About Selena Fisher

I am a Client Services Specialist at MSAA. I have a Bachelor’s in Psychology, and I am currently working towards my Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I enjoy spending time with my family, and making a positive impact in the lives of others.

A Letter from a Friend

Dear friend,

I am sorry to learn of your recent MS diagnosis. My heart cannot truly grasp the emotions you must be experiencing. I imagine this new chapter of your life has been quite scary and frustrating for you. Please know that you have a community of advocates behind you cheering you on.

I have seen firsthand how an MS diagnosis can take you on a wild emotional roller coaster ride that you never asked to be on. My mother was diagnosed with MS back in 1996. Advances in research and educational information about MS were much different back then. She wasn’t told that every person’s MS journey is unique and can look totally different than someone else’s. As a family we had no idea that MS didn’t look the same for everyone who was diagnosed with it.

As you deal with being newly diagnosed, I’d like to share with you a few words of encouragement that I wish someone had given my mom.

Your story as an MS fighter is completely unique to you. Try to stay away from WebMD and get your information from reliable sources such as your doctor’s office and MS organizations like this one I’m writing to you from. Also, staying positive is extremely important as you navigate through this uncharted territory. Remember, toxic emotions release neurotoxins into the body. Additionally, being mindful of the type of food you put in your body goes a long way. And Lastly, never be afraid to ask for help, and never be ashamed to advocate for yourself.

Friend, I want you to know that I think of you often and wish you all the best as you learn to live life as someone who has been newly diagnosed with MS. MSAA is rooting for you, cheering you on, and doing everything we can to make a positive impact in your life and on the entire MS community.

We are here for you, and we care about you.

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Signs of an MS Relapse

When you have a relapse of multiple sclerosis (known as an exacerbation or flare-up), nerve signals are disrupted due to damage in the brain or spinal cord. As a result, you may experience new or returning symptoms. An MS relapse is defined as one lasting longer than 24 hours and occurring at least 30 days after any previous relapse. The duration, severity, and symptoms of relapses are all different. Here are a few common signs of an MS relapse.

Weakness

Normal messages from the brain to the body are disrupted when the protective covering of nerve fibers is damaged. When such signals are disturbed, the body stops working properly. Things you used to do easily, like opening a jar or turning a doorknob, can seem challenging during a relapse. You may be experiencing a relapse if you have sudden or worsening weakness that does not go away.

Vision Impairment

It’s possible that you’re starting to relapse if your eyesight is blurry or you’re seeing double. As the optic nerve becomes inflamed, some people lose their depth or color vision. Vision issues can be caused by taking a hot shower or bath, or by a viral infection like the flu, but they are just momentary and should go gone within a day.

Numbness

One of the most typical indicators of a recurrence in multiple sclerosis is numbness. It’s possible to lose so much feeling in your hands or other affected body parts that it’s difficult to use them. You might be unable to write or hold a cup of coffee. Please pay a visit to your doctor if your numbness is new or getting worse.

Cognitive Challenges

It’s aggravating to lose track of where you put your vehicle keys or to have to reread the same phrase several times simply to grasp the meaning. MS can impair your mind in a variety of ways, especially as the disease develops, affecting with memory, focus, language, and information processing. Any new difficulty thinking clearly or recalling past events could be a  sign that you may be experiencing a relapse.

Feeling Dizzy

It’s uncomfortable to feel lightheaded or unstable on your feet, but it’s a frequent symptom of MS relapses. Damage to the areas of your brain that control balance causes dizziness. In the short term, there are medications that can help relieve the ‘room is spinning’ sensation, but if it lasts longer than a day, you may be experiencing an MS relapse.

If you suspect that you are experiencing an MS relapse, please reach out to your doctor to share your concerns. What you are experiencing could possibly be signs of an MS relapse.

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Finding Joy in Life

Do you ever find it difficult to find happiness in the midst of hard times? Even in the face of adversity, having a mental list of simple behaviors to try out every day may help you feel happier. You might find that doing something as easy as listening to music improves your mood and helps you on your journey to finding joy in life.

Whatever joy means to you, you may tap into it in surprisingly easy ways, even when it’s tough to remember what it’s like to be joyful.

So, here are 3 easy-to-implement suggestions for finding joy in life during challenging circumstances.

