Can we reduce preachy while thinking of the planet AND keep up its care?

It’s hard not to become preachy when thinking about

how we treat HOME.

During this time we may have lots of time on our hands to care about the state of the world. Some of that time may also be spent watching the news.

It strikes me we’re thinking about the planet incredibly LOCALLY.

In adjacent news articles on a morning news bulletin we were first horrified at the increase in littering in parks, beauty spots and laybys (which admittedly all looked pretty horrific) but then the next article was about getting back to flying again!

Do we care, really?

Plants, wildlife and insects have all benefited from no planes flying but the public it seems, are keen to get back to ‘life as normal’.

Flying through the air and throwing out more CO2 which litters the sky and heats the planet up we don’t see as bad as littering near where we live.

Do we think, really?

It’s tricky as in theory, going abroad gives us the chance to broaden our horizons allowing us better to imagine ourselves in someone else’s shoes.

Does travel do that, though?

International travel makes a mess in the sky and contributes to the acidification of our seas and oceans. Not addressing our impact on planet earth while we worry about the litter in the park next door or our wrecked beaches after a weekend of hot weather seems shortsighted at best.

Broadleaf woodland in background
Do we grow enough of the right trees today?

I’m all for supporting the environment

We need to encourage more growing of trees – the right kind in parts of deforested Europe (read UK). Broadleaf woodland that would be recognizable to the builders of the Armada for example instead of the cheap, fast growing pine and discouraging rain forest destruction as it cuts into the environments of animals we like looking at like pandas, koalas, monkeys, chimps and orangutans.

I’m not sure we can have it all.

Kit Kats, Skittles and Oreos (which many of us love) destroy the rain forests by turning land to palm oil production that various ‘fluffy bears’ live in.

The trees from these rain forests soak up carbon dioxide  we belch out through frequent flying. The habitat around us is also changing by producing Industrial rates of beef for our society. Meat free Mondays is just the start.

It seems sometimes we destroy ourselves AND our environment by not stopping and thinking for a minute by letting institutions serving ust to grow unchecked.

Do we have the balance right?

Pleiotropic… what?

Pleiotropic, this word explains why the posts on this site are a little scattered and not yet bundled into nice easy sections.

It’s not just because my brain hasn’t felt sharp enough to turn on a concise, subject dividing sixpence recently!

Also, life isn’t neat and tidy: Everything is interconnected!

what does pleiotropic mean?

Dr Tom O Bryan defined pleiotropic for his followers a few years back… multi-pronged essentially. Wellness and healing take time – they don’t happen overnight. this makes them unsexy and unlikely to grab any headlines. Can you imagine for example?

Extra, Extra, Read All About It:

“Woman makes her life a little bit better by doing a bit of exercise every day, improving sleeping habits, finding a hobby, connecting with friends and eating real food.”

it’ll barely fit on one line for a start!

This whole site is about going at making life a little bit better. Whether you are a person with diagnosed illness or just knackered the whole time and feel like the sparkle has gone from life you will find a post that could be of use. It’s tricky to find the line between being preachy about what we know deep down will be good for us (decent sleep and relaxation) and providing posts of actual use.

This recent link from an employee at the NIH (US National Institute of Health) touches on why we all have to be our own doctor. The institutions around us on the whole don’t make their best profits from well adjusted, healthy customers. It’s not in the food industry’s interest either to encourage us to skip a meal every now and then.

There are many ways we can get life flowing a little better, only one of which is food. Another life improver is exercise: choosing a type that fits into our lives makes it more likely we’ll keep up that New Year’s resolution that fails every year by around March!

I believe the pages on this site can help to make life a little bit better.

It’s perhaps not a huge claim but one that is achievable and when we achieve one thing then we feel more positive about tackling another thing and another…

Marginal improvements are still improvements!

A series recently aired on the BBC, Doctor in the House illustrated this multi-pronged approach to living a better life by living life a little bit better.

A Venn diagram of seeking wellness


How’s your community?

This post is about a question I’ve had for quite a long time.

I started wondering about a week before I broke my foot. Two metatarsals as it turned out the next morning at Accident and Emergency made a truly memorable definitive almost, cracking sound.

