8 Simple Tips For Living A Better Life With MS (or any disease really)

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Danny

8 Simple Tips For Living A Better Life With MS

My symptoms began in 2007 while I was on vacation in Florida.  Little did I know at that time that my world would change forever with a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.  I have experienced an array of symptoms and have found some fairly successful habits I have used to help offset the side effects of MS.  Here are some simple tips for living a better life with MS:

 Walk every day

One of the goals I have for myself is to walk every single day without exception.  Evelina and I have a dog and he requires being walked which guarantees I’ll be outside at some point taking a stroll.  For those who cannot walk I recommend standing up and sitting down or maybe doing leg and arm lifts.  Even if you are confined to a wheelchair, you can do some type of physical activity.

Educate yourself on nutrition

I have found that shedding fat off my body helps with symptom flare-ups and pain.  So I eat a lot of vegetables, very little junk food (if any) and only good types of fat.  I see so many people trying to fight a disease while putting horrible foods in their body.  Why not give your body a fighting chance?   Some of the common sense things to eliminate immediately: processed foods, sugar, all fast foods, fried foods, sodas and sugary drinks. One of the most common mistakes I see being made is people who think they understand nutrition who do possess the knowledge about what is and what isn’t healthy.  For a small fee you can hire a nutritionist to construct an eating regimen right for you and your MS symptoms and I highly recommend you not pretend to know, but rely on an expert so you truly know how to eat; sometimes this is covered by your insurance too!

Stop smoking

Simply put, smoking destroys your body.  Smoking also causes plaque to build up in the blood which sticks to the walls of arteries making them narrower; this reduces blood flow and increases the risk of developing blood clots.  Smoking also narrows the arteries, which restricts blood flow as well as causing blood pressure problems.  Lastly, smoking makes it more difficult to exercise with a body that already makes exercise challenging.

Don’t abuse alcohol

There are a couple primary reasons why I don’t drink much alcohol: 1. it affects the central nervous system which impairs my ability to balance, and 2. alcohol and MS induced depression do not mix well.   Maybe a glass of wine occasionally, but don’t use alcohol regularly.

Build your support team with positive people

When I was first diagnosed I followed the advice of a friend and I visited a support group.  It was awful and I stopped attending.  I know lots of people who join support groups, but I found them to be a “woe is me” group.  People sat around and talked about all of their problems and almost none of the time was used to discuss how to live a better life.  The sessions made more sad then edified.  None of the talking focused on exercise, eating better or developing positive life habits.  Since that time I have realized my success has come largely in part to the fact that I have had positive people around me.  People who really support me by carrying me when I need it, but also push me when I need to be pushed.  Remember, you might be in a true fight for your life so do you want negative or positive people around you in this type of struggle?

Find a great neurologist

This is easier said than done because “great” has many meanings to different people.  For me here are the attributes that make one doctor better than another.  A great neurologist must be a great listener who takes all of your concerns into consideration for the treatment plan.  He or she must also be focused on more than prescribing medications like acupuncture, massage, physical therapy, alternative medicines, spiritual edification and much more.  If your doctor focuses only on medication it might be time to look for a new doctor as there is so much more to treatment than just medicines.  If you need a new neurologist I would start my research by Googling “tips to choose a neurologist” and go from there.

Focus on total-body treatment mind/body/spirit

If you doctor is medicine-focused then you need to take upon yourself to focus on whole-body treatment for yourself.  A few practices that I can recommend are meditation, chiropractic, massage, exercise, Soduko/crossword puzzles, acupuncture and mental therapy.  If you only focus on your body, then you will end up neglecting the other areas of You that are crucial to keep healthy during your fight.

Don’t stop living life

I think this is one of the toughest recommendations for me because I struggle with living life.  I tend to not make plans with friends because I never know how I’m going to feel.  I struggle with social anxiety and get extremely worn-out by interacting with people.  I’m usually asleep by 9 pm so socializing can be a struggle.  With this said I realize it isn’t good for me nor is it fair to my wife to be confined to the house.  With all of this said I think it is important to get out of the house even if only to get to the park and go for a short stroll.  I think it is important to do things and push yourself instead of letting your body dictate to you that you will do nothing.  Take a trip to the movies or go for a walk or stroll at the park.  Visit a friend or go to the mall.  Getting outside is critical.