1. Find the things in life that make you happy, and then do them.

2. Always take a moment to express gratitude.

3. Stay connected to the good relationships you’ve established in life.

Remember friends, do what brings you joy. Demonstrate thankfulness. And stay connected to your relationships. You are amazing, and you can do this!

Finding Joy in Life
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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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Keep Cool This Summer

It’s that time again, summertime that is. In just a few days, it will officially be Summer, and the heat has already been pretty brutal for many. Any amount of heat, no matter how minor, might affect neurological functions enough to exacerbate symptoms. Keeping cool can help you maintain a consistent, cool body temperature and prevent flare-ups. To help keep you cool this summer, MSAA’s Cooling Program is here to help!

MSAA offers free cooling products such as a cooling vest, wrist wraps, ankle wraps, and neck wraps! These free cooling products are great ways to keep cool this summer for free. Yes, you read that right, I said free! MSAA’s Cooling Program is an excellent resource that “offers cooling vests and accessories for adults with multiple sclerosis as well as children diagnosed with pediatric MS.” MSAA’s Cooling Program is open 365 days of the year, which means you can apply at any time throughout the year. This is a great way to beat the heat sensitivity that often comes with MS without having to break the bank. Here is a link for more information on how to apply for your free cooling products through MSAA’s Cooling Program, https://mymsaa.org/msaa-help/cooling-products/.

If you find that you do not meet the eligibility guidelines for MSAA’s Cooling Program and would like to purchase your cooling products, you can always reach out to the manufactures listed below. If you call and mention MSAA, you could be eligible to receive a discount on your purchase.

Keeping cool this summer is a must, especially when managing Multiple Sclerosis. I encourage you to take advantage of MSAA’s Cooling Program to help keep your body cool and refreshed.

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For a New Beginning

The world is once again changing, but this time it is changing for the better. This time, the world is offering new opportunities for a new beginning. Instead of writing my usual blog this month, I wanted to share an inspiring poem that really resonated with me. My heart’s desire is that you will also find it inspiring and encouraging as well.

For A New Beginning | John O’Donohue

“In out-of-the-way places of the heart,

Where your thoughts never think to wander,

This beginning has been quietly forming,

Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,

Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,

Noticing how you willed yourself on,

Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety

And the gray promises that sameness whispered,

Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,

Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,

And out you stepped onto new ground,

Your eyes young again with energy and dream,

A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear

You can trust the promise of this opening;

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning

That is at one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;

Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;

Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,

For your soul senses the world that awaits you”

For a New Beginning

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Ideas for Stress Management

Living with MS can be super stressful, especially when you’re living in the middle of a pandemic. Now is the best time to start practicing stress management techniques to help you overcome stressful moments. Here are a few ideas for stress management that can help you get through tough times.

·      Exercise

Keeping your body as active as possible on a regular basis is a great way to balance your nervous system and flush out those inconvenient stress hormones.

·      Eat a balanced diet

Well-nourished bodies manage stressful moments better. Eat more fruits and vegetables, avoid processed foods and sugar, and drink plenty of water.

·      Connect with friends and family

Although most of us are seeing our friends and family online or on a virtual basis, it still helps to release stress hormones by seeing their faces and hearing their voices. Even when it is through a screen.

·      Have some “Me” time

If you have a hobby or something you love to do, schedule some time to do whatever it is that you love to do. Whether it is reading, writing, napping, or watching tv, makes sure you spend some time doing what makes you feel happy and relaxed.

·      Get a good night’s rest

Sleep is extremely important. Getting a good night’s rest can set your day up for success just as much as a poor night’s rest can start your day off on the wrong foot. Getting between seven and eight hours of sleep can actually improve your ability to manage stress.

·      Talk to a mental health professional

If you are feeling overwhelmed by stress and are struggling to effectively cope and mange life’s stressful moments, it’s important to seek professional help.

Your health and life are absolutely worth it.

No stress neon | Neon quotes, Neon words, Neon signs
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Enjoyable Ways to Improve Your Mental Health

Mental health plays such a large role on your psychological and emotional well-being. It is super important to find enjoyable ways to improve your mental health. To help get you started, here are some cool ideas.

