My New Normal

Spring 2016, Living Well Magazine

by Elizabeth Schefferle

Four years ago I found myself sitting in my neurologist’s office receiving the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis at the height of my nursing career and at 25 years of age. I had foreseen the diagnosis coming, so it wasn’t a complete shock to me, however I still went through all 5 Kubler-Ross stages of grief, right there and then in his office, allowing me to walk out of his office, take a breath and ‘cop it on the chin’ so to speak. The hardest part though was telling both my parents and trying to convince them I was being serious!

The diagnosis really could not have come at a worse time as I was both working full-time and studying my Masters full-time, so it was a real inconvenience for me. I did however find the time to launch myself into overdrive researching my options; and I met with the local MS nurse. The many medication choices boggled my mind and all the possible side effects scared my liver, so I just knew that wasn’t an option for me at that point in time. Enter the Yarra Valley Living Centre!

Within weeks of my diagnosis, I was able to attend an OMS retreat run by Professor George Jelinek. My Mum came along for support and I was grateful to have her there, even if I didn’t admit it at the time. We really were not sure what we were in for – in all honesty at the end of the first day I was finding it hard to imagine how I would survive there for five days. The food was certainly a shock to the system, and no coffee?! But the meditation I thought I could handle. But by the end of the fifth day, my initial feelings of sufferance were well and truly forgotten, and replaced with an overwhelming feeling of forthcoming change, hope for the future, gratitude to George and the entire OMS team, and the staff at the Yarra Valley Living Centre. We also made some amazing friends, with whom we are still in contact to this day.

With newfound determination I grew to adopt the OMS lifestyle as my ‘new normal’. My husband and I have since had two beautiful children and we live life full of hope now thanks to OMS. There are so many aspects which I have modified in my life since the retreat in 2012. I was a very driven and motivated person, I still am, however my perspective on life has changed, in that most of what I seek to do is centred on my ‘health and wellness’. I’m no longer that person who will work night shift on next to no sleep, or skip meals because I can just grab takeaway. I’m tuned in to my body and can sense the warning signs of when I am overdoing things and need to cut back or wind down. I try not to feel bad for declining invitations to events or functions if I need sleep or rest. My life is centred around the sun, if I catch a glimmer of rays then I’m outside – I’m rather compulsive about my vitamin D level! I am much more proactive and organized, and structure my daily tasks to ensure I’m not overdoing things whenever possible (not always possible with two little ones!). I’ve learnt to focus on the important people in my life, rebuild what’s worth rebuilding and letting go of what was pulling me down. Meat now makes me almost nauseated to look at and flax oil is now our staple ‘butter’. It gives me so much pleasure to raise our boys eating the OMS way, knowing they are indeed not missing out on anything, in fact, as parents I feel that we would be doing them injustice by raising them to eat any other way. I actually feel like the cat that swallowed the [cashew] cream, thanks to all that OMS has taught me.

Multiple Sclerosis has taken me on a journey indeed, a journey that I could not foresee coming. Sure I have my days, but don’t we all?  Reflecting on the past four years I can see MS has taught me so much in a positive way, I am grateful – not for having MS – but for the journey it has taken me on, the people I have met and ability I have been given to inspire others who are in a similar situation as I.

At my last Neurologist appointment I was told that things looked good, my symptoms have subsided and I am mostly not troubled by them at all. I know my efforts have been rewarded and will continue to be rewarded whilst I remain on the OMS program. So with spring in the air, bulbs and blossoms about to bloom, let’s reflect on the positive changes we can make whilst on the OMS program. As I have indeed experienced there are so many positive outcomes within reach for all of us with MS, if we commit fully to the OMS lifestyle.

Click here to learn more about the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis Retreat program in Victoria’s beautiful Yarra Valley.