As a grandmother of two young boys, Pam Hill values the time she spends with her family more than anything. She helps care for her one-year-old grandson almost every day, and while she cherishes their time together, she also was nervous about how her relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) may prevent her from participating in her grandson’s life as he gets older.
MS is a chronic and often unpredictable disease of the central nervous system that affects over 2.3 million people worldwide.1 When Pam was diagnosed with relapsing MS at the age of 48, she was unsure what to expect and was afraid that the symptoms of her disease would limit her ability to be fully present and participate in precious family moments.
“I was scared, terrified even, because I didn’t know anything about MS, and I wondered what this would mean for my family,” said Pam.
With the help of a personalized team of experts — including parenting blogger Mariah Moon and Dr. Ann Bass, a neurologist who specializes in MS — Pam learned that by making small changes, like planning ahead, communicating openly and seeking support through family, friends and her healthcare provider, she is able to say yes to being the best grandmother she can be.
Appreciating the small things
“When it comes to parenting (or grandparenting), it’s really the little things that matter. You don’t have to do something that requires a lot of effort, but creating small, meaningful traditions — like making breakfast or watching movies together — can help you bond,” said Mariah Moon.
Pam took Mariah’s advice, and now looks for fun and simple crafts or games that she and her grandchildren can do together. She also always makes resting part of her regular routine, something she recognizes is an important part of taking care of herself.2
Talking openly about MS
Throughout her journey with relapsing MS, Pam has also found that communicating regularly and openly with her doctor helps her to better navigate the challenges of her condition. “When I was first diagnosed, my neurologist and I discussed how I was feeling to develop a tailored care plan,” Pam said. Now that she’s in her new role as a grandmother, she recognizes the importance of continuing to discuss how she’s feeling with her doctor, so they can work together to make adjustments that work for her.
“Together we decided that Tecfidera® (dimethyl fumarate) was the right treatment for me,” Pam said.
Her medication, in addition to getting adequate sleep, taking time to rest during the day and staying hydrated, helps her to care for her condition.1,3 “Relapsing MS is a condition that looks different for everyone,” said Dr. Ann Bass. “That’s why it’s important to talk with your doctor about what you may be experiencing to find a care plan that fits your individual needs.”
Before starting TECFIDERA, Pam's doctor explained the possible serious side effects, including allergic reactions, PML, decreases in white blood cell count, and liver problems, along with the common side effects of flushing and stomach problems. See more details below.
Pam also learned the value of building a support team — which includes her doctor, family and friends — who she can rely on for help when she needs it. She finds comfort in knowing that MS is a challenge she’ll never face alone, and she encourages others living with MS — or any chronic condition — to find forgiveness and be open about how they’re feeling. “I would sometimes hesitate to ask for help, because I didn’t want my MS to feel like a burden. I’ve come to realize that my loved ones want to support me, so it’s important for me to be honest and let them!”
By making small but meaningful changes to her everyday routine, like planning ahead and conserving her energy while also being honest with herself and others, Pam has embraced life as grandmother despite her relapsing MS. You can hear more about Pam and her journey at Tecfidera.com.
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION AND INDICATION
Do not use Tecfidera® (dimethyl fumarate) if you have had an allergic reaction (such as welts, hives, swelling of the face, lips, mouth or tongue, or difficulty breathing) to TECFIDERA or any of its ingredients.
Before taking and while you take TECFIDERA, tell your healthcare provider about any low white blood cell counts or infections or any other medical conditions.
What are the possible side effects of TECFIDERA?
TECFIDERA may cause serious side effects including:
- Allergic reactions
- PML, which is a rare brain infection that usually leads to death or severe disability.
- Decreases in your white blood cell count. Your healthcare provider should check your white blood cell count before you take TECFIDERA and from time to time during treatment
- Liver problems. Your healthcare provider should do blood tests to check your liver function before you start taking TECFIDERA and during treatment if needed. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get any symptoms of a liver problem during treatment, including:
- severe tiredness
- loss of appetite
- pain on the right side of your stomach
- dark or brown (tea color) urine
- yellowing of your skin or the white part of your eyes
The most common side effects of TECFIDERA include flushing and stomach problems. These can happen especially at the start of treatment and may decrease over time. Taking TECFIDERA with food may help reduce flushing. Call your healthcare provider if these symptoms bother you or do not go away. Ask your healthcare provider if taking aspirin before taking TECFIDERA may reduce flushing.
These are not all the possible side effects of TECFIDERA. Call your healthcare provider for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. For more information go to dailymed.nlm.nih.gov.
Tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, or breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if TECFIDERA will harm your unborn baby or if it passes into your breast milk. Also tell your healthcare provider if you are taking prescription or over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, or herbal supplements. If you take too much TECFIDERA, call your healthcare provider or go to the nearest hospital emergency room right away.
This is not intended to replace discussions with your healthcare provider.
TECFIDERA is a prescription medicine used to treat people with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis.
Pam Hill is a paid spokesperson for Biogen and has experience taking Tecfidera® (dimethyl fumarate). She may or may not be currently on TECFIDERA.
This article is sponsored by Biogen. © 2019 Biogen. All rights reserved. To access support services, patients can call 1-800-456-2255.
1 National Multiple Sclerosis Society. MS FAQs. Available at: https://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS/MS-FAQ-s#question-What-is-multiple-sclerosis. Accessed March 1, 2019.
2 Boerner, H., & Law, B. M. Healthy Living. Momentum: The Magazine of the National MS Society. Winter 07-08.
3 Cincotta, M., Engelhard, M., Stankey, M., & Goldman, M. (2016). Fatigue and fluid hydration status in multiple sclerosis: A hypothesis. Multiple Sclerosis Journal, 22. doi:10.1177/1352458516663854.