IMPACT: My Journey Through Multiple Sclerosis | Great Health Guide
IMPACT: My Journey Through Multiple Sclerosis

IMPACT: My Journey Through Multiple Sclerosis

‘My Journey Through Multiple Sclerosis’ by Lara Flanagan published in Great Health Guide (Mar 2015). Have you ever felt like as if you were “defeated” by an illness or never even contemplated that you would be able to overcome an incurable disease? Read Lara’s inspiring story on how she overcame multiple sclerosis to take control of her health and turn her life around.
Read other Impact articles on Great Health Guide, a hub of expert-inspired resources empowering busy women to embody health beyond image … purpose beyond measure.

IMPACT: My Journey Through Multiple Sclerosis

written by Lara Flanagan

I vividly remember the day that I got my first symptoms. It was the morning after my 41st birthday I had over-indulged the night before. I attributed the strange sensations I was experiencing to a hangover. When I went to see my GP, he vaguely mentioned that MS can have strange presentations, but I did not take that seriously as I was more concerned that blood tests would reveal some sort of vitamin deficiency. The GP’s concern did lead me to a neurologist who gave me an MRI. 

After an MRI and seeing two more neurologists I received the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis three months later. For a while my whole world shut down. Thus began the start of a pretty incredible journey. Initially the struggles were all about coming to terms with the diagnosis. As a single mum with 5-year-old twins my main fears were about becoming a burden with such young children. I was also struggling with the disease modifying drugs that were prescribed to me. To say the side-effects were severe would be an understatement. It got to the stage quite early on that I knew that my life would be a constant struggle if I had to continue with the treatment that I initially followed.

It was about 5 months after my initial diagnosis that I discovered the teachings of Dr George Jelinek, a medical doctor who had himself been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He had written a book called ‘Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis’. The term ‘Overcoming’ was the word that had me hook, line and sinker. I was so busy coming to terms with a disease that was degenerative and incurable that I had never even contemplated that I would be able to overcome this disease. 

I went on the first ‘Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis’ retreat that was available at the Gawler Foundation in the Yarra Valley and absorbed everything like a very needy sponge! It was a completely life-changing experience though I did not know it at the time. His recommended programme included a whole food plant based diet incorporating seafood. This diet also strongly relied on omega-3 fatty acid supplements provided through the addition of flax seed oil. The programme also included Vitamin D supplementation, daily meditation & daily exercise. He was not anti-medication and he advised that it could go hand in hand with his programme. He advised that many sufferers may not need medication but that many might feel more secure with it and that drug selection should be carefully weighed up against side effects. 

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I walked away absolutely inspired, though it took me a few months to actually come to grips with it. My biggest problem was that I still did not believe I was sick and even toyed with the idea that my diagnosis was a mistake. Twelve months after my initial diagnosis a further MRI, the neurologist made me realise that that sort of thinking was just foolish; very much in keeping with a woman in denial. The MRI showed an increase in the size and number of lesions. My neurologist simply told me that the disease was active and progressing rapidly. He said I had to go back on the medication. I returned to the medication and realised 6 weeks later when the extreme side-effects reoccurred that it was simply not an option for me. 

At that point I stopped the medication and re-visited the teachings of Dr George Jelinek and his Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis programme. It was then that I decided the smartest thing for me to do was to completely embrace his programme to simply believe in the possibility of a recovery. 

I completely changed my diet to that of a ‘plant based whole food’ diet. I made sure that I exercised daily in a way that was almost religious. I supplemented my vitamin D and meditated on a daily basis. I stopped believing anything apart from that I was going to recover. An MRI almost 18 months later in September of 2015 showed some activity in the brain which one would assume is normal for an ‘incurable’ degenerative illness. What was unexpected though was that the lesions on my spine were reducing in intensity and size. One lesion was no longer discernible. 

When you are diagnosed with a debilitating illness like MS it is difficult to find hope. However, doctor George Jelinek, who himself had been diagnosed, gave people hope. Through nutrition, diet, exercise, sunlight and meditation, there is hope. My life has changed in so many ways. I truly believe you can take control of your own health and that there is always hope. I am living proof. 

Author of this article:
Lara Flanagan writes for My Notes from New England. My Notes from New England was inspired by challenges I have faced since embarking on a complete lifestyle change, sparked by a major health crisis in the form of a diagnosis of MS. This was combined with the new adventures for my city slicker family of living in the country. Throughout this journey my companions are my young twins Archie and Larissa, my two mad dogs Kevin & Rosie and the beautiful world of New England. Please visit me on Facebook or my website.

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