Wholebody Cryotherapy

I have to start out by telling you my eyes are burning and I am beyond tired  right now but I know that if I do not write now and share now, it may not happen.

Life has been more restful for me as of late and I am thankful for the rest. I am not driving more than  one mile away in a very slow speed to take the kids to music lessons once a week. I still can control my foot but longer periods of driving only causes pain and weakness.

My right side has been heavier and my right foot wanting to drag when I walk for any length of time. The heavier my foot, the harder it is to drive safely, so for now, I am staying off the road, laying low and allowing my hubby to take over the errands and grocery shopping. Thankful for him stepping in.

A darling sister of mine shared Cryotherapy with me and after researching it I decided it was worth trying. Steroids would be the normal option for an M.S.er at this point of inflammation and I am trying an alternative to see if this helps.

You may be asking, “what in the world is cryotherapy?”. Here is an explanation from one website:

With Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) the body is exposed to extremely low temperatures (-200° to -250°F) for 2-3 minutes at a time. This rapidly lowers skin temperatures and triggers cold receptors to activate the body’s survival mechanism. The brain then reacts to the skin sensors and stimulates regulatory functions of the body, like releasing anti-inflammatory proteins, endorphins, and rapidly circulating oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.

Today was the first day.  The tech was delightful and sweet and very helpful. I left on my panties and put on a sports bra (no metal allowed in this chamber). I put on their comfy gloves, big manly socks, masculine robe and entered the chamber.

 

Here I am in the machine. You are seeing little bits of the Nitrous Oxide. I can’t say that the initial experience was lovely and pleasant. It was already cold. Once I entered and the door was closed, I took off the robe and handed it to the tech. IMG_3252

She warned me that first timers do not always reach the three minute mark. It is usually something to work up to. I wanted to make it to the two minute mark at the least. That was my goal. Time flew by and yet the pain was hard to endure. You are supposed to slowly rotate your body while in the machine. I was doing so but because my body IS already numb, getting more numb made it more difficult to steady myself especially while turning. You are not supposed to touch the inside walls and you are not supposed to look down or breathe in the liquid nitrogen so I kept my head up and breathed slowly in and out to calm my body down. The cold and I don’t mix and this was no different. It was mighty uncomfortable. I do feel that this is better than an ice bath. Ice baths make you experience a different kind of cold because your skin is wet and cold. It is different. Maybe I will have a better explanation when I am not so tired.

When I reached the two minute mark, the tech turned it off and handed me the man robe. When she opened the door my babies were waiting anxiously for me. They could see my face above the machine and could tell I was uncomfortable. When I stepped out my oldest embraced me  and held me close to him to warm me up and the rest of the little ones clung to me too.

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My babies love me! 🙂

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My skin was freezing and my legs were weak. I am not sure if that was due to the stress of the new experience or the extreme cold. I could not feel the pain so that was nice. As the day went on I could feel the normal pain, normal fatigue, normal weakness. I am going back tomorrow and praying the continued visits will help in the long run. I picture this experience like an athlete would ice a bruised or injured leg. It takes time for the healing to take place but I am going to persevere to experience the healing.

Here are some links for those who want more info on Whole Body Cryotherapy:

Take your time on this site. There is information for lots of different ailments, diseases and more.    http://wholebody-cryotherapy.com/en/cryotherapy/multiple-sclerosis.html

This is a place in Riverside, CA- http://www.cryofixwellness.com/

Pubmed on MS. and Cryotherapy- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20299758

Blessings to you all,

Charise

The “Monster” May Not be So Bad

close up image of space trilogy book oneMaybe the monster in the water isn’t such a bad thing.

I have been chewing on C.S. Lewis’ words from the first of his Space Trilogy.  The main character was conversing with an intelligent being on another planet about a violent creature that lives in the water. The creature will demolish and tear apart anything that comes in its path. The human’s response was that there was no place for this monster and the “higher power” shouldn’t have made this creature or allowed it to be here for the sake of the good creatures. The intelligent being said the words that have had me mulling over and over and over, ” The hanakra (monster)  is our enemy, but he is also our beloved…………..I do not think the forest would be so bright, nor the water so warm, nor love so sweet, if there were no danger in the lake”. 

