Baked Parmesan Zucchini Rounds

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Rounds are a great way to use delicious summer zucchini! I have a gardening plot in my hometown community garden and my zucchini are thriving. 

This simple side dish is quick and easy and requires only 2 ingredients!

Ingredients

  • 2 medium-sized zucchinis.
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper, optional.

Instructions

  1. Place oven rack in center position of oven. Preheat to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with cooking spray like PAM.
  2. Wash and dry zucchini and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange zucchini rounds on prepared pan, with little to no space between them. If desired, lightly sprinkle zucchini with garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper. Use a small spoon to spread a thin layer of Parmesan cheese on each slice of zucchini.
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until Parmesan turns a light golden brown.   Serve immediately.
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Day Trip Outings

By Stacie Prada

Living with MS can lead a person to avoid doing things outside of the routine. Dealing with unpredictability can make a person avoid additional inconveniences and uncertainty.

When my gut reaction is to think something is too much effort, it’s good for me to think about why I’m resisting. There might be a good reason for resistance, but knowing the cause is helpful. If it’s rooted in avoidance or fear, I want to challenge myself to identify what I can do that would offset the what ifs. 

What if it’s not worth the effort? What if I go somewhere and my MS symptoms rear up? What if I need something and I don’t have it or I can’t get it?

Living well with MS requires knowing yourself well, respecting and adapting to health needs, and planning ahead. All of these life skills are well-suited to successful and enjoyable outings, and doing new things can add excitement and fulfillment to any life. Day trip outings are perfect for experiencing the joy of travel while keeping the comfort of sleeping at home. 

You do you. If you don’t want to go somewhere or do something, don’t!  But if you want to do some day trips and are feeling resistant, consider this:

  1. Perpetual planning allows spontaneity to thrive. Many barriers can be accommodated with creativity, preparation and a willingness to explore alternatives. Over prepare and expect things won’t go perfectly as planned. 
  2. Pack a day bag with personalized essentials to ease stress. The day bag should include anything that will provide comfort and options. I like to include water, snacks, medication, bath tissue, sunscreen, jacket, hat, extra shoes and socks. Think about everything that could be in the car to make it feel like any circumstance or change of plans could be accommodated.
  3. Set reasonable expectations. Overestimate travel time, and grant yourself permission to change plans.
  4. Focus the trip around one anchor focus or goal for the day. Create a mental or written list of other things that can be done, if plans change and energy and time allow. Back up plans help diffuse disappointment when things don’t go as intended. Schedule plenty of extra time to do more or less in order to take good care for yourself. Delays and unexpected changes of plans can sometimes lead to wonderful opportunities.
  5. Allow for lots of bathroom breaks, and never pass a restroom assuming another one will be available later. It’s better to go too often than to not have access to one when it’s needed.
  6. Make the travel experience as fulfilling as the destination. Go with someone you want to spend time with. Have a good playlist, podcasts or book on tape ready to play. Consider why you’re going. If it’s a trip to a view point, there might be clouds obscuring the view when you get there. Enjoy the journey, the people and doing something out of the routine. 
  7. Look for surprises, and be open to exploring them. Allow for impromptu diversions. Rainbows, herds of elk and skydivers landing have all been rewarding unplanned sights I’ve enjoyed because I looked beyond the road and was willing to turn off the planned drive.
  8. Use technology, but don’t get overwhelmed. Look online or use apps for recommendations in the area, and consider them. I love using navigation apps for simplifying the directions and letting me know the time and distance to my destination. 
  9. Talk to people. Locals always know the best places, and they love sharing special tips that you might otherwise miss. Just connecting with people can be fulfilling too!
  10. Interrupting someone is required when pointing out something nearby or of interest that won’t be visible a few moments later. 
  11. There’s always time for ice cream. Literally or figuratively, indulge and enjoy the trip!
Elk on a day trip

*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 rejoice in this adventure on earth. Please visit her at http://stacieprada.blogspot.com/

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Summer Travel Planning

I think it’s safe to say that this summer, so far, is shaping up to look a lot different than last years. Being in the height of the pandemic and COVID cases still on the rise at that time, the summer was just another period to get through living in a changed world. With individuals having the opportunity to be vaccinated this year, the summer months are being celebrated once again. And hopefully in a safe manner. For some this will mean getting the chance to travel again and thinking about their accessibility needs in doing so.

