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…

Continue reading
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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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Holiday Assistance

The holidays can be a magical time of year. There’s a different feeling in the air—of wonder and joy, that feels unique compared to any other time of year. Though the season can evoke much happiness and excitement, it may also create stress and challenging expectations for some. Financial stressors and limitations can be especially difficult this time of year.

Holiday celebrations can symbolize something different to each person. Special traditions and pastimes may not center around gifts or feasts. The holidays can be what you make of them. But it’s important to know that for those who may need a little extra help in carrying out their holiday activities, there are resources available to help.

  • Salvation Army
    • Offers seasonal services and holiday assistance programs to help families in need with holiday dinners, toys, and clothing.
  • The United Way
    • Provides information and referrals for holiday assistance programs in the community.
  • Toys for Tots Program
    • Distributes new, unwrapped toys during the holidays to children in need through community outreach and support efforts.
  • Catholic Charities Services
    • This group and other local religious organizations may offer seasonal assistance based on location. Contact groups directly to inquire of services available.
  • Lions Club organizations may also have holiday assistance programs available in the community.
  • County department offices of family/social services may have additional holiday assistance and resources.
  • Local schools in the community may know of holiday assistance programs for families.
  • Community food banks may also be able to offer holiday assistance programs in the area during the season.

Many community assistance programs have specific application deadlines and requirements in order to receive holiday assistance by a certain time. Be sure to reach out to the resources to see what’s available in your area and how to apply.

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My Mother’s Advice on MS Diagnosis… from Heaven

By Alene Brennan

Today marks the third year of my mother’s passing after a 10-year battle with cancer.

Just six weeks after she passed, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

It was hard enough to grieve the loss of her absence in my daily life. But now having my own diagnosis to process, I needed her more than ever.

I was scared.

I was angry.

I was overwhelmed.

And she was my person.

She always Continue reading

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Intimacy and Family Planning with MS

Couples living with multiple sclerosis (MS) can often experience challenges in their relationships, levels of intimacy and changes in roles and expectations. Join MSAA, as we present a new webinar on relationships and MS:

“Intimacy and Family Planning with MS”
Tuesday, March 5, 2019
8:00 pm (Eastern)

To help strengthen and foster healthy relationships, MSAA invites couples affected by MS to Continue reading

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Anyone else out there…?

As we’ve just finished a very active MS Awareness Month here at MSAA we wanted to take some time to talk about support networks and positivity for this month’s blog theme. When dealing with an illness like MS, its helps to create and focus on connections to others within the community, to know that one is not alone in what they’re experiencing. From our Ask Me Anything events in March we saw lots of similarities in what others were asking when it came to their MS symptoms and disease course. On MSAA’s Helpline we often receive calls from clients asking ‘Am I the only one who’s experienced this?’ ‘Is this normal for MS?’ ‘Does anyone else have this issue?’ And we consistently find ourselves validating all of these questions and concerns, because the fact is that individuals are not alone, as there are many others out there wondering the same things.

I think the feeling of knowing you’re not alone in a challenging experience can help to quiet the fears, concerns and anxieties that accompany it. Asking if there’s anyone else out there going through the same thing and learning that there is, can make someone feel more validated and less isolated. This is why having a support network is so vital, and not only to connect with during difficult times but also to share good times with as well. It’s comforting to vent, cry or scream in times of strife and have others listen, but it’s also important to relay positive experiences, humorous moments and celebratory occasions with those in your circle. Life will have its ups and downs as these inevitably come with the ride, so sharing in the ups when they do occur can help combat the downs. If you find yourself feeling alone and asking questions just keep in mind that you’re not, and there are others out there asking too.

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