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A New Year Living With the Challenges of MS and Setting Goals

I know, can you believe it’s that time to set new goals for a new year? Okay, you're thinking, "it's tough enough to just get by each day living with MS, let alone set goals!"

Living with MS does present challenges due to a host of mild to severe symptoms that we face. Frankly, for me, setting goals helps to smooth that rough road a bit. I'll share my approach in hopes you might find some benefit, to make your journey easier.

Why set goals when living with MS?

As our MS progresses, it's important to adapt to our life changes, and how we manage these changes is key. Planning and setting goals help us avoid compromising the things we enjoy doing because of our illness.

I have learned to focus on what I want to accomplish and define how to get there. Yes, defining how to get there is your road map to success. While setting my goals, I look at short-term and long-term goals. My long-term goals look forward a year or longer, while my short-term could be days, weeks, or a few months.

When setting goals, make sure they are specific, attainable, yet challenging, and measurable to help define if your goal has been accomplished.

Creating my MS-related goals

Creating goals is different for all of us. My approach, as an example, includes personal health goals divided into subcategories of medical, nutritional, and physical. Additionally, I'll create a defined task on how to accomplish these subcategories.

Breaking down my medical goal included reviewing my disease-modifying therapies (DMTs), MRI, physical exams, and physical therapy.

DMT goal

Ocrevus is my chosen DMT infusion. Every 6 months is the frequency standard, however, it can be infused every 5 months - which I chose as my goal, along with the guidance of my neurologist.

MRI goal

An MRI can be completed with or without contrast. I, along with my neurologist, decided using contrast will enhance the identification of new lesions or progression.

Physical exam goal

For most, exams are typically once a year with a general MD to review your overall health and medication. My goal is to visit my general MD once a year, and my cardiologist, neurologist, and urologist twice a year. Additionally, I'll create a list of questions to discuss with each provider.

Physical therapy goal

I'll review this goal during my exams mentioned above. During my visit, I will discuss any concerns or issues I am having. As an example, during an exam a few years ago with my neurologist, we discussed my leg weakness. We decided on physical therapy to help reduce the weakness, in combination with medication. This approach did help reduce my leg weakness.

Setting goals and outlining a road map for how to achieve our goals can keep us focused on success. Reviewing your overall progress and road map periodically allows you to review your progress and adjust as needed. Just remember, your main goal is to improve your overall lifestyle and continue to enjoy doing the things you love to do.

Let's finish with a thank you and a little laugh

I have to say MS is challenging and makes you wonder, "how will I deal with this?" Well, if you look at the funny side, and laugh a bit at 'oh my!' moments, it helps. Yes, MS can be funny, and I'll share a story of mine.

As most of you are aware, drop foot keeps you on your toes or stomach so-to-speak. One day at the gym, I rode the stationary bike and after finishing my ride, I sat to rest. I got off the bike and began to walk towards the stairs and yep drop foot got me, and away I went. Dropped like a rock in front of everyone.

Three fellow gym members ran over to help, thinking I may have blacked out. They asked if I was okay. I rolled over with a smile, and said with a laugh, "I’m fine, just felt like resting on my back for a minute!" They helped me up with a bit of a "glad you're fine" smile.

Thanks for taking the time to read my article and I look forward to hearing about your approach to setting goals and a funny MS story you have heard or experienced. Again, I appreciate your time and encourage everyone to pass on a good deed or act of kindness. You never know what others are struggling with.

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