The well meaning, unhelpful approach

Forums everywhere devoted to chronic diseases seem to have one common thread among them; how to deal with well meaning people that say the worst possible things to those suffering.

Being misunderstood hurts.  Lets face it, many people out there think they know what the problem is or they make an assumption and offer advice; however, they either don’t see the problem at all or they only see a small part of the bigger picture.  People who suffer with great pain or disability find these responses everywhere.

The greatest difficulty is not being pulled into a negative trap, and allowing those comments to nag at you.  We are not going to collectively change the way people think or act, so our only course of action is to change the way we deal with some people and their comments.

First; consider how easy it is to mirror negativity.  If a person makes a comment such as “Oh! You have MS?  well it could be worse…” A first response? “wow what an insert expletive of your choice here.” This is not going to make you feel any better nor will it help the person learn a better more empathetic or compassionate response.  Don’t be too quick to judge this person.  They may not know or understand what MS is; no matter how many people they claim to know with the disease.   People seldom admit to ignorance; on the contrary, ego will often cause people to exaggerate the truth.

Compassion is a truly amazing quality to have.  If we practice compassion with everyone, even those for whom we previously felt contempt, we take down their defenses which allows them to learn and grow.  It is very difficult to be superficial or egotistical in the presence of a benevolent or compassionate person.  We tend to mirror what we are given.

Kindness does not mean allowing ourselves to become a doormat, but rather it means preserving our positive outlook.  We are doing this to help ourselves as well as the difficult person we are dealing with.

Create a positive environment around yourself.  If you present a negative side of yourself you are opening yourself to well meaning, unhelpful people.  If you present yourself in a positive light, they have no where to go with their comments.  The one thing we have control over at every moment of our lives is our attitude.  We can choose to allow our circumstances to control our attitude or we can choose to control it.  It is the same idea as smiling when inside you want to cry.  Putting on a smile will; on occasion, change the sadness within even if only for a short time.  Should a negative comment try to present itself in the conversation; turn that comment around.  For example; I recently read in a forum about a comment made where a person with MS was told “wow, it sure is a shame you are at the end of your walking days…”  Can you imagine?  Now here it would be easy to be snide or angry but this person wasn’t.  She was reserved.  A great way to avoid a scene.  Now I propose we take it one step further.  Perhaps a response such as a smile; understanding that this person has no idea what MS is, and then something like “On the contrary, there is no reason why I can’t continue to walk for a great many more years if my fate should permit”.  Leaving it at that.  Should this person wish to learn, his curiosity might propel him into action, or your gentle response might be payed forward to the next person he meets with a disability who could be having a down day.  Either way; this good deed leaves us feeling much more refreshed than pent up anger will.

Are we taking it personally?  Perhaps it is personal.  Perhaps this person has something they can teach us about ourselves.  Are we emotionally charged?  Are we angry with our situation and taking it out on a stranger because they made a thoughtless comment?  Step back from the situation and think it through.  Try not to let your mouth work before your brain has a chance to.

For those wondering “what should be said to someone who is suffering?  I only wanted to help”.  Compassion is once again the most amazing quality to have.  Consider; if you will, how hard it would be to live in pain, to have no knowledge of what your future holds, to be scared and to wonder if you will lose control over some of your most basic functions.  Now ask yourself, would you want to have the burden of telling someone how they can help?  Would you want to feel that vulnerable?  Instead, perhaps just do the kind act of making a meal, walking the dog, disseminating the updates to the family and friends so that the patient can rest.  Tell them not to worry about contacting you, that you will check in from time to time but not be a pest.  Ease their mind of things.  Not sure what to say?  Then say that!  “I don’t know what to say, but I care about you.”.  “Have you heard the latest gossip?”  Don’t underestimate the power of changing the topic, it takes all of the tension out of the situation when done at the appropriate time.  Don’t give advice unless expressly asked to, and even then do so in a general or vague manner so that the patient can still draw their own conclusions.  Sometimes a patient will want to talk things out to help draw their own conclusions but giving direct advice can inhibit the outcome and cause resentment.  Visit without visiting.  Want to help while still letting them rest?  Show up and tend to matters outside like watering the garden or shoveling the snow depending on the season.  This allows them to rest and you to help without creating any burden to the patient.  The bottom line is to be selfless.  You are trying to make things easier on the patient without worry for anything in return.  When you approach it in that manner, its likely you will not offend.


