Maintaining a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise are important goals for everyone. If you have a specific condition though, you often need to do more than that in order to stay healthy. Meet Tiffany, a patient with multiple sclerosis and depression, who has been thriving since she learned to take her medication seriously.

“I KEPT CHANGING MY DIET AND CHANGING MY EXERCISE, BUT THE RELAPSES KEPT HAPPENING, AND I STARTED TO THINK, WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?”

The symbols of a healthy lifestyle - gymnastics, weight control, and fruits

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in April of 2005, and I’ve suffered from depression for a long time as well. MS has affected my life in a variety of ways: on bad days, I experience fatigue, as well as balance and bladder problems. I have difficulty speaking when it’s very hot, and it gets really hard to walk if I haven’t slept well. My memory has also become really short, and I’ve even fallen a few times.

Over the last two years, my MS has progressed so much that I had to retire from work. When the symptoms really started to interfere with my day-to-day life, I had to really pay attention to what was happening and look for patterns, so I could figure out how to alleviate those symptoms.

Back when I was first diagnosed, I didn’t realize the importance of taking medications and complying with the medical requirements. So I missed doses of medication, and I ended up relapsing. I would go to my doctor, and he would try to explain how bad that was. “You need to control this,” he would say. I kept changing my diet and changing my exercise, but the relapses kept happening.

“I DON’T LIKE TO TAKE MANY MEDICINES IF I DON’T HAVE TO. BUT NOW I UNDERSTAND THAT SYMPTOMS CAN REALLY BOTHER MY DAY-TO-DAY FLOW ENOUGH THAT I WOULD RATHER PREVENT THEM BY TAKING MEDS.”

I started to think, What am I doing wrong? Eventually I realized I just wasn’t staying on track with my medication. To be honest, I don’t like to take many medicines if I don’t have to. But now I understand that symptoms can really bother my day-to-day flow enough that I would rather prevent them by taking meds if I can. It took a while for that to sink in, though.

woman_consults_with_pharmacist

It’s easy to forget to take my medication, since MS affects my memory. Lucky for me, I have this wonderful husband who really cares about me taking care of myself. He would set up reminders on his phone in the beginning for me to take my meds, but it was too easy to ignore. When I finally found Mango, I realized it was the solution I’d been looking for. It was the support system I needed.

I hate to say this, but I needed more of an incentive to take my medication, besides just my health. In my family, we’re all pretty big gamers, so my eyes lit up at the idea of getting points for it through Mango.

The interaction information has also been a game-changer. Now when the doctor suggests new medications for me, or even if I’m going to the pharmacy, I always look at my Mango Health app to see if there’s an interaction that’s listed. Just by having that knowledge, it makes me feel like I have a lot more control over how I’m going be affected by what I’m putting in my body.

“REMEMBER TOO THAT DOCTORS ARE THERE TO HELP YOU, BUT YOU ALSO NEED TO HELP YOURSELF AS MUCH AS YOU CAN!”

I’m one of those people who is on the internet all the time, looking for medical information. Sometimes it’s pretty easy to see what’s false knowledge, and other times it’s very difficult. Having an app like Mango has been so helpful to me; I feel like Mango is my expert now.

The other expert, of course, is the doctor. I maintain a blog called Chinup.Club, and one of the topics I often post about is how newly diagnosed people should be sure to keep track of their symptoms – whatever they are – and share everything with their doctor. It’s important to be mindful of anything that you experience, even if it seems out of the blue.

Sometimes it could be your medication causing symptoms, and sometimes it could be your illness. Being able to share information with your doctor will help them give you the best advice. Remember too that doctors are there to help you, but you also need to help yourself as much as you can!

 
This article was originally written for the blog at Mango Health as I am a Mango Health Ambassador representing the MS community.

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