Monthly Archives: January 2015

MANAGING MS – VITAMINS & SUPPLEMENTS – MY PERSONAL STRATEGY

January 31, 2015

MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

Vega One Daily Smoothie | ineverything.ca

I recently shared about how I’ve changed my diet to help manage my MS (you can read about it here), but diet is only one of the things I’m doing to help my body and brain function as well as possible. Another part of my MS management strategy is taking certain vitamins and supplements. Again, let me preface this by saying I am not an expert in this in any way, I’m simply trying to pass on a few of things I’ve learned that are working for me. 

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been working with a naturopath over the last few months who is coming along the recommendations of my neurologist to help me manage MS. In one of my first appointments with her, she advised me to take certain supplements, which I immediately started. I was so encouraged when I shared the list of supplements I was taking with with my neurologist at the MS Clinic and he agreed with the recommendations I had already been given. Knowing they are both in agreement definitely makes me feel like I’m making the right decision! 

My intake of vitamins and supplements begins each day with a VEGA ONE Nutritional shake. I had never tried a Vega product before last fall, but now I’m hooked. I first started taking VEGA ONE in September 2014 because I was having a hard time keeping weight on and this vegan shake has 15g of plant-based protein in addition to a number of other nutritional benefits (seriously, it also has fiber, probiotics and antioxidants – you can read more about the additional vitamins and benefits here). You can buy Vega One here.

Vega One Nutritional Shake

I actually take VEGA ONE every single morning. It serves as my multivitamin since it includes 50% of the daily recommended intake of vitmains and minerals, making up for anything I may be missing in my diet. My personal favourite flavour is French Vanilla, but I also sneak chocolate in once in while, especially on the weekends when my morning shake happens closer to 11am instead of the usual 7am. I’ve also tried Vanilla Chai and Berry, but I keep going back to the French Vanilla!

Vega One

I use the individual cups for my Ninja blender and make my shake by blending together:

  • 1 scoop of French Vanilla Vega One Nutritional Shake
  • 1 small banana
  • 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup of ice
  • Unsweetened almond milk, or coconut.almond blend milk (I add as much as I need to fill the cup)
  • 300mg of magnesium glycinate (I take more about this below)

This shake helps to ensure that I’m getting enough protein, but also helps my body get the vitamins it needs! I love it. My morning wouldn’t feel complete without it! It costs about $60 for a large tub (22 days worth).

In addition to my nutritional shake, I also take a few other supplements to specifically address my MS. The supplements I’ve been taking daily for a few months now are:

  • Omega Fish Oil
  • Ubiquinol (the active antioxidant form of CoQ10)
  • Mangnesium Glycinate
  • Vitamin D

Supplements for MS management

Omega Fish Oil – I take 2000mg a day of Ultimate Omega Fish Oil  by Nordic Naturals. Nordic Nautuals is a company my naturopath suggested because of the way they process their products. The Ultimate Omega is about $50 for 120 Soft Gels (2 months supply) but I take it because of the high concentration of EPA (325mg/1000mg) and DHA (225mg/1000mg). Omega is thought to aid in brain in nerve health and reduce inflammation.

Ubiquinol  – Ubiquinol is the active antioxidant form of CoQ10. I take 100mg a day of CardioStrong brand of CardioQH, a supplement that is also important in cardio health. This bottle is about $30 for 30 liquid capsules (1 month supply). I don’t think there is anything particularly special about this brand, Platinum Naturals CardioStrong, it’s simply the best quality my Nutrition House always has in stock. Ubiquinol is thought to slow brain deterioration in many neurological diseases and also aids in the healthy function of mitochondria, which provide the energy that cells need to function properly. 

Mangnesium Glycinate – I take 500mg a day of Magnesium. Since the Vega One I take has 200mg of magnesium already I only need to an additional 300mg of the loose powder supplement. This is the supplement that I notice the most difference from on a day-to-day basis. It alleviates a lot of the muscle cramping I feel because of MS, and I haven’t had a severe muscle spasm since I’ve been taking it. I also notice a difference in quality of my sleep and my digestive health when I’m taking it. It costs about $30 for a 3 month supply. Again, there’s nothing particularly special about the brandI use, Innovative Health, it’s just the easiest for me to find at my local Nutrition House store.

Vitamin D – My neurologist recently checked my vitamin D levels because many people with MS are low in vitamin D (leading to unproven theories about why MS is more common in countries farther from the equator), but my vitamin D levels are perfectly normal! My naturopath still suggested that I take vitamin D as a precaution, especially since I live in one of the rainiest places in the winter! I take 2000 IU of Vitamin D a day, which is 2 small drops. I buy this Genestra Brands D-Mulsion 1000 vitamin directly from my naturopath for $18 a bottle, about a 3 month supply.  

