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S5E27 A Newfound Gratitude for Health with Mike Kennedy

Listen to S5E27: A Newfound Gratitude for Health with Mike Kennedy

Welcome to Living Well with MS. In this episode, we are pleased to welcome Mike Kennedy as our guest. Mike was diagnosed with MS over 10 years ago and is an advocate for living a healthy life and following the Overcoming MS Program. He will be discussing with Geoff the lessons he has learnt along the way, including when he deviated from the Overcoming MS diet.

Keep reading for the key episode takeaways.

Questions and Timestamps

00:33 Could you introduce yourself?

02:32 Can you tell us about your MS and Overcoming MS journey?

11:21 Unhealthy vegan food

18:25 Experience with first neurologist

21:42 Cryotherapy or cold exposure

25:26 Hyperbaric oxygen therapy

29:50 Homeopathy

33:15 The placebo effect

38:31 Family prevention  

43:44 Tea and plant-based milks

45:38 Matt Embry’s influence

49:28 What advice would you give to someone newly diagnosed?

Selected Key Takeaways

Change your life for life

15:01 “If I was told right now, ‘Mike, you no longer have MS, you will not [get] it again’, I would not go back to eating cheese. I would not go back to eating dairy. I would not go back to eating big fat burgers. Honestly, I think that it’s all habitual because these are the habits that I built around my life.”

Cryotherapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy helped Mike’s inflammation.

23:13 “At the 10-year mark, my symptoms at that time were a little more pronounced. I tried hyperbaric oxygen [therapy] for an hour and then cryotherapy. I can only say it was the most incredible relief or feeling I’ve [ever] experienced. [When] I got out of the cryotherapy tank, I felt like I could run a marathon, and I have never run a marathon. All the inflammation in my legs [was] gone; it was just like fresh blood came into my legs and it was the most incredible feeling. I recommend anyone with problems with inflammation or MS to try cryotherapy.”

There can be a silver lining to an MS diagnosis

53:40 “Believe me, it’s not all bad news. There’s so much you can do to make this situation much better for yourself. In fact, in so many ways, I’m a lot healthier now than I would have been had I not had MS. I know that sounds pretty strange, but it’s true. I got healthier; my weight’s a lot healthier. I’m not saying I wouldn’t wish I didn’t have it, but it certainly gives me a lot of positives as well as negatives, without doubt.”

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Transcript

Read the episode transcript here

Overcoming MS  00:01

Welcome to Living well with MS. This podcast comes to you from Overcoming MS, the world’s leading multiple sclerosis healthy lifestyle charity, which helps people live a full and healthy life through the Overcoming MS program. We interview a range of experts and people with multiple sclerosis. Please remember, all opinions expressed are their own. If you enjoy the show, please leave a review. These are quick to do and really help us. And now here’s your host, Geoff Allix.

Geoff Allix  00:33

Joining me on this edition is Mike Kennedy. And Mike has been following OMS for quite a number of years for six years after being diagnosed 10 years ago. So he’s got a lot of experience with following Overcoming MS. And it would be very interesting if he’s got a very good story to tell. So welcome to the show. And Mike to start off with Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your day to day life?

Mike Kennedy  00:58

Yeah, hi, Geoff. Thank you, for you already said my name. But my name is indeed Michael Kennedy. My day to day life well, I’m a director of a custom instillation company in the smart technology world. So we do bars, restaurants and eateries to private residential properties, whether it be renovations or new builds and all the technology they would want within it. In my other parts of my day to day life, which are the most important ones, my wife, Alicia is an incredible mother now, to our little baby girl skier. She’s just turned six months old. And I can tell you, that’s why we’ve had to wait for this podcast because I’m still pretty sleep deprived, but it’s just gotten a little bit better. So yeah, I’m pretty busy as a father, a business owner and an OMSer. So yeah, there’s lots of stuff going on.

Geoff Allix  01:55

My experience of having children was we got to the point where you think I can’t take this anymore with the sleeping. And then they sleep a little bit like it was sense that you are to the limit, and thry go and sleep a little bit more than and then each time it was like, Okay, we’ll just give you a bit more.

Mike Kennedy  02:11

Yeah. So they they know they’re taking the mickey a little bit too much. And they give a little bit more respite. So you can cope.

Geoff Allix  02:18

I’m at the other end now I’ve got teenagers who have different problems.

Mike Kennedy  02:22

Just just like me, Geoff and tell me it gets better.

Geoff Allix  02:25

It gets easier. They basically look after us now.

Mike Kennedy  02:30

I really appreciate that. Thank you.

Geoff Allix  02:32

So you were diagnosed with MS 10 years ago? And how was that process? How’s the diagnosis process for you?

