EZP 11-27-09

It’s my latest phrase to measure my progress.

Most people with MS have troubles with the bathroom. We poop ourselves about as often as a toddler who has learned better but still messes up now and again. We have to run to the bathroom all the time but are often disappointed with a dribble and a follow up trip in five minutes.

A few weeks ago I was having an herbal tea at a coffee house with a friend. I’d just got out of the pool and was feeling pretty good about the swim. The drive is about 15 minutes from the pool to the coffee shop, and I always make a tea for after the swim. We met, sat down, started to talk, and chatted about the things we chatted about, when suddenly I realized I had to go to the bathroom a little more vigorously than usual. I got up and ran off, saving the apologies for later. I went into the bathroom and felt good about the fact that I made it without any mess.

Suddenly a feeling I hadn’t had for a LONG time came over me. I had a nice stream being pumped out of my bladder like a normal person. It wasn’t the old dribble, start and stop, dribble some more routine. It wasn’t the usual argument my bladder has with my urethra about who is winning the war (sorry, only someone who has these symptoms would know what this feels like). It wasn’t even the start out good only to have it end prematurely. Nope, this was a normal trip to the bathroom complete with a bladder pump and an open urethra letting the flow go. It was an EZP (easy pee).

It felt awesome. The relief one gets from an EZP is comparable to the relief one feels when their child is born with 10 toes. Normal people feel it all the time. I almost forgot what it was like. There I was, urinating with a stream extending 12 inches in front of my body and down in a nice arc, not dribbling straight down between my legs and splattering on my feet.

In the past few weeks since, I have had 4 EZP trips to the bathroom. Four. 4. Quatro. People who don’t have a life like this don’t count the number of times they pee normally. I do. 4 times feeling relief as my bladder pumps the fire out with a high pressure hose. 4 times feeling like my bladder was completely empty for an hour or two. 4 times smiling because of how it felt inside.

E-Z-P…..It’s note a file extension. It’s relief. And it's progress

Stagnancy, Progress and Commitment 9/6/09

Today is September the 6th and I haven’t written in this blog since March. Not much of a commitment there. I didn’t swim in the national meet I mentioned in the last post, and I did manage to drink some beer and eat some pizza during the summer. Had some urinary episodes and my legs just didn’t feel so good as I reported in March. I gained a few pounds too.

Seems my commitment to this process was waning.

Either that or I’m human. It’s no secret the economy has been brutal the past couple of years, and since 90% of my financial life was/is tied to the real estate market, it’s probably no secret that I’ve been brutalized by the economy. But rather than do nothing, I went out and got licensed as a contractor and recently took on a partner who invested in the business. It’s growing, we can feed ourselves, and we’re building trust and contacts.

But this blog is about the MS, so I need to write about that. Have I become like anyone else who only makes a commitment when life isn’t in the way? Committed when it’s convenient? Why else would I drink a lot of beer and eat a lot of pizza over the summer, gain weight and lose some of the ground I’d gained in this crappy disease?
In a word, perspective. I think I need to have a reality check now and again. I think we all do. We still had juice most days, and I still take enzymes with every meal unless I forget them and I’m not at home. That part is good. Building a construction business interferes with my swimming, and indirectly, my commitment to get rid of MS, when I let it. That part is bad. I’m human. That part is a fact.
This summer has been stressful, but eventful. I allowed myself to indulge in the pleasures of life to ease the pressures of life, and that has helped me realize just how far I’ve come in my recovery. It’s added some perspective. Three years ago, a summer of pizza and beer would have led to a fall of bloated stomachs, infected bronchial tubes, and probably another MS attack. This summer pizza and beer has led to some great friendships, enjoyable times, and an opportunity to go into the fall with confidence in my health.
People ask me all the time how it’s going with my disease. I think the answer is the disease is done and I’m now cleaning up the mess. It’s like a forest fire. The destruction a wildfire brings is enormous and kills innocent people. But even the worst fire eventually goes out, leaving in its wake s burned hillsides and charred trees. People often think the burned forest is ugly and not worth visiting anymore. But what people don’t see is the fire cleared out all the underbrush and allowed all kinds of new growth to take place. Growth that couldn’t have taken place but for the fire. This is how it feels for me right now. I probably still have the existing lesions, but the fire isn’t burning any new ones in my myelin. And I’ve spent so much time clearing out the underbrush over the past couple of years, the new growth is coming.
So when school started back up on August 27, I got back into the routine. I got back in the pool three times a week, juicing as always, more enzymes, less beer, more commitment to the process.
Yesterday we went to Zion with some friends. Zion is a park that has to be hiked to be experienced, and with my legs still not normal, I naturally had some trepidation. We took the shuttle to the top of the park at the Temple of Shinawava and hiked out toward The Narrows. This is a fairly easy walk for most people, but the ups and downs usually make my legs come weaker and weaker until my left leg starts buckling in and I have to take a break or risk having to get hauled down the hill on a stretcher for a torn ACL. After this hike to the narrows, we went down to the Emerald Pools across from Zion Lodge, and we hiked all the way to the top pool. All in all, we walked about 8-10 miles yesterday. I am not “stable” on the trails by any means and I do need my hands to catch myself fairly frequently, but I noticed two distinct things.
First, I was able to walk much more normally on the ups and downs, over the rocks, etc. Whereas before, I had to only step down with my left leg then catch up with the right, I could step and proceed with both legs. Made me smile. Second, my left leg wasn’t bucking inward from the inner muscular failures. This meant when I was walking on the flat parts of the trail, I looked as normal as anyone as opposed to dealing with a weakened buckling leg. I still had to rest a little here and there, but what a difference. Really made me smile.
Today I had a juice and I am drinking lots of water. I feel great after a day of hiking whereas I’m sure others would be sore. I learned my commitment to this process never really went away, just eased so I could get a view of it. I learned my progress is still ongoing, that I haven’t stagnated. I know my immune system is as good as anyone’s now and I am quite confident the MS attacks are behind me. Now it seems the neurological repair is underway, and as slow as it is, it’s showing up.

