Wednesday, May 1, 2013

3 month update

Sorry I never posted a thorough one-month or two-month update. You may be wondering: After following the Wahls diet for three months, are there any signs that I may be reversing my MS? Or do I at least feel better than I felt before starting the diet?

I can't say the diet has led to any clear reversal of MS symptoms (yet), but I can say for the first time in 2-1/2 years that I'm clearly doing better. Most notably, my brain works much better now than before I began the diet. It's like I'm not even the same person. As you'll read below, almost all of my most serious issues have improved at least a little bit, and a couple of them have improved in life-changing ways. Furthermore, NOTHING has declined. And of course, I have no side effects to deal with because I choose not to take any prescription poison for MS.

My psychological, emotional, cognitive, and general mental improvement has been phenomenal, in more ways than I'll ever be able to explain here, and it just keeps getting better. This improvement began within a few days of starting the Wahls diet, and this improvement alone is reason enough for me to stick with the Wahls diet indefinitely, even if I never see the physical improvement I'm hoping for.

To attempt to show how I feel I've improved, I'll revisit the ways MS has affected me most over the last couple years, as listed in a blog post I published the day I began this diet. I will list each of those things and discuss whether or not I've experienced any improvement over the last three months.

Throughout the remainder of this post, bold text represents an issue that seriously affected me for an extended period prior to February 1, 2013. The normal text following the bold text explains if or how things have changed.

Here we go.

I almost always need a cane when I walk, even around the house. --> Within a couple weeks of beginning the diet, I stopped using my cane around the house, and I still don't use it around the house. I really don't know if this is a result of the diet (and exercise) or if it's all in my head. Regardless, if I hadn't begun the Wahls diet, I'd almost certainly still be using my cane around the house (and falling and breaking bones).

In a few words: I'm doing a little better.

I get worn out very easily if I do any kind of physical activity; even cooking. --> This has improved. I'd say the improvement is mostly a result of the diet, but I think regular exercise has contributed as well. However, if not for the diet, I would not have the motivation or energy to exercise.

In a few words: I'm doing a little better.

My balance is crap. --> My balance is better. This is a direct result of exercising, which is a direct result of extra energy and motivation, which is a direct result of the diet. (See a trend?)

In a few words: I'm doing a little better.

I don't have much feeling in my feet, and I've also lost a noticeable amount of feeling in my hands. --> I'm pretty sure there is more feeling in my feet now. I estimated on February 1 that the feeling in my feet was about 50% of what it used to be, and now I'd say it's about 55% to 60%. I can't say I have gained any feeling in my hands, although it does seem a little easier for me to write than it was a few weeks ago. It's hard to tell for sure with my hands because my hands have never been very bad; just bad enough to notice something isn't right with them.

In a few words: I'm doing a little better.

My legs feel like they weigh a couple hundred pounds each. --> They don't feel that way now. They still don't feel right, and sometimes they feel heavy, but they certainly do not feel like they used to feel.

In a few words: I'm doing a little better.

Difficulty going to the bathroom. --> As I mentioned in the previous post, I can now stand in front of the toilet and empty my bladder without having to grab walls and fixtures to hold myself in place. This is clearly a result of stronger hip/core muscles, which is a result of exercise, which is a result of greater motivation and energy, which is a result of the diet.

Another issue I have with urination is getting it to start, then maintaining a consistent flow. Not always, but very frequently. This is why, as I mentioned in the previous post, it is important for me to be able to have a hand available to aim, instead of having to use both hands to hold on to walls and fixtures. Also, it's hard for me to hold it. I get very little warning when I have to pee. As soon as I start feeling it, it's best for me to take care of it.

In a few words: I'm doing a little better.

Long-term optic neuritis in my left eye. --> Unfortunately this has not improved. There have been times when I thought it may be improving--when maybe it seems better for a few days--but it always ends up letting me know it's still around. This is the one area that I feel may eventually show clearly whether the diet is helping my body repair itself physically, considering inflammation of the optic nerve cannot be helped by exercise. So if I ever report that my optic neuritis is gone, that will be the day you'll want to start taking me really seriously, because I've been dealing with this episode of optic neuritis since March 2011, and I'm certain it's never going to fully heal on its own.

