Life With MS

MS Diagnoses Inspires Connection Building

By: Randy PatrickI woke up on July 1, 2012, with numbness around my tailbone that spread throughout my stomach after a few hours. I could tell if something was touching me, but it just didn’t feel normal. This was a Sunday so my doctor’s office was closed. I spoke to an on-call physician and was directed to the emergency room. I answered many questions and disclosed my normal activities.
Life With MS, Men

Learning to Let Go

By: Jessica PetroffWhen you are first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, it can be extremely overwhelming – not just for you, but also for your family and friends. At first, you try to learn as much as possible about MS, so you can be prepared to advocate for your health and answer questions from family and friends. (At least, that’s how I was and still am.)
Life With MS, Family-Friends

How to Support a Family Member with MS

By: Annie BrewsterI love my husband, but he is the king of putting his foot in his mouth. In the beginning of our relationship, it took me a while to gather enough courage to tell him about my multiple sclerosis. I was terrified that he would consider me damaged, or a high-risk investment given the very real possibility of significant disability in my future. I finally blurted it out on our third date, after a glass of wine at dinner. “Oh, I have a friend from college who died of that,” he said.
Life With MS, Family-Friends

Adapting to MS’ Parenting Challenges

By: Shelley Peterman SchwarzI was so naive and unprepared when I became a parent. I was completely overwhelmed by the 24/7 responsibility. And I certainly didn’t expect to be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis! Every day, it seemed I lost physical abilities, and I didn’t have the energy or stamina of a normal 32-year-old mother. It was difficult and depressing for me, especially when I saw what other mothers were doing.
Life With MS, Family-Friends

How MS Affects the Family

By: Emily CadeMS does not exist in a bubble. Those with MS know that, while this condition affects them in ways many people cannot understand, it is not only the person with the disease whose life is touched. Their families are also affected, and, frequently, that brings about changes in family dynamics (the way family members relate to and interact with one another). But not all change is negative.
Life With MS

My Life with Multiple Sclerosis

By: Diana ValerianoIt was a beautiful, hot day in July and I was sitting by the pool getting a suntan when I noticed my right hand had a prickly feeling in it, like when your hand falls asleep. I didn’t think anything of it. I rubbed it and the feeling came back. Later on, I went in the house and showered and dressed.
Life With MS, Women

Improve Your Cognitive Challenges with Technology

By: Joanne FortunatoWhile cognitive problems affect almost everyone as they age, the cognitive problems for MS patients are often more prevalent and life-altering. There is a lot of hype about using brain-training apps to improve cognitive difficulties. However, there is limited research to show that these apps actually change any physiological brain functioning. Added to that is the fact that they often have subscription fees. There are many other ways technology can help with the cognitive challenges you face on a daily basis.
Life With MS

On the Road with Technology

By: Joanne FortunatoIf you are not at home, but find yourself needing or wanting to use your mobile device, rest assured it is very easy and can be very useful. The first consideration is whether or not you need to be connected to the Internet. It is necessary to have a Wi-Fi or cellular-enabled device to connect. All smart phones have cellular and Wi-Fi capabilities. Whether you can take advantage of these capabilities, especially while traveling, depends upon your carrier and plan.
Life With MS

If You’re Going to Use a Cane, Use a Cane!

By: Ann Pietrangelo You don’t think much about walking. You just do it. You put one foot in front of the other and go from here to there without a thought – until you can no longer do that without a great deal of effort.
Life With MS, Women

Making Travel More Accessible

By: Jeri MurphyAt 25 years old, I was running my own start-up business. I was a hard worker, but also partied hard. I was putting in about 70 work hours a week, drinking heavily in my spare time, and pretty much living on junk food. I weighed more than 100kg (about 220 pounds) and was generally unfit and unhealthy.
Life With MS

