Last reply 1 month ago
My unconventional MS journey.

(There are no apologies for the colourful language, it’s my story, I tell it my way)

When you get diagnosed, not only does the bottom, but the top & all four sides fall out of your world. You’re sat there with this seeming ‘diagnosis of death’ hanging over your head, feeling helpless. So what could I do?
It was time to nut up or shut.
All the support in the world wouldn’t help if my inner warrior wasn’t up & ready for this battle.

First off I Googled, asked, & at first only finding all the scary info, I carried on looking at the possible outcomes, treatments, testimonies, I looked at even the slightest little thing that has helped someone else. Then I thought about applying the suitable fixes to myself, not the fluffy stuff that looks good on paper. But the real stuff, the ones that I as an individual could either cope with or could actually bother to do & maintain.

For me, these turned out to be vitamin D, healthier fresh & unprocessed food, limit stress, increased brain & body exercise & sleep. Yes, well, these all sounded logical & great but I’m a lazy toad who likes junk food, drinking beer & smoking too much while staying up late at night. I also don’t trust doctors, hate taking pills & going to the gym. So I’m buggered.

At this point, I had a stroke of luck. My wife said, “I don’t want a husband in a wheelchair” & promptly divorced me. & yes I didn’t quite see it as lucky at first either.
But it was one stress gone 🙂 & also divorcing someone due to their health issue doesn’t sit well with the courts, so amongst other things, I got the house. Which due to my previous hard work & dislike of mortgages it was 98% paid off. So I sold it & sat there with a pot of cash working out my next move.

Back to my list of life changes.
Vitamin D, so I’m actually not bad at taking high dose Vitamin D but the real stuff & sitting in the sunshine must be better.
Healthier fresh & unprocessed food, the easiest way was to limit my access to these unhealthy foods.
Limit stress, now I’m a realist & this was going to be a tough one, it needed my attitude & my reactions to the world about me to change. Plus I was already aware that getting in a place less stressful, does actually involve loading up on new stresses first.
Increased brain & body exercise, there was no way I was going to a gym, so I needed to plant myself in a more mentally & physically challenging environment.
Sleep. Ye well bollocks, nothing was ever going to make me, go to bed early, then get up & be all bleeding cheery in a morning.

The thinking box needed to be thrown out. Ignore conformity & my comfort zones, I looked so far outside my box, I eventually couldn’t see a box.

Vitamin D is sunshine, but too much heat buggers me up too, so I needed a moderately warmer & sunnier climate, where fresh food is the normal, learning a foreign language would also be excellent for brain stimulation. Moving abroad? in an insane world, this seemed the sanest answer. It would also reduce living expenses making my pot of cash go further.

A holiday to the island of Madeira proved the answer, it’s a steady climate of about 22 degrees all year, cheap to buy & live in, it has the Portuguese foreign language to stimulate the brain, but also as many speak English I can function & not feel totally isolated. The added bonus was it’s hilly, so I even get exercise is going to the pub.
Within twelve months I was living there.

The stress of buying & moving was fucking awful, I was so far out of my comfort zone, sometimes it seemed much harder to battle on than to just give in, but I did it & when the dust settled. I’m sat on my patio in the warm sunshine so very glad I persevered.

This is where some people starting thinking, yes that’s all very nice but, I can’t just bugger off to another country, what about his health, insurance, income, leaving friends, family & support network, etc?
First off this is just my story & I’m not saying this for everyone. For me the practicalities are; the average wage here is £500 per month, my cash pot/ pension covers that, health insurance I’m sure you could be insured up to the hilt, but personally I’ve got emergency repatriation for any big bombshells & I am properly legal registered over here so that covers the day to day health care.
A support network is a different one, with no partner, grown-up kids (who actually love the fact they have a cheap holiday destination) the support? Well, when I set out to fight my own battles I realised I’m a tough independent bugger who actually needs very little help from other people & anyway the locals here have a real old fashioned sense of community, so I have support, just from new people.

Now there’s the observant amongst you thinking, he hasn’t mentioned the big bit about managing stress & how you change your responses to the world around you, this is deliberate for two reasons, one: It’s a very long & complicated process so it would take another long rambling post to cover it all & two: I’m still working on it, although a perfect completion of this problem will probably mean I’d be some sort of guru with the answer to finding inner peace. I’ll certainly never be one of those, ever. But let’s face it sitting in a warmer country certainly does go a long way to helping with the stress.

