Working in medicine with MS

It’s been more than four years since my diagnosis after a prolonged episode of double vision. I was in medical school at the time and initially brushed it off, but the MRI didn’t leave any doubts.

I’ve learned a lot over that period of time – I am never symptom-free (mostly terrible paresthesias that worsen with fatigue and heat, but worsening to difficulties with walking and grip), so priorities have changed. I know I can’t spend the day outside when it’s more than 85 out and humid, because I pay for it later. I know hot baths are out of the question, and I will never vacation in Florida. I’ve learned that I turn into a crazy person on steroids (painful hunger!), and I will do just about anything to avoid them. Used to be on Avonex, but developed antibodies and new lesions, so now on Copaxone. It has certainly made me a more empathetic doctor – injecting daily, having the occasional reaction with shortness of breath and burning, and those unsightly site reactions.

I know that my crazy work schedule (sometimes 80 hours a week) isn’t ideal, but I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. I’m at one of the top hospitals in the country, so it’s not exactly a pressure-free environment. I do fear that my symptoms will progress to the point that I won’t be able to practice as an ICU doctor anymore – but the goal is to do it as long as I can. Hopefully long enough to pay off those student loans…

Bottom line, it’s been difficult to do much more than work and sleep over the past few years. When things get tough, it’s helpful to read everyone else’s stories, so I thought I would share mine.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (14)
  • DawnH
    5 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am a PICU RN who is waiting for official DX and for treatment to begin. 12 hr shifts are more than I can handle at this point so I am out on FMLA. The medical profession is extremely strenuous both mentally and physically and our patients safety is above all our top priority. I miss the little faces on the pediatric unit and I miss my hospital family. I do not know if I will be able to return to that place in my life but I was thinking about looking into what it would take to becoming an MS RN. I do believe that everything in life happens fora reason and understanding what a patient is experiencing first hand maybe where I am to help people in my Nursing career.

  • iMSlupie
    6 years ago

    I really appreciate you sharing your experiences, and hopefully you’ll have a long career. I am a Registered Respiratory Therapist, and had to stop practicing in 2000 because of cognitive issues and extreme fatigue. It was too difficult to work 12 hr. shifts, especially since I worked nights. Emotionally it was really difficult because I loved taking care of patients. I then began working at the hospital switchboard answering calls, paging doctors, and scheduling diagnostic testing. In 2010 it became apparent that I couldn’t continue doing that any more, so I applied for disability and got it right away. Hopefully with the new medication discoveries you’ll have a long and fruitful career!

  • JustGrace2
    6 years ago

    Hang in there, things WILL get better!! I was diagnosed 13 years ago, and am doing wonderful. I treat my disease more natural with something that requires an rx. I tried posting my M.S. Story on this site, but it was never posted/approved??? Go figure??? Let’s post mostly stories of people struggling with this disease rather than ones of people who are doing great and can help people see that you can live well with this disease!! Anyway if you want to hear my story and what I’ve done, I would love to reach out to you and anyone else!!! Inbox me if you or anyone would like 🙂

  • Laura Kolaczkowski
    6 years ago

    Hi again – I believe your story might be at
    http://multiplesclerosis.net/stories/a-light-of-hope-using-prokarin/

    It’s easy to overlook these things.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski
    6 years ago

    Hi, Grace. There are actually a number of positive stories here about living with MS. Let’s check with the people who run this site and see if they can explain it. Perhaps it got overlooked or maybe the final submit button wasn’t pushed. Either way, we would love to hear your story – it is important to hear that MS doesn’t mean the nedo f everything.~Laura

  • Candice
    6 years ago

    Hang in there you know stress and heat are the enemy of MS, you’ll be in my prayers. Thanks for sharing and I think you make a wonderful doctor, don’t let this stop you from moving forward.

  • Candice
    6 years ago

    Oh by the way I had MS since 1976 so you think positive and so forth with your plans,

  • Patricia
    6 years ago

    Gm to us all. I have a summer cold…crap. It is definitely aggravating my Mysterious Monster, MS. Guess plenty if fluids. Anyone have complications with a cold and your MS? Share. I am having strange symptoms. Dizziness, increased pain, tingling, blurred vision, abnormal gait aright sided restlessness…hmmm.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski
    6 years ago

    Patricia, you may be into a relapse so be sure to let your doctor know if those new and/or increased symptoms don’t get better.

  • Patricia
    6 years ago

    Wow my typos…sorry.

  • Annlnt
    6 years ago

    I am an RD, currently applying for SSDI. I have cognitive issues and kept getting the patients missed up, I thought it best to not work anymore. As long as your mind is good, go for it. You can always tolerate the fatigue , pain and other issues with meds or pacing yourself. Life sucks not being able to work anymore, but I am having fun working at my husbands veggie stand. I can still offer nutrition advice to those who stop by and buy fruits and vegetables. My goal is to get people to eat more veggies, one person at a time!

  • Patricia
    6 years ago

    I use to work in many areas of the hospital. ICU use to be one of these critical areas. I was a RN. Went to college and got my BSN. I got diagnosed in 2006. We state a lot. I the copaxone cause the other name me faaj likeep Available cancel, painMSFALL VILL

  • SDMomma
    6 years ago

    I recently went on permeant disability after working 35 productive years primarily as a software engineer and an IT project manager, yes 35 years with MS! What did me in was the cognitive/memory issues that can be associated with MS–not all people are affected cognitivity. I was diagnosed when I was 17 years old! So, you’ve got a long future a head of you as far as I concerned 🙂

  • Kim Dolce moderator
    6 years ago

    Sam, thanks so much for sharing your unique experience as both doctor and MS patient. I hope you’ll be able to practice medicine for a long time to come.

    Kim

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