Sunday, June 9, 2013

Keep Doing What You're Doing: Coping With MS Through Constant Learning and Adaptation

What do you do when you want to feel better?  Ask your doctor?  Search the web? Read a book? Ask friends? For me the answer is Yes, and more.  Gorge on information, assess it, and incorporate what makes sense for me.

In 2008 I learned I had Multiple Sclerosis, and this information threw my reality for a loop.  I thought I was super healthy, and suddenly doctors were consistent in their diagnosis of MS.  I knew nothing of MS.  My first question was, "Are you sure?"  They were positive it was.  The second was, "Is it fatal?" Thankfully the answer is no.

I sought out and soaked up any and all information I could find on MS hoping to learn what to expect, how to prepare, and how to slow the disease as much as possible.  Imagine my combination of frustration and pride when I would go to the neurologist and his advice was, "Keep doing what you're doing."

Yes, I was doing well, but I wanted more.  I wanted to feel better. I wanted to understand my body and be able to recognize what helped and hurt it.  It was like I had a new piece of equipment and no owner's manual. There's plenty of information out there, but none compiled and complete for me to trust, use and apply to me.  Due to the unpredictable nature of MS and the different symptoms each person experiences, it's not possible to have one universal guidebook that will help everyone.  I just wanted a simple set of guidelines that I can follow and know I'll stay healthy, cognizant and mobile.

I'd still love to have someone else hand over a bound copy of my personal health instructions, but I'd place the odds at less than winning the Power Ball jackpot. I've taken to creating my own. It's a way to capture what I am doing to optimize my health, what measures help me when I have pitfalls, and what I would like to do to improve my health.  So far it's a haphazard go-to guide to remind me what's worked in the past, what is a possible solution, and what keeps me going. It works wonderfully when I remember to look at it.

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