VITAMINS & MINERALS TO HELP MANAGE MS

 That’s my daily vitamin and supplement intake! If you do the math you can see that it can get a little pricey to keep up with, but I’m committed to doing everything I can to keep my body and brain working the best they can!  

MY WEEKLY SHOPPING LIST

January 30, 2015

FOOD & NUTRITION

My Weekly Shopping List | ineverything.ca

I recently shared about how I’ve changed my diet to help manage my MS (you can read about it here) and I thought it might be helpful for some if I went into a little more detail about what shopping for an “aqua-vegan” diet looks like on a day-to-day basis. (Aqua Vegan basically means vegan + seafood). Every week I hit the grocery store to stock up on food for the week and most weeks I buy exactly the same things. I also keep a pretty stocked pantry, which I’ll talk about in another post, but these are our regular grocery purchases!

When it comes to grocery shopping I’m definitely an outside aisle shopper; meaning most of the contents of my cart come from the aisles around the perimeter of the store. I do most of my shopping at the Great Canadian Superstore because they generally have great selection, fresh produce, and it’s literally a one minute walk across the street from my condo!

My Weekly Shopping List | ineverything.ca

In the order I throw things in my cart, here’s what I buy each week for our little family of two adults (I’ve attached links on any products I name specifically so you can see what they look like.) : 

  • PRODUCE
    • 1 head of green leaf lettuce 
    • 1 head of kale
    • 1 stalk of celery 
    • 1 bunch of asparagus
    • 1 bag of 5 peppers (red, orange and yellow)
    • 1 jalapeno 
    • 1 5lb bag of carrots
    • A few tomatoes 
    • 1 bag of bean sprouts
    • 1 bag of snow peas
    • 1 cucumber
    • 3 beets
    • 1 onion
    • 2 sweet potatoes
    • 1 medium piece of ginger root
    • 1 large bag of pre-washed spinach
    • 1 bag of shredded cabbage mixture
    • 1 bag of 5 avocados
    • 12 bananas
    • 8 apples
    • 1 cantaloupe 
    • 1 bag of kiwi
    • fresh berries (blackberries, strawberries or raspberries) 
  • PROTEIN 
    • 1-2 small fresh salmon fillets
    • 1 bag of frozen raw peeled shrimp
  • BEVERAGES
  • GRAINS
  • HEALTH FOOD

About once a month (or once every two months) I also stock up on:

  • Rice
  • Vermicelli rice noodles
  • Round rice paper
  • Quinoa
  • Lentils
  • Frozen fruit (we get these at Costco)
  • Coconut oil
  • 1 large bag of almonds
  • 1 large bag of cashews
  • 1 large bag of pistachios 
  • 1 jar of almond butter
  • 1 large bag of gluten free oats 

And if I am craving an easy, sweet treat, I pick up one of my two favourite vegan treats:

These are both awesome, and so satisfying when I just need a little chocolate!

Anything you buy on a regular basis that I’m missing out on?

MANAGING MS – DIET – MY PERSONAL STRATEGY

January 26, 2015

FOOD & NUTRITION / MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

MY PERSONAL STRATEGY

Not long after I was diagnosed with MS I began to research the different things I could implement into my life to manage MS most effectively. I realize there are a lot of different opinions about the most effective treatments, but this is my personal strategy. There are a few different areas that I pay attention to when it comes to managing my own MS and diet is one of them. I’ll touch on the others like supplements, exercise, drug treatment and support in the coming weeks. 

There are a lot of different opinions floating around about how diet can affect MS, and although I don’t claim to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination, I’ve tried to sift through information from my Naturopath, pamphlets from the MS Clinic, and articles and videos I’ve seen online to find the common threads. As I’m learning, I’m continuing to understand the importance of reducing inflammation and providing my body with proper nutrition it needs to feed my brain.

When I first began to research diet and MS the main information I was seeing was:

  • Eat a diet high in protein and anti-inflammatory oils (nuts, seeds & cold water fish), and orange, yellow, and dark green vegetables.
  • Avoid food allergens such as wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, citrus, tomatoes, corn, chocolate, and peanuts.
  • Eliminate refined foods, alcohol, caffeine, saturated fat (animal products), and additives (aspartame). 

So, what I took from that: a ridiculously healthy diet lacking in many of foods I enjoyed. I thought I was going to starve. Not only that, but no more indulgences of warm scones, or mint chocolate bars.  

