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Kate is on a sabbatical 4: when life gives you lemons

As I come to the end of my MS diary, I guess it’s time to look back over the past six months and assess where I started and where I am now with my recovery.

As I come to the end of my MS diary, I guess it’s time to look back over the past six months and assess where I started, where I am now with my recovery and what I’ve learnt so far and am continuing to learn each day.

Six months' progress

So much has happened in six months, covering the entire gamut of emotions and experiences, some wonderful, some not so great.

Moving to the countryside was a smart move for sure – being in peaceful surroundings with minimal stress has been, and continues to be, rewarding and I would recommend it to anyone who is struggling along in a busy, frenetic city and is looking to escape.

My pace of life has changed considerably and I still struggle with this, as I’m a ‘do-er’. Learning to take time out and rest, to have to turn down invitations, to step back from heavy work commitments (for now), can be frustrating and a little sad on occasion.

Staying positive and believing that I’m still on the road to recovery and to just keep working on ‘me’ is tough – concentrating on ‘me’ isn’t always what I want to do!

Adjustments along the way

Altering my diet and following the OMS program has not been as difficult as I thought it would be, although I hold my hands up and admit that I’ve still got a long way to go. I like butter, I’m sorry but I do, and have yet to give it up. And chocolate, yes that’s still in the fridge too. But I’m not going to beat myself up about it – it’s neither constructive nor kind. Instead I continue to tweak and edit my weekly food-shopping list to incorporate unfamiliar foods and cross out old favorites.

I find myself inadvertently reading about massaging kale, how to make cashew milk and I’m even doing a Vegan Reset 30-day challenge at the moment and cooked tofu yesterday for the first time in my 51 years!

I’ll be knitting yoghurt by the end of the year for sure. After I’d got over the initial upheaval of moving to the countryside, I felt I was making some really good progress with my health.

I wouldn’t say I felt 100% but things were definitely moving in the right direction. Sadly, about two months ago I started to feel increasingly unwell again. Symptoms included problems with my balance, my eyesight, vertigo and chronic fatigue. It crept up on me in small stages so I didn’t really think it was an MS kick in the pants.

A small relapse

I struggled on but when I visited my MS specialist recently he confirmed that I had had a small relapse. He promises it’s not progression (don’t know how he can be sure but I’ll just have to believe him).

“Why?” I wailed to the specialist. “I’ve been so good, I’ve changed my life so much, why has this happened?” I’ve agreed to take a short course of steroids to get me back on my feet.

Why I have had a relapse is anyone’s guess of course, but in the midst of it happening my wonderful father became ill and sadly died, very peacefully at home, last month.

Emotional stress is definitely a trigger for my symptoms, so although it wasn’t the cause of the relapse, it will have aggravated the situation. But these things happen in our lives – you can’t hide away for ever from life events. How one copes, particularly when you have MS, is clearly important. Meditation has been extremely helpful for me over the last few unhappy months and there have been times, I’m happy to admit, that I have quietly wept through my meditation.

'Emotional stress is definitely a trigger for my symptoms, so although it wasn’t the cause of the relapse, it will have aggravated the situation. But these things happen in our lives – you can’t hide away for ever from life events.'

Looking to the future

Work has had to be put on the back burner for most of this year, which I have found difficult to come to terms with as I (on the whole) love my job and my clients and I’ve worked hard to get my company to the level it’s at now. What I do know is that I will have to reconsider how many and what type of projects I take on in the future. I know I pushed myself too hard and took things way too personally in the past, none of which could have been good for my health. From now on, less is more. I’m starting with small projects for lovely clients and that’s all I need for now. Baby steps. Looking to the future, I feel I am now set up, partly with the aid of the OMS program, to continue working on my health and wellbeing. When I fret that everything is not working out so well and I’m not making any progress, I pull out these two images of me (I normally hate ‘selfies’ but useful in this instance to document progress). The first one was taken in February, soon after I’d been diagnosed, and the other is a recent one in my garden. The difference is palpable. Kate MoncktonSo with that, I will wish you all extraordinarily good health and let’s all raise a glass to my darling papa, who has been such an inspiration in my life, read every OMS blog I posted and was my biggest fan. And as the saying goes: 'When life gives you lemons… go make a gin & tonic'. Cheers everyone!

Kate Monckton

Below: My dad Kate Moncktons dad