WebMD BlogsMultiple Sclerosis

Lifestyle Changes Help Me Manage My MS

photo of woman carrying basket of fresh vegetables
Cynthia Guy, MD - Blogs
By Cynthia Guy, MDAugust 20, 2021

About 21 years ago when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and given an extremely poor prognosis, the question was: “What do I do now?” The immediate prescription by my doctor was “you are a postmenopausal woman, overachiever, and you need to retire.”

And my immediate response at age 60 was, “I have too many things to do!"

I smiled, said “thank you,” and started my pursuit of health and well-being! I was devastated, and so was my husband, but we decided there must be a better outlook -- if we could just try to see what it might be.

To be candid, the diagnosis didn’t seem correct to me. I wasn’t the typical white female living in the North, and I was diagnosed at the age of 60, not 40 or younger, so this made me wonder if it really was an autoimmune disease. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy it wasn’t a brain tumor, which was another possibility that was entertained.

When I was diagnosed in 2000, they told me the multiple sclerosis prognosis was questionable for the average person. Treatments were limited, and times ahead would prove to be challenging.

For several years after my diagnosis, I kept busy working. But I didn’t focus on taking care of myself as mobility wasn’t yet a big issue. The establishment was telling me that MS would consume my life, but it was difficult to accept that fact. Denial was always present! It took me many years to really focus on healing and answering the question: What does healing really entail?

Upon finally accepting my reality, I retired completely from my career as an anesthesiologist in 2004. Quality of life became my new goal as I started dealing with the physical, psychological, and emotional consequences of multiple sclerosis.

What does a workaholic do when she stops working? I started my hunting games! I explored every nook and cranny I could find, and this is what I discovered after many years of pursuit: I feel the importance of nutrition, stress management, and exercise has been downplayed for too long by many practitioners.

With the right balance of nutrition, exercise, stress management, and alternative treatments, I was able to completely pull myself back from the brink of being close to bedridden from MS. The results -- in my mind -- don’t lie. It was an absolute revelation that I could modify disease progression if I took time to do the work, heal, and pay attention.

When you get MS, there’s a fear you’ll would have all the symptoms of this autoimmune condition, but this just isn’t true. Everyone is different, and I fervently believe that everyone can benefit from therapies in some meaningful way.

And you don’t have to take my word for it: In the words of Nancy J. Holland, EdD, author of several books on MS and former vice president of clinical programs for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, “Currently, there is no cure for MS, but there are treatments that modify disease activity, slow the course of the disease, and alleviate its effects.”

Personally, I agree with the following quote from actress Teri Garr, who was diagnosed with MS in 1999: “Oddly enough, MS has made my life so much better than it was before. I now appreciate what I have and I'm not running around like a rat in a maze.”

 

To connect with other people living with multiple sclerosis join our MS Facebook Support Group.

 

Photo Credit: Terry Vine / DigitalVision via Getty Image

WebMD Blog
© 2021 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Blog Topics:
About the Author
Cynthia Guy, MD

Cynthia Guy, MD, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2000. She transitioned from her career as an anesthesiologist to become a speaker, researcher, and author, releasing her book, Love Yourself Healthy, in 2014. Guy has been an active advocate for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and Alzheimer's Association and, at 81, is still actively promoting healthy living with her educational site on brain matters. 

More from the Multiple Sclerosis Blog

  • photo of placing acupuncture needles in back

    Alternative Therapies That Have Helped Me Manage Different MS Symptoms

    Multiple sclerosis is often called “the disease of a thousand faces.” And that’s because the symptoms are variable and can be different for each person.

  • photo of man sitting on bed

    Living With MS Fatigue

    Fatigue is more than feeling tired after a long day. It’s an ongoing feeling of exhaustion that often does not go away even after a nap. Fatigue is one of the most common…

View all posts on Multiple Sclerosis

Latest Blog Posts on WebMD

View all blog posts

Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Read More