Sofia Arkelsten: "To be diagnosed was liberating"

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Name: Sofia Arkelsten, 39

Received her diagnosis: 2014

Works as: Member of Parliament (M)

“Before I was diagnosed, I felt that there was something wrong with my body. I had gone to a physiotherapist for some time because I had knee problems, but despite doing my exercises there was no improvement. When I was told I had MS, it was quite liberating, especially since I had been worried that it was something worse. You can actually do something about MS, even if it felt strange to be affected. When my doctor asked me if I wanted to try a new treatment that was being developed, I said yes. The medicine I‘m taking is not yet approved specifically for MS, but it works great! I think it’s important that medicine which proves effective in contexts other than those intended should also be able to be used for just precisely that.

I’m put on a drip once every six months. At these times I feel like a patient. Otherwise I work away as normal, as a member of the Swedish Parliament for the Moderate Party. If I'm going to be on an external debate, I have a stool or chair. There is a great acceptance within politics that people have different requirements. It is an unexpectedly favourable industry for the symptoms that I have. For me it is important to exercise and eat properly. If we're in a long meeting and haven’t eaten in a long time, I speak up. It's good for everyone; politicians who have eaten work much better!

Since being diagnosed with MS, I have a low tolerance for unscientific advice. I think that there are no easy answers and I don’t want to take courses in all the exciting symptoms; I can simply rely on my doctor to tell me what is important. I'm pretty optimistic, there is a lot of research going on after all.

As told to Maja Lundbäck, first published in the magazine "Medicinsk Vetenskap" no 4, 2016.

Autoimmune diseasesNeurology