Saturday, April 29, 2006

To Smoke or Not To Smoke

Cigarettes? No, Never.

Marijuanna? No, it’s illegal, well maybe -- What about a mouth spray?

Medical marijuana has often been a topic in the news and on political agendas of a handful of states, but it is difficult to obtain. Anecdotal evidence provides most of our information in the United States because laws and wide-spread drug anxiety limit official research.

However, the National MS Society has reported on benefits and side effects of marijuana derivatives (specifically THC) to treat spasticity, tremors, and pain. In the society’s official statement, a report was cited that cautions smoking delivers an uncontrolled dosage where specific compounds hold promise for MS symptoms. But now there is breaking news that might update the official stance.

In January, the F.D.A. approved advanced clinical trials of a marijuana-derived drug called Sativex, which comes in the form of a mouth spray. Sativex has been approved in Canada for the treatment of neuropathic pain associated with multiple sclerosis, and it is available by prescription (though not yet fully licensed) in Spain and Britain. According to GW Pharmaceuticals, the British company that makes the drug, more than 1,500 patients in those three countries are using Sativex to alleviate pain, muscle spasticity and other serious problems.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

MS and Fatigue

I’m just a little tired.

Once, when I was still going in to work every day, I told someone I was fatigued. She answered that sometimes she was tired, too. I’m not really talking about being tired, I’m talking about fatigue.

I know. Late Friday afternoon after a really grueling week when I didn’t have the strength to get in my car to go home, when just vegetating in front of the TV took too much energy – those were my good days. More than tired. Fatigued.

Now, some mornings it is hard to get out of bed. Not because I’m sleepy, I am wide awake. But actually pushing myself up, scooting to the edge of the bed, transferring to my chair, getting dressed. Some mornings it is hard to get out of bed.

My window of activity is short – 10 hours, 12 if it’s a good day – and it’s frustrating. I enjoy being up. I seem to have a different level of energy when I’m sitting up maybe just a different perspective, almost as if I am participating in the world. It feels good to be up and around. But I have to go back to bed while I still have the energy to make the effort.

There are many symptoms associated with MS, and no MSer has them all, but most MSers have fatigue. Over 80% of people with MS have fatigue and probably have a hard time getting out of bed. Fatigue is not exclusive to MSers, other people have it, too, but more MSers have fatigue than any other single symptom. MS and debilitating fatigue seem to be partners.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Any Questions?

Find some answers. My favorite upright Garry found this example of our tax dollars at work.

Medline Plus a division of the National Institute of Health presents over 165 interactive tutorials with programs about diseases, treatments, surgeries, procedures, and prevention. I watched and listened to the Multiple Sclerosis and Osteoporosis modules. Each program lasted about 15 or 20 minutes.

There were many diseases from acne to breast cancer to tennis elbow. Other pages of the Patient Education Institute site provide “information therapy” on medications, bird flu, research and more.

Definitely worth it.

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New Research News

New research results include two studies I found particularly interesting. The first is a re-evaluation of diagnostic procedures and criteria, and the second addresses the fact that MS is often accompanied by depression.

Diagnosis Study

An MRI alone is not sufficient for a positive MS diagnosis. The article was written based on comparing 29 studies that evaluated the accuracy of MRI as a diagnostic tool. Two of the studies followed patients for more than 10 years comparing the estimate to the actual symptoms. And absence of lesions does not guarantee that MS will not develop.

A positive diagnosis is made only after two attacks at diifferent times affect different parts of the nervous system.

Depression and MS
A three-year study concerning depression reached conclusions that are not too surprising.
Symptoms of depression vary over time in direct relation to the MSer’s use of active coping. It also found Interferon bet increased risk of depressed moods.

For more research news, check out the MS International Federation.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Rally for Sally

Just like MS, Osteoporosis does not discriminate. Sweet Sally Field -- our Gidget, our innocent Flying Nun, strong Norma Rae and many others – youthful Sally Field was on the Today Show this morning reminding women to get bone density scans and to take care of our bones to improve our quality of life.

Sally recommends Healthy Bones.

Remember, for MSers, osteoporosis is more common and more serious than the general population. Get a bone scan and Rally for Sally.

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Vicki's Animated Icon

When I first started this blog, I asked Garry to create a putt-putt scooter icon for me to use on my blog, and here it is! The only problem is now my hair is getting windblown.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Walking for MS

Thank you to everyone walking and volunteering and contributing at the MS Walk.

I pulled out a couple of pictures taken at the MS Walk held on the beautiful SMU campus.

There’s still one to come – Waco will hold their MS Walk in September in Cameron Park. I graduated from high school in Waco and spent many days riding on the horse trails and hiking overlooking the Brazos River. Sounds like an ideal setting for a September walk. Again, thank you to all of the participants!

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Friday, April 07, 2006

Disability -- only physical?

We know MS can result in physical problems, but it is also common to experience problems with cognitive processing. Trouble with learning and memory is quite common in MS, but there has been little research toward developing treatment for cognitive deficits.

Dr. Nancy Chiaravalloti found that treatment using imagery and context improves memory in individuals with MS.

While small, this study supports previous findings that learning and memory deficits in MS can be improved through a memory rehabilitation program using context and imagery to improve learning. Memory deficits in MS can be improved in rehabilitation.

Jeffrey Gingold wrote his story in a ‘mental wheelchair’ in FACING THE COGNITIVE CHALLENGES OF MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS. This story is available for loan through the MSF Lending Library. Call 1-888-MSFOCUS (673-6287). Or to purchase a copy, click here.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Reading for MSers and Wheelers

Not everyone with MS uses a wheelchair, and not every wheelchair sitter is an MSer. Here’s a magazine for everyone -- New Mobility. The readership is wheelchair users, and there is a special department called “MS Life.”

It is New Mobility’s mission to improve the quality of life of wheelchair users. They help readers make informed decisions and focus on living life fully. The goal is to “create infinite options for a life on wheels.”

A subscription in the United States costs around $30, more for Canadian and international addresses.

If you want to know more before subscribing, check out the web site. The site has links to the community and to companies that serve wheelers, experts online willing and able to answer questions, and classified ads, both personal and product-related. Enter "sample issue" in the search field for a list of printable articles. The home page summarizes stories and articles.

One story tells about Tatyana McFadden, a high school sophomore with spina bifida who wants to be allowed to wheel at track meets alongside non-disabled classmates. She is not asking for special favors, but wants to participate with her friends. She does not want to be isolated by her disability.

MSers of all ages, in or not in chairs, can learn from Tatyana. Disabled and non-disabled can be inspired by her spirit.

New Mobility looks like a good magazine.

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