Whenever someone with MS has good luck (and luck it very well might be) with a lifestyle choice with respect to how it affects MS, they feel the need to write a book about it. Greed plays no small part in the decision to follow that path. There are also smatterings of arrogance and ignorance in there. The optimistic side of me (a very slender side) hopes altruism is the primary motivation.
Now it’s my turn.
You won’t see the PB&J therapy in any book. It has helped me but, as the automobile disclaimers declare, “your mileage may vary”. Still, it couldn’t hurt other folks with MS to consider some of these strategies and life choices. NB: The “PB&J” label has nothing to do with comfort food sandwiches. It just seemed clever and easy to remember.
This isn’t something I worked out in advance then went ahead with. In most cases, it was backwards for me. I realized these things were helping me, so I continued or accelerated them.
Here’s the explanation. Each letter stands for a significant part of the plan I’ve been following. (Please note this is not simply a formula for treating or curing MS. It’s just a list of things that have gone a long way in helping me with MS and life in general. The two go hand in hand.)
Peace is the first aspect of the treatment. It’s code for “no stress”. Every medical professional and scientist will tell you that there is no proof that stress causes MS. Nearly every MS patient (see previous post) will tell you, however, that stress is the trigger that causes MS to act up, or cause “exacerbations” as we say in MS-speak.
The official word leads some to believe that, because stress doesn’t cause MS, it shouldn’t be considered. You could say the same thing about all the MS meds, a.k.a. disease modifying drugs, a.k.a. DMD’s (doesn’t that acronym sound like something the Pentagon came up with?). All they do is prevent (if you’re fortunate) attacks/exacerbations.
My consistent experience, as well as that of virtually every person with MS (not to mention many caregivers) I’ve spoken to, tells me that stress precipitates attacks. Hey, I can live with MS if I never have an attack. There’s a name for that condition: “benign MS”.
So I’ll avoid stress every chance I get, thank you very much. That doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything and not taking some risks. It only means I know my limits and I know the things that cause problems. It does involve saying no and focusing on what’s important. But that’s good advice no matter what condition you’re in.
Note that peace isn’t easy. If you doubt that, just look at the world around you. Check out the “J” section for my key approach to peace.
“B” is for biking. Sounds like a line from a kid’s alphabet book. It also sounds simplistic and overly specific. You’re right. It’s actually code for exercise. My activity of choice just happens to be biking. I can’t run. I can’t walk any significant distance or difficult path. Biking, however, is still in the realm of options available to me, so I do it. I do it a lot. It’s something I find enjoyable and peaceful. For you, it could be rowing, weights, calisthenics, whatever.
Find something you can do and do it. Keep doing it until you can’t do it anymore. Then find something else to do. Once you stop, you’re stopped dead. I’ve seen it all too often.
Last, but most: “J” as in Jesus. The old Andraé Crouch gospel song says it best: “Jesus is the Answer“. I believe that. In fact, it defines me. Following Jesus gives me purpose, meaning, direction, and peace. He has also had a huge impact on how I’m doing physically.
If you know your Bible, you know Jesus was something of a healer. He doesn’t promise to heal everyone of their diseases or relieve their trials, but I believe He gives me (and offers everyone) the strength to face whatever hand this cruel life deals us. Another Andraé song captures that: “Through It All“. (Andraé is the best!)
Jesus offers a peace “that passes all understanding”. I’ve experienced it. The best prescription I’ve ever received was stated in St. Paul’s letter to his friends at the church in Philippi (chapter 4, verses 4-8):
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Beats an injection every other day.
Addendum inspired by a comment in a later post: Vitamin D3 is a major help, too. Sorry for leaving that out but it didn’t fit the witty “PB&J” acronym anyway.