You just got the news. You have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Now what?
Being diagnosed with a chronic condition would take much of your thoughts and can sometimes make you ruminate on possibilities. Perhaps, familiarity with the condition will be the first barrier to moving forward after the diagnosis. Being in this unfamiliar territory can even trigger unnecessary anxiety on the part of the patient. If this is the case, then the first item below could be a simple yet powerful act for the patient.
Define and Sort
Sorting the possibilities in terms of life expectancy and contagiousness can help lessen anxiety after being diagnosed. Studies showed that people with this condition could still expect to live 95% of their average life expectancy. On the other hand, the condition is also not contagious.
Sorting based on types of MS can also help the patient anticipate possible efforts to lessen the effects of MS. National Multiple Sclerosis Society enumerated four types:
- Clinically isolated syndrome (CIS)
- Relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS)
- Secondary progressive MS (SPMS)
- Primary progressive MS (PPMS)
People diagnosed with CIS are still in the limbo of developing MS or not. Meanwhile, RRMS is the more common type where attacks (relapses) and recovery (remissions) occur from time to time. SPMS is a progression of RRMS where worsening of neurologic functions is witnessed over time. The last type, PPMS, occurs when RRMS was not initially observed but rather worsening neurologic function at the onset.
Know the Appropriate Treatments
After sorting out some details mentioned, the next step is to select treatments carefully. Aside from the types of MS, National MS Society also lists some insightful information on how to deal with the condition.
If you happen to be diagnosed with RRMS type, which is the most common, handling relapses should be one of your primary concerns. Some relapses or attacks like numbness or fatigue are said to be better left alone because of their minimal impact on the patient’s activities. However, other kinds of relapses like loss of vision and poor balance do have a different story. Treatments could range from medications to rehabilitation.
Make Use of What’s Available
Other solutions mentioned above are not really out of your reach. For instance, the concept of cognitive reserve might sound interesting to you. Cognitive reserve is practically a repository of cognitive activities that helps a person cope better with MS by being protected from a steep cognitive decline. Improving one’s cognitive reserve would involve stimulating activities like doing art, writing, or playing brain-engaging games like puzzles.
Be Mindful of Emotional Well-being and Relationships
This could be a staple to-do for any diagnosis. Reach out to people around you. Looking for a community that shares the same condition might also help. Connecting to these people gives you more common field of experience and enables you to learn from each other.
Seek Professional Help
While available resources could be helpful in treating MS in some ways, seeking for professional help is always the best solution considering the spectrum of MS types discussed earlier. Many neurologists, in Leesburg for instance, can truly serve MS patients.
There’s a lot more that we can do. This to-do list can go on and on, but here are just some of the basics that you need to take into consideration after a diagnosis.