Today marks my first official day on the Dr. Terry Wahls diet. If you don't know who Dr. Terry Wahls is, here's a little backstory: Dr. Wahls has MS. Several years ago, after years of steady decline, she had become pretty well crippled by it. The medications didn't help, just like nothing else helped. So eventually she took a new approach to treating her MS, changing her diet to include only foods that provide the vitamins and nutrients her body seemed to have been missing. Long story short: She walks without a cane now and leads a pretty normal life. There's way more to it than that, though. If you want to know more, you can start by watching this YouTube video. Or check out this page of Google results.
I don't think I've said much on this blog about MS or what it's been doing to me, but it's been kicking my ass for about two and a half years now. Ironically, it all started almost immediately after I finished my walk across the United States. (I wasn't diagnosed until less than a year ago.) It's been all downhill ever since it began. No relapses or remissions; just steady decline. It's to the point where I almost always need a cane when I walk, even around the house. Pretty much the only time I don't use the cane is when I only need to walk a few steps or when I have something to hold on to, to keep me from losing my balance. Even though my problems became very noticeable almost overnight a couple weeks after I finished my walk across the United States in fall 2010, I now realize MS started kicking in maybe halfway through my walk. In fact, there were signs (or small relapses?) going back at least as far as 2006.
I get worn out very easily if I do any kind of physical activity; even cooking. It's not the same kind of worn-out as when a healthy person gets worn out, though. My balance is crap, too. Regardless of whether or not I'm active, I don't have much feeling in my feet, and I've also lost a noticeable amount of feeling in my hands. My legs (particularly my left leg) feel like they weigh a couple hundred pounds each, even though I only weigh about 160 lbs. Going to the bathroom is not very easy most of the time, in one way or another. I've had optic neuritis in my left eye for almost two years now. (It seems the optic neuritis has slowly been improving, but I can't say for sure that it has.) Also, lately I've been having some scary mood swings that seem completely unnatural to me. They feel artificial, and I don't like it.
Other issues or symptoms that affect me include:
- Constant pain in my upper legs, hip muscles (particularly hip flexors), and lower back. It's not really a lot of pain, but the pain is pretty much always there, which makes it worse than experiencing a lot of pain for a short time.
- Cold feet (and cold lower legs). This has not been too bad for a while, but it's not good, either. My feet are pretty much always kinda purple, with small raised white spots (stucco keratosis & pictures), all of which I assume is a sign of poor circulation.
- My knees sometimes give out on me. Usually my knees stay pretty much locked when I'm on my feet, but sometimes they don't, and sometimes this causes me to hit the ground.
- Very difficult walking up and down stairs. It's harder walking down than up. When walking down stairs I have to be very careful to hold on to the hand rail with one hand and use the other hand to use the opposite wall as a second source of support.
- Not much sex drive (nor much feeling in "my thing"). Obviously this is at least partly a neurological issue, but I suspect it also has a psychological component, which doesn't really bother me right now because 1) I don't have anyone, and 2) sex is very low on my list of things that really matter right now.
- Low energy and motivation.
- Lots of stomach/fullness issues. I usually don't eat all day (until about 7:00), and the empty stomach doesn't bother me. But once I eat, I feel hungry; painfully hungry. And after eating, I never feel full. Sometimes I do feel a sensation not unlike being full for a short time, but when I do there is also a very present feeling of hunger at the same time. And "hunger" is not necessarily the right word. It's more like a sharp pain in my stomach that feels like hunger but probably isn't. Also, sometimes I feel like I'm full within a couple minutes of beginning a meal, when I know I'm not full. As I keep eating, I begin to feel hungrier. This is all very frustrating.
- Shaking. I guess this is probably all in my legs (while I'm using them) and it probably results from having to use "supplementary muscles" that are not intended to do the things my brain asks them to do.
- Other things I hope this diet will improve, even though they are not considered MS symptoms: Excessive scalp regeneration and itchy scalp (which I wouldn't call dandruff), toenail fungus, and a bump in my inner gums, near the salivary glands (which disappeared shortly after beginning the anti-Candida diet a few years ago, then returned).
I ate the first salad of my life two days ago, which means I have now eaten three salads in my 39 years of life. As some of you already know, I am a very big fan of pizza and a very knowledgeable pizzamaker. Up until a few weeks ago, I had made pizza all but four days since early last August (five months). I haven't made or eaten a pizza in a week or 10 days now, and I may never eat another pizza. It's hard to make the kinds of changes I've already begun to make, but it's even harder being crippled.
I know I haven't had much to say here for the last couple years, but I'll make an effort to write frequent new posts, sharing the secrets of what seems to work for me if this diet ends up making the kinds of differences I'm hoping it'll make.
One more thing to add: I have never taken any MS medications, nor do I ever intend to.