Pushing Back to Help Others

By: Anson KowanjkoAt 25 years old, I was running my own start-up business. I was a hard worker, but also partied hard. I was putting in about 70 work hours a week, drinking heavily in my spare time, and pretty much living on junk food. I weighed more than 100 kg (about 220 pounds) and was generally unfit and unhealthy. My symptoms started in early 2004 with stabbing pins-and-needles-type headaches and a constant ache behind my right eye. I had slightly blurred vision in my right eye, but never really took too much notice of it. I guess with such long hours and late nights I assumed it was due to tiredness.
Life With MS, Men

A Journey of Exploration and Self-Discovery

By: Marianly H. PrimmerWendy Booker was standing at more than 23,000 feet elevation. She was fighting nausea, imbalance, a partially numb face, a weak left arm and severe numbness and tingling on the left side of her body, but continued to persevere.
Life With MS, Women

Screening Success: Navigating the TSA Checkpoint with MS

By: MSF staffSince its creation in 2001, the Transportation Security Administration has been responsible for security screenings in most U.S. airports, as well as setting the standards for private firms that carry out screenings for all other flights. The policies of this controversial and frequently criticized agency added a new level of complexity to air travel in the United States, particularly for those with medical conditions and disabilities.
Life With MS

When MS Puts the Brakes on Driving

By: Abiodun Akinwuntan, Ph.D., MPH, DRS, and Hannes Devos, Ph.D., DRSDriving is an important activity of daily living and one that is needed to maintain a good quality of life. As of 2009, there were about 210 million licensed drivers (approximately 68 percent of the population) in the U.S. However, driving is risky and sometimes results in crashes. Driving can be more challenging for individuals with multiple sclerosis. One study showed an accident rate three times higher for individuals with MS than age-matched individuals with no diagnosis of MS.
Life With MS

Vehicle Modifications Let You Stay Behind the Wheel

By: Christopher C. PaineDriving is a fact of life in America. Getting where you need to go often requires being able to get in the car and go from point A to point B and back again, perhaps with a few impromptu stops in between. But when you live with multiple sclerosis, it may not be so simple. While most people with MS will never require a wheelchair, there are those who may require modifications to their vehicle so they can retain their freedom of movement on the open road. The steps involved in staying mobile are getting an evaluation, deciding on the vehicle modifications, and paying for them.
Life With MS

Winter Weather: Coping with the Challenges

By: MSF staffAs autumn’s fiery red and gold fade into winter’s gray, the skies grow dark and temperatures drop. While the plunging temperatures may bring relief to those who cope with heat intolerance, for those with balance and gait issues, spasticity, bladder dysfunction, or depression associated with their MS, the colder weather can present new challenges. How can you adapt?
Life With MS

Finding Your Holiday Cheer When You’re on Your Own

By: Emily Cade, M.S., CCM, CRC, CLCPWhen we think about the holidays, visions of grand meals with friends and family gathered around the table and bustling activities are usually the first visions to come to mind. While this vision is reality for many, there are others who experience less activity around the holidays. For people with chronic conditions, spending the holidays alone can be a struggle, but there are ways that you can make these times more enjoyable.
Life With MS, Family-Friends

Take the Daze Out of Holidays

By: Erika Bolin “It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” the old song proclaims. But for many people with multiple sclerosis, the holidays may be one of the most stressful. Purchasing presents and organizing holiday get-togethers is not necessarily easy for anyone. But when you consider the fatigue and other symptoms people with MS face and the medical expenses involved in managing a chronic disease, the period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day can be an added source of stress that can make living with MS more difficult.
Life With MS, Family-Friends

Gifts that Give: Your Guide to Holiday Giving

By: Marianly H. PrimmerThe holidays are known as a time of kindness and giving. But with the hustle and bustle of the season, it can be difficult to find time for helping others. Now you can complete your shopping list and help people with MS at the same time. We found the gifts that give back.
Life With MS

Teen is Taking on MS

By: Marianly H. PrimmerIt started with bad headaches, then nausea. Angie Leary was a junior at Western High School when doctors told her she was suffering from migraines. Nonetheless she continued to plow through the school year. Angie is used to having a lot on her plate. She’s a natural overachiever. She also holds three leadership positions in school, and has been practicing karate for 14 years.
Life With MS, Pediatric

