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My COVID-19 Story

Blog Summary

As I sit alone in my house, I am becoming familiar with the sounds it makes I never noticed before. The ticking of the clock is soothing, the dropping of ice in the freezer startles me and the subtle noise of the furnace turning on calms me. I am not usually alone with only the noise of my home. You see, my home is usually full of life. I normally cannot hear the sounds of my home over the sounds of my two boys and their friends. I must admit that I miss the sounds of the water running forever in a way too long shower, the microwave heating up a second and third dinner, and the monotonous commotion of endless video games.

I reflect on many things during my time in quarantine. Why did I get MS? Why do I have to get treatment once a month? Why am I always tired? Why does my hand go numb? Why can I not walk a mile without foot drop?

Questions to Ask Your Neurologist About Your MS

Blog Summary

You’ve just been diagnosed with MS. You’ve heard about the disease (“OMG, I’m going to be in a wheelchair”). You’ve heard something about the medications that are now available for MS, but know little about them. You’ve seen other people with MS, but how does their course relate to yours? What can you do to prevent disability? These and many other questions crowd in on you, and it all seems overwhelming. You need to spend more time with your neurologist or nurse specialist, but don’t know where to start. Hopefully the following questions to ask will be a guide for you...

Check List: Managing MS Through the COVID-19 Crisis

Blog Summary

Managing MS is challenging, given its unpredictable nature. Managing MS in times of stress – such as we are all experiencing now with the COVID-19 pandemic – can make it even more challenging. Here are a few tips and resources that may help you and your family manage through this very difficult time...

The Importance of Preventive Care

Blog Summary

MS had really taken a toll on my new patient. Or so I thought… She came to see me one afternoon in my family medicine clinic. Her son pushed her into my exam room, and I moved my stool to make way for her wheelchair. One of her arms was rigid, useless. Her speech was slurred, and she reported terrible back pain. As an MS patient myself, I was disturbed to see her, knowing that my fate could be similar...

Self-Advocacy

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Are you kidding me? Another $749 out-of-pocket… just for lab tests? It was another unexpected medical bill, even more irritating than usual because I had called the lab before the test was done to clarify the cost. The lab had assured me I would pay no more than $200, even if my insurance company failed to pick up the tab...

Making a Diagnosis of MS

Blog Summary

There is no avoiding it. Seeing a neurologist for evaluation of a diagnosis of MS can be very stressful. However, understanding what is needed to make a diagnosis may, at least in part, ease some of the anxiety.   Even with all the latest electronic and laboratory studies, an MS diagnosis is still one of exclusion. Unlike a positive biopsy for cancer, there is no single finding on history, exam, or diagnostic study that is unique, or only found, in persons with MS. Thus, making a diagnosis of MS remains one of excluding other diseases that can mimic MS. While this may seem easy, a recent paper from two MS centers reported that 1 out of 5 persons sent to the centers with a diagnosis of MS did not have this disease.1 More than 100 MS “look-alikes” have been described, but most are very rare, and only the most common ones are usually looked for. These include illnesses such as diabetes mellitus, lupus, Sjøgren’s disease, migraine with aura, high blood pressure, brain tumors, blood vessel inflammations and infections...

The Importance of Establishing Care

Blog Summary

For the longest time, I never prioritized the quality of care I was receiving because I thought the scope of my care was just the norm. It wasn’t until I connected with the MS community on social media that I realized I could be doing so much more for myself than I already was! I realized something needed to change when I had brought up the pain I was experiencing and was told it was all in my head. I don’t know about you, but that automatically took me out of my safe zone...

That Was Then, This is Now

Blog Summary

I first heard the words, “You have multiple sclerosis,” in 1986. I had no idea what that was or how I got it. How could this happen to me at the age of 28? I had my whole life in front of me. What would become of me? How will my life change? Will my boyfriend still love me? Will I die from it?   I had so many questions, and there were not many answers...

Mood and MS

Blog Summary

Those of us who have been involved in both the research and care of people with MS walk a tightrope sometimes between pointing out the severity of a problem and solving it. We want to alert our patients without overwhelming them. On Thursday, I attended a session on depression and other mood disorders at the Consortium of MS Centers meeting in Seattle that really brought home how prevalent these symptoms are in people with MS. While the numbers are sobering, the message is clear: bringing this information to light can only bring us closer to finding solutions. Depression is two or more times more prevalent in people with MS than in the general population, says Dr. Scott Patten (from the University of Calgary) in his review of the studies (find his presentation here). When researchers try to find out what factors predict lower quality of life, depression gets high marks. Not surprising, since depression affects how you function at work, in school, in your social life and during recreational activities...

Just Keep Going

Blog Summary

I grew up playing sports, but running was never my “thing.” ​ What I loved was the competition that came with athletics. During the summer, my friends and I would play football until dark when our parents yelled down the street “come home!” As I got older, I would play racquetball for hours, engrossed in the sheer intensity of the game...

Medicare Annual Election Period: What You Should Know

Blog Summary

The Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP), or Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP), has arrived. With approximately 25 to 30 percent of people with MS enrolled in Medicare, it’s important to be equipped with useful information to pick a plan that works best for you. The AEP begins on October 15 each year. From there, you have until December 7 to make changes to your plan. Any changes you make during the Annual Election Period won’t take effect until on January 1, 2019. After then, you can’t make changes to your plan unless there is a special circumstance. Here are some general things to keep in mind during this period...