Traveling can be an exciting and exhilarating experience for those who enjoy it. So, making plans and preparations that will ensure the trip is a great one is an important step. For those living with a disability, having the right accessibility measures in place for travel is imperative. From the planning stages to the endpoint of the journey there are different factors to consider. The destination itself, the mode of transport, accessibility of sites and attractions, and accommodations are all elements significant to the plan. It can sound tedious and like a lot of work but making sure the trip will be safe and enjoyable is the ultimate goal.

For those making travel plans, COVID has unfortunately added another layer to the planning piece this season. Checking with destinations on their COVID policies and procedures and with the mode of transport you plan to take are additional steps now to ensure safety. If able, working with a travel agent for assistance planning your trip can help in this initial phase. For many destinations they have websites for visitors and tourists traveling to their area and offer helpful information and resources online.

If you plan to travel this summer, be sure to consider what your travel and care needs look like. Are you using a mobility device, do you need your accommodations to have specific accessibility features? Would you be traveling with medications and need documentation from your doctor? Are the sites you’re visiting accessible? What about restroom accessibility? Trails, walking paths, street and sidewalk access? Are you heat sensitive with your MS symptoms and need to think of climate? These are just some aspects to think of when making plans for your journey. It can be fun but making sure it’s also safe and accommodating for you is key.

Wishing you a safe and pleasant journey!  

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MSAA’s MRI Access Program

Did you know that MSAA’s MRI Access Program provides financial assistance for Cranial and C-Spine MRIs?

MSAA’s MRI Access Program assists with the payment of Cranial (brain) and C-spine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans for qualified individuals who have no medical insurance or cannot afford their insurance costs and require an MRI to help determine a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis or evaluate current MS disease progression.

What does the program offer?

The MRI Access Program helps financially with New MRIs and Past MRIs up to a maximum of $750 per MRI. So, whether you need help paying for future MRIs or if you are staring at an MRI bill you recently received in the mail. MSAA’s MRI Access Program is here to help!

How do I apply?

It’s simple! You can either apply online directly through our website or you can fill out a paper application and send it back via email, mail, or fax.

•      To apply online, click on this link https://mymsaa.org/msaa-help/mri/

•      To print out a paper application, click on this link https://mymsaa.org/PDFs/app_mri.pdf

Are you mailing your application?

No problem! You can mail it to the following address:

Attn: MRI Access Program

375 Kings Highway North

Cherry Hill, NJ 08034

You can also fax your application to MSAA at 856-488-8257 or you can email it to MRI@mymsaa.org.

Want to learn more?

Feel free to give me a call at 800-532-7667 ext. 142, and I would be more than happy to answer any questions you might have.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Selena Fisher, Manager of Mission Delivery-MRI

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Karen Bloom – June 2021 Artist of the Month

Each year, we feature the work of artists affected by multiple sclerosis in our annual MSAA Art Showcase. We receive many wonderful submissions from across the country and are delighted to share the work of these artists and their inspirational stories with you, including highlighting one artist each month as our Artist of the Month. This month, we are proud to feature artist Karen Bloom of Kendallville, IN:

Karen Bloom artist of the month artwork entitled Lake Michigan Serenity
Lake Michigan Serenity

About the Artist – Karen Bloom

Continue reading
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Community Views: Advice I Would Have Given Myself at Diagnosis

Advice for MS diagnosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) often feels overwhelming at the time of diagnosis. Feeling powerless may be your first reaction. Yet, as you live with MS, you find strength and coping strategies.

Everyone needs tools for the journey. We recently asked the Facebook community, “If you could go back to the day of your diagnosis, what advice would you give your younger self?” We have compiled some of the shared wisdom below.

