Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

The Best-Laid Plans

Let’s talk for a moment about making plans. We all make plans. Some of us are more of the planning sort (myself, for example), while others (like my husband) are into a little more of a play-it-by-ear philosophy. Whatever philosophy you live by, MS makes it so that you sometimes have to make changes on the fly, or last minute. Sometimes even the best-laid plans have to become flexible due to extenuating circumstances, such as symptoms popping up or physical inabilities making things impossible.

Mobility problems

For everyone, the symptoms that keep us from doing different activities range far and wide. Most often mobility is what keeps us from doing whatever we’ve planned, be it personal or work. Mobility can be a real kick in the pants because it can kind of be what makes it or breaks it when it comes to getting things done, and there’s often not much you can do about a mobility issue. My legs are often the source of my problems, and they just don’t always “work” with my brain. Most of the time, when your brain says walk, your legs move appropriately. Mine don’t always work in conjunction with each other, and that can make for some pretty good injuries if you’re not careful. I’ve fallen more times than I can count, and it would be easy to break a bone while falling, or do even more damage.

It comes on very suddenly

Another side to the mobility issue for me is that most of the time, I can’t really tell it’s happening, so it feels like it comes on very suddenly. I’ll feel fine in the morning when I wake up and sure that I can do whatever I’d planned for that day. Then, at some point it’ll sort of hit me, and I’ll have trouble walking or moving around like I need to. That can be a pretty big deal, especially if you’ve committed to plans with your employment. A lot of people with MS, and many other neurological or physical issues, have problems with keeping employment because they can’t commit to being there at scheduled times, or end up calling in and using all of their sick (or paid day off) days sooner than the end of the year.

Troubles with employment

Employment is pretty dependent on you actually showing up when you’re scheduled and doing whatever the job is that you are scheduled to do. So, if you have to alter that to accommodate for any mobility issues, or any issues really, you can be in a heap of trouble. Employers aren’t supposed to discriminate based on something like an illness or medical condition, but if you can’t perform the job that you have been hired to do, either because you are physically incapable or because you have too much time taken off of work, that can certainly work to your detriment.

It can be hard to keep commitments

On a more personal side of the planning issue, making plans with friends and family can be difficult as well. Often, if you want to do something with others, it requires a sense of forethought and maybe even purchase before the date of that event. Something like going to a show can be a great example of this, because you have to buy tickets before the event, and if you don’t know how you’ll feel on that particular date, it can be hard to say what you’ll feel up to doing and if you will be able to follow through with that commitment you’ve made. If you have friends and family who are understanding of your MS and its side effects, you are very lucky. They will usually be able to understand when you have to cancel, or reschedule. My husband and I have a lot of friends who are all great about working around whatever special needs I may have at the time and making sure to include us whenever possible.

What about you?

What kinds of things can you think of as far as making plans go? Do you like to make plans and hope that you’ll be able to do things, or do you kind of fly by the seat of your pants and just go with the flow? I’m working on being more of that type of person and going with whatever happens, but it’s not in my nature! It’s hard to change, though sometimes with MS, we don’t get a choice in the matter. How about employment… for those who are (still) working outside of the home, how do you handle the unexpected and your job?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Sonia Norenberg
    5 years ago

    Legs not working only affects me when I’m planning a trip or a day at the mall. Mall time lasts @ 15 minutes before I need my rollator which can give me another hour or so.

    My biggest issue is my fatigue. (There’s got to be a better word for MS fatigue.)

    We want to plan a trip to Poland and Israel next year and of course the group land tours are most cost effective. However, there’s no way that I can keep up with their schedule. 10 days of me getting up at 6 a.m. to be on a bus at 9 a.m. will never happen.

    Since we really want to make this particular trip, we’re actually looking at going and hiring personal drivers and guides to get us to where we want to go. I’m 67 and my partner is 70 … I don’t think we should wait for this trip and the trip to Poland is to see what I can learn about my family members who perished in the Holocaust.

    Our other trips have been simple cruises and renting houses … no stress there.

    On a regular basis, I may have a host of plans for one day, I wake up, go to the bathroom, and realize there is no way anything is going to happen that day.

    This is so difficult for me because I’ve always been very active. I still play violin in a number of community orchestras, but sometimes I just can’t make rehearsals. I’m very fortunate that most people understand what’s happening, but I get angry with myself.

    I hate not keeping my commitments.

  • Cathy1959
    5 years ago

    There have been so many times that I have purchased tickets for a concert or comedy club and by the time it was the day of the event, I was so worried about what might happen that I made myself sick thinking about it. Things have happened with my bladder & bowels more than a few times. I now ravel with an extra outfit that stays in the car “just in case”. I have a wedding to go to next week. I will need to take the cane, walker and wheelchair. I will start out using the cane, my legs will get weaker so I will hold onto my walker for support and by the end of the night, I have to be pushed around in the wheelchair. People who don’t understand MS are looking at me like I’m crazy! Also I have to limit my liquid intake which could lead to dehydration. My husband tells me I get all worked up over nothing. I have to be prepared at all times. I try not to break plans because I feel very guilty when I do, but sometimes it’s just necessary.

  • Poll