Instead of earning the injury smothered in glory and basking in shades of heroism on a field of play somewhere, I misjudged the last step at the bottom of a flight of stairs… in my own home.

I was distracted by something (you’ve perhaps noticed that likelihood from the breadth of previous posts). I choose to keep reminding myself fuzzy thinking and unclarified thought processes happen even to people without the cognitive issues MS can bring.

…Let’s get back to a topic in this post:

At the end of 2013 as an owner of a long term condition and a potential beneficiary of future medical research, I was invited to take a tour around a stem cell lab in Cambridge. The mice whose brains provide said cells are looked after incredibly well. Good food (I assume although I didn’t taste it), fresh air and calming, soothing treatment right up until the point of execution.

Even before a trial can start the three Rs of animal research must be asked before any vivisection can take place:

  • Replace the use of animals with alternative techniques, or avoid the use of animals altogether.
  • Reduce the number of animals used to a minimum, to obtain information from fewer animals or more information from the same number of animals.
  • Refine the way experiments are carried out, to make sure animals suffer as little as possible. This includes better housing and improvements to procedures which minimise pain and suffering and/or improve animal welfare.

(Taken from Understanding Animal Research (the organisors of the event at one of Cambridge University’s colleges).



Their physical condition was being well taken care of but the thing that might have distracted me from the bottom step before I met it sooner than expected, was curiosity and concern about the animals’ wellbeing as I knew their health was well catered for.

The folk working in the lab were very pleased with their new consignment of individually air conditioned living quarters: each mouse’s bedsit was a bit bigger than the size of a shoebox. Each animal was effectively in solitary confinement and had a layer of clear, climate controlled air and at least 2 sheets of rigid plastic between it and its neighbour.

It’s hard not to draw a human analogy as these experiments are being undertaken because the mice are similar to us. The life of a mouse is worth less than that of a large primate in animal research circles; The study has gone through the three Rs so human and mouse brains must be similar enough to be worthy of taking animals’ lives.

These mice didn’t have any social interaction or while we’re thinking about it, access to exercise.

A lab assistant had been telling me of playing the radio 24/7 so the cortisol levels of the mice didn’t spike in response to stray loud noises (which were now being muffled by local radio). Uneven hormone levels could introduce an unwanted variable into the studies, making the end results at best, unreliable.

whilst  the  mice seemed to be well cared for during their shortened lives their care seemed to fall short (in the eyes of this non animal biologist)

We, as humans are advised to get some movement into our daily lives. Our bodies, we’re told, will function all the better for it. Without movement our bodies will atrophy and succumb to all manner of lifestyle diseases. Sarcopenia (muscle loss) we’re told isn’t an inevitability of growing old. Our brains will also suffer from slowed cerebral bloodflow brought on by reduced physical activity.

It’s suggested we cultivate human interaction in our lives and be present in our community. Study after study show survival rates  and life expectancy decline with increasing isolation.

The mere extension of life is no measure or indication of the quality of that life but our experience of life becomes richer in company… even if it’s only to give us the chance to grumble about others: we NEED others in our lives!

To this end I am setting up a public meeting to listen and talk with and to our community about itself.

I’m not entirely sure what the take home from this post is other than don’t be mistaken for a mouse, get as much movement as you can and speak to people on whatever platform you can. Reading this online you have access to a computer; search for a special interest or support group if it’s tricky to get out physically and meet up – no matter what our situation there’s bound to be someone else in our shoes that’s set up a group for people like us (fellow human beings).

Seek out connection, the quality and length of our lives a bit depends on it!

Another post will focus on how our microbiome, made up in part by the communities of bacteria in our bodies that help digest our food and produce happy brain chemicals also need to be paid attention to. How can we eat better to help keep them, and us, happy and functioning as best we can?

This blog is about finding ways for everyone to feel a little bit better.

Thanks for joining in, it would be great to hear your thoughts on some of the issues covered in this post.



Project MS







It’s not really Project MS, it’s ‘project me’.

Project managing the most important project of our lives can get pretty stressful if we allow it to. When you think about it, we all project manage our own health (to a greater or lesser extent) every day of our lives.

