Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My Experience with MS: Positive Mindset Choices + Belief Systems Impact On Health by John Montalto

“You will not realize the truth of your choices until you have reached your destination” Anonymous

I faced a life changing decision in 1993 when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. At the time I was 28 years old and lived a life with reckless abandon, both physically and emotionally. I smoke, drank and took recreational drugs. Often I found myself in a state of depression and made choices based upon this emotional state, leading to more unhappiness and frustration. I had become a master at sabotaging not only the relationship with other people, but also the one with myself.  I never thought about the consequences of my choices until the day my diagnosis was confirmed. Up to that point I often reacted without reflection before making decisions and in the process, suffering the consequences. Something remarkable occurred when I received the diagnosis and was facing the biggest challenge of my life; I made a decision that had the greatest impact on my well being, the choice to no longer be destructive and complacent, to start a path of positive constructive behavior in regard to my health. I began the process of turning my disease state into a wellness one, by changing my mindset from a closed one to one full of possibilities.

At the time I was diagnosed, my close friend Cindy, who had a serious condition know as Endrometriosis, was attempting to treat her illness with drug therapy. The drugs had such serious side effects that she was forced to stop and re-think her course of treatment. When I received the diagnosis, I was terrified of what I would become as the disease progressed, I had never faced anything this challenging before in my life. The Neurologist who diagnosed me recommended I immediately go on a drug protocol to treat the symptoms; Cindy implored me not to take the drugs based on her experience trying to combat her disease. She assured me that there was a better would way to naturally treat our diseases and had already started to look into alternative approaches and helped me get started. As a person who always chose to take the easy way out, this was not an easy decision to make. I believed in taking the most convenient way possible to resolve any problem I was faced with.  

When faced with the option of taking drugs to manage my symptoms, or taking responsibility for my health by learning about the disease process and how it can overcome without the use of pharmaceutical, I chose the former. I started to do research on the causes of MS and the available treatments pharmaceutically and naturally. I began to weight the pros and cons for each.  The drug-based treatments available were not promising; they seemed more able to mask the disease by treating the symptoms and not underlying cause. The natural approach offered an understanding about cause and effect of the disease process.  This made more sense to me, that to be able to successfully treat a disease, you must know its origin before you can proceed.  The body has an amazing ability to heal itself when you provide the proper nutritional and spiritual input to facilitate wellness.  

I spoke to my Neurologist and got as much information from him about MS, what triggered it, what could I do to prevent an attack, what should or shouldn’t I do in my daily day to day actions to help me stay symptom free. The doctor obliged with as much information as possible, I took many notes and made lists of things he recommended I should avoid in order to  “manage the symptoms” as best as possible. Following this course of action would have limited my ability to live life without restriction and there was no guarantee that it would help prevent symptoms from manifesting.  I was fortunate that the on set of my symptoms were mild, it helped me make a clear decision about what I was going to do. I remember thinking as I looked as the list of things I should or should not do, that I feel good enough to do almost everything I normally do, why should I live in fear of what might happen. I asked myself “why should I not take advantage of what I am capable of today?” “Why should I be a victim when I could take responsibility for my decisions?”  I played a victim for most of my life:  would it really benefit me to continue, or should I finally take responsibility for owning my health and well being. For once I decided to take the unknown path, one that would bring many challenges for it went against every belief system and acted upon in the past.  I took Cindy’s advice not to take the drug recommended for my illness; I started the course of action to naturally treat MS naturally, I was still scarred of what might happen to me, of how my MS symptoms would progress, but I never waved from that decision. I own a great deal of gratitude for Cindy’s friendship and support.

I slowly changed my diet and started to eat clean and healthy foods, I took supplements, which were recommended for MS. The decision was a lot easier than putting it into action, but I gradually starting including more and more healthy choices into my daily lifestyle.  I became less depressed and my outlook on life improved. With each step achieved with success, the more disciplined and focused I became. I developed a passion for learning. For the first two years my symptoms remained mild and slowly the time between outbreaks lengthened. And then they stopped. That was 18 years ago.

Since my diagnosis I have graduated from The Swedish Institute For Massage Therapy in New York City and been licensed by New York State as a Massage Therapist. In the past 15 years I have worked with over a thousand clients privately, in New York’s finest Hotels and abroad. I have taught Massage Therapy classes and prepared students for a career in massage therapy at a New York State accredited school. I been certified as a Personal Trainer by ISSA and an instructor by TRX and have worked with clients in New York City and Germany. And recently, I have obtained my certification as a Life Coach from The Certified Coaching Foundation. All of this might not have been possible if I would have not made the decision to take ownership of my health in the winter of 1993.

When facing your next challenge, consider reflecting on the notion that your belief system plays a significant role in determining your health.  Utilizing a positive mindset combined with affirmative action has great impact on your overall health. And while you may not rise to every challenge, there is always a lesson to be learned. View this as not failure; every choice you make that is authentic and truthful will assure a better chance for you to arrive at a happy and healthy destination.

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