To Beat MS, Embrace Your Inner McMurphy

By: Angelina LearyI was diagnosed the Sunday before my senior year of high school. I’m not going to lie, I felt as if I checked myself into the self-pity of that same Oregon ward. I felt the societal (false) belief that my life would be controlled in the same fashion Nurse Ratched controls her patients – and I had no say. I felt as if my own body placed me into this imprisonment.
Life With MS, Pediatric

Our MS Superheroes Five unforgettable Tales of people fighting against MS

By: MSF staffForget Spiderman, Batman and the Avengers. We offer you real heroes fighting multiple sclerosis every day and contributing to the larger MS community. As part of the 2015 National MS Education and Awareness Month®, and with your help, the MSF set out to find them. And you came through. Dozens of worthy nominations were made in the MS Superhero Awards, making it difficult to pick just three winners.
Life With MS, Family-Friends

Meet Your 2015 MSF Ambassadors

By: MSF staffMeet the Foundation's 2015 MSF Ambassadors. Ambassadors are people with MS who carry the message of hope into communities.
Life With MS

A Disabled Attorney, a Hotel and the ADA

By: Nelson M. SternWhen you make a reservation at a hotel do you ask if they have a bathroom? Do you ask if they have doors and lights in the rooms, or even if there is an entrance? Of course not. But put the word “accessible” before each of these items and you have the questions that I, a disabled person, must ask a hotel when making a reservation.
Life With MS

David Osmond Inspires MS Community Through Song

By: David OsmondI’m David Osmond and my story is a lot like many others living with relapsing multiple sclerosis. It started with a difficult diagnosis, leading me through a journey from anger to denial, and eventually to the motivation to face this disease head-on. Following the experience of my diagnosis and treatment, I’ve been fortunate enough to share my story and help empower those who have also been affected by the disease.
Life With MS

MS-TECH 101 Videos and Voice Calling

By: Joanne FortunatoVideo chatting seems almost Jetsons-like, but today, it is a reality. All you need is a Wi-Fi connection and a device with a front-facing camera. Of course, the person you are calling needs the same equipment. The amazing thing about video calls is that because they are made on a Wi-Fi network, you can call to and from anywhere in the world as long Wi-Fi is available to both the caller and the recipient.
Life With MS

Tips to Parents

By: Shelley Peterman SchwarzWhen my two children were young, I always felt tired and sleep deprived. Jamie and Andrew were normal, active infants and toddlers, but they were not great sleepers. I still vividly remember how my husband Dave and I took turns sleeping-in on weekend mornings. It did help, but I looked forward to a time when the children were more self-sufficient and needed me less.
Life With MS

Intimacy and MS: Make It Your Own

By: Dan Digmann and Jennifer Digmann, MAFor most people living with multiple sclerosis, it’s easy to talk about the day you were diagnosed, symptoms leading up to your diagnosis, and experiences you’ve had with disease-modifying medicines. But the conversation can get quite complicated when questions are asked about intimacy and MS.
Life With MS, Family-Friends

6 Non-Sexual Intimacy Boosters

By: Gay FalkowskiWhile asking your doctor to treat sexual problems related to MS is important, it’s also helpful to know there are steps you can take outside of the bedroom or the doctor’s office to increase intimacy between you and your loved one.
Life With MS, Family-Friends

Keeping the Love Alive

By: Laura McCatty, RN, BSN, MSCN and Mark McCattyHaving good relationships, especially with those closest to us, is essential for good physical and mental health. A lack of strong, intimate relationships is associated with depression, cognitive decline, and increased mortality. A study of the general population found that a lack of strong relationships increased the risk of premature death roughly comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. Positive personal relationships have a high trust component.
Life With MS

Creating and Building Relationships with MS A Dialogue between an MS Specialist Nurse and Psychologist

By: Dr. Miriam Franco, MSW, Psy.D. MSCS, and Dorothea “Dottie” Cassidy Pfohl, RN, BS, MSCNWhether you have a chronic illness or not, it’s helpful to keep in mind that intimacy, from a psychological perspective, simply refers to having authentic experiences with others, whether they are positive or negative. Certainly, when you have MS, it complicates things.
Life With MS

