Jessica Faulds and her MS service dog Nutella.

Taking MS into her own hands – and boxing gloves

At only 26, Jessica Faulds is thriving. She exudes the passion and determination most people aspire to have. Whether it’s with her fitness, nutrition, or her life in general, she’s driven to make the most of it. From the outside looking in, you wouldn’t know that she’s been living with multiple sclerosis (MS) for 11 years.

At the 2018 MS Walk in Calgary, an event she helped organize while working at the MS Society, Jessica describes her MS to a captivated crowd:

“Imagine buying a house with all the money you have, its beautiful and perfect, and you couldn’t be more happy. Unfortunately, a few months in, you realize that the electrical is shoddy, it was installed by someone who didn’t understand how to wire a house. Some light switches work, some don’t, and some only work some of the time. Unfortunately, you can never predict what’s going to work that day, and maybe one day none of the electrical will work. You never know when something will short circuit, so you constantly live in fear, that today will be that day. The catch is, the house looks perfect from the outside. This is my experience with MS.”

For Jessica, her first short circuit occurred when she woke up and her left eye stopped moving. Since then, her MS has been the catalyst for more than 680 injections, 150 different IVs and blood draws, 40 days in the hospital, 21 MRIs, five relapses, and four different treatments.

“I know that for some people these numbers sound scary, and for some us with MS, these are but a drop in the bucket. As scary as they sound, those who know me, know I personally refuse to let MS have a hold on me,” says Jessica. “MS has given me a passion for my health and fitness that I did not have before.”

Jessica has taken on a collaborative health and wellness approach to fight her MS, developing her own personal team of experts and trainers. She’s blended her boxing and personal training at Rumble Boxing Studio with her physiotherapy and osteotherapy at Intrinsi to make sure she is getting the best overall treatment possible for her personal goals.

When Jessica was in university, she used a cane for five months while in university. Since she began working with Rumble and Intrinsi, she has only had to use her cane once while travelling at an airport. She says her balance and mobility has improved immensely.

“I can honestly say I feel the strongest here. I feel like my balance has been the best, my run times have been the best, and I’ve just been mentally happier with my team here,” says Jessica.

“Jess took it upon herself to collaborate and bring us all together, and we found that we’ve been able to talk and work with her on a very personal level, so she’s getting the best level of care,” says Dan Humphries, Founding Trainer at Rumble.

Dan works closely with Jon Gabbai, Director and Physiotherapist at Intrinsi, to make sure they are giving Jessica the right tools and training to push through her MS.

“I think this form of rehabilitation is ideal,” says  Jon. “We’re using different people’s experience and expertise. We take the ego out of our practice and focus on the patient. What do they need and in our team who does it best? Get them involved, and the patient benefits the most from that.”

With a background in nutrition, she’s been able to develop a diet plan unique for herself that leaves her feeling her best. She shares her healthy eating on her blog and Instagram page @alltherightbites. With everything combined, she’s started to see the improvements she’s been striving for.

“I was on medication for fatigue since I changed my diet, since I started taking care of myself better. It has drastically reduced those symptoms for me and I can do it in a more natural way than taking medication.”

Not only has her MS sparked this passion for health and wellness, it’s brought her Nutella – her MS service dog in training.

“For me, Nutella is being trained to block my left hand side. I’ve had nerve damage down there since I was 18 and it gives me anxiety to have strangers on my left hand side,” says Jessica. “Now, due to the numbness in my hands, I drop things a lot. She’s being trained to find things that I lose, like my keys, phone and wallet, all the important stuff.”

Jessica is leaving no stone unturned when it comes to conquering her MS. With her collaborative health and wellness program, and Nutella by her side, she approaches the new year with more strength and perseverance than ever before.

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