Health

Thursday 28 August 2014

I beat MS

When diagnosed, Dermot O'Connor completely changed his lifestyle and his symptoms vanished. Anyone, he says, can heal themselves ...

Always a night owl, I woke up one morning in 1998 feeling tired and groggy. I rushed into work, but when I settled at my desk I soon realised that this was not going to be any ordinary day.

When I tried to speak, the words just wouldn't come out. The harder I tried, the worse it sounded.

This was terrifying. What was happening to me?

I went home and retired to bed hoping that some good rest would miraculously restore my speech.

However, this hope soon faded when I realised that not only had I the same difficulty speaking, but I had now started to lose sensation in my body.

Following a stint in hospital and a series of tests, I was given the most devastating news -- I had a particularly aggressive form of the neurological disorder Multiple Sclerosis.

The neurologist believed that this life-changing and crippling disease was very active in me and I was destined for an extremely rapid decline.

He considered that I would be very fortunate if I was still able to walk within two years. I knew he was widely considered the most eminent of his profession, so how could I question his judgement?

This was, to me, perhaps the cruellest of all illnesses. Whenever I heard about people travelling to Switzerland for euthanasia, it was usually in relation to MS.

Rather than endure the inevitable loss of function and dignity that frequently accompanies this condition, they would prefer to embrace death.

One famous sufferer, the razor-sharp comedian Richard Pryor, had MS and he ended his days confined to a wheelchair unable to speak or feed himself.

To say I was terrified is an understatement. What could have caused all of this? Like anyone in this situation, I asked, "Why me?"

From there, I began a journey, that started with a period of self-reflection. I questioned everything about my life. I looked at my own psychology, my emotions and my tendency to dwell on frustrations and resentments.

Like most people, I considered myself to be completely normal and emotionally healthy. However, there was one trait that was particularly noticeable.

Whenever I felt I had suffered an injustice, I would hold on to a huge amount of resentment.

Something as trivial as being dropped from a rugby team when I was 15 would still make me really angry when I thought about, even though I was now almost 30!

The quote ascribed to Buddha came to mind: "Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."

I also looked at my nutrition and approach to exercise. Where I worked, I was fondly known as the "human dustbin". Colleagues joked that if they didn't want to finish their lunch, they could leave it on my desk and I'd polish it off.

I simply ate everything, both healthy and junk food. That was like putting both petrol and diesel into your car and hoping that the correct fuel would compensate for the wrong fuel.

From that point on, I was only going to eat the right food.

My research brought me to the work of Dr Roy Swank. Dr Swank believed that there was a direct correlation between MS and heavy intake of saturated animal fats and the trans fats in processed foods.

When I also looked at specialist diets to combat other diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, I noticed many similarities.

From here on, I was only going to put the correct fuel into my body and I developed a 'perennial diet' that encompassed all the elements common to most anti-illness diets.

This would eventually become the Healing Code Nutrition Plan.

When I was younger, I was so heavily involved in sports that I was never overweight.

However, at 29, I had become far less physically active and was almost four stone overweight.

Together with my new nutrition regime, I had to become more active again.

It also occurred to me that while most Western exercise systems have their roots in enhancing sporting performance, Eastern exercise systems were developed primarily to enhance health.

Systems such as yoga from India and chi kung/tai chi from China had been helping people to restore health for thousands of years.

This was what I needed, and I started chi kung, travelling to California to train with one of the world's great chi kung masters.

I also considered my physical health throughout my life and looked for signs along the way that something had not been as good as it should have been.

If someone asked me a year before I was diagnosed with MS if I was healthy, I would have said that I was. This was based on the fact that I hadn't been in hospital since I was three and had never missed a day at work.

But really, was it true? Although I didn't take time off work, I would still catch a cold almost every month. My sinuses were completely blocked 100pc of the time.

When people would say breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, I always thought this was impossible.

Furthermore, after exercise, I would frequently feel light-headed. I was a complete insomniac, while during the day I was very low in energy, keeping myself going with caffeine and sugar.

I simply accepted this as being part of who I was.

Yet these were all signs that something was wrong, and I believed that if I could correct my lifestyle many of these aspects of my health would change.

I resolved to overhaul my lifestyle and heal myself.

I attended a lecture by Irish hypnotherapist Dr Sean Collins. Sean was conducting valuable research on the effect of the mind on the body, and he had just completed his first book, 'Tipping the Scales'.

Dr Collins promotes the view that while making one change to your life might not be enough to conquer an illness, the cumulative effect of implementing a number of changes could be enough to tip the balance of the scales back in your favour.

It has been scientifically established that almost 40pc of medical conditions are curable by the power of the mind alone.

Pharmaceutical research trials have to eliminate this healing factor to establish if their drugs are clinically effective or not.

Many drugs in common use today have been passed as effective treatment even though they are just marginally more successful than the power of the mind alone.

What if those who healed themselves with their mind could teach the rest of us how they did it? What if the leading practitioners of hypnosis were there to guide us in the mind-healing process?

I wanted to put together an arsenal of the best mind-healing techniques, so I sought out and trained with the world's leading practitioners of mind medicine.

These included hypnotherapist Paul McKenna, and the inventor of NLP, Dr Richard Bandler. I also trained in China with some of the leading practitioners of shen-gong, or mind-work medicine.

I also reawoke my interest in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Following a rugby injury when I was 19, my knee had some severe ligament damage that meant I couldn't play for three years. This was despite extensive physiotherapy and prolonged rest periods.

Finally, my sports doctor and physiotherapist concluded that my knee would require surgery.

As almost an act of despair, I decided to visit a local acupuncturist to see if he could help. After just two treatments, my knee seemed almost perfect and I was back playing rugby again within a month of my first session.

Today, I treat people with a variety of life-challenging conditions who are using the methods contained within the programme that I developed.

The approach, at this stage, has been used to treat conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Parkinson's with sometimes staggering results.

What's more, I am completely symptom-free of MS and I'm enjoying a full health recovery.

'The Healing Code' has just been launched as an eBook and is available on Apple's iBookstore and Amazon. www.healing-code.com

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