Get a second opinion

One important tip you shared was to see an MS specialist for your care. While your primary care physician (PCP) is a good starting resource, having someone who specializes in MS is vital. Specialists will be current on the latest research and are your best asset for managing the disease.1

“Get a second opinion with a doctor that specializes in MS right away.”

“I was referred and told it would be a 6-month wait by a doctor I respect. I turned out to be 9 months and worth the wait.”

Mental Health

Being diagnosed with MS can have a significant impact on your mental health. Having a chronic illness creates all sorts of turmoil as life and abilities change. Caring for your mental health at the outset of the disease helps you manage long-term.

“Depression has been harder for me than the MS! Get a good therapist and investigate the meds.”

“Mental health is just as important as physical!”

Treatment

The community also shared the importance of developing a treatment plan with your doctor from the start. Getting MS into remission and keeping it there involves making a plan and staying consistent with it.

“Get on treatment and STAY on treatment.”

“Start on relapsing-remitting drugs as soon as possible.”

“When you go into remission, be sure to keep taking your medication even if you feel fine.”

Move your body

Getting regular exercise helps manage MS symptoms. Gentle exercise can improve strength, mood, bowel and bladder function, and bone density.2 Many of you shared what a difference regular movement makes with this disease.

“Do the yoga, do it now and keep doing it.”

“Stay as active as you possibly can. Keep your muscles in shape.”

“Walk while you still can.”

Lifestyle changes

Living with MS involves adapting your lifestyle to accommodate the changes. Some of you prioritize your “bucket list” in the early years of having more stamina. You also learn to slow down and listen to your body to avoid exacerbations.

“Eat right. Stay hydrated. Stay away from stress.”

“Don’t try to get everything done before getting too fatigued.”

“Do whatever you dream of now because you might not be able to do so later on.”

“Be willing to adapt. Your future husband will NOT fold towels the way you do – and that’s okay, he’s trying to help.”

Keep living

One of the most crucial things you shared was focusing on enjoying life. Life does not end with an MS diagnosis. It will change, many days will be hard, and yet, as you reminded us, “Your disease doesn’t and never will define you!!”

“Stop worrying about what MIGHT happen and focus on the good in life.”

“Don’t assume you will follow the path of someone else; everyone is different.”

“It will be OK. OK may just look different, but it will still be OK.”

“You are still you and always will be. This is just a detour in your life’s journey. It is NOT the end of the road, but rather the beginning of a new one.”

References:

1. Cavallo M. Neurologists and Specialists of MS. MS Focus Magazine. Available at https://www.msfocusmagazine.org/Magazine/Magazine-Items/Posted/Neurologist-and-Specialists-of-MS. Accessed 5/25/2021.
2. Exercise. National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Available at https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Living-Well-With-MS/Diet-Exercise-Healthy-Behaviors/Exercise. Accessed 5/25/2021.

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Too Too Hot

By Doug Ankerman

Yep that’s me in my usual place on hot days… laying in front of the register, hogging all the AC.

Except on THIS hot day (the 1st one of the season) our air conditioning was on the fritz. There would be no refreshingly cool splendor till we had someone come check it out.

Our neighbor knew a guy who knew a guy who did AC work on the side. Always looking to save a few bucks, we called the “mystery guy” named Dennis who said he wouldn’t be available for a couple days.

“No prob,” we replied. “We’ll see you then!”

What followed was a stretch of near 90 degree temps with thick Ohio humidity you could serve with a ladle.

Yes, I was fried.  My MS-infused nerve endings were popping like bacon on a hot skillet. My dogged feet dragged ruts in the carpet going room-to-room in search of a cool spot.

I baked. It would have been cooler in the oven had I turned on the exhaust fan.

I rejoiced as word came that Dennis, my new-found AC savior, would be here the following afternoon. That night was another restless slumber. I actually had to be peeled from the sheets getting up in the morning.

My legs were weak. My arms were numb. I was Betty Spaghetti’s older brother, Bobby.

Put me in a strainer ‘cuz I was 180 lbs of cooked pasta.

