Wednesday, July 25, 2012

"Am I going to die?" well yes, but probably not today....


Being newly diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis is scary business.  

I remember the day I got the diagnosis.  It was heart breaking.  I thought my life was over.  Now that I have been on this ride for more than a year I realize that it is not over, I have been given a new life.  In the midst of all of the uncertainty with MS, I realized that I do have control over some things and that is what I can do to keep myself as healthy as possible. 

One of the first things I hear when I talk to people who are newly diagnosed is “I’m not ready to die!”  Well, the good news is, most likely that really does not need to be an immediate concern.  The fact is while we are more likely to suffer from disability in some form or another; our average life span is quite in line with the national average.  MOST people diagnosed do not die from MS but other causes, just like everyone else.  With the treatment options that have become available in the last two decades life expectancy for MS patients has steadily increased over the last 50 years and the progression of disability is able to be slowed in many cases with consistent treatment and modification of lifestyle. 

Well what does that mean - Modification of lifestyle?  It means pretty much what every doctor tells everyone.  It means you should eat more healthily, get as much exercise as you can tolerate and avoid stress.  Oh and you should take your medication regularly, not just when you feel bad or cannot function properly.  MS is described as disease with symptoms that come and go so just because you cannot see or feel an attack does not mean the disease is not progressing.  It is possible to have progression without outwardly visible signs. 

So, if you are “not ready to die!”  Listen to your doctor!   Take control of what you can in this crazy ride.  
  • ·         Make healthy menu choices; avoid high fat, high sugar foods.  
  • ·         Exercise – Keep your body in the best physical shape possible.  The blood flow is good for the brain and memory retention and the physical benefits are paramount when you have a relapse.
  • ·        Avoid stress – I know this one can be the most difficult.  Most people don’t look for stress, it finds them.  You have to learn to walk away, say no, stop and smell the roses and enjoy the moments you have.  All of that sounds so easy (and like a bunch of cliches thrown together) but it is essential for your health.  Take it slow, eliminate one stressful thing from your life, adjust and then do another.  It will pay off in the long run!

  • ·         Take your medications regularly – If you have vision problems, do you stop wearing your glasses/contacts because you can see well when you have them on?  No!  They are working so you keep wearing them!   So why would you stop taking your medicine if you feel better and fewer lesions/plaques are forming!?  It is doing its job!  Let it work!
So yes, it is a scary, crazy ride but you have  the ability to take control of some things along the way to make it a better than expected trip!