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Living with Multiple Sclerosis: 5 Steps Toward Empowerment

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:

Multiple Sclerosis Foundation

National Multiple Sclerosis Society

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.

Read more: Conditions, Health, Living with MS, Multiple Sclerosis, ,

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37 comments

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2:44AM PST on Jan 26, 2012

Thank you

12:48PM PDT on Aug 21, 2011

...I'm still learning from your article's--Thanks Ann!

12:15AM PDT on Jun 24, 2011

Thanx for the article.. In a previous article of yours on JK Rowlings donation, I mentioned my boyfriend having ms.. He went for a check up at the beginning of the year and we were so happy to know that he hasn't had any new lesions since starting his treatment, he also started doing yoga and eating healthier (I hope) and I can tell it's affecting him but he's dealing with it so well, I'm so proud of him and I think those few changes has made a big difference over all... Thanx for all these articles, Ive enjoyed reading them

2:29PM PDT on Jun 13, 2011

Thanks.

6:45AM PDT on Apr 7, 2011

Thanks for the article.

7:36AM PST on Mar 9, 2011

i also feel this "being electrocuted" at every moment. I have termed it "big energy" moving through my body and mind. I meditate, teach meditation, and sitting with this energy is very very difficult. But it helps me to open to it. It sucks big time, but the awareness of the feeling helps.

1:45PM PST on Mar 7, 2011

Multiple Sclerosis been good to me in 2010 and I pray it continues in 2011. Yes, I have had my moments, but it has not been as bad from previous years. There is no doubt in my mind, God does not give us more than we can handle.

9:45PM PDT on Sep 11, 2010

It has been over a year since the news about CCSVI & MS broke in November 2009. The Italian doctor, Paolo Zamboni, released his findings about a remarkable treatment for chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) which has been reported to be found in 97% of MS patients.
Many countries have begun testing & treatment for this disease, ie Poland, Bulgaria, Mexico, Costa Rica, India, Kuwait, Australia and some places in the US. There maybe others I have forgotten and I apologize.
What is wrong with Canada & the majority of the US? I ask people to think as if they were the ones living with this disease with no cure, worsening each day & there is a treatment that has research all over the world and has showen improvements for the majority, what would you expect from your medical community and govn't? Would you stand by getting worse and possibly dying while 'they do more research'? Or, would you ask them to fund trials & keep a registry of people who go to other countries for the simple procedure?
Oh did I mention that the govn't wasted billions of dollars hosting the G6 & G20 summit? Total mismanagement of funds...
Don't just take my word for it and do some research. We need to start thinking for ourselves and stop trusting that the govn't & medical professionals are always looking out for our best interest.

8:27AM PDT on Sep 8, 2010

thanks

2:00PM PST on Jan 29, 2010

great news and I hope this link works, just cut and paste to the address line - http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20100127/ms_treatment_100127/20100127?hub=Health&s_name=

You can also join my group at "MS Liberation - End Multiple Sclerosis". We can do it!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Silly and simplistic. And self-centered.

Good basic tenets that could lead to a better mindset. Thanks.

Helpful Infographic, thanks!

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