My Personal Journey With MS and How It Inspired the Coaching Program
George Jelinek had the brains and opportunities as a doctor to put the amazing OMS program together that it now Many of us are so immensely grateful to him and his work.
I remember the first 10 years of my journey feeling that MS isn’t that bad and it isn’t such a big thing. I felt so grateful for it as I started eating healthier and working out with more intention and purpose. I also did a lot of personal workshops as I thought that maybe there is something in my past that I have to understand and work through which could help me in my physical journey. Most importantly I am grateful that through these workshops I met my husband. So I will say that there are many many positive things that came out of my diagnosis.
Now though, I do have physical limitations and I feel a little bit different. I wish I would have known some things a few years back and would have handled some things differently but sadly I cannot turn back time. So what can I do now?
1. I can live the best and most positive life that I can
That is something that is easier said than done. When you feel shitty either emotionally, physically or both it can be really hard to lift yourself up and be positive. I have sometimes achieved that but often not. Gladly, it hasn’t broken my marriage but there were times that our relationship was tense because all I could think about was how horrible my (or our) life suddenly became because I couldn’t do all the things I wanted to do and could do until a few months before. That depressed me.
At that time, we also had just moved back to my home town Vienna, Austria and after living in sunny NYC or warm and even sunnier LA, Vienna felt very soon only grey, rainy and cold (the lockdown didn’t help either). It was so depressing and the cold also didn’t feel good in my body. It was a process that took a couple of years but I now can see again the positive.
I am able to see and am grateful again for my husband and my daughter and for the life we have which includes the physical possibilities I still and will hopefully always have. Of course, nothing has changed but the perspective I have is different. Yes I cannot do everything anymore (but often I also compare myself to a 20-something fit yoga teacher) but I can do a lot and I wonder if I am fitter and healthier than many of my peers.
2. I can inspire others to do the same and spread the knowledge I have gained over the past years including the mistakes I made
So often these days I think about how my physical life would be today if I knew 10 years ago what I know today. 10 years ago, many of the medications available today, were not out yet but there was already medication.
What was an important realization in that journey was the why: Copaxone, I was afraid of the needle. Steroids and Rituximab (the medication I take today) I didn’t take was because I wanted to breastfeed my daughter for 2 years. I’ve been told that breast milk is the golden milk and so good for the immunity and I wanted my daughter to have the strongest immune system there is especially with the possibility of having the genome for MS! My daughter is very healthy so that is a plus in my story!
Smoking: I never “really” smoked but I did throughout the years socially. I wish I didn’t because it may have caused or contributed to my MS breaking out. When I got diagnosed with MS, I completely stopped even though I do not remember the knowledge of it speeding up progression. Then I did smoke now and then socially a cigarette and I wish I hadn’t done it. One day, I decided that is it: I consciously smoked one last cigarette, had a few months later one drag from a friend and that was it. Today, I sometimes still smell the cigarettes and think “oh when I used to smoke it was a happy and carefree time” however I would not touch a cigarette today because I KNOW IT SPEEDS UP PROGRESSION.
The diet: I did followed Swank before finding the OMS program and moved to OMS pretty quickly (after finishing the last of the “Swank products”). Then I did the OMS diet really strictly until I fell off the wagon. Back on the wagon, I think there was a grey zone of what I thought was ok and how often it is ok to eat out (when eating out, there is always a higher chance of eating non-OMS-compliant food). Looking back, my grey zone was maybe a little bit too wishy-washy. Everybody on OMS seems to have their own grey zone, some stricter than others. I see people doing really well and being less strict than I am. I remember a podcast from a neuropath who had MS himself saying something like the further the MS goes, the stronger the medications should be (I heard the opposite too: when the immune system slows down aka when getting older, no medication is needed anymore). This translated to me: maybe as my MS has worsened over the years and I haven’t managed to stop the progression, I maybe need to be stricter in how I eat and what I deem to ok.
So today, I eat out less and am stricter in my instructions to the restaurant. One thing I learned too is: I cannot simply go to a new restaurant and expect they do what I ask them to do or they have something on the menu that is adaptable. Therefore, I mainly go to the same restaurants where I know I can eat something, bring partly something or just have coffee or a drink.
Meditation: When I see newbies starting the OMS program, they all seem to start with the diet. So did I. I think the reason was: I can go to bed knowing I did well (being under 10g of saturated fat) or feeling crappy as I didn’t (being over 10g of saturated fat) but I knew exactly where I was. With meditation, it is different. You meditate and one day is great, another is not and you do not know at all if it does anything. Maybe you feel stressed or suffer from anxiety, then the realms of meditation is more prominent, but in my case, I didn’t notice or see much. I believe it took me years to build the habit of “simply sitting” and missing it or noticing it if I didn’t. I have been using Headspace for a long time until I noticed the lack of meditation. Until today, many many days are difficult but I do meditate daily. I try every day to be still and let the thoughts come and go. I think it eventually has helped me to be more aware and I can take some of what I have been learning in meditation into my day and my interactions with others. And obviously, it helps my stress and health as we know what stress does to someone with MS.
George Jelinek’s OMS program has been a source of immense gratitude for many individuals, including myself. Reflecting on my journey with multiple sclerosis (MS), I initially felt grateful for the diagnosis, which made me adopt healthier habits, crowd-source and publish an OMS cookbook, and led to meeting my wonderful husband through personal workshops.
However, as the physical limitations of MS suddenly were a part of my life, it got harder to have a positive outlook. Over time, I learned valuable lessons and made positive changes to live the best life despite MS. Now, I aim to inspire others by sharing my knowledge, experiences and mistakes, hoping to make a difference in somebody’s life. Through dedication to a healthier lifestyle, mindfulness through meditation, and learning from past mistakes, I embrace the present with gratitude, resilience, and determination to thrive with MS.