Friday, February 10, 2012

"I have MS, too"

I went to my surgeon today for a follow-up check as well as my first fill. (I've now lost 44 pounds total, yay!)  While in the waiting room, I got to talking to a couple other women who were also waiting.  We compared notes, traded food ideas, and even chuckled at some of mistakes we've made.  In the midst of the conversation, a very friendly woman in a wheelchair added "Being in this chair makes it harder, though.  I have MS"

I immediately turned and looked at her.  I know that there are millions of us with MS worldwide, and I'd be willing to bet there's likely just as many (if not more) Lap-Band patients out there.  But for someone reason, I was truly shocked to find myself sitting in my surgeon's office only to find the woman next me was also both  banded and had MS.  I smiled at her as I then replied "small world... I have MS, too".

Of course at that point her and I started trading as many MS stories as we were Lap-Band stories just a few moments before.  She told me how she could stand, even take a few steps, but spent most of her time in the wheelchair due to weakness.  We discussed being dizzy and weird phantom sensations that keep us awake at night, as well as how we both hoped losing weight would help better combat the MS.  After a slight pause in the conversation, she noted I wasn't in a wheelchair or using any walking aids.  I said that was true and I was thankful for it but added I did have to use my cane some days when my balance is particularly bad.  That is when things took a slight turn, at least in my own mind they did.  The woman mentioned being secondary progressive and I responded that I was still relapse/remitting.  At that point, she looked at me with a faint chuckle as she said "I don't have the luxury of being relapse/remitting"

Ouch.  I am still not even entirely sure why that stung, but it did.  My mind started wandering silently as I considered this unexpected remark and then I started to feel anxious.  I smiled politely as I replied "well I am thankful for it, that's for sure".  It was about that time her ride came, we said our good-byes, and she left.  However just because she left doesn't mean I stopped thinking about it.

I couldn't figure out why I was feeling so anxious, possibly even agitated.  I really had no reason to, yet there I sat, fidgeting and feeling very uneasy.  I considered the closing remark the woman made about not having the luxury of being relapse/remitting...and then it hit me.  I was feeling so anxious because speaking to her was forcing me to face one of my biggest fears- turning secondary progressive and losing considerably more than I already have to this crappy disease.  Her comment suddenly made sense, because as much as I looked at her with fear and dread, I'm sure she was looking at me with envy and longing.  Neither one of us were right or wrong, just both processing our emotions.  She was missing her past while I was trying to avoid my future.

It's funny, really.  I believe life is one huge learning experience and sometimes God will lead people into our lives to teach us a lesson.  I believe today the lady from the surgeon's office and I were each other's lesson.  I know what I must do now- I need to let go of my fear of the future and simply be thankful for today.  I can only hope she was able to see her lesson in our meeting, too.

Be well all :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Importance of Vitamin D

Back in 2009, my neurologist put me on 5000IU's of vitamin D a day.  When I told people how much I was taking, most either looked at me like I was nuts (including other doctors) or questioned the safety of taking such a dose.  I was lucky, my neurologist was also a researcher and on top of the latest info, so when he told me to take the high dose of vitamin D daily I didn't hesitate to do so.

Fast forward three years:  I'm sitting in the waiting room of my primary care physician, watching the TV showing varies public service announcements and health tips to pass the time.  I was pleasantly surprised when a segment about vitamin D came on and the announcer included "to help prevent the autoimmune disease, Multiple Sclerosis".

Main stream medicine has finally caught onto what my neurologist realized three years ago- vitamin D (or lack thereof) plays a key role in the development and progression of MS.  Here's just a few interesting studies to have a look at:

High Doses of Vitamin D Cut MS Relapses
Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis
Rare Gene Links Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis
Vitamin D could reduce risk of childhood MS and progression of disease

I could continue posting many more links but I think you get my point.  Vitamin D plays a role in not only the development of MS but the course in which the disease takes.  I changed from Copaxone to Rebif around the same time my doctor started me on 5000IU's of vitamin D daily.  Prior to that, I was relapsing and ending up on IV Steroids every 3-5 months.  Since then, I've only been on IV Steroids twice, the most recent time being  over 18 months ago.  I have often said I suspected my increased disease stability wasn't due to switching to Rebif, but rather religiously taking my vitamin D every morning.  As more and more research is done and studies are released, I believe that to be true more than ever.

If you haven't had your vitamin D levels tested, do so.  Talk to your doctor and decide what the best dose of vitamin D is for you to take daily.  If you have children, get them on a multivitamin with 100% of the daily allowance of vitamin D.  It's such a small step but it could make a huge difference in the health of both you and children.

Until next time, be well