Living with any disease isn’t easy and a cure for MS might be near, but it doesn’t exist right now.  Because of this I believe it is essential to do everything in one’s power to develop habits that will make life a bit easier when living with Multiple Sclerosis.  Success is the accumulation over time of the effects of small daily habits.  I hope this helps in some small way.

Have a great Saturday!

Danny

Would You Like a Reblog? Leave a Link

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It has been a while since I have done this, but with a new year comes new posts.  If you would like me to reblog your post YOU must do 2 simple things:

  1.  Reblog this thread post to your readers
  2. Then leave a link to your post in the comments.  Please keep in mind I only reblog Blog posts.  I do not promote non-blog links or blogs who are selling wares.

 

Tit for tat, you reblog my post, I reblog yours.  It might take a few days, but eventually I will get to your link…promise.  🙂

Danny

My Goal Is To Be Absolutely Deliberate In All the Small Decisions

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Danny

My Goal Is To Be Absolutely Deliberate In All the Small Decisions

As many of you know I have restructured the way I eat over the last few weeks and I have really been taking my eating seriously.  I know some people say they eat healthy, but in reality they are eating fast food, drinking sodas, eating sugar, etc.   Following my procedure a couple of weeks ago I made a decision to eliminate all of the junk.  No more sugar, ever.  No more sodas, ever.  No more fried foods, ever.

I got a NutriBullet and I’ve been eating a great variety of vegetables each day, along with a spattering of fresh fruits, nuts, non-animal proteins and I am enjoying this new lifestyle.  The great thing is the transition has not been difficult at all and I’ve only had a couple cravings in the last couple weeks.

The one area I am struggling with is the exercise and I’ve found that the MS is restricting me more than I thought.  To offset this I have decided to take it easy on the exercise by walking and focusing more on my eating.  If I can get 10 pounds of fat off my body then I hope the exercise becomes easier.  Currently I weigh 182 lbs and I will start working out again when I am under 175 lbs believing that the lighter weight will prove to be easier on my hips and legs.

Ultimately I do not have a weight goal, but I do have an image goal and I have a body fat percentage goal.  I want to get as close as I can to 10% body fat and I have an image of what I might look like when I hit that goal, which keeps me inspired each day to make better decisions.  I imagine 10% will put me in the 155-160 lb range, but I could care less about weight.

In the end this type of battle is won by paying attention to the smallest of decisions and being absolutely deliberate in those small decisions.  I see people wishing for change, but when it comes down to winning the war they aren’t willing to win every small battle.  I want to win every small battle understanding that the accumulative effect will be powerful over the long haul.

For me it is a big deal to “reward” myself with something fried.  It is a big deal to sneak that Snickers bar.  It’s a big deal to eat that Big Mac.  It is a big deal to drink that soda.  And being hyper-aware of what I am putting in my body will give me the greatest chance to live the healthiest life I can live.  All of these small decisions I make throughout the day aim me toward my goal or they aim me away from my goal and I must make choices which aim me at my goal.  I choose to make better decisions every time.

I am tired of settling and compromising and rationalizing my poor decisions.  I am tired of making excuses for my willingness to accept “less than” health.  It is my opinion that too many people are quick to rationalize poor decision-making and dismiss it as not being a big deal when in fact it’s a really big deal.  I don’t want to be that type of person any longer.

I’ll keep you guys updated as I progress.  Have a great Saturday!

Danny

Extremes Can Be Wildly Entertaining, But Not Really Practical

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Danny

Extremes Can Be Wildly Entertaining, But Not Really Practical

In 2010 I went on a backpack trip to the Caribbean with my buddies Clarke and Galen.  It was such an amazing experience and a trip that I will never, ever forget.  On this trip we befriended a guy named Vinny who owned a bar on Jost van Dyke.  Vinny also owned a boat and we signed up for a day-long excursion to Virgin Gorda, which by small boat is a few hours away.