Ebooks and Videos From Your Library

By: Joanne FortunatoGetting digital entertainment such as eBooks and audiobooks is relatively simple. All you need is an Internet connection and a mobile device, such as a phone or tablet.
Life With MS

Transforming MS Pain Into Music, Art

By: Marc PetersMy name is Marc, and I am a beat maker and graphic designer from Richmond, Va. My story begins on Dec. 18, 2009, the last day of fall finals at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.
Life With MS, Men

Voices: One Woman Wins Her Battle With Depression

By: Pedra BlackwellThis is the worst sadness you’ve ever felt. No, it is more than sadness. It is hopelessness, despair, and a disappointment in yourself and life in general. You don’t feel like doing anything: bathing, dressing, or combing your hair. You just want to be left alone. You want to be by yourself. Depression makes you feel miserable. I’ve been there.
Life With MS

The Relationship Between Depression and MS

By: Amy MB Sullivan, Psy.D., and Lucille Carriere, Ph.D.Depression is a common condition that appears simultaneously in the multiple sclerosis population. It affects quality of life and is linked to worsened disease outcome. In large population studies of individuals diagnosed with MS, the likelihood of major depression varies between 26 and 51 percent.
Life With MS

Disability.gov – A One-Click Resource

By: Jay Hass This article spotlights the Disability.gov site, which is a government resource available to help those who have multiple sclerosis and other chronic illnesses.
Life With MS

Privacy and Security in the Digital Age

By: Joanne Fortunato While there is no foolproof way to be one hundred percent secure, there are ways to minimize your online risk. Here are some simple steps to make your information more secure as you browse the Internet.
Life With MS

Examining the Safety of Aspartame

By: Ellen Whipple Guthrie, Pharm.D.For several years, an alarming and controversial report has been circulating on the Internet, claiming that the artificial sweetener aspartame can cause multiple sclerosis and a host of other ailments. Certain versions of the report even claim that MS symptoms will disappear if intake of aspartame is halted. MSFocus frequently receives letters questioning the truth of these allegations. Ellen Guthrie, Pharm.D. now explores the question, is aspartame safe?
Life With MS

Keep Cool and Stay Fit

By: Stephanie Butler, NP, MSCNMany people with multiple sclerosis experience temperature sensitivity, and ironically, getting overheated can worsen symptoms. This article includes five tips for things those with MS can do to keep cool.
Life With MS

Missing Faces: Facial Recognition Loss Something to Talk About

By: Jeffrey N. Gingold By accepting that you may be enduring MS thinking difficulties, you will better understand the challenges, leading to successful coping techniques and not surrendering to them. Whatever path you chose for yourself, always include time for those extra hugs. It will reinforce a relationship and buy you a few seconds more to gather your thoughts.
Life With MS

Talking About: Family Conversations

By: MSFocus staffSince MS is such a variable disease, needs are constantly changing. Ongoing family conversations are therefore going to be needed. Whenever there is a significant change in disease course or function, or if there is a change in the family that will impact family roles, another conversation needs to happen.
Life With MS, Family-Friends

When You Want to Help But Don't Know How

By: Jan GobenA writer with MS shares what she has learned from others as she gathers stories about supporting someone with a chronic illness.
Life With MS, Family-Friends

Forging a Better Understanding: What to Do When Aphasia Disrupts Communication

By: Lori Bartels-TobinAs a caregiver, you may have noticed times when your loved one with MS struggles to find the right words to say, or seems confused by what you are saying. The cause may be aphasia, a disorder resulting from damage to the cerebral cortex and affecting communication.
Life With MS, Family-Friends

Caregivers: Secure Your Own Oxygen Mask First

By: MSF StaffIf you are caring for a loved one with MS who is significantly disabled, you are probably facing some serious daily challenges. In fact, you may be so overwhelmed with responsibilities that you haven’t even considered your own mismanaged stress, poor diet, physical inactivity, unrecognized or undiagnosed depression, denial, fear, isolation, loneliness, or grief – all of which increase your risk for future health problems.
Life With MS, Family-Friends

