Firstly, if you are reading this, thank you. It means that you want to know more.
More about Multiple Sclerosis. About how it may affect your colleague, personally and professionally And about what it means or you.
Let’s start with what Multiple Sclerosis is not.
- Not contagious
- Not a death sentence
- Not necessarily means a cane or wheelchair
It is a ‘snow flake’ disease. What we mean by this, is it is a disease that manifests itself differently for everyone. And everyone responds differently to different treatments.
Not everything that has worked for others, will work for your colleauge.
What can you do?
Dont assume - ask.
Dont make excuses - make reasonable adjustments. Remember, your colleague is more than just their diagnosis.
What to say (do’s and don’ts)
This is just my views. Tempered with what I have learned from getting to know other people with Multiple Sclerosis.
- You may be tempted to relate to your colleague with ‘my aunt/neighbour had/has MS’. Remember what I said about snow flake disease? Your aunt’s disease is her disease. Your colleague’s MS disease is their disease. So ask them about their disease. I know you want to relate and emphathise. Perhaps, ‘My aunt had MS … I never knew what to say or do’.
- Suddenly you will see research about MS everywhere! And be tempted to say ‘I saw new research/cure/diet’. I know that you just want to help. But some people feel that going to them with information is patronising and assumes they are not well researched.
Updated March 2017
Earlier this week, a major tv show covered the Overcoming MS diet with a number of doctors agreeing that diet plays a part. The number of FB posts and texts from my friends and family was comforting. They havent really understood why I follow Swank until now. But it is all in the delivery - be supportive and not patronising.