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May is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month

May 13, 2013

Dear editor:

Every day, three more people in Canada are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). May is MS Awareness Month and doctors in the province commend the important work of those caring for individuals with MS in Nova Scotia.

MS is the most common neurological disease affecting young adults in Canada. It’s described as an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system which is composed of the brain and spinal cord. The disease attacks the myelin which is a protective covering wrapped around the nerves of the central nervous system.

MS consists of symptoms which vary greatly from person to person and from time to time in the same person. Early symptoms may include blurred vision, thinking problems, loss of coordination and balance, numbness, or muscle weakness.

Not only does the disease deeply impact those who are diagnosed, it also affects the people who are closest to them. The responsibilities of friends and relatives can quickly expand which can lead to challenges and adjustments. It’s important to understand the challenges and commitments involved in caring for those with MS and to seek support when needed.

If you are providing care for such a person, keep in mind that caregiving isn’t easy. Take time to understand what MS is, how it affects the person with the disease, and how to cope with the changes or pressures a chronic disease can have on relationships.

No matter the extent of your caregiving, it is important that you also take care of yourself. Good coping techniques include acknowledging your feelings, resting when you need to rest, or talking to somebody else who has made the transition.

Doctors Nova Scotia encourages family members and friends who care for those with MS to seek support and become educated about the disease. For more information about MS, visit www.mssociety.ca


John Finley, MDCM, FRCPC