Managing your life with MS isn't just about dealing with the symptoms you have right now. It's about thinking through what could happen in future -- the possible effects on your job, family, and finances -- and preparing for them.
Even if your symptoms are mild, planning can make you feel better and be more confident in your future.
"It's not bad luck to think about what you might do if your symptoms got worse," says Rosalind Kalb, PhD, a clinical psychologist and vice president of clinical care at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. "That's not giving into the disease -- that's taking charge of it in a productive way."
When it comes to planning for the unpredictable, where do you begin? "Start where your greatest fears are," Kalb says.
Could MS prevent you from working? Could it disrupt your family? Whatever worries you most about the condition, tackle the fear head on.
"Instead of letting those worries go round in your head, start building a safety net that would deal with that problem," Kalb says.
2. Check Your Insurance
Read your health care insurance policy, says Dorothy Northrop, MSW, vice president of continuum of care initiatives at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Make sure your doctor is covered and that you have access to specialists, such as neurologists. Even if you don’t need other treatments now, like physical or occupational therapy, you might need them in the future, so check what's covered, Northrop says.
You can also get help from MS Navigators at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. They can help you understand your options. To talk to one, call 800-FIGHT-MS.
3. Talk to Your Family
"Most people don't really understand MS," says Kalb. Let them know how MS might affect you and how they can support you.
"A lot of family and friends want to help but don't know what to do," Kalb says. Be specific when you ask for help: a ride to a doctor's office on Tuesday, an after-school pickup next week. That helps them know exactly what you need and want.