I made a new friend last week.
Well, a friend of a friend but now a friend to me. Her name is Annie and her girlfriend has MS. My old friend Susie G. introduced me to her because she works in her office in Atlanta and the another friend just started working there too – so they called me last week.
Annie threw herself into a lot of research about nutrition and MS. She sent me a link to a TEDx talk by a Dr. Terry Wahls where she tells the story of her own secondary progressive MS. She had gotten to the point where she was in a zero-gravity wheelchair – the only position she could be in without intense pain. Very low mobility. Her life seemed to be in a downward spiral and she was getting worse by the day. Long story short (very long story full of medical research and clinical trials), she discovered that the fundamental basis of MS and many other autoimmune disorders could be traced back to dysfunction in the mitochondria of cells.
She developed an eating program designed specifically to feed the mitochondria – some principles of the Paleo diet but more to it than that. Specific nutrients all derived from food because the complexities of the nutritional profiles are so unknown and may deliver benefits beyond the micronutrients present in them. It’s a complicated change – a simple diet that requires eliminating gluten, dairy and legumes and adding in massive amounts of vegetables, fruits and other things like sulphuric veggies and iodine from seaweed and other fish. Making a change like this would be massive for me. I mean, the mere idea of eating 9 cups of any vegetable or fruit per day boggles me.
But Dr. Wahls? She is no longer in a wheel chair of any kind, let alone the extreme zero gravity version she was in. She still has MS – but has no active symptoms. Her quality of life has changed so drastically that she’s back to doing things like mountain climbing and running. Now, don’t get it twisted. I have no ambition to do either of those things but I would like to be more mobile. In less pain. Able to walk a bit better? All of those things would be nice.
Here’s the thing…I generally resist major life change kinds of things. I know how impractical they are. I know how life gets in the way. I know how social interaction and living can make sticking to any extreme diet almost impossible. I know that when I tried to stick to the smoothie thing a couple of years ago, I did good for about a year and eventually gave up.
But mobility. That’s kind of fundamental to life. To a good life anyway. I know I can “make do.” It just doesn’t make me feel good to make do. Lately I’ve been feeling like my life is slowing down, getting smaller, becoming more internal and a lot more quiet. I know I’ve always liked a quiet, internal life…but now that it might be required because I can’t move around so well? Well. That feels like a whole different thing. It scares the shit out of me.
So I’m reading her book. I’m learning about the protocol. I’m eating tacos from Tako tonight because if I have to give up gluten I won’t be eating tacos anytime soon again! But…mobility. Not being in a wheel chair. Not needing a cane. Not being in pain. Not feeling so fatigued that all I want to do is sleep, sleep, sleep. So much sleeping!
Can I get used to eating 9 cups of vegetables a day and learning to cook more at home and eating things like liver that I’ve never actually eaten before? Never eating gluten or dairy ever again? I mean, I can’t even eat eggs or black beans on this protocol and those are my “healthy” staples!
Maybe I fail because I expect myself to fail. Maybe I fail because I believe I suck at hard things. Maybe I defeat myself before I even try because I claim to “know” myself so well and that means knowing I can’t stick to strict eating plans.
Maybe if I tell myself I can, I will. Maybe energy, mobility and less pain is worth being a little drastic?
That’s a big maybe.