Process Of Adjustment
Adjusting to MS is particularly challenging because of the peculiar nature of this chronic
Just as one thinks that the waters of change are calm, and smooth sailing lies ahead, wham! A boatfull of hopes, expectations, goals, and plans is upset, and one feels the desperation of beginning all over again.
Neither complete stability nor inevitable downward progression is typical of MS. Thus, what one most expects is the unexpected.
An individual with MS, goes through a back-and-forth process of adjustment and readjustment that accompanies each remission and each new exacerbation.
Because each new attack can alter the physical, psychological, and social conditions of a person's life, the need to adapt to change itself becomes intensified with this illness. Uncertainty about the future never ends.
The MSer may interpret minor changes in how he feels as evidence of an exacerbation, and each exacerbation may be considered a first step towards total disability.
It is easy to see how the chronic threat of exacerbations can play upon the anxieties
of even those who have made many successful adjustments to their illness already.
Each new exacerbation may cause your ability level to slip another notch.
The diagnosis of Chronic-Progressive MS is disconcerting, poorly coordinated hands, then paralyzed legs and increasing levels of fatigue are extremely difficult to adjust to. The real definition of "Progressive" soon becomes quite clear.
Not only does the MSer go through a process of adjustment but, the intimate others in his/her life must go through it too.
The rate and intensity with which they adapt may differ and communication, along with other aspects of their relationships may become strained.
People differ in the ease and time it takes for them to travel from initial shock to general
acclimation, from denial to acceptance, and then to getting on with the rest of their own lives.
The denial stage can be punctuated with shock and also disbelief.
Surrounded by images of youthfulness and all the triumphant technology of modern medicine, we believe that we are immune to illness.
Our friends and family are filled with the energy and the drive of people with places to go and with things to accomplish.
How can we be stopped cold, suddenly, in our tracks by something we can't see, maybe never heard of, and certainly, never expected? It is hard to believe that it is happening to me!
Anyone who has the complications of a chronic disease or disability has difficulty making plans. Activities that were formerly anticipated with relish are now regarded as less achievable.
Very often, acquaintances and even loved ones do not understand enough to help someone with Multiple Sclerosis along.
Some friends do become more available, when an MSer has adjusted to his illness enough to feel comfortable with a group, despite an inability to participate in the same way as before.
Old ways of assessing oneself are replaced by new, more realistic ways in the adapting-adjusting stage. Perspective broadens as the MSer re-emerges into society.
He is better able to see the talents and strengths, which are not part of his illness. Multiple Sclerosis does become part of your life but, not the whole of it.
Though symptoms may always be present, a MSer makes coping with his illness secondary to meeting his goals in life.
It is worth repeating, that the adjustment to Multiple Sclerosis and its unpredictable course is not a once-and-for-all event, never to be faced again.
Active problem solving replaces the defense of denial, that was present in the early stages of adjustment.
Yet, when symptoms increase and new demands must be met, Shock, Anger, and Depression are aroused once again. The whole entire business is ongoing.
Nevertheless, the first phase of the continuum from denial to adjustment is typically the most difficult one.
The support of family and friends tested and enlisted, the possibility of change in lifestyle discussed, the fear of disease and death confronted.
No two people adjust in the same way. Probably the most important ingredients in the adjustment process are the personal coping resources, a person brings to his encounter with Multiple Sclerosis.