No danger in the lake? Isn’t that what we want? No danger. No financial strain. No health issues. Nothing that shakes us.

What is the monster you are facing right now? There are so many options of monsters to choose from and each of them can devour us in one way or another. One way or another we can let anything swallow us up and spit us out.

But what if we chose to see the monster in a different light?  What if  we saw it as a means to reach a deeper love, cherish the people God has placed in our lives more fully, experience a more full enjoyment of the simple things, an opportunity to put the first things first? What if the very monster meant to destroy you by the Enemy could be used for your greatest purpose through God and His strength.

In Lewis’ wonderful, philosophical, fictional story the alien beings were trying to kill  the monster but they had a deep appreciation for it. They appreciated more because of “it”.

When our eyes are fixed on that which lies beyond this mortal earth and we live for God and eternity, couldn’t we see our circumstances in such a different light?

The enemy of our souls uses the “monster” to steal away our moments, our peace, and our joy. But when we are surrendered to God and dwelling in His presence, we have peace and joy and see the monster for what it really is. It has no power over you. The “monster” cannot take your JOY but joy can be found in the midst of places where “it” lurks.

God says to me and to you,
“I formed you. Fear not, I redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned. Nor shall the flame scorch you, For I am the Lord your God……Fear not, I am with you.  ” Excerpts from Is. 43:1-5

His presence is enough for you. I am praying for healing for your body today. I am praying for Joy in the midst of your present circumstances.

P.S. I am resuming ‘Motherhood with an Illness’ next blog entry but I am going to broaden it to ‘Parenthood and Illness’. I realize I have amazing fathers who follow this blog too.

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Motherhood and Illness (Part 2)

Soak in the good days. It’s so easy to find the negative, the easy to complain about circumstances but choose to see the beauty and blessings today. Today is a grace day. A day to soak in the gifts of laughter, the gifts of a hug.

First thing in the morning, when my groggy self is confronted by my sweet children I choose to reach out and touch them. As explained in my last post, I am slow moving in the morning. I can also become a drill sergeant with the to do’s of the day but I have chosen to touch each of my children in a loving way each morning. “Good morning Son, how did you sleep last night?”, with a rub on the head or a squeeze hug.  To my little girl, I might tenderly move her hair from her face and pull her little body close to me to tell her good morning. This begins the day with my babies having their cup filled but it also helps me to keep the “right things” in focus. Loving my children is the greatest gift I can give them.

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I love touch. It is one of my love languages. But I do not enjoy it like I used to. My nerves do not send messages properly. So, while a child draws near or I draw them near for story time I may experience heaviness of my arms or legs, an ache that is heavy and painful. I have to adjust positions of how I sit or ask the children to change positions. I have to be honest with them that I want to sit close but my body is hurting the way we are sitting. I may have to ask them to hold the book or help me hold it depending on the size of the book and where we are sitting. The key with the kids is honesty. If I let them know I want to be near them but “let’s change how we are sitting because it is hurting me”, it helps them to know it is not their fault and that I want to be near them.

I have the same dilemma with my husband, who seems to naturally radiate warmth. I can only hold his hand so long before I have to release it and cool my hand. If we are sitting close to one another my legs feel like spiders are crawling up and down them. The Plexus Cleanse has helped me a lot. The magnesium in that calms my nerves but I still feel discomfort just from being close. I choose to be close still. I might get a cold pack or drink something cold to help calm the nerves so I can enjoy being near my loved ones.

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These discomforts, pain and irritations can easily become a focus but we have to choose to focus on the good. Although my hands are numb, I can still feel, so I thank God that I can feel. I thank God that I can cuddle and touch my children. I thank God with my children for all that I can do right now. When I could not walk well or barely exercise I spoke thanksgivings that I could move my foot and feel it move. When I got up on my own I thanked God that I could do that. When I agonizingly exercised for three minutes, I praised Him because I could. Choose thanksgiving and teach your children to praise God in the midst.

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Be honest with your limitations but choose to push against them. With chronic illness we can easily overdo ourselves so we must be wise but we also must choose the highest good. Choose to play that game with your kids. You might need to say, “Let mama take a nap first and then I will play that with you. Can  we make that a date? “.