I’ve always been a fairly healthy eater, but my philosophy had always been, “everything in moderation.”  Nothing was off limits as long as I didn’t indulge regularly. I thought I was healthy so I didn’t really think twice about how food might be affecting my body. 

My naturopath encouraged me to follow a strict diet while she sent my blood away for a E95 Basic Food Panel. This test would measure how my body tolerated certain foods and determine the foods I needed to avoid. Within a few weeks I received the surprising results of my food test.

foodtest

Basically, any above a number of 100 on the Food Panel should be avoided, and my numbers came back in the 1500’s for all dairy, and almost 700 for eggs. My next highest numbers were pineapple at 715, and garlic at 387. The foods I can occasionally eat, but need to avoid as much as possible are peanuts, oysters, grapefruit, grapes, kidney beans and soybeans. I had no idea my body was intolerant to these foods! 

I now call myself an “Aqua Vegan” because it’s the easiest way to explain it to people. I realize I’m not a true vegan, but it’s easier than giving people the list of things I can and can’t eat, and it’s the best label to use when searching for recipes free from dairy, eggs and most meat. Essentially I am a vegan that eats seafood. Mostly cold water fish, but occasionally things like shrimp too. I’m also allowed to eat white chicken and turkey on occasion, so I sometimes eat them, but my day to day consists of lots of vegetables, quinoa, salmon, fruit, nuts and herbal tea. At first I thought my diet was so limited, but the more I’m learning about different foods, the more I’ve realized how many options I have!

I now::

  • Strictly follow a plant-based diet high in protein, anti-inflammatory oils, and colourful vegetables. 
  • Restrict foods in the unsafe columns of my Food Panel Test such as dairy, eggs, pineapple, garlic, peanuts, beans, and grapes. 
  • Avoid refined foods, caffeine, saturated fat, and additives like aspartame as much as possible. 
  • Take in additional nutrients through juicing and smoothies.

While I don’t believe that diet alone is the only strategy for managing MS, I don’t think it hurts. Clearly the things we put into our body make a difference and I’m choosing to do everything I can to keep my body healthy and my inflammation as low as possible. 

Healthy and balanced eating hasn’t cured my MS; I’ve had relapses since I changed my diet, but if I have the choice, I’m going to do everything in my power to take care of my body the best I can. If that means I never eat another warm scone or mint chocolate bar, then that’s the price I’ll pay for the peace of mind that I’m doing everything I can to take care of my body and brain. And, to be honest, even if my diet doesn’t help my MS, I think I’m giving my body the food it really wants anyway! 

WHEN YOU’RE TOO TIRED TO KEEP FIGHTING

January 18, 2015

ENCOURAGEMENT / MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

Most of the time I’m a fighter. Whatever comes my way I simply refuse to accept defeat. I refuse to quit. 

I think fighting is good. I think it’s important to continue to hold onto hope and do whatever you can to keep going, but sometimes you just get too tired to fight. Sometimes I feel too tired to fight. 

The last two weeks I’ve been in the middle of a relapse. The kind of MS I have means that I have periods of remission where some of my symptoms get better, but I also periodically have attacks or relapses that cause symptoms to flareup, or new symptoms to arise. MS is always challenging, but during a relapse it’s exhausting, frustrating, and discouraging. 

Usually when I’m experiencing a low time I turn on worship music and just let it play until I’m reminded of God’s love and majesty, but with this relapse affecting my hearing, I couldn’t listen to music without immense frustration. I needed to find something else to remind me of my purpose. 

As I lay discouraged on my bed a few days ago I stared at the words “Be Still” framed above my headboard. I wanted nothing more than to just be still. 

In the Bible there’s this story of Moses, a guy who had been instructed by God to lead his people, who had been the slaves of the Egyptians for more than 400 years, into freedom. As they leave Egypt, the Egyptians come after them and the people become scared and get frustrated with Moses because they’re scared they are going to die in the desert. After explaining to them that God will see them through he says to them, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14 

THE LORD WILL FIGHT FOR YOU; YOU NEED ONLY TO BE STILL. 

bestillprint600

You can buy this 8.5 x 11 print from the In Everything Print Shop or by clicking on the image above.

 

In the moments that I am discouraged, frustrated and scared of what’s ahead, I need to remember the things that God has promised me. I need to be still; take my hands off and let Him fight for me. It’s not that I’m giving up, but I’m choosing to put my life in the one who can control far more than I could ever understand.

When you’re too tired to keep fighting, Be Still. Let Him fight for you.  

