Today was weight lifting day – Suck it multiple sclerosis!

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So I just got done lifting some weights in my basement. I don’t have a rack or a bench or any machines with pulleys. I just have a 20 lb bar and several sets of plates that I got off of Craigslist a month ago for $50. How very “I’m-going-to-spend-this-summer-trying-to-make-the-football-team” of me, you might think.

My reasons are simple.

One, I am a woman. An Asian woman. Osteoporosis is nasty, annoying shit. Bones were made to bear weight. Bones get denser under constant and progressive weight-bearing exercise. So I’m going to spit in the face of the treat of dissolving bones and maybe get “swole” in the process.

Me by the end of the year.

Two, no one likes a fatty. Whether it’s a fatty-fatty or a skinny-fatty.

Three, I have multiple sclerosis.

The benefits of strength training for MSers is a topic worthy of its own post. And my intent is to write that post very soon. But today I am going to prioritize my personal motivation and proceed to log the day’s workout. So you can stop reading right here if you want. I’m just going to drop some links to the resources I used to get started first:

http://startingstrength.wikia.com/wiki/Starting_Strength_Wiki – really good basic info for anyone who wants the basics

http://www.stumptuous.com/ – really good basic and not-so-basic info specifically for women (with lots of enjoyable crass language)

http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/ – form, form, form, form, FORM

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19199197 – a rather promising bit of news for MSers who like lifting heavy stuff

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Stats:

Height – 5’3

Weight – 0x90 (yeah, that’s hex alright)

“Workout B”

Warm up sets – 3×5 chair squats (5 lbs), 3×5 bent over rows (20 lbs), 3×5 standing military presses (20 lbs), 3×5 seated barbell twist (20 lbs)

Working sets – 3×5 chair squats (8 lbs), 3×5 bent over rows (30lbs), 3×5 standing military presses (30 lbs), 3×5 seated barbell twist (20 lbs)

The above amounts of weight are small. And they’re supposed to be. I’m just starting out and no stupid injury is going to get in my way. The goal is to increase in weight every week if possible but several factors will go into whether or not that actually happens.

I have two workouts, Workout A and Workout B. The idea is to life three days a week, and alternate the workouts like so:

Week One – Workout A, Workout B, Workout A

Week Two – Workout B, Workout A, Workout B (I was just hit buy the sudden urge to refer to these as “Werkouts”)

On the non-lifting days I do things like bike, stretch, walk and some other nonsense. Nothing strenuous (although maybe it should be). In a few weeks I will be adding some more “accessory work”, but in the meantime I am just focused on learning good form and figuring out how the hell to eat enough protein to support muscle growth.

I did some lifting this past Friday, and instead of waiting until tomorrow I decided to go for it again today. That gives me a somewhat strange sounding Friday, Sunday, Tuesday lift schedule. But that Mon/Wed/Fri shit is for the fitness magazines. I wanted to get going while I was still motivated and as sad as it sounds, waiting “just” one day can throw things off in the infancy of any new venture.

I’m off to bake some skinless, boneless chicken thighs now.

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Me by the end of next year.

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DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK

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I’VE BEEN HERE FOR…months. And by “here”, I mean the general space I occupy on a day-to-day basis. Not this blog. Because obviously I am a substandard blogger and go months in between posts. I just wanted to make the nod to LL Cool J with that opening line.

The last several months have been filled with research and analysis that are about to give birth to many blog posts. Until then, enjoy the pic of a young LL rocking Kangol.

Worms to Whip Multiple Sclerosis (maybe)

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So, a few months have gone by since my last post. The only reason for this has been pure sloth. The really disgusting part about this laziness is that I have been writing posts in my head. “”Oh, this would make a good post. I could use this pithy turn of phrase here, and find a non-copyrighted photograph of oligodendroglia to place just so…” etcetera.

It has gotten to the point where I am now forced to post SOMETHING  just to find relief for the sheer backlog of topics in my head. Also, I promised something in my last post. I believe it was claimed to be along the lines of the most exciting, mind-blowing news of the year (I could probably read my own blog to confirm whether or not I said this, but whatever). Given the unintentional hiatus I took, it will now be the most exciting, mind-blowing news of last year.

Back in October, my husband and I went to cool, hip and understatedly cosmopolitan Madison, Wisconsin. While my husband has family up north this was not a trip for pleasure, but one made in the name of science. After being tipped off by my other Rachel, I found an alternative multiple sclerosis treatment study was taking place at the University of Wisconsin. The theory being tested is that trichuris suis ova may benefit MS patients by down regulating the destructive inflammation that leads to new lesions in the central nervous system (CNS, if you’re nasty). This therapy has proven to be rather effective in treating Crohn’s disease in other studies, and so logically it is worth a shot for other inflammatory conditions. The results of the first phase  study with MS patients have been promising, so promising that phase two was starting up just as I found out about in through clinialtrials.gov. I was able to get in touch with the charismatic and amiable Dr. John Fleming, and made arrangements to attempt to qualify for the trial.