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Posted in chronic disease, chronic pain, Disease, Health, multiple sclerosis, Negativity, psychological health, RRMS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Managing Fatigue

Fatigue is a common symptom for those with Multiple Sclerosis that is experienced as a daily lack of energy, an excessive all-over body tiredness, and is generally not relieved by sleep.  This symptom has a dramatic effect on one’s quality of life.  Though good nutrition and exercise can help combat fatigue, there are ways to help one manage fatigue.

Warning signs of fatigue can include, sleepiness, tired eyes, tired legs, lack of motivation, malaise, muscle stiffness, irritability, nervousness, and anxiety.

Planning helps alleviate fatigue in some situations.  For instance you can change where the things you need throughout the day are located; to make them more accessible and cause fewer trips to reach them.  Ask for help with certain tasks; delegating will certainly help.  Plan each of your weeks ahead of time to eliminate overloading certain days.  Balance is key to maintaining energy levels.

Schedule breaks.  If you plan rest periods as you do your work you are more likely to take the breaks you need. This plays a big part in keeping your energy up.

When doing something physical, use proper body mechanics.  Lift with your legs by bending at the knees instead of your back.  Sit up straight instead of bent over. Use a cart or make a few trips instead of trying to carry heavy loads all at once.  By using proper body mechanics and alternating periods of sitting and standing we  stress our bodies less.

Try to limit the amount of work you do that causes tension in your muscles, especially reaching overhead.  Make sure you breathe properly when you carry out these tasks, do not hold your breath.

Avoid temperature extremes and the work you do in these extremes.  This includes long hot baths or showers.  These are triggers for fatigue.  Also; Avoid smoke and fumes.  Make sure you wear clothing that breathes and comfortable shoes.

Make sure that your fatigue is not something that is related to sleeping disorders, or something keeping you up at night such as cramping, bladder problems or medications.

Finally if need be; you can discuss medications that prove beneficial for people with Multiple Sclerosis; such as, Amantadine (Symmetrel®), Methylphenidate(Ritalin®), Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®), or Modafinil(Provigil®).

Posted in alternative therapy, chronic disease, Disease, Health, MS and Working, multiple sclerosis, physical therapy, psychological health, RRMS, Therapy | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

The Healing Power of Animals

Animals play an important role as companions in the lives of people, and have, since prehistoric times.  The first therapeutic use of animals is thought to date back to ninth century Belgium.

In the United States pet therapy began with psychiatric patients.  Researchers found that contact with animals helped patients open up and connect with the world around them.  Since that time; animals have proven beneficial in a wide range of institutions including; prisons, hospices, hospitals, schools and nursing homes.

Pet therapy; while enjoyable for the handler and the animal, is proven to have significant affect on patients.  Contact with an animal is proven to lower blood pressure, and can also possibly release those wonderfully natural occurring chemicals in our bodies known as endorphins which give an over-all sense of well-being. Petting, grooming or feeding an animal can assist with developing fine motor skills.  Pets help lower depression by encouraging people to express themselves more openly (it can be very difficult not to smile or talk to an animal that is pouring unconditional love and affection on us).  Communication is also encouraged with the use of verbal commands to generate a response from the animal.  Cognitive skills and communication are also enhanced by encouraging patients to write about their experiences with pet therapy.  In addition; pets are a stimulus for healthy living by creating a need to exercise, they keep us busy and can even make us feel safer and less lonely.  They also encourage social behavior by increasing the desire to interact with others who enjoy pets.

Dogs are the most commonly used therapy animal; however, cats, birds, horses, rabbits and other domestic pets are successfully screened and trained for therapy programs every day.

