Ask The Expert: Do you have tips and tricks that make life with MS easier for you?
Simple daily tasks like showering, remembering to take your medicine, and tidying up your house can be challenging for people living with multiple sclerosis. We asked our amazing contributors to share what they do to make life easier....take a look below to see what they had to say!
My thoughts aren’t so much life hacks or even tricks, but survival tips to myself and to others. Be kind to yourself first and foremost. There is so much that is unpredictable about this disease and we can easily become our own worst enemy by negative self-talk when we can’t accomplish all we had set out to do. Be selfish can be a good thing and it nothing to be ashamed about – put yourself first and make sure you are doing all you can do for your mental and physical health. A healthier you is better able to help family, friends and community than if you put your needs last. Be happy – yes it sounds simplistic but find something that makes you happy, and do it. It could be a slow walk with your kids, reading a book, or talking to an old friend on the phone. The possibilities of at east one thing that makes you happy are endless and it’s important
- Shopping online - I'm not big on crowds in the first place, but I have found that it's easier to shop online, to eliminate the hassle of leaving the house. Some of my local stores have a "pick-up" lane as well. You can do your shopping online and give a time that you will be there to pick it all up. They deliver straight to your car!
- iRobot vacuum - I know these are expensive. I got one for Christmas though and it is a LIFE SAVER. I don't have to worry about sweeping up after the kids and hubby and dogs! You just set it on a schedule of what days/times to run. All you have to do is empty the bin when it's all done.
- Calendar Reminders - I don't know what I would do without this. I have EVERYTHING on my phone calendar. And have it set to remind me two different times, especially if it's a reminder for a doctor appointment.
- Dry Shampoo/Conditioner - I know this sounds odd, but it does work! I use it when I need to wash my hair, but really do NOT have the energy to take a shower. Sounds gross, I know. But there are just those days sometimes where getting out of bed is gruesome.
- Automatic Script Refill - So after running out of meds without having a refill, and going without my meds till they could be filled is no bueno. I do the automatic refill so I have one less thing to "remember". Because we all know remembering things and having MS is not the best combination.
- Cleaning, doing one room a day, not all at once. - I used to try and so all my cleaning in one day... and it would burn me out. So now I just clean certain areas on certain days. I don't get work out and "pay for it". Might still be exhausted from that one thing... but at least it's not the entire house that you're exhausted from.
- Bills – Automatic Bill Pay - Oh my gosh! I'm horrible about remembering to pay bills. Which I end up getting late fees charged since I didn't pay. So doing the automatic pay just makes it one less thing I have to worry about.
One of my biggest tips for MS is to keep a routine, I find that things go much smoother for me if I follow a regular routine each week. It’s also pretty important for me to keep a note file on my phone that I constantly write reminders on. I’ll also write on my arm in sharpie (don’t worry, it comes off) a lot to help me remember important things. I’d be lost without all those notes!
Tips and tricks that make living with MS a bit easier for me starts with sticking to my medication dosing schedule. If I forget to take my afternoon dose of baclofen, for example, my stiff, painful leg muscles will soon let me know it. I take the forgotten dose as soon as possible. Skipping it all together will come back to bite me—not that evening when it’s time to dose again, but the next morning. Weird but true.
My newest tool is a less expensive version of a Squatty Potty. Parking my feet atop this 7-inch step puts me into more of a squatting position, which makes evacuating the lower intestine easier even with chronic constipation. It also cuts down sitting time by lining up my plumbing and making things go faster and easier. The only difficulty is having to grab my weak right foot and pulling it up onto the raised plastic. A minor challenge and so worth it.
My pill pouch is my biggest life hack since getting diagnosed with MS. I have to remember to take a variety of medicines daily and it’s hard for me to remember to take them. My weekly pill pouch has really helped me get my medicines organized. Every Sunday I load my pill pouch up with my pills for that week (it has the compartments labeled Monday-Sunday) and stick it in my purse. It helps me not forget my medicine since it’s always with me and helps me see what medicine I’ve taken and what I need to take.
In addition to the life hacks I wrote about, I would now add hand controls for cars since it is difficult to drive with foot drop and/or leg weakness. Of that list in my life hacks article curbside pickup at the grocery store is still my favorite! Nothing saves me more time and energy!
My favorite tips or tricks for living with MS are actually gadgets for the kitchen that can be helpful for anybody. While some gadgets are gimmicky, these small tools make ordinary tasks easier and safer. My favorite tool — the JarPop or JarKey — is a plastic tool that helps to open vacuum-sealed jar lids. It works on most jar lids that have a lip under the lid. Simply use the tool to break the vacuum seal and unscrew the lid with greater ease. A second tool I love is one that I received as a gift many years ago and didn’t fully appreciate its usefulness until recently — a wooden oven rack puller/pusher. My aunt handcrafted several of these and gave them away to members of the family. I use the device to push baking dishes farther into the oven, to pull the rack out to better see what has been cooking, to more safely remove dishes from the oven, and to push the rack back into the oven. This simple oven puller/pusher has saved me from getting burned several times.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We want to check in. How are you feeling?