As an executive vice president with a Fortune 500 company and mother of three, Rosanne Ross was no stranger to overcoming challenges.
After optic neuritis led to her multiple sclerosis diagnosis in 1998, Rosanne put her can-do attitude to work. She was determined to find solutions that would help her manage her MS, while raising three boys and navigating frequent international work travel. Although she was being treated with a disease-modifying-therapy (DMT) by a neurologist, Rosanne's symptoms were becoming more debilitating.
"During one trip in the middle of the summer, it was hot. And I was visiting one city a day, staying in different hotels every night. By the last hotel, I was just exhausted," Rosanne says. "I went to check in around 4 pm. I went to the door of my room and the key didn't work. I kept going back to the front desk until finally the desk clerk came to help. I hadn't even realized it, but I was so tired I was swiping (the hotel key) like a credit card. I went in the room, closed the door and started crying."
Shortly after that incident, Rosanne had lunch with Patty Shepherd-Barnes, National MS Society, Greater Northwest President.
"I was very depressed about everything and concerned [about my MS]. Patty said, 'You need help, you're not in a great state.' Patty suggested maybe what I needed to do was see a neurologist who was more specialized in MS care, and she helped me set up an appointment with James Bowen, MD."
As a Society Partner in MS Care and with more than 30 years' experience treating MS patients, Dr. Bowen takes a holistic approach to care. He is the medical director of the MS Center at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle, WA, one of the Society's recognized 138 Centers for Comprehensive Care that provide coordinated multi-disciplinary MS care.
"I think the specialists understand more than just the medical aspects of the disease – they've seen it all in terms of what happens to people with the disease," Rosanne says. "Not just medical issues but also some of the physical and mental ones that you encounter [living with MS], and they're able to walk you through that."
By thinking differently about her care and seeing a physician who specialized in MS, Rosanne was able to better manage her MS and improve her quality of life. Dr. Bowen helped her find an MS medication that worked better and also encouraged her to incorporate yoga to improve her balance and wellness. And he helps her keep things in perspective when it's hard. Rosanne says, "Every now and then, if I'm feeling sorry for myself, Dr. Bowen helps me see that I'm actually doing well."
Dr. Bowen says the Society plays a critical role in support of people living with MS and their healthcare team.
"The National MS Society is the best source for patients to get credible information about the disease. There is a lot of misinformation – especially nowadays with the internet," Dr. Bowen says. "The information the Society provides is very good. It's all vetted by MS experts."
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