When push comes to shove…

…it turns out that I’m not as much of a believer in natural health as I thought I was.

Having had to stop taking my other MS medication because it dropped my white blood cells to nearly as low as my husband’s on chemo, it’s been time to pick another medication. I put it off as long as I could but my neurologist finally told me I had to pick one. I chose one of the oldest ones, one that requires injecting myself, because it had the least risk of causing infections that could get my husband sick.

If you’ve been reading me long enough, you know how much I agonized over taking the last one. I really only did it because I thought it might hurt my case for disability if I wasn’t taking any disease-modifying therapies (or DMTs.) Many of the drugs have more risks than the disease itself and can even kill you.

My baseline assumption was then (and still is) that my particular case of MS is pretty stable. I can still walk without assistance. My biggest threat to my mobility is my damned plantar fasciitis, which has nothing to do with MS.

I haven’t had a relapse since 2017, which is a sign that my disease is stable. My MRI confirms the same. I have no lesions at all on my spine, which is probably why I’m still mobile.

It’s easy to convince myself that I don’t need the drugs. After all, they’re not a cure. They’re just supposed to reduce the number of relapses and slow down the progression of disability. The way they determine if one of the DMTs is “working” is if you don’t have relapses…which I don’t, even when I’m not on the drugs. The conspiracy-prone part of me thinks the drugs might even make people worse. They know for sure that some of them do.

But in talking with my therapist about how to decide if I should take another drug, she asked what the alternatives would be if I went the natural route. And I already know: I would have to follow a strict diet with no cheating, which includes giving up sugar, gluten, and dairy. I’d also have to exercise about every day and commit to a daily meditation habit.

I could do those things. After all, I no longer drink milk (except half & half in my coffee) and use soy milk instead. I did give up all sugar until Halloween and plan to go back to that habit again after Christmas. My husband was gluten-free for 10 years and I know how to do that.

But the things I can’t give up are cream in my coffee (I don’t like the non-dairy alternatives) and cheese. When it comes down to it, going the natural route means it’s a full-time job in terms of commitment. I’d never be able to eat in a restaurant again, even the vegan ones, because many of these diets for MS also tell you to give up soy.

In short, my choices are to inject myself (which terrifies me, not gonna lie) with MS drugs or to limit my quality of life significantly. And I decided that I’d rather get to have cream in my coffee and a dessert on my birthday than to avoid the drugs.

Suddenly, it was so clear what my decision was. I guess I do (tentatively and reluctantly) believe in modern medicine more than I desire to make the extreme lifestyle changes to avoid it.

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