Hi! My name is Katy- I’m 34 and a mom of 4 kids- 10 and under. As you can imagine, I’m no stranger to living in a permanent state of exhaustion, so when my symptoms first started I didn’t think too much of them. A few months after my 4th baby was born, I noticed I was feeling dizzy and unbalanced. I decided a quick trip to my OB was in order to get a few levels checked just in case it was a deficiency of some sort. Everything she checked came back normal and she sent me on my way with the instructions to get more sleep (ha!) and eat more calories to make up for those lost in breastfeeding. Several months passed and the dizziness persisted so I decided to check with my general practitioner and get her take on it. She ran lots of labs and found my vitamin D was extremely low (not surprising, knowing what I know now!). She sent me home with a prescription for a mega dose of vitamin D and said that should “fix the problem”. And for a few more months, I pretended it did. I wanted so badly for the vitamin deficiency to be the problem and the supplement to be the answer.
But it wasn’t. A few months later, after taking the vitamin D regularly, I finally admitted to my husband that I wasn’t feeling better and that the dizziness was still persistent. I didn’t have any other doctor options, so I went back to my regular doctor and explained how I was feeling again. This time she said it was an ear infection and that an antibiotic would clear it up. So I left with another prescription and a prayer that this would be the answer. It was clear very quickly that it was not an ear infection as new strange symptoms were slowly being added into the mix. Tingling and numbness in my legs, bladder issues and extreme exhaustion were the most troublesome on top of the continued dizziness.
When I went back to my doctor for a third visit, I remember sitting on her table in tears trying to get her to understand how I was feeling and that I knew there was something wrong with my body. Unfortunately, as I’ve heard is the case for a lot of people, she didn’t seem to understand or look any deeper for the right answers. I felt so scared and alone. I was talking with a friend of mine who mentioned she’d been working for a functional neurologist. I’d never heard of it, and it seemed “out there” but I was at a loss for what to do next so I made an appointment. I moved forward with cautious optimism, afterall, I’d heard “this is the answer” a few too many times already. And thankfully, that one appointment changed my whole journey. For the first time, I felt like someone listened, understood and validated all of my fears and concerns.
Lots of exams, testing and neuro therapies started at that point and we finally made it to the diagnosis of MS, over 2 years after my initial symptoms began. And to be honest, I was relieved- relieved that there was finally a name to what was invisibly happening in my body for so long. Immediately, with my functional neurologist’s guidance, I jumped into an Autoimmune Protocol diet (AIP) and I can’t even begin to describe the changes I felt in my physical body within a matter of weeks. By removing the inflammatory foods and giving my body a chance to heal itself, I began to function again. Slowly at first, but it was enough to help me keep going. The AIP diet is no joke, but I was given great advice in the beginning to focus on the things you’re adding (nutrient density, more vegetables, high quality ingredients) vs the things you’re taking away and that’s made a huge difference in how I approach the restriction in food. I quickly fell into the mindset of “nothing tastes as good as feeling good feels” and my body began to crave high quality, nutrient dense ingredients!
Since diagnosis, I’ve been so lucky that my symptoms only flare up when I’m in a really stressful time, I get sick or accidentally eat something that doesn’t agree with my body. I think that, along with the AIP diet, several lifestyle changes have helped keep my MS stable. I have regular neuro therapy appointments with my functional neurologist, manage my stress as best as possible with therapy and prayer, prioritize sleep, and move my body daily. While I know the future with MS is unpredictable, I believe that I’m on the right track to taking care of my body as best as I know how!
If you’re newly diagnosed with MS, or (impatiently) awaiting a diagnosis, I’d encourage you to advocate for yourself and what you need. No one can feel the invisible symptoms you’re feeling or understand the internal struggle you’re having with them. Trust your instincts and keep pushing to find answers!
Things I do to manage My MS
- Neuro therapy
- Stress management/counseling/prayer
- Prioritizing sleep