Our trip there was fun and Virgin Gorda was amazing.  Insert camera noise now…

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This is a photo take at Virgin Gorda.  Left to Right: Galen, myself, Vinny, Clarke and Clarke’s friend Nick (I think)

As fun as the trip TO Virgin Gorda was, the return trip was the opposite.  To get to this island from Jost you have to traverse a channel between Tortola and St. John and then Tortola and Peter Island.  For some reason on our return trip the seas got bad.  We were in a 20 foot boat which is small for the open ocean and the waters became extremely rough, probably 6-7 foot seas.  This might not sound so bad unless you are on a small boat that is struggling to keep its head above water.

We spent a couple of hours battling the waves to get that little boat safely back to the dock on Jost.  The waves beat the bow of the boat and tossed us around like a rag doll.  Vinny was on the throttle working to keep the vessel steady.  Every second felt like an eternity.  When we got tied up Vinny looked at us and said “Boys we escaped death today.”  We all laughed and joked about it, but later that night while sitting at the bar in Corsairs (Vinny’s bar) the reality of what we lived through hit us all.  We actually lived through an exhilarating and scary situation.  It isn’t something I ever want to experience again.  My adrenaline was pumping.  My fear was elevated.  My senses were on high alert.

I am not built for extremes and I don’t believe living in the extremes is a healthy way to live.  Yes the extremes might be fun for a bit, but I have found extreme highs come with extreme lows.  I work to keep my mind out of the extremes and more in the middle.  I try not to get too excited when times are good and I don’t like to get too down when times are tough.

I developed this mindset through learning to play the game of golf.  I am currently a 2 handicap and what allows me to keep my scores down is keeping my mind calm when under pressure.  It is essential to avoid the emotional roller coaster of highs and lows in order to remain calm.

This mindset of living in the middle does not mean that life is dull and boring, but it does mean that I take things in stride.  My view is that you can’t spend every day on the mountain top celebrating and you shouldn’t spend too much time in the valley wallowing in misery.

Just a thought for a rainy Saturday…

Danny

I Now Know I Must Make Serious Changes in My Life

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Danny

I Now Know I Must Make Serious Changes in My Life

Recently I went for a procedure which helps my doctor better understand what is going on inside my body.  At the beginning of 2018 I started having issues with my gut and it concerned me greatly.  The last thing I want or need at this point in my life is digestive issues complicating my already challenging health situation.

In May I had a colonoscopy performed and the results revealed I have polyps and inflammation and part of my diagnosis was Ulcerative Colitis.  The polyps were removed and the areas tatooed so they could be monitored as time progressed.  This most recent  procedure revealed I do not have UC which is a great thing, but it did reveal 10 new polyps which is a startling development for a 6 month period, with one being quite large.

Regardless of the polyp results I have made the decision to get my health under absolute control.  No more excuses.  No more delays.

I started by researching the exact types of foods I must eat to be the healthiest I can be and the types of food I am eliminating once and for all.  I have also began research on exercises I can do with MS and how to slowly build up to being strong and absolutely shred fat from my body.

I have made the decision that I am going to be the before-and-after photo I’ve seen online which means I am going to stick to a clean eating regimen void of sugars and junk food.  It means I will be committing to the most disciplined lifestyle I’ve ever lived.

I believe change happens in 2 different ways which are both dependent on one another.  First, one has a moment of realization to make definite change.  Some will call this a moment of clarity or a “come to Jesus meeting”; I had this experience.  It finally hit me that I eat too haphazardly.  I take my body for granted.  I take a lot of things for granted.

Following the moment of clarity the second part of change kicks in and that is the process of actual change.  This is the nut and bolts, the how, what and when.  This second part of the process is where most fail because it happens in inches, not miles.  Every day you make decisions and those decisions either help you progress or they move you back. Sometimes making a more beneficial decision doesn’t “feel” like it is impacting your life.  It is only after the accumulation of multiple beneficial decisions do we see the impact of our work.  And because the impact is not immediate, most people make the mistake of letting up.  They stop pushing forward.

I have had the moment of clarity and now I am developing my plan which began this past Wednesday.  I have implemented a daily 20 minute workout, which will progress to 45 minutes by the end of December.  I will be implementing a ton of green leafy veggies and some raw fruits, most raspberries and pears and replacing potatoes with sweet potatoes.  I am eliminating salad dressings, bread, sugar, tea and potatoes along with processed foods and the like.   I will also be mixing in some juicing using the NutriBullet.