Mike Kennedy  02:42

I’m very fortunate, in that my mother runs a very large independent charity called Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer, which is a voluntary charity that’s raised lot of money for breast cancer care in the Midlands, because she had a couple of friends that, unfortunately, were diagnosed with the disease and had a terrible time with it. So she wanted to fight back against that and they’re doing like, you know what usual people do when you you might find out your friend has a problem like that they were doing like local coffee mornings and fundraisers, raising some money and sending it off and it was going to London and not coming back to the Midlands. My mother’s a Manchester woman. As you said, I’m not having that so she started her own charity and made sure that every penny raised stayed in the Midlands to help people around her local area. Due to this, she obviously had great contacts in the medical field. And when my original symptom was optic neuritis, I suddenly woke up one morning I was between things at the time just come back from Manchester moving into a house in the Midlands and I was living with my mother. I came downstairs for breakfast and I said Mom, I’ve got blurred vision. She said get to the optician. I went the opticians and she said look this way look that way and it was really painful. That doesn’t look good. So they sent me down to A&E for a scan. I didn’t get a scan, they just pulled my arms push my own stick. So I’ve got lost my strength or weakness, they probably thought I had a stroke. Because I was fully strapped strong and nothing else wrong they just sent me home. Very Luckily, I was at one of my mother’s fundraising events. And this is only a couple of weeks later. And her friend who is an anesthetist looked at me and said, I think Mike’s got a bigger problem than we realize. And he sent me for a private scan. This scan picked up the lesions in my brain. He then kept this a secret from me because I didn’t know what that would mean. They said I want to get another scan with the contrast dye to get more of an idea what’s going on. I then had the injection in my arm had another scan and within a couple of months were sent to a neurologist and he said I can confirm this is multiple sclerosis. And I can be totally honest with you. I have not met the scale but the funniest idea what he was on about I’ve never heard of it before. I’ve never come across it before. And I was like, Well, what does this mean? Because after I got on the floor and did 20 press ups, and said I feel grounded what’s wrong? And he did this chart on the wall and said, you know, a lot of people they have, this kind of time with it. Unfortunate some people have a very bad time with it, and they end up like this. Other people have about 20% of people, they end up not being very bothered by it at all, and they get along just fine. So I was like, alright. Went home. Still not a notion that this was a massive thing in my life where it impacted me so badly. And then I did what I’m sure a lot of my friends in this world have done. The worst thing I’ve ever done, get on YouTube, get on Google. All I see, it’s just, you know, the worst tales. This was11, 10 years ago. So you know, Richard Pryor, you see so many different people who have had just terrible times, or just like a coffin, and this wheelchairs and I just dive into this depths of despair, because that’s once I’ve seen that and once I’ve heard that this can happen, your mind will always go to the worst possible place. It’s a terrible thing, isn’t it? That’s just how, if you think if it’s possible, that’s gonna be me. It’s a very natural thing to do, I guess is catastrophize. So in the first few months, almost a year, I was just looking around for I wanted anything but this to be true. So I was thinking, how can I get out of this situation? Anything I could find to try and make the situation disappear. I tried. And very quickly, unbeknown to me, I’ve never been depressed before. But what I was quite clearly got into a very big depression. And I actually wierdly enough in the very end about six months. I found the work because I was just so desperate, I found the work of Roy Swank. And I heard all the anecdotes and what he’d been doing. Well, this seems pretty convincing to me. Like all these stories of people that have stayed remain well for so long, by following his protocol, his diet, and so I literally started dieting like he had suggested, and I was juicing raw fruits, I bought a juicer, I must have lost about two or three stone. Because I was petrified to eat anything that would be against what he recommended. Yeah, and then I was at a friend’s birthday. And it looked pretty gaunt. So I might just try some ice cream. I still had a couple of drinks. I was off. Yes, the first time it was okay, I’ll try some ice cream. I know it sounds strange. But when I’m 24 I don’t really understand quite how the metrics of all these things work. So you know, I have a bit of ice cream. And nothing happened to me. So I thought it was gonna be instantaneous. If I’d had dairy, had ice cream, more saturated fat, it would impact me. Because not knowing obviously, how it all works and how it all comes together. So when I felt when I felt grand, when the next day, anything else? Oh, wow. I thought I just had some ice cream. And I feel fine. So I don’t need to do this. And then I put the weight back on. I started feeling unwell, because quite clearly what happened is I had in that first sort of year and a half, I had optic neuritis had numb feet. And I had an MS hug. Within, you know, three to six months, it’ll resolved almost back to normal. The only thing that lingered was a bit of a burning fuzzy sensation in my feet. Best way I can describe it is when you are when you get on a long walk in the wet in the snow. And you’ve got socks on and they’re wet and your feet sort of crinkle it’s like feels like that but all the time. And that was the only thing that remained. Other than that I was grand, nothing wrong with me at all. And I thought right, well, that is because I’m clearly I’m going to get on fine. So I was kind of half aware that this might just be No, I can’t continue just like my own life. But I thought I could regain all of it rather than a bit of it. So I started eating pizzas and just junk food and just you know, I feel great. I’m just doing some of the old things I used to do. And it was only when I had another relapse. Probably was it four or five years ago maybe I’m not quite away from this. And then you get look into it again. You actually understand. That’s when I found OMS because I started to look into it again. And then I saw the work of George Jelinek and I was familiar with him. I saw that he wrote in the book, I saw that he had looked into Roy Swank’s work, but had taken it on yet again. More and more importantly, he was also in the medical field. And he used it himself to great effect. So it made me more determined, I thought, well, this is not just one, one medical person who’s championing this is actually someone who was an MS patient who was in the medical field, who was not only champion this who’s living this. So that just convinced me I listened to all of his videos on YouTube, you’ve done all sorts of I don’t, I’m telling you because you obviously know about it.  I’m convinced now.

Geoff Allix  10:51

You stuck with it after that. After that point.

Mike Kennedy  10:55

Yeah, because I was like, right, well, I’ve gone back in Greg’s, and all these type of things from here. And again, it’s like I’m into Mars bars.

Geoff Allix  11:03

Greg’s is a notorious fast food places in the UK, for those who are listening from other parts of the world.

Mike Kennedy  11:08

Yeah, apologies. It’s just yeah, you can just go in there and you can get oh a world of saturated and greasy things. It’s like a lunchtime staple, or an after night out staple. Yeah, I wouldn’t recommend it to any of us ever again.

Geoff Allix  11:21

Even though they do vegan, they do a famous vegan sausage.

Mike Kennedy  11:26

Yeah, I had one of those. And then I have one of these. And that’s it. a one time thing? Because yeah, it’s certainly not healthy. Yeah, and so OMS. The thing is that I’ve more convinced that if I had stuck with the work of Roy Swank plus the additions of Jelinek, and OMS. I’m absolutely convinced I wouldn’t have ran into this symptom this trouble. Because I was doing so well, I was very stable. And the only thing I can think of would not be back on this course, because I’ve sorted I’m a bit of a D level, I was starting taking 10,000 international units a day. I was in the sun as much as I could be when, when the weather allowed. I was exercising. So all the pillars apart from meditation, which I still have to work on, because that’s a great pillar, that I am not very good at all those things I was kind of doing. But the diet is obviously one of the main if not the main thing to address. Because I’ve got lacks with that. I wanted to just tell anybody that was thinking, because obviously what happened to me is I I’d have a few symptoms, they then resolved I’d gone into like a minimal remission, or a period of where I wasn’t getting attacked. And if I would have then been very strict. I’m sure I wouldn’t have come in or if I did come into any issues. Again, they would be a lot less severe than the ones that I documented

Geoff Allix  13:06

and is one of the pillars, isn’t it to that it’s for life

Mike Kennedy  13:11

Change your life, for life.

