Those Little Reminders…

Written by on October 16th, 2017 – 1 Comment

When MS came into the picture, I grasped for things I could control. I immediately ‎got a trainer, started running, and started getting my diet in check. As a classic type A personality, I expected immediate results. I did the work, show me the results! While the physical changes have certainly helped, I did not even consider the other side of the equation – my mental health. I have suffered with anxiety my whole life. Even today, I am hesitant to admit that in writing. I perceived it as a weakness that needed to be buried and for decades I thought could hide this “weaker” side of my personality without issue.

In walks MS. After I had gotten my physical health under control, I started to notice a pattern. Every time I encountered a stressful life event (or at least my definition of stress), my right arm and leg would go numb or my muscles would be so fatigued that every movement took concerted effort. When the stressor would go away, so would the symptoms. Now, this seems like a pretty obvious pattern to identify, but I simply didn’t see it; or more likely, didn’t want to see it. I would just get annoyed with my body and think perhaps I should run more. However, in a moment of sheer frustration, I finally took some time for self reflection and realized I had been neglecting half of the healthy living equation. So, I finally took action. I now see an amazing psychotherapist, who has been an excellent resource to keep my stress in check, and I started a mindful meditation practice. I cannot say that I have it all under control. I certainly don’t. Who does? However, I like to think that I am now a work in progress. I also look at my symptoms from a totally different perspective. When those physical manifestations of stress start to show themselves, it stops me dead in my tracks. It reminds me to take care of both my body and my mind.

MS still sucks! But thanks to those little reminders, I am now listening to my body and my wholistic health has never been better.

A Letter To Wee Ashley…

Written by on September 5th, 2017 – 3 Comments

About a year ago this photo was shared with me through social media from way back when.  I thought nothing of it other than how cute we were, we had our Easter baskets, we were playing with the crayons and side-walk chalk etc.,  that the Easter Bunny left us.  When I was a kid, we didn’t get cell phones and battery-powered vehicles like kids do now.  A few months back, the photo resurfaced and this time, I wasn’t thinking how cute we were, this time I was thinking “I want to go back to that time where my only worry was what the Easter Bunny left me, or in my case, what the hell my mom was going to do to my hair that day, Jesus! Own a brush?! lol.  I sat and stared at the picture for several minutes, I’m not even sure I was thinking anything, more in a daze, looking at that big genuine smile. (more…)

The More You Know…

Written by on June 20th, 2017 – 18 Comments

As I approach the mark of my 1-year anniversary diagnosis date, I can’t help but reflect back on the emotional rollercoaster I experienced when I was first diagnosed. Anyone who has been diagnosed with MS, you understand the feeling of defeat.  You probably thought, or are still thinking, your future was taken, maybe you’re planning your new future, as I was.  I would sit and think what my life would look like years from now.  Would I have kids? Would I be alone or married? Will a friend take me in if my parents are gone? Will I live with my brother? All of these thoughts would run through my head because of what I knew about MS (which wasn’t much). I constantly asked myself.. and at times still do, “Why was I diagnosed with something that has no game plan?  Something that has no answers? Something that even medication may or may not be able to control, something that I can’t control.  I thought all of this; I cried about all of this, I knew MS to be debilitating and that it was only a matter of time.  You don’t hear about MS like you do other diseases, a lot of people are uneducated, including doctors, because it’s such a complicated disease when you’re dealing with patients who are all completely different.   I couldn’t continue with these thoughts, periodically fine, but not every day.  I needed to take control, look this monster in the eyes and say “HOW YA’ LIKE ME NOW, MS!!” (more…)

