Monday, March 10, 2008

Do you go to a support group?

People often ask me this question and I'm not sure why. Perhaps they are thinking what they would do in my situation. The simple answer to this question is no. I have learned that there is no need to provide a lengthy explanation, although it's hard for me to keep my big mouth shut. Here is what I would like to tell them:

I have never been a joiner. I was never a girl scout, member of a club or a sorority sister. Having a serious disease like MS doesn't change who you are. Also, I need to have something more in common with people than this disease that I hate. It is good to have people who understand what you're going through, why you're so tired, why you are having trouble getting a complete thought out and other MS symptoms. However, I have less patience with these people and am amazed by what they say to me. I was flabbergasted when a support group member came up to me and said that their doctor told them they would end up in a wheelchair like me and that was a fate worse than death. If it hadn't been so close to Christmas, I would have given that woman the serious tongue lashing she deserved. What an ignorant, insensitive comment. For a moment, I wished that she would find herself in a wheelchair just to see how it felt.

When I was first diagnosed, my neurologist actually advised me NOT to go to a support group. He already knew enough about my personality to know that it wouldn't be a good fit. He told me that he had spoken to a group early in his career and it was really depressing. So, I avoided support groups early on because I didn't want to see how bad the disease could be. Now, I don't go because I don't want to listen to people complain when they are much better off than I am. I have my unofficial support group of friends who have MS that I can call or E mail anytime. We understand each other and we definitely understand that sometimes the last thing we want to discuss is MS!

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