Geoff Allix  13:12

You’re doing it forever. And I think it’s not just MS as well. I mean, increasingly speak to people because the guy I interviewed the other day. I think it may well come out after this episode, but we were talking about autoimmunity. He’s an autoimmune specialist. And it’s not just MS. It’s, you know, it’s so similar. Actually, if you speak to people who are following diets and lifestyles, for cancer, for diabetes, for heart disease, the similarities are extraordinary you think hang on, it’s pretty much the same as sort of saying Oh, yeah, dairy is almost always don’t have dairy, low saturated fat, exercise, mindfulness. You think that sounds pretty familiar. And it’s just there’s tweaks, but very similar. And vitamin D is another one this guy, you know, he’s an autoimmune specialist. And he’s not an MS specialist. It’s all automated immune conditions. And he was like, yeah, you need to have Vitamin D, you need to have good gut health, you know, all these things that you just think, well, it’s so similar. And so even if, I mean, I think if they cured MS, which is not impossible, there are talk, there’s talk of various things that might be able to, the Epstein Barr Virus things and stuff. But I think even then I just feel so much healthier. And I don’t I certainly I don’t think I’d go back to eating the way I did before or, you know, interesting. Diet, exercise mindfulness and vitamin D really is things and this thing of vitamin D may not have an effect on people with MS. But it certainly has an effect on whether you get MS and this guy was saying, well, he thinks has an effect on other things. And it certainly has an effect on taking up calcium and there’s all sorts of things so I just I don’t think I’d change at all. And you get used to the diet I think.

Mike Kennedy  15:01

I can safely say, I echo what you’re saying that if I was told right now, Mike, you no longer have MS, you will not contract it again. I would not go back to eating cheese. I would not go back to eating dairy. I would not go back to eating big fat burgers. Honestly, I think that it’s all habitual. Because these are my habits that I built about my life. And when I adjusted it to go without it, I honestly I can’t. It’s kind of strange. I cannot. I really detest the smell of burning sausages and meat and milk, milk tastes vile to me now. And cheese. I don’t want cheese on pizzas. I don’t have to have cheese pizzas, even even the vegan cheese.

Geoff Allix  15:42

Funny when they try to give it to you. We’ve got vegan cheese. I just don’t want cheese, which they have in Italy. Bizarrely go to Italy. They’re quite I mean, they do a really good pizza restaurants often will do some pizza without cheese. It’s a normal thing in Italy. But in America, it’s not so.

Mike Kennedy  16:05

I have to concur. It’s really tough because obviously, we have major motivators to want to change. People who don’t and I hope nobody gets a reason like this, to have that level of need or desire to change. It’s very hard to turn them against a cheese board, or a pizza or or cheeseburger, or ice cream or dairy ice cream. Because they just can’t. It’s just a habit. And they’ve had it all their lives and they think it’s never doing any harm, but it’s only one you they’ll reach later life perhaps and that hopefully, their their dietary habits don’t creep up and catch them out. Because all the studies around the world say that eating in this way, is a big reason why a lot of us are unwell these days.

Geoff Allix  16:51

Yeah, I mean, we’re both in the UK. And there’s a big BBC thing at the moment about Ultra processed foods and the problem that’s causing to those Yeah, certainly. I mean, and you can be an unhealthy vegan. That’s the other thing to remember. Ultra processed food is not processed food. If it’s just because it doesn’t have meat in it doesn’t mean it’s good for you necessarily. So I think you need to be a bit cautious of these fake meat substitute things that have 35 ingredients.

Mike Kennedy  17:21

I’ve got to say, you know, when I was first diagnosed, it was a lot tougher of a world to be this way. In the last 10 years, everything’s gone fully blown the other way. I mean, like, you know, I’m seeing things available. I don’t have them but like even I used to love drinking a Mars Refuel. But now there’s nondairy Mars Refuels thinking yeah, but that drink is still not healthy. It hasn’t got dairy in it, but all the stuff that is in it is just not good. But I think everyone’s jumping on this bandwagon now of health foods and alternative foods and you get out. I’ve got a bag of oats that I put in my shake that I make every morning. And it says gluten free. Well yeah, oats are gluten. They say gluten free for the sake of it. It’s like a marketing ploy now. It’s like gluten free rice. Like, you know, I didn’t expect there to be gluten in my rice. But they just put on there now just because they think it’s going to gather more favor with the with the buying public.

Geoff Allix  18:25

Yeah, well, it probably does. Yeah, but anyway, you’ve had multiple neurologists now so and you’ve got a much better neurologist. So how was your original neurologist to start off with?