Forget Me Not As I Remember Always

Written by on May 4th, 2017 – 12 Comments

As individuals in this crazy life we live, it’s very easy for us to forget something that we’re not faced with every day, to forget something that we can’t physically see or to forget something we’re not always talking about.  It’s not our fault, we’re not selfish people,  we just have so much going on in our own lives that if something isn’t always in our face, we forget.  Remember that saying,  “You have to see it to believe it”?  Well unfortunately, any illness that involves suffering on the inside, falls under the “you have to see it to believe it” category.  This blog speaks to those with MS, to those with a mental illness (which is also quite common to develop in cases of MS) and really to anyone whose pain and struggle at times goes unnoticed or forgotten.   Lets be clear and I know my fellow fighters will agree, what you are about to read is not a complaint, a pity party nor am I throwing down the victim card for myself or anyone else.  I am touching on the very real struggle (hashtag the struggle is real lol….  I had to spell it out or it wouldn’t have the same effect) of being forgotten about.  Alright, lets break it down! Hammer time….

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The Heart of It – One Day Young Adult Conference in Winnipeg on June 11

Written by on April 26th, 2017 – No Comments

Calling young people in or near Winnipeg!

The Heart of It is a one-day event specifically for young adults in their 20s and 30s who are living with MS or are close to someone with MS. It is a day for personal growth, connecting, sharing, learning and having fun! This is an opportunity to build skills and knowledge and enjoy new experiences. You can see the program at https://mssociety.ca/library/image/vZ0fLRoq4wGl6XKktB5rNyMUsx71YQEW/large.jpg

You can register online at http://mssoc.convio.net/site/Calendar?id=103286&view=Detail. Register by June 6!

Run Forrest Run!

Written by on April 17th, 2017 – 1 Comment

I precisely remember the moment I started my life long love affair with running. It was a month after the MS bombshell had been dropped and I was doing what every self-respecting hypochondriac does i.e. incessantly searching the web for more information about this disease. My only exposure to MS in the “before days” was anecdotal information I knew about two celebrities: Richard Pryor and Montel Williams. Two polar opposite stories that gave me no further clarity about what the heck the future had in store for me (editorial note: avoid commencing your Google search with Richard Pryor. That set me back two weeks). So, I read blog after blog. Some stories lifted my spirits and others sent my spirits crashing down.

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What the GUT?!

Written by on April 10th, 2017 – 11 Comments

See what I did there…hilarious.  There is SO much I want to share when it comes to food and using food to heal your body.  I was so incredibly uneducated as to what I was putting in my body and the negative effects it was/could have been causing. This photo is from 2012, in Korea, 4 years before diagnosis.

I don’t know why, out of the thousands of articles available online about MS, one of the first articles I came across was written by Dr. Terry Wahls, a Dr. who practiced and firmly believed in Western medicine, the same medicine that was failing her and her condition.  It took only 3 years from the time of diagnosis of RRMS to SPMS.  I won’t go into too much detail as I will provide the link below.  As Dr. Wahls’ health continued to decline, she turned to Traditional medicine.  Specifically, food.

Before I dive into my chat about food, I want to clarify again, this information is from medical journals, my health care team and testimonies I came across during those hours I would kick back on the couch with a cup a’ joe and read about MS.  What’s most important to remember is that every single one of us is different and that the disease affects us differently which is why there are so many unanswered questions.  The human body is estimated to house 95-100 billion nerves and not one of us has the exact same nerves affected nor will we experience symptoms the same way.  It all boils down to what nerves are damaged and how that nerve decides to affect our body and to what extent.  I fully stand behind getting a food sensitivity test so you know what your own body can and cannot digest properly, foods that may cause inflammation etc.  What one person should remove from their diet isn’t necessarily beneficial for you too.  A food sensitivity test can be done by a Naturopath and if possible, I encourage you to add one to your health care team.

So, what the Gut?…

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The Grey Zone

Written by on April 4th, 2017 – 8 Comments

 

In the summer of 2014, I was a lawyer, wife and Mom to a beautiful 4 year old girl and adorable newborn son. Life was seemingly perfect…although, I was way too caught up in the details of life to appreciate it back then.

