To be honest, being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis was sort of a relief for me. At the time my body was going through changes and I had no idea what the cause was.
You think the worst and I wondered if other people had ever experienced what I was going through. I was feeling very alone so the diagnosis meant I could now read up and educate myself about MS.
The power of acceptance
I don't know why but I just accepted the situation I was in. Family and friends can sometimes find it harder to accept than the person with the condition as only we really know how we feel and self education is key... rather than jumping to the worst case scenario.
I had a relapse the following year and was put on a course of strong steroids which didn't seem to work for me. I've had a few MS symptoms since from time to time but they have all been very minor. MS Auckland were a great help.
Changing for the better
I remember receiving a book from them called Taking Control Of Multiple Sclerosis by George Jelinek. This book gave me a lot of direction so when I heard that George was doing a MS course in 2008 at the Mana Retreat Centre in Coromandel NZ we made a booking.
My wife was pregnant with our first child at the time. After the retreat I was motivated to change my lifestyle, it was a no-brainer for me, what did I have to lose?
I was a healthy eater before but George's book explained the importance of good fats and a good diet. It now seems society is more accommodating of the different diets than in the past, and awareness of healthy food options is much greater and more accepted than when I first changed my diet.
Still, it was hard at first to not be part of the works birthday cakes. I don't cook or fry with oils and I bake my favourite Blueberry and Banana muffins which I'm glad to say my four and six year old daughters are getting a taste for.
I find steaming useful for cooking veges and mussels, I have been dairy-free for many years and avoid processed foods as much as possible. I make large batches of meals which I freeze for work lunches. Bircher muesli with flaxseed oil starts the day.
I didn't get to grips with meditation until I read Ian Gawler's book, Meditation - Pure & Simple. I had done Yoga for many years and I had heard about meditation so I told myself I'll make this a priority and have managed to do some daily this year.
Meditation's opened new doors for me such as positive thinking, living in the present time as opposed to thinking about what's ahead or in the past.
Surfing's been a big part of my life since I was a teenager which has always been great for clearing the thoughts and living in the moment. Being so focused when taking off on a wave, at that time nothing else seems to matter.
Being in tune with the elements and being part of all that energy, feeling so alive after a surf. Goal setting has been a good motivator.
Whether my goals have been a holiday, an event or ticking items off the bucket list. Not all goals eventuate, that's life – but I just add more. So it's been over 10 years since diagnosis and I'm in a good space mentally, and in good shape physically.
Coming to terms with MS
I remember hearing about MS for the first time and trying to come to terms with it all and reading what's said about the types of MS.It wasn't good news but realising there are steps I can make, like diet, exercise and positive thinking has helped me to deal with the situation.
It has also given me a good structure and a sense of control rather that taking no action. I have two wonderful daughters who keep me busy and test me at times, lots of times!
Would I have taken this life path without MS? I suppose I will never know that answer, but I'm happy and I'm living an active life. There are people without a diagnosed illness who can't lay claim to that.
Jason Tatt Photo caption: Jason catching some Vitamin D in The Maldives - July 2014