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Friday, August 2, 2013 9:04 PM | J Baker Volg link

from July/August 2013 Issue 80 "New Pathways" magazine, page 38

For 10 years, Janet Orchard was in a wheelchair. Now she can walk with support. What did she do to make it happen?  Janet, 62, was an international human resources professional. She took early retirement and moved with her husband Dave to Catalunya, Spain.

”For the last 17 years I have been grounded by Primary Progressive MS.  For most of that time I have been in a wheelchair. One is conditioned to think that once you get in a wheelchair, there’s no getting out.  But you can, and I have. To see it happen is exciting, and the change just too thrilling for words. Now - with support - I can walk! Not well, not elegantly, and not far. I’ve put a lot of hard work into achieving this, and it has paid off.

This is what I’ve done: Successful CCSVI treatment in 2010 removed many MS symptoms and I got a sharper brain. I have stuck to the Best Bet Diet, diligently avoiding gluten, lactose, lentils, corn, egg white, nuts, potatoes and quinoa.  I have swum, done yoga, used a TENS machine, a Slendertone belt, a Vibroplate and an electric mini walker.

I altered my supplements and diet to concentrate on helping blood flow taking cayenne, parsley, ginger, garlic, grape seed, gotu kola, ginkgo biloba, magnesium, CoQ10. I took IP-6* and milk thistle to remove iron deposits from the brain. I also increased vaporized medical marijuana, an excellent vasodilator (opens blood vessels).

I also did Craniosacral Sacral Therapy (CST) for jaw manipulation, Polarity and Energy Therapy to work on blocked currents and disharmony in my ”chi” (energy field) and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to remove any hidden worries. I also did my own Art Therapy to help mentally prepare me for a return to life.


All these things got me fit and healthy, but balance and walking still eluded me. Maybe I should have more angioplasty for CCSVI?  Something still felt askew, so I made a follow-up visit to Ameds Clinic in Poland. There had been no restenosis, the blood was flowing well but some neurons (nerve cells) had died. They could do no more.

I would not accept that I would never walk again Dilemma! Would I believe I must spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair? Had I accepted my (ex-) neurologist’s prophesy all those years ago of the fate that beholds people with PPMS? A firm ‘No!’ on both counts.

Instead, I signed up for a gruelling, intensive course of physiotherapy at a nearby centre renowned for its excellence. (Tars, Palafrugell, Catalunya). This was going to be a full time occupation – three mornings a week there and the same at home. I was prepared to sacrifice six months, more if necessary – to get me walking again, albeit with support.  The sessions cost 30 Euros each.  At this centre I was introduced to the parallel bars that would help train me to walk again. I eased out of my wheelchair and was helped into a standing position for a few seconds.  I only get out of my wheelchair to do the walking with parallel bars at Tars where I know they will not let me fall. At home I walk up and down the stairs as they have handrails. I can walk anywhere that has railings, up to about 25m. To stay upright and walk takes all my concentration.  During my sessions, my physiotherapist stretches and bends my legs. They move, seemingly by themselves. He pushes my feet until I feel a good stretch. Gradually, the stronger leg looks like my leg again instead of a rag doll’s. The toes start to move.


Lying with knees bent and feet on the table, my knees have to follow the hysiotherapist’s hands. One leg is straight on the table and the other pulled sideways until a stretch is felt.  When the legs are very spastic, they get a thorough massage. (A tip for clonus (shaking) of the foot - double the big toe under itself and hold it there for a few seconds. Invariably it stops.)

We also do balance and breathing exercises. At the first session I almost passed out with hyperventilation. They sat me on a conical rubber cushion balanced on a ball on top of a hard stool with no back support, and gave me two poles to hold on to for ground contact. No chance!

Now, I can balance on such things and even hold a conversation at the same time! I rotate my pelvis whilst pushing back and forth on a large exercise ball. I sit upright with my legs over the edge of the table and they try and push me off - gently – it isn’t ALL Spanish Inquisition there!  One third of my sessions is devoted to helping me walk. To start with, I had to learn how to get in and out of a wheelchair properly, remembering the feeling of being upright. After three months of this I was able to walk fairly well inside parallel bars and climb four steps.  At four months I could walk gingerly with two quad sticks.

I was very pleased to have got that far, but still had no balance and shallow breathing plagued my sessions. Being me, I wasn’t prepared to accept that I couldn’t do better.  What could help balance?

What a difference a brace made –absolutely amazing!

I had heard positive talk of a TMJ (temperomandibular joint) dental brace which some MS friends were using. It gradually realigns the jaw, correcting imbalances in the body. I was skeptical but went to visit a specialist anyway. She told me my jaw had a lot of asymmetry. We were on to something! A Michigan brace was the best for my deep

bite. (The type of brace differs enormously depending on an individual’s palate.) After a couple of hours of adjustment, I swear I could balance better. I took two weeks off going to the centre to see what impact the brace had on its own. Absolutely amazing - better breathing and blood-flow as the jaw muscles relaxed, held gently at a correct angle. I could transfer from chair to loo, standing long enough to pull up and fasten my trousers. I could also stand up unaided to clean my teeth, leaning against the washbasin.  I also have added strength and better sleep. After a month my foot drop was better and I started to clear the floor as I walked. A nocturnal creature by habit, for the first time in my life I look forward to going to bed early. And I love my new sleeping partner, Mr. TMJ!  This has been a long, interesting journey, and I’m nearly there.”