by Helen Russon
The holidays can be a time of great joy, and great stress. The phrases "running around like mad" and "sprinting through the toy aisle" are obviously not meant to be literal, but do bring a certain irony to those of us with MS. The question becomes, "How do I manage MS while also managing the holidays?"
The December 20 meeting of the Providence MS Support Group tackled that question. There are so many challenges, such as holiday travel, shopping, preparing the holiday dinner. We want to enjoy ourselves, and our loved ones to have fun and not worry about us. So ... just how are we supposed to do that?
1) Find a way to comfortably talk about your challenges with those who can help. In support group sessions, for example, attendees listen and give suggestions. Those at meetings like this don't have to wonder what someone means when they say "I was having a bad leg day" or "I don't want people to think I'm drunk." Sharing our own experiences helped empower us to recognize and use available resources.
2) Get help when you need it. For example, I used to be terribly embarrassed to have someone push me in a wheelchair. But having discussed the issue with many others over the years, I have gathered the courage to take advantage of the services provided at the airport for people with disabilities. It only took one time for me to realize how much easier this makes airline travel -- especially when I remember that the alternative is somehow hauling my bags down the concourse (I wouldn't dare use the automatic walkway), and standing in pain in the long lines through the security check.
3) Speak up about your limitations. Someone else in our meeting talked about how liberating it is to just explain to others why they can't put up the Christmas tree or cook a gourmet holiday meal. What may seem obvious to us is not always that way to others -- and being upfront helps ensure that people don't misunderstand our exhaustion as meaning we are exhausted with them.
Join us on Saturday, January 17 where we'll talk about recovering from all that holiday joy. See you there!
Providence MS Support Group
For people with MS and their family members. Led by Providence MS Center staff. Meets third Saturday every month from 10-11:15 am
Providence Brain and Spine Institute conference room
9135 SW Barnes Road
Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, East Pavilion, Suite 363
Portland, OR 97225
Contact: Facebook.com/ProvidenceMS or David Schmitt at 503-216-1150
Previous support group coverage: "Our struggles are not that different"