And isn’t showing up half of the commitment?

Passed my Flight Physical 3/19/09

I've been trying to determine what to write about lately. I still seem to have MS, but it sure seems to be less and less a factor, which, in a convoluted way, has made the need to post this blog seem less important. I guess if I’m trying to inspire people to get off the medications and treat MS with juice, exercise and enzymes, I need to make sure I keep the progress updated.

So where to start? I posted my results from the meeting at Mayo clinic this past December, but what prompted me to write today was the reaction I got from my FAA medical examiner a couple of days ago. As a pilot with MS, I have to renew my medical every year, self-ground if I have any worsening of my condition, and I have to get a neurological workup in addition to the standard flight physical. It’s a pretty good motivation to keep up what I’ve been doing because flying is a part of my life.

My FAA examiner looked at me when I came into the office like I was dressed in drag. Only it was a “good” surprised, not a “what the heck is that” surprised. He hadn’t read any of the latest reports from Mayo Clinic, but he came right out and told me how fit, trim, muscular, and in general good health I looked. We did the vision test, stethoscope, etc. and filled out the paperwork. Did a urine test too. Seems on this day I was in fine shape, not the example of a sick guy with MS. I picked up my medical the next day after they faxed the paperwork to the Oklahoma Chief FAA examiner to get the approval. I can fly another year.

I pee less and empty more, the legs seem a hair stronger than in the past month or two. I sleep through the night almost all the time. There’s no doubt – none – that I am much improved.
As I left I thought about it. All these drugs, thousands of years of combined doctor experience studying the problem, and there’s still no “known” cure for MS (read “known” to mean “pharmaceutical”). I make a juice pretty much every day, I swim almost every weekday, I take enzymes with every meal unless I forget, and I supplement with some fish oil, calcium, Aloe, and vitamins like B-12, D, multi, etc. I don’t overdo anything (except maybe the swimming sometimes), and I continue to see improvements. Everyone else I know with MS who takes the medication seems to be the same or worse.

Perhaps the most significant and compelling evidence of my improving body is I actually developed a little sickness a few weeks ago. I had gone a year and a half without a sniffle (except the water that comes out of my nose after swimming), and suddenly I picked up a virus that would have taken me down like a train a couple years ago. My voice went a little hoarse and I got the nasty green mucus down in the bottom of my throat for a week. I didn’t miss a day of anything, but I was really concerned about that green gunk in my throat.

Green gunk is a sophisticated word for infection. Infection means weakened immune system, possibly antibiotics. Weakened immune system ad antibiotics means a possible MS attack, and MS attack means a new set of symptoms to deal with or a worsening of some existing ones. I hoped I’d be ok, but deep down I was pretty worried this chain of events could happen – mostly because this was how it happened before. The cycle was becoming a joke. Summer turns to fall, and toward October or November, I was one of the first on the block to get whatever was about to “go around.” I’d be out for a week, the green gunk would show up, and within a few weeks it was off to the doctor for another round of antibiotics.

But this time was different. Not only did I not really feel “sick” as people tend to think, the green gunk turned clear in a few days on its own. My body healed itself, and I have no explanation other than to say the juicing, exercise and enzymes has built up the immune system so strong that it knocked it out internally. When I am diagnosed MS free in a year or two or five or whenever it happens, I will probably look back to March 2009 as the time when I knew it was going to be so.

Can keep flying (by the way, MS is one of the diseases that pilots lose their flight privileges over), doctors looking me up and down, and green gunk leaving me on its own. Anecdotal evidence indeed. But pretty convincing.

Now I’m training for the national swim meet in Fresno in May 9 and 10. I am going to enter the 50 and the 500 freestyle. My times I’m shooting for are 30 seconds and 7:30 respectively. If I accomplish those, I’ll still be dead last in my age group, but personal bests for me. And I’m doing this for me.