"I try to always bring my positive attitude and my optimism when I’m talking to others with MS, to show them the disease doesn’t have to affect their daily life."
Mikael was barely listening when the doctor explained that multiple sclerosis (MS) was causing his double vision. The only thing on his mind was the fact that he and his wife were about to have their first baby.
The doctor immediately prescribed him a disease modifying medication, and within a week Mikael’s eyesight was back to normal. Since he’s been on this medication, he hasn’t had another MS attack. "The upside of expecting our first child was that I wasn’t terribly concerned about my own situation. Fortunately, I had no side effects from the medication, so I felt I was in good hands."
Over the years, he has worked with several MS nurses. "I have gained enormous insight into the disease through these specialists."
Keeping his MS a secret from others never crossed Mikael’s mind. "I have always been a very open person who doesn’t keep anything from people close to me. In fact, I drove straight from the hospital to my job so that I could tell my boss and my colleagues about my diagnosis."
As an electrical engineer, Mikael worried that he would have a hard time keeping up with the physical demands of his job. Luckily, he had a very understanding boss who assured him they would find ways to assist him if he needed extra support.
Now, 16 years after Mikael started his job at the electrical engineering company – and 10 years after being diagnosed with MS – nothing in his work has changed. "I have never taken one sick day because of MS!"
His wife and children have had few reasons to be concerned about his condition. As his wife puts it, "If you don’t worry about MS, why should I?"
He first told his 10-year-old daughter about his MS several years ago when they went on a vacation with other families with MS. "She finds it a bit exciting that I have MS. We’ve read some good children’s books that explain the condition in a simple way." His four-year-old son is still too young to understand, but he plans to talk to him about the condition when he gets a little older.
Mikael has enjoyed taking part in activities with other people who have MS. He’s currently the treasurer of an MS club for people under 40. The group meets every month for talks and special events. Mikael has given many presentations to people who are newly diagnosed to inspire them with his positive story. Mikael also plays in a handball league with his friends, and is even a referee.
When giving advice to other people with MS, the first thing he tells them is to talk to their doctor about starting treatment early, and then always take their medication. "I’m certain that the high dose, high frequency medication I take every other day has helped me enjoy a better quality of life."