If we go out to a party we might try and arrange not to have anything too taxing to do the day afterwards. If we help friends celebrate a little too enthusiastically with either cake or booze or a very late night we might take a few more walks, early nights and fewer parties for the next few weeks.

I’m choosing to be aware of my own behaviours in order to get the best care for myself.

We need to be our own project managers and call on the trades that have historically done us well: physiotherapists, nutritionists and a variety of bodywork technicians.

tool kit on the wall

The impact of disordered blood flow in the MS patient, it has been argued, contributes to the lesions or scars in brain tissue and perhaps an overall shrinking of brain volume over time (although reduced activity can also be at fault here?) Deterioration in mobility for people with multiple sclerosis is, in part affected by having less real estate in the brain for messages to get through to where they need to go.

The head needs a steady flow of blood to transport oxygen and glucose to the brain. In MS patients with slower blood flow it has been hypothesised, brain cells can die sooner than for everyone else. Exercise, with its increase in heart rate and breathing might slow down what is apparently inevitable atrophy in the MS’d brain.

The congenital vascular abnormality theory is not widely held by many doctors. It feels like, from this patient’s perspective, medical professionals seem willing to state there are many potential causes for MS but neurologists seem unwilling to accept that the plumbing (fluids flowing in and out of the brain) cannot be one of those mysterious, as yet unidentified causes.

In the case of MS it seems treating the body (for the patient who owns the body) allopathically – dealing with symptoms rather than getting to the root of the condition (what the experts should be up to?) seems to be our best bet for feeling a little better.

Over the past 20 years I’m not sure I can include neurologists in the list of effective tradespeople for the body?

I think I’ll stick to the alternative, functional practitioners. People working in things that affect me every day:

  • Nutritionist, functional doctor,
  • Physiotherapist, Osteopath, Feldenkrais method practitioner,
  • Shiatsu, Acupuncture and Cranio Sacral Therapist.

So far, I’ve found these professionals to be of most use in keeping my body working as best it can… not forgetting doing an awful lot of reading of my own.

At the moment I’m quite taken with You Are The Placebo it brings a refreshing way of looking at the body we inhabit. It was preceded by Biology of Belief which got me thinking differently about a lot of things. Whist working fairly hard on getting my body to do its best I’ve realised it’s time my mind had some attention, too.


Circulation Cracked?

what does this image have to do with improved bloodflow?

Nothing, except mackerel is also good for the brain.

So, what if any benefits have I noticed after beginning to address circulation and bloodflow issues in me in 2012? Has improved bloodflow below my head made any sort of difference at all?

I believe it has and will list the three things I’m sure have improved and touch on a couple of other points at the end.



My brain no longer feels like an overheated computer that’s given up and switched itself off thanks to a prolonged lack of clear flow of air to its cooling fan. The same thing I (and others who believe in Chronic Cerebro Spinal Venous Insufficiency) was happening to my head. Blood was returning to the heart along the equivalent of tiny, country lanes (collaterals) instead of getting onto the motorway and speeding its way back to the heart. This leaves the head, so the theory goes with deoxygenated blood for longer than it should.


I still occasionally get a brain freeze like the Green Party Leader when being interviewed in the run up to the UK general election in February, 2015. When that happens, I completely forget what I’m talking and thinking about. She thankfully managed to continue getting words out! Nowadays this mostly happens when I’m stressed (as she was). A meal with more sugars than normal can disrupt the bacterial balance in my gut which I think also gives me a foggy/groggy brain after waking.


Aswell as bone crushing tiredness (with no obvious culprit) I was also dozing off after meals which I think was more of an unsteady insulin response but since removing sugar and foods that turn to glucose quickly in the bloodstream this also has gone.

Exercise helped there, too. Specifically, short bursts of intense exercise got my body back to dealing better with sudden rushes of glucose. Raising my heart rate and breathing perhaps jolted my body out of its increasingly sedentary state and reminded it of how it used to function? I mention this as a disordered response to blood sugar also causes fatigue – we’re multifactorial beings so addressing bloodflow from the head was only ever going to be one part of my healing process.

In fact, it’s almost as if the way we treat our bodies has an effect on how they perform for us!

Who knew?

