The definition of dementia is a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.
Oh dear! It seems that, according to that definition, I do have dementia. I do have serious memory retention issues, I have lost most of my sense of direction and I do suffer, frequently, from, what is known in the MS world as, brain fog. Lack of concentration makes completing tasks, even simple tasks like writing this article, a bit of a trial.
If the cap fits!
It is a constant source of annoyance, frustration and disappointment as I had long assumed that Multiple Sclerosis while an autoimmune disorder I knew would impact my mobility would not affect my cognitive abilities or my thought and reasoning processes. How wrong have I been!
This is a concern for many MSers and perhaps should be more of a worry for many more. MS is a progressive disorder meaning it will only worsen. This degradation may take many years and the mental decline may be imperceptible. But, just as the use of your limbs weakens so your grasp on reality will fade. I have a friend with PPMS (primary progressive multiple sclerosis) and his mobility is badly affected and his speech is badly impaired but, he is still perfectly lucid and reports no dementia like symptoms.
Am I being melodramatic with this hopeless prognosis? I hope so, and I hope it awakens you to what may become of you. Is the outcome inevitable? Are you fated to this inexorable decline into immobility and dementia-addled stupidity? NO! I don’t believe so. I think our fate lies in our hands. Don’t wait for science to produce the magic pill, the elixir, the cure for MS. You hold the solution in your own hands.
Read the Wahls Protocol, a book by Dr Terry Wahls where she details the effect of diet in the functioning of mitochondria. Mitochondria are the elements in most of our body cells that produce energy. An efficient mitochondria controls almost all of our bodily functions, especially cell-division. The cells in our bodies die routinely and are replaced with new ones. If this process is out of balance cells may not be replaced or may grow uncontrollably. In MS and dementia these cells are nerve cells, and many of our nerve cells are in the brain. It is for this reason that so many of the chronic conditions that we understand so little of, have a malfunctioning mitochondria as the root cause.
Diet is ESSENTIAL to our well-being in so many ways. The well-being of the mitochondria is invisible, at least in the early stages, but is no less important than being able to swim competitively or run a marathon.
Restoring the cellular health of your mitochondria is not difficult but it does require diligence and patience. If you adopt a new diet aimed at reversing the effects of a chronic condition like MS or dementia, you will need to persist with this new regime for many months before you begin to see the benefit.
I have begun the Wahls Protocol diet and within a few weeks the changes were dramatic. It is not a magic bullet, it is not always easy to stick to, but it does work. You may have seen, if you visit any of the social media networks, references to ‘The Secret Allergy’ this is pertinent to this article because The Wahls Protocol works on the assumption that you have a ‘Secret Allergy’ or sensitivity to a certain foodstuff. It works on the premise that the most common sensitivities are to dairy and/or to gluten. I have decided that my sensitivity has been to dairy not least because at one stage my MS symptoms had become so severe that I was completely dependant on help for almost every aspect of daily life and had been consuming yoghurt every day for many weeks. Stopping my dairy consumption improved my health immeasurably.
It is difficult to accept that with this realisation my MS is almost certainly, albeit it unwittingly, self-inflicted. By drinking milk, eating cheese, yoghurt and butter I have been slowly poisoning myself little-by-little all my life.
It took thirty something years for the symptoms to begin to show and if it takes thirty odd years to reverse the damage I will be a VERY old man.
We are all different and each of our MS experiences are different. It is for this reason that each of our solutions will be different. It is likely, no probable, that you have a sensitivity to something you are consuming. YOU need to work out what this is and remove it from your diet.
Dementia can be a sign of ageing, but it should not be an inevitable sign of ageing. Brain Fog in MS is undoubtedly a form of dementia in that it, quite obviously, limits your cognitive abilities and impairs your memory.
I am, as we all will be, getting older, but that is not to say I am OLD. At the time of writing this I am 57 years-young and I should not be experiencing dementia-like symptoms, but I am. My father is 80+ and still very active, alert and driving me potty with his youthful vigour.
Diseases have names which allow us to describe the conditions, or symptoms. But, by definition a disease is the name given to a collection of symptoms so, dementia is the name given to the cognitive ability deficits of a number of mental illnesses. If the symptoms of advanced Multiple Sclerosis mirror the symptoms of dementia, then is Multiple Sclerosis a form of dementia? A point to ponder.