About John MSAA

Manager of Communications at the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA). Lover of comic books. Player of guitars. Fan of the Phillies.

December 2016 Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our 2016-17 Art Showcase – celebrating the work of artists affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the new submissions.

Paula Breiner – Tamaqua, PA
Snowy
Snowy - Paula Breiner

About the Artist:
“I started painting last August to help strengthen my hand, to better my thinking and concentration. I haven’t drawn or painted since high school back in the 80’s. I find painting to be very relaxing and stress free, which is what an MS’er needs in their life.

I was diagnosed in 2006. My husband is my rock, I don’t know where I’d be without him. I belong to an amazing support group and we have all become family, I love and cherish each of them. We have 2 beautiful daughters and 4 amazing grandkids. I do lots of crafts with my grandkids and we all reap the rewards. I have MS, it doesn’t have me. One day at a time.”
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Working Together with the Spasticity Alliance

By Kyle Pinion, MSAA’s Director of Advocacy and Public Policy and Southeast Regional Director

Have you ever woken up one day and found that your legs have painfully, and involuntarily, tightened? Or perhaps you were sitting in your favorite chair one afternoon while watching the football game and in the middle of a great play realized that your arm muscles clenched in a way that was incredibly uncomfortable. Those who are living with the progressive forms of multiple sclerosis are likely to understand this symptom all too well: spasticity is a tightness of the muscles, typically occurring in the legs, groin, and buttocks, though not exclusive to just these regions. While treatable in ways that can potentially reduce its effects, this symptom of the disease can be very debilitating and contribute to disability.

What you may not be aware of is that those living with MS are not alone in experiencing this troubling manifestation of their disease state. Many other condition-based populations see the effects of spasticity first-hand, such as those who have suffered a stroke, people living with cerebral palsy, and even those who have dealt with traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries. As such, advocacy organizations that represent each of these conditions recognize that greater amounts of information and resources are needed to help people living with spasticity grasp a better understanding of its effects and how to best seek treatment. To that end, the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America, United Spinal Association, United Cerebral Palsy, National Stroke Association, and the Brain Injury Association came together in June and initiated the planning process for what would turn into the Spasticity Alliance.

SpasticityAs MSAA’s representative for our regular Alliance meetings, it’s been fascinating to learn about the larger scope of spasticity’s effect on other disease states beyond our own organization’s purview. I’m so thankful to be able to share not only resources that have proven to be mutually beneficial, but also stories of people who experience this troubling symptom on a day-to-day basis.

When the Spasticity Alliance website launched in July, the outpouring of support from both the patient and professional communities was utterly overwhelming, as many deeply appreciated this pooling of efforts by advocacy organizations to provide resources and educational material for those living with this challenging and painful manifestation of these individual conditions – a manifestation that is all too little discussed. As we close out 2016, we’re looking forward to the further growth of the Alliance website, with very exciting plans on the horizon to make it an even more engaging and informative experience for our clients when they visit.

In the meantime, if you or someone you know has experienced spasticity, please visit the Alliance’s site at spasticityalliance.org. If you have any further questions regarding issues related to this symptom, please feel free to reach out to our Client Services department at (800) 532-7667, ext. 154 or via email at MSquestions@mymsaa.org.

Additionally, if anyone living with MS, or their family members or friends, would like to share their story for the Alliance’s site, please do not hesitate to reach out to MSAA and we’d be happy to discuss this with you further. Your stories really can make a difference through encouragement, fellowship, and education.

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New Recipe of the Month – Gram West’s Pumpkin Pie

MS Conversations Recipe of the MonthToday’s recipe is from our dear friend, Lynn, in South Jersey…Lynn writes:

At Thanksgiving, more than any other time of year, I’m reminded of my Grandmother (“Gram”) who passed away from a neurological condition in 2010. Growing up in South Jersey, I only got to see Gram twice a year: once when she and my grandfather came to visit us in NJ, and then again when we visited them for Thanksgiving. I always remember spending time with just her in the kitchen, making pumpkin pies to enjoy after our Thanksgiving meal. It was “our thing,” and we always loved watching our family fight over who got the biggest slice of pie. This time spent with my Gram is something that I will always treasure, and to this day, I honor this memory by making pumpkin pies for any winter family holiday, using the following recipe which she handed down to me.

– Lynn, in South Jersey

Gram West’s Pumpkin Pie
(Makes 2 pies.10 minutes to prepare, 70 minutes to cook.)

Ingredients:

  • 2 unbaked pie crusts (I use Pillsbury Pie Crusts)
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 can (29oz) pumpkin OR 3 3/4 cup freshly cooked and mashed pumpkin
  • 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 12oz can evaporated milk
  • 12oz regular milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Lay pie crusts in pie plates, and flute the edges if desired. Put each pie plate onto a small cookie sheet (this makes for easier insertion and retrieval from the oven when you bake them). Cover the edges of the crust with a pie crust shield. If you don’t have one, you can use aluminum foil. This will help keep the crust edges from burning.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the eggs and pumpkin.
  4. Blend in the brown sugar, flour, salt, and all of the spices. Mix well.
  5. Add the evaporated milk, then fill the can with regular milk and add that. Mix well (be careful, it splatters easily).
  6. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pie crusts.
  7. Bake at 425 for 25 minutes.
  8. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 40-45 minutes, until a knife inserted near the center comes clean. (Depending on your oven, you may need to bake longer.)
  9. Cool the pies. Once cool, store in refrigerator.

