Profile: The MS Nurse

A multiple sclerosis specialist helps sufferers to carry on living their lives

Although there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, a disease of the central nervous system, Carrie Dobson, 29, MS nurse specialist at Southampton University Hospital Trust, believes that the coming few years will see major changes in its treatment.


"After many years of injections and infusions, the first oral treatment for MS will be made available next year and while it isn't without its side effects, it could utterly alter the lives of sufferers and their families from now on," she says.

Largely hospital-based, where she and a colleague manage a caseload of 350 patients on drug therapy, Dobson not only helps take pressure off doctors by co-ordinating and monitoring treatments, but she also ensures that patients learn more about the disease, which is usually diagnosed in the 20-to-30 age group.

Apart from helping run several clinics each month, including two out-patient clinics a week for symptom management and drug follow-up, there are also regular drug information sessions and dedicated clinics for patients recently diagnosed as having MS and in need of basic information.

While most procedures are carried out in the outpatients department, Dobson makes time to go out into the community - where she shows new patients how to self-inject, for example - and routinely gets involved with the work of various MS charity groups.

"It's part of my role to help educate patients about the disease and allow them to talk through any problems they are having," she says, "but there is also a patient helpline if they need a quick answer to something.

"Coming into contact with newly diagnosed patients, long-term patients and patients whose condition has suddenly changed or exacerbated gives me a very good understanding of how the different stages of the disease can be managed," she adds.

Although MS is the most common disabling neurological disease among young adults, it affects around 100,000 people in the UK of all ages.

Despite the fact that her patients can be 16 or 60, Dobson says she tries hard to identify with patients of all ages.

"I feel great compassion for teenagers diagnosed with MS, but I also empathise with people of my age who may be on the brink of taking life-changing decisions around careers or starting families.

"But although there is no cure as far as we know, an awful lot can be done as regards treatment, support and managing symptoms and I always tell my new patients that it doesn't have to be as terrible as it first sounds."

Ongoing research into MS suggests that the disease is triggered by a number of different things, including being exposed to a virus as a teenager and environmental issues. But the jury is still out on why there should be higher numbers of MS sufferers in Scotland than there are in England, for example.

"This is a great time to be an MS specialist and although I'd like all the answers, I am sure these will come in time. For the present, my job is to explain as much as I can to my patients, show them how to manage the disease and help them keep on living their lives."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - IT

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Computer Futures has been est...

Early Years Foundation Stage Primary Teacher in Lytham St.Annes

£80 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Early Years and Foundation Stag...

KS1 Primary Teacher Jobs in Blackpool

£80 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Preston: KS1 Primary Teacher Jobs in Bla...

Supply Primary Teacher Jobs in Blackpool

£80 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Supply Primary Teacher Jobs in ...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition