You’ve probably been there: Hours waiting to meet your doctor to get results and discuss your treatment plan, only to get home and realize you have more questions.
“What’s my treatment going to be like?” “What symptoms should I expect?” “Will my insurance cover this?” At a time when the primary goal should be focusing on health, the stress of finding answers to these questions can often feel overwhelming. Enter Denise Chicoine.
Denise, a nurse specializing in multiple sclerosis, is one of several nurses working for MS One to One, our free 24-hour patient support program that is available to all patients and caregivers at any stage of their MS journey. Denise spends her days speaking one-on-one with people living with MS, providing personal support and suggestions about how to manage through the daily challenges of the disease.
For people living with multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic disease that includes a range of physical and emotional symptoms, it is critical to have a strong support system as well as a healthcare team that delivers quality and comprehensive care. Living with MS can be challenging – the disease impacts all individuals differently and is often accompanied by debilitating symptoms that can impede daily life.
Denise understands that caring for this chronic disease requires going beyond managing the physical symptoms—it means providing lifelong support through the journey of this disease. “The goal is to be a support system during what can be a very stressful time,” said Denise. “The reality is these patients meet with their doctors and often don’t get much time to talk through their questions or concerns. That’s where I can help.” Denise explained that all people living with MS can benefit from some type of support. “Through the MS One to One program, I provide tips and resources that are truly relevant to each individual. Anyone living with MS can visit the MS One to One website or call one of our nurses to talk about their disease or just to hear a friendly voice.”
MS One to One is available to help people think beyond their disease and concentrate on the aspects of their lives that are truly important to them. Through the “It’s My Turn, MS” campaign on the MS One to One website, people living with MS are encouraged to make a statement and demand more, so they can focus their efforts on doing more of what they want every day.
Denise recommends three key ways people who are living with MS or caring for a loved one with MS can begin advocating for themselves:
- Knowledge is power – Take time to educate yourself about the disease and treatment options. Talk with a healthcare professional and others who have MS. Check out resources from credible sources, such as MS advocacy groups and MS One to One at www.msonetoone.com. On the website, you can also find out more about the MS One to One program and register to be contacted by an MS One to One nurse.
- Prepare for doctor visits in advance – To make the most of your appointments, be sure to prepare in advance. Keep a symptom diary and log questions or concerns as they come up. Give a copy to your nurse for your medical records. To help with some of these conversations, check out the helpful tools provided on the MS One to One website, such as a discussion guide and symptom tracker.
- Connect with the MS community – The MS community is one of the strongest and most supportive groups, both locally and nationally, and is incredibly welcoming. Get online and find your local National Multiple Sclerosis Society chapter—don’t be shy about attending meetings and events! These groups are eager to help people living with MS and their care partners navigate the complex disease landscape.
A friendly voice
After more than 30 years working as a nurse, Denise has seen the positive impact that a strong support network and program like MS One to One can have. She adds, “What I love most about my job is that I never know where my day will take me.” In January, Denise received a call from a woman in Florida who has MS. The woman was very irritated and needed help with insurance. Denise and the woman spoke at length about the issues and then decided to call the insurance company together to get the answers she needed. Thankful for the support, the woman later reached out to Denise’s manager saying, “I came into the phone call very frustrated. [Denise] completely turned that around, not only with her professionalism but the way that she was able to convey empathy and sympathy. She communicated so well with insurance. She clearly loves her job and people.”
In response, Denise said she felt proud to be part of something that helps ease the minds of people living with MS. “While phone conversations often begin between two total strangers, a bond is quickly formed. People trust that I’m here to help them and that feels good. In the end, all I want is to help people affected by MS focus on feeling better and enjoying life.” For more information and resources, visit www.msonetoone.com.