Becoming empowered with Multiple Sclerosis

  • I’ve been thinking about what exactly we’re doing here, right now, online, in this virtual world, for ourselves and for each other.  Sure we come together over a common theme - Multiple Sclerosis - but beyond that, what really? 

    When first diagnosed, I visited a particular forum which was hosted by a pharmaceutical company where the discussions were not limited to a specific drug or narrow selection of topics.  I was a typical lurker, someone who reads an interactive site but rarely participates. 

    That forum was where I learned how to self-inject and limit the amount of burn I experienced.  There I learned that many well-meaning folks would recommend an assistance program, assuming that it worked sufficiently, without having had direct experience with the program.  This is also where I learned that copays for my disease-modifying drug ranged from $15 to over $500 per month for other patients due to the differences in insurance policies.

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    The knowledge I gained was empowering.  The knowledge I shared was doubly empowering.  As a collective group, we were able to empower each other with information, resources, support, confidence, positive reinforcement, and friendship.

    “Empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social or economic strength of individuals and communities. It often involves the empowered developing confidence in their own capacities.” - Wikipedia


    Knowledge = Power = Confidence = Empowerment

    The process of empowerment enables one to foster the following or similar capabilities: (adapted from Wikipedia)

    § Decision-making power of one's own
    § Access to information and resources for taking proper decision
    § Full range of options from which to make choices (not just yes/no, either/or.)
    § Ability to exercise assertiveness in collective decision making
    § Positive thoughts on the ability to make change
    § Ability to learn skills for improving one's personal or group power.
    § Ability to change others’ perceptions by democratic means.
    § Involvement in the growth process that is never ending and self-initiated
    § Increase in one's positive self-image to help overcome stigma

    In short, empowerment is the process which allows one to gain the knowledge, skill-sets and attitude needed to cope with the changing world and the circumstances in which one lives.


    This certainly does sound a lot like what we are doing for each other here.


    What are your thoughts on empowerment?  What active roll do you see for patients, doctors, nurses, clinics, pharma companies, manufacturers, etc., in this arena?


    I look forward to reading your responses.  Now go have a powerful day.  Cool


    Lisa Emrich is author of the blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers.

Published On: October 07, 2008