Go outside with your kids and do what is within your limitations but soak in the fresh air, watch the butterflies and let them share their wonders with you. When your numbered days are over or your loved ones’ days are over, you won’t forget the time invested into loving them, choosing them, soaking in God’s creation with them. It will all be worth it in the end.

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I  know it is hard, my friend. It would be easier to wallow in pity for ourselves, hide away in our room and push everyone away but we do not need to lose heart. “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” 2 Corinthians 4:16  Soak in God’s love for you. Let Him renew your mind and heart.

Paul wrote to the Philippians, “If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me.”

Let’s choose that perspective. Let’s allow God to renew us inwardly day by day and live a fruitful life.

What are you struggling with today? Do you want to hide away?

Dear Friend, I am praying for you today.

Quiet Dancing

The words dance in my mind and urge me to dance with them onto these pages, on this blog. I have been fighting against the dance. Heavy eyes and weary body, I have resisted sitting and pouring out my heart here on this endless outreach. Even now, I feel like I have so much to write but I feel stifled, muffled, held back. I am aching to pour out the ointment God has been so faithful to pour over me.

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In a world full of derision and anger, hostility and brokenness I keep hearing HOPE. “Hold Onto Hope”. The  family vacation isn’t my hope. The new home or the next plans for our family is not my hope. Jesus Christ the Righteous, He is my hope! In Him is refuge, fullness of joy, confidence. My mouth is full of His praise, because my life is perfect? My kids perfect? My marriage perfect? Not even close. I praise Him because He is perfect, perfectly loving and good, kind and patient with me knowing all of my imperfections and still loves me just the same. I hold onto hope that my friend “T” who is battling M.S. symptoms will fully regain her sight. I am believing it for life on earth and knowing it for eternity in heaven. HOPE. I am believing healing of my myelin sheath for this life and knowing it will come some day-HOPE.

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When we walk through storms and we keep our eyes on the Light House we come out the other side of the storm with powerful proclamation of  victory and we shine for the next generation walking at our heels, listening to our words and watching our every move. They will see our falls but they will also see us rise up and keep pressing on toward the prize. Hope.

“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.” Psalm 71: 18

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I recently read this quote by Mark Batterson, “If your dream doesn’t scare you, your dream is too small.”

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I am dreaming of big things. Things too big for me. Too big for someone with M.S. Too big for someone home educating four kids and fighting to do it well.  I am dreaming of BIG things, too big for me but NEVER TOO BIG FOR GOD. He is calling me, stirring my heart, calling me to a place of rest and renewal so that I can be poured out again. He. Will. Not. Forsake. Me. He will carry me into and through the lows and the highs, the storms, rains of refreshment, sunshine and desert. He will enable me to do what He has called me to do and I will know that it is not I who walked victoriously because of my might, no, it is all because of His might, His strong arms carrying me.

What is He calling you to do today, stirring up in you? What are the passions and dreams you have long suppressed? Rise up Dear One! He will carry you too.

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The “Doing” that I am going to Keep Doing

 

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The doctor was so very pleased with my progress and the “life choices” I have made to thrive that she told me “keep doing what you are doing”. If you didn’t see the update from my latest MRI you can read it here. In this blog I am going to share with you all of my not-so-secret tips.

The first decision I made to thrust me into thriving was to guard my mind.  I have been in the trenches and teetered on depression many times but choosing to stand on truth and to live each moment with a heart of thanksgiving enabled me to pull up and out victoriously. Journaling thanksgivings in the mundane moments and times of struggling and choosing to see the gifts in every day has helped me pull through. Thanksgiving has been a life source.

Second, I chose to keep moving. When  I could barely walk unassisted, I said, “Look I can walk!”. Then I said, “Look I can take these steps without assistance” and then I kept moving. I used a stair stepper exercise machine. I would hold onto the wall or couch to balance and I could barely do it for three minutes before I wanted to break into a tear stained mess but I did it and then I worked up to four minutes, then five and then up to nine. A friend blessed me with a stationary bike and I found that to be much easier on my legs. I pushed my body to pedal, pedal, pedal and then I would cool myself down with ice packs. I found a way so that I could keep moving. Each day I strengthened my legs more and more. Pilates was also a wonderful tool I utilized to get a low strain exercise. It has been four years and I am still riding the stationary bike, stretching and strengthening my core with Pilates and light free weights. With each relapse I recovered better because my legs and arms were stronger. Ice packs are vital to cooling my body so that I can keep functioning after a workout.