Sleep

Getting a good night’s rest is not only enjoyable, but it also comes with amazing benefits. Catching about 8 hours of sleep has been shown to strengthen the heart muscle, improve memory, and it greatly lowers your risk of depression and anxiety. Wow! *searching for my favorite pillow and blanket as I write this*

Pet Your Pet

Pets are AMAZING for improving mental health. Dogs are amongst the most common pets known to provide emotional support for individuals, but they aren’t the only ones. If you have a pet that brings you joy and happiness, you should totally pet your pet. Ha! See what I did there? Whether your fur baby is a dog, cat, bunny, squirrel, or guinea pig, petting your pet has great emotional benefits. I have a 4-month-old puppy named Oreo, and he definitely improves my mood. I love to snuggle him with his wittle cute fuzzy wuzzy face and his adorable big brown eyes and little curly tail and…focus, Selena, focus. *Inserts adorable picture of Oreo below.*

Doodle

Yes, you read that right. Doodle! Doodling and scribbling have proven to relieve stress and anxiety for individuals who are feeling overwhelmed. Doodling has also shown to help improve focus and the best part is that it’s fun too. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, bust out the pen and paper and give doodling a try.

Even though these cool ideas are fun and helpful, they aren’t a one size fits all deal. You know yourself better than anyone else does, so I encourage you to find something that is enjoyable to you. Whatever that thing is for you, do that whenever you notice your mental health is in need of some improvement and have fun with it. You are the best person to find enjoyable ways to improve your mental health.

You got this.

*If you ever find yourself struggling to manage your mental health on your own, please be encouraged to reach out to your physician or a mental health professional for help.

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The Importance of Valuable Relationships

Valuable Relationships

Relationships. Just how important are valuable relationships? Do they really matter? In the current state of the world, in the midst of a global pandemic, are relationships still relevant? Short Answer? Absolutely!

Relationships are important because they bridge the connection between people. They are the essence of humanity and are vital to the mental and emotional health behind the human experience. It is the connection between two individuals that can lead to happiness and success in a person’s life. This very reason is why it is so important to have valuable relationships.

Whether it be a relationship with a parent, family member, or friend, relationships are important because they satisfy the human need to connect. Important relationships also provide an additional perspective to your own thoughts and can help get you out of emotional slumps. I’m thankful that throughout everything I’ve encountered in my life, I’ve had valuable relationships to help keep me encouraged and moving forward.

Valuable relationships can also give you that much needed “second wind.”

 Friends, there might be times when you want to give up. There might be times when you can’t see a solution to your current situation. In those discouraging moments, reach out to a friend or a loved one for an additional perspective. It is in those additional perspectives that you can find great hope, strength, and encouragement to keep pushing forward. It is in those additional perspectives that you will find your “second wind.”

Valuable relationships are super important in more ways than we realize, and holding on to them is a must. Friends, I want to encourage you to stay connected with those valuable relationships in your life. Reach out and stay connected with your loved ones. You will find yourself much happier, and your mind and body will thank you.

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Don’t Give Up Hope

Hope

Hope is defined by the Oxford Dictionary, as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Another definition of hope is to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment. Hope can be a helpful and beneficial tool to have in this New Year. It will leave you with an expectation and desire for the fulfillment of the very thing you want to happen. Don’t Give Up Hope.

When circumstances come your way, you can use hope as a tool until the outcome you desire comes to pass. It’s simple and easy to do. In high school I played soccer, and my coach would always say to us “don’t give up hope”. There were times when our team would be down 2 points with very little time left on the clock but the resounding noise from the sideline, would be our coach yelling “Don’t give up hope!”

“Don’t give up hope!”

I understand now that he was teaching us a principle that we could use every day. He was showing us that no matter what life throws at us, we will always have the ability to desire and expect an outcome that we desire. As we hoped and unified as a team on a singular outcome, we would somehow find a way to change the outcome of the game. We would win!

Let’s break down hope a little more, shall we? When you think of hope, also think of conception and imagination. When you hope for something, you are imagining your desire until what you hope for is manifested. As you imagine the outcome, you will find that your imagination is accompanied by a positive emotion or feeling.

The benefits of hope gives you confident ammunition to combat stress, anxiety, fear, depression, or any unfavorable circumstance that may occur. Hope will help you kick those negative feelings to the curb.

So as you hope for things in this New Year, remember hope is a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

Like my high school soccer coach would say “Don’t give up hope.”

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