Mike Kennedy  18:41

No great question. Yeah. Thankfully, I forgotten all about him until you mentioned it. Yeah, it was Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. He had a very bad bedside manner. I came in for a meeting with him and he looked at my scan on his computer. Look back at me. He goes, I’m sorry, this is this is very bad, very, very aggressive, very aggressive. You need to start this drug immediately. Otherwise you can go very worse. I was just like, Well, okay. And he just basically gave me the information about Copaxone or another and I went home and I got into the car with my mother and I said that I’m not convinced by this. I ain’t going to take this injection. There’s another way I’m sure of it. So thankfully, it was also a slice of luck because I wasn’t quite in the right postcode to have him as my neurologist. So when this was realized I got sent to another one. And then when I met my new neurologist, his name was Professor Michael Douglas you heard that name once before, but yes, I get that all the time. His peers he was just a completely different kettle of fish altogether a really positive Gent. And he said yeah I’ve checked you over I can see your scans but you know you’ve been pretty stable. I think we should just have a checkin just to see how things go. I think it’s completely reasonable not to be on any any disease modifying drugs at this stage. And we’ll keep an eye on every every year and see what happens. Can I please take your bloods? Absolutely. Yeah, I’m doing I studied because I believe Epstein Barr is a big thing. I believe it’s a massive, massive thing in MS. And I’m doing a study. All of my patients not one hasn’t had Epstein Barr. That’s it. You know, what, literally, four months before I got diagnosed, I had the worst glandular fever. I can imagine. It was awful. I even joked with my mother I came down the steps one day, I said Mom, I’m gonna send I’m starting a charity called men fighting tonsillitis because that about her organization Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer. So that’s the kind of joke and so I had the worst tonsillitis and I’ve had before only four or five months before I got diagnosed. So that that lends me into the Epstein Barr theory even more.

Geoff Allix  21:18

And when was this this is quite a number of years ago?

Mike Kennedy  21:21

Yeah, I’m telling you so he was on this 11 years ago right? Taking his his patients blood his MS patients blood to check for Epstein Barr or antibodies. Incredible. Yeah, I’m gonna follow up with him on that because I’d love to see how far he’s taken it.

Geoff Allix  21:42

Yeah, that’s amazing. And another thing that I’ve I’ve read that you’ve explored is complementary therapies. There’s a number of different ones. So I mean, if a sort of starting out with more widely used for MS maybe would be cold therapy is one of them. So like cold showers, a lot of people have come across Wim Hof. And ice baths, cold showers, cryotherapy. So, firstly, what’s it like? How do you cope with it? And secondly, what are the benefits that you found with it?

Mike Kennedy  22:19

Yeah, thanks. I’ve tried a good few things let’s leave no stone unturned, as they say. And in recent times, I first tried hyperbaric oxygen therapy at a clinic in Coventry. Because I’d heard again, in fact, one of the people who works with my mother says on my friends has MS and she goes to have hyperbaric oxygen. And she’s been every week for the last 20 years and she got she won’t miss it. And she’s absolutely fine. Every week without religiously she will not miss a hyperbaric session. That’s interesting. At the time when I first went, I can only say that I think my symptoms were so mild, that any benefit I would have felt would be so minor. It’s not anything so drastic that I’d noticed this huge difference. At the 10 year mark where my symptoms at that time were a little more pronounced. When I tried hyperbaric oxygen for an hour and then cryotherapy I can only say it was the most incredible relief or feeling I’ve experienced I got out of the cryotherapy tank and I felt like I could run a marathon and I never have run a marathon and that’s how I felt. Like all the inflamation in your legs will feel heavy and normally it’s just that it’s like fresh blood came into my legs and it’s just like felt like it was the most incredible feeling like I don’t I actually hard to describe but is I recommend anyone with with problems with inflamation or MS to try cryotherapy.

Geoff Allix  24:00

You talking about where because I know that there’s some centers where they put you in incredibly cold temperatures for a brief period of time. And that’s much colder than and then you get an ice bath which is like zero and then you’ve got just a cold shower so you’re talking about the like crazy cold temperatures in a specialist center.

Mike Kennedy  24:24

Yeah, so a cold bath is also very good that will numb your legs and that will make you feel great. It’s very hard to sit in there. You’ve got to wait for a couple of minutes until you you numb off it’s a very difficult thing to do for the squeamish or for the ones who are not who don’t like the cold so much. I’ve been toughened up with I played rugby is my life and my teammates. They they’ll just bully if you’re not strong enough so all those other things were like I was toughened up to but getting in an ice bath or a cold shower. It’s tough at first but the benefits really do last and you feel great. Yeah, this is a cryotherapy. So that is much, much colder is it’s really supposed to do it for three minutes. I’m just like in there. And so now putting on another spin, it’s like, we can’t do this. They often will give me six minutes, because I can just love it. And it just worked so well. I can’t recommend it highly enough, if you can find somewhere that does it.

Geoff Allix  25:26

I’ve looked at because I’ve had one of these things,  a friend of a friend had said, Oh, you must try this. And the central Poole in Dorset is a long, long way from where I live. So as I was thinking, well, if I do it, and it’s amazing, then I know I won’t be able to do it regularly. And even actually hyperbaric oxygen, where in the UK, the a lot of MS Centers. So the MS Society, a lot of their centers have hyperbaric oxygen, they do actually in my county, but I live in a Big County. And this is right at the other end, there’s a number of people in my circle who do get hyperbaric oxygen, they do think it’s really beneficial. But again, it’s an hour and a half drive for me to get to. So it’s sort of you starting to think, well, if I do it for an hour, it’s an hour and a half there and back suddenly looking for hours every week to try and do that. And then it becomes difficult.

Mike Kennedy  26:20

It’s not the most convenient, but I can I believe Michael Jackson had one in his house. And I can see why.

Geoff Allix  26:31

This may be coincidence, but I did a lot of scuba diving. When I’m in scuba diving, I’ve always felt really good. Since I’ve had MS. This is so always felt really good for my symptoms. Now I’ve pull it down partly to there’s no gravity. So there’s no balance issues. And I’m kind of being supported, you actually deliberately not doing anything to like, you don’t want to get out of breath, because you’re going to burn more air. So you’re deliberately trying to be quite calm, and there’s sort of a mindfulness to it, it’s cooling naturally cooling you down. So you’re cooler, you’re under pressure, because you’re probably like 30 to 40 meters under water. So you’re under quite a lot of pressure. And so you’re kind of you’re sort of cold therapy, you’re kind of under pressure. So maybe it’s doing those sort of things because I have found it Yeah, but I sort of put it down to now it’s just really mindful and really calming and I really like scuba diving but maybe there is an element of the pressure as well and and the cold or coming in.

