Lori Klocek, Farm with sunflowers

LORI’S STORY

I have been always been aware of the importance of health, of eating healthy foods, and of exercise. I would read the latest health news — that fat is bad, that fat is good, that we should all get more whole grains, that pasta is a no no, and on and on. I had a little garden in my yard, and occasionally would manage to coax some kale or a tomato to grow.

I was bumping along. I had postponed my career as an artist working for an animation studio to stay home with my toddler and my baby. My life was busy and demanding. But I was up to the challenge.

Then, it all changed. One cold morning in January of 2012, I woke up with numb feet. It was winter and it was cold; numb feet didn’t seem too alarming. But the numbness didn’t go away, and by the afternoon, both my legs were numb past my knees. The day before, I had been to the gym, and ran (maybe too hard?) on the treadmill. I was trying to lose some stubborn “baby weight”. So I figured the numbness was exercise-related. I had something similar happen maybe a year before, but after a new pair of shoes and a lot of denial, it simply went away and I went on with my busy life.

This time, the numbness kept getting worse. Over the next week and a half, it spread throughout the entire right side of my body. I could barely walk, and I couldn’t use my right hand or arm at all. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and quickly began the few treatments that were offered, including IV steroids. Nothing was slowing my deterioration and a month later, I ended up in the hospital with half my body paralyzed and in a wheelchair. I was in the hospital because I couldn’t function at home and had to receive a treatment called Plasmapheresis. I then went to an in-patient rehabilitation center to recuperate to the point where I could return home.

The doctors told my husband to go ahead and pick out my wheelchair now. That we needed to prepare ourselves for my continued loss of function. That there were drugs that could slow the progress of the disease, but that nothing would reverse the damage already done.

Refusing to passively accept my diagnosis, my husband and I began to read everything we could about treating M.S. There is a lot of research, and even more varying opinions out there, but we found that despite what doctors had said, there are cases where recovered function and reversed damage had been achieved through lifestyle changes, specifically to diet and nutrition.

Taking into account all the information we could find along with a lot of advice we received, my husband and I weighed all the pros and cons. We decided the best option for me would be to combine the nutritional changes I was finding beneficial with a disease-modifying medication that my neurologist prescribed. While this was the best choice for me, I want to be clear that we are all unique individuals, and that we each have to make the choices that are best for us and our unique situations.  

So I began on what I thought was the road to recovery. But what I have really come to discover is that my destination isn’t recovery. It is an accumulation of all the things I learn and the steps forward that I take in my pursuit of living healthier. This journey began by experimenting with all types of diets. Through a lot of trial and error, I learned that what works best for me and the management of my disease is to eliminate sugar and eat as many nutrient-dense vegetables as possible.

I also learned that emotion and stress were huge factors in managing my disease. I thought I was dealing well with my life, the stressors, the dynamics of my extended family, the need to lose weight, to exercise, to raise well-adjusted kids, be a wife, be an artist, the busyness of everything. Apparently, I wasn’t. I had to find ways to mitigate the areas of my life that were causing me anxiety and stress.

Exercise had always been my go-to for de-stressing. But exercise was also the first thing to go when time got tight. As I allowed my life to take on more obligations, I devoted less and less time to exercise. After coming home from the hospital I needed to regain my strength, to get back to the point where I could walk more than a few feet at a time. So I had to change my perspective, to see exercise as a necessity rather than a luxury.

Much like with the experimentation of what food I ate, I had to figure out what worked for me to de-stress, to lower anxiety and to stay physically healthy. I found a therapist who has helped immensely in improving my emotional health. I found that qigong or moving meditation is what works best for me to lower anxiety. I have come to love yoga and pilates. And that getting outdoors to walk or run are essential for me.

I hate that I have a disease, I hate that anyone has to battle with this type of situation. But I am also grateful for what I have learned, and for what I know I will continue to learn. And I am grateful to have a platform where I can share my journey with, and hopefully help other people.  

About the author
I love cooking, eating, and above all, being healthy. I am an artist by trade, but life-events have steered my creative spirit towards food. I have found my second calling as a health aficionado and amateur chef.

One Comment

  1. Hi Lori,
    You have one heck of a story!

    I feel for you and like you I have focused my ‘art’ on the art of my (and that of my family’s) physical, mental, spiritual bodies.
    My journey has now covered over 40 years and every time along the way when I think that I have learned enough, there is more (and quite interesting new science) amazing information that flows my way. I am continually learning and by this my body is strong and healthy at age 67. My husband (turned his diet around and managed to avoid a liver transplant!) and my adult children are enjoying the benefits of my sharings. It’s all great. (I would be happy to share 3 of the most impressive and evidence-based websites where anyone can learn as I have.)

    These last 8-10 years have been toppers. There now are more people who are ASKING the questions that I have been asking. Yeah. I now feel like I’m not the only ‘weirdo!’ (I learned over time that being labeled a ‘weirdo’ was actually a compliment.) So yes, I still run with the progressives and it is proving to be incredible rewarding.

    As a nutritional consultant, I have been able to help numerous clients find their personal set point.

    Regarding Multiple Sclerosis, if I may suggest… there is now a new documentary out titled: Code Blue.
    Through the lens of filmmaker Marcia Machado, code blue reveals lapses in the current state of medicine and provides a common sense solution by featuring the practice of lifestyle medicine to prevent, manage and reverse chronic diseases. The film presents the hurdles to the proposed shift: antiquated curricula in medical schools, confusion in the media, inadequate government policies, and the underlying influences of the pharmaceutical and food industries.

    Code Blue follows a passionate physician, Dr. Saray Stancic, as she reflects upon her journey from a multiple sclerosis diagnosis to wellness through her own adoption of lifestyle medicine. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyqokMV0jx4 (movie trailer 3 minutes)
    Dr. Stancic introduces us to expert physicians and scientists who are paving the way to make meaningful and necessary change in our healthcare environment, and in turn, empowering audiences to stand up and reclaim control of their health.

    My second suggestion would be a book titled: The Human Super-Organism by Rodney Dietert. This publication can get a bit science-deep, so I suggest to skip to Chapter 9+ and get to ‘the solutions’. Dietert speaks about the Human Microbiome that is relatively NEW SCIENCE and many a common doctor doesn’t know much about this ‘new body system’ that actually has MUCH to say about our health and wellness.

    NPR The Invisible Universe of the Human Microbiome (5 minute video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DTrENdWvvM

    OK that’s enough for now. I really feel for you and hope that you, like Dr. Saray Stancic, will be able to find your way out of this condition….because you CAN!

    Blessing to you,
    Sandi

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