Health talk online

Even with all the support in the world, diagnosis of a chronic illness can be a dreadfully lonely experience. While the MS Society and the MS Trust and the nurse assigned to me were all utterly wonderful when I was diagnosed, I think what I needed (need) more than anything was to connect with other people who have MS and share experience.

Ultimately, health professionals specialising in MS can give you the lowdown on the disease and tell you everything you need to know and more, but it is extremely unlikely they have the disease themselves. It is like a NASA engineer telling an astronaut what it will be like flying in space.

So it is only natural to turn to the web for advice. But it’s also widely acknowledged that the web can be a wildly misleading and biased source of information (I did Health Informatics as part of my Masters degree, so trust me).

For the most part, I have connected with others so far, through YouTube, various Facebook discussion boards and blogs such as this one.

When I heard about www.healthtalkonline.org on the BBC1 Breakfast show this morning my ears pricked up. This is a new resource primarily for people diagnosed with chronic illness.

The idea behind it is that you can access interviews from other people with the same condition as you or your loved one and hear their experiences of diagnosis and living with the conditions. The patients interviewed are a representative sample from across the UK and the site is managed by experts from Oxford University.

“Sounds interesting,” I thought “must remember to check it out later.”

The BBC feature has obviously increased traffic to the site crashing it’s servers as it was unavailable for much of this morning, but I have just accessed the site and I can report that there is NO information on MS. Clicking on “nerves and brain” brings up dementia, epilepsy, motor neurone disease, parkinson’s disease and stroke, yet there is no information on the UK’s most common neurological condition. Even clicking on “living with disability” only brings up
information on autism.

The only relevant info is on chronic pain where apparently one of the interviewees has MS.

I know, I know… early days… give it time…

…but it’s very disappointing.

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Uninvited MonSter

People talk about fighting MS, there’s even a Facebook group (of which I am admittedly a member) titled “Fight Multiple Sclerosis” but I don’t know if I can agree with that. I don’t think you can fight it, better to learn to live with it, accept it is happening and live your life regardless.

I often think that having MS is like having an uninvited monster (mine resembles Sweetums from the Muppet Show) living in your house, sitting on your chest as you lie in bed in the morning, following you to work, demanding a piggy back when you are walking up hill etc…

It’s impossible to get this monster to leave – it’s here to stay so better to try and house-train it. Tame it a bit. Tranquilise it with drugs. Learn some techniques to manage it – that sort of thing.