The Check-In

Checking In: MS Symptoms

What good is discussing diet and lifestyle changes if I don’t reveal the ongoing results?

Doing an honest self-assessment of any sort is hard, particularly when trying to find ways to manage an unmanageable disease. There’s a huge desire to make everything a “success” or engage in placebo effect-like thinking, but that isn’t always the case.

Overall, I feel like I am managing my MS better, but on a day-to-day basis, my mileage may vary because of various external factors.

Current Health Self-Check

Currently, I am not doing so well. Not necessarily because of the MS, but I have a weird seasonal head cold. Drippy nose, sore throat, and exhaustion. I can only assume that if a person without MS gets a cold like this they may feel wiped out but are able to go about their daily lives with minimal interference.

With MS and any illness, I get so wiped out that getting out of bed is a hardship. Ash had to stay home until Jai went down for his morning nap on Tuesday because I was so worn out. I needed the extra couple of hours of sleep this afforded me before I was able to start the day and take care of a toddler. Jai and I stayed in our PJs and read lots of books and minimized movement so I wouldn’t overdo it.

This is a key example of why getting sick with MS is “dangerous.” It won’t necessarily cause any physical harm, but infections are a key cause of flare-ups so there is a risk of needing to get steroids to treat the inflammation. I don’t get avoidant if I know someone is sick, but I do recognize that even a simple cold can knock me off my feet for a couple of days that might just inconvenience someone else.

Normally I wouldn’t write about getting sick factoring into how I am currently feeling because I tend to not get sick all that often, but since having Jai it has become a more common occurrence. 

Beyond the cold, I am feeling okay overall. There’s been some emotional disappointment in not being able to maintain my diet as strictly as I wanted, but doing what is best for my overall health is more important. My brain fog and memory issues haven’t gone away or lessened it, but that may be because I am not doing enough mental exercises to help stimulate neuron repair.

Fatigue is still an issue, but not so much on the days that I am more active. I find high-cardio days means that I have more energy throughout the day and days I do yoga there might be a greater dip in energy by the afternoon.

Being completely honest: I haven’t noticed many changes since my last check-in after my diet reset. I feel more active, happier, less sluggish, but no appreciable changes to my MS symptoms.

New Symptoms

That’s not entirely true – I have had one change in my symptoms. I experienced the MS hug twice in as many weeks. The first time was my lower back: it felt like I strained it and it went away quickly as it came. The second time caused me to double over in pain because it felt like I was having a heart attack.

I am not sure what the cause might have been, I suspect it was after I had a couple of days of poor eating (bad weather and we were fighting off colds-again-). I have never experienced pain in any of my MS symptoms, even when I have optic neuritis so this was a completely new feeling for me.

Since being more careful about my eating and making sure that I stick to healthier options I haven’t experienced the “hug” again. I am not sure what to blame other than my body got used to eating really healthy and was “angry” by the influx of bad food and letting me know about it.

It got inflamed and proved the point I’ve been trying to make: eat anti-inflammatory and find that I do much better.

Letting Go

Between the MS hug and the frequent colds I’ve been getting this winter season, one thing has drawn into sharp relief: no matter what changes I make, I cannot fully prevent the outward presentation of my MS.

This isn’t to say that what I am doing is not working, in fact, it’s possible proof that it is working because if I veer off the path I feel it.

Yet, I must be completely honest with myself and what I am doing: none of this is a cure-all. It will not solve all my MS problems. It is helping to mitigate those problems, but despite my best efforts, I cannot control my disease outside of medical intervention.

Once Jai is weaned I will have to get back on the medication my neurologist recommends. My diet and exercise will complement my medicine and help increase its efficacy, but I cannot treat this illness with food and exercise alone, especially if I want to maximize my quality of life in the next six years.

It’s hard to accept these truths, but I must let go my insecurities and feelings of personal frustration at the disease. I cannot control MS and so it is pointless to allow myself to be stressed over the lack of control.

I am doing the best that I can to be there for Ash and Jai and most importantly, myself.

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