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Fearing the Future

Last updated: August 2021

Living with a highly unpredictable disease like Multiple Sclerosis can be an exercise in controlling your fears. Every day (and night), we can easily get consumed with worrying about or at least thinking about our future. With a disease that can change your life in the blink of an eye, these concerns are not unfounded. While it’s important to acknowledge and prepare for the future, we have to be careful not to let the fear of it consume us.

Legitimate fears of the future with MS

Let’s face it, MS is incredibly frightening. We never know when we won’t be able to walk, or see, or stand, or do any number of things that we always do. I have literally woken up and been unable to walk or use my legs due to an exacerbation. At this point in my career of MS, I know if something like that happens again, it might very well be permanent. It’s not easy to think that you might be working one day, but be unable to the very next (again, that’s actually happened to me). You might not only lose your mobility, senses, or ability to think, you may lose the chance to provide for yourself and your loved ones. That’s extremely terrifying, and it’s the kind of fear you can’t appreciate until you experience it.

Be prepared

We often refer to those with MS as warriors, because you have to fight if you want to survive and thrive with this disease. Our fight isn’t only limited to doing our best to stay healthy and stick with our treatments and therapies; part of this battle requires us to make as many preparations as we possibly can in case our fears come true. What does that mean? Well, it means putting aside some money when you can and contributing to retirement funds if it’s feasible. Money becomes a big issue when you can no longer work due to illness. Being prepared also means talking about it with your loved ones, discussing a plan “just in case”. It’s also extremely important to read up on your options should something happen. What is your workplace’s policy on short-term and long-term disability? You want to know this information before you need you to. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to know your rights should you be put in a position where your health forces you to stop working.

Don’t let it get to you

Some of this seems like doom and gloom, but here’s the thing: if you talk about it, if you prepare for it, you’ll sleep a lot better. Doing a little homework for our worst fears is the best way to make them less fearful. There is a lot less to worry about when you have a plan. Even if you can’t save up money or have a detailed plan, just talking about the possibilities with your loved ones and learning what your options are is a fantastic way to make fear go away. Let’s face it, knowledge is power and nothing can assuage our fears like being in the know. You may never have any issues that make you disabled; MS is the kind of disease that is different for everyone. The treatments have only been getting more and more effective at slowing progression, so I do think that over time, we’ll see less people end up disabled (we’re already seeing that). All the more reason to do whatever you can to alleviate your fears. Being prepared for the worst future truly does allow you to live your best present.

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