How important is the internet for people with multiple sclerosis, and why has this method of information gathering, which did not exist until the recent past, become so important?
Every single day, MultipleSclerosisCentral, and The Health Central Network's other health-related sites, are visited by people from every walk of life, as they search for answers. What is wrong with me? What is wrong with my child? How can I help my aging parents? How do I cope? They ask the questions which they once would have asked their physicians.
They come, not only for the answers, but for contact with other people who may understand. They come to lend their support and they come to make friends -- friends they will never speak to, friends they will never meet. They come to feel less alone.
The friendly neighborhood doctor is no longer available to spend time with us, give detailed information, or put our fears to rest. Medical expenses have risen so drastically that we hesitate to make appointments just to ask questions. We, as a nation, have put the insurance companies in charge of our health. We live in an increasingly isolated society, finding ourselves at a loss when our health is at stake. Where do we turn? We turn to the vastness of the internet, in search of place to land, a place where we can find others like ourselves, a place where we hope to become part of something beyond ourselves.
It strikes me as very sad that we have come to this. At the same time, I find it very encouraging that we are reaching out to each other in greater numbers than ever before possible. I am grateful that I was able to go online and learn all I could about MS early on. What the doctors didn't have time to explain, I learned in the comfort of my own home. Sure, you have to weed out the bad sites and hone in on the truly informative, meticulously-researched sites, but it is well worth the effort.
There were moments when I was convinced that I was the only person on earth to experience a particular symptom or emotion. Time and time again, MS bloggers and writers from every corner of the globe have proven me wrong. They rescued me from isolation and clued me in as to the complexity of this condition, called MS, that we have in common.
In these uncertain times, we need to pull together. Just as we have reached out for help, others now reach out to us. Those of us who have had MS for awhile, need to remember those confusing days before diagnosis. We must look back on the weight of the words, “You have MS,” and lend our support and knowledge to others. We are a community. Perhaps with a different structure than communities of days gone by, but a community nonetheless. Our members, from every stage of the journey, depend upon each other for support. I have been on both the receiving end and the giving end of that support, and that is as it should be.
We are a community.
Published On: May 07, 2008