Mike Kennedy  27:40

I’m sure there is because obviously the those tanks were obviously a lot of them were designed for getting the bends out of the divers.

Geoff Allix  27:46

Yeah, I think yeah, there were original purpose wasn’t it for that.

Mike Kennedy  27:52

 I don’t know who found the new purpose of finding out it would be good in our situation or situation similar to ours. Because I saw you know cancer patients use it and lots of different people with ailments using them because I guess it just gets the oxygen deeper into your tissues than it can do normally because of the pressure. So it pushes the oxygen different your tissues that enables to help with repair so I can just say from a personal experience that this is certainly something that happens it doesn’t necessarily mean ask me drastic but even a slight a slight the one I want I can give you is for nine years I had this feeling in my souls of my feet it was never abating but you know, it’s like your mind learns to live with it. It’s just part of it just becomes your new normal. And I’ve got back on that diet really, really strictly for three or four years I’ve been doing these therapies. And honestly one morning I woke up next my wife and I said, “Alicia, my feet the feel the feel normal.” I ran my finger down solid my foot. I can’t believe it. They’re not that feeling is no longer there. There’s no more burning. There’s no loss of sensation. And I can honestly say I’ve first of all I found that I’ve recovered a symptom have recovered. It’s undeniable I feel it. And as I write well this is convinced me more than ever, time along the right track here. Because if I if I’ve managed to read my cells, my feet are that feeling after nine years, then I must be doing something right.

Geoff Allix  29:50

I do want to come on to one other complementary therapy as well because I’ve had another one that’s listed on your profile, which was that you’ve got experienced with homeopathy. How was that?

Mike Kennedy  30:15

Well, I’m really glad you brought this up, because I had forgotten. If you remember back to the earlier part of our discussion where I was depressed, and I was trying to look for any answer any way to cure this, what is the answer? How do I get out of this jam? My father was having a curry one night in his local town. And yeah, discussing it with someone who said, “you nice to see this doctor. He can cure his MS. He works with lots of MS patients all over the world. He’s from Chennai, in India, his name is Dr. Ramkrishna.” Anyway, so I thought I was like, I was like, I want to kiss you, Dad, I love you. I can’t believe you found you’ve literally found the answer for me. And so he sent me for an appointment with this doctor in London in this hotel. And he was telling me how he would get me in complete remission within three years, if I took the remedies he told me to take. I remember asking, is there any? Should I change my diet? Is there anything else I should do? That could help there? Should I stop drinking? He said, Nothing. There’s nothing you can, there’s nothing that would make any difference at all. So I started taking the remedies, like three little sugary pills, once in the morning, once at midday, once at night. I did this for three years. But he had told me without a shadow of a doubt that he could cure me. At this point, when I was taking these pills, I fully believed it. And my mind went from despair. Right back to hope. There was an answer, I was getting myself out of this jam, and everything was gonna be fine. And it was in that period, something suddenly clicked I was like, whether or not this is actually going to be the case or not. Or what I did change is my mindset. From despairing, fearing the worst thinking the worst is going to happen thinking there’s no answer. There’s nothing I can do to I’m going to be fine. I felt fantastic. And my friends were mother like, oh, Mike’s back. What happened to Mike? And all of a sudden, we’ve got our Mike back. Oh, that happened is my mind my mindset change. And that is when attitude, also Connor Devine. I found him as well. He’s a fellow from Northern Ireland, who’s quite big in the MS space in terms of his social media. He follows Overcoming MS as well. He’s got a book out, etc. But his his mantra is attitude is everything. And I couldn’t agree more. Once I change my attitude to positive rather than negative. There’s no looking back. I don’t know, whether homeopathy is medicine would have killed me. But all I do know is if I didn’t see that man, if he didn’t tell me it was possible, I wouldn’t have believed it. And the fact that I believed it, managed to turn my whole world around and make me positive rather than negative. I’ve lived that way ever since. My mindset is up. And I’m only going to be positive. And I’m never ever going to go back into that really despairing depressive state.

Geoff Allix  33:15

I think that there is proof that placebo effect is real. They have to so when they test out drugs, they have to give people fake drugs as well. Because they know that if they give people drugs, then a portion will get well, just because they’ve been told they’ve been given the latest drug. So they have to give people fakes to take out the placebo effect. Placebo effect being that some people will get better, because they’re told they’re taking a drug that makes them better. And it’s quite a high proportion. It’s bizarrely, like they did it in the UK, there was a doctor Michael Mosley, and he did a test on it. They cured like 50% of people by giving them nothing at all. They didn’t give them anything, any cure whatsoever. And they had a 50% success rate. And with a normal drug, if that’s 50% success rate will go straight to market because that’s brilliant for anything, you know, 50% of people will be cured. And he said, we didn’t give them anything. But that is another thing because you sort of think you have to believe in what you’re doing. And I think that’s what part of the Overcoming MS. I like is that there’s so many citations at the end. It’s like, okay, this is fully science backed. And that really took me is like, Okay, I do believe in it, I trust it. I think if you’re skeptical about it, then you actually doesn’t mean it wouldn’t work because, you know, ibuprofen works for your headache, because it’s so you know, that it doesn’t have a chemical effect. But to get the full benefit. I think you have to believe in it and you have to research it and trust it. Because that is a real thing, isn’t it? So be looking positive and this is going to help me.

Mike Kennedy  34:58

The power of the mind is just profound. And I’m seeing more evidence of that every day. And people I speak to the people, the things I do. The worldwide community in our condition is, it’s quite something. It’s fasting. There’s some really interesting people who can help pull people in different directions you know, and I think most of them are the same, you know, they will look to come back to their attitude, their mind frame their mentality about whole thing is, there’s a massive driver.

Geoff Allix  35:26

I’m glad it went that way. I’m trying to encourage everyone to take mint tea to cure MS. But absolutely, that but it is a belief thing. I think that’s absolutely, absolutely true. It seems to be it was definitely a placebo effect. It’s not that’s that’s scientific community believing it.

