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Preparing for the Unexpected Changes of MS

By Matt Cavallo
Unexpected.jpgThe only thing constant is change. Every one of us has heard or uttered that saying at one time or another. Most of us, however, don’t like change. In fact, there have been numerous studies that illustrate how most of us generally dislike and even resist change. Because of this fact, I’m not sure which is better: a change that you are expecting or one that catches you by surprise?

Let’s imagine that you invite four friends to come and stay with you over a long weekend. To prepare for their arrival, you make sleeping arrangements, make sure there is enough food and tidy up your home. While there is some stress that comes along with anticipating house guests, that stress is generally related to things such as ensuring all of the preparation tasks are completed before your guests arrive. 

Let’s imagine, however, that these same four friends drop by unexpectedly for a stay. While they are the same people that you would have invited, the unexpected visit catches you off guard and leaves you feeling unprepared. Ultimately, you will apologize for the mess, welcome them into your home and manage the unexpected change to the best of your ability.

MS is like an unexpected guest. MS doesn’t ask to come over, it just shows up and you are forced to manage it to the best of your ability. Just because you don’t know when an MS relapse will show up, however, doesn’t mean that you can’t be prepared. Here are some tips for how to prepare for the unexpected changes of MS.

Keep your MS monitored. Visiting your neurologist at least every six months and discussing your MS symptoms will serve to keep both you and your neurologist up to date on any disease progression. This is also a chance to inform your neurologist of any new or suspicious symptoms that you may have experienced during the previous six months.

Follow doctor’s orders. If your neurologist orders an MRI or bloodwork, make sure to get those tests done in a timely manner. Even if you are not feeling symptomatic, these tests can give your neurologist a clear picture of any disease activity or possible interactions with MS treatments. 

Stay on your DMT (disease-modifying therapy). A lot of us stop taking medicine when we feel better. That can actually be very dangerous for a number of reasons. Always take medications as ordered and report any side effects to your doctor immediately. Remember, DMTs are not a cure, and there is no known cure for MS, but taking your DMT as ordered will hopefully increase the time between relapses and shorten the duration and severity of an MS relapse.

Prioritize healthy behaviors. People who smoke are 50 percent more likely to have a relapse. However, that is not usually a good enough reason for a smoker to try to quit. This isn’t just for smokers, but other risky behaviors like drugs, alcohol, and poor eating habits can all play a role. If you are worried about MS showing up as an unwelcomed guest, then cutting back on risky behaviors can help reduce the unexpected changes. 

Focus on wellness. There is no magic diet or no specific workout routine that can cure MS. However, there are many ways to prioritize wellness that can have a positive effect on your overall health. Having good overall health in combination with following your doctor’s instruction can put you in a good position to reduce unexpected health outcomes.