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Support: a daily dozen - minus one.

Support: A Daily Dozen -- Minus One

Recently I attended a support and education group sponsored by the Southern California Chapter. It was an excellent experience for many reasons, but especially because 10 individuals were encouraged to openly describe the difficulties they are now facing.

I have spent so much time trying to accommodate to an assortment of limitations that it was a tremendous relief to hear myself describe them somewhat objectively, and to hear from the group leader how a symptom fits into a pattern.

I've gradually accumulated some strategies which help me lessen MS-related problems. The group experience has persuaded me to put them into some kind of order which may prove useful to others.

1. As a result of advice at the support group, I've increased my daily Vitamin C intake to 3-4000 mg in order to acidify my urine and avoid infections. So far, it's worked.

2. I know tea and coffee can be helpful in regulating some people's systems, but I personally avoid them, as well as all carbonated or iced drinks. These liquids seem to irritate my bladder, produce too many "false alarms," and cause bloating. in warm months I drink fruit juices and what a colleague describes as "tepid tap water"; in the winter I love hot water with lemon.

3. In a bottom desk drawer at work, wrapped in an opaque plastic bag, is a change of underwear. That, plus various pads, have saved more than one trip home.

4. A handsome, varnished cane lives in the trunk of my car. When I'm not sure of the territory, or when I know I'll be walking a lot, I use it. I've found that I can walk an extra loop of the park if I use the cane, perhaps because I'm not working as hard to adjust myself back to vertical.

5. All my shoes are soft-soled now; gone are leather soles and narrow wedgies, and I can work more securely. I've begun indulging in patterned stocking and textured tights, to compensate, I suppose, for what other women describe as "such comfortable shoes."

6. When I sit for any length of time, I don't cross my legs. If i forget about that, I'm liable to stand stiffly at best and weak-kneed at worst. After rising, I gain my balance for a moment. Generally, I'm now more likely to seek a chair, let someone fetch, rest a hand on nearby furniture, and walk slowly. It's ironic but I think these attempts to steady myself have actually made m appear more relaxed.

7. i enjoy the quick relief of a catnap. I learned to give in to five-minute naps when I was pregnant, and I am still amazed at how refreshing it can be to sit with eyes closed and let my mind swim, increasingly disconnected, until I pop up to the surface again.

8. Suddenly, especially on hot days, one eye will blur, a reminder of optic neuritis attacks. Sitting near air conditioning and drinking cold water help clear my vision.

9. If I don't know people well, I'll let them lump me into that big group of people who have bad backs, little bladders or fallen arches. That helps all of us to casually accommodate common limitations. Once we're closer friends, though, I tell the truth about why I can't tackle certain things--and then try to maintain the same attitude we'd all been sharing.

10. and 11. And, finally, two rules of thumb: Following a friend's advice, I avoid thinking about MS when it's time to sleep.

The second rule is that I phrase refusals positively, as in, "It sounds like you're having fun at the boat show, but I'm enjoying this book so much that I'd really rather stay home." Family and friends tire of reminders of a problem they can't solve; I don't benefit much either.

What a joy to have a column that permits us to share. It's the next best thing to being part of a support group!
COPYRIGHT 1989 National Multiple Sclerosis Society
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Copyright 1989, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:strategies to help lessen multiple sclerosis-related problems
Publication:Inside MS
Article Type:column
Date:Jun 22, 1989
Words:668
Previous Article:Beating it.
Next Article:Digging for clues to fatigue.
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