Everyone with MS uses their own ‘recipes’ to cope with symptoms

I've learned to measure by experience as I work toward 'baking' a better life

Benjamin Hofmeister avatar

by Benjamin Hofmeister |

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Before multiple sclerosis (MS) took the normal functioning of my limbs, I enjoyed being in the kitchen — not merely to be underfoot or lick spoons and bowls, but to actually cook and bake. I won’t claim to have been a gourmet chef or anything like that, but I knew my way around.

A few mistakes were made along the way, some causing scars on whichever hand wasn’t holding the knife. I once added lavender to spaghetti sauce. I’d clipped some fresh oregano and thought the herb growing next to it smelled right, so I cut a couple sprigs from the garden. Normally found in soaps and lotions, lavender can be used in a few recipes, but in my opinion, pasta sauce should not be one of them.

I knew I’d reached the peak of amateur chef status when I didn’t cut myself as much and when I stopped measuring the majority of my ingredients. When I baked bread, for instance, I added flour until the dough “looked right” and threw a “pinch” of salt in.

Measuring by eye, or as I like to think of it, measuring by experience, is probably not the method to use your first time out with a dish. At the start, it’s advisable to use precise measurements and written recipes until you find what works for you.

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Your recipe for day-to-day coping

Dealing with day-to-day multiple sclerosis symptoms is the same. I’ve often said that MS isn’t a one-size-fits-all disease. For that reason, your coping mechanisms might start with a “recipe” of sorts, but they eventually aren’t measured by the likes of cups and spoons (or directions). Often, they’re measured by your experience. (For the record, I’m not suggesting that you measure any prescribed medication by eye! Some things absolutely need to follow a recipe.)

The way I deal with fatigue, for example, might have started with something I read or heard from an MS mentor, but now I measure it by experience. I know what feels right and what works for me on a given day. Some days, my “dough” has to rest before being kneaded by life. Then I have to let myself rise in a warm place. Sometimes it takes me a little longer to rise again after being deflated, but the results are worth it.

Just like good baking can improve the entire atmosphere of your home, the right individual coping methods can improve your life with MS. You have your own recipe, honed by your own experience. Share it with others, but remember that their experience is different from yours, and they might use the equivalent of a bigger pinch of salt.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Comments

Lucinda avatar

Lucinda

I really like the baking analogy. Makes such sense too. Will stick in my mind for sure. Thank you Benjamin.

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Carmen avatar

Carmen

Great analogy!

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Charlene Barbara Tarter avatar

Charlene Barbara Tarter

As a care partner, you helped me understand more clearly how much trying things and not being upset if they do not fully work can be important.
Thanks,
Char

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The Cranky One avatar

The Cranky One

I'm really not sure what to do about those days when you feel like ancient lemonade - sickly and flat. And there are some days where the only recipe which fits is Sour-doh..............

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Maria Koutromanos avatar

Maria Koutromanos

I loved this article, all rings true . I l Loire the comparison dough as it really does explain things simply when explaining to people how MS fatigue works. Because of fatigue it is sometimes difficult to make firm arrangements because there is no prediction of how you could feel say as an example 2 pm tomorrow. I am blessed to be surrounded by good people that have patience and understanding

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