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How Can I Help MSers?

by Leah
(Los Angeles, CA)

Dear Akrista and Cir:
Thank you so much for providing this website and for sharing your inspirational story!

I am the adult child of a parent with MS. My dad was diagnosed when my mom was pregnant with me but, like Cir, he had been experiencing symptoms long before that. He was 36 when he was diagnosed and passed away in 1997 at age 72. In
spite of the progressive nature of his disease and the spectrum of symptoms he battled, he was an engaged and loving parent and was able to work as a teacher until he retired at 64.

Like you, I'm an entrepreneur starting my own business. I'm a psychotherapist intern opening a private practice in Los Angeles specializing in treating individuals with MS and their significant others. I think my personal background and clinical training make me to uniquely qualified to assist folks coping with this illness.

You both know firsthand how stressful MS can be on a family. One of the things that kept my dad going was the therapy he got from 2 skilled and caring clinical psychologists who were trained to deal with the many issues surrounding MS. The support he received from them enabled him to keep supporting us.

However, looking back, I realize how much my mom, my brother, and I could also have benefited from talking to someone with an understanding of the specific challenges we faced.

My qualifications only take me so far. I can't fully serve the MS community until I get a sense of what it needs.

So I'd like to know from you and others on this site:
*How best can I support my clients in my capacity as a therapist?
*What are some of the emotional issues that come up?
*What would you like me to know?

Any help or guidance you can give me would be much appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you both!
Leah Krinsky

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Nov 11, 2011
Help on Emotional Level
by: Anonymous

I find when I see my neurologist that the hardest thing for me on an emotional level is to
1) admit and accept that I am disabled. And
2) talk about the fear, fear of one day waking up and not being able to walk at all.

Currently I have foot-drop in both feet, from my pelvis down is numb. I have ataxia really bad and hug walls as I walk. For grocery store trips etc., I must use an electric wheelchair.

There are many times I think I need a good cry. I find the best way to reach me on that emotional level is to be blunt- ask straight out are you afraid of this or that happening. I don't open up to timid people as I need on an emotional level someone who is strong.

So from someone with PPMS to you on emotional dealings I personally can appreciate someone just being bold and diving in. My neurologist and I have developed a friendly relationship as far as she talks to me as a person and not a subject.

She defines me as the type that just rolls with it but there are days I feel weak and frustrated inside. That's when she just asks straight out.

I hope this can help :)

Dec 07, 2011
Thanks for Offering
by: Akrista

Hi Leah,
I would like to say, thanks so much for offering your help to the MS community. So many times, the people who support the MSer are left to deal with their issues alone.

We are, of course, stronger because we aren't "ill". But watching a loved one suffer daily can cause emotional stress which can cause other things. I believe my continued health problems are an indirect result of this type of stress.

Being able to talk about the things that concern us would help caregivers or family members to support and care for their loved ones MS. Providing resources for family members who spend a great deal of time caring for their loved ones. And many times at their own expense, financially, emotionally, and physically.

Another thing is to make sure that caregivers are also caring for themselves. This can do a great deal to keep harmony in the home. Support groups, if they can be arranged, for both MSer as well as family caregivers are also not a bad idea.

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Cir & Akrista

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