As the King of Hearts tells the White Rabbit:
“Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
Pretty basic advice, wouldn’t you say? Yet, when dealing with MS, some medical practitioners don’t always follow it.
If you recall your first talk about the disease with your neurologist or other medical professional, you might have been introduced first to the wonderful world of Disease Modifying Therapies. What you were looking for were Disease Ending Therapies, but those don’t exist, so we’re stuck with these.*
What if that’s the wrong place to start? What if we were to back up a little and start treating the person instead of the disease? Permit me to elucidate. Recently, a friend of mine (my de facto “Minister of MS Information” whom I mentioned in this previous post) sent me an article that couldn’t be any simpler:
Hey, Doc, why not start here? General good advice for anyone, but especially for those of us in the MS community. I’ll reiterate them here with my snarky comments:
Don’t smoke. Duh! If you haven’t figured this one out yet, MS is the least of your worries. Cancer, heart disease, COPD, and a plethora of other woes will probably get you first. As if that weren’t enough, it might make your MS worse.
Eat healthy. Sorry. Contrary to a self-serving myth, there is no “MS cure diet”. Just get real with the fuel you intake.
Exercise. Just like Todd Rundgren wants to bang on the drum all day, I’ll bang on this drum until everyone gets the message: If you have MS, get moving. Studies at least as thorough as the ones used to test MS drugs have shown that exercise helps fight MS.** Doctors didn’t discover this. My hero Jimmie Heuga did. If you aren’t staying active, you’re aiding and abetting your MS.
Stress. We’ve only begun to discover the damage stress does to our bodies and our communities. For me personally, it’s the trigger that fires off my MS symptoms every time. Avoid it like the plague it is.
Sleep. Get enough sleep. Easier said than done but get it done if your health matters.
There, that’s the beginning, the baseline. None of those five “therapies” have side effects and their cost is minimal. Can’t say that about the DMTs.
If you want to discuss pharmaceutical treatments after all that, that’s up to you. Just don’t ignore the simple facts that have been true forever.
* It could be worse. A few years back, an article in the MS Society’s Momentum magazine told this story of one woman’s introduction to the disease: “The first doctor I talked to told me my husband and I would probably end up getting divorced and I would be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.” ((heavy sigh))
** Some studies actually claim improvement in some symptoms such as walking speed, strength, cognition, and strength. My own personal study of a group of one (me) has confirmed those findings.
[Note: I was going to publish this post this next week, but found out (via today’s Google doodle) that today is the birthday of Sir John Tenniel, illustrator of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books. One of those illustrations graces the heading of this post.]
[Is that enough footnotes for one post?]