Bathing Basics for Caregivers

By: MSF StaffThose who require assistance with the intimate task of bathing may experience a myriad of feelings such as modesty, shame, vulnerability, sadness, or low self-esteem. As a caregiver, you can empower your care-receiver to overcome these negative feelings by learning all the right moves. By knowing what to do and how to do it, you can make bathing a positive experience.
Life With MS, Family-Friends

The Irony of Caregiver Guilt

By: Gary BargAfter eight years of taking care of both of her parents by herself, Mary had a stroke. The stroke affected her mobility and leg strength, but most importantly to Mary, it meant her caregiving days were over. Her doctor said if she went back to full-time, around-the-clock caregiving, she would likely predecease her 86- and 89-year-old parents.
Life With MS, Family-Friends

For Family and Friends: How You Can Help

By: Adapted from the works of Sherri L. ConnellWhen a person has a chronic illness, they are forced to give up countless dreams from losing a career to the inability to complete simple daily tasks. The independence they had all of their lives is suddenly gone and they are left with the struggle of needing help, yet, feeling like a burden if they ask for it; besides, if they do find the courage to call, it will inevitably be a bad time for you. A person with a chronic illness will tell you how you can help, if you simply listen.
Life With MS, Family-Friends

Caregiving: Understanding Resistance

By: MSF StaffWe live in a culture that reinforces the belief that it is better to give than to receive. As a result, caring for another human being is seen as a selfless, loving and generous act. Being needed by another person provides a sense of purpose, and enhances self-esteem.
Life With MS, Family-Friends

Anger as Ally: Experiences in Caregiving

By: Jane CarringtonIf you can begin to perceive anger as your ally and work with it, instead of against it, you will start to see positive changes in your physical and emotional health and in your relationships. Indeed, anger is a gift – but you must observe it and embrace it before you can reap its rewards.
Life With MS

A Lifesaver For Caregivers

By: MSF StaffOn December 21, 2006, the president signed the Lifespan Respite Care Act of 2006 (HR 2348) into law, finally acknowledging the millions of Americans caring for a loved one in the home.
Life With MS, Family-Friends

Natural Disaster - Planning to Safeguard Key Data Holds Lessons for Those with MS

By: Martin M. Shenkman, Esq.Earlier this year, devastating tornadoes wreaked havoc and caused death and destruction throughout the Midwest and South. While personal safety and rebuilding homes are a priority for so many affected, there is a general lesson for us all in this tragedy: We all need to be prepared. When you, or a loved one, face the challenges of MS, that preparation is ever more important. Preparation, organization, and creative planning will not only help you weather the storms, but also help you better deal with the challenges MS will throw your way.
Life With MS

Evaluate Your Situation Before Applying for Disability Benefits

By: Jim AllsupAbout 15 percent of people diagnosed with MS eventually will become severely disabled, according to some estimates. Recurring symptoms can make it impossible to return to work full-time, adding financial strain to an already stressful situation.
Life With MS

Negotiating Skills Reduce Medical Bills

By: MSF Staff and reviewed by the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation Advisory BoardFor the person with MS, medical bills can easily accumulate into considerable debt. However, getting healthcare needs met is a priority, even when insurance coverage and personal finances are inadequate. So what can you do? Negotiate, that’s what. Though your ability to pay may factor into how much of a discount you receive, savings of 10 to 30 percent are not uncommon. Whether you are trying to get the best price for an upcoming procedure, or trying to reduce a current bill, there are steps you can take to make your negotiation more successful.
Life With MS

Who Can You Really Trust? Today's Preventive Moves Become Tomorrow's Financial Protection

By: Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, JDEditor’s note: Financial assets vary widely among people with MS, and many people are heavily burdened with the costs associated with treating the disease. Yet MSFocus strives to present articles for all segments of the MS community. Some information in this article may not be applicable to all readers.
Life With MS

Give Me a (Tax) Break: Claiming all the Disability-Related Deductions You Qualify for Adds up to Significant Savings