In a few words: I'm not doing better, but I'm not doing worse.

Horrible, unnatural-feeling mood swings. --> The mood swings are gone. This change is clearly a result of the diet, as the change was drastic and almost immediate. Specifically I'd say the change was a result of my twice-daily smoothies, because when I go several consecutive days with only one daily smoothie, my mental state regresses a little. This has happened a couple times, and I've corrected it each time by making sure I consume two smoothies each day.

In a few words: I'm doing life-changingly better.

Constant mild pain in my upper legs, hip muscles, and lower back. --> I still notice this occasionally, or maybe even regularly, but it's nothing like it was before. Or maybe my attitude has changed enough to make it seem less noticeable than before. Also, it's now probably caused by sore muscles from exercise.

In a few words: I'm doing a little better.

Cold feet. Purple, with small raised white spots. --> This kinda fluctuates, so it's hard to say if I've seen any improvement. The white spots are mostly gone right now, but it won't surprise me to see them again next winter.

In a few words: I may be doing a little better.

Knees sometimes give out unexpectedly. --> I've probably made a lot of progress in strengthening the muscles that keep my knees from giving out, but I still don't feel 100% confident that I can trust my knees to be there for me when I'm not using my cane. Fact is, my nerves are responsible for my knees giving out, not my muscles. The muscle is there. It just doesn't always get the message from my brain to do its job.

In a few words: Not necessarily better, but definitely not worse.

Difficulty navigating stairs; mostly down. --> Strangely I'm drawing a blank when I try to recall if navigating steps has become any easier. Since I can't say for sure, I guess I have to be safe and say there has been no noticeable improvement.

In a few words: Not necessarily better, but definitely not worse.

Low energy and motivation. --> As I've already indicated in a few places above, this is another area where I've seen dramatic improvement. I was useless on January 31, but within a few days of beginning the Wahls diet things were already changing, as is evident in the fact that I wrote eight blog posts over the first two weeks of February. After two weeks on the Wahls diet I had the motivation and energy to start walking on the treadmill almost every day. This energy and motivation has fluctuated a bit over the last three months, but I'm starting to understand things well enough to keep it in check and recognize when I'm doing things that decrease my energy and motivation.

In a few words: I'm doing considerably better.

Rarely feeling full after eating. --> This is frustrating and hard to explain or understand. Even though it seems like this could be very MS-related, I have the feeling it's not.

In a few words: Still giving me trouble.

Shaking. --> If you asked me to list all the MS-related issues I experience regularly, I doubt that shaking would make the list right now. There are times when I get shaky, but I don't think it is very common anymore. It seems to happen mostly during physical therapy, when my physical therapist has me stand on unstable surfaces that force me to use muscles I almost never use, or after I've exercised and my muscles are sore and tired.

In a few words: I seem to be doing considerably better.

Excessive scalp regeneration. --> Even though I don't consider this MS-related, I was hoping the diet would make a difference in this area, but it hasn't happened yet. There have been times when I thought it was improving, but it hasn't.

In a few words: No improvement.

Toenail fungus. --> Although toenail fungus may be totally unrelated to MS, my toenail fungus seems to be improving. Probably because I've been eating very little food that feeds fungus. It's tough to know for sure if my toenail fungus has improved because it takes time for healthy toenails to grow in and replace unhealthy toenails. I should have a better idea in a few months.

In a few words: Seemingly better, but the jury is still out.

Bump/sore in my inner gums. --> This is not better, but it also has nothing to do with MS. I only mentioned it because I hoped the diet might help.

In a few words: No improvement.

If you made it this far, then I suppose I can trust you to read the next several paragraphs, which are very blunt and contain a lot of personal information that's not real easy to share with anyone, much less total strangers. (VRW: If you see this and it upsets you in any way, please let me know. I certainly did not intend to upset you by writing this stuff, but I recognize that some of it could be upsetting to you.)

