You’ve just been blown away by hearing the words, “You have MS.” A confusing and tangled web of thoughts is racing through your mind wondering what to do next. Fear starts bubbling up into the back of your throat and all you want to do is scream. Life suddenly feels totally out of control.
Take a deep breath: Inhale, exhale; Inhale, exhale. Remember; you are not alone.
Let’s focus on taking that first step toward gaining back your control: ask questions. By asking questions you will gain knowledge. Knowledge will help empower you to feel great in your body and in your life. By asking your doctor specific questions when newly diagnosed, you embark on your MS journey in the healthiest direction for you. Being proactive will set you up for success as your own best advocate.
Below are seven key areas to considering asking your doctor.
Blood Tests: Blood tests reveal how your body is functioning. Numbers to address with your doctor are:
- C – Reactive Protein (C-RP) as it measures inflammation in the blood which is typically too high in MS patients
- Vitamin D level – people with MS tend to be deficient in vitamin D which has been shown to possibly influence disease activity
- Inquire if there are other deficiencies for which you should be tested that can contribute to the severity of your MS
- Based on results, ask what vitamins you can take or foods your should eat to help alleviate any deficiencies.
Medications: Thankfully there are currently several disease-modifying medications available to MS patients. And although you might want to approach your MS from a holistic point of view, it is best to include (or at least consider) medical intervention. A few questions to ask with regard to medication are:
- What are the known long-term effects of the medication on your MS and on your body?
- Who can teach you how to administer the medication, if applicable?
- Where can you get support when/if having difficulty 24/7?
Exercise: Exercise is an important component to overall health in general. The problem most people with MS experience is overheating of the core when working out and MS hates heat. Ask your doctor:
- What exercises can you do without worsening your MS?
- What kind of exercise is best to keep you healthy?
- How to exercise in a way that does not raise your core temperature so you don’t overheat
Diet/Nutrition: Whether or not you have MS, you are what you eat. A healthy diet is important to living well. Specifically you may want to address with your doctor:
- The role of nutrition with regard to MS and are there any foods or nutrients that are better or worse?
- MS is an inflammatory disease. What foods are best to decrease inflammation?
- MS is also known to affect mood. What foods, if any, are known to affect mood for the positive
Support: You are not alone. There are so many people to whom you can reach out. If you are not aware of who you have in your support system, ask your doctor:
- Who can you reach out to at the doctor’s office?
- From whom outside of the doctor’s office can you get help?
- Does the pharmaceutical company offer assistance and/or counseling?
- How you can talk to your family and friends about this?
Limitations: You are venturing into unknown territory and learning to navigate a new lifestyle that complements your illness. Depending on the severity or lack thereof of your MS, ask your doctor:
- Are there any limitations with regard to how you live your life?
- And if the answer is yes, what resources can be provided to help you address them?
Pregnancy: Many women are diagnosed with MS during their childbearing years. Studies show that MS symptoms tend to go into remission when a woman is pregnant and then return with mild to increased severity after the birth. If this is relevant to you, inquire as to if you can and/or when you will get pregnant. This may influence your doctor’s treatment options for you.
It is very important to note that you may have to try several different protocols before finding the one that is right for you. Be HONEST and OPEN with your doctor at all times so as to have the best possible outcome. And, when newly diagnosed, bring someone with you to your appointments. It is always best to have two people listening so nothing vital gets missed. Also bring pen and paper to write down all information, answers to your questions, any new questions that arise, etc. Having a written record helps later on when you find it difficult to recall specifics. Try using the wellness journal that I created if you need a guide to help you with this: Live in Wellness Now.
You are now empowered to have control over your MS by becoming your own advocate. I know you’re probably quite scared right now. Know that once you gain control over the situation and have a plan for moving forward, you will be able to live your healthiest life.
What kind of questions do you ask your doctor at your appointments? Do you keep a running list of questions to bring up?
Barbara inspires hope through mindful health and a meaningful life. By combining healthy living, spirituality, and neuroscience principles, she helps people understand how to be proactive in their health care versus reactionary in their sick care so they can feel great in their body and in their life. Her greatest wish is to never hear a person say, “I should be taking better care of myself.” To learn more and receive her FREE guide, visit Appelbaum Wellness.