Living with Multiple Sclerosis: 5 Steps Toward Empowerment
I’m not one of those people who will tell you that you can cure your multiple sclerosis (MS) with a positive attitude. But I will tell you that your attitude — that is, how you choose to deal with MS in your life — is crucial, not only emotionally, but physically.
It may seem so at first, but a life with MS is not necessarily a life out-of-control. As unpredictable and as debilitating as MS can be, there are some very basic things you can do to take control over this unwelcome intruder in your life.
1) Accept what is: After all the tests and the second opinion are in, accept the diagnosis and that MS is now part of your life. It is most certainly not the only part of your life… it is not even the most important part of your life… but it will not serve you well to deny its existence.
2) Do your homework: Educate yourself about what MS really is, not what you’ve heard it is, or what you think it is. Make sure you understand the available disease-modifying drugs so that you can intelligently decide whether or not they are right for you. It’s your decision and you have to own it.
3) Make accommodations: If symptoms are getting in the way of normal activity, do something about it. Whether it’s purchasing a cane or other mobility aid, installing a shower chair, or applying for a handicapped parking placard, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of everything at your disposal so that you can continue to function as independently as possible.
4) Protect your overall health: There are many things you can do to maintain strength and protect yourself from other preventable illness — regular exercise and a balanced diet go a long way toward that end, as do avoiding tobacco and other harmful products. Unfortunately, having MS doesn’t mean that you are not vulnerable to other diseases — this is no time to get lazy about your health.
5) Don’t let anybody push you around: MS is widely misunderstood, but tends to cause presumptuousness in acquaintances and strangers alike. Nobody understands your body, your mind, your life the way you do. Rather than let them get you down, use the opportunity to educate others. When you’ve got serious questions about this serious disease, address your concerns to appropriate medical professionals or other very trusted sources. Friendships with other MS patients create a strong support system.
These things, taken together and worked consistently, will empower you and enable you to be your own best advocate.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic neurological disorder affecting the central nervous system. The course of MS varies greatly from person to person, making it impossible to predict the progression in any one patient.
MS Information and Resources:
Writer Ann Pietrangelo embraces the concept of personal responsibility for health and wellness. As a multiple sclerosis patient, she combines a healthy lifestyle and education with modern medicine, and seeks to provide information and support to others. She is a regular contributer to Care2.comís Reform Health Policy blog in Causes.