Mike Kennedy  35:54

I’d say it probably didn’t have any medicinal effect on me in that way, or curative effect. It was worth every single penny I spent seeing that man and taking his sugar pills, because that’s what changed my life and changed my mentality. It made me believe I was gonna be okay. I’ll never look back. The only thing symptomatically that affects me hugely today is a bit of right leg weakness. So after walking, say 4000 or 5000 steps, I don’t know what that equates to in miles or kilometers. So for my mates into fitness, he’s got his own company that do transformations. And he’s like, Mike, I can get you fit for your wedding. And for whatever reason everyone wants to be in the best shape of their life for their wedding day. So I said, Okay, I said, do 10,000 steps, eat this, do that. 10,000. Okay, but yeah, to break that up into, say, three, or three or four walks, or sometimes two or three walks, depending on how my day was going. And that’s why I noticed that after I’d get to a certain distance, this leg would not, it still works, it’s just starting to think a little bit distorted, and it doesn’t work as well. I’d sit down for 20 minutes, and the signal comes back. It’s quite annoying, because I used to love jogging. Never, I could never do very long doses. And so that’s just due to my fitness while anything. But you know, just a couple of miles around the block was something I really enjoyed. And now I can go around the block, I can do around the block. But that’s not half a mile. It’s probably around 800 meters that I really enjoy. And so I’m working now I’ve joined the MS Gym. Because I spokesman for people, our community and they said they’ve had great benefit from it. I must get on people because I’ve been paying the MS Gym for a couple of months now. And I’m not allowed to do one session due to fatherhood, and busy business. No. It’s just that I cannot find the course on the MS Gym. That’s for me. Because there’s not a lot I can’t do. I’m in the gym, and I’m very strong. I can lift very heavy weights, I can squat. I need to have something that I need this leg fixing. How do I do this? I’m sure he’ll outline within his is a different things. And I certainly recommend talking to people about the MS Gym because the people in our community I spoke to had had such profound effects.

Geoff Allix  38:31

Yeah, there are a number of different ones. Well, I have to say that yeah, we’ve interviewed several of them. So MS Gym, MS Workouts, there’s Gretchen Hawley MSing Link. And I think I’m probably missing one. Oh, Dom Thorpe is a UK based guide on fitness is a MS one from the UK. I would recommend so I try them out when they’re on a podcast episode. Because they normally have a trial subscription for most of them. And I think yeah, I try them because I think they’re different for different people. But I think some people in the UK don’t really like MS Gym because he’s he’s not being offensive but very American, if that makes sense. Well we’d see in the UK is a very outward very like quite loud and encouraging. And if you want something a bit more understated then he might not be for you but equally you might find that really encouraging so you can try out they’re basically different personalities is the main thing I think they have slightly different ways of doing things slightly different ways of recording things. So yeah, try a few out because they will almost always give you some sort of cheat or free trial for their system. But yeah, good. Good to be doing a system definitely I think it gives a lot of accountability as well. But just change the topic you’re so you actually are a new father. So congratulations for that. The seventh pillar of Overcoming MS is to prevent MS in your family members. So, what are you and your wife doing for that seventh pillar?

Mike Kennedy  40:19

No, I thank you for asking. It’s certainly my mother, my sister, my brother. And my in laws are very much you know, because it’s, I’m obviously very concerned because I had a daughter. And obviously MS is a lot more prevalent in women than it is in men. And I suppose like anyone with the condition we have, if you have children, the very last thing you’d want is to pass that on in any way. Whatever you could do to prevent the chances happening, you will try and hopefully try and embed. So for the first few weeks and months, I didn’t buy any dairy formula. I was having soy formula and things like this. And then when I looked into it more OMS actually didn’t say that you shouldn’t use dairy formula. And as a preventative because apparently dairy in itself would only become a huge issue if you have MS not to contract it. I don’t know if that’s true or not. On the Overcoming MS website I didn’t see dairy for your children needs to be avoided. But I’ve certainly revised that if it does prove the case. And I’ll certainly be encouraging my daughter as she gets out of her tender years to come with daddy on his nondairy adventure because I don’t think it actually brings you what you need it you know, I said, if you were really thirsty, would you go into a field and suck a cow’s udder? You just could be nothing more unrealistic that you’d ever do. It’s just we are I know you I’ve heard you say this yourself, Jeff on other podcasts, you know, it’s meant for baby calves. We’re the only animal in the world that drink the milk of another animal and is all just marketing and obviously a need that they could push out there. So yeah, dairy for me, there’s no need for it. And I certainly be advocating that you stopped drinking it. And you’ll be amazed actually, if you do come off it for a month or so. And then you drink it again. Just the taste isn’t isn’t quite what you thought it was. My wife now she doesn’t drink dairy she now drinks oat milk and coconut milk and other things.

Geoff Allix  42:41

Yeah, I think that’s the thing. You need to find the right non dairy milk. But I mean I’m a big fan of oat milk and coffee. I think oat milk coffee is really nice. Now with the tea I’ve not really perfected which being English I should do but it doesn’t quite work well in tea but then there’s other things so let’s say you did end up having it sort of slightly different sometimes you have almond milk.

Mike Kennedy  43:07

I don’t want to be a salesman for any particular brand. But I think one of the things I won’t mention brands but one of the brands does a specific milk that is designed for tea because it’s what’s new and I’ve tried it and it does taste like a cup of tea. My family are all Mancunians and they were mad for tea but there must have been that they’ve if they drink nothing else. My mother will not have oat milk in her tea but I’ll try My Cuppa of tea was like yeah, it actually tastes like tea was designed to My Cuppa it’s the Savior if you’re a tea drinker.

