Taking Control of Multiple Sclerosis with Jasmine Joy PH169
“You have something like a major surgery, whether you have MS specifically or whether you have any other type of autoimmune disease or anything like that, but those don’t have to be death sentences. Even though that’s what they feel like when you first get diagnosed, and if the relapses are hitting harder and harder, or if the symptoms are getting worse. It’s easy to think it’s just going downhill. The biggest thing that CrossFit has done for me is to remind me or show me that I can take control of my health. I can take control of what my body does, I can take control of what I put into my body, and all of those things are going to benefit me.”
- Jasmine Joy
To look at Jasmine Joy, you would never know there are lesions on her brain and spinal cord, or guess that rods and screws are holding her spine in place. To the casual observer, 26-year old Jasmine is healthy, happy, and moving freely with full intensity in the gym.
Yet, it is actually because of those three things that Jasmine is capable to live her life with little fear of what is to come. The choice of health, happiness, and movement are life-changing ones.
When she was age 20, Jasmine was preparing for a spinal fusion to treat severe scoliosis. The surgery would help adjust and hold her spine by using two metal rods and at least a dozen screws and would be followed by a daunting recovery process. Jasmine would have to relearn how to stand, walk, move, and function on her own before returning to college.
During the preparation process, the doctors asked a series of routine of questions including, "Do you ever feel numbness, tingling, or pins and needles?" Jasmine told the doctor yes, thinking "who doesn't?" However, the degree, frequency, and locations of pins and needles she was experiencing was not normal and thus, further testing began.
An MRI revealed that Jasmine had lesions on her spinal cord and brain. During what was supposed to be the most fun and social time of her life, Jasmine learned that she likely had Multiple Sclerosis, and she was still preparing for a terrifying spinal fusion to boot.
Jasmine’s fusion was a success, and after an arduous and painful recovery she returned to school, but her health challenges weren’t over. Follow up testing revealed that at just 20 years old, she had Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. Over the next several years her doctors worked to find the right medications to help her as she struggled with pain, allergic reactions and extreme side-effects like depression.
Jasmine also started to make some changes on her own. Driven by having own basic mobility taken from her after her spinal fusion, she was no longer taking movement for granted. She began running, paying attention to her nutrition, and frequenting the gym. Says Jasmine, “I not only realized what a gift movement was by having it taken away, but I also had this looming dread that one day my ability to move might still be taken away, and maybe for good. If there was any chance of that, I wanted to do everything I could now.”
After trying all sorts of fitness, Jasmine ultimately joined a CrossFit affiliate and fell in love with it during her first class. She recognized that in the years to come she might lose some of her abilities, and she knew that when that time came, she would be able to continue by adapting her workouts or finding someone to help her, regardless of how her MS might eventually look.
Now 26, Jasmine has been symptom-free since starting CrossFit, and her MS specialist encourages her to continue with high intensity exercise. CrossFit helps Jasmine forget she even has a terrifying disease with no cure and her doctor assures her that her beliefs as to how she is no longer experiencing symptoms is neither cheesy nor crazy- it’s possible and likely.
The impact CrossFit has had on Jasmine’s life is remarkable. She says, “I know that because of CrossFit, I took control over who I was, who I wanted to be, and the role my conditions would play in my life. I no longer focus on what my body looks like, rather on what it can do. I celebrate new movements and strength, not pounds loss. I look at ingredient lists, and I keep track of macro-nutrients I am taking in, not which food to "cheat" with. I have a massive second FAMILY of people I get to talk to authentically, get to know on good days and bad, workout next to, coach, celebrate with, and just live this life everyday seeing…. I am fully aware that to most everyone, CrossFitters sound like they are this insane cult of people who only talk about CrossFit. However, when you find a community, methodology, and sport that does for you and for countless others what it has for me? How can you not be obsessed with it in some way? CrossFit shapes your life.”
When Jasmine first shared her story with me, I was incredibly inspired by her courage and her desire to focus on the variables within her control as she manages her MS diagnosis. In this episode, we chat about the evolution of her journey, how CrossFit and her CrossFit community have played a huge role in managing her symptoms, and how she keeps a positive mindset in the face of such an unpredictable disease.
In this episode we discuss:
- Jasmine’s childhood diagnosis of scoliosis
- How her daily life was impacted by the condition
- Preparing for major back surgery and how that led to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis
- What her recovery process looked like
- Using nutrition to help manage her MS symptoms
- Jasmine’s early treatment plan, which was primarily focused on medication
- How she got started with CrossFit and the evolution of her training
- How the adaptability and scalability of CrossFit appeals to Jasmine as she approaches her MS long-term
- How the rods in her back impact her movement in the gym
- How CrossFit and her community have impacted her life
- The importance of recognizing that a diagnosis does not have to be a death sentence
- Three things Jasmine does on a regular basis that have the biggest positive impact on her health
- One thing she struggles to implement that could have a big impact on her health
- What a healthy life looks like to Jasmine
You can connect with Jasmine via or Instagram or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you like this episode, please subscribe to Pursuing Health on iTunes and give it a rating. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below and on social media using the hashtag #PursuingHealth. I look forward to bringing you future episodes with inspiring individuals and ideas about health every other Tuesday.
Disclaimer: This podcast is for general information only, and does not provide medical advice. We recommend that you seek assistance from your personal physician for any health conditions or concerns.
This post was originally published on November 9, 2020.