As a tribute to one of my favorite Halloween movies of all time, Hocus Pocus, and with the new release of Hocus Pocus 2, I thought it would be fun to create a simple Halloween treat for all ages to enjoy!
For those of you who haven’t seen the movie and have no idea what I’m talking about, these brownies are still delicious, nevertheless.
My inspiration was Winifred’s Spell Book. See how cute they turned out!
I remember the day like it was yesterday. September 24, 2012. I remember the smell of the room. I remember what the ring of the phone sounded like when I got the call in the MRI waiting room. I was 22 years old. I had just graduated from college. I was working at an NBC affiliate news station, living out my dream of being a sports reporter. It was all happening for me, or so I thought.
It turns out that a lot was happening in my brain and spine as well. It was a crisp fall day, and my favorite day of the week: Football Friday! I had been assigned to cover three high school football games that night. It was my very first game of the season. I was confident in my scripts; live camera hit and tag out. The live camera hit came and I looked up at the scoreboard to recite the score, then turned back to the camera and forgot what I had just looked at, a second ago. Luckily, I recovered from that fumble (ha) and recovered fine throughout the rest of the night. However, that slight hiccup had my mind racing. Why did that happen? Is this normal? Am I sick? The intrusive thoughts would not stop coming.
One of the hardest parts of living with multiple sclerosis (MS) is feeling like doctors do not fully understand or appreciate the extent of your symptoms. This is especially true if they consider only your MRI results. Sadly, this experience is common. Many people living with MS have worsening symptoms even when their MRI results stay the same.
To find out more, we reached out on the MultipleSclerosis.net Facebook page. We asked community members, “Have you ever had an MRI checkup that showed no noticeable changes, however you felt as if your MS was worsening?”
Nearly 400 community members responded! Here is what they shared.
For me, autumn elicits memories of a new school year, football games, raking leaves, carving pumpkins, and pressing apples for cider. Prepare for winter with home tasks and wardrobe shifts. Move sweaters, boots and winter wear from boxes or the back of the closet to the front for easier access. Suggestions for weatherizing homes and belongings are prevalent and specific, but they are less so for personal health and well-being.
Often, I experience recurring and seasonal symptoms before I realize I have a method that helps me cope. I’d love to be able to avoid the suffering it causes if at all possible. I decided to create and follow a seasonal list of tasks to proactively address my health needs. It has an emphasis on issues that Multiple Sclerosis challenges or creates for me each year.
September knocks on our door and before we know it, the season of change is among us. Autumn arrives with crisper air, vibrant colors and fresh perspective. I’ve always viewed autumn as a transformative season, a time to “turn over a new leaf”- quite literally. Fall arrives with an array of beautiful colors and then eventually they tumble to the ground. Come next spring, the tree’s will be bursting with bright and fresh new leaves. The changing of season to autumn is the perfect time to turn over a new leaf in life and set new goals and embrace change.
The change of seasons is exciting for most, but for those living with MS, it can be a daunting time. The weather is getting chillier, which means for some of us, our spasticity is kicking in. The extreme fatigue can reach an all-time high, and cognition can begin to suffer.
The colder months ahead can cause a bit of stress regarding the uncertainty of your health. Tremors, numbness, tingling, trouble with balance, issues with cognition… OH BOY! It can be nerve-racking to have to think about all these things. I have picked up a few things throughout my 10-year MS journey that have helped me manage these symptoms.
You could find it more difficult in the coming months to get moving. Daily movement is not only good for your body, but it is also great for your mind. Take time to enjoy the season! Get outside for a walk if you are able and take in the beauty of autumn and the colorful foliage. Or stay indoors and do some stretching and/or yoga. An MS diagnosis does not mean you need to stop living. It is a time to START living. Enjoy the little things in life!
Boost your mood
Every morning I meditate. I take 10 minutes before everyone in my house wakes up to just BE. Be still, be present with my thoughts, set my intention for the day, and be mindful of my emotions. Living with a chronic illness – can bring rough days, be mindful of these rough days and feel what you need to feel, whether it be frustration or sadness.
Be proactive and productive
It is so easy to fall into a rut. I have used the “I’m too tired” statement one too many times. The truth is yes, I was tired, however, I have learned in this journey that being “too tired” and not doing anything will only make you more tired. Fatigue is unfortunately a big part of battling MS. I know my limits and sometimes I do have to say, “I’m too tired” and rest. But on the days my body and mind can afford to get ready, put some makeup on, get dressed and have a wonderful time are always the times I am glad I pushed through my fatigue.
