The holidays are here and that means for many of us it is also a season of gluttony – there’s so much to take in, we often are overwhelmed. There are so many options and for fear of missing something, I want to consume it all – in big bites. Breath-taking sights, an abundance of extra activities, and especially the easy access to our favorite holiday foods can be hard to resist and it’s easy to find myself trying to capture it all. Usually I can’t take it all in, and that’s good because I would be miserable if I succeeded.
I thought of this holiday behavior as I was sitting in a patient program listening to questions from a group of people with MS, most of whom appeared to veterans of living with the disease. The newly diagnosed were fairly easy to spot – they were the people in the room taking copious notes, hanging on to every word of advice being offered by the expert panelists, and asking multiple questions. All of those are good things because it’s important to learn as much as we can about living with multiple sclerosis. But as the program went on for its scheduled 90 minutes, I could see a familiar look wash over the newly diagnosed people in the room…. Much like my feelings in the holidays, they were full and they were exhausted from trying to take it all in.
The young couple at my table had that look, and I tried to reassure them they didn’t have to absorb every last bite of information that evening – their life with MS was just beginning. They would have plenty of opportunities to take small nibbles and digest each bit of information before taking the next bite.
It’s hard to resist buying every book, watching seemingly endless videos, visiting websites from all over the world hoping something makes sense and adds to our ability to process that we have a chronic disease. We need to remember, though, that the importance that we grab as much information as possible right now, isn’t the same as the urgency to return to the holiday buffet line to grab that last special piece of gingerbread or chocolate candy. The treats of the holidays do disappear, while the information about multiple sclerosis is still going to be there tomorrow or next week or next month.
My advice for the newly-diagnosed remains unchanged over the years – take your time with learning about MS; it’s complicated and hard to digest. Just like the smorgasbord of holiday food, knowing where to begin and when to stop with gathering MS information is not an easy task and often takes self-discipline to consume at a reasonable pace. The best way to tackle both the holidays and the task of learning about MS are much the same – pace yourself and be sure to chew well and digest completely before taking the next bite.
Here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season to all.
Wishing you well,