By: Armand LegaultWhile most people with disabilities are familiar with the benefits of the typical medical deductions when preparing tax returns, many are unaware of the other significant deductions they can claim. For the disabled person who is working part-time or full-time (either inside or outside the home), impairment-related work expenses (IRWE) are an often-overlooked source for major tax breaks.
Life With MS

Reverse Mortgages Provide Funds for Any Need

By: Pamela KirkpatrickA reverse mortgage is a financial resource for senior homeowners 62 or older with about 50 percent or more equity in their home. Tax-free available funds do not count as income, may be received as a monthly payment, a lump sum, or may grow the available funds in a line of credit feature.
Life With MS

Overcoming the SSDI Hurdle: Simple Ways to Increase the Odds of Getting Your Application Approved

By: Tom Stewart, J.D., M.S., PA-CAccording to the Social Security Administration, MS is the third most common neurological cause of disability, behind only stroke and epilepsy. Qualifying to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can help by ensuring an income stream and medical insurance. Yet of those who apply for disability benefits, only 37 percent nationally are successful on their initial application. By understanding the challenges that MS presents in the SSDI application process and by following a few simple guidelines, you can improve your chances of success the first time around.
Life With MS

Bringing Down Your Healthcare Costs

By: Michelle KatzHealthcare consultant suggests you check your status, shop around, break out the magnifying glass, deduct your co-pays, and consider your total costs when trying to get your healthcare related expenses under control.
Life With MS

The Financial Reality of Multiple Sclerosis

By: Ann PietrangeloAmericans often boast that the United States offers some of the finest healthcare in the world. While that might be so, the sad truth is that skyrocketing medical costs have made it so that few of us can actually afford to purchase it.
Life With MS

Sticker Shock: The Underinsured

By: MSF StaffA downturn in the economy and a trend toward consumers paying a larger percentage of their prescription drug costs are combining to present a new problem: even people with insurance are struggling to pay for their medications, and those with MS have some of the biggest bills.
Life With MS

Get the Facts: Insurance and Investments after MS

By: Iris Kozak, LUTCF, LTCPOften, people are diagnosed with MS before they ever think about planning for retirement. You may be in the early stages of your career or just starting a family. While your physical health is your primary concern, your fiscal health is extremely important, as well. No matter what your financial situation, it is wise to take stock of what planning you already have in place, as well as your future options.
Life With MS

The "Must Have" Legal Documents For You and Your Loved Ones

By: Valerie L. Peterson, Esq.A durable power of attorney, a healthcare surrogate, and living will allow you to have a say in who is appointed to care for your health and finances if you are incapacitated.
Life With MS, Family-Friends

Social Security Disability Insurance

By: David Spero, RNApplying for long-term disability is not a failure or a catastrophe. It’s like a walker or a wheelchair, a form of assistance that can enable you to maintain the best possible quality of life. People on disability insurance can and do contribute a great deal to society as volunteers, caregivers, families, neighbors, and friends. Applying for SSDI is not a decision to take lightly, but it is not the end of your useful life. It can often be the beginning of a better, and in many ways a healthier, existence.
Life With MS

The Ambulation Equation: Exercise + Physical Therapy + Assistive Devices = Improved Mobility

By: Pat Provance, PT, MSCSOne of the most expressed goals by people with MS is “to keep walking” or “to walk better.” While the focus is often on ambulation issues, many other factors affect a person’s independence and safe mobility, including movements such as sitting and standing, and getting up from the floor.
Life With MS

Meeting Mobility Challenges One Step at a Time

By: Janet Powell, Ph.D., OTMobility challenges can interfere with every aspect of everyday life. This can be true for people who are just beginning to experience difficulty with balance and walking, for those using walking aids such as canes or walkers, and for those who use wheeled mobility to get around. Strategies to improve or maintain the ability to move around are certainly important. However, there are multiple other small changes people with MS can put into place that can have a big impact. This is one place where thinking small and taking it one step at a time can be effective.
Life With MS

