Henry is from Boston, MA, and was diagnosed with relapsing MS in 2011. He is a husband and father who’s opened up to new ways of communicating with others.
Since I was diagnosed with relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS), I've gotten creative with how I communicate and connect with my loved ones.
My wife of 27 years, Eileen, knew of my diagnosis from the start. I did wait a few days before telling my two daughters who were in college and high school.
In the days leading up to our conversation, I was anxious and overwhelmed. I wasn’t used to talking about my problems. Looking back, explaining my MS diagnosis to my daughters made them scared about the future. That’s exactly what I wanted to avoid.
When it came to telling the rest of my friends and family about my diagnosis, I couldn't take repeating the story over and over again. I needed to find a way to share my diagnosis without so much stress and pressure. So I decided to write the news in an email and send it to the rest of my loved ones.
At first, I was worried that an email would feel impersonal. But I soon I realized that it was a great solution. It was much easier to express my feelings and explain some details about MS in writing than it was in person. An email allowed people to get over the initial shock and made our follow-up conversations more relaxed. I’m very happy I said yes to finding a different way to share the delicate news.
Relapsing MS is different for everyone. In my case, I have memory problems that sometimes keep me from communicating well with those around me. I find that talking about my MS with a sense of humor helps me and my family handle life with the disease a little better.
For example, I was at a wedding recently and couldn't say my favorite cousin’s name. I see this cousin all the time, so I could remember her name—I just couldn’t get it out. I'm very aware that this happens sometimes, so I've figured out some work-arounds. In that instance, I decided "Hey beautiful!" was perhaps more effective than remembering her name in the first place. She was flattered, and I avoided an awkward moment!
Thankfully, my loved ones understand my challenges and can laugh with me. It means everything to have them in my corner as I face life with relapsing MS.
Henry P. is a paid spokesperson for Biogen and has experience taking Tecfidera® (dimethyl fumarate). He may or may not be currently on TECFIDERA.