 

CARROT APPLE GINGER JUICE

January 11, 2015

FOOD & NUTRITION

 carrotginerjuice-8

Part of my management of MS is giving my body the proper nutrients it requires. When I was advised to increase my intake of certain foods, I knew I need a new strategy for getting all that good stuff into me!  I soon purchased my first juicer, and I haven’t regretted it for a second. I have been drinking smoothies for a long time, but the ability to be able up my daily nutritional intake with a drink that didn’t fill me up was what got me hooked on juicing. 

One of my favourite juice recipes is this Carrot Apple Ginger Juice. If the thought of juicing scares you, this is a great juice to start with! The carrots and apples give it a light sweetness, so the vegetable intake isn’t overpowering.

 This is exactly like the Ginger Hammer from Booster Juice, and you can make it for less than $1 compared to the almost  $5 it costs in store. 

Also, since ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory, this juice is perfect for my eating plan! It’s a light, refreshing juice that can be enjoyed year-round!

carrotginerjuice-6

Simply wash your carrots and apples (I soak mine in vinegar and water to make sure they’re clean) and slice your apples in quarters if your juicer requires it. There’s no need to peel or deseed the carrots and apples. 

Next peel your ginger root with a small knife or simply use the back of a spoon to remove the outer layer. 

carrotginerjuice-1

 

Set your juicer on high and put the carrots, apples and ginger through!

Once your juice is extracted, chill or add ice and enjoy!

carrotginerjuice-7

I purchased the Breville Juice Fountain Plus, on sale for $159 from Canadian Tire, and I feel like it’s a great appliance for the average juicer. I’m sure if you were making multiple juices each day you’d want something a little more heavy-duty, but for someone like me who uses it a couple times a week, it’s great! 

carrotginerjuice-1-2

 Hope you enjoy your juice!! Any other juicers out there with favourite juice recipes you’d like to share?

CARROT APPLE GINGER JUICE
Serves 2
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 5 Carrots
  2. 2 Apples
  3. 2 inches of ginger root
Instructions
  1. Wash carrots, and apples.
  2. Cut apples into quarters, depending on the capabilities of your juicer.
  3. Peel ginger with a smll knife or the edge of a spoon.
  4. Put carrots, ginger and apples through juicer on high speed setting.
  5. Chill & Enjoy!
In Everything http://www.ineverything.ca/

 

NEW BABY GIFT IDEAS

January 9, 2015

Uncategorized

There was once a season when my life was filled with bridal showers and weddings, but now that season has changed and I’m surrounded by babies! Since it seems like there’s a new baby appearing at least every other month, I’m always looking for modern, unique baby gifts!

I thought I’d share a few of my favourite gifts, and to make it extra special, all of these gifts are handmade right here in Canada! You can shop local, support small business owners and make sure the babies in your life are decked out in the coolest handmade items. 

GIFTGUIDENewBabyGifts

1. This 6-pack of black & white striped bamboo jersey washcloths by WestCoastBaby are a great practical gift for new parents and babies. They are hand sewn in Abbotsford, British Columbia and are a gift sure to get lots of use! $13

2. I am absolutely in love with the little baby moccasins in distressed camel by ullaviggo! They are handmade in Winnipeg, Manitoba and an awesome gender neutral gift! They come in all sizes from newborn to 4T, so they’d even make a great 1st or 2nd birthday gift! $35

3. This organic cotton baby blanket from Fox & Rebel is cute and modern in its black & white arrow pattern. It is handmade in Vancouver, BC and also comes in matching burp cloth and hat! $42

4. This modern infinity circle bib scarf by MiniEm is a stylish way to catch droll if you know a baby who’s too cool to rock a regular bib. The cute cotton scarf/bibs are handmade in Toronto, Ontario. $15

5. These modern organic cotton leggings from Baby Dear are a stylish and memorable gift. They are handmade in Edmonton, Alberta and pair perfectly with onsies. $22

6. This gorgeous cream and black knitted heart blanket from Yarningmade is handmade in Victoria, British Columbia. I think it’s safe to say this cozy blanket is the perfect addition to any nursery! $115

Any amazing handmade Canadian baby gifts I missed? I love to hear about them!

INVISIBLE: IN THE UNSEEN | MY MS STORY – PART 3

January 8, 2015

MARRIAGE & FAMILY / MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

I recently shared my own personal story of MS. If you haven’t read it yet, you can read part one here and part two here. Here’s part three:

mymsstory3

In the opening verses of Genesis it says “the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters” (Gen 1:2). At the beginning of creation, even before there was light, the Sprit was moving. God was there. There are many moments in my own life when things feel dark and formless, but I know that even in the unseen, He is not absent. He is there, moving in ways I can’t even comprehend. 

