April 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.

April Artist of the Month:
Debra Robert – Lake Worth, FL
Constellation des Colores
Debra Robert - Constellation des Colores

About the Artist:
“I have been painting for over 25 years. I have a BA in theatre arts and an MFA in film producing. My career has taken me around the world, working in live events/concerts/conferences for over 20 years.

Now diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), I had to retire from my exciting, vibrant career. I am determined to put my energy into art full-time, surrounding myself in a world of color and light. I pull my inspiration from years of the lighting design, sounds and imaginative shapes from live performance production.”
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MSAA and MultipleSclerosis.net Partner for a Live AMA

MSAA recently partnered with MultipleSclerosis.net to co-host a live Facebook “Ask Me Anything”. For one fast-paced hour on March 22nd, everyone from the multiple sclerosis community was invited to ask questions about living with MS and have their questions answered by MSAA Client Services Specialists and MultipleSclerosis.net staff and patient advocates.

Read more about this AMA and find out what topics were discussed at MultipleSclerosis.net.

AMA March 22 2016

A special thanks to our friends at MultipleSclerosis.net for allowing MSAA to be a part of this special MS Awareness Month event and for helping improve lives today for the entire MS community!

 

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

All-New Artists for MSAA’s 2016-2017 Art Showcase!

As part of MS Awareness Month, MSAA is very proud to present our 2016-2017 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:

MSAA's 2016 Art Showcase MSAA's 2016 Four Seasons Art Showcase

As in the past, we will highlight one Artist of the Month throughout this year and share their artwork and their story.

Presenting MSAA’s Artist of the Month for March

MSAA is very excited to present the first Artist of the Month for our 2016 Art Showcase:

March Artist of the Month:
Ginny Townsend – Montgomery, AL
Field of Flowers
Field of Flowers by Ginny Townsend

About the Artist:
“Before I was a wife, mother, grandmother; before I had MS, I was ME! It took a decade for a diagnosis! What a relief to finally know!

In between exacerbations, I ignored “MS”. Maybe it would ignore me! Then 9-11 happened. On 9-12, I had a major exacerbation. I became permanently disabled. At first I was in a wheelchair. Now I use a cane and walker. I was bored so I began painting on mayonnaise jars! I also paint on canvas.”
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Heard about our 2016 Improving Lives Benefit and Online Auction yet?

Benefit_SliderOur Online Auction is Now Open!
Event attendance is not required for this special opportunity. Click the Online Auction link below to view the packages and register for bidding. More packages available soon.

Please note: online auction will close on Wednesday March 30, 2016 at 9:00 PM EST.

Live! Online Auction

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

MSAA is very proud to present our 2015 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.

February Artist of the Month:
Jennifer Atwood – A Wedding Centerpiece of Rose Balls and Orchids

 A Wedding Centerpiece of Rose Balls and Orchids

About the Artist:
“I was officially diagnosed with MS in 2007. Since then I had to retire and collect SSDI. I love watercolor but that was not my best media of my art degree in college. I now do this for my own satisfaction and the least expensive art I can do at home. I am 57, married, and have 4 daughters! All except one have left our nest, the youngest is 21. My husband Edward and I have been married 11 years.”
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Be inspired – please send an online card featuring artwork by MS artist Jennifer Atwood and spread awareness of MS and MSAA.

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

MSAA is very proud to present our 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.

January Artist of the Month:
Janet Laycox – Winter

 Janet Laycox - Winter

About the Artist:
“My name is Janet Laycox. I was diagnosed with MS in 1994. I have Secondary Progressive MS and use a walker to get around.

I always feel so good when people tell me that they are amazed at how much I do. Yes, as most of us MS’ers know, we can do what anyone else does but in our own way. I have been volunteering at the West Milford Animal Shelter for 12 years. I am also a volunteer at our support group for MS, the ADA committee for my township and the Passaic County Council on Disability. A few of us from the Squeaky Wheels MS support group thought it would be fun to join in a community center oil painting class.

Well here is one of the first oil paintings I ever did. I must say I really enjoyed it, will continue and hope to improve.”
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Be inspired – please send an online card featuring artwork by MS artist Janet Laycox and spread awareness of MS and MSAA.

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What Webster Doesn’t Tell You About MS

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Webster’s Dictionary defines MS as: a disease of the nervous system that causes the gradual loss of muscle control. But for anyone experiencing multiple sclerosis on a daily basis, you know that’s only half the story. Our fantastic contributor, Stephanie, wrote an article about the “Lesser Known MS Evils” and the community loved it.

Here are some of the odd, unexpected symptoms our MS community experiences:

“It itches, it burns, it’s even numb!”