My ultimate goal is to get to 10% body fat from my current percentage of 25.  I’m not going to focus so much on weight, but on measurements and progressing through my exercise regimen.

I am calling my new endeavor Project Me.

Hope all is well!

Danny

It’s Christmas, But Are We All Failing Life Miserably?

Evelina and I love Christmas.  This time of year we usually plan a lot of activities involving Christmas by visiting McAdenville (Google it), Christmas shopping in the hustle-n-bustle, tree lighting services, parades…you get the point.

This past week we visited the Christmas Village in downtown Charlotte to see the tree lighting and to shop the vendors for special gifts.  And of course I did my usual which is watch people and their behaviors.  I don’t know why I do this, but I simply cannot escape it.

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There were a lot of people and the area for the village was packed, often times leaving little room if any to walk or maneuver from one vendor to another.  We spent much of our time saying “excuse me” or “I apologize” as we bumped our way through the crowd.  What surprised me (not really) was the fact that we did not get one single return courtesy from another person there and we were bumped into, run into, pushed past many times; too many to count actually.

It is no secret that I really don’t like crowds and maybe I am hypersensitive because of this fact, but I don’t think it should be okay to be discourteous.  At one point I positioned myself in an area away from the crowd so I could watch people to see how many apologized or excused themselves when they pushed their way through other people and not one time did anyone say anything.  One instance resulted in a lady having half of her hot chocolate spilled and the offender just kept on walking.

It is becoming evident to me that we’ve failed (or are failing).  I see this occurrence too often and it seems to be the norm in today’s world.  Every time I watch people’s behavior I feel myself becoming so negative.  I feel negative writing this post as a matter of fact.  But I don’t think this topic should be ignored simply because I don’t want to be negative.  It is my belief that the smart device and social media are behind this growing trend.

Society as a whole has become addicted to their devices and because of this addiction the world around us becomes invisible.  We forget that this thing around us is a live, breathing, actual place which depends on real, live interactions with real, live people.  It is not uncommon for a drug addict to steal from family, the same family that loves them.  The addict becomes so focused on his or her next fix that the only thing that matters is getting that fix and everyone else becomes irrelevant.

I tend to be a bit pessimistic and possibly a touch judgmental and I admit to being so.

But I still think we are failing.

Danny

Never, Ever Listen When the World Says ‘No’!

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Danny

Never, Ever Listen When the World Says ‘No’!

In 2016 I was at a point of decision.  My business was not doing as well as I wanted and my insurance premiums were skyrocketing.  The proverbial writing was on the wall and I knew I had to make a change.  So like many others I began putting my resume together and applying for jobs hoping that my efforts would lead me to a solid company who would give me an opportunity in sales.

The first company to reach out to me was a furniture company by the name of Brook Furniture.  I interviewed with a district manager which led to interviewing with a regional manager in a restaurant in downtown Charlotte.  I wasn’t exactly sure if this was the right job for me, but I was certain I could do the job and they needed help, therefore I continued through the hiring process.

During the interview the guy couldn’t have been less interested.  We met at a restaurant in downtown Charlotte and he ordered a huge ice cream dessert and commenced to eating it throughout the interview.  He asked a lot of questions which I answered honestly (probably my downfall) and in the end he explained to me that he didn’t see having a place for me in their company.

At that moment I felt a bit confused.  I honestly thought the job was mine and he said ‘no’ which I was not expecting.  It was at that moment that I realized getting a job in sales with little sales experience was going to be more difficult than I had thought.

I guess I could have taken that ‘no’ as a sign to find a different line of work, but I didn’t.  I took that ‘no’ as motivation to interview better and try harder.  That ‘no’ led me to a better opportunity and my diligence impressed my current employer enough to give me a ‘yes’!

I think we listen to the naysayers too much.  We allow other people’s opinion to influence us too often and I say don’t ever listen to anyone IF you believe in yourself.  If you believe in something then I say let your desire drive you to getting what you want.  Let your self-belief be the foundation for working through the struggles.

Don’t quit and don’t give up until you have pulled every bit of effort out of your soul.  Sometimes giving your best effort is the best result.

Danny

Have Young People Lost the Skill of Math?

Danny

Have Youngsters Lost the Skill of Math?

