Tuesday, May 17, 2011

MS can require a lot of time and attention, given all of the medicines, tests, medical appointments, physical therapy, etc. that is involved in treatment and wellness efforts. But when it comes to health issues, we have to be more than our disease. We need to remember that in addition to treating our disease, we still need to handle those "normal" health issues that everyone faces. By proactively addressing our total health, we will be in better position to address our MS-related issues. It's important to stay current on non-MS-related appointments, tests, etc., and staying current on those issues will help us managing our total health, which in turn helps us to deal with MS.

Appointments - Your neurologist should not be your only doctor. Have a primary care physician and keep that doctor in the loop on your treatment. Annual physicals can help you to understand your overall health and changes that could improve your life overall. And as a woman, I need to schedule my appointments for appropriate gynecological care. Don't neglect your eyes - make sure you're having regular eye exams. (I've let that one slip for too long....but I've got the checkup scheduled.)

Tests - There are other tests we need besides all of the fun (NOT) tests we go through in our MS treatment. Since my grandfather died of colon cancer, I've already had a a colonoscopy, and I know when I'll need to have my next one. As a woman, the annual mammogram is an important part of my health treatment - just had one, and they even scheduled my next one so that I'll have no excuse. My doctor also wanted me to get a baseline chest x-ray. And since my family has a history of high cholesterol, I get tested regularly so that I don't forget that I have to manage my cholesterol.

Immunizations - Just because we grow up, and just because most of us take injections for our MS, we're not exempt from having other shots. Do you know when your last tetanus shot was? And do not forget the flu shot - folks with MS don't handle getting fevers well, so getting a flu shot can help you avoid a terrible bout with MS symptoms.

We are more than our MS. We can't neglect our overall health while we focus on our MS. And when we manage our total health, we are better able to handle the challenges MS presents to us.