Minimize the Impact of Multiple Sclerosis on Work and Play

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is generally a relapsing-remitting disease, which means that symptoms come and go in an unpredictable way. So, don't make big decisions about any major life activities in the middle of a relapse or a particularly stressful week. Too many people end up leaving the workforce when they're first diagnosed, only to discover a few weeks or months down the road that they're feeling fine — but now they're unemployed.

If you're considering leaving your job because of your MS, be sure to take advantage of all the legal protections that are available to you before thinking about disability retirement. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other statutes are in place to help you stay employed as long as you want and are able to.

Fun and recreation are just as important as work. Too often, people begin to give up activities they can no longer do easily or well. Before they know it, they've given up a lot of the things that make their life fun, full, and interesting.

After you decide that it's okay to be creative, you'll find a way to do just about everything that's important to you. People with MS swim, ski, sail, play golf, go camping, and travel all over the world.

Given the unpredictability of MS, you're probably wondering what you can do to safeguard your quality of life. The short answer is: You have to be a master at thoughtful planning and decision-making. Most folks don't enjoy second-guessing the future, but the best way to ensure your comfort and security down the road is to get all your ducks in a row now.

In the meantime, here's the shorthand prescription for protecting your quality of life: Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

You aren't alone. Lots of people are with you on your MS path, including the scientists who continue to look for answers, the health professionals who want to partner with you in your care, and the voluntary health organizations, such as the National MS Society, that offer information and support.

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