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What to Do If Follow-Up MRIs Show New Lesions

Blog Summary

You’ve been diagnosed with MS and started on a disease-modifying therapy. At a follow-up visit, your neurologist asks that you do another series of central nervous system MRIs. You ask, “Why? Is it really necessary? What would you do if there were new lesions?” These questions are excellent and reasonable. The answers however, are not straightforward. There is no cure for MS at this time. That said, starting a disease-modifying therapy is most important. Responses to disease-modifying therapies vary greatly. In some individuals, the response is excellent, with no evidence of recurring disease. In others, new lesions and even attacks may occur despite treatment. Not every new lesion is associated with an attack, and new lesions can gradually accumulate silently with no immediate change in course. However, increasing tissue damage may result in increasing disability over time. Thus, monitoring your central nervous system with MRIs after starting a disease-modifying therapy is essential to determine your response to treatment...

Can Someone with MS Exercise?

Blog Summary

“I can’t do that I have MS” “I would never manage it” “I’d love to do it but I just couldn’t” “I’m too tired to exercise”   This is what I used to say to myself for at least 5 years after my diagnosis...

Act or React: Healthy Habits for a Positive Mindset

Blog Summary

To start this year off right, I thought I’d work on my attitude. I’m generally a “tomorrow will be better” kind of person, but lately, I’ve been feeling that tomorrow is going to suck, too. Every day I wake up and I expect things to be better, but they’re not. I used to face each day as if anything was possible. I viewed MS more as a nuisance than the insidious disease it can be. But almost 18 years later, my positive attitude has dimmed. I find it harder to find the bright side of things. Little by little, symptom by symptom, I feel pieces of me chipping away...

It’s OK Things Aren’t OK

Blog Summary

It’s that time of year again: The time when lists of people’s proud accomplishments scroll past on your social media feed. I don’t mind it. This year, in fact, I considered joining in to mention my book deal, which still feels surreal all these months later.   But every time I thought about posting, I remembered this time last year when I was ending the year without reaching my writing goals – and with a disease that had recently progressed. I was adjusting to new multiple sclerosis medication, slammed with side effects and fatigue, and scared for the future...

The Wheelchair

Blog Summary

It first started with a limp while carrying my one-year-old daughter on a hike to Calf Creek Falls in southern Utah in 2000. After years of searching for an answer as to why my walking and fatigue were getting steadily worse, in 2015, I received a diagnosis of primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS). Wow, finally I had an answer. Today, I am no longer able to walk on my own, and I utilize a wheelchair much of the time.   My progression is most likely very familiar to many with PPMS. It started with that limp, then went on to needing one cane, then two canes, then a walker, then a rollator, and finally, the wheelchair. Ah, the wheelchair. That’s what I most want to talk about. For years I resisted it even as my ability to enjoy the things I love to do and people I like to see faded into a past life. My wife would say, “Steve, use a wheelchair if you need to. It would make things so much easier.” But pride got in the way. Finally, I gave in. And what a difference it has made...

Dizziness

Blog Summary

Dizziness is the bane of my existence. It’s my most persistent and irritating MS symptom. It’s led to a long list of restricted activities: amusement park rides, drinking caffeine or alcohol, cartwheels, reading on a road trip, certain yoga positions. Obviously, none of these activities are essential. But even with strict adherence to my self-imposed “dizziness avoidance rules,” I still have those days when I can’t escape that woozy, cloudy feeling that I call “dizziness” (because nothing else describes it quite as well)...

A Double-Edged Sword

Blog Summary

“Do I really have to have another brain MRI? It’s really very expensive, and I don’t know if it’s safe?”   These are totally understandable concerns. Being placed into a narrow, noisy tube for what seems like forever is certainly unpleasant. However, understanding the role of central nervous system MRIs in diagnosing and managing the treatment of MS may make the experience somewhat more tolerable.

The Long Walk to the Coffee Shop

Blog Summary

My rollator walker is my freedom. There’s no question about that. It allows me to observe the world while I’m walking instead of constantly looking down to avoid pebbles or cracks that might (and do) send me reeling. Liberating as it is, the rollator has its drawbacks. It’s big and bulky, and it’s forever a challenge to figure out where to stow the dang thing when I’m at a concert or in a restaurant. And when I’m walking down the sidewalk, I’m often either parting crowds or zig-zagging to get out of people’s way...

4 Tips for Dealing with a Dual Diagnosis

Blog Summary

Yes, you can have multiple sclerosis. And something else. Just two years after being diagnosed with MS, 47-year-old Lisa Emrich, a professional musician in Falls Church, Virginia, suddenly was unable to play the piano...

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...

Five Ways MS Has Changed the Past Five Years

Blog Summary

There was no celebrating on the fifth anniversary of my diagnosis of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. Instead, I did some reflecting. After the reflecting was over, I made a list of the five ways—one for each year of the disease—MS changed the ways in which I move through and deal with the world...