Well, it's been a long time between posts. A few days after my last post, I celebrated my 39th birthday. For my birthday, I got an awesome new cookbook, a wonderful cooking pan, a renewed subscription to my favourite magazine, Delicious (are you seeing the theme here?) and some weird vision problems. Within days, it became apparent that I had a visual field defect. I am not medically proficient at all, but you know something's wrong when the doctors start looking tight lipped and you magically find yourself having appointments with specialists at 7am on the weekend and getting booked in within hours for medical tests that usually have week long waiting lists. Unbeknownst to me, the main reasons for visual defects are brain tumours and strokes. Fortunately (hey, it's all relative), it turns out I have the lesser of three common evils; relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis.
So, I've been getting my head around what this means for me, while also dealing with the realities of being symptomatic (read: feeling like crap most of the time). The good news is, my vision is restored. But every day is a roller coaster of symptoms, including acute fatigue, neuropathic pain that makes my right side feel like it's on fire, muscle spasms and (this one's the best and, perhaps not surprisingly, often under-reported symptom) extreme constipation. So, in the space of three short months, I've gone from being my version of a super-jock and, incidentally, feeling pretty proud of myself for losing 17 kgs through regular exercise and minor dietary modifications, to being barely able to lift my breakfast cereal spoon to my mouth some days.
That's not the end of the story, though. Finding out you've got a degenerative neurological condition is a great wake-up call. I am still busy trying to work out what's important and what makes me happy (this will probably be a perpetual work in progress). But I have already considerably reduced my workaholic tendencies, started meditating and begun enjoying more contact with the people who matter to me the most. All good. I have also become a student of George Jelinek's approach to overcoming MS. His excellent website is here. This means a new lifelong commitment to a diet including virtually no saturated or altered fats. I have said farewell to milk, egg yolks and most cheese (just trying to give up parmesan forever). I use only cold pressed oils and only extra virgin olive oil for cooking. I get to eat a lot of fish but no meat (this is no problem, as I love the former and haven't eaten the latter since 1991!). I can no longer fry or roast at high temperatures, but I can steam, stir-fry, and bake at moderate temperatures to my heart's content.
Prof Jelinek's approach also includes a strong emphasis on exercise. The good news here is, I love exercise. The bad news, which I really hope is temporary, is that the fatigue and balance problems I am currently experiencing is really limiting my capacity for exercise. I have gone from 6-7 workouts/week burning 400-600 calories each session to 1-2 sessions/week burning 200 calories. Still, I am cautiously optimistic that this will change with time. And for now, I am happy that I am still motivated (if not always physically capable) to exercise. I am also happy to report that I have not regained any weight and have managed to keep all emotional eating at bay whilst going through a pretty emotional time.
So, with this change in life, so the blog changes. From now, I start documenting the food, foibles, and fitness adventures of a woman living with MS. Well, maybe not from right now (I'm wrecked from writing this post). But next time, I promise....