12/3/08 Swim Meet This Weekend

This coming weekend I have entered into a large regional swim meet in Long Beach. I can’t wait. 555 swimmers entered, some of whom you could ski behind. The weather looks good, so we’re going to fly the Mooney into Long Beach and rent a cheap car that sips cheap gas while staying at a cheap hotel and enjoying cheap entertainment. We figured we might as well enjoy the benefits of this economy somehow.
To refresh your memory, in June of this year I joined a swim team here in Las Vegas and I was using the team environment as a way to keep the exercise up. With the exception of days out of town, pool closures, one night I forgot to set the alarm, and about three or four times I woke up with my heart out of rhythm, I have been in the pool every weekday since June, some 120 times. I’m amazed at the commitment I have managed to keep on this, as there are days when the 4:52 alarm comes pretty early.
I started out really, really slow with the team, and I’ve managed to work my way up to slow. There is a lot of technique involved in swimming and I’m only just beginning to develop a feel in the water. In fact, just this week I started “catching” water on my backstroke and can swim a few lengths without filling my throat with water. I figure I will do the 50 meter freestyle in around 35 seconds and the 100 free in about 1:25, so I’m still slow by career swimmer standards.
But this meet really isn’t so much about my times. I know I’m not going to win anything. It’s more about a snapshot of the commitment I’ve made to restoring my health so far. I also want to establish a baseline for myself to improve upon, because I know once my heart stops going A-fib (it’s been out of whack once, for about 2 or 3 hours, in the past three weeks which is a huge improvement), my feet actually start contributing to my swim stroke, and my legs begin to strengthen, I will probably become a decent swimmer. The coach certainly thinks so, as do many of my teammates.
I continue to juice daily, with rare exceptions. I have enzymes with almost every meal. I take lots of Vitamin D, E, and B-12, and a few other supplements like Potassium, Cranberry, Fish Oil, and Calcium. My breakfast is fibrous cereals, sometimes eggs and toast, and the juice. Lunch is around 1:00 and is usually a salad, soup, sandwich, something along those lines, and dinner is often a salad with shrimp. I don’t eat perfectly on weekends, and I have a burger or pizza now and again. I’m still a sweet tooth, and I sneak snacks once in awhile, but often that snack is a popsicle made from the leftover morning juice. I have not had an ounce of caffeine in over a year, my red meat is 1% of my former intake, dairy is about 5 to 10% of former intake, as is sugar. Alcohol is probably about 20% of before. I drink 95% water, a few herbal caffeine free teas, and a little rum. Not much else, though I have had a few hot chocolates as the weather cools down.
The last time I had a cold, sore throat, or any winter-sickness-type symptoms was in October of 2007, shortly after the Half Dome hike. We did that trip and then went to Big Bear the following weekend to drink at Oktoberfest. I got sick the following day. Nothing since, which is kind of amazing considering I was usually the first in line each winter to get a cold which then turned into bronchitis and antibiotic-required upper respiratory infections.
I can’t say I’ll never get the sniffles again, but I do know that my odds are certainly improving. More importantly, my MS symptoms are all as mild as they’ve ever been (keep in mind that “mild” would still be pretty tough for a person without MS), and I feel like my body is now more in balance so it can repair the damage it did to the myelin sheathing over the prior few years.
I had initially thought I’d lick this disease in a year of the natural regime, but that time has come and gone and I still seem to have it. Overall, my symptoms have essentially stagnated for the past couple of months. Some days I seem to feel almost normal, only to feel some sort of weakness the next.
Some people tell me I will never heal fully, some tell me I will get worse and that I’m just currently enjoying a period of remission. Others tell me I’ll slowly and steadily get better. Me personally? I have reached a point where I don’t know 100% for sure what the future holds on the disease, but I do feel quite strongly that I will eliminate it. I have decided not to put a timeline on it. I don’t know what my body wants to do or how it wants to do it. All I can do is make sure I keep doing the things that got me this far and continue to seek the guidance and advice of anyone and everyone. I don’t take or use every suggestion (for example, many product suggestions don’t offer anything beyond a false hope and a profit motive for the manufacturer), but I sure research everything that comes my way. And by having a blog, telling everyone I meet about the disease, and making sure nobody would ever guess I have MS, I get a lot of great information.
I think I realized somewhere along the line that I want to live, and I want a great quality of life. This economy sure adds to the challenges, but something deep inside me tells me I’ll start coming out of the disease around the same time the world starts coming out of the recession.
I’m heading to Phoenix this month too for my annual neurological workup. I have a series of MRI’s scheduled for the 17th and the doctor billable chit chat (sorry, consult) on the 18th. I want the MRI’s but I know the doctor – as good as he is - is unlikely to shed any new and unknown light on my progress or on the progress of researchers finding a cure for this thing. Tysabri and Rituxan have pretty much gone by the wayside as cures after big news flashes, and it’s likely the latest Leukemia/MS drug, Alemtuzumab, will end up in the same place.
Until someone finds a synthetic cure that doesn’t have more warnings and side effects than we’ll have swimmers at this weekend’s meet, I’ll stick with the juice.I’ll report next week on my swim times.

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