I had just heard from the insurance company, “I’m sorry Ms. Moran, but we will not be covering your drugs.” I was shocked. I mean, we live in Canada, a country with amazing health care. How is this even possible?

I sat hunched over in my kitchen chair sobbing. I couldn’t even control it. I felt more heartbroken then I did when I was diagnosed. What was I supposed to do now? I called Clark and sent a quick text message to a couple close friends. “Please pray. Insurance denied me coverage. I’m so sad.” And I just sat and cried as the words of Steady Heart by Steffany Gretzinger played in the background. “My eyes can’t see what’s in front me, still I will trust.” (You can listen to the song here.)

I felt so strongly like God kept saying to me, “Just trust me. I have a better way.” If there was anyone observing me that afternoon I probably looked crazy. I was in the house alone but I was speaking out loud to God. “God, I’m trying. I don’t know how right now,” I kept saying over and over again. “I’m trying.” 

Steady Heart continued to play, “Though the sky is dark and the wind is wild, You’ll never leave me. Though the night is long, there is a coming dawn. The light is breaking.”

At that moment the dark cloudy sky broke and a beam of sunshine flooded my work area. I just knew that He was working something out that was bigger than me. 

The sun breaking through the clouds on Dec 12th

I was so in awe when the sun broke through the clouds on Dec 12th, I snapped a picture. 

“God, I will trust you.”

A few hours later I received a text from a friend, “Can I come over for a few minutes. I need to talk to you quickly.” Sure. If you don’t mind my swollen eyes, and disheveled appearance, come on over! 

She sat down across the room and began to tell her that a couple had heard about my MS and that I was denied coverage by insurance. News travels fast. She was there on behalf of them to tell us that they would commit to covering the cost of the treatment! $80 000! EIGHTY THOUSAND DOLLARS! Cue the tears.

I was overwhelmed. Relieved. Grateful. I could hardly breathe. 

She continued to tell us that they knew all about Lemtrada and recognized that I was a prime candidate. “Money shouldn’t prevent her from getting the treatment she needs.” Wow. For months this story had been unfolding behind the scenes and none of us had any idea. God was clearly working in the unseen. 

I’ve never been the recipient of such extreme generosity, and I can’t even describe how it feels. I know that God is good and I know He cares about me, but being the recipient of a financial miracle makes me more grateful than I’ll ever be able to communicate with words. “God, I don’t know what else to say except thank you.” 

A couple days later we received another phone call from another couple who wanted to help cover the costs of treatment. We joyously shared our miracle with them, explaining that the cost of treatment was already covered, but they explained that they still felt compelled to contribute. Again we witnessed God working in the unseen as they pledged to help cover some of the extra medical costs we would incur over the next year. Even the smallest details were taken care of. Again, I was left speechless. There are days I’m still speechless. 

Clark & I the day we received our second phone call pledging to cover our extra expenses.

Clark & I the day we received our second phone call pledging to cover our extra expenses.

I’ve since completed all my pre-screening tests to ensure that I’m a candidate for Lemtrada and I’m currently awaiting a phone call to receive my transfusion dates. I’m ecstatic. 

There are definitely moments when MS is hard. Some days I’m frustrated with my body and there are moments when I’m fearful of the future. This week I’m in the middle of another relapse. My energy and strength have been bleak and Tuesday morning I lost almost all hearing in my left ear (hearing loss only occurs in less than 5% of people with MS. Lucky me!). I’m hopeful that it will come back in the next month, but this is my life. I wish sickness and disease didn’t exist in the world, but I’m grateful that over the last six months I’ve been able to see God at work in my life in ways that I can’t explain. In the darkness, even when I can’t see Him, He is there. 

In the Unwelcome. In the Unknown. In the Unseen. 

In Everything, He is there. 

This is my story. 

PART 1 | PART 2

INCURABLE: IN THE UNKNOWN | MY MS STORY – PART TWO

January 7, 2015

MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

I recently shared Part One of My MS Story. If you haven’t read it yet, you can read it here. Here’s the next part of the story: Part Two.

MY MS STORY2

I can’t explain what it’s like knowing that you have a disease without a cure. It’s scary. Maybe the scariest part is the unknown. MS is a disease without a cure. Researchers don’t know the cause and therefore the cure is also a mystery. Every person’s progression is different. Every day is laced with uncertainty. 

I was 3km from home on August 26th 2014 and my left leg had completely seized up. My muscles wouldn’t relax and I could hardly flex my ankle. You’ve got to be kidding me. Here I am trying to show by body that it’s not in charge, and it’s proving to me that if it wants to stop working, it will. I needed a new strategy.

