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The Art of War
You might ask yourself how a Chinese military treatise that was written during the 6th century BC be relevant to multiple sclerosis (MS) or any other disease. Sun Tzu's The Art of War is one of the oldest books on military strategy in the world, and probably one of the most over quoted books by those trying to impress others. Why then are we mentioning it here? Because dealing with MS needs to be treated like a battle or war and not like a simple head ache. We're not going to tell you about military strategy, but rather how it relates to fighting a disease.

Sun Tzu was the first to recognize the importance of positioning in strategy and that position is affected both by objective conditions in the physical environment and the subjective opinions of competitive actors in that environment. Sun Tzu taught that strategy was not planning in the sense of working through a to-do list, but rather that it requires quick and appropriate responses to ever-changing conditions. Planning works in a controlled environment, but in a competitive environment, competing plans collide, creating unexpected situations. Life never occurs in a controlled environment and can't be controlled no matter how hard one tries.

You can compare MS directly with war. Look at what is happening with your immune system and see MS as the enemy. There are multiple battles that are constantly occurring and the sum of these battles can be seen as a war. Some might say that this way of looking at MS is a bit of overkill, but if this is what it takes for someone to take MS seriously, then this is what the doctor called for. This section is not trying to be philosophical or wanting you to look closer at Taoism, but rather to simply look at it for what it is. The Art of War can simply be seen as a plan, a strategy or blueprint on knowing yourself and your enemy, which in this case is MS, and how to defeat it.

One thing to remember is that this type of analogy may not work for some people. Everyone has their own way of seeing what MS is to them. It's important to see it in a way that works for you, whether it's as simple as a cartoon or through molecular physics structures.

  If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

The 13 aspects of The Art of War
1. Laying Plans explores the five key elements that define competitive position (mission, climate, ground, leadership, and methods) and how to evaluate your competitive strengths against your competition.

2. Waging War explains how to understand the economic nature of competition and how success requires making the winning play, which in turn, requires limiting the cost of competition and conflict.

3. Attack by Stratagem defines the source of strength as unity, not size, and the five ingredients that you need to succeed in any competitive situation.

4. Tactical Dispositions explains the importance of defending existing positions until you can advance them and how you must recognize opportunities, not try to create them.

5. Energy explains the use of creativity and timing in building your competitive momentum.

6. Weak Points & Strong explains how your opportunities come from the openings in the environment caused by the relative weakness of your competitors in a given area.

7. Maneuvering explains the dangers of direct conflict and how to win those confrontations when forced upon you.

8. Variation in Tactics focuses on the need for flexibility in your responses. It explains how to respond to shifting circumstances successfully.

9. The Army on the March describes the different situations in which you find yourselves as you move into new competitive arenas and how to respond to them. Much of it focuses on evaluating the intentions of others.

10. Terrain looks at the three general areas of resistance (distance, dangers, and barriers) and the six types of ground positions that arise from them. Each of these six field positions offer certain advantages and disadvantages.

11. The Nine Situations describe nine common situations (or stages) in a competitive campaign, from scattering to deadly, and the specific focus you need to successfully navigate each of them.

12. Attack by Fire explains the use of weapons generally and the use of the environment as a weapon specifically. It looks at the five targets for attack, the five types of environmental attack, and the appropriate responses to such attack.

13. The Use of Spies focuses on the importance of developing good information sources and how to manage them.

The Art of Putting the Pieces Together
Know your enemy, for it is MS. The best way to know that enemy is to study it, read about it, ask questions about it, until you are as comfortable with it as it is of you.  You have to stay on top of research, trials, tests, and always questions the answers. Talk to your doctor at every visit, talk to others with MS and see what they know, and talk to anyone else dealing with MS because you never know what you may learn by asking a simple question.

One of the key principles in war is that of deception. If nothing else, MS is a disease based upon deception in that it convinces your own body to attack itself, as if you are your own enemy. It's necessary, therefore, to employ an equal amount of deception when it's to your advantage directly back at the disease. If you look at how all of the disease modifying drugs work, they try to mask and trick MS to believe that there is nothing to attack. Every time that you can accomplish this, it's another small victory in your battle. You may choose to give up, but MS will never grow tired and will never quit.

How do you go after and fight MS? You can try to go after it directly (which is not known as of yet) or you can go after it indirectly with a choice of many treatments. The point is that there are currently many choices at hand to treat it and sometimes in combination with others. Your choices may not be as numerous as one would hope for, but they are your choices.

  In all fighting, the direct method may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory. In battle, there are not more than two methods of attack - the direct and the indirect; yet these two in combination give rise to an endless series of maneuvers. The direct and the indirect lead on to each other in turn. It is like moving in a circle - you never come to an end. Who can exhaust the possibilities of their combination?

When dealing with MS, you have to stay on top of your treatments and always be ready to fight back. You can measure the results of your victory on a daily basis - for another day without progression is another day you win. Don't wear yourself out while waiting for it to strike, but be ready when it tries.

This is not a game, you are not a statistic or number, but rather this is your life and how well you can win over MS on a daily basis. You must have a sense of urgency that is necessary in this battle against MS every single day. You can see the importance of fighting as hard as you can, because if you don't - you'll find that the war will be lost and the enemy will win.