Q & A - MS LifeLines® Ambassador Carolyn

Q: What was the most compelling reason to choose Rebif® (interferon beta-1a) for your relapsing MS?

My doctor and I chose Rebif because of its proven efficacy in clinical trials and well-established safety profile.

The most common side effects with Rebif include injection-site reactions, flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, sweating, muscle aches, and tiredness), depression, abdominal pain, increased liver enzymes and blood cell count decreases. For many people, flu-like symptoms will lessen or go away over time. You should talk to your doctor about whether you should take an over-the-counter medication for pain or fever reduction before or after taking your dose of Rebif.

Please see important safety information below and the Rebif Medication Guide and Prescribing Information in the top of this website, and speak with your doctor for more information.

Q: What types of symptoms led you to see your doctor and ultimately be diagnosed with relapsing MS?

I had a vision problem that escalated to the point where I lost sight in one eye. At that moment, my doctor was suspicious that what I was experiencing was an early red flag for MS, but I didn't want to hear it. I was treated with steroids and my vision returned—that was all I cared about. Then several years passed, and I had another serious symptom of an electrical-like sensation in one of my legs shortly after a car accident. My doctor ordered an MRI and told me I had evidence of a new MS lesion on my spinal cord.

Q: What is the best piece of advice that you've received to help you with your relapsing MS?

STAY ON TREATMENT! No matter how well you may be feeling, it doesn't mean it's time to go off treatment. You should continue to stay on treatment as prescribed.

Q: Can you recommend any tips for managing flu-like symptoms after injections?

You may want to try injecting in the early evening so that you may be able to sleep through some flu-like symptoms. Stay cool and keep well hydrated, as changes in your body temperature can aggravate flu-like symptoms.

Q: What about injection site discomfort? Can anything be done to reduce it?

I've found that applying a cold compress or ice pack to the injection site after injection may help reduce local skin reactions.

Q: How have your relationships with your family and your friends changed since the diagnosis of relapsing MS?

I did not tell my family for a long time because I felt embarrassed by my diagnosis. I finally told them after I had a significant relapse, and it was a HUGE burden off of my shoulders. I never realized how much stress it caused me to hide my condition from them. I would make so many excuses, feeling so guilty but not wanting to worry them. I really feel I gained much needed emotional strength after letting go of my secret. Revealing my MS set me free!

Q: Dealing with relapsing MS means finding new ways to do familiar things. How have you and the people in your life been able to accommodate your day-to-day needs and routine?

My family plans get-togethers in the mornings or early afternoons now. They realize that I would probably miss events in the evenings because I tend to run out of energy later in the day. We celebrate occasions early so I can attend, and it has worked out great!

Q: What advice would you give others who have been recently diagnosed with relapsing MS?
  1. Consider letting your family know about your MS if you are hiding it from them. The strength that they can give you is immeasurable. The burden of keeping MS a secret from those you love may just not be worth it.

  2. Stay on treatment—give yourself a chance to reduce future relapses.

  3. Surround yourself with positive people—don't listen to stories from people about someone they know who has MS and isn't doing well. Keep your eye on the ball—concentrate on your body and your mind, and make your decisions based on how you feel and what you need with the help of your doctor and loved ones.

This story reflects the personal experience of one person. Results and experiences vary from patient to patient. It is best to contact your doctor to discuss what's best for you. Carolyn is an MS LifeLines Ambassador, and she has chosen to share her story with other people living with MS.

MS LifeLines Ambassadors, living with relapsing MS, and MS LifeLines Nurse