Pets in general far outweigh the benefits of pills in more situations than most people consider.  From a personal prospective, even on my most significant pain days I know that I have someone depending on me to get up and get mobile and many times, I find that once my mind is focused on that, it is too busy to focus on the pain.  While the pain is still there, it is not as prevalent for those moments.  My animals (I have three dogs and two horses) tend to understand my mood, my physical condition and my needs before I do.  I have lost count of how many times they’ve encouraged me to move when I’ve sat still too long.  My horses patiently allow me to lean on them when I get weak and they nudge me for hugs and kisses on their noses.  The dog I’ve had the longest even alerted me once of some embers that had ignited in the pail after I removed ashes from the fireplace.  I had left the room for only a moment but the change in her tone and the urgency of her bark alerted me something was truly wrong.

Regardless of how my disease progresses, there will never be a time I will be without the healing touch of an animal.

Posted in alternative therapy, Animals, chronic disease, chronic pain, Disease, Health, multiple sclerosis, Pain, Pets, physical pain, physical therapy, psychological health, RRMS, Therapy | 1 Comment

A Field Guide (Employment and MS)

Many of us who have MS try to balance our disease with what we can and can’t do in our private lives as well as our professional lives. Questions about whether we should tell our employer, how much does our employer need to know, will we be able to continue working, will we need special accommodations, are all important points to consider.

The first thing to think about when deciding to disclose is the reason you feel its time to do so.  Are you missing more time from work based on your illness?  Are you having trouble meeting deadlines?  Are you finding it difficult to perform a certain task at work because of your illness?

A really important factor in disclosure is how we approach the topic with our employer.  Often employers are more receptive to an employee who approaches them with a request showing how this accommodation might improve the employees performance, efficiency and reliability.  A “here is what I can do for you with these small accommodations” instead of “what I need from you” approach works best.

There are many different accommodations that might be considered in your efforts to maintain employment.  For instance, in some cases, telecommuting might be a viable option for certain circumstances.  In other situations, an altered work schedule or adaptive equipment might be necessary.  These types of adaptations can change our views on whether we can continue to do the jobs we do.

Sometimes the job we do needs to be reconsidered.  Perhaps we no longer have the cognitive ability to perform at the same level but we feel we can still contribute to the household income.  Vocational Rehabilitation is a service that provides skills training and resources to assist someone with competing for employment in a new career field.  Participants do have to meet eligibility requirements for these programs but even without this service we can prepare ourselves for a possible career change by considering our abilities, our goals and our needs.  A clear and defined plan is necessary to achieve success.

What about when working is no longer an option?  It is a difficult decision to leave the workforce for many reasons.  When faced with this decision we have to consider that we may no longer have access to insurance, we will no longer have that income, the social connections we have will lessen.

When making a decision to leave the workforce we need to do a few things first.  Review our states laws governing disability and whether we meet eligibility requirements.  Remember as well, that often times an initial claim is rejected requiring appeals and/or reapplying.  Can we survive without the income for that long?  Do we have access to Cobra coverage or do we qualify for state coverage insurance?  Remember those medications cost thousands of dollars each month.  Lastly, have we considered how we will handle unemployment?  This can trigger a wide range of emotional responses.  At one time or another we all wish we could stay home and do the things we like to do; but after a while, that can lead to feelings of frustration as we are no longer providing for the household, or making those same social connections with co-workers.  Here is where getting involved in volunteer work of some type can help us contribute as an active member of society.  Staying active and involved with people is an important part in staying emotionally healthy.

Remember; never make an important decision spur of the moment.  Always do your research and think it through carefully.  There are consequences to every action we take in life.

Posted in chronic disease, Disease, Health, MS and Working, multiple sclerosis, psychological health, RRMS | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Laughter is the Best Medicine

When is the last time you laughed so hard it brought tears to your eyes or made your sides hurt?  Humor is the most infectious way to break ice and bond with people but did you know that laughter is also good for your health?

Laughter relaxes the entire body.  Physical tension and stress leave the muscles after a hearty laugh, sometimes for up to 45 minutes.  It is also thought that laughter while decreasing stress hormones also increases immune cells and infection fighting antibodies.  That’s right!  Laughter can improve your health!  And remember endorphins?  We talked about the natural pain fighter in a previous post.  Laughter is also a trigger for endorphin release.  Those feel good chemicals your body makes.  They give you an over-all sense of well being.   Guess what else laughter does?  It improves blood flow.  This is great news for your heart.