  • Itching
    • The itching has been the most annoying for me. It always happens in one part of my back, and doesn’t stop with scratching
    • My hands itch all the time. I always thought I just had dry skin!
    • I get itchy skin all over my face and even my eye lids!
  • Burning
    • My tongue has felt burnt since I was diagnosed a little over 2 years ago. 
    • The burning has been so bad
    • It literally feels like I’m burning. I get so hot and sweat just pours off me!
  • Numbness
    • I can never tell if I’m cold or hot!
    • Sometimes the left side of my face just decides to go numb.
    • I get so much numbness. You would think if it’s numb, it wouldn’t be able to hurt. But nope. I get both 

“It’s like my body forgets how to…”

  • Swallow…
    • Nothing like having to explain that my body “forgot” how to swallow
    • I had trouble swallowing when I first was diagnosed. Took me hours to finish dinner!
    • I regularly choke on my own spit.
    • Mine mainly happens with drinks, especially warm ones, and every so often I “choke” for no reason. It can be especially embarrassing at work
  • Talk…
    • Finally some validation for being a “Low Talker!” Now, when my husband says, “Why are you screaming at me?” I can justify it!
    • The cadence of my speech has definitely altered over the last 2 years.
    • My voice has been shot for years and I can’t seem to pronounce basic words anymore
  • Breathe…
    • Sometimes my body forgets if it was breathing in or out…not a good feeling, especially when I’m alone.
    • I definitely experience the breathing and swallowing issue, that is so painful and scary
  • Write…
    • Itching is one of my worst also my handwriting has gotten so bad.
    • Oh the handwriting. On bad days, my penmanship looks like a 5 year old attempting to write with their non-dominant hand.
  • Think…
  • The only way I can describe it is like a short-circuit feeling in your head.
  • My family has been the saying that I’m losing it. YES! That’s exactly how I feel!
  • It’s like pregnancy brain…but ALL THE TIME

How about you? Any strange symptoms you’ve experienced from your MS? Maybe ones you didn’t even know could be due to your MS? Share with us in the comments!

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December 2015 Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our 2015 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.

December Artist of the Month:
Bob Donner – Winter Birches in the Snow

 Bob Donner - Winter Birches in the Snow

About the Artist:
“I have MS, but I don’t let that define me. In my wheelchair, it’s obvious that I’m physically challenged, but I’d much rather be known as the ‘artist’ in the wheelchair.

Shortly after my diagnosis, I was on my computer one day and, on a whim, drew a bear using my mouse as my ‘pencil.’ It was far from perfect, but resembled a bear well enough to capture my interest. I began steadily developing the skill, and now most of my day is spent at my computer, mouse in hand, creating images on the screen.

When away from home, I’m observing everything around me, wondering how I would draw it. I especially like the drama of sunrises and sunsets. Each one is a unique display lasting several hours. My advice: Watch as many as you can, with the wonder of a five year old, and the eyes of an ‘artist.'”

Be inspired – please send an online card featuring artwork by MS artist Bob Donner and spread awareness of MS and MSAA.

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You’re Hot and You’re Cold

There’s no doubt that weather can have a marked affect on MS symptoms, but the question we posed to the MS community is: which season is worse for you? The community was evenly split between the two seasons-–for some, the summer heat can be unbearable, but for others, the bitter chill of winter is enough to make you research human hibernation.

See what they had to say and which faction you below to:

Baby It’s Cold Outside

  • Everything is sensitive
    • Even a slight chill causes bone-shattering pain for me
    • Even temps of 50° can leave my feet blistered with frostbite. My shoes in winter are 2 sizes bigger, just to accommodate extra socks.
    • My skin feels like it’s covered in needles
  • Can’t control the spasms
    • Cold causes major muscle spasms in my feet, legs and back!
    • My legs hurt from muscle spasms and I’m even more clumsy because my hands are numb
    • Cold makes me spasm more
  • My muscles are stiff and painful
    • Just being outside for 10 minutes in the snow and I lock up like a mannequin in a window
    • The cold kills my hips
    • My cold body feels stiff and won’t move
    • My legs are in constant pain in the winter

It’s Getting Hot in Here

  • Humidity is my kryptonite
    • Humidity is like wearing cement boots
    • When you add humidity to heat, I’m a dishrag – just done for the day
    • Humidity is intolerable – like having an anchor tied around my waiste
  • Heat sucks the energy right out of me
    • It’s a struggle to walk; I feel weak like I’m melting.
    • It makes each foot feel like 200 pounds
    • I have such a hard time walking; I call it drunk legs
    • I wilt like a weed in the Sahara!
    • Heat makes my muscles like wet noodles
  • I can’t think straight
    • Heat shuts me down
    • Heat causes my brain to just go flat, like I’m in a steam fog
    • My brain just doesn’t work in the heat

