To Drive or Not to Drive With MS

Living with multiple sclerosis (MS) changes many things in life. The impact of symptoms on the body makes certain tasks more difficult. For example, driving becomes more challenging as MS progresses. 

We recently asked the MultipleSclerosis.net community, “Has MS altered your driving habits?”

There were many insightful replies about how MS impacts whether and how a person continues driving. Some respondents still drive, and others do not. Here is some of the community’s perspective in their own words.

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Jennifer Reida – July 2024 Artist of the Month

MSAA features the work of many talented artists affected by multiple sclerosis as part of our annual MSAA Art Showcase. Each month we share these artists’ inspiring stories and beautiful artwork with you as our Artist of the Month. This month, we celebrate Jennifer Reida as July’s Artist of the Month. Jennifer is from Roseburg, OR.

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Thriving with MS: Prioritizing, Budgeting and Community Engagement

Living with multiple sclerosis has its obstacles, but with a hopeful attitude, resourcefulness, and a strong support system, you can navigate these obstacles more effectively. Prioritizing your needs, budgeting wisely and cultivating a robust community are crucial elements in managing life with MS.

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Ask the Expert: Urinary Tract Infections

Featuring Barry A. Hendin, MD 

MSAA’s Chief Medical Officer  

Headshot of doctor Barry Hendin, chief medical officer for MSAA
Barry Hendin, MD

Question: Are urinary tract infections (UTIs) more common in MS, and what are the symptoms and treatments?

Answer: Yes, urinary tract infections are more common in people with MS. Multiple sclerosis is often associated with bladder dysfunction and bladder dysfunction is often associated with urinary tract infections. The most common bladder problem associated with infections is urinary retention, which is incomplete emptying of the bladder. This creates an ideal incubator for bacteria to grow. Patients who catheterize may also be at an increased risk, particularly if not careful with their bladder technique.

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Seeking Hope

By: Stacie Prada

Finding my new normal was my initial goal when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I didn’t know what I’d need to know to live well with MS, but I held faith that I would learn what I could when I was ready. My hope was to live as well as possible with MS. Both faith and hope are deeply reliant on me to do what I can. 

The fact is I’ve had periods of holding it together, phases hoping to come out of a lot of MS symptoms, and moments where I feel like I’m rocking this life and doing fabulously.

Early in my diagnosis, I sought out every resource I could find. I read all the books related to MS in the local library, I joined the local MS Self-Help group, and I followed my neurologist’s advice. I monitored my symptoms and tried to make sense of a confusing and inconsistent illness. I searched the internet to learn all I could about MS and what helps. My health was a project to solve, and I treated it like a second full-time job. The urgency to figure out what could help was stressful, but I think it was a necessary phase of adjusting to life with a chronic illness. All of these efforts helped me become more hopeful.

Scientific studies conclude those of us living with chronic illness have a better quality of life when we have hope. When we’re optimistic, we believe our efforts can make a difference. Having hope helps combat stress and anxiety.

When lacking hope or feeling pessimistic, we’re less likely to think our efforts matter. Either way, what we believe matters for our mental and physical health when dealing with adversity.  

We can’t fully control or count on a constant level of hope. Accepting our highs and lows as normal can help ease some of the stress of living with MS. Monitoring our mood and stress level can help us notice when we’re feeling less hopeful. What we need in those times differs for each of us, and they vary depending on what’s challenging us at that moment.

What do I need, and what might help? Sometimes I need to research the symptoms that are challenging me, and others I need to talk to someone who will listen. Some moments benefit from taking a breath, stretching, and looking inward. Other moments are best served by looking outward and thinking about something other than myself. Each moment’s feeling is unique, and each needs its own plan of action. My not-so-new normal is only consistent for seeking hope and accepting the path is always changing.

*Stacie Prada was diagnosed with RRMS in 2008 just shy of 38 years old.  Her blog, “Keep Doing What You’re Doing” is a compilation of inspiration, exploration, and practical tips for living with Multiple Sclerosis while living a full, productive, and healthy life with a positive perspective. It includes musings on things that help her adapt, cope and enjoy in this adventure on earth. Please visit her at http://stacieprada.blogspot.com/

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Navigating Your Finances

Everyone’s financial journey is unique, though we all face roadblocks at some point of time. Having control of your finances will pave the way to attain financial goals in the long run. Rather than focusing on unrealistic expectations, tailor your goals to meet your specific needs. The key is to strategically distribute your income and budget for your needs, rather than your wants.

Here are some practical insights on managing your finances:

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Remaining Resourceful Through Community Support

It can be overwhelming managing doctor’s appointments, bills, medications, and all the many responsibilities that come with managing multiple sclerosis. However, prioritizing and strategizing tasks can help manage the stressors of it all to not feel so daunting.

First, prioritize the necessities. I like to think of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs when feeling overwhelmed with what needs to be prioritized. Food, necessary medications, rent/mortgage, and basic utilities always come first.

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What Others Should Know About MS

Living with multiple sclerosis (MS) is full of challenges. Those without MS may not realize the ways the disease impacts life. 

MultipleSclerosis.net recently asked members of the community to “Fill in the blank: I wish more people understood ____ about MS.”

There were many insights from the responses!

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Start Where You Are, Use What You Have, Do What You Can

Living with a chronic illness, like multiple sclerosis, presents a unique set of challenges. Managing finances can be one of them, with medical expenses, reduced work hours, job loss, or unexpected expenses straining budgets and causing disruptions. Financial worries can impact our emotional and physical wellbeing, and building a support network of friends, family, and others living with similar challenges can offer much-needed support. I heard a quote once saying, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can,” and I couldn’t agree more. Be resourceful and think outside the box. 

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BLT Hot Dog

Making a BLT Hot Dog is as simple as making the classic BLT sandwich. This fun twist is sure to please hot dog lovers. You can add additional toppings if you like, such as avocado and onion. This could also make for a fun topping bar at summer cookout. Give it a try!

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