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Transitioning to secondary progressive MS

Martin Baum

“Of course, you’ve got secondary progressive MS…”

The doctor delivered the diagnosis so matter-of-factly I thought I was having déjà vu. I was originally diagnosed with relapsing MS thirty years previously in 1986, so it was like time had stood still, given the informal nature of the prognosis.

Problems with motor skills and balance

On the surface, I hadn’t given too much thought to how my MS was developing. A slow deterioration in my motor skills and balance had become more and more troublesome over the years. As had my powers of concentration and communication, along with other irksome symptoms. But for me, that was what passed for normal.

As my medical check-up with the neurologist proceeded, the last thing I’d been expecting was a new diagnosis. But there it was, delivered with as much detachment as a ‘sorry we missed you’ apology note from a FedEx courier. Just as it had been three decades earlier.

And therein lies the problem.

Coping with a diagnosis of secondary progressive MS

While research into MS has come on in leaps and bounds, the way doctors and specialists deliver the diagnosis hasn’t. Or at least that’s what I’ve experienced. And judging from correspondence I receive in my inbox from other MSers, I know I’m not alone.

It’s scary trying to cope with bombshell news casually dispensed from behind a doctor’s desk. That’s why, as I listened to the doctor that day, the news went through one ear and out the other. Just like in 1986, it was too much information dispensed in a very casual way.

Fortunately, my wife was there to listen and process the news. Not only has she got my back but also my ears and memory.

Live life – not MS

That was three years ago and now I just roll with it. Anyone who reads my blogs will realise that my relationship with MS is on good terms - or at least it is for now. The worst thing anyone could do is panic over something we have no control over.

Whether it’s relapsing or progressive, MS is a challenge. But then so is life. And for all its faults nobody ever said it was going to be perfect. That’s why, as I always say, it’s better to live life, not MS.

Martin is an MS blogger and influencer. You can read more of his blogs at