I limped home with my headphones blasting in my ears. I was listening to Hillsong’s Young & Free album on my run and the song Wake was playing. “You will never fade away, your love is here to stay. By my side, in my life, shining through me everyday.” My body may fade away, but it’s not my body cooperating that’s going to get me through this. “Jesus, shine through me.”

I limped around for the next 4 days, brushing off questions from people who wanted to know how I hurt my leg. I don’t know how much longer I can hid this. I don’t know what to say. 

The students arrived back on campus and the fall semester was quickly in full swing. I was so certain that I was right where I was supposed to be. I had to teach and preach from a stool because my strength was so hit and miss, but I was reminded over and over again that God would be my strength. “God, you are my strength.” 

Clark and I speaking at the first Summit Chapel of the fall semester - September 2014

Clark and I speaking at Summit Chapel in September 2014

On September 30th 2014 I met with my first neurologist who conducted a number of tests and confirmed that he believed that I did, in fact, have MS. He was sympathetic and referred me to another neurologist at the MS Clinic at UBC  to confirm my diagnosis. I guess this was it. I really did have MS. 

2 days later, on October 2nd,  I celebrated my 30th birthday. In many ways I felt like my life was just beginning! I was young (ish), madly in love with my husband, fulfilled in my job, and surrounded by the best friends I could ask for. But in other ways I felt like my life was ending. It was such a weird feeling. I had hardly told a soul about my diagnosis, but even without knowing the story, I felt an outpouring of love on my birthday like I had never experienced before. I felt loved, respected and confident that I had people on my side. I’ll never forget it. I knew I was part of a bigger community.

That weekend Clark and I drove to Whistler to celebrate my 30th. He told me he would get me anything I wanted for my birthday, and well, I wanted to go bungee jumping! It’s something I’ve had on my bucket list for years and now seemed like a fitting time to do it. On October 4th I stood on the edge of that platform nervous with fear, but I knew that choosing to jump would confirm that fear had no place in my life. It was symbolic. It was liberating. “God, help me live in freedom.” (You can watch my bungee jumping video here).

bungee2

bungee1

bungee3

I was still nervous to tell people what was going on, all while praying, “God use this for good.” How was God going to use it for good if I couldn’t even open up to the rest of the world? It was time to share. In the next few weeks I began to share my story with others. I told the student body at Summit where I teach and pastor, and I also shared publicly at a conference in Victoria, BC. I knew that part of my journey was going to be public but I wasn’t prepared for what that would mean.

On November 10th 2014 I met with my new neurologist at the UBC MS Clinic in Vancouver, BC. I spent 4 hours at the clinic going through tests, interviews, and information sessions. The doctor gave me my official diagnosis that day of Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis, a type of MS that goes through cycles of attacks or relapses, followed by periods of remission. He also went over my MRI with me, and for the first time I was able to see with my own eyes the damage that was on my brain and spine. I figured I had maybe 3 or 4 lesions, or scars, but as he flipped through the MRI images it was evident that there were far, far more than 3 or 4 lesions, the largest being the one of the top of my spine, causing the electric shock symptom when I flexed my neck. 

The doctor also went over treatment options with me, giving me lots to think about moving forward. I knew that some people choose to treat their MS naturally, some take pills, others give daily injections, and the newest option was a series of infusions. How was I supposed to know what to do? Can someone just tell me what to do? “God, give me wisdom.”

Although I had shared publicly about my diagnosis, I didn’t think it would ever be something I shared on social media. On November 28th that changed when I posted a simple photo on Instagram and twitter with the hashtag #StopDropSelfieForMS to bring awareness to the disease. Beneath the picture I posted: This is how I feel about MS. I never thought in a million years I’d ever write this post, but in light of the publicity MS is getting this week, I want to put a face to a disease and a cause. This week #stopdropselfieforMShas been circulating through social media and for many it’s simply a hashtag. For me, it’s a lot more than that. I was recently diagnosed with MS, a disease without a cure that causes my body to attack the nerves in the brain & spinal cord and it rocked my world! This week I nominate all of you, my friends, family and “followers” to stop, drop everything you’re doing right now, and take a #stopdropselfieforMS. When you post your selfie, also take a second to pray for a cure and maybe even donate!” I was overwhelmed at the response!

The "selfie" I posted for #StopDropSelfieForMS that gained so much attention!

The “selfie” I posted for #StopDropSelfieForMS that gained so much attention!

I received messages and comments from all over world encouraging me to keep going. I had no idea my story could impact so many people. That week my story was featured on the Global News site, the Province, and our local newspaper, Abbotsford News. Crazy, right? The response from that campaign inspired me to continue to share my life and journey, and I began to talk about the treatment I had chosen to move forward with.

