I've been diagnosed with MS. Now what do I do?
While everyone’s MS is unique, there are some similarities, and there are some lessons that can be shared.
The most important thing that you can do after being diagnosed with MS is to build your own team of experts. These experts will be your go-to people, who can help you through the difficult times, answer your questions and help you understand your options as you look to manage the disease.
Your expert team should include family, friends, your neurologist, other individuals with MS and rehabilitation experts, such as physical and occupational therapists, care managers or physicians specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation.
MS often leads to a host of challenges, including fatigue, weakness or paralysis, spasticity, pain, speech and swallowing problems, cognitive challenges, emotional and psychological issues, visual disturbances, and bowel and bladder problems. You’ll need all the support you can get as you strive to meet these challenges.
While rehabilitation interventions, including physical therapy, cannot reverse the neurological damage caused by MS, they can help address some of these challenges, while maximizing your quality of life. They, along with your neurologist, can help you understand the nature of your symptoms and lifestyle triggers.
Your rehabilitation team can also help you address issues relating to the accessibility of your home or work environment. They can help you continue driving a vehicle and keep you doing everyday things for as long as possible.
Unfortunately, MS often strikes early in adulthood, when individuals are busy establishing families and careers. This can change your world and your plans, and it can take a psychological toll.
As you struggle to gain control of your disease, always remember that you are not alone. Rely on your expert team for support and help. Ask questions, do research and make informed decisions about your health and your future. You—and your loved ones—will be thankful for it.