I have been living with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) since May 2009 (more details in the article The Past). Here, I describe my current condition and what I do to slow down the progression of MS.
I do not have any serious long-term issues caused by MS. Due to MS, I have made lifestyle adjustments but continue to live a fulfilling and active life. The lingering effects mainly manifest themselves during increased exertion or when my body temperature rises:
- I avoid saunas as they make me feel dizzy, and my walking becomes unsteady. Milder dizziness can even occur during activities like playing football, which I haven’t done in years. While swimming, there might be a slight onset of dizziness, but it’s not as noticeable.
- During more active walking, my feet may start to tingle slightly.
- Occasionally, I may feel a bit dizzy when making certain, not necessarily rapid, movements or turning my head. However, this could be considered normal. It’s also possible that after all these years, I no longer have a clear sense of what is “normal” 😊.
These are just minor echoes that quickly fade away. Which is great after 14 years with MS.
I just want to emphasize the importance of recognizing possible symptoms of MS and addressing them promptly to minimize any potential long-term damage.
My Strategies for Slowing Down MS
I strive to employ a combination of approaches in various areas, and it seems that this mix is somehow working for me. Is it a guaranteed universal guide to slowing down MS? No. We are all unique, and I lean towards the belief that the path to healing is similarly individual. I hope that in this list, you find something that resonates with you and empowers you on your journey with MS.
In April 2023, I completed a four-year cycle of treatment with Mavenclad and transitioned into a monitoring phase without medication. I should probably have skipped this section, but I am still under medical supervision.
As for dietary supplements, I only take vitamin D (Vigantol), usually from September to April, and try to soak up sunlight whenever possible.
I have never smoked, and I consume alcohol moderately. Over time, I have gradually adjusted my lifestyle.
I’m convinced that diet has a significant impact on our health. After all, it has been proven that the microbiome plays a crucial role in the development of the immune system. In 2019, I started the Wahls Diet.
Essentially, it is a modified paleo diet. It focuses on consuming fruits and vegetables while being gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free, with minimal salt, sugar, etc. You can find more information and details about my early experiences with the diet in the article The Past.
During the experimental introduction of allergens, I discovered that gluten likely affects me adversely (causing mild exacerbation of symptoms such as memory issues, dizziness, and tingling). However, I still need to verify this several more times. As for dairy products, they seemed to pass the test, so I have incorporated them in smaller quantities. I don’t strictly adhere to this diet, but I try to limit gluten as much as possible. This significantly reduces the consumption of cakes, pastries, and similar sweet baked goods – although gluten-free options are more available now, and the possibilities expand when dairy products are allowed. To satisfy my sweet tooth, I turn to dark chocolate …or nuts 😊.
While I no longer consume as many vegetables as I did at the beginning, they still make up a significant portion of my diet. I eat meat approximately three times a week, but I try to listen to my body. Sometimes I feel “over-meated”, while other times I start to miss meat a bit.
- Tai Chi: I have been attending Tai Chi classes since 2009, including Tai Chi retreats during the summer. Currently, I don’t practice it much at home. In terms of MS, the main benefits for me are flexibility and balance. Tai Chi also has a certain transcendent aspect and can be considered a form of meditation in motion.
- Strength Training: “can protect or even regenerate the nerve cells of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis patients”. Ideally, I aim to do strength training for about 30 minutes, twice a week. To keep myself motivated, I exercise at home and have created my own routine with dumbbells (I can recommend this video by Jeremy Ethier). I’m definitely not a bodybuilder, but I have achieved some basic level of fitness. Despite the fact that my exercise frequency isn’t always ideal (occasionally skipping sessions), I manage to maintain this basic level. A red flag for me is when my back starts to ache, indicating that my back muscles are weakening and it’s time to resume exercising.
- Cardio: cardiovascular exercise is also crucial, and for me, that means swimming. Ideally, I aim to swim once a week and cover a distance of 1.5 to 2 kilometres. Recently, I have also started lightly jogging up the stairs when I return home (4th floor). This category could also include brisk walks, even though they are mostly in urban settings (by the way, walking is among the most effective strategies against obesity).
Sleep is very important for our health and influences our immune system, so I make sure to get an adequate amount, around 8 hours per day. It seems to be working fine for me.
- Reduced work hours: With MS, I reassessed the pursuit of a career and prioritized tranquillity. Even so, I can afford to work part-time, which is very beneficial to me. It doesn’t necessarily mean I accomplish more outside of work, but everything feels more relaxed.
- I try not to sweat the small stuff, find joy in little things, and live joyfully – now and then I may act a bit silly, like a little boy, even skipping around. Also, Stoicism helps me with that – focusing on things I can control.
- Harmonious relationship: I attribute a significant positive impact to a loving and harmonious relationship. In such an atmosphere, I thrive… and even our orchids bloom wildly 😊. After all, hugging has been proven to make us healthier and happier.
Regarding MS, dental hygiene may be a neglected area. Bacteria can cause infection beyond the oral cavity, and with MS we must avoid infections like the plague (pun intended). We shouldn’t burden our bodies unnecessarily. I didn’t have good teeth before, but I’ve gotten used to thorough cleaning, interdental brushes, dental floss, and regular visits to the dental hygienist.
Lastly, I’d like to mention a somewhat alternative approach. Years ago, I came across the book The Power of Your Subconscious Mind. Since then, every night before falling asleep, I “program” myself to be happy, cheerful, and stable (regarding MS). Later on, I was inspired by the book Heal: Discover Your Unlimited Potential and Awaken the Powerful Healer Within, so I added visualizations with a focus on taming myelin “consuming” and on myelin repair.
I have also read about glial cells and imagine the microglia as the “maintenance forces” in the nervous system, searching for the “faulty” ones that have damaged the myelin. They capture them and send them back to school for further education to learn exactly what they should do (especially what they shouldn’t do). In the second phase, the damaged areas are visited by trucks carrying large blocks of myelin (oligodendrocytes) to perform repairs. Sometimes, I even envision an “energetic wave” passing slowly through my entire body, taking care of it.
It may sound a bit crazy, but the placebo effect, for example, has been scientifically proven. There are also documented cases of spontaneous remission. Therefore, I acknowledge that in the realm of healing, there is something we don’t fully understand yet and that something other than medication can also work. I am open to this possibility and I am trying it this way as well. However, I firmly believe that lifestyle plays a fundamental role in healing. In fact, after writing the first version of this article, I discovered Jeff Rediger’s book Cured: The Life-Changing Science of Spontaneous Healing, which focuses on “spontaneous” healing, and I highly recommend it.
I would like to express my gratitude to my parents and sister for their immense support, especially during the initial phase of the illness. Furthermore, I am deeply thankful to my partner Petra for inspiring and motivating me to improve my lifestyle, and for gracefully enduring everything with me 💕.
I would also like to thank you for reading this article and wish you the best of luck in whatever challenges you may be facing.