Coping with my MS has been a long road, with many twists and turns. My coping mechanisms have changed according to my age, naïveté (which has disappeared!) and knowledge.
25 years ago, with no Internet, cell phones or cable television, getting information about MS was difficult (remember snail mail?) so learning to cope with my diagnosis depended on the amount of information I could get my hands on. What was this thing called MS? After diagnosing me doctors told me there’d be a cure on the horizon within five years, so go home and rest. If you have a problem, we’ll pump you with steroids and you’ll be fine. Hmmm.
27 years old and rest – were they kidding me? I couldn’t sit still. So I headed to my local library, looked up everything about MS, and discovered a local MS Society chapter. I called them and ordered some pamphlets they’d send me in the mail. I also told them I’d lead a support group.
My coping mechanism number one: Be strong, be brave, and be hopeful.
After creating a solid support group with interesting speakers, I was told (on a number of occasions) that I had no right to lead a group since I was not in a wheelchair and I looked fine. Whoa! After picking my hurt feelings up off the floor, I handed over the reins of the support group, and moved onto...
My coping mechanism number two: try new things and find what works for me. This included signing up for classes (yoga, meditation, t’ai chi, aerobics) and attending seminars and lectures that revolved around the mind-body connection. I could barely walk after aerobics, so I settled on yoga and meditation. While taking walks, I listened to books on tape by authors who strongly believed in not only the mind-body connection, but also the power of positive thinking. I became entirely spiritual during my thirties and forties. I know this mindset helped me during many rough patches in the road. Once I reached fifty, I combined my spirituality with my experience and knowledge of MS to form...
My coping mechanism number three: the wisdom to know better. The ease of using the Internet for research and communication along with the ever increasing number of pharmaceutical companies and research universities involved in the search for quality MS medications has given me new hope in a better tomorrow. My road doesn’t seem as rocky, perhaps because I have discovered how best to cope with my MS, or perhaps as I age I have become less anxious about my MS. Whatever the reason, I am glad I traveled along my own road.
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”– Robert Frost
Published On: November 16, 2011