Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hope from Research

Scientists in New York's Downstate and Maimonides Medical Centre have developed a substance that halts MS progression in mice. HALTS MS progression. In mice, but that's a step in the right direction.

The agent is made using a calcium-dependent enzyme called a calpain inhibitor. The researchers found MS was inhibited in the mice whether given orally or by injection. They also said the agent showed promise for both acute and chronic MS. Oral or injection, acute and chronic. This sounds like a research program that offers hope to MSers.

Here is an article in, and another in EurekAlert identifying the researchers.

Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s may also benefit from this research.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Stem Cells -- How Do They Help with MS?

We hear about the possibility that stem cell research could benefit MS, but exactly what does that mean? Would stem cell research pinpoint the cause? Find a cure? Lead to a better treatment?

Here is a study that relates stem cell research with the destruction and repair of myelin. The auto-immune inflammation must be suppressed and growth inhibitors must be blocked before the myelin can regenerate itself.

Now, here's where the stem cells come in. Transplanting stem cells gives the myelin regrowth a jump start. Please realize that this is my interpretation of a medically technical article full of big words like oligodendrocytes that I don't normally use in everyday conversation. But I think that's what it said. First the destruction has to be stopped, then the stem cell transplant can start the repair.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

University of Maryland Medical Center

The University of Maryland Medical Center has an informative web site, allowing the reader to enter a topic, such as MS. It lists valuable links, including symptoms common in the early stages, as well as symptoms that show up as time passes, and possible triggers for exacerbations. If you are in the area, you can learn how to become a UMMC patient and select from their list of specializing doctors. If you do not live in Maryland, you may still benefit from browsing their links.

Check other diseases and conditions for an equally comprehensive list of links. I looked at Osteoporosis and found sites I had not seen before.

Good work UMMC!

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Relax -- Enjoy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner is more than just another meal.

Cooking all day, serving, then cleaning up. Or, you may be coordinating the order. There are guests who don't always leave after dinner. There is family. . . everywhere. Or maybe this year is a quiet meal, shared with a spouse or one friend. Or maybe just you.

Thanksgiving is a danger warning, whether there is too much activity or not enough. Beware.

Remember that stress can exacerbate MS symptoms. Relax, and enjoy.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Advocacy Works

A new Medicare policy restricting the criteria for the mobility device doctors could prescribe has been overturned.

NMSS details how MSers and other advocates helped overturn the unfair policy. Once again physicians can prescribe wheelchairs or scooters based on functional needs instead of relying on an arbitrary test (stand, pivot, transfer) that is not necessarily appropriate.

Great work. Keep it up!

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Please Sign the Petition

NMSS is behind a petition drive to increase federal funding MS research. The MS Society is asking for 200,000 signatures.

If you have MS, or if you know someone who does, click here to read the information and include your name. It takes only a moment. Then email the URL to your friends and family who would like to support the effort to find a cause, improve treatment, and miraculously find a cure.

Thank you.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Open Enrollment

From November 15 to December 31 is open enrollment for Plan D.

Earlier this year many of us signed up for Medicare Plan D to take advantage of prescription benefits. There were so many advertisements luring us, but they were confusing and difficult to compare.

Happy with your plan? Lucky you!

Ready to change plans? Armed with several months of experience, it should be easier to review the various plans. NMSS has tips on choosing a plan and applying for financial assistance.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Is this all?

You have MS. Are you still at risk for cancer? For a stroke? Isn't the MS enough?

Well, yes, it is enough, but there is no guarantee you won't also develop another chronic disease. Many blogs and stories I read include tales about a second, or even third medical problem in addition to MS. Life isn't fair.

No, life is not fair and contracting one condition does not reduce the chance of contracting another. I have secondary MS, which is not fair in itself. I also have severe osteoporosis. Not fair again. We all have to take care of ourselves, and that responsibility does not end when one disease is diagnosed.

You have MS. How do you find out if you are at risk, and what do you do to reduce that risk?

The Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention has developed a quick -- less than 5 minutes -- questionnaire to help determine your risk. It also gives tips for strengthening your health chances based on your results. Test for osteoporosis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. I did. It was fun, the results were correct and informative.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Thanks Shemar

Shemar Moore started as a fashion model, but soon became known to television audiences. Monday, Moore appeared on Ellen, where he talked about his family, especially his mother who has MS. He is currently one of the FBI profilers on Criminal Minds.

Shemar told about his ride in the MS Bike Tour.

He didn't ride alone. In fact, Shemar was joined by some of the cast and crew, including
Mandy Patinkin
and Thomas Gibson.

Actors often describe their relationships while working on a television series as "like a family." How nice the Criminal Minds family joined Shemar in riding 100 miles for his mother.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

What about Yoga?

MS challenges us in all facets of life, and exercising is no exception. But aerobics may not be the best program for the MSer. Yoga, however, is an excellent aid to symptom management, for the mildly disabled AND the non-ambulatory according to the American Yoga Association.

Martha Patt received the Champion of Courage grant to produce a DVD aimed at helping MSers incorporate yoga into their daily lives. Patt was diagnosed in 1984, practices yoga daily, and teaches yoga for the NMSS. She says it helps with her leg pains and anxiety. She was named a Betaseron Champion of Courage in 2004. The DVD was scheduled for production in the falloff 2005. Interested? Email Martha at for more information.

Yoga is also recommended for caregivers.

Sue Lee grew up with yoga -- both grandfathers practiced and her mother taught before she began teaching. Her husband was diagnosed in the late 70's.
She developed a form of yoga specifically for MSers. Find her videos here.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

The Election Is Over -- What Now?

Some of the new representatives will be in their home districts until the 110th Congress is seated. Take advantage of this time to inform them about issues important to the MS community. Here are some issues that should interest them:
  • Stem cell research passed both the House and Senate earlier this year. Maybe now the re-introduced measure can survive a veto.
  • There is talk about stricter oversight of Plan D, specifically concerning costs.
  • Research funding is always important, especially addressing NIH re-authorization passed by the House but not the Senate.
  • A bill has been introduced that will allow the FDA to allow low-cost generics for drugs produced from living organisms.
For details about these issues, visit the NMSS.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Still Working with MS?

Chronic illnesses, including MS, often cause people to quit the job market prematurely. Rehabilitation was often focused on re-entering the work force. However, the recent focus is more often aimed at job retention.

Here is a study about the trend of intervention to train people to request accommodations or improve psychosocial skills, determining which methods produce the most positive results.

There is evidence that training to request accommodations and to build self-confidence in dealing with work-related problems is effective. Evidence was weak because of the short follow-up, but the conclusion was that more rigorous study is required. The need is for participants, both as patients and as physicians.

When my doctor recommended that I retire, she also cautioned me. I struggled with the decision and I know it was right for me. It is difficult. Be careful.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

To the Slopes

November. Time for sweaters, fireplaces, planning for the holidays and your ski trip. Yes, ski trip.

The Adaptive Sports Association (ASA), a non-profit organization that works to enhance the lives of the disabled, offers the New Dimension Scholarship for snow skiing. The ASA has been serving hysically and cognitively disabled people for over 20 years helping them enjoy sports with adaptive equipment.

The ski scholarship includes roundtrip transportation to Durango, Colorado, 5 nights lodging and meals, accessible ground transportation, and 4 days instruction. Thanks to an MSF grant, ASA will host more MSers.

Skiing and snowboarding are popular activities with the disabled. Wonder how it works? Visit this site for ways to adapt.

Apply by Dec. 15. Good luck!

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Everyday Warriors

President Bush proclaimed November as National Family Caregiver's Month, honoring over 50 million Americans providing care for loved ones. Caregivers need care, too, and the Internet has information and support for family members providing special care.

Family Caregiver Alliance a public voice for families caring for family members with chronic diseases, offers programs to support and sustain families nationwide.

Ability Hub has a section specifically for emotional and spiritual support of caregivers, or as they say, everyday warriors.

CareGivers-USA is a nationwide directory of caregiver support services, all free and confidential. National Family Caregiver's Association suggests ten ways to show appreciation for services valued over $3 billion.

My caregiver is Garry, and I don't know what I would do without him. I hope I don't have to find out.

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