Multiple Sclerosis is a disease with no cure; however, it does have decent management tools with drugs and therapies. There are much worse diseases to have, and as most patients with Multiple Sclerosis will say, they have or are preparing to deal with the reality that they are less likely to die from it than with it.
When my wife and I fought her battle with cancer years before my diagnosis with MS, it was evident from the beginning of her struggle that only one winner emerges from her condition, either her or the cancer, but the two do not attempt to live in harmony or co-exist. With that reality in mind, we went into her journey with a winner takes all attitude, knowing the final result was all or nothing.
As I have learned over the last few years, Multiple Sclerosis is a very different beast than cancer and has required my family and me to rethink our battle strategy against MS.
Shortly after my diagnosis, I took on the mindset of all or nothing. I had convinced myself that I could beat my Multiple Sclerosis at its own game.
I am here to say that that approach doesn't work, or it has not for me.
One of the most important things I learned from my wife's battle with cancer was not to face the fight alone.
When looking for the best care for my Multiple Sclerosis, it was important to me that I found a team of doctors and staff that understood the impact of a chronic disease on the mental health of those affected, be it patient, caregiver, family, or community.
Our team of oncologists and surgeons rushed to correct the physical issues with my wife's cancer, but they never helped us address the mental trauma that followed. My wife would suffer years of PTSD related to the shock left by an illness that completely changed her body, mind, relationships, and everything else.
Multiple Sclerosis has the same capability of leaving those affected with trauma far beyond the physical complexities of the disease. MS also has a shock factor. When my neurologist called me to tell me about the discovery on my MS, he said, "Come in and see me in person tomorrow because your whole life is about to change." At first, I wasn't sure exactly what he meant. After a few weeks of digesting the new information, I realized there were significant changes ahead if I was going to approach my MS to manage it and slow or stop the progression of the disease altogether.
After a year of disease-modifying therapy, diet changes, experimental exercise routines, and career modifications, I have concluded that my MS and I agree to disagree on how badly it can limit my lifestyle.
I now realize that I cannot overcome what MS can do to me with symptoms such as extreme fatigue, vision loss, spasms, urinary issues, anxiety, and depression. I can do my best to limit these things with medications and routine. Still, ultimately, it comes down to accepting that they are part of life now, and I need to plan accordingly to help avoid the disappointment that comes follows the necessary drastic lifestyle changes.
My MS and I agree that neither of us is going anywhere; we disagree on how much I will allow MS to limit my life.