Tag: ms

Living with MS; 10 Years Later

woman riding bicycle with young boy following on scooter

Last week we met Jane as she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Ten years later, Jane has found that many of her choices in life now require more thought, more planning, and more research; but she still has choices.

Use of medications

Jane’s doctor recommended that she start one of the disease-modifying medications. While there is no cure for MS, these drugs help slow the progression of MS and reduce the number of flare-ups. There are currently eight medications available. Though the drug doesn’t make Jane feel better, and she had to get used to the needles, she is committed to her treatment plan.

A wife and a mother

Jane’s other concern was her family. She was worried about pregnancy and caring for a baby due to her struggles with fatigue. She contacted the National MS Society for information and through the Chapter’s Peer Support Program, she connected with a mom who has MS and learned through someone else’s experience.

Jane’s daughter, Mary, was born 5 years ago. Jane experienced a flare-up of her symptoms six months after the birth, which was successfully treated with steroids.

Like many people, Jane and her husband sometimes feel that MS is the uninvited guest in their house. Though unspoken, it is part of every conversation. Jane found support from her peer counselor, who also felt the impact of MS on her marriage. Jane’s husband finds it helpful to speak with a therapist who has experience with chronic illness.

Jane feels impact on her career

It was hard to coordinate the daycare schedule, manage her fatigue, and keep up with the fast pace of her job as an ER nurse. Jane called the Chapter about her situation. The staff person consulted with her, providing information, discussing options, and supporting Jane.

It helped to have someone guide her through terms and programs, like the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), disclosure, and her rights as someone with a disability. She felt confident going to her employer to discuss possible accommodations and together they found a solution.

Dawn Russo
Dawn Russo, Senior Program Manager of the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society, guest Blogger

Jane accepted a new position that involved more desk work and no night shifts. She admits it’s less exciting, but she also takes less sick time now and spends more time with her family.

Join us next week as we visit Jane one final time to see another example of life with MS and learn more about the programs and services available from the National MS Society.

Understanding Multiple Sclerosis

Logo of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Greater New England This month I am pleased to introduce our guest blogger, Dawn Russo, Senior Program Manager of the Greater New England Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society. Dawn will provide a better understanding of MS and the vast array of services available.

Dawn Russo
Dawn Russo

There are approximately 400,000 people with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the United States and most of us know someone who has been diagnosed. MS is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system. Symptoms may be mild such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. From the list of possible symptoms to its impact on a family, MS is not a simple disease.

Let’s follow Jane as she is diagnosed with MS

Jane is 32 years old. For the past week, she has experienced double vision. When her neurologist completed a full medical history, Jane remembered several years earlier that her hand had felt numb for a week. Numerous tests were given over a period of several months including an MRI that showed two lesions on her brain; a diagnosis of MS was made.

Jane was overwhelmed by the news and afraid for her future. Would she be able to continue working? Have children? It seemed like she had to learn a new language to understand all the terms she was hearing.

Jane searches for information and support

Jane contacted the Information Resource Center (IRC) at the National MS Society, Greater New England Chapter. She was unsure what to ask but the Information Specialist started at the beginning. Jane was sent basic information about MS and received a weekly packet through the Knowledge is Power Program. She joined a teleconference for people who are newly diagnosed and learned about symptom management and disclosing her MS.

Over the next few years, Jane stayed informed by reading the Chapter newsletter, attending workshops, and calling the Chapter with questions. She joined a support group and the Chapter helped her find a yoga instructor familiar with MS.

Living with MS

Jane continues to have periodic exacerbations or flare-ups, during which time she experiences a worsening of her symptoms. When this happens, Jane takes time off from work and is treated with steroids. But even with these setbacks, Jane has learned she can still work and have children.

Join us next week as we learn how Jane is doing 10 years later and how the National MS Society supports people living with MS to lead full and enriching lives.