Ladies and Gentlemen, please let us introduce Lois Flanigan. Lois was diagnosed with MS in 1992 and became a MSF Ambassador in 2011. She is an animal lover who lives with her husband in Aberdeen, S.D. Together they began a self-help group called, Striving Against Multiple Sclerosis (SAMS), to help those in the community experience positive reinforcement as they live with MS.
How has MS changed your life?
I get to stay home now – something that most people wish they could do. However, the old adage of 'be careful what you wish for' certainly does apply. I was a type-A personality, working 10 hours a day, taking care of the home, and volunteering in the evenings. I now have to budget my hours for what I need to do and what I want to accomplish during the day. Otherwise I will be spending more time in bed than I want.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned since your diagnosis?
Do what you can with what you have, while you can. I am by no means invincible, but I am still needed and have a job. A small kitten in the bathroom forced me to get out of bed and feed him some 6 years ago, so I am definitely needed. I can still do some of the things I used to, just not the same way. I have 'modified' my hobbies and chores so they take less energy and effort to get completed.
How have you found support?
My biggest support lives with me - my wonderful husband who at times understands my MS more than I, and my four-legged family of cats and dogs who love having me home. However, for answers to my questions and help with MS, I follow a saying from my childhood, “Knowing the answer is not genius, knowing where to find the answers is.” So, I research libraries and the internet, and question doctors and nurses – anyone who may be able to assist, or know where I can get help. And, I started my own support group, Striving Against Multiple Sclerosis (SAMS), to help others, and keep attitudes flowing in a positive direction.
What is the best coping tip you’ve picked up?
To deal with one thing at a time. MS can be, and is, an overwhelming journey in a life. I say journey because I look at it as a roadblock in my road of life. Now, I can choose to try and crawl over the roadblock, go around it, or sit and hope someone else will remove it for me. The latter is a very unlikely situation. I need to be proactive, positive, and forward thinking. Each day I can still cook a meal, or do a load of laundry is now a good day.
What is your favorite MS- or health-related website?
www.lumosity.com is a website to help with brain 'training', if you will. I love the games on this site. I also interact with others who have MS on Facebook and play the games on the site. All of these help keep my mind active. For MS information I have found the most user friendly website is www.msfocus.org It provides me with information that is invaluable to me and my family.
This is the bonus question! What question would you like to ask our readers? Your answer?
What have you done to accept your MS?
Your answer? I started a support group to interact with others who have MS. Together we work for answers, ideas, and help each other Striving Against MS.