My wife’s local MS Support Group held an MS Awareness event at our local library. The event started with a style show of clothing designed for ease of use. This was followed by a discussion about healthy eating which was led by a local Registered Dietitian. Finally, a young family practice physician (who is also an MS patient) answered questions for the participants. It was an excellent morning and is a fine example of the value of participating in a local support group.
As I recall the conversations I overheard during the event, I noticed common themes. In order of frequency, first was the concern about doctors who do not listen, second was a concern over medications, and third was the common concern about the cost of medical care. With good reason, these three themes seem to be common undercurrents when patients gather.
I’ve said it before: every person I’ve met with MS has been tenacious, determined and tough. They make most of us without MS seem like whiners. While they may be slowed physically, I’ve not met anyone who let their MS symptoms or their experience of Multiple Sclerosis stop them.
It’s sadly ironic to me, then, that the most common complaints I heard were about issues that are out of the patients’ direct control and are related to medical care: doctors who will not listen, medications and side effects, and the cost of care.
Assuming the stories of helpful doctors who made housecalls and treated patients like they were extended family are actually true, the medical professional has taken a left turn somewhere along the way. I know that’s a generalization, but it seems to be the experience of many.
When the practice of medicine as a profession is turning into a business for profit it must become bottom-line focused. The doctor can’t listen because she has too little time, medications are a two-edged sword solving one problem but causing others, and costs are structured so shareholders receive the best returns at patients’ expense. That’s the world we live in.
The Value of an MS Support Group
The issues I overheard the group members share are actually one of the many reasons an MS Support Group is a good thing for patients and caregivers. A good support group is an oasis where one can relax in the presence of others who share their experiences, advice, knowledge and (most importantly) their support.
Caregiver Tip: Become involved in an Multiple Sclerosis Support Group. It may be one of the wisest things you and the person for whom you care do.