58 msfocusmagazine.org The usual reaction when hit with MS (and periodically afterwards) is to have a pity party – to feel sorry for ourselves, wallow in sorrow and regret, and picture ultimately winding up in a 19th century-type nursing home with no one to even bring bread crusts and water. But, once we get past the pity parties, it’s very important to assess our physical and mental limitations and figure out how to cope with the situation we are in. We can take charge of our lives. One area that can really bring on the self-pity is cognitive problems. It can feel as though you’re losing a part of who you are. But most cognitive problems are also pretty easy to hack. Memory loss is probably the most common problem. The best thing you can do is carry a small notebook at all times. Jot down anything you want to remember – a reminder, a phone number, a new acquaintance’s name, etc. At the end of the day, look at what you have jotted down. If you deal with some- thing – check it off. But even when your notebook is full and everything has been checked off, hold on to it for a year. You may be surprised at how helpful it can be. I recommend old school paper and pen rather than a tablet or phone, because it is easier to stick on a shelf and flip through later if needed. The act of checking off something on a list also has an element of self-satisfaction. Another way to help is to keep your brain – and your body – active. If you are on disability, you may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation, which sometimes pays for free college courses. Many colleges offer free online courses to all through sites like EdX.org. And libraries are always free. In addition to tons of interesting or fun classes, many colleges have fitness centers and even swimming pools a whole lot cheaper than a conventional gym. They are also more likely to have machines to lower you into and out of the pool if you are not able to use the steps. Maybe you just need someone who understands what you’re going through to help you adapt.Asupport group, in person oreven online, can helpyou think of goodways to cope, modify, and adjust. These are the people to share your struggles with – they will understand and “get it.” Friends and acquaintances, don’t want to hear about MS all the time. Support group members are happy to hear you vent, and help you move forward. Life with MS MS HACKS By Marcy Canavan Have You MS Hacked the Problem? Send your tips and tricks to MSHacks@msfocus.org.