MS symptoms: Letter to Newbie MS Patient

Recently I had a new, fairly young MS patient contact me with questions and concerns about her disease. Here is the letter I sent to her minus personal information.

Dear XX,
Let me start by saying how sorry I am that you have multiple sclerosis and are going through this. What I have to say are the hard facts that I have learned through my research, illness and doctor appointments. Information is power and the key to making a plan for your future.

To answer your question: There is no medication that stops MS. There are many medications that will slow the disease down. MS has periods of remission with no symptoms. It is a disease that will change the course of your life and limit you in some ways. You will grieve the loss of some dreams you cannot fulfill. I grieved the loss of my career, PhD and future as a superintendent of schools. You will come to accept it and plan for the best possible future for yourself and family. Your illness will affect your family too.

Questions about hands: Read: and this:

In all honesty, you are pretty young to receive a diagnosis of MS and to be so sick already. They say the younger you are the more likely you will progress faster. That said, medications have come a long way in the last few years and that can make a huge difference in the course of your disease. If I were in your shoes I would begin a medication quickly.

Managing Multiple Sclerosis
1. Keep informed of latest medications available. Know what medications are available as a treatment plan and what is available to relieve symptoms.

2. Don’t read depressing blogs about MS. Stay positive and remember what one person has does not mean you will have it too. MS is unique to each of us.

3. Take medication as directed. Being on a treatment plan will reduce the number of attacks you have slowing the rate of disability.

4. Look up symptoms you have to learn more about how to manage them. There are medications to relieve symptoms of MS during attacks.

5. Sol-u-Medrol is an IV steroid often used to treat the worst attacks of multiple sclerosis. Prednisone is a pill form of steroid that is also used.

6. Reduce stress in your life. I chose to stay home. I don’t watch upsetting movies or shows. I limit time with unhappy people or those whom cause me additional stress, even family members.

7. Choose happiness. MS is a terrible disease but there are far worse. It should give you plenty of symptom-free times. Though it will limit your life, you will still have a life with good times. Happiness is a choice, a frame of mind, something that you must remind yourself of and make decisions in your life to ensure it happens. Happiness does not just happen, you make it be so. It is a choice.

8. Be your own advocate. By knowing more about your disease and the medications available you can help your doctor treat you most effectively.

Choosing a Treatment Plan
1. Review all of the medications before selecting one. Pay attention to the side effects, risks and methods of delivery.

2. If you choose an injectable medication, rotate the shot spots faithfully. Even within each spot area such as the arm, keep track of where your last shot was in that arm and give the next one in another area. This will keep your spots healthy and able to receive injections longer.

3. Be consistent. The medication works best when taking as directed.

Career in Law
The hard fact is this, law school is demanding and a career in law or positions with serious responsibilities have the potential to be highly stressful. Stress and working long hours can cause multiple sclerosis to progress faster. Most people with multiple sclerosis experience fatigue & cognitive problems such as confusion, memory loss, attention deficit, slowed response & thinking, problem-solving skills, word finding, and language issues like saying the wrong thing, inability to say what you need to or even write it correctly, stuttering, etc. All of these symptoms can affect your career as a lawyer and possibly cause you to retire young.

Least Stressful Jobs according to Forbes 2014
1. Audiologist – hearing specialist
2. Hair Stylist – not best for MS due to fatigue
3. Jeweler – making jewelry
4. University Professor
5. Seamstress or Tailor
6. Dietitian
7. Medical Records Technician
8. Librarian
9. Multimedia Artist
10. Drill Press Operator
* Note: Any job can be stressful if you make it that way. Striving for perfection is one way I have made things harder on myself. If you make a mistake in law it can changes someone else’s life. That is extreme stress.

Factors that make jobs more stressful according to
1. Travel requirements
2. Growth potential – dead end jobs are more stressful
3. Working in front of the public
4. Competitiveness within the organization
5. Physical demands
6. Environmental conditions
7. Own life at risk
8. Hazards encountered
9. Meeting the public
10. Deadlines
11. Life of another is at risk

Grieving Process Steps
1. Denial & Isolation
2. Anger
3. Bargaining – If I had…
4. Depression
5. Acceptance
* I went through this with the loss of my career.

I hope this helps. Please feel free to email me anytime. I am here for you.

About the Author

Melissa Cook
Melissa Cook is the author of As a retired high school teacher and school district administrator, she chooses to share her MS story in hopes of benefiting others.