Inken Stolley quit her stressful job and adopted holistic living in the capital to manage her MS symptoms

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Whenever 41-year-old Inken Stolley is asked about how she copes with multiple sclerosis (MS), the first thing she tells people is: “MS has become my friend.”

“My MS diagnosis forced me to stop and take a moment to reflect on the stressful life that I led in Germany. I decided to reset my life, let go of my fears and limiting beliefs and started to become much more aware of my diet and lifestyle. MS is my constant reminder to take care of myself. Now, I love to inspire people to live a conscious healthy lifestyle, whether they have MS or not,” says the UAE resident, who moved to Abu Dhabi a year after she was diagnosed with this chronic, autoimmune disease in 2008.

The patient of Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, an integral part of Mubadala Health, first visited an eye specialist back home when she began to experience blurry vision in her left eye and was told that she has optic neuritis, a typical symptom of MS. Doctors conducted an MRI of her brain to confirm the MS diagnosis after which she was prescribed a disease modifying therapy. However, she had a relapse with symptoms of numbness in 2010. That was when she decided to move to Abu Dhabi.

“Today I am grateful. Had it not been for this condition, I wouldn’t have flown all the way to Abu Dhabi to start my journey into a well-balanced life. It is here that I found my family too and I now live symptom-free,” says the mother of a five-year-old boy.

For people with MS, says her physician Dr. Beatrice Benedetti, of the Neurological Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, their physical wellbeing and the progression of their condition is crucially dependent on a healthy and active lifestyle, mental health, along with being on medications. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi offers a personalized treatment approach based on a patient’s characteristics, including severity of the disease, age, family planning, and their treatment preference. When needed, patients also have convenient access to physical, occupational and speech therapy, neuro-ophthalmology, neuro-urology and psychologists for their treatment.

“I believe Inken is an inspiring example for people with MS. One of the main messages that we share with our patients is that they should live a normal life. Most patients can get married, have children, work, travel, exercise, anything they aspire to do,” says Dr. Benedetti.

She explains that while there is no cure for this chronic condition, in most cases relapsing remitting MS can be managed well, especially if treatment is started early in the course of the disease. Paying attention to nutrition and exercise can contribute to improving patients’ health and strength, and slow down the progression of the condition. Patients are recommended to have a well-balanced diet and maintain an optimum level of vitamin D. They are also advised to do moderate exercise and strength training to build muscle mass, and help with coordination and stiffness.

“There are several misconceptions regarding work and exercise among MS patients. They believe exercise may make symptoms worse. On the contrary, it is highly recommended that MS patients stay active to maintain their strength and balance. I keep reminding my patients that as long as they take their medications, lead a healthy lifestyle and follow their doctor’s advice, most of them can go about all their regular activities,” says Dr. Benedetti.

Inken, who runs a beauty salon with her sister in the capital, says that she has managed to keep her symptoms at bay by being disciplined about her holistic lifestyle. “I care a lot about my nutrition, the quality and quantity of the water I drink, spending time in nature as well as my healthy sleep habits, everything I had ignored before I got MS. I exercise daily and start my day with meditation and mindfulness because that keeps my body and mind in balance.”

Inken now connects with MS patients all over the world as an MS Hope Ambassador to help them make the same transformation.

“I’m on a mission to spread the word about healthy living. I want to support more people in the UAE to understand MS better, and see this as a blessing to turn their life around and be able to live a positive balanced life.”

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has launched a new website in English and Arabic that offers MS patients and their families practical advice in a simple and easy-to-understand language on topics including symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, and lifestyle as well as exercise and diet. The site also provides support materials and curated external links for physicians and the wider MS community in the UAE. 

For more information or to book an appointment at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, call 800 8 CCAD (2223) visit or download the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi app.

About Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, an integral part of Mubadala Health, is a multispecialty hospital on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is a unique and unparalleled extension of US-based Cleveland Clinic’s model of care, specifically designed to address a range of complex and critical care requirements unique to the Abu Dhabi population.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi has the following Institutes: Heart & Vascular, Neurological, Digestive Disease, Eye, Respiratory, Critical Care, Surgical Subspecialties, Medical Subspecialties, Emergency Medicine, Anesthesiology, Pathology & Loratory Medicine, Imaging, Quality & Patient Safety, and Clinical & Nursing. In all, more than 40 medical and surgical specialties are represented at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

The facilities at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi combine state-of-the-art amenities and world-class service standards. The hospital is a 394 (expandable to 490) bed facility, with five clinical floors, three diagnostic and treatment levels, and 13 floors of critical and acute inpatient units. It is a physician-led medical facility served by North American/European Board Certified (or equivalent) physicians. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi provides patients in the region direct access to the world’s best healthcare providers and Cleveland Clinic’s unique model of care, reducing their need to travel abroad for treatment.

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi – Al Ain began offering select medical services in December 2017. The facility is located on the Tawam Hospital Campus in Al Ain.

About Mubadala Health:

Mubadala Health is the integrated healthcare network of Mubadala Investment Company. Established 2021, Mubadala Health operates, manages, and develops a portfolio of healthcare assets including: Abu Dhabi Telemedicine Centre (ADTC), Amana Healthcare, Capital Health Screening Centre (CHSC), Healthpoint, Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC), and National Reference Laboratory (NRL). In addition, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is an integral part of Mubadala Health. With a vision to transform the regional healthcare landscape, Mubadala Health sets a new benchmark for the UAE and regional healthcare industry through its state-of-the-art facilities and world-class caregivers who strive to put patients first across its continuum of care. Innovation, research, and education are the foundational pillars of Mubadala Health, supporting the further development of a sustainable healthcare sector in line with the vision of Abu Dhabi and the region.