In what other ways can I plan in advance for a relapse?
Relapses occur without warning, and depending on your individual symptoms, can greatly impact your ability to perform everyday tasks. Developing a plan for coping with these types of changes can be very helpful. Individuals need to consult with their care partner and family members to ensure they are prepared. Counselors and MSAA’s Helpline specialists can also provide assistance in adequately planning for these unpredictable events.
Families: If an individual with MS also plays a role in the care of his or her family at home, many responsibilities must be planned for in advance. Talking to your family members and care partners about relapses will help to prepare them for what your needs might be and how they may be able to assist. Things to consider include:
- Child care
- Transportation to your medical appointments
- Meal preparation
- Pet sitting/walking
- Other household duties
New mothers: Asking for help is a difficult task, but doing so in advance and having a plan in place will help to make things go more smoothly. New moms with MS may be particularly at risk for a relapse. New mothers need to make a plan as to whom they can call if they begin to experience symptoms without warning while caring for an infant.
Employment: If you are employed and have not yet disclosed the diagnosis, you may want to review your employee benefits in terms of allowances for leave or sick time, before deciding whether or not to tell your employer. Knowing the company’s policies on all of these issues is helpful, and discussing the policies with your Human Resources manager (without disclosing your MS until you choose to do so) may be helpful too, if appropriate. Employees who are new to a position sometimes have a more difficult time than others who have been employed in the same position for a longer period of time.
Work accommodations: If you choose to disclose your diagnosis, remember that companies are interested in how your duties will be accomplished. Designing a plan as to how the duties of the position can be accomplished with accommodation(s) can help. MSAA’s Helpline specialists can offer suggestions and referrals for legal advice. They can also direct you to the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) in your state, along with the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), at askjan.org. Both of these resources can help you to effectively evaluate these issues. To contact MSAA’s Helpline specialists, please email MSquestions@mymsaa.org or call (800) 532-7667, extension 154.