The moment of diagnosis of multiple sclerosis has been referred to as “the event that changes the future”.
For many MS patients, diagnosis is the culmination of a long and frustrating process of experiencing varied symptoms, but without knowing the cause. Once a diagnosis is made it brings relief, but also slams home the reality of a lifelong journey together with a chronic neurological disorder.
Patients and families respond in different ways to diagnosis. When it is preceded by a long, physically and emotionally exhausting process to identify the illness, families may have less resilience to process this bad news. Generally speaking, diagnosis introduces loss and hope.
Loss is what we experience when we lose those things precious to us. For the patient it represents loss of health, work capacity and other competencies; for the family it means loss of the practical and emotional support provided by the patient. Loss triggers grief for those things we lose in the here and now, but, more importantly, it triggers grief for our hopes and dreams. It is as if our life script has been erased and we now have to live according to a new script we did not choose or approve. Both patient and family can then find themselves going through cycles of denial, anger, bargaining and sadness. These are vital emotions and assist us to come to terms with our loss.
Diagnosis does bring hope. Once we know and understand the enemy, we can muster our resources to build the best possible defence against this unwelcome disease. There is abundant evidence that patients and families that engage in a positive way with this disease and work hard to maintain their emotional strength have a better chance of adjusting to the disease. Are you newly diagnosed? Contact us and experience the feeling of being amongst people who really ‘get’ it!
Our wish for every patient and family is that you will find in yourself and in your loved ones the necessary physical, emotional and spiritual resources to triumph with dignity.
Have a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season with blessings in abundance for 2016.
From all of us at Multiple Sclerosis South Africa
During 2015 beautiful memories were made. In January the French World Cycling Tour visited us in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban. In February a huge group of MS-ers attended the Gauteng Social Meet and Greet at Irene Dairy Farm straight after Rene Westerveld skydived in aid of MS and to celebrate her birthday. Also in February, Buckle Up! (because) Amanda Grobbelaar is in Port Elizabeth! All the way from Australia this Baaienaar shared how she lives with an Attitude of Gratitude. In March Dr Anita Rose entertained us at Welverdiend sharing her precious knowledge with all. May brought huge excitement as Anneke Oliver walked all the way from Bethulie in the Free State to Cape Town showing her support in the fight against MS. Huge blessings came our way during the annual Purple Cow Ventures Fundraising Ball in May in aid of MS. June brought us to Bella-Onrus enjoying togetherness with the Overberg MS-ers crowd. In June Gerrie Hadders started his new fundraising campaign in aid of MSSA by challenging his family and friends from all over the world to give because they can! A dozen MS-ers took to the skies in Dare to Dive from the sky at Tempe Airfield. July and the Annual General Meeting 2015 brought a day of sharing and planning for the year ahead. August was just so special when Angela Kirby arrived Walking a World of Friendships, encouraging all people living with MS to never give up. Johan Maree, Bultfontein Free State, invited MS-ers to participate and raise awareness by participating in the Fighting Fun Walk at The Boertjiefees.