One day it’s the fatigue. The next it’s brain fog. The following week something feels off if your leg and you don’t know if it’s just something random that will go away on its own or if it’s the start of something bigger with MS. You carry a heavy weight every single day when you’re living with the unpredictable symptoms of this invisible disease.That’s exactly why you need your MS Wellness Team.
You need your entourage of people who support you along the journey. So let’s talk about who should be on your dream MS wellness team and how to get one without breaking the bank.
You Need a Team
MS is complicated.
I don’t need to tell you that.
You’re living it, every single day.
You are like an Olympic level athlete that is running a long race.
And what’s one thing we know about the most successful athletes?
They have a team of powerful trainers and experts behind them helping them to perform their best each and every day.
That’s exactly how I want us to think of us in running our race with Multiple Sclerosis.
We aren’t expected to do this on our own, so if you’ve been telling yourself that story, here’s your chance to let go of that lie.
Recruiting Your Dream MS Wellness Team
It’s time to start recruiting your dream MS Wellness Team – filled with experts to help you reclaim your body, mind and life from Multiple Sclerosis.
So let’s dive into each expert.
I’ll give you some recruiting or hiring tips to help you find one that is the best fit for you, and of course, we have to find ways to build your MS Wellness Team without breaking the bank, so we’ll talk about how to save money too
First up? Your neurologist.
MS affects the brain, so we have to start with a good neurologist.
I know, I’m diving straight into the belly of the beast.
I say this because I know it can be a sore spot for many of us.
Finding a “good neurologist” feels as rare as finding a unicorn.
You don’t feel seen… heard… and you like feel like you’re being intimidated and dismissed.
Some of you feel like you’d just rather not even bother.
I know the frustration.
I’ve had my disappointments here too.
But MS affects the brain so we need a neurologist who can order MRIs and give us clinical recommendations. We need someone who can track our progress over time and someone who can prescribe medications when needed and give us scripts and referrals for services that will support our journey with MS over the years.
If you already have a great neurologist, consider yourself amazingly fortunate, consider the first hire of your MS Wellness Team done.
If you don’t have a neurologist that you like, I want to offer two suggestions – two perspectives that have really helped me over the years.
First, keep in mind that the neurologist is just ONE player on your team. You will have other players to can help fill in the gaps where your neurologist may fall short.
For example, if you’re constantly asking about nutrition and getting nowhere with them, it’s time to recognize that they likely won’t change their perspective on it. But it doesn’t mean that you need to close the door on creating an MS diet for you. That can be filled through a Nutrition Coach.
Or maybe they’re constantly dismissing the sensation in your leg, telling you that it’s not MS related. So that’s one that you can shift over to a physical therapist.
I guess my point is that a neurologist is a non-negotiable player on your team but they also aren’t the end all be all either.
The other thing to keep in mind is that you can look for a second or third opinion. You shouldn’t feel locked into any one doctor, if they’re not a good fit for you.
So let’s talk about how to find the best fit for you.
Keys to Finding a GOOD Neurologist
I start with recommendations.
Who might be able to offer recommendations for you?
Is there a local MS support group where you can connect with others who can share recommendations?
Can you ask your primary care doctor or another current doctor you have that you really like and trust their recommendations.
If you can’t get a recommendation, start exploring the options in your area.
Do any local hospitals have neurologists that specialize in MS?
Start looking online and check online reviews.
Schedule an appointment and see if they feel like a good fit.
And lastly remember that there are often several doctors within one practice.
I mentioned earlier that I had a really bumpy start – to say the least – with my neurologist – but I eventually switched to another provider in the practice and she was a far better fit for me than my original neurologist.
I also work a lot with the nurse practitioner too.
So you don’t always need to work directly with the neurologist. You can see them for your annual appointment, but for all the days in between you can work with the nurse practitioner in the office if that’s appropriate.
My point is that there are a lot of ways to get creative to make this work for you, but make sure you have a neurologist on your team.
Primary Care Doctor
Next up, your primary care doctor.
Think of this person as your home base for your general health needs.
With MS, there are many symptoms and factors to manage, but there’s also the everyday health stuff.
You want someone who understands both sides of the equation.
Thankfully you have so many more options in finding a good primary care doc too.
My personal favorites are ones who are traditionally trained but have an open mind to functional or holistic care as well.
This way we can work together to see which is the best approach on a case by case basis.
If you’re leaning toward a more holistic mindset, consider seeking out a DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). They often bring a more integrated approach to care… without the out-of-pocket expenses of functional medicine.
So there’s your first cost savings tip and it’s a big one!
I know many of you would love to have functional medicine doctors, but they often don’t accept insurance and have high costs for testing and supplements.
If this is you, consider a primary care doctor that’s a DO.
And as always, with every practitioner, always ask for recommendations, especially from people who have a similar health mindset as you.
Now let’s talk about your eye doctor.
MS is notorious for its unpredictability, and sometimes, it can manifest in ways that involve our vision.
