It Could Be Worse: Practicing Positivity in Life with MS

Stephanie Towler avatar

by Stephanie Towler |

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“It could be worse.”

That’s a phrase I say to myself when I feel defeated by my multiple sclerosis (MS). When I am exhausted or just feeling “off,” I think I about how much worse my situation could be.  

I speak for myself when I say that my journey with MS hasn’t been that bad. My MS is controlled and I experience very little side effects. Being part of a clinical trial has really been a blessing.  

The worst part

A number of things are difficult when living with MS. Some side effects and symptoms are worse than others. Despite all of the mood swings, needles, and infusions, in my opinion, nothing is worse than magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs).

In the past seven years of this journey, I have had 28 MRIs. I have also given myself over 100 shots, had about 14 infusions, and given over 200 tubes of blood, but those things are still not as bad as an MRI.

Getting an MRI involves lying in a tube that produces loud noises, except you cannot move. Claustrophobia is real when you are in an MRI machine. While over time I’ve learned to suck it up, I still hate doing them. But it could be worse!

How I cope

My biggest fear is being buried alive and that’s exactly how I feel in an MRI machine. I had to learn how to tune out the noises and talk myself through it. Singing Justin Bieber and Cardi B is really helpful and takes my mind off the situation. Covering my eyes and taking deep breaths have also helped.  

While this whole thing sounds stupid, I realize that this is the only part of my journey that is tough. These exams are not an option and I have to suck it up. I tell myself that this is all part of my fight against MS. I also think about my situation and how far I have come. Giving up is not an option. No one should give up.

When everything else isn’t very positive, take a step back and evaluate your situation and MS journey. Just think: It could be worse.   


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 Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.


Sandra Koga avatar

Sandra Koga

I love your positive attitude! While I don't mind MRI 's there are other things that do bother me. I'm going to try to be positive:))

WJ avatar


My wife has the same issue with MRI. Valium helps her thank God. Our prayers go out to you.

Maria avatar


I love MRI’s they actually put me to sleep. I listen to the sounds of the machine as I would listen to the ocean. My biggest concern is not being able to work anymore, yet SSDI seems to feel differently. My last

Eli avatar


My goodness, 28 MRIs in 7 years. Why? My MS is fairly stable and I am always more interested in how I feel and function than what my MRI shows. I have had 4 MRIs in my 19 year MS career. When my neurologist wants to order an MRI I always ask why. If I don't get a good answer I don't take the MRI.

James Strobel avatar

James Strobel

4 MRIs a year for 7 years is amazing! I hope they are getting usable test results and not just ripping off the insurance companies and wasting your time!

Pat avatar


I ask the technician to turn the air all the way up and give me a face cloth to grasp in each hand.

Andrea avatar


MRI is a big challenge the Ativan helps

Gary avatar


I’m with you. I hate MRIs. I feel trapped. I worry that something will happen and everyone leaves and I’m stuck there. I hate everything about it. I cannot lay still enough cause my body aches. So I end up having to redo portions of the test. My worst nightmare is being buried alive and MRIs

Amy Barnes avatar

Amy Barnes

Can we please stop telling people to be positive and that it can be worse? Yes it can and no one should wallow, but this narrative of "always focus on the positive" is actually harmful. Sadness, fear, and anger are real emotions that need to be processed and dealt with. It's totally FINE AND NORMAL to hate part of your disease management.


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