Drop that Smartphone: The Importance of Staying Connected

Angela Brandt
Written by
Angela Brandt

I offended my husband after my last neurology appointment. I was filling him in on all the symptoms I had spoken with the physician assistant about, and how she had agreed with my idea to cut back some on hours at work. He was puzzled when I let him know about the list of symptoms I had been keeping on my phone, and the notes I’d been taking about how long they lasted. He was hurt that I had been sharing this information with my smart phone and not with him. Which made me wonder – how do we use available digital tools to manage our multiple sclerosis while not neglecting personal interactions?

There are so many options available for tracking your multiple sclerosis, it’s easy to forget that sharing our MS experience with our loved ones is important. When typing “multiple sclerosis” into a search for apps, you can find offerings across diagnosis and management, education, and social connections, just to name a few. I’ve used apps for everything from monitoring my treatments, to alarms and notes about my medications, to reports to send to my doctors.

While apps are handy tools for my already forgetful brain, they can become an excuse to spend more quality time with an electronic device than an actual person (as I type this, I am on my laptop and have two cell phones within arm’s reach). I’ve also found that building virtual connections with other people living with MS, via online support groups, and researching MS news online, have been helpful to me. But staying tied to our devices is a slippery slope. At the end of the day, nothing beats a human connection.

So here are a few tips for staying connected with those around you:

• There is no one-size-fits-all approach for how you find support, but don’t pull away from in-person interactions.

• Remember to keep your loved ones in the loop about the latest on your treatments and appointments. For me, this means making more of an effort to share updates on my symptoms and treatment plan with my husband.

• Get some fresh air. If you feel yourself being sucked into an online void or browsing your favorite MS sites for hours at a time, take a break and go outside to say hello to a neighbor.

• Group settings not really your thing? Arrange times to see your nearest and dearest one on one for some quality time.

• Turn off your smartphone when you’re spending time with family. Living a present life is important, and you don’t always need extra distractions.

• Check out some more helpful tips for maintaining your social life here!

I am constantly reminding myself to be fully present – particularly when I’m with my children, and I am taking that same approach with other relationships in my life. Hopefully this encourages others to do the same!

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