Third,  I changed my diet. I know this is a hard one for a lot of people. I get it. We had slowly purged sugar long before my diagnosis but this was a step towards being healthier. My diet at the time of diagnosis was far from antioxidant and phytonutrient rich. A month after diagnosis and much research we chose a diet that was 99% Vegan for the first year. We chose to go on the diet as a family because we knew it would help all of us and it sure did. Even the children got a good body cleanse. We flushed out toxins and filled ourselves with healthy, vitamin rich foods. Since that first year, we have incorporated fish into our diet once a week and we take fish oil pills daily. The DHA and EPA is so very important for the brain. The fats we eat are from nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut oil, and coconut milk. We still enjoy a good quality dairy free dark chocolate. We don’t feel like we are missing out. There are lots of great tasting foods in our diet.

Fourth, I began taking Low Dose Naltrexone last year. This medicine is a natural route  in the medicine world. I was really struggling last year. I was having issues with bowel movements (due to numbness), dependent on walker with a seat so I could sit if  I had to do anything in the kitchen for more than five minutes  and I was battling other issues causing hindrances to my day to day enjoyment of life. It took the right pharmacy making the medicine, a few months of regularly taking it and I began to regain my abilities and experience a calm in pain. I am beyond thankful for this medicine. I recommend McGuff Pharmacy in Santa Ana, CA. They deliver within a few days. This medicine is a God-send.  Check out the research! It was also recently approved for M.S. You can click here and here to read more info. on LDN.

Last and just as important as the rest of these are the supplements I take. I took Juice Plus consistently for three years and I value this product immensely. These capsules allowed me to flush my body and fill it with phytonutrients and antioxidants effectively without the expense, time and work of juicing. I have been off of it for about six months as I take some time to try some other products but I have a feeling we will go back to JP eventually.

Here is the bulk of  supplements I am currently taking: B12, Turmeric Curcumin, Fish Oil, Vitamin D (6K), Plexus Probio (it has probiotics and digestive enzymes in one), Plexus Bio Cleanse (Vitamin C, Magnesium, Sodium Bicarbonate and Bioflavenoid complex- this helps me have regular bowel movements. Pro Biotics seem to stop me up. Sorry if this is TMI.)

And the two supplements that I recently realized are helping me to have WAY less pain are Plexus Ease (New Zealand green lipped mussel powder, bromelain, serrapeptase, turmeric extract) and Plexus Nerve (Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folic acid, Vitamin B12, Biotin, magnesium, zinc, copper and a mix of amino acids, horse chestnut  extract 20%, butcher’s  broom root and quercitin).  I did not realize they were working as well as they were until I got off of them for a few short weeks. I  suddenly remembered what pain I usually experience during these hot summer months. Oh my. My nerves began going nuts again. I went back to not being able to turn clothes right side out and turn socks the right way. Owie! My feet hurt just walking on the carpet and my nerves frazzled. I just got my newest shipment and now my nerves are on the mend.  I don’t ever want to go off of these products again! When I shared with Dr. Neurologist she was amazed at how much these natural products are helping me. She knows where my damage is and where I should be having issues. It isn’t that my issues are gone. It is that the pain, lack of control and so many repercussions  that come from my damage are not as severe due to the products I am using.

I also use Essential Oils to ease discomforts and promote healing. I may have to do a seperate post on oils that I love!   ;^)

I am beyond thankful for God’s guiding hand and His grace that upholds me daily.

“He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth-praise to our God!”Psalm 40:2-3

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MRI Results–Bad and Good

A rush of emotions comes flooding over me with every  neurology appointment. This week it was the dreaded MRI follow up and news. It didn’t start  out well when the doctor shared that I had six plaque spots in 2013 and the most recent MRI taken in June shows that I have TWENTY. I experienced a sudden desire to melt into tears.

She quickly explained that this recent MRI was done with better technology and was able to “cut” into more depths of my brain than the last MRI. We really don’t know how many of these twenty were there in 2013. The radiologist was able to confirm that I have not had any recent relapses/no new scars. And this was very pleasant news.

