MS, symptom changes and access to treatment during COVID-19

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Telemedicine consultation on a digital tablet

COVID-19 has undoubtedly been the largest, most unprecedented event in our lifetimes and its effects will inevitably change the mindsets of everyone who has lived through it.

In times of hardship, it is often hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel and how to emerge in the best possible way. If the pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that it's important to adapt to change, recognize and adjust to new or existing Multiple Sclerosis (MS) symptoms and don’t be afraid to find new treatments, if need be.

When COVID-19 burst on the scene, I had just moved into a new house and was in the midst of building furniture by myself. Despite many offers from friends, I fearlessly wanted to do so on my own as a start of a new life; a new me.

Of course, that invited old MS symptoms to return and these arrived with a vengeance. The result was a 4-month-long relapse with excess fatigue, excruciating trigeminal neuralgia, left-side nerve pain and other symptoms. When Ireland went into lockdown and I was stuck inside, I was forced into long stretches of rest, relaxation and sleep which perfectly gelled with lockdowns.

Once again though, life with MS did not follow a straight path. Relapses, lockdowns, cancelled appointments and lack of mental exercise meant complications in seeing the doctor or other members of my MS team.

I would be lying if I said that the start of the pandemic didn’t scare me. Of course it did, and my first worries were for my family abroad, followed by not being able to receive my MS treatment. Access to treatment was affected, with some appointments cancelled and others replaced by video or telephone. COVID-19 pushed many countries forward with a major leap into telemedicine. Seeing the virtual world redesign the route from patient, physicians to hospitals/pharmacies, and having my first taste of what can be achieved, is a positive step to what, I believe to be, the right path.

The most important thing is that vaccinations are here, and we can hopefully see our medical teams, family and loved ones again very soon.

Check out more about the impact of COVID-19 on life with MS here.



Why telemedicine is here to stay, BMJ

Swift queue, patient-engagement made easy

What’s the difference between telemedicine and telehealth? AAFP

Has Covid-19 hastened the age of telemedicine? The Medical Independent

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