Two more angles to come at the MS symptom problem from are listed below:

I knew my love of zebras was more than just admiring their stripes! This piece of research tells of the zebrafish’s suitability for studying the formation of myelin, (transparent if brief lives). I think it’s safe to say MSers have never been transparent but more importantly in the area being researched in the zebrafish study we can no longer effectively make myelin.

This research makes me wonder why on earth the regrowing of myelin or the vascular aspect of MS not been major topics of investigation?

Sleep and getting useful amounts of it has been touted again in the wellbeing media as one of the kindest things we can do for our brains which is good news to me as I love the stuff!

Avenues of MS research everywhere!

My own research into increasing variety of movement.

New news, apparently… not the same old news!

Quite often there’s not much to report in MS research or what there is to report is all the same shape – either ineffective or carries the potential of life threatening side effects but… there appear to be a handful of avenues opening up!

A family friend from the US sent me this link last week the way concerned friends do. It’s nice to know that folk care and are thinking about you which can give as much of a lift as anything from a blister pack or bottle.

This article was referenced in the Newsweek article and it prompted me to buy some

  • Tavegil/Clemastine, an OTC (over the counter, no prescription required) antihistamine. It was the only molecule tested (out of a 1000 in their lab) that had any effect on the growing of a myelin like substance on little glass pyramids or something like that (yes, science is strange) but perhaps it will help my body regrow some myelin?
  • I’ve been using phospholipid complex since December (mentioned here) and enjoying a poached egg yolk every day to try and support my brain by giving it building blocks for the last few months.

Interestingly, to an utter non-scientist like myself this page describes part of the reason as to whether there might be a useful effect.

I’ve been signed up to be contacted and perhaps get enrolled in the SMART trial. It will be trialling three existing treatments that were developed for other conditions and, I believe are now out of patent so there is little money to be made from them in their original setting (it could be argued).

  • Ibudilast was one of the three therapies to be tested on secondary progressive MS patients when I showed interest last summer. It has been used in Japan (mostly) for the past 20 years as an asthma therapy. It’s a very good anti-inflammatory, apparently.
  • Riluzole has been used to treat The Ice Bucket Challenge disease or more properly Motor Neurone Disease once also known as ALS or Lou Gehrigs disease, I think?
  • Amiloride which is used to treat heart disease – got no punchlines or interesting facts about that treatment or condition.
  • Fluoxetine (better known as Prozac and usually used to treat depression) is taking the place of Ibudilast.

To a layman, I see the mention of having an effect from the antihistamine on asthma and see that the Japanese asthma treatment has been taken out of the MS trial (being funded by Edinburgh University) and I wonder whether perhaps the drug’s creator might be able to change a molecule or two and get another lease of life out of the out of patent drug by repackaging it as an MS treatment?

Seeing this article about the possible role of a psychedelic drug in the treatment of asthma (well, it worked on mice in the lab) leads me to think the creators of pharmaceutical interventions employ  what seems to be a scattergun approach to the therapies they push on us the patients and it really is worth not holding one’s breath for miracles. I’m an entire human being – my body and brain can’t easily get by without the other!

“What we have demonstrated for the first time is that they are also effective in treating physiological diseases outside of the brain, a completely new and exciting role for this class of drug” says study author Dr. Charles Nichols.

a line of wild animal toys

Whilst keeping an eye on various pharmaceutical offering in the pipeline I think I’ll keep up with my personalised integrative approach. My most recent exercise addition is ‘walking like an animal’ using hands and feet not on hands and knees. I can’t manage the half an hour a day that was recommended to me but after a few goes each day for the last couple of weeks I’m an awful lot better at it than I was!

This physiotherapist in Scotland was reported in New Pathways magazine last year and has now received funding to investigate his results from Edinburgh Napier University. I don’t know how or even whether it is allied to the Edinburgh University conducting the MS SMART trial at the top of this post but I think I’ll continue looking at healing my body from a number of different angles.

making life a little bit better

A scarecrow frightening birds from a snowladen field in midwinter nicely sums up just how ‘surplus to requirements’ my poorly performing body can sometimes help me feel. At the same time the image reminds me the world keeps turning and what seems fixed and permanent now will eventually pass.

