You've arrived at Angela Sergio Cleary - Part 2. If you would like to read Part 1 first, click here...
Angela is an inspiration to all who live life with MS. Below you can read more of her story...
Enjoy part 2 of the interview. Ciao!
Question 2: You came to the US when you were in your twenties. Looking back, do you remember having any symptoms before coming to live here? Or did your first symptoms happen after moving to the US?
Growing up back in my country, I used to keep a journal where I used to write about my daily life. Last summer, when Deborah, one of my best friends, was at my house for the summer to help me go through a relapse, she started reading some of my diaries. One day, she came across two very interesting details, one of which touched me quite a bit.
I did find out that, in the early 90’s I had an episode when I lost vision for a couple of seconds and I saw pure darkness. I wrote how scared I felt and how unsure I was about what had just happened.
This was the only symptom that I had experienced and that I know for a fact now, after having this happen to me last year when I was in Italy, that the episode was possibly related to me having MS.
The other ironic thing was finding a page where I had written down the things that scared me the most in life. I was shocked to read that I had written Multiple Sclerosis as one of the two things that I was most afraid of. I was 19 years old.
Question 3: Your diagnosis came at the age of 33. What type of MS do you have? And what medicines or alternative treatments do you take to treat it?
I do have Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. It is a fast moving and quite active kind, but it is the type of MS that is characterized as clearly defined attacks of worsening neurologic function. These attacks—which are called relapses, flare-ups, or exacerbations are followed by partial or complete recovery periods that are called remissions during which no disease progression occurs.
My MS medicine history has been quite interesting too. Before MS, I never took medications and I was used to taking care of things in the natural way” like the 66% of Europeans that use alternative treatments to take care of their health. Because I wasn’t sick too often, I never had to use many medicines or alternative care. My method was quite simple: I never got sick!
A month after my first relapse, I started taking Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) and I took it for less than two months before another neurologist, after seeing the type of lesions I had in my MRI, decided to put me on Avonex. I took this medicine for 5 months and after having another pretty serious relapse, I was switched to Rebif, an interferon that has to be taken 3 times a week.
Seeing that my MS was continuing to be extremely active and after having another serious relapse, in July of 2007, I stopped taking Rebif and I decided to clear my body from all the 3 previous medications I had tried in such a short amount of time. In February of 2009 I started taking Tysabri, the newest member of the MS medicine family.
About alternative treatments, I use supplements, diet and exercise to help deal with the symptoms of my MS. I take a daily dose of Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Magnesium and Calcium and I had to do a Vitamin D replacement twice where I had to take 50,000 International Units of the vitamin to help raise the levels of it in my body.
I believe in nutrition and I pay attention to what I eat. I cook all the food that my husband and I eat on a daily basis and I focus on making meals that are made with as many organic foods as possible and that mainly use vegetables, fish, fruits, nuts and healthy grains. I have been eliminating certain foods from my diet like read meat and some milk products and I am working on a gluten free diet.
I make sure to drink a minimum of 2 liters of water a day. I never drank much soda and I never drank coffee before MS came into my life and I didn’t have to change much. I do drink a small glass of pure cranberry juice twice a day to help avoid getting bladder infections which are common for people with MS. I have tried Reikki, acupuncture for pain, exercise, yoga, and Tai Chi.
I consider these activities very important and I feel that the benefits are numerous and I would strongly suggest them to everyone. It’s important to keep our bones and our muscles strong and activities like Yoga and Tai Chi help with balance, stretching, relaxing and straightening our entire body.
I am also getting ready to try cranial sacral therapy which focuses on working on aligning the body. It is used by physical therapists, massage therapists, naturopaths, chiropractors and osteopaths. A craniosacral therapy session involves the therapist placing their hands on the patient, which they say allows them to tune into what they call the craniosacral system. By gently working with the spine, the skull and its cranial sutures, diaphragms, and fascia, the restrictions of nerve passages are said to be eased, the movement of cerebrospinal fluid through the spinal cord can be optimized.
Because I had two relapses that took away the use of the left side of my body leaving me limping slightly when I get tired and feeling that there is a length discrepancy between my two legs, I feel that this is another complimentary therapy that might have it’s own benefits.
I will let you all know how it will work on me…
Yes, there's more! There's Part 3 and you can also read her PML story. (That's her story about contracting PML after taking Tysabri.) See the links below.