1. Getting someone else to do the research...
If you have a partner who is truly competent, committed, and willing, you might consider making them the primary MS researcher. Even though my husband--who has MS-- is super smart and well accomplished, he sometimes has a hard time sorting through MS research. It takes a toll emotionally, and he is somehow less able to sort out the real from the quackery (and that's tough with MS, regardless of how close you are to it). He also finds it a little frightening to read about all the possible problems he hasn't experienced yet. Doing the research for us helps me familiarize myself with what might be coming down the pike for us, without scaring the pants off my husband in the meantime. It seems to have worked well for us.
2. Find a way to have a positive and persevering attitude.
A lot of people with MS get sucked into the drama of it, which is easy because it is a naturally dramatic disease. Find a way to be happy. Personally I recommend reading _The Art of Happiness_ by Howard Cutler and the Dalai Lama. It's written for westerners, not for Buddhists. It has definitely helped to keep my husband and me focused on happiness and compassion.
3. Realize you're going to be OK
Your life may not play out exactly the way you've envisioned, but you'll be OK. If you've been a generally happy person thus far in your life, you'll find a way to be a generally happy person for the rest of your life.
4. Realize that MS can be quite serious
Although MS doesn't usually affect life span, some pretty serious stuff can come up. When my husband was first diagnosed, we thought the worst thing that could happen was that he'd be in a wheel chiar. That is not the worst thing that could happen. Take it seriously, and do what you can to make yourself healthy.
5. Check out the diet stuff with an open mind. We initially wrote it off as the ramblings of nuts...afterall, our doctors hadn't mentioned anything about it. But we're believers, now. Most of the MS diets out there rest on a foundation of Dr. Swank's diet. And his book, The Multiple Sclerosis Diet Book, is a good one to start with. It lays out a lot of the basic information in a way that isn't quite so overwhelming as the internet sites. After you've read that (or at least the first few chapters of that), you can move onto the Best Bet Diet (see the nutrition recommendations section on www.direct-ms.org
) or whathaveyou.
6. Get checked for vitamin deficiencies...at the very least for a b12 deficiency or a D deficiency. B12 deficiencies show symptoms very similar to MS symptoms, and some people with MS have a hard time metabolizing b12. And D is also very linked to MS. For some research on these, you can check out www.direct-MS.org
, among other sites.
7. If you can, participate in an exercise that increases balance, such as tai chi. It doesn't have to be something where you sweat a lot, but something to help increase your sense of balance is good. Then, if you're suddenly dealing with leg strength issues, for example, you'll be better prepared to handle them.
8. Last, but not least...AVOID STRESS. Learn how to deal with stress, even if you have to actually take a class on it. Learn how to work out differences with family members and friends without screaming or fuming. Learn how to say "No" to your boss, to your friends, and to store clerks (hopefully, in a nice way).
The tree with strong roots survives the storm. If you're already depressed, it's hard to find the silver lining. Find the silver lining first. If you're already weak, it's hard to build muscle and grow strong...do it first.
So this was pretty rambling, but these are my thoughts. I hope they help.