MS Connection Blog

Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation: An Interview with Dr. Richard Burt

Could you please explain the stem-cell procedure that you’re testing?   

We are testing a procedure called hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT), but there are a lot of misnomers that can cause confusion for people who are not familiar with HSCT. First, hematopoietic stem cells are immune stem cells. So, perhaps a better term would be immune stem cell transplantation. Second, the word “transplant” can cause confusion. When people hear it they often think of a transplant for cancer and we do not use these cancer drugs; we don’t use radiation or any cancer treatments. Nor does HSCT include transplantation of someone else’s stem cells – we give the patient their own stem cells during the procedure...

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Mesenchymal Stem Cells: An interview with Dr. Jeffrey Cohen

Could you explain the stem cell procedure that you’re testing?  

There are currently eleven medications approved to treat multiple sclerosis and several more around the corner. The available medications are all useful in relapsing MS – an inflammatory phase in the disease – but there is a big need to find treatments for progressive MS. We think this will require different strategies, such as neuroprotective treatment strategies or repair-promoting strategies, which has led to a lot of interest in cell-based therapies...

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Research, Politics, MS and Me

In 1985, I started experiencing numbness and motor deficiencies. Like many people, I was tested,  and then undiagnosed . Maybe it was multiple sclerosis… but I was not heat sensitive – in fact I loved living in Florida and soaking in the  hot tub – and it took 14 years for anything to show up on my MRIs.

I was eventually diagnosed with MS. With ongoing treatment and attention to my overall health, I was able to keep working – as a university professor, teacher and researcher  – through my partial retirement and move to the Washington, D.C., area in 2004. My left leg doesn’t work very well, so for walking any distance or in a crowd I use crutches – or I fall down. That’s one nice thing about D.C.: there’s always a crowd to offer help if I fall. Also, the D.C. region is where decisions are made about state and federal funding. And as an MS activist, I like having a say in these decisions.

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Weight a Minute!

As I was closing up the studio after teaching a yoga class yesterday, the man whose accounting office is across the hall and with whom I am friendly popped in to chat a minute. He commented that it looked as though I had lost some weight.

I hadn’t been making any special effort to slim down. I explained that I always seem to drop a few pounds in the summertime because I’m so active when the weather is warm. I swim and bike and walk the dog a lot, soaking up the sunshine (wearing sunscreen, of course!). I also substitute for other yoga teachers while they’re on vacation, so I even do more yoga than usual...

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Depression and MS

We’re always saddened when a favorite celebrity dies. But somehow the death by suicide of actor/comedian Robin Williams has felt like a sucker-punch to the gut. How could someone so seemingly full of life, someone who lit up so many other lives, have arrived at such a dark place that he’d take his own life?

Depression.

In the aftermath of Williams’ death we’ve been reminded that he long struggled with depression. We’ve been bombarded with messages urging us to be more aware of mental illness in general and depression in particular, and social media have been replete with videos of people telling us how we might help those in our lives who suffer from this insidious disease...

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Letting the Light In – A Note on Travel

"Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in." – Alan Alda

I love this quote. So simple, yet powerful. And, for me, it touches poignantly on a rather irksome tendency of the human mind: to take most anything for granted. To suppose that our circumstances and the world at large simply are a certain way, thereby dirtying our windows and blocking the light of possibility, so to speak...

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Household Chores: Pick Your Poison

In the hierarchy of household tasks, we all have those we don’t mind and those we actually kind of enjoy – or at least get satisfaction from having done. I don’t mind scrubbing the toilets (mostly because I hate a not-quite-clean one) or doing laundry, and I even love doing the white towels in bleach because it’s so lovely to fold them, warm and fragrant from the dryer. I find doing dishes a nearly Zen-like experience, perhaps in part because while I stand at my spacious kitchen sink I can look out the window at the yard, meadow, and woods beyond.

On the other hand, I hate to vacuum. I mean, I hate it. Maybe it’s because our old Victorian farmhouse has mostly hardwood floors with area rugs strewn throughout, so you have to keep switching the vacuum from carpet to wood-floor mode. And because both of our dogs are heavy shedders, you have to make extra effort to suck up all those tumbling tumbleweeds – and empty the canister a zillion times...

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Staggering the Line

The line I stagger, the line many people with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) stagger, walk, or straddle, wavers over time, from time to time. It jumps, rolls. It scribbles.

Line 1

In the exam room, we walk the line, heel-toe, if we can. When we can. The line does not reveal itself, nor does it reveal the effort exerted to trace its trajectory. We imagine the line there before us, a tightrope. Someone is usually there to catch us, white sleeved safety net, in case we stumble...

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Don’t Jinx It!

Me: “Sometimes when my horoscope is really good I don’t allow myself to believe it.”

My 20-year-old daughter: “Mom, you are the most neurotic person I know.”

That’s an actual conversation that took place in my kitchen this morning.

And it wasn’t an unusual one...

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Eating and Your Emotions

Even the most subtle changes in mood can impact other aspects of daily living. Decreased motivation and energy, as well as changes in sleeping patterns and eating habits are common consequences. But each of these changes can, in turn, affect your nutritional well-being.

Some people turn to food for solace when they are depressed. Certain foods create a sense of comfort. If it sometimes seems like food is the only thing that will make you feel better, pay special attention to the choices you make. The “comfort foods” you turn to may be high in fat and can add unnecessary calories to your diet...

 
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