Now, if you haven’t Googled it already, trichuris suis ova is the scientific name for pig whipworm eggs. Yes, pig whipworm eggs.

Touch all of this skin, honey.

Touch all of this skin, honey.

I do want to take a minute here to state if the idea of intentionally getting worms freaks you out, stop reading. And when I say “stop reading”, I don’t mean just this post. I mean, go away and take your Diet Coke with you. Because I am going to write about even more freaky-deaky shiz as time goes on. And honestly, a controlled and sanitized clinical study at a renowned university hospital involving microscopic parasites may be the very LEAST of the wormy and germy things I am willing to do in the name of my well-being.

GTFO

GTFO

The husband and I spent about half a day at the U of W Department of Neurology to determine if I was qualified to get worms. There was some cognitive testing that was done, and quite a bit of blood drawn. The most telling results would come from the research MRI, however. At the time, I knew I met all of the criteria for participating in the study with the exception of having an active lesion on my brain. My last MRI was done in April at the Mayo clinic, which showed no actively enhancing lesions. But a lot can happen in just a few months, especially with a condition as unpredictable and vicious as MS.

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What anthropomorphized MS might look like.

A good chunk of my stay was spent getting a fresh MRI done. And this just wasn’t your garden variety MRI, but a fabulously advanced research MRI that is supposed to show all sorts of things you couldn’t see otherwise without glamorously high definition resolution. (Disclaimer: This is just my understanding of how a research MRI is different. I might be over-exaggerating here.)

It took a few weeks to get the results back, and when Dr. Fleming finally did call the news was…not what I was expecting.

Evidently they managed to find a lesion. A lesion less than a millimetre in length. A lesion so small it took TWO radiologists to figure out what it was. A lesion that for all intents and purposes was already dying down (inflammation-wise). I was really expecting an all or nothing scenario. Either my brain would be spotless and decidedly un-inflammed, or that is would be ravaged like fiery and wrinkly swiss cheese. But, no. Just this tiny, almost imperceivable lesion that a regular MRI would not have picked up.

I was pretty stunned. Dr. Fleming assured me that the results were great, that it meant my condition was very stable. Technically, I still qualified for the study. But I had to think about it. For as many curve balls that were thrown at me over the last year, I was still unprepared for that news (which, in retrospect, was silly of me).

After some soul searching, a health retrospective and several conversations with my husband I decided to decline participating in the study. I really good the best news I could have possibly received. While a lesion is definitely a “not good” thing, the fact that I had one and it had such a short life was an awesome thing. It suggests that everything I have been doing to keep my levels of systemic inflammation low are working. That, or by virtue of being young and nubile (snicker) I have kick ass powers of recovery. Looking back, I think that lesion came about because of a cold I had been fighting all that week. I was very worried that my immune system might get a little crazy because of it. But like a naughty teenager who had thrown a house party while the parents were away, it managed to glue that broken vase back together just in time…okay, I don’t think that analogy makes any fucking sense. But I will leave it here until I think of a better comparison.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I would have absolutely loved to throw some worms back every two weeks. But the drive to Madison can be long and dark, and making that drive during the winter did not seem like a very welcoming idea (in fact, the only bad part of the trip was the fact we arrived in WI under the cover of darkness – that state is PITCH BLACK at night). There was also the time I would have to take off of work, the cost of gas and lodging, the time I would be away from my SO… The stress alone might have been enough to counter the good vibes from the worms!

Would I have gone through with it if I my brain was on fire? Well…I don’t know. What I do know is if the trial goes nationwide and I can get worms closer to home…well, who the hell doesn’t like providing a stool sample in order to get parasites?

God, I love Daylight Savings Time

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So it has been a while since I last posted. Quite a few things have happen, most of them I want to share here. I just want to get the okay from a few key people before I relay the experiences, because I don’t want to put someone’s name out there without permission (not that their names aren’t out there already in various forms, but whatever. I’m being considerate!).

What I can say is that I am totally digging this extra hour we just got in the U.S. I am now effortlessly awake an hour earlier! I now begin the morning with an extra hour to knit, ride my bike, play Phoenix Wright 3, whatever! It’s great.

Louis Armstrong

The character design in Phoenix Wright 3 is the best of all three games! No, “Apollo Wright” doesn’t count…

I totally refuse to squander this time by using it to sleep even more. Nope, won’t do it. Not even on really cold mornings when it is dark as hell and my SO is sound asleep next to me radiating warmth like a skinny five foot ten space heater.

Yup, an extra hour. Totally sweet.

