Thursday January 26 2017 11:00 AM
This week Lucina Russell reflects on her recent good health and wonders if stress has affected her MS progression.
I feel like a bit of a fraud writing for ‘MS & Me’ these days. Truth is, Dear Reader, that I have been in such good health, that I haven’t been spending much time thinking about the MS monkey on my back. I wish I could say that there is a magic formula for my wellness that I could sprinkle over my fellow MSers who aren’t as fortunate as me, but I don’t. All I can do is share my experience.
Since my diagnosis 6 years ago, after a terrifying experience with optic neuritis (blurred vision), I have tried lotions and potions, medication, diet and exercise to increase my wellness and yet I struggled in the early years with fatigue, insomnia, headaches and pain. With two small children and a full time job, it wasn’t easy.
All this time, there have been many advancements towards a cure for Multiple Sclerosis and many developments in treatments, but I have found myself overwhelmed by the science behind it, to the point that I don’t read them anymore. If there was an exam on MS Studies, I would be in the dunce’s corner.
But in the last two years particularly, my health has taken a turn for the better, to the point that I could almost say that I am ‘cured’ (in as far as one can, with a chronic illness).
My secret? I think it’s a combination of...
a] Good fortune
b] My medication. Yes folks, it appears that sometimes the drugs DO work (I take a weekly interferon intramuscular injection – I can’t say that I look forward to it every week, but hey!).
c] Managing stress. Easier said than done, I know and a certain amount is unavoidable and probably necessary to keep one's adrenaline flowing. With this in mind, one of the best pieces of advice that I received from my MS community worker when I was diagnosed with MS initially, was to hold off on making drastic decisions, to settle into my new found skin, uncomfortable as it felt.
In the meantime, I had an experience that I won’t describe here, other than to say that my tale wouldn’t be out of place on an extreme reality TV show like Jeremy Kyle. While I confided in a few close friends, I generally buried what had happened, piled on the red lippy and carried on. In hindsight though, I feel that my MS flair was a cry for help from my jaded body that couldn’t take much more. It was the persistent child tugging at my clothes that I chose to ignore. In turn, I used my MS as an excuse for not making changes. But eventually, I listened and made some life changing decisions, which has made me well again and happy. Friends I haven’t seen for a while comment that I look really well, examining my face, saying that they can’t quite put their finger on what’s different.
I wonder if I had I responded to the persistent child tugging all those years ago, would my MS have stayed dormant, or not develop at all? Who knows and it doesn't matter now. I’m just grateful that I have had this opportunity.