Softer Light on the Path

by moonwatcher on November 1, 2012

Last August I sat on a yellow jacket. Apparently, anyway. I never saw it. It was very warm out, around noon. (The fact that I was outside and not weak and shaky because of the heat is a little victory in itself.) The friend who has been helping me with landscape restoration in my garden, such as the lovely pathway you see in the photo above, was hauling some pruned branches out of the yard, and I sat down on the back porch steps as he paused to ask me a few questions before carrying them out to his truck. I had a skirt on, and at first I thought the cement was awfully warm; then I realized I was getting stung at the top of my thigh just outside the panty line.  As my friend went on out to the truck, I promptly got up and went in for some lemon balm oil.  Yep, definitely stung, and in a very inconvenient place.  I went back out to fetch some fresh lemon balm leaves for a poultice (shown  in the bottom left hand corner of the photo),  and applied those to the sting area.  Lots of fun trying to affix that with band-aids.  Nevertheless, despite the pain, I could still move easily enough to accomplish these necessities.

Over the years I have occasionally been stung in the late summer.  No matter how careful I am, it can just happen when it’s hot out and they are cruising, winding down their short sharp lives. We say around here they are pissed off they’re dying, so they’ll sting anybody just because.  I once took a hit right on the end of my nose while trying to pick my blackberries, another very sensitive and inconvenient place for a sting.

Before this way of eating, the message that I had been stung was like a fire alarm stuck in the “on” position in all nerve endings, not just the ones affected by the sting.  I couldn’t even see straight or walk around the “alarm” was so intense. About 10 years ago I remember sitting on a bench in our co-op deli “stunned” from a sting, barely able to speak or move as a couple of staff people I knew bustled around to make a poultice with Bach Rescue Remedy and echinacea tincture, hoping I wouldn’t need to be taken to the hospital.  It often took hours, sometimes a whole day or more for that “fire alarm” to calm down.  And the pain of the poison from the sting being drawn out by the lemon balm poultice was protracted, exhausting and literally nauseating. I would be on the couch or in bed for the rest of the day.

This time it hurt, but the neurological alarm had cotton all over it.  It stayed in the background, pretty much localized to the sting site, and didn’t go completely systemic.  It did hurt, don’t get me wrong.  But the inflammatory response was reduced dramatically.  In fact I didn’t even tell my friend until several minutes later, when I had it all bandaged up with the lemon balm and was writing him a check for some supplies.  (I wouldn’t have been able to do such a thing so soon after a sting because my hands would have been shaking, or plain just not able to).  He actually registered more alarm in his eyes when I told him than I had felt myself (which was stunning to me in a whole new way).  He asked me if I needed a ride to the hospital.  How strange and wonderful to be able to assure him, thank you, but no, I was okay.  Just sore.  (It seems common for many people who don’t have MS to worry those of us who do should go right to the hospital when we fall or get hurt, just in case.  Bless their hearts.  It’s actually the last place in the world I would think to go.)

The rest of the day went pretty much as if I had not been stung at all.  In a couple of hours it was fine to take the poultice off, there was no swelling or tenderness.  It all took a fraction of the time it once took.

This kind of remarkable “bounce-back” is something I’ve regained in many areas over time by consistently continuing to eat this way.  Slowly and steadily, I have seen these kinds of improvements emerge.  Instead of slowly progressing, plateauing, and then sharply progressing, as I had for the previous 12 years and more, I am NOT progressing, and am slowly and steadily seeing improvements.

Another side benefit: I had developed severe neuralgia and rosacea by the time I began this way of eating.  That is all but gone.  The rosacea flares up in response to heat and dust, but nothing like it once did.  I met a nurse the other day who remarked on how healthy I looked, particularly my skin.  She didn’t even know.  So I went from being in pain while chewing, even smiling, my skin feeling like a peeled grape, to the miracle of being able to eat and chew and smile and laugh without also wincing in pain or guarding against the inflammation that would be triggered by those simple and essential movements.

I also had very severe issues with body temperature regulation.  I was unable to cool down, and so would get very very hot and red, pulse as if on fire, then shake, teeth chattering, as I cooled off.  The term “hot flash” does not even begin to describe this phenomenon.  The slightest bit of stress or even simply trying to eat hot food could set this off.  Sometimes it happened for no reason I could discern.  The  whole experience would last over an hour.  I would have to lie down on the bed  and afterwards, exhausted, I would fall sleep.  That was a regular occurence, sometimes several times a day.  Trying to live with that is gone, too.

These and many other things I call my “little victories and epiphanies.” Is everything perfect? No. But I continue to celebrate the miracle that at a time in my life when I’m getting older, instead of sinking into the oblivion of profound MS progression, I am, as the old Clairol Loving Care ad  used to say, “getting better.” People can’t believe how great I look. Sometimes they don’t even recognize me. Only it’s not because of hair coloring (which I don’t use). It’s because of the way I’m eating.

