Hello everyone – My girlfriend was recently diagnosed with MS. It’s of course been a complete shock, and she’s still reeling. I’m here in the hopes that I can learn ways to help her, recognize symptoms, be supportive, and prepare for whatever is coming. She’s a very independent and strong woman, but also very stubborn and often very private. We’ve had a few discussions, but I know that she’s often frightened to tell me how she’s feeling – physically and emotionally. If anyone has advice, I’d welcome it – from how to help her without making her feel like a patient, to how to deal with these sudden memory lapses and mood swings. So far, this seems to be in the early stages, but she told me her doctor is concerned with how suddenly the symptoms presented themselves (we’re talking months).
Any suggestions will be much appreciated.
Hey there, I’m so sorry to hear that your girlfriend was diagnosed recently. It’s always a huge adjustment for the patient, but also for their loved ones. Kudos to you for sticking by her and reaching out to find way to support her during this difficult time.
There are writers on this site, that are caregivers that you can read some of their articles, to help you have some understanding. You can read up on that section here: https://multiplesclerosis.net/caregiver/
My advice is to stand by her, even if she pushes you away. When I was first diagnosed, I pushed my spouse away. Not to be mean, or because I didn’t care, but because I didn’t want him to have to live with what I was going through too.
I would like to try to offer some advice from two different perspectives. First, as a long term caregiver who recently lost my loved one, and second, as a person with a disability who can relate to some of the feelings your girlfriend may be experiencing.
First, to repeat what Ashley said above, kudos to you for reaching out and sticking by your girlfriend. I don’t what stage you are in your relationship, but the sincerity of your post shows that you are willing to stay in for the long haul. Caregiving for a loved one will present unlimited opportunities to bond deeply with each other. Take every advantage of those opportunities. There will be some resistance on her part (and maybe on yours) in the beginning, but be patient, be understanding, and most importantly, just be there for her.
One thing that many people don’t seem to understand about dealing with those with disabilities is that you must let them have every opportunity to do things themselves. To me, nothing is more frustrating than for someone to “take control” and do something for me that I can do for myself. It might be more difficult, and take a little longer, but I’ll figure it out, or I’ll ask for help. As your girlfriend gradually loses some of her abilities, she will have difficulties doing simple everyday tasks, and it will be frustrating for her. Whenever possible, let her figure out how to do it, and be her backup if she can’t. I think this is the origin of the latest politically correct term for those with disabilities: Differently Abled. A large part of adjusting to a disability is learning how to use the abilities you still have to compensate for and overcome the abilities you are losing. Unless your girlfriend is placing herself or others in danger, let her figure things out on her own, but show her that you are there if she needs you.