Laughter also improves mood.  It adds joy to life.  Laughter eases anxiety, reduces fears and makes it easier to “bounce back” from difficult situations.

Consider too, the benefits of laughter in a social setting.  Laughter makes us want to be a part of things.  It draws us in.  It can make a group project more enjoyable and bonds people together in a way that nothing else can.  It is also a wonderful mechanism to diffuse conflict.  It is difficult to argue with someone who is making us laugh.

Multiple Sclerosis is a scary disease.  None of us knows how much it will affect us, physically, mentally or what it will take from us.  That in itself is not a laughing matter; however, if you learn to laugh at the silly things in life, and sometimes at ourselves, it will vastly improve your mood, your relationships and your health.  Don’t let Multiple Sclerosis rob you of your sense of humor.

Posted in alternative therapy, chronic pain, Disease, Health, multiple sclerosis, Pain, physical pain, physical therapy, psychological health, RRMS, Therapy | 2 Comments

Monitoring Cognitive Decline in MS or Cog-Fog the Untold Story

Monitoring Cognitive Decline in Multiple Sclerosis

Many Multiple Sclerosis patients experience a condition referred to as “Cog-Fog”. Cog-Fog varies from person to person but the majority of complaints come in the form of; loss of memory, inability to concentrate, language difficulties, and difficulties with problem solving.

I recently experienced a severe attack of this on a trip to our states capital for work. I’ve driven there many times for meetings but on this particular trip, I suddenly forgot how to get there or why I was going. I pulled out my GPS but when it told me to turn right, I panicked; I couldn’t remember which way was right. Everything came back to me fairly quickly; however, an experience like that leaves you rattled. I reported the episode to my doctor.

Establishing a baseline for cognitive ability is an important part of beginning to understand the extent of the impact of multiple sclerosis on the brain. The Neurologist defers to a Neuropsychologist to do the assessment.

A Neuropsychologist studies the specific structure and function of the brain as it relates to certain processes. This is important to us with MS as it looks at the relationship between the nervous system and cognitive function. Very simplified I know, but it serves the purpose for definition here.

My first experience with cognitive testing took place yesterday. The Wechsler Adult Memory Scale (WMS) involved 3 hours of testing. The test includes; spatial addition, symbol span, design memory, general cognitive screening, logical memory, verbal paired associates, and visual reproduction. A person’s performance is reported as five Index Scores: Auditory Memory, Visual Memory, Visual Working Memory, Immediate Memory, and Delayed Memory.

Scoring for my exam is not yet complete; although, the doctor did say that it was apparent through the course of the exam that I have difficulty with spatial reasoning which is important in learning and problem solving. This is not a normal state for me as I’ve often been accused of “thinking like an engineer”. This is; however, another example of how MS can rob us of our normal selves.

While the prospect of increasing cognitive deficits loom; as a result of this disease, I have hope. There is a possibility of utilizing therapies and tools to fine tune and retrain the brain to cope and still function reasonably well even with a progressive disease such as multiple sclerosis.

Putting together puzzles or using an App such as “Pictorial” is a good way to get started in improving the spatial reasoning function of the brain.

My future holds more cognitive testing and an EEG as well as some new therapies designed to remap the way my brain communicates things. I will continue to add posts on the subject as I learn more.

Posted in alternative therapy, Disease, Health, multiple sclerosis, Pain, psychological health, RRMS, Therapy | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Alternative Methods of Pain Control

Controlling chronic pain is an important part of improving one’s quality of life.  There are several alternative options to help ease the suffering.  Before trying any new type of pain relief approach it is always important to consult with a doctor.  Though many pain control alternatives exist; this article is only going to touch on a few; and remember, you are in control of your health care.  Document your pain by using a scale method, keep those records in your personal health file (we discussed that in an earlier post), document the methods you tried for pain control and how they worked, and document the time of day.  Always give this information to your doctor.  You may end up helping others with your own research trials and errors.

