Finding Balance

I’m four weeks into the diet, and I can say that I am finding new energy. I spring cleaned my room today (I’m a bachelor, and my room really needed it), did all my laundry, paid bills, and I’m sitting here at 10 PM feeling contently tired – not zombie tired. Let’s say on a scale of 1 to 10 on the MS fatigue scale, where 10 means “MS Who? I feel great!” and 1  being “I don’t care if the house in on fire, I’m not getting up”, I’d say I’m at a level 5 today. Feeling normal, and able to be productive, but still under the normal pull of fatigue.

I’ll take a day like that! I haven’t been this productive in a while. The specific diet I am on is called the Ketogenic diet. It’s basically a set proportion of high protein, low carb, and some fats. My primary focus has been eliminating sugars. After a couple months, If I don’t see more improvement in my energy, I will focus more on getting those proportions exactly right.  I have been very regimented in cooking healthy food lately, putting together chicken salads and baking like a pro.But tonight, no cooking. I’m heating up some polish sausage in the microwave and calling it a day. It fits within my diet, and with a limited amount of energy, I have to find balance somewhere.

Philippians 4:5 [Full Chapter]

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

Baking some jalapeno stuffed chicken tomorrow. Hoping the energy stays with me.

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A Little Zip

What a difference a night of rest can make. I am still dragging, but the energy was a little improved this morning, and my outlook much more hopeful. My daily commute greeted me with a beautiful, not-too-cool, not-too-hot, fall morning, and a memorable fiery-orange sunrise that you can actually look at with out squinting. I found an upbeat song on one of our city’s many Christian radio stations, and I was tapping along with the beat, thinking to myself that today is much better than yesterday. Not to say that I’m ready to run a marathon. I feel drained. But it’s a peaceful drained. Not the “my shoes are slip-on cinder blocks” drained that I’ve been slugging through.

I’m still on the Ketogenic diet. Which is simply a diet of meat, cheese, and rabbit food. I think  it’s helping. So far it’s not made me invincible, but for two weeks I have had no strange burning sensations or numbness in my legs. Is it the diet? I hope so. My doctor thinks I have relapsing remitting MS, which means I can have short periods of time where my symptoms really flare up, and then they leave for a while. Still, I’ve  had the burning sensations since early summer, and they have stopped about two weeks after changing my diet.

The diet is going well, but I must start cooking again this weekend. Sometimes I’m lazy and just eat summer sausage and a block of cheese for dinner. A man’s got to have more vitamins than that, and that’s why I am thankful that I found this:

zippfizz2

This is not an ad. I’m not getting paid anything. But man are these awesome. It’s a “Healthy Energy Mix”, with very little caffeine, 0 sugars, and lots of vitamins. The younger guys at my office drink it in place of coffee, and they convinced me to try it about 4 years ago. At first I was skeptical. I don’t like energy drinks because after they lift your energy levels, they later bring you crashing back down. That doesn’t seem healthy. At my buddies urging, I tried one anyway. I poured the powdered mix into a bottle of water, shook it up, and drank. 15 short minutes later I was soaring. My focus was sharp, my body felt energized, and I worked through the rest of the day with ease.

This was before I knew I had MS. Everyday at about 3 PM I would lean back in my chair, question if I could make it to 5, and wonder why I always felt like I had the flu. I thought maybe old age was catching up to me in my mid twenties, or this was the normal experience of people who worked desk jobs. I tried hitting the gym more. In my teen years, increasing my exercise always meant more energy. Something was different now…

I don’t drink these everyday, but on days where I am tempted to crawl under my desk with a nice pillow, I will pop one out. Today was such a day. I drank one right after lunch, and I am still experiencing the benefits at 8 PM. I’ve never known them to make me jittery, and they’ve never brought my energy crashing down. Their website recommends diluting it into a 20 oz water bottle, but I like to make mine last longer, so I mix it in a much bigger glass of water. Last week the nice folks that provide my Copaxone shots sent me  a lot of free stuff, including this water bottle:

zippfizz3

Doesn’t that color just go great with the orange flavored ZipFizz? I’m guessing that’s a 30 oz water bottle. I also prefer the taste if it’s a little more diluted. At first, the orange flavor kind of reminded me of a Flintstones vitamin. Not exactly delicious, but it only “kind of” tastes that way. There are other flavors, such as grape, fruit punch, and pink lemonade.  If you struggle with MS fatigue, I recommend trying these. The Mayo clinic says the average adult can have up to 400 mg of caffeine per day, and these capsules have 100 mg. Their website says you can consume up to 3 a day, but i usually find one is enough. A box of 20 capsules is available at Sam’s for $20, or on their website for $40. For those interested, here are the nutritional facts.

zippfizz

More updates on the result of the diet soon!