Clark and I had decided that I would move forward with Lemtrada, a drug delivered by intravenous infusion to reduce the frequency of relapses and to delay the progression of physical disability. The drug is infused over 5 days, and then 12 months later, a second 3-day infusion; after that there is no further treatment needed for 15 years. The drug basically resets your immune system and stops the progression of the disease. Amazing right? Here’s the kicker though, it cost more than $80 000! 

We filled out some paperwork and waited to hear back from our insurance company to see how much they would cover. We expected that they would contribute at least 80% and were hopeful that maybe, if we were lucky, they would cover 100%.

On December 12th 2014 I called the insurance company to see if they had an answer about insurance coverage. “I’m sorry Ms. Moran, but we will not be covering your drugs.” Wait, not at all? Not even a single dollar? I was in shock. I was devastated.

I sat hunched over in my kitchen chair sobbing. I don’t have $80 000. What was I supposed to do now? “God, now what?”

To be continued…

PART 1 | PART 3

 

INVADED: IN THE UNWELCOME | MY MS STORY – PART ONE

January 6, 2015

MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

MY MS STORY

We all have moments when things barge into our lives uninvited and unwanted; moments when we are invaded by things we’d rather not face. There are many different chapters in my life story, but the chapter currently being written is the one that includes MS. In the summer of 2014 my life was invaded by an unwelcome disease, Multiple Sclerosis. This is my story. 

I had been feeling “off” for quite a few months. Mostly I was more tired than usual and felt all around weak. It was weird. Some days I could run 15km, and other days I could barely make it across the street. I can actually remember saying to Clark on a number of occasions, “I wouldn’t be surprised if I found out there was something seriously wrong with me.” I just knew something wasn’t right. 

On May, 31st Clark and I woke up to go kayaking. I have awaken before to my arm being asleep, but this day was different. I pumped my left hand a few times to try and bring back the circulation, but it wasn’t changing. I don’t know how else to explain it except that it felt like my arm fell asleep and never woke up. We went kayaking that day, and I periodically stopped to check if the feeling had come back. Nothing. A few days later I went to the walk-in clinic and the doctor diagnosed with me carpal tunnel on the spot and told me to wear a wrist brace. I was relieved, but something still didn’t seem right. But hey, what did I know?

Kayaking at Cultus Lake on May 31st 2014

Kayaking at Cultus Lake on May 31st 2014

The next week Clark and I went on vacation to Radium Hot Springs, near the BC/Alberta border. It was  beautiful! You can sit out in the hot spring-fed pool for hours taking in the beauty and fresh air of the Rocky mountains! I love being warm, and hot water is no exception, so I spent hours by the pool, relaxing in the heat of the springs. But something wasn’t right. My arm got dramatically worse and I could barely hold up my own body weight. I could barely separate my fingers and my arm was too weak to pick up my water bottle. “God, give me strength.” 

Clark & I on vacation at Lake Morraine in June 2014.

Clark & I on vacation at Lake Morraine in June 2014.

I went to a walk-in clinic and the doctor assured me that if I wore my wrist brace, the carpal tunnel would get better and the strength would come back to my arm. Maybe I was wrong. My chiropractor thought maybe there was a pinched nerve in my back, but after couple weeks of repeated tests he looked at me with concern in his eyes, “I think you should try to find a new doctor who will run some more tests.” I could feel the fear creeping in.

At the end of June I woke up to the most intense leg cramp I had ever experienced. The pain paralyzed me. I fought to bring my hands to my calf but my body wouldn’t move. I couldn’t stop the tears from flooding down my face. “God, make it stop.” 

I was certain that something was wrong and drove myself to the hospital. After explaining my symptoms to the doctor, he ordered some blood work and a CT Scan. Finally. Maybe now I’d get some answers. He came back with the results and asked to speak to me privately. Oh no, this couldn’t be good. “Kim, your scan came back clean. Are you under stress? Or do you maybe need to talk to someone?” Oh my word. The doctor thinks I’m crazy. He discharged me and I returned home wondering if this was all in my head. Could I actually be going crazy?

July ushered in the beginning of camp season and Clark and I hit the road for 5 weeks of intense ministry. Every summer we travel to different teen camps to speak to students about the Bible. They are some of my favourite weeks of the year. We began the season at Nanoose Bay Pentecostal Camp on Vancouver Island. A few days into teen camp I noticed a strange sensation in my feet as I sat on the edge of the bed. My toes were tingling and I felt strange vibrations up both my legs. But the strangest thing happened whenever I looked down at the floor. A buzzing sensation, like an electric shock, would shoot from my neck down my left leg. What was going on? 

