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Optimism – The Wonder Drug May 25, 2010

Posted by manonamsion in multiple sclerosis, swank diet.
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Is your glass half full, or is it half empty?  As people living with multiple sclerosis, we have the choice of concentrating on the living or concentrating on the MS.  I choose to concentrate on the living – and on doing what is in my power to live well.  (Preview: Next week’s post will be on being your own best advocate in the medical-industrial complex.)

I recently received an e-mail from a reader of this blog that really made me think about the importance of taking a positive outlook.  This reader told me that he appreciates the positive encouragement to eat right and be well, but he wonders whether I, and others who advocate the Swank diet, are sugar-coating our realities for your consumption to “sell” you on the diet.

Fair question.  Because I’ve been very dedicated to maintaining my own health through diet and exercise, I don’t spend a lot of time focused on what’s wrong with me.  I am the first to admit that I have no idea – and no way to know, short of playing dietary Russian roulette – whether my symptoms have been mild because I have a mild case, because of the Swank diet, because I take Copaxone, or because of some combination of all those factors.  But I’m not going to stop Swanking to see what happens, because even if the diet is doing nothing for my MS, it is surely helping me ward off heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes.  And it’s also helping me get to my appropriate and natural weight – for the first time in my life – without feeling deprived.  (Who knows, maybe I’ll end up as hot as my friend Rebecca Hoover says she is!)

What I can tell you, though, is that it simply isn’t statistically possible that all of Dr. Swank’s patients were lucky and just happened to have mild cases.  And it also seems really unlikely to me that George Jelinek, Rebecca Hoover, Julie Calder and others on the Swank diet all just happen to have mild cases (and if you read their stories, some did not have mild symptoms before going on the ?Swank diet).  If you don’t want to make the effort, admit that to yourself, rather than coming up with reasons why the diet doesn’t really work.

Dr. Swank didn’t promise a fountain of youth or magical regeneration.  His results showed that people with minimal progression when they started the diet had only a little more progression after 34 years.  (People with more progression slowed their progression too, but didn’t get better than their starting point, so starting early is key.)  So I expect that I will have some progression and some bad days, but my goal is to be able to walk without a cane or wheelchair and to dance at my children’s (and maybe grandchildren’s) weddings.  The Swank results say I can probably make that happen (if you haven’t clicked on Swank results to read Dr. Jelinek’s summary of the stunning results, you are cheating yourself out of the best treatment for MS – no current treatment, or treatment in development, even comes close).

But to answer the question directly: yes, I have symptoms of MS (and so do many others included in the links above).  My left hand has been numb for almost 2 years.  I can’t urinate on command and I sure as heck can’t make it through the night without a couple of trips to the bathroom.   I play the “is it age or MS” game when I forget something.  Sometimes my balance isn’t perfect, but I was never a graceful guy anyway; I recently bought an elliptical because I can’t use the treadmill without holding on, which worsens the numbness in my hands.

So there you go, inquiring minds.  Now you know, but don’t expect me to talk about it again.  I don’t focus on what are really minor inconveniences, or even some more significant ones.  I don’t know anyone my age (mid-forties) who isn’t starting to feel aches and pains, or worse.  Some of these are probably attributable to their poor diets and lack of exercise, and at least I know I am protecting myself against that.  We need to keep our eyes on the prize – maintaining mobility, mental faculties and quality of life.  If you want a real pity party, you can find plenty of other MS blogs for that!  I ain’t pitiable, and neither are you unless you choose to be! 

As much as I hate the cliché, I may have MS, but MS doesn’t have me.  Yes, I’ve made major lifestyle changes to be proactive and control my MS.  But I view MS as my wake up call, telling me that I had to stop abusing my body.  As I’ve said to my wife, MS may be the best thing that ever happened to me and I’m glad it came before diabetes, heart disease, stroke or cancer.

Be well.

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Comments»

1. Rebecca Hoover - May 26, 2010

Now, now, I did not say that I am “hot”. I do say that folks can “sizzle” if they get on the healthy living train. (Swank/Jelinek diet, vitamin D supplements, fish oil supplements, exercise, enough sleep, vitamin B12 if needed, etc.).

You might be interested to know that I receive quite a few emails from those with MS who tell me they are glad I wrote about how an MS-friendly life style makes one sizzle. They say that they have never looked so good and wished that they had started doing the healthy living program a lone time ago. Some even think that they might have avoided MS altogether. I am guessing that is true too.

Swank thought that it was possible to avoid MS with the right life style.

In any event, I think it is important to know that in addition to health benefits, the healthy life style does make us look like a million bucks. We slim down, we get a healthy glow, our eyes sparkle — we look great! It’s neat.

It is interesting that, once again, both yesterday and today I received emails from individuals who started following our recommended life style and who are very, very pleased with how great they look.

2. Rebecca Hoover - May 26, 2010

I have to make one more comment too and that is that I think that it is possible to substantial improvements even if one is very ill with MS.

Consider, for example, Dr. Terry Wahs who has secondary progressive MS and who had tried almost MS drug out there with no success. She was in a wheel chair and most gave her no hope. With muscle stimulation, a greatly improved diet and sheer determination, she turned things around and is now walking around and riding her bicycle several miles each day. For her slide show on exactly what she did, you can see: http://wildhorse.insinc.com/directms05oct2009/.

Also, even consider Julie in my blog. She had a very hard time but when she started the Swank/Jelinek diet program she made rapid improvements. She recovered substantial function and even a vision problem that she had had for years disappeared. Does she still have problems? Sure, but they are minor. Dor example, after she walks two miles, she has a minor problem with foot drop. Does she still have relapses? Nope.

Even consider my story, I have had severe walking problems (could barely climb even three steps or walk ten feet), and blindness in an eye on two occasions. When I started behaving myself lifestyle wise, my relapses stopped. I have not had a relapse in over ten years. Do I have problems? Sure, some very minor one. For example, if I am tired, I feel a bit wobbly when I first get up from a chair — but, hey, seen other tired people without MS do the same thing.

At the same time, I can walked for miles, run intervals five times a week and do everthing most do.

Some who want to think life style improvements do not work tell me I have a “benign case” meaning that my MS has never been severe. I don’t think want could call being barely able to walk and experiencing problems with blindness not severe.

Based on what I have seen, it is never too late. When Dr. Terry Wahls can go from her wheelchair to her bicyle, there is a lot of hope for everyone.

3. Alan - May 28, 2010

Man,

thanks for replying so frankly to my questions. It was in a moment of fear that I wondered if the diet was working for me or not. I didn’t know that there were others out there with numbness and bladder problems working every day, even a high level executive. I actually imagine you in your office or at a board meeting when I’m having difficulties at work or feeling sorry for myself. I’m sure others will gain courage from you in addition to diet and lifestyle advice.

Thanks to you and rebecca for sharing. Those of us who are newly diagnosed are so frightened. It’s good to know that you’ve not only been there, but that you’ve perservered and are living well with your MS.

Alan


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