Not much sex drive, nor much feeling in "my thing." --> If you must know, I can get it up, just as I could get it up three months ago. Still, it doesn't respond like it once did because my nerves just don't deliver the full message from my brain (or something like that). Also, considering all the other MS crap I'm dealing with, sex has not been one of my top priorities for a while, which means it might actually work better than it seems to work. Fact is, I don't have anyone, and I'm probably never going to have anyone, so it kinda doesn't really matter. Interestingly, though, there is someone who has found her way into my heart over the last couple months, and I think she could probably do wonders in this department if she chose to. And even though I haven't told her how I feel, I think she knows. Strangely, it even seems like she feels something for me, too. But I know the score, and my score is 0 (zero), particularly because one of us is bound to a code of ethics, which prohibits any kind of personal relationship with the other, even though a personal relationship would probably be real good for both of them. So considering I have no real prospects in this department, it's tough to speculate how well I might be able to do the job. And I guess the only real point I had to make in this paragraph, in no uncertain terms, is that my dick doesn't feel numb like it did three months ago, and that's a good thing.

In a few words: Probably a little better.

Note: I'd like to be loved and I'd like to have somewhat regular sex with someone who loves me, seeing how I'm human and everything, as well as the fact that I've been deprived of those things most of my life. I'm absolutely certain that genuine love and a sex life with someone who loves me would be very good for my emotional health as well as my physical health. Y'know, the kind of thing that gives your body reason to wanna walk again and be able to work. But it doesn't necessarily have to be romantic love or a sexual relationship.

Almost every week during the hour I spend in physical therapy, it's clear that simply being around my therapist is very good for me. My body works better when I'm around her, and I'm pretty sure she is aware of it, considering: 1) there has been at least a couple times when I've been able to walk very well around her, without my cane, and 2) the genuine surprise I've shown after being able to walk like that. Her PT guidance is the best I could hope for, but that's only half of what I get from her during our weekly sessions. I also get an hour with someone who seems like a potential dear friend who seems to understand me like maybe no one else can. I feel like I can tell her just about anything without feeling remotely awkward. I love being around her, regardless of whether there is any prospect for love or sex with her. Being around her makes me a better person, and being around her helps my body heal. And although it's very hard for me to allow myself to believe I possess anything she needs in her life, I truly feel like maybe she does see something in me. I need to figure out a way to become friends with her when it's all over.

I don't need love or sex in the same way most other people need them, yet I absolutely need both of these things in a totally different way. It's tough knowing I'll probably never receive either love or sex for the rest of my life, but I try to find reasons to believe someone may someday see something in me that I cannot allow myself to expect anyone to see. I make believe my physical therapist will become my friend after I run out of physical therapy sessions, and that maybe her friendship will grow into something bigger than friendship. But I do nothing about it because... that's a whole other post right there. Yet, even though I am emotionally rock solid, I sit here with tears rolling down my cheeks as I write this because I know there's nothing I can do except need what I can't have, then try to make myself believe I don't need it. And even though I can handle this pretty well most of the time, this is a huge obstacle, because, as I said, everyone needs to be loved at some point in life. And in my case, finally feeling loved may be the biggest factor deciding whether or not I ever recover from MS.

I tell you all this stuff with full knowledge that my daydreams may sound pretty ridiculous, perhaps unethical, and maybe impossible. But I've already accomplished things that most people thought were impossible, and sometimes ethics only get in the way of their ultimate objective (especially in the modern medical community, where they seem to be more concerned with appearing professional and ethical than they are with helping people heal). I have a pretty good track record with doing impossible things, and there's a reason for that. It will happen again, but only if I expect it to happen, and only if I get a little help in a few important areas.

This all seems hopeless right now, but I'm gonna figure out a way to get what I need, because maybe my life depends on being loved. Maybe this shitty disease is exactly what I needed to finally force me to figure out how to get what I've never known how to get. And honestly, I think I'm now much more worthy of being loved than I ever was when I could do things like walk across a continent in under 7 months, or pay for things.

Obviously I'm dealing with a lot conflicting emotions and whatnot in this department.

Oh, and here's a very important bit of information: None of the improvement I've just written about has anything to do with an invisible person in the sky. If I was relying on invisible people in the sky to help me out here, instead of busting my ass, I would simply have nothing to say (or I'd be dead or well on my way to dying), just like everyone else who relies on invisible people in the sky to heal this kind of illness. And I'm pretty sure Terry Wahls doesn't rely on invisible people in the sky, either. For whatever that's worth to ya.

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