Obsessing over MS can sometimes distract from other health concerns

A columnist reminds himself that other health issues are also important

Benjamin Hofmeister avatar

by Benjamin Hofmeister |

Share this article:

Share article via email
banner image for Ben Hofmeister's column

I have a doctor’s appointment coming up soon. It isn’t with my neurologist or another specialist. It’s a routine visit with my primary care physician and, other than the regular schedule, isn’t really routine at all.

There’s a lot more to me than my multiple sclerosis (MS), a fact I’m finding out that I can’t neglect. MS affects and is affected by everything in my life, so maybe it should be my focus. What I have to be careful about, though, is making it my obsession.

I’ve often said that MS has my complete attention, but perhaps I shouldn’t say it that way. Despite the weight of the disease, the scale shouldn’t tip all the way toward it all the time. Sometimes, when symptoms pile up, MS demands the majority of my attention. For most of the time, though, a balance is struck between MS and the rest of my life.

Recommended Reading
A woman prepares to lift a set of barbells.

Resistance training exercises may benefit middle-aged MS patients

A price to pay

When it comes to healthcare, I’ve found that I obsess over MS at my own peril. A bout with sepsis last year after a urinary tract infection is a perfect example. I ignored the symptoms because I wrote them off to MS, as though it were the only thing that could make me feel ill. There’s no doubt MS contributed, but giving it all of the credit rather than just due consideration cost me three nights in the emergency room.

I might not have a family history of MS, but there is a history of cardiovascular disease. I’m a little ashamed to say that my obsession with MS has occasionally shifted my attention away from preventive care. Letting the scales stay tipped one way has also prevented me from focusing enough on other things like orthopedic and dental care. My attitude of “I’ll do it when I feel better” apparently affects my health, too.

Besides my physical health, being obsessed with MS can be detrimental to my mental health and my relationships. I still think it behooves me and anyone else with this disease to learn about it, but spending all my free time reading about MS means no free time for other things. For me, those other things are family and relationships that are much more important than MS.

Focusing on the disease, of course, can be both practical and necessary. After all, it’s a huge consideration in everything I do with family and friends. But obsessing about it doesn’t leave room for considering anything else.

Self-care isn’t selfish. Saying no when you need to isn’t, either. These are perfect examples of a healthy focus. But obsession isn’t healthy and can be selfish. Take it from me, because I’ve been guilty of it.

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.


Kim avatar


Truth! I’m guilty of this too

Benjamin Hofmeister avatar

Benjamin Hofmeister

I think we all are Kim. I'd love to sag that I've learned my lesson, but I know I'll second guess another symptom someday.

Jenny Simpson avatar

Jenny Simpson

So true, and saying everything is an MS often misses something . And obsessing about how good my movt was one day, I decided to not worry about my high BP and coffee, and BANG A "stroke! Very foolish , 5 weeks in hospital , and a long road ahead, I have learned my lesson!

Benjamin Hofmeister avatar

Benjamin Hofmeister

Thanks for the comment Jenny! And the warning too!


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.