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When MS Means Mighty Stubborn

By Cheryl Ellis, Staff Writer

(Page 1 of 4)

“I’m glad my MS isn’t too bad. My life is too busy to have it interfere!”

These words could be uttered by many individuals with MS, regardless of how severe the affliction has become in their lives. Caregivers may shrink in horror whenever they are said, dreading the inevitable outcome of an event preceded by this statement.

Husbands may growl and curse, mowing lawns and doing other chores around the home, refusing to admit that they may be putting themselves in harm’s way. Stubborn to the last, arguing with family, the unsinkable MS patient may end up in an emergency room when MS double vision meets hammer and nail.

The same is true for the female side of the equation. Rather than delegate chores to family caregivers, she will forge onward, through laundry, floor cleaning, and other activities, only to find herself withered before day’s end.

When caregivers attempt to slow down the “busy” MS patient, the most important resource they have is their bond with the loved one. By communicating how important their relationship is, the caregiver may be able to get the MS patient to be the one to call a halt to “over the top” activities.

Diplomacy only goes so far in dealing with anyone experiencing a change in their life and body’s habits. Tactful reminders about health, promises made, or doctor’s orders can only rasp on the nerves of both parties after a time. Sometimes, being direct about the relationship and what it needs to maintain continuity becomes the order of the day. 

“Human beings are not things needing to be motivated and controlled; they are four dimensional — body, mind, heart, and spirit.” This statement comes from Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s “Eighth Habit,” a follow up to his “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”

The bitter experiences caregiving can offer sometimes fall into the “motivate or control” category. Doctors, family, even friends and strangers expect the caregiver to “deliver” on a number of levels. Not only is the patient supposed to be cared for and about, it’s sometimes an occasional expectation that the patient not present a problem. The neat and tidy world the caregiver is expected to maintain is a mighty illusion crafted by humanity’s fear of illness.


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