MS and Continuing Self-Education
Last updated: June 2023
“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”
Socrates, Yeats, Plutarch: who said this? This is another one of those quotes whose origin is not entirely agreed upon, but for the sake of this post, it really doesn’t matter because all I want you to focus on is the message.
Always striving to learn more about our illness
Knowledge is not something finite that you can ever be done procuring because, in this life, there is always something new to be learned. Education is merely the process of acquiring new knowledge. Because there is always more knowledge that can be obtained, education should be looked at as a never-ending endeavor, just like trying to keep a flame alive. When it comes to learning, there is no finish line; knowledge is not a bucket that can only be filled so much, knowledge is a flame that can burn for as long as you keep adding fuel, for as long as you continue your education. I believe that this can serve as an excellent sentiment for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) because if “knowledge is power,” how do we maintain that power? We maintain it by always striving to learn more about our own illness and continuously exploring new ways to solve the many problems it brings about.
Continuing education (CE)
I have talked about how important I believe educating ourselves about MS is in the past, but I realized that I never really talked about it from a “continuing education” (CE) perspective. Anyone involved in a healthcare career should understand the concept of CE, but if you’ve never heard of that term, it’s pretty simple. The world of medicine is always changing because scientific research is continuously revealing new facts about the disease and how we treat it. This means that if you are going to school to become a doctor, nurse, therapist, or any other type of healthcare professional, education is not a one-and-done kind of thing. As a healthcare professional, to ensure that you’re providing the best care possible, you must participate in CE classes. Without CE, we would still be telling people living with MS that exercise is bad for them.
Adapting how we manage our MS
As the world of medical knowledge evolves, so too does the way MS is treated. Similarly, because the way our MS affects us as individuals is also always changing as time progresses, we (the people living with MS) should also adopt the concept of CE and always do our best to keep learning about MS. Not only about the disease itself, but also about how our own personal flavor of MS is currently affecting us and all the ways we might be able to best manage it.
Trying many different ways to manage my spasticity
For example, my MS has almost always come with some degree of spasticity (a constant tightness of muscles), and for the first little while, my spasticity responded to medication like Baclofen. However, before long, Baclofen just stopped offering me any amount of relief. When that happened, I could have thrown my arms up in the air and simply concluded that there must not be anything more that I could do about it. But obviously, that’s not something that most of us would be content with. Instead, like most people, I sought out other ways to treat my spasticity. If you ask me, most problems in life have more than one solution, but the only way for us to find them all is to continue educating ourselves about the problem. I tried acupuncture, various prescription medications, supplements, and finally discovered that stretching worked best for me. I would have never found that out had I not continued to try to educate myself about this matter.
Knowledge is power
Whether you choose to go to school, read a bunch of books, surf the internet, watch videos online, or read blog posts by others dealing with similar difficulties, there is always something more you can learn. Education is the kindling of the flame of knowledge. That flame, that knowledge, is power: the power to conquer your MS. Continuing to educate yourself about this illness is how you maintain the power you have over it.
What does advocacy mean to you as someone living with multiple sclerosis? Please select all that apply: