About MSAA

As a national nonprofit organization, the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America is a leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. MSAA provides free programs and services, such as: a toll-free Helpline; award-winning publications including a magazine, The Motivator; website featuring educational videos and research updates; S.E.A.R.C.H.™ program to assist the MS community with learning about different treatment choices; a mobile phone app, My MS Manager™; a resource database, My MS Resource Locator; equipment distribution ranging from grab bars to wheelchairs; cooling accessories for heat-sensitive individuals; educational events and activities; MRI funding and insurance advocacy; and more. For additional information, please visit http://www.mymsaa.org or call (800) 532-7667.

My Multiple Sclerosis Life is Filled with Seasons of Change

MS changes

By Penelope Conway

This morning I made an absolute mess of things. I was making my morning coffee, and for the umpteenth time, I spilled the coffee grounds all over the floor and myself because my hands fumbled and wouldn’t cooperate. I cleaned myself up and turned the coffee pot on so it could brew me a cup, but left the mess all over the floor for later.

As I’m writing this, I’m sipping on a freshly brewed cup of coffee while sitting in my bed knowing that there’s a mess in the kitchen waiting for me to tackle, but do you know what? Continue reading

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Life Goals: Checking in When the Seasons Change

By Stacie Prada

When summer turns to fall, a sense of routine and normalcy seems to return to my life. Kids are back in school, my coworkers and I are done with big vacations, and we’re all ready to get back to work. This year it occurred to me to start reflecting on this year and planning for next year earlier than usual. I think this might be Continue reading

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School is in the Air

By Lauren Kovacs

Here it comes! Cooler weather (hopefully) and the munchkins go back to school, as fall arrives. Smell the crispy leaves (or not) and hear the silence. It also means for many of us, no help.

Most of us are masters at adaptation. Embrace the Continue reading

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Yoga and MS

Yoga and MSSeptember is National Yoga Month! Yoga is a gentler form of exercise that focuses on stretching and breathing. Many different types of yoga are available including practices designed for people who may have limited mobility, or flexibility. Most traditional poses can be performed sitting on a chair, or Continue reading

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Meet the Board

MSAA strives to be a leading resource for the entire MS community by improving lives today through vital services and support. We could not accomplish this without the help of our volunteer board members. MSAA’s Board of Directors is comprised of accomplished professionals from across the country who volunteer their time to further MSAA’s mission. With our ongoing series, Meet the Board, we hope to introduce you to our wonderful volunteer board members!

This month, MSAA is proud to highlight our newest board member David Herzog. Continue reading

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It’s Okay to talk to Your Doctor About the Tough Things

Talking to Your Doctor About the Tough ThingsBy Penelope Conway

Doctors are smart. They have gone through years and years of study, had hands on experience, seen the good bad and ugly, and want the best for their patients. We’ve been told over the years to trust them because they know what they’re doing, but in today’s day and time, we have access to vast amounts of information that many times even doctors haven’t researched for themselves which gives us more choices and options in how we manage our own health.

My first neurologist, the one that diagnosed me after MRI’s and a spinal tap, wasn’t Continue reading

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Dissolution Confusion…

By Scott Cremeans

Some of my doctors have been confusing, to say the least. My recent doctor appointment was one of those perfectly perplexing pop-ins. When I recently saw this new neurologist things started off as most initial doctor visits do. It was just like every appointment for a new doctor that most of us have experienced. They cut off the blood circulation in your arm while testing your blood pressure. Then a thermometer is slipped under your tongue, and a pulse oximeter is simultaneously popped onto your finger.

They check where you are on the depression scale by asking Continue reading

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Talking with Healthcare Professionals About Nutrition

By Alene Brennan

“Eat whatever you want, it’s not going to make a difference.”

I had heard the line from doctors before but this time it was different. This time there was so much more on the line.

I had just heard the words “you have multiple sclerosis.”

I needed something within my control to begin to reclaim my health.

As a nutrition coach, food was the obvious choice.