On this past Sunday Evelina and I ventured out to participate in one of my favorite activities of the year-Christmas tree shopping.  There is a local tree lot near our house so I jumped in Little White Truck and headed out to find the perfect tree.

Evelina met me there and it only took us 10 minutes to find our gem.  As the young man trimmed the bottom limbs and stump I went to the hut to pay.  I handed the young lady a $100 bill to pay for our $69 tree.  I expected her to reach into the register and quickly hand me a twenty, ten and single bill.  Instead she grabbed her iPhone, typed in her security code, opened the calculator app and used it to do the math.  100 minus 69 =31.  I stood amazed as did her coworkers as she then reached in the draw and counted out my change.

As I stood there waiting for my tree she used her calculator several more times, all of which to do simple math problems.  100-80=20.  80-75=5.  For a brief moment I thought to give her the benefit of the doubt until one of her coworkers teased her about the quality of education she was receiving at her university.  At that point I was even more amazed.  This kid is going to graduate college and she cannot do simple mathematics without a calculator.  How is this possible?

Have we gotten to a time in our history when kids cannot perform simple operations without using a device or running to Google?  And I’m not talking about complicated calculations.  I’m not expecting someone to calculate the launch angle necessary for a rocket to hit the moon.   100-69=31.  Are we devolving into the human form found in the movie Wall-E?

100-80=20.

My personal belief is that we ARE becoming more lazy and that technology (with all its advantages) is doing as much harm as it is good in some instances.  It isn’t technology that is at fault, but it has a lot to do with our reliance on technology.  Spellcheck.  Google.  Smart devices.  For heaven’s sake there are kids who don’t use their hands to write.  40% of kids who took the ACT in 2016 lack the reading and writing skills needed to pass a basic college level writing course, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

I know I sound like the proverbial old guy standing on his porch yelling “You kids get off my lawn”, but come on!  80-75=5?  Really?  I find it hard to believe that if pressed this girl could not have come up with 5 as the answer without using a calculator.

Sometimes I think humans are evolving…then this happens and hope comes crashing down around me.

Maybe it is time for Jethro Bodine to start teaching math in our schools.

Naught x naught = naught.  Shouldn’t be too hard to do that math!

Danny

A Really Sad Reminder That Life Does Not Last Forever…

Danny

A Really Sad Reminder That Life Does Not Last Forever…

In the last 2 months I have lost 2 friends from high school.  I wouldn’t say either were close friends now, but back in high school they were in my larger circle of friends.  The latest friend to die was a girl named Tonya (name changed for privacy reasons) and her death has hit me fairly hard.  When I was in high school my mom’s company did business with her mom and dad so she and I would talk here-n-there between classes and had kept in touch via Facebook.

She was a kind person who would often comment on my blog and/or FB posts with words of encouragement and always seemed interested in how I was doing as I dealt with the impacts of MS.  She leaves behind a husband and 3 daughters ages 10, 13 and 17.

She was in relatively good health and went to bed one evening and died in her sleep.  I cannot imagine how her family is feeling at this point and attempting to imagine their position leaves me feeling empty and incredibly sad.

I guess if you must die now that is about as peaceful a way to go as any other.

Tonya was my age and it is hard for me to accept I have gotten to the point in life when my friends are beginning to die.  In a way it forces me to contemplate my own mortality.  What have I done with my life?  Am I wasting the time I have remaining?  Am I spending enough time with my family?  But more than these questions, I have been sad.  And the sadness I feel is real and subtle.  It isn’t a crying my eyes out sadness, but a foundational sadness, a tangible shaking in my soul, quiet type sadness.  It is hard to explain, but it has disturbed my complacency.

This coming week Evelina and I will attend her funeral and I will see many friends from high school.  Her family will bury her and life will begin to move again.  Her husband will return to work eventually, her kids will return to school and life will continue on; minus a husband and a mom.  The reality is their life will never be the same.  October 31st will always have a different meaning.  It will be sad in many ways.  It will bring about happy memories.  But life will never, ever be the same.

One day I hope someone has good things to say about me.  It is difficult for me to imagine not being alive, but I understand there will come a day when all of my questions about the after-life will be answered.

I would prefer the after-life continue to be a mystery for many years to come.

Danny