Body & Soul interview
Diagnosed with MS at age 24, Amanda Campbell credits this unusual treatment for her recovery.
I’ve been aware of autoimmune disorders since my twin sister Nicole was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when we were 11. She eventually recovered and went into remission at age 19.
At around the same time, I started to experience pins and needles and numbness in the left hand side of face and my left hand. I thought nothing of it, but did go to the doctors eventually to have it checked out. They sent me for an MRI but I quickly got back to my busy life – I was in my twenties working in the fashion industry, with some amazing Australian and New Zealand designers.
The pins and needles and numbness would come and go. Then the weakness in my left arm started, eventually making small things like driving a manual car impossible.
My doctors sent me to see a neurologist who after more tests told me I had MS (multiple sclerosis) and three lesions on my brain. You see, the clue is in the name, you have to have more than one lesion (multiple) to be diagnosed.
In that moment, everything stopped. Life was never to be the same again. I didn’t understand much about MS other than it wasn’t good and was a chronic and debilitating disease. It was a lot to deal with at age 24. I was so scared of what could happen to me, so I threw myself into life, working harder, going out later, disconnecting more and more with my body.
Five years later, I had a massive attack that left me paralysed. I was 29. It was just after New Year’s and I’d been working non-stop setting up my first fashion start up as well as socialising.
I was with my best friend, when the numbness, pins and needles and weakness returned. It got so bad that I couldn’t lift my arms and the tiny muscles in my body started to twitch. Eventually I couldn’t move at all.
Paralysis is a funny thing, it sounds like you lose feeling, but it’s actually quite painful. I experienced a mix of complete numbness, and a deep hurt – it felt like my muscles were slowly dying. I later found out my new symptom, loss of mobility, meant a new lesion on my brain.
I went to hospital straight away and after three days of steroids, I still could not move. I was transferred to a new hospital which would become my home for two months.
I couldn’t wash or feed myself, which as someone under 30 was totally devastating. What kept me going was the support of my family – my twin sister would sleep next to me in my hospital bed most nights.
Being hospital-bound for eight weeks was the most amazing and difficult time of my life. I had no choice but to stop, which as a ‘busy girl’ was totally new. It was there I met the medical team I owe my life and body to, Dr Gavin Williams a neurological physiotherapist and Dr Michael Bay an Applied (chiropractic) kinesiologist. Every few days Dr Bay would tune me up., waking up my muscles connected to my brain and my nerve pathways.
I worked hard. I was doing my exercises three times a day and physio five days a week, I was desperate to walk again. One Tuesday night after a girl’s dinner where I sat in my wheelchair, I felt what I can describe as a jolt in my brain and my toe moved for the first time. It was then, I started to channel my energy on what I wanted instead of what I didn’t want – which was ending up disabled and missing out on life’s experiences like falling in love and having a family of my own.
Back at the hospital, I asked for extra exercises. I was first to get to physio and the last to leave and six week later it happened. I took those first few steps, which I’ll never forget. It was game on.
Walking was one thing but I also had to learn to smile again, because the left side of my face had dropped and even how to pick things up.
My mobility was back and I became an outpatient, but I still had to lie down half the day. I really felt like I’d lost my spark emotionally. I started researching and came across Dr Terry Wahls in a TedEx video. It was worth a shot. I started following her nutrition advice for autoimmune disease eliminating certain foods and eating more green leafy veg, deeply coloured antioxidant rich and nutrient dense food.
I upped my veggies and drank less coffee and enrolled in Sports Kinesiology as I truly believe that’s why I recovered so quickly. Through learning the therapy I started to focus on de-stressing my body from the inside out. I didn’t just repair but absolutely thrive. I felt myself again and even started to run every morning with pug Henry that I bought.
Today, I’m in remission. It’s been seven years of clear MRI scans and the lesions I have, had reduced dramatically. I haven’t had a new symptom since.
I have mostly good days but I am also only human. I get tired and busy, and sometimes don’t listen to my mind and body – the same as everyone else. Of course I have darker thoughts about my MS, but I meditate three times a day to help and book a monthly kinesiology session to identify any subconscious stress and feelings.
Having recovered I often get asked what the key to great health is – and my answer is always the same – it’s believing it can happen.