So even when I happen to sit on a yellow jacket, things go more smoothly because of the accumulated benefits from this way of eating.  Evidently it can even help take some of the sting out of getting stung.

 

Maria

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jane November 2, 2012 at 3:48 am

That’s so inspiring, Maria. Its the kind of thing that i know is available to everyone, but the changes required are so deep (almost nothing is as ingrained as the way we eat) and so ongoing that few are willing to make them. But the more that stories like yours get known, the more others will be willing to give it a go.

I don’t have MS or any other condition that i know of, but I do feel less than 100% well. Often don’t sleep well, am fatigued, have aches and pains, etc (50 years old). Like you, I’ve always been convinced that food is the main medicine we need.

So I’ve flirted with a plant-based way of eating for years, and would like to go all the way! Finding it a little tricky, though. I’m a voracious eater, though thin, and I find gluten- free particularly depriving. I’ll go a while and then feel deprived and bake up a wonderful wholewheat/corn/chickpea flour/fruit and herbal tea loaf and wolf down the lot! Am also not sure if i need to go gluten free – I read that only 8% of people are in fact intolerant of it. Yet am so impressed by the claims of the many who’ve gone off gluten that i wonder if it applies to me.

And then there’s digestive issues. To give the feeling of fullness, and to get the protein, I eat a lot of beans, brown rice, sweet potato, avocado pear … the beans perhaps are the reason i often have indigestion. A plate of salad and a few steamed veggies just doesn’t seem to be enough for me!

So … still finding a way to make this work. Blessings to you _ Jane

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2 moonwatcher November 2, 2012 at 8:21 am

Thank you, Jane, for your lovely, insightful comment. I agree nothing is so ingrained (pardon the natural pun) than the way we eat. It seems to me there’s absolutely nothing missing for you in eating lots of brown rice, beans, sweet potato, avocado, pear. . .except for the avocado (which I might have a very small amount of), what you list is often on my plate in one sitting, and it gets all eaten up! :) A plate of salad and a few steamed veggies isn’t enough for me, either. Dr. McDougall is the plant-based doctor who is all about how we need the whole starches to feel that fullness. That tip has helped me tremendously. And no, everyone doesn’t need to be gluten free. I was ELISA tested for it way back, and have had troubles eating wheat for nearly 20 years. But it’s great if you can eat it. I hope as you continue to read along some of what I say about how I’ve done this will spark in you the ways you can make it work in your own unique life.

blessings back to you,

Maria

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3 Oly November 2, 2012 at 4:17 am

That is so wonderful to hear, Maria <3
I've been suffering from stress symptoms for many years, and have just been vegan for 4 month, but just realized have much easier it was getting through the warmth of summer. The only time I was all cooked up was, when I went for a very long walk in the midst of the warmest summer day here … and even that I survived with lots of water and fruit :-)
So let's celebrate all our little vitories <3

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4 moonwatcher November 2, 2012 at 8:22 am

Welcome, Oly, and thank you. It’s great to hear that already you are doing better with the heat. Yes, indeed, let’s celebrate those little victories!

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5 JJ November 2, 2012 at 7:45 am

Praise the Lord,the Great Physician, for His wonderful works in your life! Inspiring.

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6 moonwatcher November 2, 2012 at 8:27 am

Thank you, JJ, and welcome! Amen to that. :)

Maria

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7 s&p'smom November 2, 2012 at 8:15 am

Thank you so much for you posts. My husband recieved a diagnosis of MS in January (right after his 40th birthday). He did some research and started the low fat vegan diet soon afterwards along with Copaxone injections. He thinks his energy level is improving and we have a lot of hope that this lifestyle will continue to improve his quality of life and his ability to keep up with our 2 small children. Bless you for sharing your journey with us.

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8 Jeanie November 2, 2012 at 9:13 am

Woohoo! What a victory! I know exactly what you are talking about there too. I have rosacea and I used to swell tremendously when stung by mosquitos and bees. I no longer need the Metro Gel for my rosacea and anything can sting me now and hardly anything happens anymore. I MAY itch for a couple of minutes but no swelling like I used to. I used to get great welts b/4 eating like this.
Congrats to all of us who eat this way!

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9 moonwatcher November 2, 2012 at 9:18 am

Welcome, Jeanie, and thank you for sharing your own victory over rosacea from going plant-based! I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to read this. Woohoo indeed!

Maria

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10 Roxanne November 2, 2012 at 9:24 am

Okay… I was intrigued with the the first sentence, so I kept on reading all the while thinking “what is so interesting about sitting on a yellow “jacket” (which to me I had in mind a yellow “coat” – jacket is a spring or fall coat) So I keep on reading and then you got stung. So I keep on reading thinking, humph, she got stung with “red ants” or what… THEN it dawned on me! Yellow jacket the “wasp” kind! Okay… now I am hurting with you! LOL

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11 moonwatcher November 2, 2012 at 9:32 am

Welcome, Roxanne, and thank you for sharing your discovery. You made me laugh out loud with delight!

