Happy diagnosiversary – lucky number 7

Seven has always been my lucky number ( plus 17 as I’m born on July 17 ๐Ÿ˜‰ )  and this is exactly how I feel today, on my 7th MS diagnosis anniversary.

Lucky. Blessed. Grateful.

Then again…believe the diagnosis and NOT the prognosis ๐Ÿ™‚

My world as I knew it  collapsed when I heard “you have MS” on June 25 2012. That summer I had a very aggressive MS relapse and the number of active lesions in my brain/ spine went from 8 to “we didn’t bother counting them” within 6 short weeks. The prognosis didn’t look good, initial EDSS was 3.5, my entire body was numb, I couldn’t feel the difference between hot and cold water, my right arm and hand were so weak it was impossible to hold anything. But that was all nothing compared to the fatigue I experienced.

I’m so so grateful for my “health” each and every day. Not even in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that things would turn around from where I’ve been 7 years ago – to be able to experience all those moments in the past 12 ( 24) months.

As you’ve most likely noticed I don’t really blog anymore these days and only use my Stumbling Princess Instagram account but as this is another important milestone I felt it definitely deserves a good old blog post.

Let me quickly recap what happened in the past 12 months – I couldn’t stop smiling ( or let’s say laughing ) when I selected the following pics to document what I’ve been up to this past year as no one would have ever thought I could do these things again considering my initial diagnosis – or even enjoy doing them.

You gotta love life, you can’t make this stuff up, lol.

3 – 2 – 1 – Here we go, wohoo!

Juli 2018- September 2018

Thank you Courtney, trainers and fellow workout buddies at F45 Frederiksplein, F45 truly is “team training , life changing” and I love being part of this community. Can you imagine they dedicated their first anniversary to me and MS research? The F45 community collected donations for Mission Summit to support Project Y at Amsterdam UMC not only on the big day itself – but all week long! Thank you again to everyone who donated to this cause that is so close to my heart โค

My first F45 Challenge! I lost 7.7kg ( see, 7 is my number) , 10% body fat, gained muscle, got super fit and a nice little six pack. I started to workout almost daily and noticed the more and harder I work out, the better I feel. If I live like an athlete in terms of training, nutrition and lifestyle I hardly have any MS symptoms.

I also (kick) boxed a lot during these months and took my first hot power yoga class, something I never tried as the typical MS health “recommendations” say heat and MS don’t mix well. Glad I went to this class as it was the beginning of a new adventure.

I even won the second place of the F45 Challenge and got 3 months membership for free – so went back for more and signed up for yet another 8 week challenge.

September 2018

Since 2012 September means one thing to me: MRI.

No matter how often I’ve been there, it’ll always be a bit nerve wracking as I usually have to wait a week for the results. That’s actually also the only time of the year I see my neurologist at the VUmc MS Center – he shares the results and usually can’t wait to hear what ( unusual) things I’ve been up to the past 12 months.

It was yet another stable MRI! My neurologist agreed to not use any contrast fluid ( very bad for you ) this year and even better – he told me if my upcoming MRI is clean again, I won’t need to come for yearly MRI’s anymore but only every other year! So fingers crossed for September 16 please, I’m busy manifesting yet another perfect MRI ๐Ÿ™‚

After the MRI/ waiting game we went straight to Italy for a week of hiking around the beautiful Lake Lugano and I must have been on every surrounding peak as I couldn’t get enough of the mountains and unspoilt views.

October – December 2018

I’ve finished my second F45 Challenge and officially arrived in the muscle/ fat “athlete” category! What an interesting experience to see your body transform in ways you thought weren’t possible, especially in such a short time and considering all those “labels” like MS and age. I get so much energy from my workouts that I never have to push myself to exercise – I always love to train and am so grateful that I can as I remember the times I couldn’t even cycle for more than 2 mins at the physio’s practice before my body started to strike.

Yoga became more and more part of my schedule which at first was very confusing to me as, until then, I never really enjoyed it and used to be quite bored…but then I tried hot power yoga and I had no choice but to surrender to the heat and yoga.

January- February 2019

Another long “healing through adventure” trip!

This time we traveled around Vietnam and Laos, tried to not get hit by scooters in Hanoi’s crazy traffic, did some ( foggy & muddy) trekking in Sapa, enjoyed incredible sunsets in Luang Prabang, cycled along  Trang An river in the picturesque Ninh Binh area.

