Monthly Archives: July 2012

gluten and dairy free

if you were to go to the MS society right now, you would find that their website spouts some drivel about how having MS does not require any sort of special diet other than the same balanced “healthy” diet that is recommended to the general public. if you then brought up a dairy and gluten free diet to a top MS specialist and researcher (such as the doctor i saw at UCSF for a second opinion) you would probably hear the same answer i did–that no special diet has been shown through research to be of benefit to a person with MS. and this is true, but its only half the truth. what the doctor is leaving out is that no one is bothering to look into it from the medical world, which says nothing about the potential efficacy of such a thing. it simply means that at this point there is a lack of interest. and why would they be interested? who would fund them? teva neuroscience?

think about it: MS medications are costly and patented. there will never be a generic form of copaxone. it will never cost under $2000 a month. why would it? they have us cornered. we have no other choice but to take what they offer and for the price they offer it or take nothing at all. the docs back them up by telling us, the patients in our weakest moment that this is all that there is to offer us. that this is the only piece of hope out there. of course they do.

you can’t patent food, my friends.***

we have choice at the supermarket and we can grow our own food. insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and your doctor will never benefit from you having these choices. so why would they encourage you to make them? why would they disrupt the power dynamic they are profiting from?

the other thing that they don’t tell you is that there is a wealth of data–both researched and anecdotal that supports diet as a factor in autoimmune disease. and there are people (like Dr. Swank) who have devoted their lives to getting this information to those suffering with MS.

the medications that our neurologists have told us we should be taking all have side effects. for me, copaxone has caused new allergies to surface. for other medications, there can be a negative effect on liver function, flu symptoms, and or other side effects. the treatment for these is usually more trips to the doctor or more medication. thats a win-win for your doc and pharmaceutical companies.

i get asked frequently by people what my reason is for choosing to be dairy and gluten free. its simple: medications are expensive and they aren’t all that effective. they also have side effects. to be fair, changing my diet has had side effects too: i lost weight, my blood pressure went down, my complexion cleared up, and i am eating way more fruits and vegetables than i ever have in my whole life. even if it doesn’t help with my MS, this diet is a win-win for me.

when i was first diagnosed, i was offered a lot of different medications. valium, flexeril, neurontin, etc. each one of these has serious side effects including physical dependence and NONE of them will, without a shred of a doubt keep me from progressing. there isn’t even a guarantee it will make me feel better. but most doctors would be more apt to suggest taking any one or all three of these medications over recommending a dairy and gluten free diet. something is wrong with this picture, don’t you think?

while i don’t think that diet is enough to keep this disease from progressing, i think that we have a right to know the whole truth about it. MS medications are not the holy grail of treatment. there is no magic pill to make this all go away. but there are pieces we can add together to hopefully create a better outcome for ourselves.

“there is no money in healthy people or dead people. the money is in sick people”

–bill maher

***except that sadly, in our times monsanto would LOVE to see just that happen. this is why organic, local food is so important! in the short term, conventional foods might save you a buck or two (and don’t get me wrong, i’m not on a soap box here and i do still eat at non-organic restaurants and buy some non-organic foods), but buying GMO foods (and nearly all conventional food is GMO) is, IMO and as my grandmother would say “penny wise and dollar foolish.” consider the larger picture, folks.

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support animal 101 part 1

i had been hearing about support animals long before i was diagnosed, so naturally i decided after learning of my MS, i was ready to get my very own. i scoured the internet trying to find information on how to go about the process and i found nothing that laid out step-by-step how to get a support animal.

having gone through it, i would like to pass on what i learned so that others out there who are like me, wringing thier hands in anxiety wanting a support animal so badly but not sure how to start can learn and develop the cajones to go through with this. its easier than you think!

when thinking about what guidelines would have been helpful to me, this is what i came up with:

1. Know and understand the laws

you have to start with doing your research. know what having a support animal means for you and those around you. know when your landlord can say no or ask your animal to leave. it is vital that you have a clear picture of what is and is not legal for you to do. support animals are very different than service animals. while the two are often lumped together when discussing ADA law, you can get into very big trouble for misrepresenting your animal.

support animals are protected by ADA law for individuals who have a psychiatric or physical limitation that interferes with a major life function. and this ADA law only allows you to keep your animal on your home premises with you. it does NOT allow you to take your dog to a restaurant or into the grocery store, or in general let you bring your dog out to public places that an animal would normally not be allowed to enter. ADA law also governs what types of animals you are allowed to keep as a support animal and these differ from what is allowed for a service animal, and you should familiarize yourself with these distinctions. which brings me to my next point…

2. research the animal you are interested in getting

this point is really no different for a person getting a support animal than it is for any other person looking to bring an animal into their lives. you MUST do the research. know your personal limits. if you have mobility or endurance difficulties, then getting a rambunctious lab puppy that requires 2 hour walks and daily trips to the dog park is probably not the best choice. your support animal will still require care and upkeep. are you sure you can provide it?

ADA law does not make your support animal untouchable. if you are a careless caretaker there are grounds for your support animal to be asked to leave the premises. in order to keep your landlord from invoking his/her rights within the law, you must make sure that your physical or psychological conditions do not prevent you from providing appropriate care for the animal that you would like to have. the best way to do this is to really understand what your animal requires for care. research, research, research!

additionally, before you bring an animal home, it might be wise especially if you are a first time owner to get firsthand experience with caring for animals. a good way to do this is to volunteer at a shelter. shelters take in the full spectrum of companion animals from chickens and guinea pigs to dogs and cats so you will get to see a full range of breeds and temperaments to find out what works best for you, and maybe even find your support animal in the process!


in summary, your first responsibility is to be a good caretaker of your animal. the best start to this is to understand the needs of your animal. research what the animal you are considering requires and know if you have the ability and the resources to provide the care they need. this is true for all people looking to care for an animal, but this is of even greater importance for someone looking to get a support animal. having a support animal is not a get out of jail free card. it does not excuse us from being responsible with our animals nor make us above the law, it in fact makes us more accountable to the people around us.

trust me, there will be people who will think you are playing the system. and there will be others who dislike the fact that you have a support animal and will do everything in thier power to ruin it for you. without a thorough understanding of how the laws protect you and your animal, you run into the possibility of making a mistake that can lead to your support animal being asked to leave the premises.

so do your research while you wait for part 2 🙂

and in the meantime here is yet another picture of my adorable support animal to help motivate you

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