This darling and gift of a Neurologist proceeded to break down where the damage is and where and how it is effecting me. It all made sense to me as I know full well all the areas of weakness, discomfort, pain, etc. She then told me, ” Keep doing what you are doing. What you are doing is working”. WHAT???? Yes, read that again. “Keep doing what you are doing. What you are doing is working.”

 She is absolutely in awe that I don’t experience more pain, less bladder control and more issues. My body is creating its own detours around all my damaged nerves. Honesty. I wanted to cry for joy! This is the first neurologist to encourage my natural efforts to battle this disease and she was smiling at me with awe.

She proceeded to look at my chart and upon remembering that I began M.S. symptoms when I was 20 or 21 she told me that she thinks I have experienced the worst of this disease. It won’t get worse. She gave me the first official diagnosis I have ever received of the type of MS she thinks I have. It is Primary Progressive. Only 15% of M.S. patients have Primary Progressive. Leave it to me to be one of the rare ones. :^)

This was the very first time I left a neurologist office without loads of fear, angst, frustration and anger. They usually look at me like I am an odd ball for  doing things so “against the grain”. I knew God was leading me from the very beginning. He lead me to get off Copaxone. Now that we know I have Primary Progressive MS, we know that the  Copaxone would NOT have helped me. I am so thankful for God’s guiding hand. He gives wisdom to those who ask. He gave me wisdom and in spite of the many naysayers I experienced in the journey, I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit guidance.

I am praying for you in your journey. Trust Him in the process even when you feel alone and weary. He is your strong tower.

” From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe.  I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.” Psalm 61:2-4

In my next blog entry I will share what I have been doing that doctor says, “Keep on doing!“. ;^)

The Darkness Can Thrust Us to the Light

“…there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” Ex.10:22-23
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There are storm clouds that can tumble in with fierce abruptness and other storms can creep in with quiet stealth. Either way, these gray-black clouds prevent the light from shining into our day and our vision of light is weak and dreary. There are days this darkness creeps in via trials or circumstances that we cannot control; the person who has stabbed our heart so deep, the loved ones suffering around us, our own physical trials; any one of these and a thousand times more types of clouds come rolling in to our lives and blind us from seeing light. For me, such has been this past month.

Physical weakness, pain, and mental weariness created a thick, ugly fog and sucked the joy from my soul. Oh, I longed to curl up with the Father but found myself battling for words to say. I would open the bible study book I had been going through and I only found a heavier burden to bear. I began to cry out for light, truth, a word, just one word to breakthrough the dark and He spoke, breaking through the heavy clouds,

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” Is. 61:10

It is He alone who can give me joy. My circumstances may be darn right torrential ugliness but I am secure in my Father’s love, saved for eternity and loved passionately. My joy is in His presence (Ps. 16:11) And my circumstances may never change, as a matter of fact, they may get down right tsunami-like but that is just THIS life, not the hereafter or my eternal state. All that I can feel and see is temporary. That which I cannot see, that is eternal.

And then He spoke to my heart again, parting the clouds even farther apart, and light shining through, “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears.” Ps. 18:6

He hears our cries and gives sweet promises fulfilled!
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He numbers our wanderings and puts our tears into His bottle. When we cry out to Him, the enemies turn back. We know this because God is for us!!!!! We put our trust in Him!!! (Read: Ps. 56:8-11)

God’s heart isn’t for His children to dwell in the dark. It is to bring us through the darkness, to see the constant of the light always surrounding us. Always here. Always there, where you are. Light. The darkness can thrust us to the Light, if only we let it. In the Light we find the only joy that lasts when all else fades away.

He wants to change our vision from this….
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….to this.
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There is such beauty in the Light.
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I am crying out deep for those of you reading this today. I don’t know what dark clouds hover over you today but I do believe they can push you closer to the living God, if you let them. You can also choose to stay in the dark. Let us choose, together, to cry out to the God who knows your pain and hears your cries. You matter to Him and He loves you. You are His treasure. I am walking this journey with you. As we draw near to Him, the darkness fades and Light fills our days.

Dwelling in the Light,
Charise