My highlight was the 3 day Tiger Cave Adventure in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, home to the largest caves in the world. Not only did I experience how dense a jungle really is and how hungry leeches are – we also hiked, climbed and swam through several caves. By doing so I also traumatised myself a little during one incident when I was all of a sudden fully aware that I’m in the middle of nowhere, deep inside the earth, the next road is a full day jungle hike away and I’m abseiling on a wet, slippery rock inside a cave so huge no torch light can make it all the way to the bottom. Yep, that was definitely my scariest moment in the past 12 months.

But for the rest I felt like my funny self during this trip ๐Ÿ˜‰

March – May 2019

I couldn’t help but giving in to the wish to deepen my own yoga practice so I signed up for a 200h Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training at Equal Yoga, the studio that made me fall in love with ( hot power) yoga.

I’m so grateful I got to learn so much about yoga, the philosophy, the asanas, ayurveda – but most of all for how that experience – and yoga magic – made me “feel”.

My YTT family – thank you for accepting me as I am, I really felt “equal” at Equal Yoga and not like the “oldest student with MS”. I’m so grateful for my teachers and new friendships with fellow students. Turns out I can open up and “feel” again as I was the one crying ( not out of sadness but joy and pure awe) during our very first meditation on day one and also “closed the circle” after our final savashana together as I made everyone cry.

All of this just happened a little over a month ago and I’m still in the phase of letting it all sink in but I’d love to follow further workshops and trainings in the next year(s), especially everything yoga therapy/ healing and breathwork related.

That was my yearly review in a nutshell. 7 years, wow.

As every single day in the past 12 months I woke up feeling very grateful for what I have and especially for the love and support I receive. Thank you to my “inner circle” aka my parents, Mr. X, Ruby, besties and close friends but also to all those beautiful, inspiring people I’ve met the past months.

I’m really excited what the future holds, bring on the next 12 months ๐Ÿ™‚

xoxo from Amsterdam, Anja

Self-experiment #2/ 2015: running (for real!)


BREAKING NEWS – turns out I can run again!

Until now I was either too poorly or too scared to run as I’m not a big fan of falling, failing or more drama. For some reason I decided to give it a go this morning and what can I say – WOHAAA! It was 100% better than I could haveย imagined and it felt so good. Well, I better be careful with the word “feeling” as I can’t feel how fast I run or anything else, I only know my legs are moving but it feels as if they’re not mine. Crazy feeling but on the positive side I also never felt any pain while exercising. I ran all the way to our dog park, added a HIIT workout there and back. Of course it was a bit too much but I can’t stop myself once I’m in my hyper mood ๐Ÿ™‚

Honestly, I thought this would never ever happen again in this life, that’s why I’m feeling very blessed as I know not all of my fellow MS Warriors can do that anymore or at least at the moment. That thought gives me the extra push as I’m definitely not taking it for granted. It took ย 2 years of physiotherapy, gym, theย pool, all kind of exercises, lifestyle and diet change to get to this point, step by step, in tiny baby steps.

But now I’m here.

That doesn’t mean I’m doing that much better, I just learned how to deal with the daily craziness of MS and it doesn’t bother me a lot, I finally feel like I’m the boss now. My efficient day still ends around lunch, so combining my daily walk with my dog and exercise seemed like a smart idea.

My next goal – running the 5k for my hospital’s MS Center in April, only 6 weeks to go but it should be doable if nothing major happens in between and if I allow myself some extra rest. Fingers crossed ๐Ÿ™‚


Thanksgiving thoughts

Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving!

There is so much to be thankful for and it’s important not to take anything in life for granted.
As I didn’t sleep that well last night, I thought about all the things I am grateful for.

It’s a lot and comparing that list to the two stupid letter, MS, I think I still have a great life! ๐Ÿ™‚

Things I am thankful for

– being alive
– having unlimited access to clean water
– food whenever I feel hungry
– a warm “shelter”
– safety, I do not need to worry about any kind of (direct) religious or political threats
– not experienced a war
– living in a democracy
– education, I can write and read
– electricity and heating
– medical aid and a social health system
– access to MS drugs, all costs covered by the insurance
– unconditional love
– family and boyfriend, without you I would likely give up on some days
– friends in good and bad times
– inspirational new Twitter friends
– all the support I received during the past months
– I know how it feels to run, jump, dance, swim, cycle, move, see, hear, talk. Many never have the chance to experience any of these things
– being diagnosed with MS at the age of 33 – I was never seriously sick before, experienced a “normal” life, studied, worked, partied, travelled, all to the max, so slowing down my life is fine
– financial security
– seeing my illness as a chance
– positive mindset
– internet, to keep in touch with all of you and get information
– movies
– music, keeps me going
– books, for the days I can’t focus on tv
– good days
– bad days
– joy
– laughter
– a perfect sunny fall day

and million more little things that make me smile ๐Ÿ™‚

“We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.”
Albert Barnes