My pre-ordered copy of Professor Jelinek’s new ‘Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis’ book arrived in the post, and I ripped off the packaging eagerly and started to read.
Six years ago I must have been among the first newly diagnosed people to benefit from the first edition of this book; I was very keen to see how the program I’ve been following now stacks up, now the latest research has been incorporated into current recommendations
The first difference I noticed was the size of the book. It is much bigger and more weighty, both physically and medically. This is due partly to the increasing amount of research around modifiable risk factors in MS – low saturated-fat diet, sunlight and vitamin D, exercise, meditation and stress reduction – and also to the growing number of pharmaceutical options in recent years that are all carefully analysed in the book.
But in particular, this edition benefits from the inclusion of data from Professor Jelinek’s own research team, the STOP-MS and HOLISM studies.
These studies of lifestyle interventions, firstly following a cohort of people who attended OMS retreats and secondly reporting on a very large international sample of people with MS, are strongly supportive of the OMS recommendations.
So for each part of the program, we now have a very thorough analysis of the external research which has led to the OMS Recovery Program. We then have analysis of the Jelinek research team studies (published in major neurology, psychiatry and other medical journals) that back up these findings. That takes care of the ‘why’ people with MS are advised to adopt this lifestyle, which only leaves the ‘how’. In a step-by-step approach, Jelinek outlines the best methods for achieving each of the lifestyle changes he recommends, with practical tips, suggestions and background information on changing habits, eating a plant-based diet with seafood, eliminating saturated fat, adopting exercise and meditation routines, seeking counselling and support where needed.
The chapter on pharmaceutical options is far more in-depth too, showing effectiveness versus side-effect profile of all possible drug options in MS, many of them fairly new.
The overall emphasis is on lifestyle though, with drugs seen as one strategy among many to employ when overcoming MS. There are some new sections too; this book is a seven step program, adding a chapter on ‘preventing MS in family members’, and ‘changing your life, for life’ to the previous chapters on diet, vitamin D, exercise, meditation and medication that were present in the first edition.
Overall this book is a remarkably thorough and authoritative look at everything a person with MS can do after diagnosis, no matter what stage of the disease they are at, or what type of MS they are diagnosed with.
Compared to the first edition it is more detailed, even more secure in its recommendations, and better able to help people to implement them. But the biggest difference I noticed between this and the first edition, as I sat down to read, was the difference in me.
Back in 2010 I was newly diagnosed, very afraid, experiencing frightening symptoms in various parts of my body. To say the book was a lifeline is an understatement. Over the coming months I adopted all the recommendations and made them a complete way of life. I changed my life, for life.
As my recovery became real I also joined the OMS team, helping out with the Facebook page and co-authoring the book Recovering from MS which came out in 2013. The effect of all this has been profound; a physical recovery that is on-going, MS that is stable, and an emotional and spiritual well-being that has changed the way I live and view my life.
So it was a very different ‘me’ that sat down to read all 450 pages of this updated book. A ‘me’ that is empowered, captain of my own health ship, physically and mentally very well. That is the realistic prospect for anyone with MS who decides to adopt the OMS Recovery Program, and this new book makes it more possible than ever for people to do that.