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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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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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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Find Your Inner Peace

“Peace on earth…” a common phrase we hear during this time of the year, but what happens when the earth is in the middle of a crisis called COVID? I have the answer. Find your inner peace.

Whether it’s COVID, an unpaid bill, or an encounter with the “Grinch,” there will always be someone or something that will come along and try to steal your peace. However, just like there are opportunities to focus on the ongoing chaos we see in the world, there are also opportunities to focus on the positive things in life that can help us find and keep our inner peace. If you want to live a peaceful life, a great way to start is by establishing some mental boundaries. You are the boss. You are in charge. You have the final say as to what you will allow your mind to focus on and what you won’t allow your mind to focus on. It’s all about perspective. If you shift your perspective, you can reach a deeper level of inner peace.

How can you find your inner peace?

Fill your mind and focus it on things that are good, honest, respectable, and gracious. Focus on the best of a situation, instead of the worst. Focus on the beautiful things in life; the things that are worth smiling about. Your perspective is the filter on your reality that directly affects your level of inner peace. Whether you see the glass half full or half empty, you are right. So why not see it half full? There are so many things that we might not be able to change. However, the one thing we can change is our perspective and whether we will allow our inner peace to be taken from us.

My answer is no, and my hope for you is that you will find your peace on earth and never let it go.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

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Home for the Holidays

Guys, it’s November. Um, what?!

I can’t believe we are already in the month of November. It seems like just yesterday we were in the month of March, and the entire country was quarantining. Now here we are in November with the country opened up a little bit more, and we have officially entered into the holiday season. So, now that most of us will be home for the holidays, let’s talk about Continue reading

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Resources for Mental and Emotional Wellness

Anxiety and depression are among the most common symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis. It can be challenging trying to navigate through life with a disease that affects both your body and your emotions. In this blog, I’d like to share some helpful resources for mental and emotional wellness. I want you to know that if you find yourself battling anxiety and depression, there are resources available to help you manage and improve your mental and emotional wellness.  Continue reading

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Out of Sight – Not So Out of Mind

Visual disorders are among the list of hidden symptoms associated with MS. Challenges with eyesight are typically considered early symptoms of MS. You could walk by a stranger on the street, and you would never know that they have MS. Hidden symptoms of MS are just that, hidden from the world. However, they are very real experiences for MS warriors. Out of sight is not always so out of mind for MS fighters. Continue reading

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