I figure this online presence allows me to share the stuff I’ve found makes my life a little better (see some of them here) in the hope that you will also share some of the approaches you are taking that have been making your life a little better. We could all try some of these things and by doing this we could make all our lives a little bit better.

I’m not making any huge claims. This is intentional. I, like everyone on earth have good days and bad days so I don’t want to set myself up for a fall (or fail for that matter) which would leave me with useless negative thought patterns shuffling through my head. I believe making life a little bit better can be well within all our grasps.

I’ve been away for a couple of weeks as my eyes have been playing up; making staring at screens awkward at best and the comprehension of words delightfully imprecise. I seem to have a jazz interpretation of predictive text going on between my eyes and brain.

I’ve been trying to work out whether this change in my vision is the fallout from a sugary christmas bringing on a New Year bloom of the opportunistic pathogen, candida albicans or simply recovery from a 24hr viral tummy bug that involved being sick a lot just before christmas.

small improvements

I now wonder what the point is in wasting valuable brain processing power on a query whose answer won’t bring a different outcome. The question of whether a viral fallout or a refreshed candida overgrowth has given me a blurry eye is unlikely to bring any improvements (I’m already back to being on the sugarless wagon).

  • Instead I’ve been going to bed early and sleeping deeply behind our blackout curtains. Our brains fix themselves best when we give them plenty of sleep.
  • I’ve been keeping up doing superslow hand weight exercises to try and stave off sarcopenia (muscle wasting through age isn’t inevitable but through inactivity it pretty much is).
  • The other thing I’ve been doing that helps me feel a little bit better is lying down for 20 minutes minimum with knees bent, feet flat on the ground and a book under my head. The vertebra in my spine seem to like having the chance to soread out (especially as I sleep on a slope (mentoned in the link list on the first line of the second paragraph of this post)

On the radio this morning was an interview with Dr Kate Granger who, after feeling dehumanised and no more than a bed number whilst in hospital started a twitter campaign to get consultants (the folk who mostly are no longer in white coats) to introduce themselves to patients under their care when on their rounds.

It’s the small things that can make life a little bit better. See a report into the benefits of compassion led patient care here.

I’ve touched on a number of things in this post which I’ll be returning to more fully in future. I guess I can sum up the content by saying getting lots of sleep and lying down have been helping me feel a little bit better recently.


Self improvement

self improvement


There are some things I’ve been doing for a long time

  • gluten and dairy free,
  • sprouting seeds,
  • my own modified version of Pilates
  • occasionally visiting an osteopath and a
  • Feldenkrais practitioner,
  • acupuncturist and
  • craniosacral and shiatsu therapist
  • candida I’ve covered fairly thoroughly but

I need to get more organised in sharing some of these subjects.

look out for posts this year about getting more fresh veg into your diet and dealing with an addiction to sugar. At the moment I’m trying out various ways to get back to my low sugar time last autumn that my love of sweet things all around at christmas hit right out of the park.

Sugar free really was a revelation, I look forward to getting back there again and the improvement in mobility but won’t be beating myself up if the journey meanders here and there rather than its course taking an efficient, direct line!

I’d love to hear what you’ve found has helped you.

Ditching sugar… again, hasn’t been a straightforward A to B challenge especially whilst it gets given the plethora of names to hide its presence in packaged foods. The obvious thing to do would be to never eat packaged foods again but that’s an ideal to aim for not an overnight destination. Sugar acts like any other addictive substance in the brain – we’ll reach for whatever’s necessary to get that hit of dopamine unless we pause here and there to think about what we’re doing.

Foods that turn into glucose very quickly in the body also need thinking about. That baked potato that seemed so virtuous really isn’t unless mixed with a good source of protein and/or fat. Wildly fluctuating blood sugar and insulin levels don’t appear to be good for anyone whether you may be on your type II rollercoaster, waiting in the queue or just wanting to get the best from a poorly functioning body. Exercise and apparently apple cider vinegar can help a body deal with glucose, apparently.

Let’s all flag down the self-improvement boat and do our own research. I think it might present our best chance of feeling empowered about choosing the options we’re given. This power brings a range of immeasurable benefits.

