My Multiple Sclerosis Story
In 1993 I was living in Southern California with my family employed as an accountant who specialized in companies that had been embezzled. I had several bouts of falling after sitting during lunches or business meetings. After actually having a leg casted to heal after a fall (maybe weakened due to sprain in a previous fall), it became obvious in physical therapy that more was going on. In a period of seven months I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and had deteriorated to the point the doctors recommended a leave of absence from work to stabilize my health. Unfortunately, the progression continued and I was bed bound and using a wheel chair. During this time I had lost the vision in my right eye, had bladder and bowel problems, slurred speech and severe cognitive deficiencies. The doctors at UCLA diagnosed me as having cognitive Multiple Sclerosis and recommended my returning to school to make my brain work like a muscle to slow the progression. In 1995 my father and my husband both passed away suddenly two months to the day apart. My life was in shambles. The medicines I was on included: Baclofen, Noroxine, Imitrex, , Robaxin, Premarin, Desyrel, Tigan, Fiorinal, Prednisone, Amitriptyline, Symmetrel, Bactum, Ditropan, Prozac, Hytrin, Amantadine, Oxybutynin, and later added Copaxone and solution-medrol.
In 1996, I decided to act and returned to where I had attended college as a youth and started working to get my mental function back. Taking classes in neurobiology helped me understand that one must give the body a healthy environment and the body will compensate for the damage incurred. Also, I learned the alarming facts that some of the prescriptions I was on were causing permanent damage to my physical body. This was a very challenging time in my life as sometimes I had to attend class in a wheelchair with note takers assisting me; I had to test in a special disability testing room with bathroom access, as my body would shut down as it fatigued. Sometimes this resulted in my falling asleep on the floor during the test to recover enough to finish the test. So many other students would assist me and invite me into their study groups; they were patient and encouraging. This was very hard, but I could see the cognitive improvements. The opportunity to be treated by Dr. John Rose at the University of Utah and Dr. Julia Klein, who allowed me to push limits, to be involved in medical studies with exercise, and to attend educational medical seminars to fully understand the disease. Dr. Klein is actually the one who recommended to me to use peppermint oil to control the muscle spams caused by exercise. I found during this time that my body responded well to natural things such as yoga and exercise. Doing emotional work, attending heart centering classes and omega workshops – emotional intelligence with Daniel Goldman, reading self-development books and challenging emotional and soul growth gave new perspectives to life and attitudes. I became very active with the MS Society, Utah Chapter, and made some amazing friends and learned how the disease affect them. Advocating with the Utah Legislature on behalf of the disabled expanded my sphere of learning and service. In 1997 the National MS Society awarded me the Utah County Volunteer of the Year Award. In 1998 I was honored to be one of the two Utah Delegates to the National Forum in Washington, D.C. Also that year, I was chosen as the MS Utah Champion of the year. In 1999 I graduated from Brigham Young University with a BS in psychology and awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National MS Society.
Cognitively I had improved, but had a ways to go. Many of my research papers referenced studies done by two professors from the University of Utah, Dr. Dale Lund and Dr. Michael Caserta. University of Utah is a research university and I knew I could not endure and test the LSATs. I went to Dr. Dale Lund, met him, and explained my dilemma. He told me to submit my application for graduate school and asked me to interview with each professor in the Gerontology Dept. which I did. I still remember the day my acceptance letter came; through my tears I commented they must have not had many apply that year. I was shocked to find a year later that I was one of twelve accepted that year out of 78 applications. In December 2000, I defended my thesis and was awarded my Master Degree at graduation in the spring. I was being recruited form my PhD program when the doctors stepped in and said, “enough.” Cognitive function was restored, confidence was restored and they did not want the stress of a program to undo that. So I started working on the physical limitations. Getting certified as a yoga instructor through Sivananda helped regain some flexibility and a continued practice and teaching has helped. Studying ballroom dance has restored the brain and body coordination and body isolation in movement.
During the last ten years I have continued on my path to wellness. Keeping weight in check, staying active and listening to my body–honoring my body has resulted in the lessening of the many symptoms of MS. Craniosacral massage and regular massage assisted the body when headaches or muscle tightness were problematic. In 2006 I was diagnosed as having invasive melanoma on the bottom of my right foot. This was emotionally devastating to me as I worked so hard to continue walking with the MS. Thanks to an amazing dermatologist and surgeon, Dr. Kay Bishop, I can walk and dance today and have remained cancer free for the last five years. By the time the cancer hit I was off most of my medications, but that caused me to discontinue the Copaxone because of swollen lymph nodes.
Because I had cancer and am battling an autoimmune disease, when I was introduced to dōTERRA in 2010, fatigue was the major complaint. Their Lifelong Vitality Supplements Pack has given me back the energy I had before the MS. I now take 3 drops of frankincense under my tongue daily, plus my vitamins, and of course, dōTERRA’s DDR Prime to support my cellular health. I use the essential oils to support my body from the fatigue and stress I was feeling, and I use the OnGuard Protective Blend to keep me well. The fall of 2012 was the first time in 20 years I was able to naturally give my body relief from the difficult times caused by my condition using a massage-like technique 3 times a week, as well as, frankincense, patchouli, calming blend, grounding blend, and rose oil. It took 3 weeks. In 2013, my flare was a little harder, but I stopped the troubles in only 15 days. In 2015, an occurrence caused difficulty walking and stiffness in the back. By using the above protocol, I was able to get through it in only 10 days.
I am off all medicines e thanks to all the lifestyle changes I had made through the years. I am active and healthy and happy. I continue to have exacerbations usually annually, but they are much milder than the first 10 years, when I lost the ability to walk five times. I still struggle with changes in the barometric pressure and would love any advice on how to address that.
My advice to anyone with MS is be willing to change your lifestyle and examine how you personally are handling your stress. One must choose to be healthy and work towards it. But life can be very rich and fulfilling with MS, frustration at times, but rewarding and exciting.
May you find the health you are seeking. Be well!