I think living with multiple sclerosis or any other chronic illness, we have a tendency to focus only on that one aspect of our health and end up ignoring or not placing as much emphasis on all of the other parts that we need to monitor. We’re good about getting those MRIs but are we making sure to stay on track with the other areas of our health? I know I wasn’t.
Before I was diagnosed with MS (and even early on when I was still very much in the denial stage), I dismissed any MS symptom I was experiencing as anything but multiple sclerosis. According to me at that time, it was either a pulled muscle or pinched nerve, a bad sinus infection, or a result of pushing myself too hard and/or not getting enough sleep the night before.
Now that I have fully embraced and accepted that I indeed do have multiple sclerosis, I have a tendency to think EVERYTHING is MS-related, and as we all know, that’s not always the case. We need to be aware and open to the entire picture of our health and well-being, and make sure we are taking care of everything – not just the chronic illness.
Several years back, I started to notice numbness and pins and needles in my right leg that persisted for weeks. Well, of course, I instantly thought that I was experiencing an exacerbation. I was convinced that it could be nothing other than a flare. I contacted my neurologist and he got me right in for a MRI. Turns out, it wasn’t MS-related at all. Much to my disbelief, I was having my first bout of sciatica. Once again, multiple sclerosis was playing a game with my head but this time, it was in the polar opposite direction. I thought it was multiple sclerosis rearing its ugly head but it wasn’t.
Now in that case, I think it was good that I was aggressive and found out if I was dealing with a flare or not, but it did serve as a wake-up call for me. There are other things going on in my body, not just multiple sclerosis. I realized that I was ignoring other aspects of my health and focusing too much on the MS portion. I was assuming that because I visited my neurologist regularly that I didn’t need to be doing anything else concerning my health care. To me, if I was doing well with MS than I assumed my health was good but as we all know, multiple sclerosis is only a part of the whole picture.
After that “common sense” wake-up call, I made sure to get a primary care physician and to schedule annual check-ups. As a result, I discovered that I have nodules on my thyroid that I also have to have monitored regularly. I visit my gynecologist yearly, have my annual mammogram, visit the dermatologist, go to the dentist, eye doctor, etc., etc. It can be a full-time job with all of these appointments but monitoring my health and making sure I’m ok in other areas is worth it.
Point being, the body is all connected and if it is all working at optimum condition, or as healthy as possible, then that can only help me to live a better and fuller life with multiple sclerosis. I already have that one chronic illness strike against me so why not take steps to prevent another!?