Things You Can Do to Help Adjust to Multiple Sclerosis
Some people who are newly diagnosed may experience confusion or even a sense of anger toward medical professionals and others, who may be providing you with too much information too quickly… or conversely, too little information. You will need time to adjust to the new diagnosis, so take things in at your own pace. You may want to know all you can right away, and if so, consulting reliable resources will provide you with accurate information on everything you need to know. On the other hand, you may want to learn about the disease a little at a time, and that is okay too. The important things are that you have confidence in the members of the healthcare team you have selected for your care, and that you follow their treatment recommendations.
When you visit your neurologist or other healthcare professional, prepare yourself by writing a series of questions and concerns in advance. You may even decide to interview the healthcare professionals before you make a definite selection. In addition, you should be keeping your own personal health journal, as you are the best reporter of your symptoms to your healthcare professionals.
Questions that may be helpful when seeing members of your healthcare team include:
- What happens if I have new symptoms, or if questions arise between visits?
- What treatment will you prescribe if I experience a relapse (symptom flare-up), and where can I be treated?
- Is a disease-modifying therapy for treatment of my MS appropriate for me, and if so, how do I choose from among the different options?
- Do I need to make any changes with my exercise routine and diet?
- What types of rehabilitation services do you provide and/or recommend, should the need arise?
- Where can I go for help with personal relationships and business, such as support groups, family counseling, employment, insurance, and finance?
Don’t be surprised if you do not understand what is initially happening to your body, or if the unpredictability of symptoms causes you to feel constant anxiety. These are not unusual for someone who is newly diagnosed. But as you learn more about MS and find a treatment plan that works for you, these feelings will eventually subside. You may find that speaking with a professional is beneficial, and finding someone who specializes in helping individuals with long-term conditions such as MS is a good idea.
Participating in a support group for newly diagnosed individuals can also be therapeutic. However, please keep in mind that some groups of people may work better for you than others. Finding a group that is a good fit for you is very important. Additionally, personal feelings may not always be appropriate for group settings, and sometimes these need to be processed alone, or with a member of your healthcare team, versus discussing them with a group of individuals you are still getting to know.