Geoff Allix  43:44

Well, we are a bit of a nation of tea drinkers. Sorry, Americans listening to this. So I know they said because I get up I used to get to America a lot with work. And there is sort of you go into a coffee shop there because quite intimidating because people will have this ridiculously complex orders and you just go in there and say can I have a latte and everyone else has defined everything about this drink and they said just go and ask for a cup of tea and completely scare them because your English they get they get oh my god and English person’s asked for a cup of tea. I’ll do it wrong, although it worries them. And they don’t really know how to do tea. Yeah, so sorry, Americans listening to this. So yeah, what you’re saying is it is important to try to at least have the healthier aspects of the OMS program for children is an important

Mike Kennedy  44:42

And sorry for not touching others. I certainly we’ve ensured that she gets adequate vitamin D. I know that’s important thing for babies anyway. It’s encouraged but particularly in our case, she gets a lot of vitamin D and when she does grow we’ll be teaching her about the wonderful exercise, things that you can do for yourself. I’ll be making her fruit smoothies and all sorts of smoothies with all these wonderful potions in, that he finds helps. Yes, there’s so many different aspects that are beneficial, just but as you say, for general health regardless of MS. So as many of them I can get her to encourage her to follow us on. I’m only doing her at her best because it’s only going to improve her health. I’ll only help her. With all the lucky will in the world, avoid the same fate as I had.

Geoff Allix  45:38

We’ve mentioned a few of the people who’ve been on the podcasts as guests and one of them is Matthew Embry. He’s a filmmaker and also has the MS HOPE program, it’s not exactly the same as Overcoming MS. But we have a chat with him on the program on the podcast. And he’s very similar to to Overcoming MS from what he proposes. And he’s done a world tour recently. And I believe that you met him and have chosen to remove gluten from your diet. So So what influences is Matthew Embry had on your journey.

Mike Kennedy  46:18

Oh, yeah, he’s also been huge. Thanks for bringing him up. Now I don’t know how old Matt is now but he must be in his 40s mid 40s. Maybe? He’s a very athletic, successful man. When I saw him, he might have been, let’s give him a shot. I was, I was 24. He had been 35. and think, wow, look at this guy. You know, he’s had MS for at the time, probably 15, 16, 17 years. And he’s, he’s the picture of health. He’s got no symptoms. This is the life he leads. And he swears by it. And he’s trying to push it on all the medical industry to say look, you know, get into Vitamin D, get your diet sorted out. And no one’s listening to him because there’s no money in it. And all right, this, this is kind of, it’s really inspiring to me. Obviously, he’s got a big social media presence now. And he’s always talking to the community. And when I heard he was coming around the country, I was like, Well, if I can meet him, I’m definitely going to. I reached out someone else on line, I’d met through the MS world. And he says, yeah, I’ve been talking to his father, Dr. Ashton, women getting to come to this particular place on this particular date, because he’s gonna be filming. He’s got a film out, actually, you’ll you’ll be well aware of Living Proof. So we’re Living Proof, anyone who hasn’t seen that. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. It’s just opens your eyes to a lot more things. And you know, nothing, you don’t have to believe everything. But it’s just his world and how he’s looked into. And he’s really researched different aspects and different ways around different cures different therapies. And it’s a super interesting film. And yeah, apparently, so he’s filming Living Proof 2 and during, when I went to visit him, hewas filming a bit a bit there. Since every chance I might be on if like that long. They were filming, he was showing a live screening of Living Proof for those who haven’t seen it, and those that wanted to catch up on it. And he’s doing a bit of a q&a. And I just had to say to him, Look, you know, Matt, thank you for all you’ve done. Thank you for going public, you know, because you’ve inspired so many. There’s a picture of him on a magazine in the States or in Canada, so when I saw that photo of you, like a like an athlete, like a football style on this magazine, I thought I want to be like that guy. And he said, Oh, thank you, man. Thank you for saying that.  He is properly buff isn’t he. I’ve never looked like that in my life, before or after MS. To be running marathons. And coming second or third or first actually, in his age group. It’s the most phenomenal thing I’ve ever known. You know, this is supposed to be a debilitating disease. He’s living proof as he calls it that it doesn’t have to be. And I’m so inspired by it that I’m full sure that with all the different things that we discussed here, that my leg can come back, I can find a new pathway and I’ll be able to run again, well run further, I still can run but run a little bit further just round the block 800 meters and there’s something that I reach for having examples like that. It’s helped me so much mentality wise. Just do it right. It is possible, George Jellinek, Matthew Embry. There are some others that you’ll know you’ll know them all, Connor Divine And there’s many, many different examples of people in our  world that have defied the odds and gone against convention. And that I’m sure if you contact any of them, they’ll be so happy to lend their ear. And I want to also, but anyone that was feeling a particular way you’re feeling really down about it, I’d be more than happy to talk to any of you because it’s something that I wish, I know it sounds a bit conceited. But I wish there was me around when I was diagnosed to talk to. If I could speak to, I’m gonna be 35 on the 16th of June, if I could speak to 35 year old Mike when I was 24, when I was just diagnosed, he could tell me me I look, all this is going on, but I can tell you how it’s been for me. And it’s not everything you might be imagining, just to hear and see that I was walking towards. I was not in pain. You know, I think that could have been a massive help to me. But there wasn’t anybody because it was so the world wasn’t so full of people coming out and talking about it. But now I think the world has changed and people are more ready to share their experiences. And in fact, there was one girl called I won’t mention her name, but she got in touch with me on Twitter to say, thank you so much what I shared, I can’t remember it was a post or a picture of her saying this, this and this and trying to encourage and that it really turned her day around. And she she felt so much better about it and gave her great hope and anything like that. Just is great to hear. And I’m happy to to lend my ear or any words of advice to anyone that wanted it. You can contact me I’m sure Geoff will give you the details in the podast.

