MS Patients Need Patience
Living with Multiple Sclerosis for close to two decades has taught me a lot of valuable lessons. I’ve learned that it’s usually better to use my cane than not. I’ve learned that eating before taking medication can be pretty vital. I’ve learned that air conditioning is no longer a luxury, but a necessity for me. I’ve even learned how to appreciate the smaller things in life because of my disease. One of the most important things I’ve learned through a life with MS is the importance of patience.
If I was impatient prior to being diagnosed, I’ve certainly been forced to adapt and change my ways. Learning to relax and wait out whatever less than pleasant experience I am enduring has become a key skill for me. Early on, I discovered that patience is needed with exacerbations. Whenever I “relapsed” (still a word I hate but it is recognizable to most) I’d constantly keep reminding myself that eventually the exacerbation would end. I simply had to wait it out. Sure, problems may keep persisting after it, but I knew that life would still improve once I got past it. It’s incredibly frustrating waiting to improve, particularly if you are on a course of steroids to help shorten the relapse. Steroids, at least for me, can really mess with my emotions. Waiting out an exacerbation isn’t easy, but by constantly reminding myself that it would end, I slowly learned a bit of patience. Also, there isn’t much of a choice. You either learn to accept it, learn some patience, or you going to be extremely miserable. Other then taking steroids, there isn’t much you can do to get past an exacerbation. For me, that forced waiting really taught me a lot about patience.
Another area where I’ve learned some patience has been with regards to treatment. MS is a disease that can vary so much from person to person. Along with that, treatment options can also vary. It can require an enormous amount of patience to find the right treatment. I went through several medications, even two at the same time at one point, and for a period of time, when, against doctor’s wishes I foolishly took no medication (still the biggest regret in my life!) Now I have landed on one that really stabilized me (for the moment anyway). Finding the right treatment is an immensely personal process that you shouldn’t be bullied into. It’s also a process that requires time and patience. To find the right treatment, you will often have to try several that don’t work, or even worse, have undesirable side effects. Attempting any kind of treatment often requires using it for a significant amount of time in order to fully ascertain its effectiveness. That takes patience, particularly if it doesn’t work out and you have to try something else. Most people can find the right treatment if they have patience and can put up with the time it takes to find one.
Exacerbations and treatment are not the only areas where patience is needed when it comes to living with MS. Simply getting around the house can take much longer than it used to, as can just about everything we do. A lot of people with MS get slowed down by its various symptoms. That gets frustrating. That’s when it’s important to remember that the outcome is what is important, not the speed in which we achieve it. As cliche as it may sound, the old fable, the Tortoise and the Hare, really does offer some great advice to those with MS: Slow and steady is OK and is what will win the race. It may sound funny, but I try to remember that tortoise was patient, and how effective it was for him in the end. Not always the most comforting in the frustrating life of someone with MS, but it’s still very much true.
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