31 Days of MS: My Support Team Is Invaluable

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31 Days of MS | Multiple Sclerosis News Today | 31 Days 2022 graphic
Michael Drohan

Photo courtesy by Michael Drohan

Day 13 of 31

This is Michael Drohan’s (@mdrohan) story:

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at 18, right before high school graduation. I describe the 18 years since as a slow decline in my abilities. My relapsing-remitting MS has shifted to secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.

Around 23, I started needing to sit down and recharge after about two miles of walking, then one mile, half a mile, a quarter mile… Then I started using a cane, then two canes, a rollator, and now a powerchair. I can still stand and “scuff” around the house with my rollator for exercise now and then.

I want to use this opportunity to show my appreciation for the team I’ve built to help me manage MS. There are three legs to this support stool: family, community, and doctors. My family has been my rock. Your family can be yours, as well: Bring family members to your doctors’ appointments as a second set of ears. Have frank conversations with them, too, about what you are able to do on your own, and where you would really appreciate some help and understanding. Swallow your pride (admittedly, hard to do).

I know how isolating MS can feel. Over the past two years, the pandemic has meant spending more time alone. I lost my ability to drive, and I’m not going to as many local coffee shops and concerts as I used to.

However, my advice to you is to stay engaged. Text a friend you haven’t talked to in a while and make the effort to go out when you’re feeling up for it. For me, I definitely get a high from seeing familiar faces in my favorite places. Also, join a local MS support group! Connecting with folks who are going through similar struggles has been rewarding for me.

With your medical team, don’t be afraid to make changes if you feel something isn’t right. I recommend seeking out an MS specialist, rather than a general neurologist.

MS isn’t easy, but I’ve found that proactively managing it (and building a team to help), rather than letting it consume you, goes a long way toward a better quality of life.

Multiple Sclerosis News Today’s 31 Days of MS campaign will publish one story per day for Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month in March. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more stories like this, using the hashtag #31DaysofMS, or read the full series.