February Artist of the Month

MSAA’s Artist of the Month 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 Carmella Certion as February’s Artist of the Month. Carmella is from Philadelphia, PA.

Reine du Carnaval by Carmella Certion
“Reine du Carnaval”

About the Artist – Carmella Certion

I am an artist, gerontologist, and marriage and family therapist currently living with MS. It all began with a simple painting of a cat for my granddaughter’s room, after I gave it a mini-makeover last summer during the pandemic. I mostly paint abstracts, land, and cityscapes and I’ve only taken one class. My studio is located in my Philadelphia, PA bedroom where I mostly paint in bed due to a plethora of health challenges. I find painting relaxing and it also helps ward off depression and anxiety, which I suffer from periodically. I love to use bright colors, geometric shapes and texture in my work and my philosophy is simple: Art should be fun!”

To see more about Carmella and the rest of our artists, please visit our Art Showcase. 

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Magical Holiday Traditions

By Courtney Blewett

There is a reason why the holiday season is considered the most wonderful time of the year. Embracing holiday traditions is one way to make this season merrier and brighter. Whether it be carrying on family traditions or creating new ones – traditions bring a sense of nostalgia, joy, and comfort.  Traditions are unique to every family, but no matter how we all celebrate, there’s one thing we all have in common: the holidays are meant to be enjoyed with those we love.

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Happy Times

It is the time of the year when we have all these lovely holidays just round the corner. The time of the year when we get together with friends and family to share the cheer and joy. But with the holidays comes the stress of organizing, planning and attending parties. Getting through the store aisles can be daunting with a lot of last-minute shopping taking place.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while getting ready for the fun days ahead.

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Enjoy the Weather. Be Happy

By Lauren Kovacs

Enjoy the weather.  The heat is gone, and the mosquitoes are dead.  I don’t think they came from the same place.  Rejoice. Hallelujah.  Just those two things being gone are enough to make me dance.  

Sit back and relax.  Ladies you can shave your legs less and cover up the cuts with pants. Even electric razors cut.  Thought the electric razor would save me from bleeding out.  I was wrong and I often still get cuts.

Now I can cover them with pants and not be boiling hot.

Fall means no snakes here in NC too.  I don’t have to worry about the dog having an ego trip, if I let him out back.  Pumpkin pie and coffee are good at breakfast too.  Took me years to enjoy pie at breakfast.  Why not?  We are adults.

Hoodies are great, but wear zip up hoodies.  There is a reason why older folks wear cardigans.  Easy on and off is vital for many.  I find body temperature regulation is better dealt with when you dress in layers.

MS requires more thoughtful planning. Dressing is no exception .  We can easily overheat.  Layers are the way to go.   Try zip off stuff.  Pullovers can be an issue.

I once got stuck in a sweatshirt trying to get it off.  It is funny now. I learned from it at least.  I learned hard wood floors can be napped on.  I also found a love for zip up sweatshirtsEnjoy fall.  Lots of perks.

 Ok, pumpkin spice everything is old.

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Caramel Apple Bites

This fun dessert is perfect for the Fall.  They’re so easy to make and are loved in my household. I like being outside during the cooler Autumn weather and love to share these yummy little treats with friends and family in my neighborhood.  You could really get creative and add your favorite toppings as well, such as drizzled chocolate, sprinkles or even put on top of a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Ingredients

  • 2 Green Apples
  • Lemon juice to keep apples from turning brown
  • 1 pkg Mini Pretzel Twists
  • 1 pkg Rolo candy
  • Toothpicks
  • Baking sheet

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. On a baking sheet, lay out pretzels in a single layer and place a Rolo candy on each pretzel.
  3. Place in the oven for about 3 minutes, or until the candy is soft but not melted.
  4. Chop the apple in small chunks. Squeeze a little lemon juice on them if you would like to help keep them from turning brown.
  5. Place one apple on the end of a toothpick and push into one of the Rolo Pretzels. Repeat until all the Rolo pretzels have apples.

Enjoy!!!

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Unwind & De-stress

It is without a doubt that today’s fast-paced world can be stressful. Between balancing work, family and social obligations, it can be hard to set aside time for yourself. By learning how to relax, you can soothe your body and mind, heal from your daily dose of stress and devote some much-needed time for yourself. Luckily, when it comes to strategies to relax, the easier the better! Setting aside 10 minutes of your day is all you need to calm your mind and body.  Here are a few relaxation strategies that may be helpful.

Breathe. Breathing techniques are one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to relax immediately. And the best part… this strategy can be done anywhere!  All you need to do is take a deep breath in and slowly breath out and repeat steadily for 5 minutes. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing and feel the tension release from your body.

Connect with nature. Spending just a few minutes outside is all you need to disconnect when you feel stressed. Go for a short walk, or simply sit outside. You don’t necessarily even have to be outside either; listening to nature sounds or looking at scenic pictures can help you relax.