During my parental leave, I agreed to return to work to deal with an intensely stressful situation that lasted much longer than anticipated. ‎When I re-commenced my parental leave, I got sick multiple times. When I say sick, I mean big, ugly flu bugs. One after another. In fact, five times in a month. That’s when the numbness started. It culminated one night in September, when I woke up to discover the right side of my body stopped working. It was two in the morning and I certainly didn’t want to inconvenience anyone, so I hopped into my car and somehow drove myself to the hospital. My mind was racing. Was I having a stroke? Was it cancer? Was it ALS? According to Doctor Google, it was all of the above and possibly rabies.

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From Symptom to Diagnosis – Part 2

Written by on March 24th, 2017 – 2 Comments

Continued from my last blog post…..

The day had come for me to meet the Neurologist; my mom came with me of course!  He did the same tests with me that my GP did, asked a few questions, talked a little more in detail about my symptoms, how long they last, how often they come and go, etc.  I am not going to say whom I saw because it was one of the most negative experiences of my entire life.  The Neurologist confirmed that I had MS, he also continued to tell me there was nothing I could do, the medication only affects your body in a negative way.  He continued to tell me to live a positive, healthy lifestyle and just hope for the best.  I stopped talking, thanked him for his time and my mom and I proceeded to the elevator to the parking garage.  “Are you ok?” my mom asked.  Knowing this wasn’t her fault but feeling overwhelmed, angry, disappointed, scared (insert negative emotion here) I asked her to please not talk to me right now.    This story is the beginning of what led to my tears in the car on the way home.  How could my GP tell me not to worry? Why does everyone keep telling me that MS research and medication has come a long way and there are so many things coming down the pipeline, yet, this doctor tells me “sorry about your luck”.  I was furious with everyone who was trying to make this seem like no big deal and giving me false hope.

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From Symptom to Diagnosis – Part 1

Written by on March 21st, 2017 – 2 Comments

I’ve already briefly touched on some symptoms I experienced which led me to eventually see my GP.  What I didn’t do but will focus on now, are the details and next steps leading up to and after my diagnosis.  I have read that there are 13-ish conditions that mimic MS.  If this is the case, how do we know?  How does my doctor know for sure?  Great questions!  It is very important to be accurately diagnosed, this means seeing more than just your GP and at LEAST having a brain and spine MRI.  If the MRIs are inconclusive, some doctors may opt to do the lumbar test just to be sure.  My MS specialist said my MRIs were “textbook MS”.  I asked how he knew for sure it was MS after learning of misdiagnosis and the other conditions that mimic MS.  “Well, although you have symptoms that are consistent with other conditions, those conditions do not always show lesions on the brain and spine.  You have lesions on the brain and spine, and where they are located is consistent with MS.  If they were located here or nonexistent, we may be looking at a different condition”, my doctor explained.  Not word for word but you catch my drift!

I will discuss steps I took before my diagnosis and then outline the other conditions, which I have read, can mimic MS symptoms. When I finally went to the doctor’s and explained the numbness and other things I had been feeling, my doctor sent me for blood work, testing my vitamin D and B levels, hormone levels etc.  I had a requisition about 2 pages long!  Aside from this, we did a few tests in his office that tested my reflexes, my balance, my strength and my sensations (ie- I would tell him if something was “sharp or dull”).  My doctor explained that just as a precaution, he was also going to order a spine AND brain MRI to see if there is anything going on inside that we can’t see.  Thankfully, I have an amazing doctor who looks at all possibilities before placing a title on something.

I had my spine MRI done first and my brain MRI was to follow in about 2-3 weeks.  In the meantime, my doctor called me in after my first MRI came back and he said something along the lines of “I am going to put you in touch with a neurologist to have a look at these as well.  There is no cause of major concern as we still don’t have your brain MRI yet but, I am not a neurologist and as much as I can understand MRIs I would prefer you see a specialist as well”.  I left the office thinking, great! I love how thorough my doctor is- there will be no room for misdiagnosis and a specialist will be looking at the images, I am on the right track!

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