One important point to consider when dealing with chronic pain is your stress levels.  Stress will play an important role psychologically in your perception of pain.  It’s easy to become depressed or feel listless when you experience pain and your focus then revolves around the pain making you less likely to indulge in activity.  Inactivity and stress build and your muscles will tense in response, thereby increasing your levels of pain.  Remember to manage your stress levels to help manage your pain.  Distracting yourself with things you enjoy can help; such as watching a movie or talking with a friend.  Yoga or Tai Chi are excellent ways to relax the mind and body.  Sometimes support groups also help manage stress levels by allowing a person to connect with others who share similar feelings and thoughts.

For thousands of years; Chinese, through traditional practice, use acupuncture as a method of pain control and general well-being.  It is thought that the piercing of several tiny needles into very specific areas of skin improve the flow of energy in the body.  Science has long believed that the needles induce a reaction within the body; such as the release of certain chemicals that trigger the bodies natural healing responses.

The mind is a powerful tool.  Visualization is a type of meditation that is a proven tool to over ride the body-brain connection in some cases.  We are all familiar with the reverse affect of this.  How often do high blood pressure patients see a spike in their blood pressure when they enter a clinical setting?  It happens so often, they gave it a name; it’s called “white coat syndrome”.  We are also familiar with this phenomenon in sports when teams visualize how they are going to win and then actually winning before a big game.  Visualization can be effective in managing our pain in different ways.  One can visualize a calming place they would rather be such as a tranquil beach.  The goal is to go deep into the visualization by imagining the sites, sounds, textures and smells.  Draw on real life experiences to bring it to life.  Another type of visualization technique to reduce pain is to imagine yourself in a pain-free healthy state and yet another type of visualization is to visualize a healer.  If you are Christian, you might visualize Jesus, if you are Buddhist you might visualize the great Master of Healing, Baishajyaguru, also known as the Medicine Buddha.  Whatever you believe; there is apt to be a healing presence that you may focus on.  The act of visualization may help to stimulate the mind into triggering the bodies healing responses.

Other types of meditation are quite beneficial to some with pain management.  Livestrong.com offers terrific explanations of Mindfulness Meditation, Transcendental Meditation, and Visualization Meditation.

Pain medication is not a viable alternative for many who suffer with chronic pain, as they try to maintain employment or take care of children and run their day to day lives.  As we continue to seek other solutions, your input is very valuable.  If you have a technique that works for you that is not listed above please add your comments.

Posted in alternative therapy, Disease, Health, multiple sclerosis, Pain, physical therapy, RRMS, Therapy | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Equine Assisted Therapy

“We have almost forgotten how strange a thing it is that so huge and powerful and intelligent an animal as a horse should allow another, and far more-feeble animal, to ride upon its back.” ~ Peter Gray

Today I want to switch gears a bit and discuss a type of therapy that is beneficial to a wide variety of disabilities. I’m talking about Therapeutic Riding or Equine Assisted Therapy.

This is a type of therapy for the disabled that uses a horse and equine-oriented activities to assist with physical, emotional, cognitive, social and behavioral issues.

In High School, I volunteered with a Therapeutic Riding Center in Kansas and saw the benefits first hand. With the aid of; riding instructors, volunteers, educational specialists, behavioral specialists, and medical professionals, the young and old flourished in a unique environment.

Horses used for Therapeutic Riding are evaluated by equine professionals for disposition and ability before being accepted into a program. The horses must be deemed safe, predictable, and sound. In addition; the horses must exhibit intelligence, be well conditioned, level-headed, sensitive, patient, hard-working, balanced, and versatile. The therapy horse will experience many things in his career so he must be tolerant of loud, unpredictable noises and movements; especially those made by the rider.

Riders that come to the program improve their riding skills, gain strength, coordination and flexibility. Many riders experience greater self-esteem, improved function, and an overall happier state of mind through the program.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways that riding can improve things like balance, muscle control, spasticity, and range of motion.

