MS affects each patient differently. In my case, I have many symptoms that would invade my life and relationships if I let them. I have vision disturbances that are sometimes painful, pins-and-needles sensations in my hands and feet, muscle weakness, extreme lethargy and fatigue, clumsiness and poor coordination, muscle spasms, electric-shock-like sensations, and incontinence. My symptoms tend to flare up if I am overheated or stressed.
My attitude has a lot to do with how well (or not well) I feel. Many MS symptoms are invisible, so I’ve learned to play the role of an educator in order to help people understand what I am going through. I used to immerse myself in my work. I had a pep in my step and enjoyed supporting all my colleagues in their tasks. I still have the pep but have learned to use relaxation techniques and take naps if I need to. I do feel like I struggle at work to stay focused with my extreme fatigue. I had to find ways of managing my body to deal with my symptoms.
When I wake up in the morning, I do self checks. I ask, “How do I feel today?” and I address situations instead of ignoring them. For example, if my feet are stiff, I ask my son to squeeze mommy’s feet. He thinks he’s playing a game, but he’s helping to stimulate my nerves.
It’s important to find someone that you can speak to about your MS when you are ready. In my case, I have two very dear friends named Bianca and Lisa. I know that I can call them at any time or ask to meet up for a coffee. Everyone needs a “Bianca and Lisa.” It’s good to talk to someone. In addition to friends and family, you can also find support from your local MS Society and your doctor.
-Gabriella Mammone, MS Ambassador and Entrepreneur
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