I was diagnosed 25 years ago before Internet and Blackberries. Here are my first baby steps forward. I hope you gain knowledge or find comfort in reading how one person began their journey. (Note: The following is opinion and is not intended to replace medical advice):
1. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is the place I first turned to, and is still the one I recommend most often. According to their website, "The Society helps people affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research…and providing programs and services that help people with MS and their families move their lives forward." I highly recommend exploring their website. Enter your zip code to find your local chapter. If you are newly diagnosed I recommend joining your local support group to meet with MS peers. If you’d rather chat via your computer, they offer many chat rooms and message boards that are supportive and informative.
2. Dr. Andrew Weil, MD - A Harvard Medical School graduate, he provided me with resources on "integrative medicine," a combination of traditional and alternative medicine that not only addresses crisis intervention but health maintenance and prevention. I absorbed his newsletters that taught me the benefits of vitamins, herbs, yoga and meditation. I developed knowledge on how integrative medicine could help me.
My shining moment was when I attended a lecture about his newest book. After waiting in a long line for his autograph, my turn came and I thanked him for all he did for me. He put his pen down, smiled and said, "You are doing something right. You look wonderful. Keep it up." (Sometimes when people say, "Oh, you look so good!" I hate it because they don’t understand the battle I fight every day. When Dr. Weil said it, I knew he understood, and it was okay.)
3. Journaling – I began a journal of my day-to-day struggles. I bought myself a beautifully bound notebook and entered my daily thoughts. It empowered me to write down my feelings. I loved that journal. It helped me get through those early days.
4. Exercise – I could no longer perform my Jane Fonda workout (I’m dating myself!) because my legs wouldn’t cooperate. I bought a treadmill, hung a map on the wall, and slowly began walking every other day. I would post my daily mileage on the map, simulating a s-l-o-w walk across America. I also took an adaptive yoga class, and meditated. I encourage all of you to watch the video from The National MS Society about the importance of exercise and MS.
Please feel free to post any questions or comments to me. I thank you for this opportunity to share part of my life with you.
Best in health,
Published On: March 16, 2011