It was also the obvious choice because Dr. Terry Wahls – a physician diagnosed with progressive MS – created a nutrition protocol that was reversing the effects of the disease for her and many participants in her clinical trial.

Why then was I being discouraged to improve the quality of foods on my plate by the doctor who’s supposed to support me in feeling my best? It didn’t make sense and if this was his message to me, it meant that others were likely being told the same thing.

I pursued the conversation and my doctor began to pack peddle saying that nutrition wasn’t going to hurt me but I just wasn’t going to cure MS.

This is a conversation that many of us having with our medical care team and I’ve found it incredibly important to approach the conversation in the right way.

The following are strategies in talking to healthcare professionals that I’ve found to be helpful and share with many of my nutrition clients to do the same.

Do your homework.

Before you go to your appointment, do some research to understand the various nutritional approaches that may be helpful for your diagnosis.You don’t have to look up scientific studies – although if you have access to that, it’ll be a tremendous help – but simply be informed about how others are finding success through dietary changes.

Doing your homework can consist of:

  • Reading a book
  • Listening to a podcast
  • Talking with respected friends in the industry
  • Reviewing credible websites/blogs

You’ll likely discover that there are two main dietary approaches being studied for MS – the Swank diet (low-fat, minimal animal products) and the Wahls Protocol (organized paleo approach). This background enables you to have a more specific and productive conversation with your healthcare professionals now.

Ask the right questions

This step is key!

“What do you think about nutrition?” is way too broad of a question for even the savviest of physicians to answer. It’s also the type of question that will deliver the response that I received in that nutrition doesn’t make a difference.

Consider the outcome you want to achieve and ask targeted questions accordingly.

Do you want to try a nutrition plan before starting medication?
Ask: “I’m seeing a lot of information on the benefits of nutrition in managing MS, based on my diagnosis and recent test results, would you be agreeable to me starting with this plan for three to six months before starting on a medication?”

Do you want to ensure your desire nutrition plan doesn’t conflict with your medical care?
Ask: “I’d like to follow this nutrition plan to help reduce my symptoms – fatigue, brain fog, etc. – given my overall health and medical plan, do you have any concerns or foresee any contraindications?”

These questions are far more specific and will yield clearer direction on next steps for you. It also lets your healthcare professionals know that you’re taking it seriously.

Keep in mind, medical school still doesn’t include much beyond one or two classes on nutrition. They’re trained in hard science and using standardized medications to treat patients. We cannot always fault them for not speaking to something they’re not trained in.

Understand the context of the conversation and ask questions accordingly.

Decide what resonates best with you

Continue to gather information until you feel confident in a plan that resonates best with you.

  • Get a second opinion
  • Continue your research
  • Explore your options in functional medicine
  • Schedule a consultation with a nutrition coach

At the end of the day, you have to be comfortable with your approach. And know that you don’t have to do it on your own. Making dietary changes can he hard. If engaging the support of a health or nutrition coach will help you in succeeding, go for it. You and your health are worth it.

*Alene Brennan works with individuals living with MS and other autoimmune diseases to create a diet and lifestyle that will support their healing and disease management. She holds four certifications: nutrition coach, yoga instructor, personal trainer, and natural food chef. You can learn more about her work and follow her blog, recipes, and more at www.alenebrennan.com. Check her out on Instagram and Facebook, too!

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Advice for Talking to Your Doctor

My MSAA Community - Strategies for Talking to Your DoctorRecently, we asked the members of our online community, My MSAA Community, what their strategies are for talking to their doctors.  Here is some of the advice and experiences the members shared:

“If there is something that I really want to express to my doctor I always keep a journal, but add to it printouts of my research. Last fall, I was Continue reading

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Remembering I’m the Boss for My Health Care Professional Team

By Stacie Prada

When I think of all the health care professionals I’ve seen in the last thirty years, it overwhelms me.  When I look at how I interact with them and how it’s changed with time, I think changes in my confidence level and perspective have contributed to much better interactions and level of care.

Thinking of the number of health care providers I’ve seen since reaching adulthood Continue reading

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