Dennis knocked on the door promptly at 3:30. After I finished kissing his scuffed boots, he and his tools commenced to work on our defunct air conditioning.

A mere five minutes later the behemoth box was humming with life. Seems it had been turned off outside and all Dennis had to do was flip a switch. (We had new siding installed last fall so the siding guy disconnected the AC and simply forgot to turn it back on.)

Cool air returned — and slowly, so did feeling in my body.

Thanks to Dennis I have returned to my usual summer haunt. Hogging all the air. A glutton for comfort, I am.

I tell you this tale because you already know the tricks of keeping cool when temps flare. So I’ll just remind you to be careful. Work slow and steady. And enjoy the too too hot summer wisely.

*Doug writes silly stuff about MS and other topics on his humor blog at myoddsock.com

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I Crumble in the Summer Heat and Sweltering Humidity

By Penelope Conway

Thermometer in the summer heat

Last summer the heat outside kicked my butt. I tried all the normal tricks to remain cool and keep my core body temperature down, but no matter what I did my body grew weaker as the summer progressed. I’m not looking forward to the coming hotter days.

It’s crazy to get exhausted just going to the mailbox. That short of a trip and I’m ready for a nap. I have learned to take things as they come and listen to my body even though it’s not always easy to do. It can actually get quite frustrating.

Sometimes I will have my heart set on going somewhere then not have the energy to go and have to cancel plans. Or I have something that needs to get done but it doesn’t get done for days and days and days just because I can’t muster up the strength to do it. If I could, I would hire a maid to clean for me, a cook to make my meals and a chauffeur to take me places. Now that would be the life! Include getting rid of MS into the mix and that would be my dream come true.

But as it is right now, I’m the one that has to do everything. It’s up to me to take care of the house, do the laundry, prepare my meals, bathe, vacuum, pay the bills, make the bed, put gas in the van, clean up my messes, and live with MS.

Between the coming heat and sweltering humidity, I crumble. Some of my tips of how to survive the hot days may seem a bit odd, but they work for me.

Wear an Ice Vest to Bed

I have an ice vest I receive many years ago but it’s too heavy to wear so I have created a lighter weighted version of the vest and wear it to bed. That’s the time of day I really need help with the heat the most. If I can’t get comfortable at night, I’m miserable. The ice will stay cold for about two and a half hours and then I switch out the ice with a second set of ice packs.

Make Cold Drinks

I keep plenty of frozen water bottles that I take out of the freezer an hour before bed so they have time to thaw out and I can sip on them. I also will use my ninja blender to crush ice and make soft snow cones to enjoy. They actually cool me down quite a bit.

Keep a Water Hose Hooked Up Outside and Ready to Spray

I still do yard work which can be killer in the heat but having access to water that you can spray as needed helps. I have been known for getting drenched each trip on my riding mower to the back yard.

So what do I do when the heat overwhelms me and I can’t do what I need to do? I do what I can and leave the rest for another day. I have had to learn to be okay with not getting everything done that I want or even need done.

Taking care of me is way more important these days than taking out the trash or getting the mail. My well-being is more important than attending a ballgame in 100 degree weather and my health is of greater importance than buying a birthday gift for the lady down the street.

Be good to yourself. Take care of you. No one else is going to do it for you. It’s okay to cancel plans, veg on the couch, sleep late, and most importantly to need help. That’s not being stubborn or selfish. That just what you have to do to keep going.

Keep going, doing, being, until you can’t any longer. I have never met an MSer that wasn’t a strong and powerful fighter even on their weakest days. We push through some of the toughest battles. Things that other people never see or even know about because we simply keep going. MSers are an amazing example of strength, persistence and determination. I’m so very proud of you and cheering you on today.

*Penelope Conway was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in November 2013. She is the author and founder of Positive Living with MS (positivelivingwithms.com) where she uses humor and her own life experiences with MS to help others navigate this unpredictable journey. She believes that staying positive and holding onto hope is the key to waking up each morning with the strength to get through the day.

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Summer Heat

By Stacie Prada

Summer’s here, it’s getting hot, and it’s getting really tough to stay cool.

