Losing Faith In Your Doctors
Last updated: March 2023
When you live with multiple sclerosis, relying on doctors becomes a big part of your life. That happens to everyone eventually, but generally much earlier for someone with MS. While our disease is manageable, it is ultimately incurable. With that in mind, we are bound to have moments when we lose faith in doctors, when it seems like they simply aren’t helping anymore or even worse, making things worse.
Not everything is fixable
For many people with multiple sclerosis, it’s common to consistently have issues. Even those with the most stable condition can still suffer from damage previously done by the disease.
For example, I’ve not had new or worsening symptoms in a long time. My treatment plan has effectively halted my progression, but it took me a long time to find a medication that would do that for me. The time before that treatment left me with a bunch of damaged nerves that can’t be fixed. I work with my doctor to lessen the severity of those symptoms, but I can’t fix their root cause (those demyelinated nerves).
I will always have issues, and that’s frustrating. Occasionally, my mind focuses that frustration on my doctor, even though it may not be their fault. It’s hard to remember that your doctor might be doing everything possible but that it may still not be enough.
Not all doctors are created equal
While not every symptom is correctable, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t sometimes the doctor's fault. Multiple sclerosis is a disease that has constant research being done on it. This means there are always new breakthroughs and treatment methods that are being developed. It’s really important to have a doctor who is knowledgeable about those latest trends. Not every doctor, not even every MS specialist, is great at that.
Probably the number-one advice I end up giving to folks is that if you aren’t happy with your doctor, look for a new one. Always be willing to seek another opinion. It’s important to be realistic and understand that not every issue can be fixed though, not yet anyway. The disease is still incurable, and there is only so much that anyone can do once you’ve had a certain amount of progression.
It’s easy to lose faith
It’s easy to become disenchanted with our doctors. Those of us with MS are living with a disease that is particularly hard to diagnose and treat. In my experience, treating MS is really a lot of trial and error. Try this medicine for a while and see what happens; if it doesn’t work, move on to the next one.
That can feel like our doctors don’t know what they are doing when in reality, it’s that MS impacts all of us so differently. It’s not a cookie-cutter medical issue for which they can treat everyone the same way.
If we had a broken bone or even a tumor, we might be able to go to several doctors who recognize and treat it the same way. That’s just not the case with MS, and that can leave us with a tremendous amount of doubt about the treatment we are receiving.
Keep your head in the game
There are times when I feel like no one can help me and honestly, that is the reality of some of those moments. It becomes very easy to focus blame on those trying to help me instead of on the actual disease. I have moments when I want to give up my current treatment plan completely, times when I feel like my doctors have no idea what they are doing. Those are the times that I try to remember that they are doing their best. That this disease is a nasty beast.
I also remember the condition I was in before my current treatment plan (and I’m not sure I’d still be around without it). I also remember how my grandfather’s MS progression was with little to no treatment at all, and that’s when I realize that I’m actually very lucky. I remember that medicine has come a long way in a short time when it comes to MS.
It may feel like my MS team isn’t doing enough until I start to think about what life would be like without treatment. So hold your doctors to high standards, but remember that the real enemy is the disease.
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