We may not have consciously chosen to be here but we can consciously choose to have an ok time whilst we are here!


Chasing Wellness

sprig of holly with berries

Hope you had a good few days of enjoying friends and family’s company and perhaps definitely (for me, anyway) eating more than we normally would. I posted on christmas day the next post would be listing ways we could help ourselves through appropriate

  • eating,
  • moving,
  • sleeping and
  • being still.

I’ve put these 4 aspects of our lives in the venn diagram on this site’s front page as I truly believe when we get them right (whatever state we’re in to start with) good things will follow. I can’t promise a lottery win but better nights of sleep when they’ve been thin on the ground I don’t think could ever be considered a bad result!

For the beginning of the New Year mostly I’ll be coming down off an extended sugar binge. This will more than likely involve going cold turkey from the sweet stuff for four days (again). I Broke my sugar habit at the end of August at the beginning of my candida cleanse which I’ve posted about here, here and here.

This temporary reintroduction has highlighted that my body works better without this substance in it. Whether this is because I’ve been feeding bacteria and causing a boom in numbers of the wrong sort, that don’t help my day to day functioning or I’ve been creating blood sugar rollercoasters that are hard for my system to work around I probably don’t need to investigate further!

I believe, in myself at least and perhaps others that sugar (and to a lesser extent foods that quickly turn into sugar in the bloodstream) functions like a recreational drug eg cocaine in my brain and delivers a release of dopamine, the reward neurotransmitter (more to follow on this subject soon). It feels like my system over the past week or so has behaved as if functioning from underneath a warm, comfortable duvet. This is a nice state to be in when there aren’t things to do but when ‘things’ includes walking with relative ease it’s time to put down even the gluten free mince pie for another year. Saying goodbye to a slightly fuzzy ‘brain fog’ brain will be nice too!

I’ve dealt with addiction to other substances over the years but seeing some foodstuffs as having addiction qualities in this light rings many bells.

It may just be a disordered insulin response which can be addressed with a reduction in sugary, xmas foods and by doing some focused exercise like using a form of HIIT on my exercise bike which I’ve developed over the past year or so after reading other’s thoughts on the technique and through trial and error.

  • I’ve found short bursts of getting my heart rate up that aren’t long enough to effect a change in body temperature (which can temporarily worsen some MS symptoms) work well for me. So far I’ve been doing this every other day to give muscles a chance to rest and repair but I may try daily with slightly less resistance to address the gluten free mince pies of the season!
  • doing planks a few times throughout the day.
  • Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise. Andrew Marr, a BBC journalist and presenter had a stroke after attempting a version of HIIT (high intensity interval training) exercise.
  • I’ve also been doing less Pilates type floor exercise the past week or so which can help with balance and all of this (extra food and drink and less sleep and movement) that the season brings is being remedied this month.


Bring on the super wellness!

Do leave a comment, I’d love to hear about what approaches you’re finding work well for you.


Where are the friends?

I was asked last week ‘where can I find stuff on your site?’

Only being a graphic designer/photographer and not being a web developer or coder (how lame does that make me sound?) for the moment, I had to point the subscriber to the magnifying glass/search box until I get posts categorised in a more useable way.

Eat, Movement and Sleep pages with links to all posts that make mention of them will be arriving first, I think. Perhaps over the holidays?

I’m in the hands of friends and family who are more IT literate than I (or should that be ‘me’?)

Being half American with Stateside cousins I’m dimly aware of Thanksgiving and consciously taking the time to think about what I have to be thankful for. My friends are pretty near the top of the list. Being able to ask for help at certain times helps everyone involved feel good in that exchange of skills.

Until we’ve eaten enough mince pies and gluten-free sweet potato brownies (recipe to follow when it’s finessed) the search box works pretty well to put any term in and see if it’s been talked about in previous posts.

Information is all well and good but when searching for something in particular becomes a task of arctic expedition proportions it can turn the joy of finding stuff out into a chore.

I’d really rather not turn a visit to this site into an extended geography homework session!

I’m just going to squeak this link in; it’s unrelated to the power of searching data but exercise really does make all the difference to me and makes my experience of life, richer.