Knowledge is power. I don’t know who first spoke those words, but they are as true today as then.
When you have received a diagnosis of MS from your neurologist, it’s time to gain as much insight as possible about this insidious disease. Research into it’s causes and medications are numerous and ongoing. Accessing this collective wisdom is as simple as clicking your mouse.
Learn about the different therapies that are available, and with the assistance of your neurologist, decide which one(s) is best for you. They are all imperfect, but depending upon your unique circumstances, one of them is best for you at this time. The sooner you begin one of these approved therapies, the better your quality of life, and the longer you will remain with us.
Discuss all of these therapies with your doctor, and with other MS patients.
These patients have endured some of these regimens for years, and can give you insight into what you should expect. Nothing is so new that there should ever be surprises in your treatment.
Ask questions, the more the better. You’ve heard it before: there are no “stupid” questions, only questions that go unasked. You live with the effects of this disease, no one could be more knowledgeable than yourself. There are many resources available, starting with your own neurologist.
Think about the MS therapy that best suits your life and lifestyle. Just because a given therapy works well for one individual does not mean that it’s a perfect fit for you. Your life is unique.
Talk to other MS patients. There is no reason that you should endure this fight in a vacuum. You aren’t alone. There are at least 4 million patients in the United States alone; more than this worldwide. What you are coping with today is old news to many other people in this country and the world.
Take some kind of action about what has befallen you, and remain committed to your chosen therapy. MS is an equal opportunity offender. Even the famous are not immune, including the actress Teri Garr, and talk show host Montel Williams, and former Olympian Jimmy Heuga (now deceased) among others.
The following are just some of the organizations that have answers for you:
The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA)
The Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (MSF)
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS)
The Heuga Center for Multiple Sclerosis
The Myelin Project
The National Family Caregivers Association
Well Spouse Foundation
The Americans with Disabilities Act
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Keep asking questions, and looking for answers. You may not always like the answers you find, but they are there.
References: National Multiple Sclerosis Society Web site, http://www.nationalmssociety.org. Accessed May 6, 2010. Multiple Sclerosis Handbook, TEVA Neuroscience, Inc., Kansas City, MO 64131. Accessed May 6, 2010.