Stay on top of your health
Write down when you are experiencing a new symptom and talk to your doctor about it immediately. Be conscious of even the slightest change in speech, mobility, or balance. In 2020, my infusion center had to shut down due to the pandemic. I was behind on my disease-modifying treatment by 2 months. I woke up one morning and was unable to swallow, move the left side of my body, or speak. I spent two months in the hospital and 12 weeks (about 3 months) in rehab teaching myself how to walk, talk and write again. MS is completely unpredictable and changes in your health can happen overnight. Take it from me. Be your own patient advocate, since after all, no one knows you better than well… you!
MS has been a part of my life for a decade. It has certainly never been easy. This disease is extremely unpredictable. I will leave you with a saying I use when I am having a rough day.
“It is not about the cards you’re dealt, but it’s about how you play them.”
Team MSAA Champion Allie (Dee) Trela has been running and raising funds for MSAA for years, raising thousands of dollars for our free programs and services. For Allie, the runs are personal – she was diagnosed with MS herself just 5 years ago. Allie has been running with Team MSAA ever since. This year, she’s taking on the Walt Disney World ® Marathon Weekend’s greatest challenge – the Dopey Challenge, a 4-day, 48.6m run, in which participants double their running distance each day, with a half marathon (13.1mi) and full marathon (26.2mi) on the 3rd and fourth days.
Fall is a wonder of its own. One gets to enjoy the significant drop in the temperatures which is a wonderful respite from the sweltering heat in the past months. The kids are settled in their schools by now after the long summer break. It is also the season when daylight savings ends, and we fall in the cycle of shorter days and longer nights. College football is officially on and in full swing.
The spooky season of goblins, ghosts, and ghouls is upon us, and Halloween lovers everywhere are stocking up on candy, making costumes, and decorating their homes with cobwebs, jack-o-lanterns, and giant skeletons (ok – that last one is just my colleague Jen here at MSAA). Such a fun time of year brings family and friends together over all sorts of activities and events – all great opportunities to hold a Do-It-Yourself DIY fundraiser for MSAA!
MSAA’s DIY fundraising platform helps you turn any Halloween event into a (fun!)d drive for MSAA’s free programs and services. When you register your fundraising event on our platform, you can create a customizable and fully shareable fundraising page to promote your event and collect donations. Creating and sharing your page will be the easiest part of planning your DIY fundraiser –the real fun is deciding what kind of event you want to do! For inspiration, check out some of our ideas below:
Halloween House Party
Everyone loves a Halloween party at the end of October – and you are already planning one! If you are having a Halloween party, you can encourage guests to donate to MSAA. We would be more than happy to provide MSAA-branded swag and literature for your party, and you can even incorporate some of our other ideas below.
Trunk-or-treating has become widely popular in communities looking for a safe alternative to trick or treating. Partner with a local community center, park, or business with an available parking lot, and get a group of friends together to decorate their cars and fill their trunks with candy. Parents who bring their children can donate to MSAA, while you provide a safe and fun activity for kids in your community.
A costume contest can be a wonderful time on its own, or a fun added element to any Halloween-themed event. People spend hours creating costumes for Halloween – give them an opportunity to show off! You can set a minimum donation to enter the contest. Assemble a panel of judges and incentivize your contest with fun spooky (or sweet) prizes!
Halloween Baking Class
The return of chilly weather in the Fall sends many of us to our pantries and ovens. If you are an experienced baker who likes teaching their craft or hobby to others, why not host a Halloween baking class in your home?
Monsters and Goblins 5K
Walks and runs are a classic DIY fundraiser. Make it a costume run, and you have a Halloween 5K! Our DIY platform makes it easy to create fundraising teams and pages for your runners – it is one of the most popular DIY fundraising events – and we have lots of run/walk related swag we can share for your event.
Halloween Decorating Contest/Haunted House Tour
Organize a house decorating contest in your community. Like a costume contest, you will need to assemble a panel of judges and ask participants to donate to MSAA to enter the contest. As a bonus, participants could include a haunted house tour element with a suggested donation to MSAA!
While the month of October is Halloween season, the needs of the MS community persist all year. MSAA is there for people with MS, their families, and care partners with free programs and services, including cooling and medical equipment, MRI funding, a toll-free helpline, and award-winning online tools and resources. If you have ever thought of hosting a DIY fundraiser for MSAA, Halloween is a terrific opportunity to do. For resources or more ideas for your Halloween event, contact Joe Sperlunto, Manager of Donor Experience, at firstname.lastname@example.org – I would love to help you plan a fun and spooky Halloween event to support MSAA’s free programs and services!