Life gives us choices. We can choose to live each day with a negative attitude or with a positive attitude. The day I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), I made the conscious choice to live a positive life. I understand that this is easier said than done, but I found that by choosing to live a positive life, I appreciated the small things more. Some days can be a struggle, but my positivity is something I will not let MS take away from me.
Why would I let this diagnosis take over my life when I could be brave and face it head-on? Never one to back away from a challenge, I decided to take charge of my health with the attitude that knowledge is empowering.
No one knows my body better than I do. Using that knowledge, as well as working with a wonderful neurologist, I have been successful in taking charge of my MS.
Because this incurable disease does not follow a standard mode of care, I’ve learned to follow a few philosophies that help me through the challenges. Each person living with MS has a different experience. I hope my experiences help others cope with their individual situations.
By making the choice to be positive, I feel like I am able to control my day better. MS is a life-changing disease that not only affects me, but also affects my family and friends. Therefore, I choose to face each day with a positive outlook.
Granted, some days are better than others. I attribute my good days to choosing to be positive. At times, it might be easier to be negative, especially when my body is not cooperating. But being negative doesn’t change my exhaustion or pain, so I choose to be positive!
When my doctor returned to the exam room, he came back with plenty of information for me to read. He told me to go home, read the materials, and let him know what questions I had. While this may have felt overwhelming at first, I also found it to be comforting. I knew that my doctor and I had options to discuss.
I am happy I had a doctor who provided as much information as he did. Leveraging potential side effects and benefits, my doctor and I worked together to develop the best treatment plan for my specific case.
“Having that small level of control over my health helps me cope with the diagnosis.”
It is important to communicate with your doctor, as well as other people in your support system. Remember that no one knows your body better than you, so other people can’t always know how you’re feeling.
The more you tell your doctor about how you feel, how the medicine is affecting you, possible triggers, or anything else you want to share, the better he or she can help you with managing your symptoms. Through open communication, you engage your doctor to be a partner in your care.
While your doctor may help medically, it’s important to have a support system of friends and family who will be there when you need them. Try to keep them in the loop. Let them know how you’re feeling. You may need help sometimes, and it’s great to know you have people you can count on.
If you don’t have that support system established yet, there are several support groups and advocacy groups that you can get involved in. Sometimes, the best support comes from other people who know what you’re going through. If you’re not sure where to start, ask your doctor for suggestions.
I believe in lifelong learning. I was challenged by a good friend to learn more about what I can do to help myself. My first step was to speak with my doctor and to research ways other people are coping with MS. Just reading articles about how others are coping helps me know that I do not have to let the diagnosis take over my life.
I also met the challenge of taking charge of my MS by becoming a certified health coach. The health coach training enlightened me to other ways I can help myself. I now feel better equipped to overcome the challenges MS presents.
Deciding to take on a more active role in understanding my MS was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. By actively asking my doctor questions and reading about other people’s experiences, I feel more aware of my triggers and what to avoid. I’ve developed methods to handle stress while managing my symptoms. I’ve acquired many helpful tools to live happily and confidently with MS, which I always look forward to sharing with other people with MS.