Yes to being an empowered patient

Cortnee R.

Cortnee is a family nurse practitioner who specializes in the care and treatment of people living with relapsing MS.

As a family nurse practitioner with experience treating people living with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS), I take a holistic approach to MS care and work with my patients to develop care plans that fit their individual needs, keeping in mind their roles as busy parents and professionals. Please remember that disease modifying therapies are not indicated to treat the symptoms of relapsing MS, so my tips below are meant to fit into an overall care plan. My goal is to ensure that all my patients feel empowered to manage their MS, which is why I recommend taking the following 3 proactive steps.

Be your own advocate

I always tell my patients that no one knows their body better than they do. It’s so important for people living with relapsing MS to be aware of how they’re feeling and share their symptoms or questions with their healthcare provider at every visit.

I encourage my patients to write everything down—whether it be in a journal or through an app—before they come into my clinic. This way, we can look at the symptoms they’re experiencing, discuss their questions and determine the best path forward.

Develop healthy habits

Relapsing MS can impact each person in different ways. When my patients are experiencing common symptoms, like fatigue, I encourage them to make some small changes to their daily routines to improve their overall wellness.

Simple changes like getting enough sleep and staying hydrated may help make a difference in how we feel. I advise patients to practice good sleep hygiene by eliminating screen time 2 hours before bed. Just reducing the amount of time spent in front of a TV or computer screen at night can help us fall asleep faster and wake up feeling recharged.

Seek support

Friends and family are an important part of your support team, but sometimes it helps to talk with other people who are living with relapsing MS; people who can understand how you feel because they’ve felt that way too.

Seek out support groups through your healthcare provider or a local clinic, or even join a virtual group, to help navigate the day-to-day challenges you may face. Speaking with other people who have MS is a great way to feel connected, empowered, and understood.

MS can be challenging, but being empowered and educated can help you say yes to managing your condition in a way that fits your lifestyle.

Cortnee R. is a paid spokesperson for Biogen.

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