Great Moments in Multiple Sclerosis Knitting #1

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Knitting a sock with a four row pattern repeat, only to notice that the pattern is starting to look different about two inches into making the leg. It slowly dawns on me that I knit the last damn pattern repeat backwards, knitting Rows 4 through 1 as opposed to Rows 1 through 4. This actually required me to read off of the note card with the pattern breakdown from the bottom up, instead of from the top down(as required by most written languages on the planet Earth). Mental note made to stick to simple garter stitch projects when tired.


(Last post I suggested I would be writing about the goodness of crafting with yarn in general, but this sock SNAFU derailed the plan. To paraphrase a non-hologramed Tupac Shakur – Knitters, holla if ya hear me.)

So what’s all this then?

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So what’s all this then?

This is my new blog. I have multiple sclerosis. There will be a fair bit of writing about my other interests, but as my illness has become my primary preoccupation since January of this year, I endlessly find ways to relate everything else in my life back to it. So expect to hear about multiple sclerosis and ways of managing it, how shall we say, a whole fucking lot.

Oh, damn. Is it that bad?

No. Well, maybe. Just think about this as a blog about me, the stuff I am into, and I just happen to have multiple sclerosis. And I am really, REALLY into trying to figure out how I developed the disease, and what I can do about it moving forward.

In all honesty, my answer to this question can change from hour to hour. Is it because I am still trying to come to terms with my situation, and my feelings about it tend to swing? Maybe. Is it because inflammation has eaten holes into the myelin covering the center of my central nervous system, and my swiss cheese brain could have some impaired cognitive ability? Possible. Maybe writing it all out here will help me settle somewhere on the issue. Or maybe this blog is just another way of expressing my extreme rage putting my awesome and ever-changing insights into the world.

Why is yarn mentioned in your tag line?

Mostly to get the point across that I am all about alternative treatments for my condition, and partially because crafting with yarn will, in fact, be discussed here. The same goes for the mention of programming and bikes. Of course things like diet and supplementation will be discussed as well, because any management plan would be severely lacking without it. But there is enough information out there about diet and exercise for multiple sclerosis already. I want to write more extensively about the possible outliers, the forms of treatment that are discounted by traditional medical science. You know, the stuff that is apparently too bad ass for lame traditional reductionist medical practitioners to consider.

So, you’re basically a hippy?

Hey! Just because I only eat free-range, grass-fed, raised cruelty-free meat, basically live at Whole Foods when I’m not at the farmer’s market, recycle, and dream about brewing kombucha in the kitchen of my own farmhouse settled on 20 acres of sheep and alpaca pastures while blithely riding around town on my zero-emissions bicycle, you can’t just slap the “hippy” label on me.

But why don’t you use traditional medicine?

Traditional medicine is for when you break a bone. It’s for when you’re in labor and there is WAY too much blood making an appearance. At this point in time traditional medicine does not have a definitive answer to multiple sclerosis. Treatment has come a long way in the last 10 – 15 years, and it has certainly been a mixed bag. Just none of the options being offered up are the right answer to my particular situation. And frankly, traditional medicine is just too narrow-minded to properly address a disease as multi-faceted as multiple sclerosis.

My faith in doctors is very small, but there are a few out there that I definitely hold in esteem. Not-so-coincidentally these doctors have been personally affected by multiple sclerosis and somewhat-coincidentally (but not really) they all take a holistic attitude about treatment:

Dr. Terry Wahls – http://www.terrywahls.com/

Dr. George Jelinek – http://www.overcomingmultiplesclerosis.org/

Dr. Andrew Larson – http://cleancuisineandmore.com/about/our-story/

Dr. Roy Swank (with Dr. John McDougall by association) – http://www.drmcdougall.com/res_swank.html

What the hell is that in your header?

It is a cropped photo of one of the exhibits from MS: the big knit. Vitamin D is super important for people with multiple sclerosis, and good sources of that include eggs, fish, sunshine, and vitamin D3 supplements. See it now?

Is there anything else I should know so that I can decide if I want to be invested in this thing?

Well…if you are reading this, chances are you already know me. But if not, some possible points of interest might be:

  • I live in the Midwest with my significant other (or as people in the blogosphere say, “SO”)
  • I am not originally from the Midwest
  • I bemoan the lack of good mangoes in the Midwest
  • The above fact stems from the fact I am Filipina-American
  • I am a geek
  • I work in IT (no, this isn’t a repeat)
  • I am allergic to spinach, bananas, chocolate, vanilla, soy, corn, and milk
  • I have a non-racial intolerance to lactose and gluten
  • Despite the previous two points I am still alive and to the surprise of everyone around me, I can still find things to eat

So, maybe you’ll come back again and see my next post due in the next few days. I think I am going to kick things off with a post of the wonderful therapeutic properties of pharmaceutical-grade YARN!