Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease. By creating a strong relapse plan, you can be ready for whatever may happen. Plan now for relapses and minimize unnecessary stress.
Time Required: 30-60 minutes
Get Comfortable Asking for Help
During a relapse you will need help. While you may be very uncomfortable asking for help, it is extremely important that you reach out to others. There are people in your life who would be happy to help you out. Generally people like to be asked for help, they like to be needed. So put aside any shyness or hesitancy in asking people for help. When you have a relapse, you will need it. If it helps you, first practice with small things (like loaning you a scarf for a special occasion). You can also visualize and practice in your head the situation of asking different people for help.
Make a List
Sit down and make a list of all your responsibilities. Put one item per line (you’ll need the space later). Assume that you will be unable to do any of them for about 2 weeks. Are you in charge of cooking dinner? Put it on the list. Do you run the carpool for soccer practice? On the list. What about work? Do you have any critical projects that could not be put on hold for 2 weeks? On the list. Everything from taking the dog on a walk to that benefit luncheon you are organizing goes on the list.
For each item on your list, you need to decide what to do about it. If there is someone else you can ask to help out, write their name next to the item. If you find yourself writing the same name next to each item (e.g. spouse, mother, best friends), try to think of other people that can help out as well. Be creative in thinking about people: your neighbors, people at church, and co-workers can be a great resource. If an item on the list can simply wait a couple of weeks, write “wait” next to it. Your goal is to be able to not have to do any of these things and focus on getting well.
Set in Motion
Now write down the phone number of each person on the list next to his or her name. This person has to be told what their role is and how they can help. Start dialing. Call each person, tell them you are making a plan for a relapse and explain their role. Be sure they agree to the particular task you would like them to do. This way, when you do have a relapse, they already understand what you need and can simply step in. You may have to tell some of these people about your MS for the first time. Take these people to coffee or to lunch. Have them over to your house if you are more comfortable there.
Take your list with all the names and phone numbers and put it in a safe place. Now you can relax. If a relapse comes, you will not have the stress of getting everything done. You can focus on getting well.