That’s where a dedicated eye doctor steps in.
Optic neuritis, inflammation of the optic nerve, is a common symptom for many of us with MS.
It can cause pain and temporary vision loss.
We may experience double vision or involuntary eye movements – lucky us, right?
While your neurologist can provide insights on these symptoms, having an eye doctor on your team provides specialized attention to the health of your eyes.
To help save money here, try to find someone who accepts your insurance if you have it.
And if you’re doing self pay, call around to price out their costs and see that payment plans they offer if needed.
Personally, I LOVE my eye doctor.
Honestly, I think he was a recommendation from a coworker years ago, but I just really appreciate his demeanor.
He’s not only good at what he does, but he takes time to ask about how I’m doing with MS.
He’s not rushed in our appointments and that means a lot to me.
So this is a perfect example of taking some of the pressure and expectations off your neurologist.
My neurologist always does the standard visual exam with my, but I lean more on my eye doctor to talk about my vision and eye health in the context of MS.
Now let’s dive into a physical therapist.
With MS, our bodies sometimes throw us curveballs.
Maybe it’s stiffness, numbness, weakness, heaviness, balance issues, mobility… I mean I could go on and on, right?
But they can gradually build or appear out of nowhere.
While we can’t always predict these symptoms, but we can certainly address them.
This is why having a good physical therapist is key.
Physical therapy is not just about rehab after an injury; it’s about proactively maintaining and improving our mobility and strength.
A physical therapist familiar with MS understands the unique challenges we face and can offer strategies to help us navigate them.
Maybe it’s exercises to improve balance, stretches to ease tight muscles, or techniques to conserve energy.
Your PT is there to give you tailored advice and strategies, and the best part?
You can often get them covered through insurance.
If you don’t have insurance, you could consider having just one or two appointments just to get a proper evaluation and see if they can create a home plan for you.
Once you learn how to do the stretches and exercises properly, you can do them on your own at home.
And really it’s the repetition that gives you the best results.
Another idea you could consider here from a cost perspective is seeing if the local physical therapy practices hold any free public events. Some of them have speaking events that are free and you can learn some good tips from. It’s not the personalized approach that an appointment offers, but what I’m encouraging you to do is to get creative with finding ways to make this work for you.
Okay now let’s move onto one of my personal favorites… bodyworkers!
Bodywork isn’t just a luxury – a frilly massage at the spa, it’s a vital tool to address the physical stresses and strains that come with MS.
Living with MS can sometimes feel like carrying a weight others can’t see. Bodywork, whether it’s massage, acupuncture, or another form, can be that momentary release, that gentle touch reminding you that your well-being matters
When I talk about bodywork, I’m thinking of those hands-on treatments that can help ease our MS symptoms. This might be acupuncture, massage, or even chiropractic care. Find what feels right for you. It’s about keeping your body in balance and finding some relief, even if it’s just for a little while.
As a nutrition coach myself, this is one that’s obviouslly near and dear to my heart.
Nutrition plays such a fundamental role in our health, and when you’re living with MS, what you eat can have a profound impact on how you feel day to day.
It’s not just about following a diet; it’s about eating real food and finding meals and snack that you enjoy and that support your healing.
The reality is though, changing your diet can be hard. You don’t always know what to eat, when to eat, and how to make it taste good. You also don’t want your mind to be consumed with constantly wondering if you’re doing the diet “right.”
That’s why as a nutrition coach specializing in multiple sclerosis, I help you create a personalized plan for diet and lifestyle and help you to not only implement it but to make it sustainable.
If you’re interested in having a coach support you in getting up a diet and lifestyle plan that is not only effective but sustainable, you can apply here.
This last wellness team player is often overlooked but incredibly important.
Navigating life with MS is so much more than just the physical symptoms. It touches every part of our being, including our mental and emotional well-being. The weight of managing the unpredictability, the stress of new symptoms, the strain it might put on relationships – it’s a lot to carry.
That’s where a counselor or therapist comes in. Think of them as your emotional support system, someone who’s trained to help you process, cope, and even thrive amidst the challenges. They’re not just there for the tough times; they’re there to help you celebrate the wins, big and small, and to strategize for a fulfilling life with MS.
A good counselor understands that living with MS isn’t just a medical journey – it’s a deeply personal one. They offer a safe space for you to express your feelings, voice your concerns, and work through any fears or anxieties that arise. Whether it’s about managing daily stresses, building resilience, or enhancing relationships, the right counselor can make all the difference.
It’s essential to find someone you genuinely connect with, someone who gets the unique challenges of living with MS. And remember, seeking support isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a testament to your strength and commitment to holistic well-being. With the right counselor by your side, you can navigate the emotional landscape of MS with grace, understanding, and resilience.
Your Dream MS Wellness Team
Okay that’s a wrap of the key players on your dream Wellness MS Wellness Team. I’m curious to know, which player do you feel is most important to supporting you on your journey? Share in the comments below!