Doctors Want Me to Switch Meds, But for Now, I’m Changing My Diet
Doctors recently told me that the medication I’ve been taking for the last seven years for MS hasn’t been working. This is news that no one wants to hear.
I didn’t have a good experience with subcutaneous injections of Rebif (interferon beta-1a), either. I was a tiny, 22-year-old student who spent about $10 per week on food. As you can imagine, there was no fat on me whatsoever, which made the injections nearly impossible.
Tecfidera provided me with an easier option. It also meant I wasn’t relying on my partner to give me a painful injection three times a week, which upset both of us.
When I started taking Tecfidera, I experienced some sickness. Admittedly, this caused havoc over Christmas when my nurse was out of the office and I didn’t know what to do. But it worked itself out in the end.
Being told that this treatment was no longer working caused me to panic about the possibility of more injections.
Thanks to recent hypnotherapy, I remained firm with the neurologist by confidently telling him, “No, I’m not going through that again.” As a result, I now have three options, and none of them involve an injection, per se.
My first option is to start Tysabri (natalizumab), an infusion treatment given every four weeks. At some point (I forget when), it changes to every six weeks.
I’m not excited about driving an hour each way to a hospital and sitting there for a few hours. I have things (like a job) to do.
The second option is a medication called Mavenclad (cladribine), which is taken in tablet form. However, doctors told me I can’t get pregnant while taking it because not enough tests have been done to determine if it’s safe.
Mavenclad involves two short treatment courses 12 months apart, so that would mean the earliest we could try for a baby would be the end of next year. I feel that’s too late.
The third option is to carry on as I am. The neurologist prefers that I take something, but I decided against it.
I’ve had two relapses and a flare this year. I originally thought my relapses were flares. Beyond “carrying on as I am,” I’ve decided to try using food as medicine.
It was tough at first, but I am now dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegetarian, and I don’t eat processed foods or added sugar. I’ve been a vegetarian most of my life anyway, so cutting out meat was pretty easy.
I’m mostly following the Overcoming MS (OMS) program, which focuses on eating fish and seafood, lots of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. The diet excludes dairy and has minimal saturated fats. I’m not a huge fan of seafood, so that’s proving tricky.
Starting the OMS diet was OK until I went out for a meal and discovered that the restaurants near me don’t offer many OMS-friendly options, nor are they very eager to cater to my diet. It takes confidence to say, “Can you prepare this dish without _____?” No one around me has heard of the OMS diet.
Family and friends don’t understand why I’m doing this. Many tell me to eat normally and stop being awkward, and they don’t listen to the reasons I offer for changing my eating habits. However, I’m pleased to say that my husband has been amazingly supportive, as always.
This medication change has caused me great stress, as you can imagine.
If you’re following the OMS diet, please comment below to share your experience and favorite meal ideas to help inspire me. While there are several recipes online, I get bored easily!
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