Wheelchairs in Flight

By: Melissa Male and Cheryl PriceIf you’ve only dreamed of far-off vacation destinations because you believe that flying with your wheelchair is too much of an endeavor, it’s time to make that dream come true! The key is in good planning: know what to ask, what to expect, and how to prepare.
Life With MS

AT Makes Cruising Smoother for Travelers with Disabilities

By: MSFocus staffDuring the past decade, hundreds of people with MS have discovered the joy of cruising with the Foundation aboard our annual MSF Cruise for a Cause®. For many of them, assistive technology has not only made the trip possible, but it has also made the journey much smoother.
Life With MS

Cookin' Up an Accessible Kitchen

By: Shelley Peterman-SchwarzNo matter what time of day, what time of year, or what the occasion, everyone likes to congregate in the kitchen – the heartbeat of the home. But what happens when chronic illness and disability enters your life and symptoms flare up and then subside? How can you make your kitchen safer, more user-friendly, and easier to use without costly remodeling? This was what I had to do when I was diagnosed with primary-progressive MS more than 30 years ago.
Life With MS

Frustration Busters for the Computer: Assitive Technology Tricks to Keep the Work Flowing

By: MSF StaffTrying to click inside a tiny cell within an Excel spreadsheet when your hand and arm are shaking uncontrollably is something like trying to scoop peas onto your fork during heavy turbulence in a small aircraft. That’s just one of the frustrations that some people with MS experience at the computer. As MS affects motor skills and dexterity, using the keyboard can be difficult, and for some, it can even be painful.
Life With MS

The Accessible Home: 10 Tips for Coming and Going

By: Shelley Peterman SchwarzAccessibility in your home starts at your door. Let’s face it – if you cannot easily get in or out the door, you are not going to get very far in life. And life is worth living to the fullest. So, here are a few tips to make coming and going easier.
Life With MS

Can You Hear Me Now? Budget-Friendly Assistive Technology Products for Speech, Language, and Swallowing Disorders

By: Marissa A. Barrera, MS, MPhil, MSCS, CCC-SLPAssistive technology products are designed to provide additional accessibility to individuals who have physical, speech, hearing or cognitive difficulties, impairments, and disabilities.
Life With MS

Fall Prevention: It's in Your Hands

By: Michelle H. Cameron, MD, PT Have you fallen in the last year? If you have MS, you probably have. As a physician who cares for people with MS, most of my patients tell me they have trouble with their balance, and often fall and injure themselves. It is estimated that more than 75 percent of people with MS have difficulty with their balance. About one half have fallen once in the past six months, and about one third have fallen many times each month.
Life With MS

Go Where You Want To Go: A Consumer's Guide to Conversion Vans

By: Teresa CampbellWhen I first visited an accessible van dealership, each van seemed too large and required advance ordering. I wondered if these vans would even fit in my garage. The price tag wasn’t comforting, either. I had read that finding a gently-used wheelchair accessible van could really lower the price. My search revealed two such vans – more than 100 miles away and in different parts of the state! I was sad about giving up the car, too. Or, more precisely, the freedom that went with it. An accessible van wasn’t a fun purchase. I was tired and feeling overwhelmed, but I pushed on.
Life With MS

Destination Europe

By: Constantine ZografopoulosEurope is vibrant, beautiful and exotic. With its mix of traditional villages, palaces and countryside, as well as historical sites and new technology, the region has much to offer.
Life With MS

Strolling in Style

By: MSF StaffDarlene Borland is not a dull woman. So, after MS affected her gait in her late 30s, she cringed at the idea of carrying a boring cane.
Life With MS

Wheelchairs for MS Patients

By: J. Kesselring, M.D., president of the Medical Council of the Swiss Multiple Sclerosis AssociationIn contrast to cases involving sudden disability where one could normally look forward to an improvement, mobility aids take on a new meaning in the context of diseases that tend toward chronic progression. With MS, it is particularly difficult to decide when to recommend the use of a wheelchair and which model to use. The accompanying counseling is equally problematic.
Life With MS

