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Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Talk About Medicines Month - a patient's testimonial and alternative therapy
New blog post from Jon
Oct 28, 2014 10:29 pm
October is talk about medicines
month, and I wrote this post for the American Recall Center, a site devoted to
providing up-to-date medical drug and device recall news in simple,
When diagnosed with multiple
sclerosis (MS), seventeen years ago, my doctors immediately wanted to put me on
the new blockbuster MS therapy, Betaseron. It was the first FDA approved
medication to treat relapsing remitting MS, the strain of the disease I was
thought to have. The drug showed efficacy at slowing progression in clinical
trials and held promise for those living with the disease; I resisted.
Part of me hadn’t fully
internalized the diagnosis. I was a young guy and didn’t appreciate my
mortality. I wanted to experience what it meant to live with the disease and
see how it affected me before taking any drug. I really wanted to see if the
force of my individual will could keep symptoms at bay. Naive, probably, but
that’s the where I was.
I successfully lived in denial
for the next six years. Threat of the disease caused me to push life’s
accelerate button. I lived an adrenaline infused existence, looking over my
shoulder, in an attempt to outrun the disease. I ran marathons, climbed 14,000
foot California peaks, and worked sixty, sometimes eighty-hour weeks, to prove
I was okay. At thirty-three, I believed I had found the answer to living a
great life in spite of the diagnosis, denial. I showed no outward symptoms and
believed I had cracked the code to living with chronic illness.
That reality crashed down
around me over the next two years. Symptoms began to show. I tripped at a
marathon water stop, and things progressed from there. I fell down stairs and
began to shuffle my feet like an elderly man. I lost felling below my elbows and
knees, my mind went in circles. I failed an online test at work I had been
around long enough to teach. My speech was faint and strained. Words had
trouble making it off my tongue and out my mouth.
In an attempt to arrest the
decline, I cycled through each of the newly approved MS therapies; first Rebif,
then Avonex, and finally Copaxone. None of them slowed the progression. I
bottomed out and began to search for alternative therapies. I came across a
number of people who improved their symptoms through diet, lifestyle change,
and a diligent focus on well-being. I decided to try it. There was nothing to
lose. I asked for four months off work and went to the Optimum Health Institute
(OHI) to focus on my health.
Over that four-month period my
health improved. My gait evened out, my mind cleared, feeling returned to my
extremities, and my speech became more fluid. I attribute the shift to a
mindfulness of everything moving through my body (food, water, thought and
emotion). I realized that inputs, combined with thought and habit, were the key
to maintaining my health. There was no magic bullet, just a simple
understanding that all I am is what moves through my body in combination with
thought and habit. I also attribute the shift to finally taking responsibility
for my health. It wasn’t the doctor’s job or that of any drug to keep me
healthy. Responsibility started with me.
Today, nine years after
returning from OHI, I remain mindfully focused on the things entering my body.
I take Copaxone, one of the half-dozen FDA approved therapies and am on the
constant lookout for things to add to my routine to live the best life I can in
spite of the hand dealt. You can read my story here.
this philosophy resonates, what is the most difficult aspect of practicing