Stuck in the Middle with You

  • Any extreme temperature is awful
    • Extreme temperatures, either way, affect me very badly
    • Heat makes me feel rubbery and the cold makes me walk like Frankenstein
    • I hate extremes of both – heat makes me fatigued, cold makes me numb
  • I thought I hated one, now I hate the other
    • I used to say that heat was my kryptonite. It still is, but now I find that any mildly extreme temperature whacks me out
    • It used to be just heat but last year the cold was very hard too
    • My MS hates the heat, but I hate the cold.

The general consensus amongst the community seemed to be that 65-70 degrees is the ideal temperature, so spring and autumn take preference. But how about you? Which camp do you fall in—hater of heat or contempt for cold? With the colder months approaching, here are some tips to ensure you’re prepared for the impending weather!

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November 2015 Artist of the Month: Celebrating the Work of Artists Affected by Multiple Sclerosis

MSAA is very proud to present our 2015 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.

November Artist of the Month:
Shana Stern – Austin, TX

Shana Stern - Karma

 About the Artist:
“This is my 15th year of having MS. While I try not to let MS define me, it dictates much of what I can and can’t do. My vision’s a challenge daily. My morning fatigue is debilitating. But I have something in which I can get lost in and forget all of my problems – my art. Since I can’t hold onto a brush, I paint only with my fingers. Getting lost in the music I paint to and helping the colors dance across the canvas has become my mental, spiritual, and emotional therapy. I’m so grateful for MSAA for all that they do and for showing the world that, yes, we may be knocked down a bit – we may have to work a little harder – but we are capable of great things, such as bringing beauty and art into the world.

I have MS. But I am an artist.”
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Be inspired – please send an online card featuring artwork by MS artist Shana Stern and spread awareness of MS and MSAA.

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A Short Fuse with MS – Community Feedback

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Tick, tick, tick…boom! That’s the sound of explosive “word vomit,” the result of a broken brain filter, the final moments of a shortening fuse. Many MS-ers have experienced this 0-60 build of anger in situations that would normally cause little concern. So, our fabulous contributor, Lisa Emrich, decided to do a little digging and see if this shortening fuse was actually linked to MS. Her article was a hit! While the research data may not be clear-cut, the community’s reaction certainly was:

This is so me!

  • THIS IS ME!!! I have a very short fuse and very little “filter” on what I say when I “blow.” I don’t mean to act like that and it upsets me when I lose it, but I can’t seem to stop it either.
  • This is me, too. I’m a really nice, caring person but…with a really short fuse. I also tend to speak without thinking, which has gotten me in trouble.
  • I’m the same way! And I don’t mean to be. I have never been like this before and when I say “it’s the MS” I get the “yeah, right” look from some people.

It’s worse when I multitask.

  • I find that when there is too much going on around me I cant keep up, and it is so aggravating!
  • If I’m doing just one thing and then end up having to multitask AND answer questions or listen to someone talk, I break down.
  • My fuse goes when there are multiple people/activities demanding my attention. I’ve discovered that I can only focus on one thing at one time. When that one thing is taken care of, then I can usually move to the next thing.

Sometimes I just want to scream “Shut up!”

  • As soon as it starts I try to tell people to stop and hush for a bit, but they don’t understand, or they roll their eyes, or they keep talking,. Then they comment on how they AREN’T talking. My point is, there is never silence, and sometimes, I need silence.
  • The fact that people in the office feel the need to yell because they don’t seem to have inside voices just makes it that much worse.
  • Some people just know how to push the hell out of my buttons!!!

My poor family gets the brunt of it.

  • The only way for me to deal with it is to declare to my three teens “I’m way off my A game today, so please bear with me.”
  • I am so frustrated, and it is ruining my relationships with people, especially my poor child!
  • I’ve found that too many demands for my attention at one time creates a very unlovable person—my family puts up with a lot.
  • I hate it. It requires, love, patience, and understanding from the spouse!

I’m not me; this isn’t who I am.

  • I have done a complete 180 since my diagnosis in 99. I used to have a REALLY long fuse, but I’ve started snapping more and becoming more passive-aggressive.
  • I don’t even know who I am anymore!? It’s so hard.
  • I can blow up in a second if things aren’t the way they’re suppose to be, and that’s not me!
  • I never had this issue before. Now I tell people that “my bitch switch has a hair trigger.”

Does this sound familiar? Have you experienced an inexplicably short temper? Share your experience with us!

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