Abu was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis four years ago and has been following the OMS Recovery Program for almost three years. He shares his journey from diagnosis, how he is feeling today and his hopes for the future…
I was diagnosed with MS in January 2014 after experiencing a variety of different symptoms since October 2013. I had just returned to university after a gap of over twenty years to complete my Master’s Degree. My eyesight had suddenly become blurred and out of focus. I put this down to an excessive strain on my eyes due to my return to academia and dozens of required readings. I went to an ophthalmologist who prescribed glasses for reading and distance and these seemed to take care of the problem. Little did I know that this was probably optic neuritis, my first MS symptom.
A little later on, my left foot started dragging along the ground when walking but I was really just too busy with my heavy course load and rigorous study schedule to pay this strange, but relatively minor, inconvenience any mind.
The dragging became worse and more evident over the course of the next two months, but the symptom that finally woke me up to the reality that something was really wrong was when I felt a loss of sensation in my left arm. I wasn’t sure if this was an early indication of a heart attack or something else. I quietly went to the Emergency Department at the nearby hospital.
After an initial examination, I was sent for an X-ray and then a CT scan. The doctor, suspecting a possible stroke, had spoken with the neurologist on call and I was admitted for further tests. By then I had also started feeling pins and needles all over the left side of my face and body and my right side was becoming increasingly sensitive to touch.
I stayed in hospital over Christmas and New Year’s. After a whole battery of tests, including an MRI and MRA, and ruling out all other possibilities, I was informed I had MS. My wife immediately sprung into action. She began researching anything and everything on MS. First she came across Dr. Swank’s and then Professor Jelinek’s research but also the work of Dr. Wahl.
By February 2014, I had started feeling extremely fatigued and it was difficult to maintain my concentration or retain and recall even the most basic information. My pins and needles continued and I was given high doses of intravenous steroids (Prednisone) frequently. I have been prescribed 20 mg of the injectable disease-modifying drug Copaxone daily. As her research continued, my wife began to change my diet and introduced more fruits, vegetables, salads, whole foods, nuts, lentils, beans, and sprouted grains. She cut out all red meat. She also cut out all chemicals and preservatives and we bought only organic foods.
While the Swank-Jelinek-Wahl debate continued, I started to feel a little better. More alert, much less fatigued. But my dragging leg and pins and needles continued unabated as did my sensitivity to touch. I also started to feel foggy-headed and had started to lose my balance when standing and walking. I began to use a cane. I started seeing a naturopath to monitor my diet and nutrition and a neurophysiotherapist who helped me to regain some of my balance and improve my posture and gait.
This routine continued until February 2015 when I seemed to reach a status quo and found that there was no further improvement in my condition. The diet and nutrition had definitely helped me but it wasn’t enough. My leg had become increasingly weaker and heavier, the pins and needles fluctuated from moderate to severe. Sex had also started to become a challenge.
My wife and I made the very conscious decision to follow the OMS Recovery Program. We cut out all meat and dairy from my diet and continued a wholefood, vegetable-based diet with fish. The only oil we use is extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), and we use only egg whites in cooking or baking.
I choose to have 40-50 grams of flax oil every day, 200,000 IU’s of vitamin D3 and 5 mg of vitamin B12 weekly. I am very particular in trying to maintain as close to zero grams of saturated fat in my diet and never go over 5 grams in a day. I’ll have oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines) 3-4 times a week. We only use almond milk.
I have only now started to exercise for about an hour every other day with the help of a personal trainer. I used to play competitive rugby and have been fairly active my whole life. But because I can’t exercise and run and play sports like I used to, the frustration up until now has kept me from even trying. I know that’s counter-intuitive but I’ve hopefully turned that corner now and I am determined to make it work.
I’ve also started meditating using the guided meditations on the website.
I first started feeling symptoms four years and three months ago. I was diagnosed with MS almost four years ago and I have been on the OMS Recovery Program for almost three. I am still taking Copaxone. My only symptoms now are the dragging, weak and heavy left leg and the sometimes quite overwhelming pins and needles. I can’t run with my four kids playing football in the park like we used to do almost daily, but do go for longish walks or gentle hikes with them in the countryside.
More aggressive DMD’s like Tysabri have been proposed by my neurologist and I have even considered stem cell therapy as a fairly drastic option. But I’m not totally convinced by these treatments and, after reading the inspirational and motivational stories of others on this forum, I am hopeful that if I continue with the OMS Recovery Program for at least five years, I shall start seeing an improvement in my overall condition, less lesions on my MRI’s, and hopefully – and I really yearn for this – the chance to play football with the kids in the park again.
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