When were you diagnosed?
I was diagnosed in January 2017. I remember it was December when I had my tests, the week of Christmas while I was staying in Chicago. The tests lasted all week and I was given the ‘all-clear’ despite having symptoms of something I didn’t understand. I really thought I was good to go and that it could be the effects of migraines, so I booked my flight back home to Hawaii.
The day before my flight, I got a call from my Neurologist who said that although my tests came back clear, he still thought I had MS. He recommended I get a second opinion.
It took two months for my test results to be mailed from Chicago to Hawaii. After a few appointments, the new Neurologist was finally given my MRI’s from Chicago, and at that point he agreed I probably have MS. It was now March 2017.
When did you discover OMS?
My Neurologist in Hawaii gave me a bunch of leaflets with information about the different types of medication available. He told me to do my research and we could decide how to proceed in our next appointment.
I researched online and was horrified at reading other people’s accounts of side effects. It was overwhelming. At my next appointment, I chose Copaxone daily injections. However, I barely lasted 2 months before I started researching what other things I could do to help myself.
I found a comment online with someone saying they followed the Wahls Protocol and so I found the book and began preparing to follow the diet. While sharing the diet’s rules with my boss (a fantastic chef of a small cafe where I worked at the time), he suggested I look into the negative reviews of the Protocol’s restrictions as well as the positives I had already idealized. I ended up finding a comment by a man who said the diet didn’t work for him, but that those who are still interested in approaching their healing holistically should try the Overcoming MS diet. I found the OMS website, ordered the book, and started following it immediately. Things definitely got easier once I finished reading the book because I started to understand exactly why the changes worked.
What was the most challenging step and why?
Honestly, it’s the smallest thing ever, but milk in my tea.
I was heartbroken because I drink so much tea and I was always a big milk drinker growing up. And as an adult, to have to replace my tea with another milk was just heartbreaking. I never liked almond milk in my tea because it wasn’t the same. I finally switched to oat milk because it had the best consistency and is still OMS friendly--either that, or organic soy.
Another step I find challenging is meditation. The stress reduction part of the program is super important and I see the impact it has on me, but I still find it really hard to do every day. Because of it, I’m much better at taking a step back from issues that used to overwhelm me and looking at the bigger picture so I can see a better perspective.
Being mindful to me is still a form of meditation, as it helps me to stay calm instead of being glued to my phone or other distractions.Taking time out of my day is important and it’s getting easier the more I’m doing it. It may be one of the hardest habits for me to implement, but it never stops showing its benefits.
The best way to put it, is that I’m learning to be gentle with myself and learning to take care of myself. I was never like this before. I was so determined to be productive all the time. Nothing I did was ever good enough in my eyes. I never took any time for myself, and I was quite high strung.
This step took the longest for me to learn, but I am remembering to be gentle with myself, even when I don’t think I deserve it.
What are your top 3 favourite OMS friendly recipe?
Here’s one I recently found – 5 bean chilli from Deliciously Ella
Cashew cream pasta - My sister, who isn’t on the diet, always requests this meal when she visits because she loves it so much. It actually tastes like real cheese!
Living in Hawaii, the fish is just incredible. There are so many sushi and fish options. I used to hate fish when I lived on the Mainland. I couldn’t stand it. The only fish I ate growing up was frozen fish sticks and frozen tilapia. I had to drench it in tartare sauce, I couldn’t even taste the fish but the breading made it bearable. But when I moved to Hawaii, I completely changed my tune! The fish here is out of this world.
If you could go back to the day you were diagnosed, what would you tell yourself?
I would tell myself that I can do anything, even if it seems impossible. And it sounds so corny to say but what I mean is, if you focus and have confidence that you can do it, you will succeed.
Healing happens in your own way. I was so scared about MS medications and there was so much doubt in my mind. But healing happens differently for everyone. There isn’t always a set way to heal, it’s your decision to find that out and you have to believe in the way you’re healing.
If I took the meds every day and I really believed that I would improve, maybe I would have. But I wanted to follow my own path, and it worked! I just want to remind everyone that your own path of recovery is only decided by you, nobody else.
There’s never a wrong way to heal. Healing is healing, however it shows up.
Do you have any quotes or words of wisdom to share with the OMS community?
There’s one that has followed me and is still significant to me today. It came up way before MS, on a magnet my mother gave me when I was going through a separate medical condition.
At that age, I was so impressed by words. It was simple but so profound to me because I was so vulnerable back then. It was:
‘Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.’
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