That’s my journey, so far. Am I advocating everyone bobbies off to an island paradise, sits in the sunshine drinking cold beer & eating salads? Certainly not. What I advocate is what worked for me, dig deep down inside yourself, summon up every ounce of courage, strength & determination you can find. Work out exactly what you want & what you need. Then stop at nothing to achieve those.
Wallowing in a cesspool of self-pity doesn’t attract any real help or the things you actually need. (I’ve been there, done that, & got the T-shirt, quite literally it says “What has two thumbs & doesn’t give a crap – me”)

Finally, I ignored convention, convention constrains, think outside the box, think outside all the boxes, I feel we are the trail blazes for the next generation of MS warriors, I want to show them what’s possible, show them I did with it.

Never give in & leave a legacy.

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chezy17
1 month ago

@tog2-0 All I’m gonna say is 👏👏👏👏 and you most definately found the rainbows 😊. Here’s to making it happen 🍷! 😊


edmontonalberta
1 month ago

@tog2-0

We only live once & have the same destination… Impressed you found something that works for you.

Much as sitting in “the sunshine drinking cold beer & eating salads” sounds great, what do you do the rest of the day? The reason I ask is that Madeira is not my idea of a place to move to – I would love to fish every day, yet the landscape is mountainous. And walking on inclines would be a major challenge for me.

I have a great wife; we are 4 years away from retirement – she has always said she will go wherever I decide. Yet my decision is what makes her happy; and me… 😉

Reading your story is impressive; thank you for sharing…


stumbler
1 month ago

@tog2-0 , now, that’s one way to manage your MS.

It’s quite an inspirational tale. You should write a book about it. 😉


tog2-0
1 month ago

Cheers @edmontonalberta & @stumbler
As an answer to both your comments, I am writing a book (three actually) They are purely for me at the moment, so there’s no intent to publish but who knows, anything is possible in an ‘infant’ universe.
I’m also spending time creating my art which can come under the headings of therapy & practising my fine motor skills too.
Since I’ve retired I do wonder how I ever had time to fit any work in 🙂

As I hope my post demonstrates, this is about working out exactly what you want & what you need.
So however “off the wall” the outcome may seem, they should be specific things to you as it’s your path.
Madeira is my thing & yes it’s challenging terrain, but hills are what I needed, not necessarily wanted, there’s that subtle difference.

@chezy17 😉


merfield
1 month ago

One question @tog2-0: what about when it all goes pear shaped which MS has a habit of doing? xx


tog2-0
1 month ago

@merfield
Imagine. It’s a warm sunny day, you’re sat on your patio, perhaps with your favourite beverage. 🙂 You’ve heard vaguely that some expert somewhere said it’ll probably be raining tomorrow. Do you sit worrying about tomorrow’s possible rain? thinking I should get the washing done, thus wasting a perfectly good moment or do you enjoy being in that very tangible moment in the sun.
Worrying about tomorrow’s forecast only wastes those days when the sun is shining,
Think about it & then multiply that into wasted years of worry.

MS has many habits which also include doing bugger all, so I’m living on what is, not what could be.

This madcap adventure is all about creating the best environment for me not to relapse but if one day it does rain MS, I’ll at least have the memories of being sat in the warm sunshine & I ‘ll be able to say I achieved that.


merfield
1 month ago

@tog2-0, I’ve gone pair shaped as has my partner. No Island paradise would have altered our course of events.xx


tog2-0
1 month ago

Sorry to hear that, we do all we can but it can still be down to the dice cup of the gods.
Until they roll again for me, I continue to ensure I’ll have as few regrets for not trying something while I still could. Hopefully, I’ll be able to maintain this what can I still do? rather than worry about what I’ve lost attitude, should any more bits fall off.


vixen
1 month ago

@tog2-0. This is an amazing story. I was only diagnosed 2 years ago and am blessed with an amazing husband. But, our journey has been one of planning that very thing; downsizing, moving away, new life. Pursuit of meaningful things, cutting out all the negatives. Boringly, our plans have been temporarily thwarted by the B word as no-one is buying property in London so we’re a bit stuck. However, the dream is there. I can’t quite grasp how long this process took you from looking at your profile. Long may you live your dream!


tog2-0
1 month ago

That’s the spirit
if MS teaches anything it’s don’t sweat the small stuff.

time frame depends on when you consider the journey started
basically I think it’s not even been 12 months yet as the anniversary of me first stepping onto Madeira was late March 2018 & that’s when my mad ideas got a direction 🙂
all the crap – MS, divorce blah, blah yawn, etc were ongoing since 2008
& the house sale was March 2017, but at that time I was still in the planning stage.
so take your pick from those dates.

The universe works in mysterious ways, perhaps your dream house isn’t quite on the market yet, so there’s no point selling it just yet. 😉

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