The Importance of Sticking with Your Treatment Plan: A Matter of Life and Brain

Why Consistency in MS Treatment is Crucial

Sticking to your MS treatment is key

By Kathleen Costello, MS, as told to Rachel Reiff Ellis

Picture this: You have a toolbox filled with state-of-the-art tools that can do wonders for your ongoing condition. But here’s the catch—you have to use them for them to work. Seems obvious, right? Well, turns out it’s not that simple, and it applies to more than just MS. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that only 50% of people with a persistent illness actually stick to their long-term therapy. And you know what that means? Billions of dollars in additional healthcare costs each year. Yikes! Talk about a missed opportunity.

Now, let’s talk MS. When you neglect your treatment plan, you’re essentially letting the disease run rampant inside your body. It’s like leaving a gang of mischievous immune cells unsupervised, wreaking havoc on your central nervous system. And remember, “time is brain”—any damage caused could be permanent. So, do you really want to play Russian roulette with your gray matter? I didn’t think so.

The good news is that research has repeatedly shown how MS disease-modifying medications can work wonders. They tap the brakes on new clinical activity or relapses, slow progression, and reduce damage to your central nervous system. Think of them as superhero capes for your immune system—watching over and protecting your body from the inside. But here’s the kicker: taking your medication is crucial. It’s like feeding that superhero cape to your immune system to bolster its powers. Don’t leave it hanging in your closet, gathering dust.

One of the major roadblocks to medication adherence in the MS community is the good ol’ “forgetfulness factor.” Life can get pretty darn chaotic, and it’s easy to overlook your daily dose. It’s like trying to juggle flaming swords while riding a unicycle—it’s bound to slip your mind. But fear not! There are ways to overcome this. Set reminders on your phone, get your loved ones to gently remind you (no nagging, please), and find creative ways to keep you on track. How about a catchy MS medication jingle? Now that’s hard to forget!

Beyond forgetfulness, there are other factors that can impede your adherence journey. Side effects and cost can truly rain on your therapeutic parade. Have you ever had to choose between your daily dose and a week’s worth of groceries? It’s a tough call. But don’t despair—there are often financial assistance programs or alternative medications that may ease the burden. Don’t be afraid to speak up and explore your options.

Remember, medication isn’t the only player in this game. Physical and occupational therapies are like the sidekicks that keep you fit, flexible, and mentally sharp. They’re your trusty companions, making sure your body is always battle-ready. If you neglect them, you miss out on the benefits they can bring. It’s like skipping leg day at the gym—you may still have those bulging arm muscles, but your overall strength and coordination suffer. So, don’t skip any crucial steps in your treatment regimen. It’s a package deal, my friend.

But what about the healthcare providers? Ah, yes, the ones who hold the keys to your treatment kingdom. Turns out, their involvement is a game-changer. Research suggests that proactive follow-up from providers significantly improves medication adherence. It’s all about creating that support system. When they check in on you and ask those important questions like, “Any missed doses lately?” or “Experiencing any side effects?” they’re not being nosy—they genuinely want to help. So, embrace their guidance and build that partnership. United we stand, divided we… well, we won’t stop that inflammation and damage from running rampant.

Lastly, let’s not forget about you, the hero of this story. Take charge of your health. Understand why your treatments are essential. If you have concerns or doubts, raise them. You and your provider need to be on the same page. It’s like being co-pilots on a mission to manage your MS. The more you communicate and work together, the smoother the ride will be. Plus, it’s empowering to know that you have an active role in your own healthcare. So, claim that driver’s seat, my friend, and hit the gas pedal on your therapy journey.

In conclusion, remember that skipping your treatment is like skipping the chance to have your own superhero team fighting the MS monster. Stay committed, find support, and keep your toolbox well-stocked. And if life throws flaming swords your way, just remember—you’ve got this.