Sunday, February 23, 2014

I Feel Like A Rock Star!

“You’re stable and in remission.” Seriously? A huge grin spread across my face when my doctor read the technician’s report and reviewed the new full set of MRI scans with me. This good news made me absolutely giddy! My neurologist’s assessment exceeded even the most optimistic of my expectations going in to my appointment! I anticipated the scans might reveal a few new small lesions and possibly an active lesion now that might be the cause of my ongoing and currently increased fatigue. At no time did I anticipate that all of the lesions showing on my new set of MRIs would be accounted for in scans done two or more years ago.

It’s been a few days, and I’m still giddy. MRI scans give me much needed feedback that over the last six years has helped me learn to discern whether a new symptom is just old damage flaring up or a new relapse.  I hadn't thought I was having a relapse, but I think I was too nervous to even hope for the news I received. Absolutely NO new lesions in the last two years?  My neurologist told me that with the disease modifying drugs he counts them as successful if relapses occur once per year.  Six years ago, I was experiencing three relapses per year.  Now I feel like a rock star!

The results of my scans validated my dedication to improving and maintaining my health given old lesions cause me difficulty. Mostly I experience fatigue that makes working full time and living a normal life tough.  Numbness, pain and intermittent loss of function are normal yet fortunately still invisible to others.  Please don’t take this as complaining.  I know I have it a LOT easier than many of my friends with MS.  And easier than a lot of people without MS for that matter! I’m fortunate that in spite of lesions in my spinal cord that my neurologist would expect to cause much greater loss of function and symptoms, I can still be active and experience a pretty athletic lifestyle.

I credit a lot of this to learning to listen to and adapt for what my body needs. Unfortunately I have not found a short cut for this.  It just takes time, patience, research and dedication.The short list of practical living tips (in no particular order) I consistently follow are:

  1. Eat healthy foods my body appreciates. It’s going to be different for each person, but currently I eat a blender full of fruits and vegetables spread out over each day to boost my nutrient intake and smooth my digestion outtake. Sticking to protein, fruits and vegetables and avoiding grains 90% of the time is working for me.
  2. Exercise moderately a minimum of three times per week. More if I have the energy.  Mix it up given the time of year and weather conditions. Do yoga at least once a week.
  3. Rest as needed. Prioritize activities and only do the top of the list based on mandatory items and those that will support me the most. See my Learning to Pause post.
  4. Take supplements to help with my individual symptoms and for general health.
  5. Consistently take my disease modifying drug.
  6. Lean on my friends and family. These relationships aren't one-sided, but they mean everything to me. These people help cheer me up, give me reality checks and are supportive of me no matter what.  I’m lucky to have them.
  7. Contribute to society each day. It can be through work, volunteering or just brightening someone's day.
The best part of my recent “stable and in remission” diagnosis is feeling that I don’t have to be perfect to have good health. My fear of experiencing disease progression and some day feeling I hadn't done enough to prevent it has subsided for now. What I’m doing is enough to not trigger my disease.  What a relief!

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