Write down your thoughts. Journaling offers an abundance of benefits – from reducing stress to sparking self-discovery. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, jotting down your thoughts can help release these emotions, while also recognizing how you feel.

Plug in music and zone out. It’s no secret that listening to our favorite song is an instant mood boost. I find music as an outlet; a way to take my mind elsewhere and de-compress. Listening to soothing music can help quiet the mind, but choose whatever may bring you joy and relaxation.

Take charge and control your stress by learning how to soothe your mind, body and soul. We can’t control environmental factors, but we can control how we react to them.

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AFO-Yeah

By Doug Ankerman

I’m not a betting man but if you have multiple sclerosis, odds are in your favor you suffer from foot drop.  Foot drop is that draggy, MS hex where your foot never seems to clear the floor for a normal step. It hinders your balance and can make you prone to falls.

The most popular way to beat foot drop is wearing an ankle foot orthotic or AFO.

AFO’s aren’t cheap (what medical device is?), so it would seem an AFO should have more uses than just preventing foot drop.

That’s where I come in.

After much research, here are some other ways your AFO can help around the house…

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Medicare Open Enrollment 2021

The medical expenses associated with MS can be costly, so finding an insurance plan that is appropriate for your healthcare needs is crucial. As such, MSAA would like to remind everyone of two important enrollment deadlines for 2022 health insurance coverage.

Medicare

Open enrollment for 2022 Medicare coverage ends on Tuesday, December 7th. To enroll or review your current Medicare coverage, visit Medicare.gov.

Health Insurance Marketplace

Open enrollment for private insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Marketplace ends on Wednesday, December 15th. To enroll or review your current Health Insurance Marketplace coverage, visit HealthCare.gov.

You can also find information on both websites regarding medical coverage and COVID-19.

Coverage for both Medicare and Health Insurance Marketplace plans begins on January 1, 2022.

This is an important time, so please be sure to enroll in a health insurance plan that is right for you! If you have any questions, please feel free to call MSAA’s Helpline at (800) 532-7667, ext. 154 or email us at MSquestions@mymsaa.org.

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Funny, Not Funny

By Lauren Kovacs

OK so there is nothing funny about a chronic illness. Injecting a little bit of humor can go along the way. Don’t force it.

Yeah, the fire breathing dragon on my path to a decent night’s sleep is not funny. His blow torch breath on my arm for hours kinda sucks. But, maybe he can get a part on Game of Thrones instead of being part of my nightly nerve pain.

So my right leg identifies as a tree log. A very heavy log. It is my Barbie Leg. The Floppy Fish Foot is a special added MS gift. 

If I can’t manually bend Barbie Leg, Floppy Fish Foot steps up and makes movement extra hard. It gives 110%. It really knows how to increase the difficulty.

I left many things behind when my boys became teens. Not so much in reality. I load my van for a trip with as much stuff as when my boys were little. Only now my bed rail has replaced the pack and play. My wheelchair replaced the stroller and protein powder pushed out the baby food.

Ah, to be young again. Wait… my special fork replaced baby spoons and my water bottle with a straw replaced sippy cups. At least I am accustomed to needing lots of stuff.

Try and find a wee bit of humor in things. Not everything is funny though. I spend many moments in frustration tears. Take something you deal with and turn it around. The back of my thighs are starting to burn a bit.  Nothing big or painful yet. Getting ready to turn that around with humor.

Yes, my right leg is spastic, but I turned it into something silly. I can laugh most of the time. Plus I am finding people understand a Barbie leg better then spasticity. Make your descriptions as simple as possible for everyone. Your silly analogies can clarify things for people.

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30 Things that Give Me Hope

By Doug Ankerman

Fitting with this month’s theme, here are 30 things that give ME hope…

Falling asleep before the legs begin to dance
Elastic waistbands
Good hair day
Stoplights turning green
Summer shade
Kohl’s Cash
Puppy licks
Slippers on a cold morning

Zippers with large pulls
Curbside pickup
Low threshold doorways
Laxatives
Red sky at night
Slow news day
Finding money in a pocket
Automatic toilet that doesn’t flush five times
Staying awake past 9:00
Open drive-thru lane at the bank

Getting one final squeeze from the tube
Opening chip bag without ripping
Springtime
Coming Attractions
Food I can cut with a fork
“You May Already Be A Winner”
Air conditioning
Inaugurations
Zip closure bags that stay zip closed
A vaccine
Working shake machine at McDonalds

And finally…

Bathroom scale that is “light” (but you don’t know it)

Did I leave something out? Leave a comment by sharing what gives YOU hope.

*Doug is a member of the MS class of 1996.  He writes silly stuff about multiple sclerosis and other junk on his humor blog at myoddsock.com.

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