When riding a horse; muscles respond by contracting and relaxing in an attempt to maintain balance. This response stimulates muscles that normally are not during conventional therapy. Coordination is a required development in order to communicate the proper signals to the horse to get the appropriate response. Horses provide instant feedback to the rider allowing the rider to know if they’ve given the correct signal.
Repetition of movements improves reflexes.

Spasticity is greatly improved with the stretching of muscles as a rider is encouraged to maintain proper posture. With heels stretched downward, calf muscles are stretched, abdominal and back muscles stretch as the rider sits upright, arm and hand muscles work as they manipulate reins. The rhythmic motion of the horse encourages muscles to relax and the warmth of the horse itself may also aid in this.

Equine assisted therapy is a wonderful way to bring both horse and rider an exciting new challenge. It is thought that therapeutic riding dates back as far as 1875, or possibly farther, as references to it are made throughout history as a way to improve neurologic disorders.

Please feel free to browse the library portion of my web page to find book references for further reading. I plan to add more in time so check back periodically.

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Essential You; losing weight when you have MS

Multiple Sclerosis presents many unique challenges to losing weight. Many of the medications we take cause weight gain. We become more sedentary as our symptoms progress, depression sets in, or our bodies protest as we become overheated during exercise.

It is possible to lose weight and maintain a healthy diet and weight with this disease; don’t let your evil twin tell you otherwise.

One of the main things we need to look at and consider in managing our disease and our weight is our diet; many of us can stand to change a few things here. I am not proposing you suddenly write down everything you eat and modify your entire pantry. Most of us would quit before we started if we had to begin there.

I propose making gradual changes.  One of the reasons so many of us fail in the first couple of attempts at this is lack of organization.  I admit, I used to have that issue.  A bit of planning will rock your world in a great way!  For instance; I know that every night, at 7:00PM, I’ve set aside 20 minutes to ride my stationary bike; at a minimum.  I also know that I need more time in the morning to prepare breakfast and lunch, shower, and take care of the animals before work, so; without fail, every morning I make sure that I get up at the first alarm toll, 5:30, no excuses.  This way, I have the time to take care of myself.  It is very hard at first to change a routine.  But remember, stick with it for 30 days straight and it will begin to form a habit, and feel like the most natural thing in the world to you.

Are you eating out for lunch every day? cut it back to three times a week to start and substitute those lost lunches with a healthy packed lunch. Increase that after a couple of weeks. The difference in your wallet might be enough to encourage you to continue with that program.  Cutting out take-out food will yield huge results as long as you are substituting it with healthy choices.

Do you know that soft drink you love so much?  Guess what?!  If you changed to a diet form or if you cut back a little you will see big results in a short period of time.  Back in the 90’s; I went from a size 5 to a size 10 in rapid order.  I had a desk job and felt tired enough at night to excuse myself from working out.  I was heavily into a major brand of cola.  Drank about 5 cans a day at a minimum.  I switched to diet and never touched the regular again one day.  I went back to a size 6 over the course of a few short months.  That was the only change I made.  What does that tell you about that sugary soft drink?  Now I will qualify this a bit; diet soda is not good for you by any means.  I am severely addicted to the soda and quitting was way to much for me to do at the time.  So I made a gradual change.  I am now cutting back the amount of diet soda I drink.  That is a bigger challenge and will take longer to do, but it will happen over time.

Do you see where I am going with this?  Make it easy on yourself and don’t worry about how much you are trying to lose or when you need to lose it by.  Just make gradual changes that are easy for you to do and things will begin to improve.

Read a lifestyle book. Not a diet book. That’s right; listen to someone who has the disease talk about what they do with their diet and life. Check out my library page for resources here. Montel Williams; Living Well is an excellent place to start. Its casual, fun, and an easy read with really great tips to a healthier you.

Now keep in mind; if you force yourself to follow a protocol for thirty days, it will begin to become a habit. The hardest work you will do will be the first 30 days, after that it begins to become part of your nature, and simple regular maintenance checks will keep you in line.