Maria

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12 kally November 2, 2012 at 11:02 am

this is great. I am doing well with my low fat plant based, fish augmentation diet. I can’t really imagine going back to the other way I used to eat. So far my symptoms are about the same, but I feel so great.

Thanks for starting this blog. It is interesting.

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13 moonwatcher November 2, 2012 at 11:08 am

Thanks, kally. Glad you’re feeling great and that you can’t imagine “going back.”

Maria

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14 narf7 November 2, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Our yellow jackets are just starting to think about making a move out in the garden. They start on the flowers (their sugar phase) and will predate anything sweet and progress as the summer progresses to their meat phase where they tend to hang about our defrosting dogs dinner steak chewing holes in the bags. My dad was happy to let them nest here. I know…go figure dad! But now that we are ensconsed on Serendipity Farm we make sure that they don’t build their nests on the house. The rest of the garden is free reign as they predate many pest insects and do a good job cleaning out the pests. I say live and let live but I haven’t ever been bitten yet! ;)

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15 moonwatcher November 2, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Hi narf7,

I don’t spray them or anything either; as you say, they have their role in things. (The sugar phase and meat phase is insteresting, thanks.) But I have been known to get help knocking the nests off the house, too. And trust me, it isn’t any fun to get stung. You are lucky!

Maria

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16 imdhreeves November 2, 2012 at 4:15 pm

As a newbie on the starch based vegan no oil diet, I love the idea that not only will my MS be less damaging but rosacea too! I am taking daily low doses of antibiotics for my rosacea. The last time I tried to get off of it I had a flair that was a teenagers nighmare. In a few months, on this new diet I will try again. Thank you very much for the encouraging news.

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17 Sandy November 2, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Maria,
How odd for me to decide to read your blog and to learn that my sister-in-law was just diagnosed today with MS. I worry that she will not be open to changing her diet. I have been eating vegan for a year and a half and she said she grew up in Michigan and loved a good thick steak.
Perhaps she will have time to reconsider her life choices as she lays in the hospital bed being tested and tested some more. I am relieved to be able to read your blog. It lessens the fear I might have had with this diagnosis. You seem delightful and do not choose to allow your diagnosis to take away from your joy of life. Thanks for sharing your story. I look forward to following it.

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18 moonwatcher November 2, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Hi Sandy,

I am sorry to hear about your sister-in-law receiving a diagnosis of MS. Sometimes it’s hardest for the people around who want to help. But it will be up to her. I am glad reading my blog helps YOU, whether or not your sister-in-law is ready to be open to such a change in how she eats. But maybe she will be when she is ready. And thank you for your kind words. I do cherish joy of life, and am so stubborn I would never allow my diagnosis to take that away from me. :)

Maria

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19 Polly November 3, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Hello Maria,
What an encouragement you are to me!!! I don’t have MS but I do have fibromyalgia and a couple of other things.

Similar to you, I experience lots of pain but find that 2 aspirins or Ibuprofen take the “edge off”.
I have also changed my diet because I have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I eat very little sugar…only natural sugar in fruit. I make myself a large pot of stew/soup about once a week, store it in jars and freeze it so I have ready meals most of the week. I just add a salad or a side dish for a wonderful meal.
I plan to keep reading your blog because you are so interesting. and I want to learn how to eat more correctly.
Thanks again for your encouragement.
Sincerely,
Polly

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20 moonwatcher November 3, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Welcome, Polly. Thank you for your kind words, and sharing some about your own health. I am glad to hear healthy eating is helping you as well, and that you’ll be following along.

Maria

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21 Beth November 10, 2012 at 6:43 am

Hallo Maria,
And thank you for writing of the improvements you are seeing in your health I’m pleased for you, and also because it makes me sure the effects I am seeing in my situation are not just psychological. After a bout of demyelinating illness 25 years ago, I was left with problems finding words when I was speaking, which had gradually worsened in to difficulties with ideas, faces, etc. I started the Esselstyn plant-based diet because of cholestrol problems, but after 8 weeks on it I discovered that once again I could talk fluently, and remember what I went to the fridge for without writing it down!
May your health continue to improve!
Best wishes,
Beth

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22 moonwatcher November 10, 2012 at 7:36 am

Hello back, Beth, and welcome!

Thank you for telling me of your own experience with cognitive improvements. It was inspiring to read. I have seen that, too, and it’s been wonderful indeed. Without such real improvements, I would not be able to write this blog. Dr. Esselstyn’s guidelines have been very good ones for me, too. So glad to have you along!

Maria

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