So, I began by digging into all the research that I had done in the past. I started actively engaging the various tools in my arsenal that I have collected over the years.
I have compiled a list of all the things I could think of to do while recovering. I did all of these things daily. Yes, it's a long list and a lot to do, but as far as I was concerned, my job at that moment was recovery and that meant putting the work in to get there.
I meditated daily for 10 - 30 minutes. I utilized various apps, hit YouTube or simply listened to Zen-like music. I also practiced something that I like to call "active listening." This is where I go outside and just listen to the various sounds around me - the birds, leaves rustling, car doors slamming, etc. - by challenging myself to hear all the different sounds, it keeps my mind from wondering.
For a few minutes, I would visualize doing all the things that my body couldn't do - walk, run, drive, etc. Picturing clear, vivid images is a great way to communicate to your brain and is a technique used by athletes. Research has found that when your mind enters the state of deep relaxation brought on by visualization and other mind-body practices, it becomes primed for suggestion. This works because the brain can't tell the difference between a real and imagined experience, so when you visualize whatever it is that you want to do, to the body feels that it is really happening.
Throughout the day, I would repeat mantras, quietly to myself - some that I have made up, others that I have borrowed. A mantra is a statement or slogan repeated frequently - typically, it is used in meditation. A few mantras that resonate with me include, "My cells are healing my body, every second of every day" and "All is well, all has always been well, all will always be well" and "This too shall pass."
"Training your brain will increase the brain growth hormones your brain needs to repair damage, build new connections and grow more brain cells." - The Wahls Protocol, Terry Wahls, M.D.
I trained my brain with the help of Lumosity; an online program consisting of games geared towards improving memory, attention, flexibility, speed of processing, and problem solving. Scientists and game designers have combined talents to turn common cognitive and neuropsychological research tasks into fun, exciting games. Its fun, its easy and only takes a few minutes each day and if I miss a day, I feel like I cheated my brain.
Throughout the years, I have been collecting various books on MS or health & wellness to create my own personal MS reference library. While I may reference them from time to time, I took this time to re-read many of them to dig out little nuggets of information I may have missed or forgotten. Some of the books in my library include: Recovering from Multiple Sclerosis: Real Life Stories of Hope and Inspiration, The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book and The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine.
This particular attack severely limited my ability to walk, so once I was able to move around safely, I started walking for my daily exercise - just a few minutes at first until I was able to walk at least 30 minutes a day. I employed my treadmill to do this, because I wasn't sure what my endurance was going to allow me to do. I didn't want to get caught going one way and be unable to get back. Now, that's not to say that the treadmill didn't scare me - it did! But I took all the safety precautions and only walked when someone was home.
I made sleep a priority. I aimed for no less than 8 hours a night and took naps during the day when needed. Since we do the majority of our healing while we sleep, I wanted to give my body all the time it needed to get things done.
Nutrient Dense Foods
I made sure to eat nutrient dense, whole foods on a daily basis. This meant a lot of greens, seaweed, starches such as potatoes and rice as well as fresh vegetables and fruit. I wanted to give my body the energy and the building blocks it needed in order to rebuild itself. After all, we are what we eat, so that meant no processed foods - just optimum nutrition sources.
As a McDougaller I typically keep my fat intake low, even healthy fats. But, since the myelin sheath, the substance that coats the nerves is comprised of fatty tissue; I increased my fat intake daily through either flax seed, Chia seeds, Brazil nuts (selenium) or avocados.
Fast forward, as my attack was winding down, I still had some residual symptoms. I sensed that my improvement had stalled. I realized that I needed to build new neural pathways to compensate for the ones that were damaged from the attack - but how?
Learning or doing something new, that's how. We create new neural pathways every time we experience something new and different. The more we do and experience, the more we learn and grow. You gotta love the brain!
So, I took up kickboxing, started attending yoga classes and enrolled in online courses on topics that interested me such as essential oils. I also tried things for the first time, like walking my first 5k or going somewhere new like a local nature reserve.
Little by little, I got back to my pre-attack self!