Taking back control: multiple sclerosis patients preserve body and mind
February 24, 2022     

Individuals living with multiple sclerosis (MS) can face a significant physical and mental strain as a result of their illness. Learn from four patients who are battling this serious immune-meditated disease and see how they strive to achieve a sense of balance and strengthen both their bodies and minds.  

Creating a village – Jasmin’s story

Jasmin, MS patient

Jasmin’s world was turned upside down after she was diagnosed with MS. She spent months in the hospital, shuttling between the intensive care and physical rehabilitation units where she had to relearn basic life skills, such as walking, bathing, eating and tying shoes. Despite these challenges, Jasmin never lost hope that she would make it through. 

Leaning on her family and friends, her “village”, Jasmin found support to adapt to her new life. Her mother helped with transportation to appointments and daily tasks, such as taking showers and using the bathroom. 

When her MS caused migraines, leg weakness, and poor eyesight, her village came to her aid and helped with childcare and meals.

“The most humbling thing about battling MS is having to ask for help. I was always a top student who went above and beyond. I never asked for help. I was the one offering to help. This was a complete change for me. But my village has helped me in every single way,” she said.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle – Nathan’s story

Nathan, MS patient

Nathan always aspired to be a firefighter and put himself through fire academy to accomplish his goal. His diagnosis with MS came just a few years into his career and threatened his life-long dream. However, he didn’t let fear take over. 

Shortly after landing a position with a five-station department, he began experiencing symptoms that made it difficult to perform his job, and ultimately forced him to resign. 

Although he had left his job, he was not ready to completely let go of his dream. He sought out an MS specialist for help who recommended going to physical therapy, which after some time, turned into a love of going to the gym and eating healthier. 

“I am very fortunate I learned about taking action early and changing my diet; my doctors and I think that these, along with some other lifestyle changes, have helped keep my symptoms to a minimum,” he said.

With these lifestyle changes, he was able to go back to doing what he loved – working as a firefighter to help his community.  

Leaning on others – Leika’s story

Leika, MS patient

For Leika, her MS led to daily migraines, pain, depression and severe fatigue – all of which she faced on her own. One day it all became too much; she took a brave step and confided in her best friend and leaned on her for support.

“What I didn’t know was that I was going to gain a sister, and she would become my biggest supporter throughout my MS journey,” she said.

Once she learned that she could rely on others, she found the courage to share her diagnosis with friends and family. 

By leaning on her support system, she was able to have open and honest conversations about what she was going through and talk about what she could do to help keep her mind and body strong. Leika also confided in a coworker and, taking her suggestion, joined a gym where she found a passion for weightlifting and was able to take her health to the next level. 

Mental exercises – Nina’s Story

Nina, MS patient

After growing up with a sister who was diagnosed with MS, Nina was shocked to learn that she too was diagnosed with the same disease. During her early 20s, she was focused on growing her career, until one day, she received life-changing news. During an eye appointment, her optometrist simply asked if anyone in her family had MS. Once the doctor learned about her family history, Nina was immediately referred to a neuro-ophthalmologist, who subsequently diagnosed her with MS.

Following her diagnosis, Nina’s husband helped her find MS specialists who could help her manage symptoms. With the support of her neurologist, she implemented new approaches to ease her MS symptoms. 

Along with the physical pain she experienced, Nina noticed that her memory was starting to deteriorate. She could not remember simple things, such as jokes or the name of her favorite restaurant. So, she pursued ways to help her cognition.

“I have noticed that reading has helped me a lot and playing word games on my phone is a good exercise for my mind,” she said.

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