At Nanoose Bay Camp on Vancouver Island with our friends Luke & Trina.

At Nanoose Bay Camp on Vancouver Island with our friends Luke & Trina.

I did all that I knew how to do when something weird was happening in my body, I googled it. “Electric buzz with neck flexion.” Lhermitte’s Sign. Multiple Sclerosis. What? I read and read and read. Apparently this strange buzzing was something called Lhermitte’s sign, a diagnosing symptom of MS. I was in shock. 

I knew I couldn’t get ahead of myself, but I was scared. I had to preach that evening and I couldn’t stop thinking about my body. Did I have MS? “God, give me courage.” 

A few days after arriving home from camp I found a new family doctor and went to see her for the first time. After describing my symptoms she said the two letters I was dreading. “I think we need to rule out MS.” She sent me for blood work, X-rays, and scheduled an MRI. I knew an MRI would reveal the truth. 

In the meantime, Clark and I boarded a plane and headed to Oklahoma for another week of camp. My arm was still numb, my body was buzzing and tingling all day long, I could barely stay awake for more than 4 hours at a time and I was experiencing pain and vision loss in my left eye. It was during that week at camp that I cried before God, afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do what I felt called to do. “God, make me brave.”

When I returned from Oklahoma I went in for my MRI. I was scared, but relieved that I would soon have answers. I laid still in the MRI tube singing worship songs in my head to the beat of the machine buzzing. It was going to be ok. Oh, I hope it’s going to be ok. 

As I was packing for our final camp in Winnipeg, Manitoba I received a call from my doctor’s office. “We received the results for your MRI. The doctor needs to review the results with you.” My heart instantly started beating faster. I know that no news is good news when it comes to test results, so in my mind, this was not good. Unfortunately, because I was boarding a plane the next day and my doctor was out of the office for a few days, I would have to wait until I was home from camp to get the results. It felt like the longest week of my life! 

Speaking at Manhattan Beach Youth Camp in Manitoba

Speaking at Manhattan Beach Youth Camp in Manitoba

To say that I was distracted during that camp in Winnipeg is an understatement, but I knew that I needed to do what God had me there to do. “God, help me speak with boldness.”

August 25th, the day after I returned home from Winnipeg, I sat in my doctor’s office. I was prepared for the worst, but still hopeful that everything was going to come back ok. “Kim, it looks like you have Multiple Sclerosis,” my doctor told me. She read the MRI results noting that the scan revealed that I had demyelination of the nerves in my brain. “I’m referring you to a neurologist who will confirm the diagnosis. I’m so sorry. Are you ok?” I smiled nervously and assured her that I was fine. I was fine right?

The moment I stepped out of the office I burst into tears. Multiple Sclerosis? This was crazy. I got in the car and in a shaky voice I said to Clark, “I can curse God and get mad at Him that I have this disease, or I can worship Him anyway because He deserves it.” I leaned over and turned on the song It is Well by Bethel Music. “I’m going to worship.”

My head was spinning. I work at a college and in the next few days students were going to start arrive for the beginning of a new year. I needed to pull myself together. That night I woke up to another intense spasm in leg, causing me so much pain that I couldn’t get back to sleep. I was so scared. I decided in that moment that I wasn’t going to let this disease define my life and at 5:45am I rolled out of bed, put on my running gear and set out to show my body who was in charge. 

About 3km from home my leg seized up and I could barely walk. Maybe my body was in charge after all. What was I supposed do now? “Jesus, I need you.”

To be continued … 

PART 2 | PART 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CLARK!

January 3, 2015

MARRIAGE & FAMILY / Uncategorized

Today is a special day for me. It’s the day I get to celebrate the most amazing man I know, my husband Clark. I couldn’t imagine my life without him in it. He makes me laugh until my ribs hurt and he has a way of making me feel like the most important person in the room no matter where we are. Honestly, he’s amazing. 

View More: http://photos.pass.us/clarkkim

Being married to him has taught me so much about sacrificial love, support, communication and joy. We absolutely love that our lives are intertwined and we have the chance to travel and do ministry together every single day. 

Clark, you are the best man I know. You love people deeply and allow God to transform your heart in the most amazing ways. You’ve grown so much in wisdom and discipline in the last year and I’m constantly amazed how God uses you. Thanks for always putting my needs above your own. You should totally keep doing that. I love you. Happy 31st Birthday!!!

(This photo was taken by the extremely talented Luke Liable of Luke Liable Photography.)