Yes, it can be done - living a busy lifestyle, trying to manage multiple sclerosis (MS), and having a successful career.
MS has presented some challenges for me on the job. Cognitive problems have affected my performance at work. I have memory loss and difficulty concentrating. I have missed appointments and have had trouble remembering names of my colleagues. And there are times where I didn't understand conversations with my colleagues.
But once I realized that I love what I do and wanted to keep working, I found ways to live with it. Here are some tips that have worked for me:
- When I receive a business card, I make as many notes as possible on that card about that person: how I met them, what they look like, and anything that might help me remember them (e.g. what famous person they resemble, something interesting about them).
- When I am speaking with someone, I often repeat what they say to help me understand and remember what we are discussing.
- When I am on the phone, I take copious notes - date, reason for call, outcome, etc.
- I update my calendar often, noting all appointments and reminders.
- I refrain from completing challenging tasks at the time of day that I am most lethargic. For example, if I needed to complete an important report, I would complete it mid-morning rather than mid-afternoon as I have more energy and can concentrate better in the morning.
- I limit distractions around me whenever possible. I work with a great colleague who likes to listen to music when he works. For me, this would be challenging, so he uses a headset and it doesn't bother me one bit.
We define ourselves by what we do, so it's important to love what you do. Despite the cognitive challenges of MS, I went on to start a business. I am not suggesting that everyone should quit their job and become an entrepreneur. But I do recommend that you find a role where you can manage your stress level and still feel like you are contributing. There are a lot of things that can be done to help people stay in their jobs. Consider talking to your supervisor, the HR department, your doctor, or the MS Society for help.
-Gabriella Mammone is an inspirational speaker living with the daily symptoms of multiple sclerosis. She is an active volunteer and ambassador for the MS Society of Canada, a keynote speaker at many events, and a motivational trainer at workshops and conferences across the country. As a successful mother, wife, volunteer, and entrepreneur, Gabriella inspires people with her touching story of survival and perseverance.