to happen to you. Just because you’ve experienced some of those symptoms doesn’t mean you always will.
- Wage war on your disease. Get to know it, research, experiment, and be vigilant. Sometimes that means resting.
- Do things you love that keep your brain or body active. Learn a new language. Take a cooking class or write a book.
- Give. Volunteer for an organization that supports your affliction or another cause that is unrelated. Thinking about someone besides yourself when you have a chronic condition is key.
- Reduce stress by reducing the unessential. aka … simplify your life
I hope these ideas will give you a place to start. You have a brilliant opportunity to turn your life around or to continue to enjoy the benefits of health. The possibilities are endless if you are willing to do the work. Be hopeful, vigilant and kind to give yourself the best chance for long lasting health and the strength to fight when you need to.
And, if you are lucky enough not to be diagnosed with anything, still fight for your health.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Review these ideas with a doctor and see if any or all of them make sense for you.