Ask the Expert – Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA)

Featuring Barry A. Hendin, MD 

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

Question: Both pseudobulbar affect and bipolar disorder can have emotional highs and lows. Can you discuss the differences between the two conditions?  

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Fall Pumpkin Hummus

It is hard to believe that Fall is right around the corner. I am so ready for pumpkin everything!!!

This easy Fall Pumpkin Hummus only takes 10 minutes to make and is delicious!

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Emergency Preparedness – Think Local

Emergencies occur daily, and they can range from mild inconvenience to life-shattering events. There is tons of information available for being prepared for emergencies. Lists of what to include in emergency kits are thorough and excellent for helping each of us have what we need in case of emergency. Pages dedicated to people who are medically vulnerable and disabled are wonderful for listing what to consider for ourselves and those we care for.

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Preparing for an Emergency

Emergencies can occur suddenly and without warning. For individuals living with MS, or any other chronic disease, medical emergencies and natural disasters can present a real challenge. Emergencies sometimes cannot be avoided, but being prepared ahead of time can make the world of a difference.

You know your body and limitations better than anyone. Plan for your own safety as you are best able to know your functional abilities and possible needs during an emergency situation. It’s important to prepare your surrounding friends and family as well and inform them of any accommodations you may require. Create a personal support network around you that consists of people you trust within your home, school or workplace. Write down your emergency contacts and provide them with your number and address as well. They’ll be able to recognize your capabilities and needs and be able to provide immediate assistance during an emergency situation.

Create a personal checklist and evaluate what assistance and resources you need before, during and after an emergency. Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing for an unexpected emergency – medical or natural disaster.

  • Water – have liters of water or several water bottles handy.
  • Food that won’t spoil such as canned food, energy bars and dry food. Don’t forget the can opener!
  • Battery powered flashlight and radio
  • First aid kid
  • Prescription medications
  • Copy of your emergency plan and contact information
  • Toiletries – toilet paper, hand sanitizer, utensils
  • A whistle in case you need to call for help

For individuals that have mobility challenges, they often require more detailed planning in the event of a disaster. Some individuals use power chairs or wheelchairs which can pose a challenge in the case of a power outage. It’s important to have a back-up power supply or have a manual wheelchair as an alternative. Another tool to consider is a medical alert necklace. This allows you to call for help with the press of button.

While disasters and emergencies can affect everyone, their impact on individuals with mobile and physical needs can pose a challenges. By taking a few steps and preparing ahead of time, you will be better prepared to face any unexpected emergencies.

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Being Prepared

Individuals living with MS face a lot of uncertainty. Coping with the unpredictability of MS can affect one’s quality of life.  There may be times when you might be going through a relapse or flare up and you may experience MS-related symptoms. It is good to equip yourself to handle such emergencies. Here are some things to keep in mind that will help you to have control over such situations and put your mind at ease:

Emergency information: Have contact information of family, friends, and health care providers whom you can call in the event of an emergency. Keep a list of all medications with their dosages and a copy of your medical history in an accessible area in your home.

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Prepare, don’t despair

Emergencies are sudden and uncontrollable. They can’t always be prevented, but having a plan to tackle them head-on can make a difference in the outcome. It is easy to forget the most well-known information in times of crisis. There are many ways to prepare for an unexpected situation, and creating a plan that is tailored to your specific needs is crucial. Let’s talk about different ways to prepare.

Keeping our medical records easily accessible in case of an emergency is vital but carrying them all the time can be impractical. The Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center offers customized Multiple Sclerosis Identification Cards to individuals living with MS nationally. This card lists vital information, including the individual’s name, address, and emergency contact on one side and common MS symptoms on the back. This card may be useful in an emergency, as it can easily be stored in your wallet, your car, or your luggage and accessed in case of an emergency.

Keeping your emergency contact information at hand can also be done using your phone. You can set an emergency contact and list medical conditions through the Medical ID feature on your iPhone. This can help first responders access lifesaving medical information from the lock screen without needing your passcode. There are also options for other smartphones, such as Android.

For those of us with children, pets, and other loved ones we care for, an emergency can disrupt our schedules and impact those we love. Having a plan can ensure that they are taken care of while we are taking care of ourselves. Keep a record of your children’s school, teachers, extracurricular activities, and schedules. Provide a key to a trusted friend or relative to access your home if needed. Have the necessary supplies for your pets for a couple of weeks and make them easily accessible for friends and family who may be helping care for them.

Keep a packed bag with your essentials if you leave your home rapidly and unexpectedly. Keeping a sealed bag with a change of clothes, medication, and personal supplies may come in handy if you don’t have time to pack or your loved one needs to meet you at the hospital. I like including a comfort item that can bring me peace and comfort at a time of crisis, like a picture of a loved one or a small stuffed animal that has sentimental meaning.

For those who may need additional support at home, a medical alert system may provide the necessary protection to ensure someone responds in case of an emergency. These systems allow an individual to activate a device or press a button in the event of an emergency, and they are especially beneficial for those who live alone or have mobility difficulties.

Emergency planning is all about preparing for and responding to emergencies. Communicating with our loved ones about our needs and discussing their availability and willingness to help is vital to creating a reliable plan. Unexpected situations can be scary, but emergency preparedness can provide peace of mind knowing there is a plan for you and your loved ones.

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The Best Laid Plans

By Suzanne Marriott

Living with MS can be challenging, but planning for an emergency while dealing with MS can be overwhelming, and sometimes “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” to loosely translate Robert Burn’s poetic admonition. That’s what happened to us when I thought I had planned for every contingency and possible emergency before we headed off on a trip from our San Francisco Bay Area home to San Diego for a little R&R.

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It’s Time 

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was 11:27 AM on a Saturday morning. I asked my Husband if he wanted to have a bagel for breakfast. I opened my mouth, and the words would not come out as much as I tried. It was one big stutter. Oddly enough, I did not think much of it. Looking back now, that was a not-so-smart thing to do on my part. I went on with my day as per usual. I went to the grocery store, and when I went to the cashier to check out, I reached for my wallet, and I could not grip it. I was so embarrassed as change spilled all over the floor. I had experienced this before when I was first diagnosed, but it was on the right side of my body, not on the left. I managed to get out of the store and into my car loading up a small number of groceries that I had with just the right side of my body.  

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By Chernise Joseph

If you’re reading this, I know you are already familiar with some type of ‘emergency’, perhaps fortunately or unfortunately depending on your perspective. Multiple sclerosis in itself has thrown us into a world of constant emergencies, however planning for them is an entirely different ball game that can (and will) make life so much easier.

Let me tell you a little story of my experience with emergencies in the last eighteen months or so. Last year, I took a ‘sabbatical’ and decided to sell everything, leave my home in Texas, and drive over a thousand miles up to Yellowstone National Park. No, it wasn’t because of the show–I hadn’t even heard of ‘Yellowstone’ until I started working there. I just wanted a fresh start and I had never been. Seeing The Tetons in person had been on my bucket list since high school, so it was true nirvana to stand in front of mountains that looked like screen savers.

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Sue Lawrence-Reeder – August 2023 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 Sue Lawrence-Reeder as the August Artist of the Month. Sue is from Monmouth, ME.

The Bay Bridge
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