With multiple sclerosis, many people have heat sensitivity that triggers MS symptoms. For me, it brings on fatigue, and my body goes numb. It usually starts with my feet and legs. Without intervention, the numbness can spread to my full body from the neck down. It’s not disease progression, but it can be frustrating and depressing. In my youth I basked in and relished extreme heat. Now it makes me anxious for the possible consequences.

Cooling feet off in the water

Suggestions abound for ways to stay cool in the summer heat. Stay hydrated, wear cooling aids, stay in the shade, have air conditioning, travel somewhere cooler, be rich. The last one is said in jest, but there are so many barriers to remaining cool when the weather heats up for more than a day or two. I suspect the barriers are easier to remove when wealthy.

The preferred options are also very individual. Environment, health, finances and area of control differ drastically for each person. Cool showers work for me, but they might not be possible when needed. They can also be difficult for those with mobility issues. My go-to method is to use my medication cold packs as cooling aids. Wrapped in a towel, they cool me down quickly when placed on my belly or the back of my neck. 

I don’t have air conditioning in my home or at work, so I plan ahead for hot days. My office is located in an historic building of stone and brick construction without air conditioning. We fondly refer to our office as a pizza oven when the brick warms up and our offices remain excessively warm for days. In my area, it’s the start of a heat wave. It was 80 degrees at my desk today, and the humidity made it feel hotter.

I drink cold water, use the ceiling fans, open the windows for air flow, and direct a small fan above my desk at my torso. Films coating the windows and blinds adjusted help diffuse the sun’s rays from directly warming the office. None of this keeps the office cool, but it makes it a little more bearable. 

It’s a challenge getting work done and looking professional while trying not to overheat. Sportswear is good for the technical construction and breathable fabric designed to keep athletes comfortable, but it can get expensive and isn’t always appropriate for the office. Sun dresses, skirts, breezy style tops and other loose clothing that don’t cling to sweating skin help. Often being comfortable can be achieved, yet we resist in an effort to be socially acceptable and presentable. The business world generally encourages discomfort at the expense of good self-care. I want to give myself and others permission to do whatever it takes to stay as cool and comfortable as possible in hot weather.

I try to remember the conditions where I am are not the same everywhere, and they’re sometimes drastically different at a nearby location. It’s interesting to me how different it is for the offices across the hall located on the shady side of the building. They’re often cool even on very hot days. I need to remember this. Where might it be cooler? Go there for a moment. Even a quick break could help.

Note to self: Sometimes it’s not about being able to do something to relieve the discomfort, it’s about giving myself permission to do what it takes to be comfortable.

I live near the beach, and yesterday I walked along the shore barefoot in the water. It felt so decadent that I couldn’t believe I’d resisted the idea of taking off my shoes and socks to get in. I knew the saltwater would be really cold, and it was. I hadn’t considered how refreshing it would be after the initial shock. It cooled me off, and the unplanned stroll was heaven.

Lesson noted: Sometimes the initial discomfort is necessary to get to comfortable conditions.

Please do what you need to do to care for yourself and those around you, especially in heat waves and situations where certain behavior is expected. You might just inspire someone else to give themselves the permission they need. 

*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 rejoice in this adventure on earth. Please visit her at http://stacieprada.blogspot.com/

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7-Up Cake Recipe

This 7-Up cake recipe is a moist lemon flavored cake that is made with a simple yellow boxed cake mix and topped with a delicious lemon icing.  I think this classic, vintage cake recipe is a summer favorite and is sure to please.

Ingredients

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 4 oz small box instant lemon pudding
  • 1 cup 7-Up soda or lemon lime soda
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Spray 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all the cake ingredients (cake mix, pudding, 7up, eggs and oil).
  3. Mix until combined.
  4. Pour batter into bundt pan.
  5. Bake for about 40 minutes.  Allow to cool completely, then remove from bundt pan.

Icing:

  1.  In a small bowl combine confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice.
  2.  Add milk in slowly until you have reached desired consistency.
  3. Pour icing over cooled cake and serve.

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