*We hope you enjoy our Recipe of the Month selections on MS Conversations. Just remember: these entries may not necessarily be a part of an MS-specific diet; these are simply recipes compiled from MSAA staff and friends either from their own family recipe collection or based on recipes we think you might enjoy. As always, make sure to consult your doctor about any food or nutrition questions as they relate to your MS.

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November 2016 Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our 2016-17 Art Showcase – celebrating the work of artists affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the new submissions.

Susan Russo – Pearland, TX
Honor and Sacrifice
Susan Russo - Honor and Sacrifice

About the Artist:
“I was diagnosed with RRMS in 2001. This disease has changed my life in an amazing way. Funny how diseases tend to do just that. You either give up or battle on. I choose to battle on.

I’m not perfect. I have rough days. I cry. I get angry. But then, I pick up a paint brush and I start to create whatever I am feeling. I get lost in a beautiful world of lines and shades and colors. The creation of something visually beautiful helps me to refocus on the fact that I am so much more than my MS.”
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October 2016 Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our 2016-17 Art Showcase – celebrating the work of artists affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the new submissions.

Dani Red Hawk – Greenville, SC
Blood Moon
Dani Red Hawk - Blood Moon

About the Artist:
“My art production is a bit improved over last year. If I could just beat away the fatigue I might really churn some art work out. However, while not always satisfied with each piece, I am most grateful for the completion.

It is such a joy to participate in the MSAA Art Showcase! To my fellow artists: You have brought much inspiration and enjoyment to not only me, but friends who have perused the website. I hope this past year has been a good (or good as can be expected with MS) one for you all.”
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September 2016 Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our 2016-17 Art Showcase – celebrating the work of artists affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the new submissions.

September Artist of the Month:
Karen Bloom – Kendallville, IN
Fall Leaves

Karen Bloom - Fall Leaves

About the Artist:
“I was diagnosed with MS in 2008 and was a paraplegic within a year. Because my legs were affected so drastically, I expected the same of my arms/hands and gave away all of my oil painting supplies and most of the artwork I loved.

I began venturing back out into the world and taking risks, including trying painting again. It turns out I should not have given up on my artwork for over six years. My hands are still mine!”
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August 2016 Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our 2016-17 Art Showcase – celebrating the work of artists affected by MS.

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the new submissions.

August Artist of the Month:
Carol Tomlin – Woodbine, NJ
Summer at Old Faithful Inn 1904

Carol Tomlin - Summer at Old Faithful Inn 1904

About the Artist:
“In 2003 I began stumbling while scouting for deer hunting areas with my husband Clarence. I was soon diagnosed with MS. Hands now shaky, I can no longer enjoy painting and even had to leave my job. With time on my hands I continued to exercise by working the family farm.

Determined to paint again, I had a cabin constructed on the place where my husband and I loved to sit together and watch the wild game in the back yard. There I found the peace I needed to steady my hand and paint again.”
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July 2016 Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our 2016-17 Art Showcase – celebrating the work of artists affected by MS.

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the new submissions.

July Artist of the Month:
Karen Schatz – Atlanta, GA
Shark
Karen Schatz - Shark

About the Artist:
“My first love was art but I gave it up and went to work in legal IT to support my family. After years of horrendous hours I wrote off a lot of my weird symptoms to working such long hours. I went to numerous doctors but wasn’t diagnosed until last year.

Art has helped me find myself again. I can’t always hold the brushes, but when I can paint I always feel more like me.”
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June 2016 Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our 2016-17 Art Showcase – celebrating the work of artists affected by MS.

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the new submissions.

June Artist of the Month:
Elana K. Rosen – Cincinnati, OH
Lunchtime Dining
Elana K. Rosen - Lunchtime Dining

About the Artist:
“My name is Elana K. Rosen and I have always drawn and painted. I was diagnosed with MS in my thirties. Occasionally I have a hand tremor. When this happens my art is looser and I cannot paint detail. Painting makes me happy and helps me feel a sense of accomplishment.”
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May 2016 Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our 2016-17 Art Showcase – celebrating the work of artists affected by MS.

We have received many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share their work and their stories with you. Please visit our online gallery to view all of the new submissions.

May Artist of the Month:
David Desjardins – Union, ME
Country Cottage
David Desjardins - Country Cottage

About the Artist:
“Painting has always been a rewarding way to express myself. Ironically, I find that as my disabilities increase, so does the quality of my work increase.

To me, there is no better feeling than hearing someone tell me how much they love a painting I created. It gives me a tremendous feeling of well-being and accomplishment every time I finish one.”
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