Skip to main content

“Six years ago I would have been a shaking, sobbing mess of brain-fog”

Guest blogger Janet Orchard charts living with MS and a pandemic in a foreign country

janet1.pngIn Catalunya, Spain, strict lockdown started mid-March. One person per household could go once a day to the nearest place to buy essentials but it was preferred that everyone stayed home. The slogan “Yo me quedo en casa” (I’m staying at home) is everywhere.

Medicines, fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, cheese and, you’ve gotta love the Catalans, panellets, a delectable sweetmeat, are deemed essential. 

The local police deliver medicines to the vulnerable and if it is your birthday (as it was mine) they will show up personally with a present. The only catch is you have to be under the age of 6 – a shame as there are some pretty cute cops around here!

As la nueva normalidad (the new normal) has been emerging, with armies of little vans ferrying fish from the nearby port, fields of locally grown organic produce, chicken and cheeses brought to the door all being part of life now I feel I can start to relax.

The food has, if anything, been slightly enhanced as the fishmonger and greengrocer decide which of their produce is the best and deliver it, both having known us for 20 years and familiar with our diet to manage multiple sclerosis (MS) (12 years Best Bet Diet, the last six years eating from the 90-day food list of the Ann Boroch Protocol (ABP)).

Phoning around to ensure adequate stocks of my arsenal of vitamin C, D3, zinc and antifungals has shown me that the minute another potential cure for el virus is mentioned, a few hours later all sources will have been depleted. Still, being a chocoholic, I have ensured I have enough 100 per cent cacao for a few months and carob seeds ready to plant. I know they are a legume and take six years or so to bear pods but it is good to know I have a fallback.

In Spain they have been prioritising the young as all hospitals, even the improvised hotels and pavilions, are full.

It has been a remarkable test of where I have got to. Six years ago I would have been a shaking, sobbing mess of brain-fog wondering how to cope and being sceptical as to whether I’d survive. Thanks to the ABP I am healthier than in my entire life and do not feel ‘elderly’.

Emerging from lockdown

Now, it looks like the worse of lockdown is over. Everyone is rather excited to see that as from 03 June, distanced gatherings of up to 15 people are permitted. No one was allowed out of the home, even for exercise, initially.

janet2.pngIt became chaotic for families with children of varying ages as each one had to be exercised at a different time for up to an hour accompanied by an adult. Exercise hours are relaxed now apart from for the over 70s who still have set time slots, but now the no further than 1km parameter from the home rule is relaxed. 

Bars and restaurants are re-opening with a 40 per cent capacity seating, toilets disinfected at least six times per day, no menus, oil, vinegar, salt or pepper on tables. Cinemas and theatres are at 30 per cent capacity. Pools must be accessed by prior appointment.  Sunbathing is allowed with four square meter distancing. Everyone over the age of six must wear a mask on public transport and where a two-meter distance can’t be maintained.

Our peace will be over on June 21, just before San Juan our national holiday, as movement between regions should be allowed. This area is favoured by Barcelonans for their summer houses but has been off-limits as no one can cross-province boundaries.

Police cars with loudspeakers roamed the area reminding people to quedar en casa, local restaurants distributed free meals to the vulnerable, and roadblocks were in place to stop town-dwellers accessing their second properties. There was very little traffic either by road or air, and the wildlife in the area has enjoyed its freedom. The Catalans though have missed their abrazos (hugs). Everyone is fearful of the church bells tolling in honour of the fallen, but we have been spared the high numbers elsewhere in Catalunya with 19 people affected in our village. 

janet3.pngOver the years I had got used to reading lists of what you miss from your pre-MS life. Now I am seeing numerous asking what is the worst thing that lock-down has prevented you from doing.

Instead of counting those angry and sad failures and interruptions to life, it is rather good to note the pluses.

All in all, lock-down has been as pleasant an experience as it could be thanks to the generosity of the Catalan tradesmen who, poor things, look absolutely worn out, yet still smiling. 

Being spared food shopping has given me even more time to exercise, so I have gained from the situation. The most time-consuming part of el virus has been keeping up to date in the Catalan press on the latest movements whilst trying to ignore the political in-fighting as happens in all countries.

It will take a few months to form this nueva normalidad that is here to stay for a while.

Lockdown was the easy part. Rebuilding the economy will have far more devastating hoops to jump through.

Figures point to the already unhealthy as vulnerable.  As in nature itself, the fit survive.  For those of us who have been beavering away at healing all this time, it was not in vain.  We have been actively working to improve our health. The large quantities of supplements we pour down, the exercise, the knowledge that we are on our way to living a life free from MS and the other conditions MS/candida has heaped on us will show their worth now. 

We need to change, the world needs to change. Neither can be patched up indefinitely but need serious work, a revamp, just as I have learnt on the ABP. I am proud to have stuck to my guns and healed naturally in what was becoming an unnatural world. Swap the stress for excitement at what we can achieve both for ourselves and the planet.

Anyone not being proactive about healing from MS, I urge you to think about it. It’s your best present to yourself and the world. With a thoroughly healthy population, there would be far less strain on health services and such a widespread pandemic would be better managed.

Life continues though. Look outside. Learn from the birds, butterflies and other wildlife behaving as normal. Don’t get pulled into the doom and gloom. Breathe (in your own socially-distanced space). Relax those shoulders. Feel the negativity melt away. Smile.