Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The human connection

Travis White
As I’ve learned over the past several years, MS can create a kind of cabin fever.  For some of us, it’s hard to get out and about and mix it up with our fellow humans.  Others may just lose the desire.  For me, a variety of factors could combine to isolate me. 

I work out of an office in my home.  I visit my clients virtually.  I find that e-mail is a very productive way to communicate.  I’m an adjunct professor at the University of Denver but many of my courses are online.  Some of my students are thousands of miles away so I never actually meet them.  

That means I don’t necessarily have to go out of the house every day.  Fortunately, I have a wonderful wife who kicks me out every now and then just for my own good. I also make excuses to go out and visit my clients face-to-face (if nothing else, it’s a good way to pick up additional work). In addition, I’ve hired a trainer at the local gym who knows that I have MS and has tailored an exercise routine accordingly. And I  just hang out at Starbucks from time to time.

Though I’m not a social butterfly, I generally like people and enjoy their company. Yes, there are a few that I just can’t stand – but even they can stimulate my argumentative side in positive and productive ways. 

I’m determined not to let “MS cabin fever” make my situation worse.  Mixing it up with other humans is critically important to your mental health.  Not doing it regularly can drive you bonkers.  If you feel the fever rising, call a friend. Or even an enemy. Virtually anyone can stimulate your humanity and help keep you sane.

Here’s a tip – if you don’t know who to call, then call MS Friends 1-866-673-7436 or visit MSconnection.org. There’s always someone available who can help you make the human connection.


  1. I thought I was the only one that totally isolates myself. At least I'm not alone in isolation. lol. I can no longer work, but had a pretty good support system of friends and family until my husbands job moved us across the country to a place where I know no one and pretty much hate. Now I never leave the house. It's either too hot or too cold and I don't know anyone. At least he gets to go to work everyday!

  2. Hi Denise --

    It doesn't really matter where you go -- the mall, the library, the laundromat, the movies -- but get up and get out. Go to your local MS chapter and do some volunteer work. The only way to build a new support system is to take the first step yourself. Good luck.

    Cheers, Travis

  3. I Understand but it is not only the individual with MS.1987 my wife Sheila lost ability to walk and bowel and bladder control. She essentially became a prisoner in our home for fear of an bowel accident. (And I was feeling like her jailer.) We bought our first motorhome and it opened up the world for us. A bathroom, shower, diaperbag and clothes closet on wheels let alone a bed to rest in when needed. We still had 3 boys in grade school and they thought it was great and helped load Sheila in her wheelchair. We progressed through four different motorhomes all parts of the USA before the disease completely destroyed her. I am grateful for all the time and miles together. Sheila died April 24, 2010.

  4. Hi Unknown --

    What a great idea to travel via motor home. I'm so sorry that Sheila is gone but I hope you'll keep traveling. If you ever get to Colorado, give me a call.

    Cheers, Travis

  5. Isolation seems to be a symptom of MS

    1. Hey there, Nicole! This is the first time I've ever felt there was words to discribe where I am these days. Isolation, that is it! Thanks, Sandra

  6. Hi Christopher -

    Thanks for your comment - it's nice to meet a fellow Coloradan. We're hosting an MS event at our house (near Wash Park) on June 5. If you're available then, send me an e-mail (gtraviswhite@mac.com) and we'll get you on the list.

    Cheers, Travis

  7. My husband exactly. I have to force him out of the house.
    He hasn't driven in 12 years and we live in a small town
    that doesn't have public transportation so that does give
    him a small excuse but if I let him he would be a total hermit.
    He is only in his early 50's so the Senior Citizen is not a
    good choice. Thanks for helping me to see a little of his

  8. I belong to a wonderful health club where I do water arobics 5x/week and stretch and yoga 3x/week. When I could not work anymore, I was fortunate to be able to join this club. I am also able to play mahjonng at least twice a week. I am a 58 married woman, and although I hate the disease, I enjoy my lifestyle.

  9. Hi folks!

    Love reading all of the stories. I too live in Colorado (Castle Rock), but unlike you I have the opposite issue. I work 4 jobs, have three kids (16, 11, and 4) and am VERY busy and active. I feel like I need to slow down since my diagnosis beck in April, but I can't seem to find time. My boss at my main 40 hour a week job is very unsympathetic to my symptoms and/or diagnosis. She has been treating me very differently since. I feel like if I have to take a day off she would make life miserable. I'm struggling with this and deciding what to do because the insurance here is so valuale now.
    Don't get me wrong I do love the human conncetion and am grateful that I ma still able to do so many things! However, somedays I'd just like to crawl into a cave and hide away from it all just for a minute and think for a few! Maybe I just need to surround myself with a different kind of human huh?
    Have a great Monday everyone!