Fear Factor, MS Style  

Recently I wrote about gut health and the research taking place around helminth therapy, which involves making sure we have the right balance of microbial worms in our digestive system. The proposed therapy being studied involves drinking a concoction of live ‘worms’ to reintroduce them to our system.  Keep in mind, we are talking teeny tiny microscopic wiggly things and not the types of worms you might use on the end of a fishing hook or find burrowing in your garden soil.

Even though we are talking teeny tiny worms, many people still brought up their fear of worms and how they would not do this type of treatment because it involved their worst nightmare. It got me wondering – what fear factors would keep me from pursuing a cure for my MS?

Fortunately I don’t fear needles, and using injectable therapies are fairly easy for me. But when I read about bee sting therapy or I have those well-meaning friends and acquaintances ask if I have considered subjecting myself to being cross-pollinated by these winged warriors, I always shudder at the thought. It’s not so much the concern about the pain of a bee sting – and yes they do hurt, a lot!  I am allergic to wasps and bee stings and my greater fear is anaphylactic shock – being able to breathe is more important to me than curing my MS. It seems pointless to do bee sting therapy if I can’t be around to appreciate the benefits.

More than worrying about worms or bees, I greatly fear the prospect that gluten might have some connection to MS and in the future it might be demanded that we change our dietary habits. This is the type of worry that could haunt me in my dreams if I didn’t sleep so soundly. Much like the psychological terror that consuming worms brings to many people, I am struck with fear at the prospect of giving up my favorite food group – bread.  I’m not talking plain slices of white or wheat bread, but those wonderful loafs of crusty bread fresh from the local bakeries.  For me, there’s nothing tastier and tempting than the aroma of bread baking in the oven and then taking a warm slice, slathering it with butter and then consuming it bite by bite.  Of course this slow savoring comes with my second slice after  I have greedily gulped down the first slice.  Don’t even get me started on what kind of nightmares I might have if you also tell me that a vegan diet would also be beneficial, because that would mean giving up the bread and the butter.

Fortunately I don’t suffer from claustrophobia so I don’t dread having MRI’s done and that same lack of concern should carry over to the thought that hyperbaric treatments might make my MS better. But I do know plenty of people who have a deeply seeded fear of doing anything that requires being in small, contained spaces and curing their MS by being in a hyperbaric chamber for long stretches of time, would definitely be out.

Avoiding worms and bees, eating bread and butter, or remaining calm in tight spaces is easy right now, but what if these far out ideas prove someday to be correct and I have to consider facing my fears to get better?  It should be the fear of MS and its progression that would get me to try just about anything but for some of these ideas I’m afraid  I would need more than just proof it works.  Fear is a funny thing and how it can hold us back even when we know its detrimental and unfounded.

Wishing you well,

Laura

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