What about exercise?  Do you get any?  Maybe just the workout that your fingers get on the keyboard of your computer?  hmmm.  We need to work on that.  Do you think you could manage a 10 minute walk (even at a snails pace to begin with)  down your street?  That is a place to start.  Maybe Fido would like to go with you and may even help encourage you to keep it up.  You may start to appreciate the sunrises or sunsets so much that you forget why you are walking.  Its a great time to ease your mind, think about pleasant things. Smell the fresh air.  Listen to the sounds outside your home.  Suddenly that 10 minutes becomes 20 and you didn’t even realize it.

Perhaps you feel ready for something stronger.  Get a stationary bike and do 10 or 20 minutes.  Play your favorite tunes on your ipod and start peddling.  Close your eyes and imagine riding down a road by the beach, air is warm on your skin, you can smell the salty air, palm trees line the road, people are smiling at you as you go by, you are at your ideal weight and feel great.  Visualization takes your mind off of what you are doing.  That 20 minutes will fly by, and you will find that your mind will crave that little break in thought.  It becomes a little mini vacation.  Your getting exercise and having fun doing it.

A few last words about diet.  Eat whole foods;  Vegetables and fruits.  Visit that produce aisle in your grocery.  Cut back the prepared foods.  I know they are easier, but it will make a huge difference in how you feel.  Eat meat if you want, just remember, everything in moderation.  If you like ice cream, eat it as a treat on Sundays and cut back to two scoops instead of three.  Make sense?  Small changes are going to rock your world.  Just make it part of who you are. Take that 30 day challenge to make some healthy habits.

The last piece of advice I have for you; don’t try anything radical.  No one diet is going to cure MS.  No one diet is going to forever change your life.  You need to work on changing you first.  Get more organized, make healthier choices, give yourself some time. You will get there!  Good luck.

Posted in Diet, Disease, Health, multiple sclerosis, RRMS | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

Funny Moments

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease with many faces; It affects each of us differently. We struggle with the difficult aspects of this disease but there are always moments that make us laugh in spite of ourselves.  This post; is dedicated to those moments.  All who enjoy the laughter, are encouraged to comment and share your stories; whether they are MS related or not, because we all know that laughter is the best medicine.

One of the symptoms of MS that many patients experience is vibration in various parts of their bodies.  My most notable spot is my right hip; which by some strange coincidence is the same place where my cell phone resides about 90% of my life.  I’m sure you see where this is going.  I keep my phone on vibrate most of the time because I spend so much time in meetings for work and I receive so many work related calls that the ring tone becomes an annoyance.  The vibration is exactly the same intensity as my phone and comes and goes regularly.  I’ve quite often picked up my cell phone and answered it (without looking at the screen) only to find there was no one there.  The first few times I became quite annoyed and was ready to call the carrier and ask why I kept dropping calls.  Fortunately I realized that it is my MS chiming in to remind me that I need to take care of myself.  I now place my hand on my phone whenever I feel it to make sure it is a call and not the MS before answering!

Another symptom of MS is issue with memory and cognition.  Now this is a frustrating symptom and can be very scary at times, but sometimes I can look back and laugh at a few of the things I’ve forgotten or confused and how it played out.

The first time I let the horse water trough overflow I was dead certain that wasn’t the case and it wasn’t my fault.  I turned the water on with the hose in the trough and walked to the barn to throw the girls a hay bale.  In that brief period of time, I forgot I had turned on the water and proceeded to tend to other things.  When I came back there was water all over the ground and at that time I remembered I had filled the trough but not that I had left the water running.  I spent about 5 minutes searching for the source of the leak before the light bulb went off and I realized what happened.

One of my favorites is when I call someone all fired up about something and I am ready to “give them hell” and when they answer, I forget why I am calling or who I wanted to speak to.  The stumbling over words is classic but when the other person patiently waits for me to figure things out, by the time I do, the situation is usually diffused with some laughter and a statement like “oh don’t worry, I do that all the time…” and I think to myself  “buddy, you have no idea!”.

I’ve made coffee without adding the coffee to the coffee machine.  I forget peoples names right after they are introduced (that really scores big with clients).

So come one…confession is good for the soul, and laughter will lighten your load…what are some of the more forgettable moments you’ve experienced with this disease?

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