Rest a while…

The lovely folks that provide my medication (for FREE!!!) called me yesterday, and as usual they peppered me with many questions, questions that are at times too personal for me. “Have you dealt with any depression?”, they asked.

I paused. I’m not supposed to deal with depression, but yes, I have fought with depression. Just that morning, as I drove to work, i felt like something was pulling me down in to the floorboard of my car. That something is fatigue, and I fight it every morning.  Recently, I have realized that it pulls my emotions down too. When a simple task ,like brushing your teeth, has you leaning over the sink in complete exhaustion, you start to ask yourself questions; “How long can I keep this up?” And with that one question, my thoughts turn dark. My mind looks out over the horizon of my responsibilities, and this fatigue that rests over my shoulders quietly reminds me “It’s all too much for you, you’re going to fail”. I shrug off the thought, and walk to the car, debating calling in sick and diving back in my bed. I have this debate every morning, and I take pride in knowing the “get yourself to work, boy” side of me wins the debate almost every day.

Yesterday, the fatigue was more intense than normal. As I grapple with it, it invites in depressive thoughts to fight with me in a 2 on 1 battle of my mind. But It has helped me to identify its source. As I pulled into my office parking lot yesterday, I reminded myself that I am more fatigued than normal because I had been pushing myself a little too hard the past two weeks.The late nights, road trips, and bike rides were catching up to me. I have been impressed with how well I’ve been doing, and I have been hoping the low carb diet was the key. I still feel the same, but now I see that my body was acting out like a 2-year-old who needed a nap. That helps me reign my thoughts in.

I left work 30 minutes early, planning on taking a nap just before church that night. I laid down, pulled the covers up, and woke up 4 hours later. The heaviness of fatigue was a little lighter and my thoughts, a whole lot brighter. That injection I was planning to take would have to wait until later. Sometimes the only answer is rest.

Mark 6:31 [Full Chapter]

And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while…

Back in the saddle today at work and doing better. Still on the diet. More updates soon.

Jesus over MS

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I’m over MS. Not healed of MS. But ready to be healed of MS. I am very fortunate to only really deal with fatigue. MS hasn’t affected my motor skills. I’ve never fallen. I’ve had some blurred vision, but the biggest problem is very frequent, strong, fatigue. It’s like having the flu…for 2 years straight.  But MS is NOT the most memorable thing that has ever happened to me, being filled with Holy Ghost is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me! I originally titled this blog “Over MS”, but I didn’t like it. I don’t want my whole life to just be focused on this illness. At a young age I knew I wanted my life to be lived for Him, and to help as many people get to Him as I can. Along the way, I’ve been hit with this chronic condition, but I will not spend my days being defined by it. Everyone has something they are carrying, and I’m not letting this stop me from living for Him. I’ll take Jesus over MS. I am believing God for a total healing, but of course, I am seeking out whatever remedies might help me along the way.

 

A doctor placed me on a medication named Copaxone last year. It’s a shot that I take three times a week. I stopped taking it last spring, and have been ignoring protests from loved ones to start-up again. That is, until I recently developed a new symptom where my legs burn. It doesn’t hurt at all, but it’s strong enough to keep me awake some nights. And if I do anything really physical, it really comes to life. That prompted me to schedule a visit with my doctor, and order more shots. I take my first injection tonight, but I have already seen improvement…

Three weeks ago, I started a low carb diet, and have practically eaten 0 sugar since starting. I have heard from others that low carb diets, in particular, the Ketogenic diet, is very effective for MS patients. I’m hoping that the results I’ve seen are a result of the diet. I took my youth group on a 16-mile bike ride last weekend and I noticed something. I was sore, and tired, but sitting at the dinner table that night, I realized my legs weren’t burning. I thank God for giving me strength to continue working in our youth group! I had three days of late nights and long church services with them, and I was shocked that my energy wasn’t completely depleted. I haven’t been completely unaffected; the past two days I have spent some time in recovery, but I am believing that I have had more energy in the past two weeks than I have had in a long time.

The question is, how much of the diet is a factor? I’m going to find out, and I’ll be using this blog to track my progress.