If you’ve recently been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), you’re not alone. Almost 1 million people in the U.S. are also living with MS and you may take comfort in knowing that many other people are experiencing symptoms similar to yours.
Being diagnosed can present complex, conflicting emotions. On the one hand, there’s the end to all of your wondering that comes once a name has been given to the strange symptoms you’ve been experiencing. On the other hand, since MS is a chronic illness, it also means that living with this condition will be your “new normal,” and there will likely be both good days and some challenging days ahead.
As you navigate through your recent diagnosis, here are some steps that may help.
Knowledge is power, and it also helps you regain a sense of control. Oftentimes, the unknown variables are the most daunting factors of a new diagnosis. By arming yourself with as much knowledge as possible about Multiple Sclerosis, you’ll begin to understand the spectrum of symptoms you could experience, the characteristics of the disease, and steps you could take to control your symptoms. Use resources like the National MS Society’s Newly Diagnosed page to find information and resources that will help you make decisions moving forward.
Explore Treatment Options
Multiple Sclerosis treatments have come a long way since the disease was first discovered. Now, there are therapies available to not only manage symptoms but also to modify the disease course. In addition to conventional medications, you might also wish to explore alternative therapies or even emerging treatment options, such as regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy for multiple sclerosis. Although not a cure, such treatments provide a promising alternative option for Multiple Sclerosis patients that may help to control symptoms, improve energy levels, and enhance the quality of life.
Consider Who You’ll Tell
Your MS diagnosis can be as private – or as public – as you’d like. Some people take comfort in spreading awareness and advocating on behalf of the MS community. Others prefer not to share their diagnosis with many individuals, and may only keep the information within a close circle of family members. The decision is entirely yours to make, and it’s not one you have to make right away.
Understand Employment Protection
While some people with MS continue working in their current roles for many years after receiving a diagnosis, others leave their jobs fairly early on if their symptoms feel overwhelming. This decision is also only yours to make, but keep in mind that there may be therapy options and new technologies that can allow you to stay in the workforce if you decide to do so. Moreover, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers cannot use your condition against you when making employment-related decisions. With that in mind, disclosing your diagnosis to your employer could help you negotiate an arrangement that makes it easier for you to work with MS, such as taking time off to receive treatments or pursuing a modified schedule.
Turn to Support Groups
Even if you choose to keep your MS diagnosis mostly private, you still don’t have to face the challenges of the disease alone. Many support groups operate exclusively online or meet in person which can help you navigate this new aspect of your life. For instance, Happy is an app that operates 24/7 and connects people experiencing challenges with support providers. You can also find a local support group through the National MS Society’s website.
This post was written by Becky Palmer, a medical professional at Stemedix Inc. At Stemedix we provide access to Regenerative Medicine for multiple sclerosis, also known as stem cell therapy for multiple sclerosis. Regenerative medicine has the natural potential to help improve symptoms sometimes lost from the progression of many conditions.