Geoff Allix  49:28

We can put your details in the show notes. And yeah, yeah. And I think the whole the whole idea of Overcoming MS circles, like having, like groups of people. And that just is something that didn’t exist when I started on this. Which you actually have 2016. So yeah, six, seven years ago. And yeah, it didn’t really exist. Where I lived, there was no one else at all. Now there’s a whole community of us. One good thing about the internet, it’s really sort of spread communication in good ways. So it allows people to get in contact more and Overcoming MS are building on this Circles idea and the new app coming out. And I’m trying to make it easy for everyone to communicate. So just to wrap up, though, looking back over the last 10 years, you mentioned if there was a Mike Kennedy who was 35 when you were 25. What would you say to your recently diagnosed self, or to those other people that you might meet who are recently diagnosed?

Mike Kennedy  52:45

What would I say? Well, hopefully I could see myself in person. So I could grab my 24 year old self, and you could see that I was very strong and walking. And okay. Because I think just that that alone, you know, seeing is believing. So when, if I were to see someone who was actually physically fine, or at least gave the appearance of being physically fine, that would just really calm me down. Because you’d be panicking. I was panicking about the very worst scenarios, that I was gonna go downhill very quickly. And this is going to be very unpleasant, right? And I was even looking at pictures of my siblings, thinking I won’t be the best man at my brother’s wedding, you know, I won’t be able to stand up that kind of thing. You know, you despair. So yeah, just to, to get to speak to that person. And give them the example and to reassure them that look, you know, tough break. But believe me, it’s not all bad news. And there’s so much you can do to make this situation much better for yourself. In fact, this in so many ways, I’m a lot healthier now than I would have been had I not had MS. I know that sounds pretty strange, but it so it’s true. I got healthier, my weights a lot healthier. I’m not saying I wouldn’t wish I didn’t have it. But it certainly gives me a lot of positives as well as negative without doubt.

Geoff Allix  54:04

And I think that that there’s now less chance that I’m going to die of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and actually they’re the things that kill you, most people are going to die of cancer or heart disease. So actually, we’ve reduced the risk of dying of some of the really common things.

Mike Kennedy  54:21

Thank you for mentioning that. Recently, I went to the Nuffield Health and had a health check up. They took all the measurements or the biometrics or pinprick of the blood now. And they literally did that they came back and said okay, other than the diagnosis you’ve disclosed to us you are such low risk for all the other major diseases that your metrics are so low you are just keep doing what you’re doing. And I won’t lie I mean, I’ve slacked off a little bit since my wedding, so it wasn’t quite the show. And so you could do with losing a few pounds five, six pounds, but other than that I was in tip top condition.

Geoff Allix  55:00

I’ve been told this. Yeah, you’re in amazing health. All your bloods and everything like your your blood pressure, everything we’ve tested. You’re in amazing health I’m like, Yeah, but I am in here because I’ve got MS. Yeah, well apart from that the reason you’re here, then yes, you’re in really good health.

Mike Kennedy  55:22

Yeah. Besides the auto immune elephant in the room? You’re the picture of health.

Geoff Allix  55:28

MS doesn’t kill you it’s so if we can keep it under control and the things that would kill us we’re actually preventing them as well, then that’s obviously gonna be a good thing.

Mike Kennedy  55:38

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. That’s the big positive, one of the biggest positives I can take is that it’s really made you look at my health. As a viewer, you know that? I would not have looked at my health with such a microscope. Who would in their 20s? It’s just not something that you just that you’re gonna live forever you think you’re bulletproof. And I quickly learned in my mid 20s, that I’m certainly not. The blocks I’m building now, I’m sure are going to bear fruit. When I get into my later years. I can’t thank OMS enough for everything that they’re doing. Because it’s certainly given me a great example and something to follow. And this podcast, can I just listen to most of them. And it’s a great comfort to me, all the different people I hear coming on sharing their stories, sharing their trials, tribulations and things that they do. And thank you to everyone who’s come on this podcast because it’s a huge resource for me, and I do find it a great comfort and a great, great place to learn new things.

Geoff Allix  56:37

Well, with that, I’d like to thank you as well for sharing your very inspiring story. And thank you very much for joining us on The Living Well with MS Coffee Break.

Mike Kennedy  56:48

You’re welcome. I hope we can catch up again very soon.

Overcoming MS  56:52

Thank you for listening to this episode of Living Well with MS. Please check out this episode’s show notes at overcomingms.org/podcast you’ll find useful links and bonus information there. Have questions or ideas to share. Email us at [email protected] We’d love to hear from you. Living well with MS podcast is for private non commercial use and exists to educate and inspire our community of listeners. We do not offer medical advice; for medical advice please contact your doctor or other licensed health care professional

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Mike’s bio:

Mike Kennedy is a dynamic individual who wears many hats with grace and determination. At 35 years old, he’s not just the dedicated husband of his incredible wife Alicia, but also the proud father of a little bundle of joy named Skye, who entered their lives in December of last year.

Mike’s MS diagnosis and finding Overcoming MS

Mike’s path hasn’t been without challenges. At the age of 24, he was confronted with the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, a life-altering moment that would reshape his perspective on health and vitality. Through the ups and downs of his journey, he’s emerged as an advocate for the importance of maintaining a holistic approach to health. He carries a cautionary tale about his experience of deviating from the Overcoming MS Diet, thinking he had the upper hand against his condition, only to realise that it was a lifelong commitment. A couple of flare-ups reminded him that shortcuts wouldn’t suffice; embracing a full-time, unwavering dedication to his health was non-negotiable.

Mike has great and newfound gratitude for health. The greatest gift he can imagine would be a clean bill of health, and Overcoming MS has provided him with the tools and roadmap to get shockingly close to this goal!

Mike’s professional and personal life

Professionally, Mike is the director of an AV and lighting installation company. Beyond the boardroom, Mike’s zest for life is palpable. A fervent musician, he finds solace and inspiration in the notes he strums and the melodies he creates. But that’s not all – he’s equally devoted to his fitness journey, a regular at the gym where he channels his determination to sculpt both body and mind. Sports have a special place in his heart, with rugby and football being his sporting passions. The thrill of the game and the camaraderie among fellow enthusiasts fuel his spirits.