People often experience the symptoms of multiple sclerosis long before they receive a formal diagnosis. Getting the diagnosis can result in a whole host of emotions, including confusion, stress, anger, or even relief. Knowing the cause of nagging symptoms can feel like a weight off your shoulders, but learning you have MS can also be a lot to digest.
We asked the MultipleSclerosis.Net community about the tips they would share with someone who has recently been diagnosed with MS. Nearly 300 people responded with some great suggestions. Here is a summary of the recommendations:
Do your research and advocate for yourself:
- Stay open to ideas outside of mainstream information, but don’t believe everything you read online
- Education is one of the most powerful tools you (and your caregivers) have
- Find the right doctor and communicate openly – ask lots of questions and be completely honest (even with the most embarrassing symptoms). If you’re not comfortable, find a new doctor!
- Make sure your doctor is knowledgeable in treating MS
- Keep all your medical records
Take care of yourself*:
- It’s important to manage your overall health – physically and mentally
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables (avoid junk food)
- Find ways to stay active. Even exercises that are not too strenuous will help you stay strong and limber
- Give yourself time to get the rest you need
- Don’t stop taking medications just because you start feeling better
- Many people find that they are extra sensitive to extreme temperatures, particularly heat. Try to get out when the weather won’t be as bothersome and keep your body temperature as regular as possible
Make sure you have a strong support system:
- Finding an MS buddy an be an enormous health
- Work with associations and experts that can help you through the processes
- Look to religion if it’s helpful for you
- Keep a network of friends and family that can help you with even the simplest tasks when you need it
- Keep your stress levels in check:
- Try to keep stress levels as low as possible – stress can be your worst enemy with MS
- For times when stress is unavoidable, develop ways to relieve/manage stress before it takes over and affects your health (yoga, meditation, friendship, etc.)
Keep a positive attitude, even when it’s not easy:
- Know your limitations but find ways to continue enjoying life
- Find something to be happy about every day
- Remember that having MS is the “new normal” and be kind to yourself as you adjust
- Take each day at a time
- Go through all the necessary emotions – be mad, sad, angry…. then move on.
What advice would you share? Are there things you wish you knew at diagnosis?
*Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet or exercise regimen.