There’s no doubt that 2019 was an incredibly difficult year. To say it was a life-changing year would be an understatement. On January 1st 2020, I felt so thankful to have survived the year and so excited about what 2020 would bring. I was scheduled to speak publically about my MS story at the 2020 Fork Smart Summit, as well as on a panel at a neurology presentation with my neurologist. I was supposed to meet Dr. Michael Greger, one of the most influential nutritional medicine doctors and one of my idols.
I celebrated my 25th birthday with my closest friends and family, after spending my 24th birthday in a wheelchair at the hospital. It was a moment in which the reality of my progress and recovery really sank in.
Unfortunately, the universe had other plans for 2020. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that things often don’t happen quite the way we think they will.
I’m sure I’m not the only one whose plans were disrupted or cancelled due to Covid-19. Understandably, my public speaking opportunities had to be cancelled, and I wasn’t able to attend the Fork Smart Summit or meet Dr. Greger. While I was bummed, considering that the world fell into a global pandemic crisis with so many losing their lives, some personal disappointment or inconvenience really wasn’t as important as what is happening in the world.
In mid-March, when the seriousness of Covid-19 became clear, my neurologist urged me to self-isolate, as I am an immune-compromised person now. The challenges didn’t stop there, though. March and April brought some more difficulties and changes to my personal life. With everything going on in the world and my life, I saw this as an important time to take a step back and refocus on healing-physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s been a time to shift my focus to a more introspective one.
For me. this has mostly consisted of at-home exercise, cooking… and Animal Crossing. I was finally able to get my hands on the elusive Nintendo Switch, and my vision has improved enough for me to fully enjoy the game – especially when hooked up to a big-screen T.V. It has been such a great source of positive enjoyment, and even allows me to socialize with my friends, on line, when I can’t do so in person.
A Recovery Update
I recently had an eye appointment with a neuro-ophthalmologist (an eye doctor that specializes in nerves) and after a couple of hours worth of testing got some incredible news.
My vision continues to improve, and my eyesight is now at about a 20/50 – which looks a little something like this:
The top image is a good example of what things look like to me; you can see what’s happening, but not clearly. So when I look at a person, I can tell basic things about what they look like, but I can’t make out the detail. So, if you asked what I thought about the shade of lipstick you were wearing, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.
As difficult as this may seem, it is a huge improvement and I can now do most things again! The bottom image of 20/200 is an example of what things looked like to me at this time last year.
Last summer, my vision was at about a 20/225. In the fall/winter, it had improved to a 20/125. In January 2020, it had improved to a 20/70.
In a couple of months, it has improved quite a lot. Most importantly, the doctor was so happy to see signs of nerve repair to my damaged optic nerves. He said that based on my continued recovery, he has no reason to think that my vision won’t keep healing – that I’m now only a couple of vision test lines away from normal vision – and if it keeps improving, I should be able to drive and do makeup again one day.
This was probably the best news I’ve heard in a long time. My neurologist and other doctors told me I would likely be blind and in a wheelchair for the rest of my life – so this news of my continued visual healing fills me with the hope I need to keep remaining positive and focus on my continued recovery.
(I’m not going to lie, I cried quite a lot of happy tears that day)
Thankfully, I am still in remission with my MS appearing to have stopped – this is perhaps what my neurologist is the most shocked by, based on how severe my condition was.
My MS symptoms have also continued to improve in all aspects – while I still have minor fatigue. it’s nothing compared to what it was before. The feelings of spasticity and heaviness in my limbs are for the most part gone completely, and my walking has improved too. Outdoors I prefer to use a cane as it makes walking a lot easier, but indoors I no longer require assistance.
The 2020 MS Walk
May 24th, 2020 was the annual fundraiser walk for MS. In my previous post I talked about how important this year’s walk was to me as a huge milestone in my recovery journey. Thanks to the generosity and support of everyone who shared and donated, we raised over $4000 for the MS Society! Even though this year’s walk had to be done independently with my family due to Covid-19, I’m so happy that I was able to fulfil the promise to myself. Not only did I walk this year, but we completed over 2.8 km! Not long ago I could hardly walk for a few hundred feet in one go. My incredible family and friends also surprised me by coming out to cheer me on along the way – a video of the 2020 walk will be coming to my MS Meg youtube channel soon! It was such a huge success, and I’m so immensely thankful for everyone who helped support me and made this all possible.
In March, I completed a nutrition course that I’ve wanted to do for a while, but only now had the time to do. This whole experience with MS has taught me so much about how powerful nutrition is, and how it truly is one of the best tools we have to help ourselves.
The Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate course through Cornell University’s online department is a course I had my eye on for years and is full of so much incredible information about nutritional medicine, and nutrition for disease management & prevention. This was the first step in (hopefully) my journey to becoming a certified holistic nutritionist!
I’ve started posting a lot more regularly on my @raincoatesfoodie Instagram page, with lots of delicious, healthy food inspiration and some nutrition facts about different foods.
Overall, 2020 has definitely not been the year we thought it would be. but despite everything, I can’t help but feel fortunate to have made the recovery I have, and for the amazing people who have supported me along the way.
The world is full of uncertainty, darkness and doubt right now, and it’s easy to lose sight of the good amidst so much bad. There’s not a lot in this world that we have control of, but we can control how we respond, how we treat each other and how we treat ourselves.
So be kind to yourself, be kind to otherrs, and try not to forget how much strength you truly have, because I promise it’s more than you realize.
Thank you so much to everyone who has supported, encouraged me, and sent me kind messages, it truly means so much to me.