New Year, Same MS

For most, the new year comes with excitement of what’s to come. For those of us who battle MS, the new year comes with its fair share of worries, challenges and anxious thoughts of what the new year may bring. We reflect on our past year, perhaps your MS got worse, and you’re worried it won’t get any better, or maybe you are finally considered “stable”, and you’re concerned it is too good to be true and you will get worse. However you choose to look at the new year, we all worry one way or another. I am here to tell you that you are not alone.  

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Hope Angel – January 2023 Artist of the Month

MSAA 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 Hope Angel as the January Artist of the Month. Hope is from Seattle, WA.

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Ask the Expert – Cognitive Issues

Featuring Barry A. Hendin, MD
MSAA’s Chief Medical Officer

Headshot of doctor Barry Hendin, chief medical officer for MSAA
Barry Hendin, MD

Question: What strategies can you recommend to help with cognitive issues? 

Answer: First, let’s define cognition. Simply, it is all of the processes involved in learning, remembering, and expressing knowledge. It involves how we perceive, how we think, and how we convey knowledge verbally and nonverbally. 

Although many people with MS, and at all stages of MS, express cognitive symptoms or problems, they are generally mild in nature. The most common complaints that I hear involve difficulties in memory, multitasking, learning new information, and processing speed.

Some cognitive changes may be due to MS itself. Often, however, the problems are due to, or are compounded by, other factors such as poor sleep, medication effect, pain, or depression. The first strategy, therefore, is to assess the contribution of mood, pain, medications, and sleep – and then treat them appropriately. 

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You Know You Have MS When . . .

The day you receive a multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis can feel surreal. It is common to be in denial and want to ignore it. But over time, you start to see that your symptoms match what the doctor explained would happen.

For most people, there is a moment when they cannot deny their symptoms or their diagnosis anymore. And life goes on.

To find out more about what that moment looks like, we turned to the MultipleSclerosis.net Facebook page. We asked the community to fill in the blank: “You know you have MS when _____________.”

More than 250 people in the community responded. Here is what they said.

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Ask the Expert – Numbness and MS

Featuring Barry A. Hendin, MD
MSAA’s Chief Medical Officer

Headshot of doctor Barry Hendin, chief medical officer for MSAA

Question: Does new or increased numbness indicate a worsening of MS, and is this symptom typically permanent, or can it subside on its own?

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Balancing Whimsy and Invisible Forces

By Stacie Prada

Art that resonates with me changes depending on where I am in my life, how I’m feeling, and what I’m facing. Some things I loved at certain points in my life I love because they spoke to me at that time. I think if I were to first see some of them today, I would not connect in the same way as I did back then. I have some pieces that spoke to me during dark times that I chose to let go when times changed and they no longer brought me solace.  Others have endured through life changes and still resonate.

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Art perception

What is it about artwork that catches our attention? Is it the colors? Or maybe the artist’s story. As an art newbie, I don’t have knowledge of the proper technical skills or techniques. I don’t know what makes a piece of art great. I have minimal understanding of the intricacies of painting, but what I do know is how it makes me feel.

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Playing the Cards I’m Dealt

By Stacie Prada

I love the emotional and intellectual sides of aging. With each decade, I grow more certain about who I am, what matters to me, and where my strengths lie. I worry less about pleasing others and more about doing what’s right for my physical and mental health. Without multiple sclerosis, I likely would have enjoyed this aspect of aging, but I believe having MS accelerated my drive to live a life I love and feel good about myself.

I thought some things were non-negotiable while I was pre-diagnosis and in peak physical health. Post MS diagnosis, those same things were reconsidered and proved to be negotiable. With diagnosis, my body’s confusing aspects had an explanation, and I could no longer dismiss them when they appeared. Work and the expectations people placed on me were no longer the highest priorities. Rest, sleep and personal fulfillment earned positions of power that would affect choices and influence decisions. For me, this was helpful and necessary.

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Staying Busy

By Lauren Kovacs

I must say this is easier said than done. 

I am kinda bored actually. I am a homebody, but even I have limits. MS has aged me, too.

I mean, I have always liked birds, but watching them used to bore me. Now I can watch them up close. It is like watching a fight club with feathers. Male Cardinals and Blue Jays are jerks. Bullies. I can watch a soap opera right outside the window. 

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Short Days, Dark Nights, and Big Hopes

By Stacie Prada

Each winter, darkness pervades my free time. Living in the Pacific Northwest, daylight hours seem to only exist on weekends and during lunch on weekdays. Dry, sunny days are less frequent, and spending time outside requires dressing for wind, rain and cold. While invigorating to experience, inclement weather provides encouragement to stay inside and find comfort from the elements.

It takes more creativity and effort to be active when the environment encourages spending time indoors. The draw of the sofa and screen time is compelling and comforting. I can justify that time and accurately describe it as productive by using it to rest, connect with others, learn, create, reflect and amuse myself. All are valid uses of time, and they only lack fulfillment if they sabotage my needs or goals. Usually the challenge is not the use of time but the amount of time spent on them.

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