About Courtney Blewett

I'm the Manager of Mission Delivery of MSAA's MRI Access Program. I hold a Bachelors of Science Degree in Psychology and have over two years of clinical experience working in MRI. Outside my professional role, I enjoy being active and spending time with my family and friends.

Competence and Confidence: Navigating Life with Multiple Sclerosis

MS Awareness Month is here and it’s crucial to acknowledge the unique challenges faced by individuals living with MS. From unpredictable symptoms to treatment decisions, individuals with MS navigate a complex landscape filled with uncertainties and obstacles. In light of these challenges, promoting both competence and confidence is essential for managing the condition and maintaining overall well-being.

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MS is Like a Fingerprint

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a complex and often misunderstood diagnosis that affects millions of people worldwide. Despite its prevalence, there are many misconceptions surrounding MS that can impact the lives of those living with the condition. Although I personally do not have MS, I’ve worked closely with individuals over the years who live with MS, and I’ve learned and observed firsthand the challenges they face and how unpredictable the disease can be. A saying I’ve heard that stuck with me is, “Multiple sclerosis is like a fingerprint”. This saying speaks to the fact that every person’s journey with MS is unique and looks different for every person. There are so many misconceptions surrounding MS and I’d like to dive into what I wish others knew about the disease with the hope of fostering understanding, compassion, and support for those navigating life with MS.

  1. It’s Not Just Physical: One of the most common misconceptions about MS is that it only affects physical health. While MS does manifest with physical symptoms such as tremors, weakness, and mobility issues, it also impacts cognitive function and mental health. Symptoms can include brain fog, memory changes, and mood fluctuations and these aspects of MS are less visible and frequently overlooked.
  2. Unpredictability: Living with MS means living with uncertainty. The course of the disease is unique from person to person, and symptoms can fluctuate unpredictably. This uncertainty can pose many challenges in day-to-day life. In what feels manageable one day could become overwhelming the next.
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Embracing Self-Care in the New Year

As we step into a new year, it’s essential to set intentions that prioritize our own well-being and personal growth. Focusing on yourself doesn’t mean being selfish; it means recognizing the importance of self-care and nurturing your own mental, emotional and physical health. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you invest in the journey of self-care in the new year.

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Embrace the Magic

‘Tis the season to savor moments, embrace traditions, and create lasting memories with loved ones. Explore festive activities, delve into cherished recipes, and discover the magic that makes the holidays truly special. From thoughtful gift ideas to mindful self-practices, there are many ways to maximize the joy and warmth of the holiday season.

Festive Traditions: Dive into the magic of the season by revisiting or creating new traditions. Whether it’s decorating the tree together, baking festive treats, or watching classic holiday movies, traditions strengthen the bonds of family and friends.

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A Guide to Self-Care During the Holiday Season

Ahh…the holiday season! With its dazzling lights and festive cheer, the holidays can often bring a whirlwind of activities and expectations. Although it’s a joyous season, it can also bring forth chaos and stress. That’s why it’s crucial to prioritize self-care and ensure a harmonious and fulfilling celebration. Here are a few strategies to help you navigate the holiday season while keeping your well-being at the forefront:

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What MS Has Taught Me

Working within the MS community has provided me with a profound perspective on life and resilience.  Each day, I witness the trials and triumphs of those living with this complex condition, and through their experiences, I have gained invaluable lessons that have reshaped my outlook on life.

The Power of Resilience: Witnessing the determination of individuals with MS has attested to the true power of resilience. Despite facing unpredictable symptoms and challenges, the strength shown by these individuals in their pursuit of a fulfilling life is nothing short of inspiring.

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Back to School for Children with MS

Going back to school is an exciting and sometimes nerve-wracking time for any child. But for children with MS, returning to the classroom can pose some unique challenges. In this post, we will explore how children with MS and their families can navigate the back-to-school season with confidence and ensure they have a successful and full academic year.

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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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Ready for Takeoff!

It’s that time of the year… travel season!  Traveling is an exciting way to broaden your horizons, whether it be a day trip, visiting friends, or exploring a new city. The thought of traveling while having MS may be intimidating, but with plenty of planning and preparation, a fun-filled vacation is at your fingers tips, in spite of MS.

An MS diagnosis does not have to stop you from seeing the destination you’ve always wanted to visit. There are many ways to make traveling with MS less stressful and more accessible. Before traveling, have a conversation with your doctor and talk about any health concerns and how to plan and renew any medications you need to take with you.

If you’re traveling by plane, notify the airline ahead of time if you require a wheelchair or any specific accommodation. The airline can arrange transportation throughout the airport to your gate and can assist with expedited access through security.  

When it comes to hotel accommodations, research the hotel ahead of time to ensure they have handicap-accessible rooms and an elevator. Consider booking a room on the ground level if you have limited mobility. Depending on how your medication is stored, confirm with the hotel if the room has a refrigerator so you can store any medications that require refrigeration.  

Take time to research and plan your daily activities beforehand. You want to hit all the top sites that interest you and make the most of your trip! Write down the places you would like to visit and ensure these locations are handicap accessible or have elevator access. It’s important to incorporate rest breaks into your agenda so you do not overexert yourself and become fatigued. Don’t forget to hydrate too! Especially in warmer climates, overheating, and dehydration can be risk factors.  Pack water bottles, and cooling devices, such as a cooling vest, to prevent overheating.

So, take that vacation you’ve been dreaming of and make it a reality! Don’t let Multiple Sclerosis stop you from traveling. With planning and preparation, anything is possible. At the same time, know your limits and plan accordingly. Enjoy and HAVE FUN!

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Take Control of Your Summer

Summertime is here and that means backyard barbecues, lounging on the beach or by the pool, outdoor fun, and leisurely walks. For many folks, these activities are enjoyable activities in the summer months. However, if you have Multiple Sclerosis, these activities on hot summer days can be challenging.

Exposure to warm temperatures can cause an exacerbation of symptoms for heat-sensitive individuals. It may feel like your world narrows during the summer season, but there are many ways to stay cool and reclaim the carefree feeling of the season.

Bring the beach to you! Sitting on the beach in the blazing sun may be the last place you want to be if you have heat sensitivity. So how about getting the “beach vibe” while still being cool at home?  You can create the full scene right in the living room of your home. Grab a beach chair, turn on some feel-good music, and sit back and relax in the AC. Nowadays, there are a plethora of candles that have scents that smell just like the beach. They are so realistic, you’d swear you’re smelling the same thing!

Cook-in instead of a cookout!  Bring your friends and the barbecue to the comfort (and coolness) of your home. Chop up some bright, fresh fruit and mix up some frozen yummy drinks. Order takeout instead of cooking by the stovetop, or perhaps one of your friends is a grill master and enjoys grilling up some goodies.

Enjoy the cool, late summer nights! One of the best parts of summer is the longer days and the cooler evenings. Take advantage of the breezy summer nights and sit outside. Watch nearby fireworks, or simply just sit and listen to the sounds of summer.

The summer months can be a challenging time for heat-sensitive individuals. The key is to plan ahead and do what makes you feel the most comfortable. Get creative and make your summer experience your own. Make this your best summer yet!

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