Professional Travel Companions

By: Jeanette Moroziuk, EMR, NAThe primary purpose of obtaining a professional travel companion is the realization of your travel desires and the enabling of that realization with integrity and respect. The young, the mature adult, the physically challenged, the inexperienced and/or the intimidated traveler can all benefit from the assistance provided by a professional travel companion. Be it business travel, vacations, family celebrations, cruises, adaptive sailing and safari trips, or just an escort to and from your destination, a professional travel companion can make all your travel experiences safer and more enjoyable.
Life With MS

Traveling With Functional Limitations

By: Alina Perez, J.D., and John A. Valentine, Ph.D., Florida Atlantic University Health Administration ProgramA week ago we were having dinner with a friend. He was all excited about his travel plans and his decision to take his new electric scooter on the plane with him. Since this would be the first time taking the scooter on the plane, he assumed that the airline would have to accommodate him and his scooter and everything would "fly" soft and smooth. What he did not realize was that air travel for the disabled is not as protected as many people think.
Life With MS

Standing Aids - An Overview

By: MSF Staff and reviewed by the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation Medical Advisory BoardStanding is something most of us take for granted until we are unable to stand due to pain, illness, or physical impairment. No matter where you are in terms of functional capacity, intermittent periods of standing will help you to feel and look better.
Life With MS

Opening Doors with Assistive Technology

By: MSF StaffYou've probably heard the phrase when one door closes, another opens. This is especially true of assistive technology, which is opening doors that were previously closed to those with disabilities, in infinite and innovative ways. AT options are growing at a tremendous rate, providing long-awaited and much needed devices for improving and simplifying nearly every area of life.
Life With MS

Hit The Beach

By: Deborah Van BruntNo longer do sun-loving folks in wheelchairs or with gait impairments need to perform a near Herculean task to get onto the beach! Here?s the lowdown on accessible beach bumming.
Life With MS

A New Way of Thinking: High Tech Style

By: Giannina Lodato RakocziFinding a voice recognizable to readers is tricky. Finding a voice recognizable to a computer is even trickier. After fighting off a 25-year assault of multiple sclerosis, my hands can no longer type an entire document. In order to continue writing, I must rely on voice recognition technology to do my typing for me.
Life With MS

Low Cost Job Accomodations Make High Impact in the Workplace

By: MSF StaffAlthough many people with disabilities are aware of their rights guaranteed in the Americans with Disabilities Act and in regulations from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, some may hesitate to ask for job accommodations because they are concerned about the costs of providing them.
Life With MS

5 Factors to Consider Before Requesting a Job Accomodation

By: Michelle Clos, LPC, CEAP, ACCI had been diagnosed with MS for three years before I began seeing little signs that it was affecting me at work. When the fatigue continued to linger, I attributed it to the 60 hour work weeks. The day I almost fell out of my office chair because I felt as though I was on a Tilt-a-Whirl ride™, I convinced myself it was an ear infection and not vertigo.
Life With MS

Working Around MS

By: MSF StaffFeeling like you must stop working is a common knee-jerk reaction after being diagnosed with MS. Yet unemployment is actually the last option someone with MS should consider when determining how to cope with career limitations. Many people later have a change of heart and learn that returning to the job market can be very difficult.
Life With MS

Coming to a Crossroads: Professional Life After MS

By: Allison Shadday and Jeffrey N. GingoldPsychotherapist Allison Shadday and attorney Jeffrey Gingold both adjusted their lives and goals after MS changed their careers. Last spring, they hosted a MSF teleconference about cognitive changes in MS. Many people had questions about what happens when MS symptoms lead to job loss or early retirement. This issue of MSFocus brings Allison and Jeffrey together again to share their knowledge as well as their personal experiences about moving on after MS changes your career.
Life With MS

ADA Update

By: Lanny E. Perkins, Esq., and Sara D. Perkins, Esq.Signed into law in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was heralded as the world's first comprehensive civil rights legislation affecting people with disabilities. In addition to offering protection against employment discrimination for people with disabilities, the ADA also improved their access to public services, activities and programs; commercial services and activities; public transportation and telecommunications, among other areas.
Life With MS

Disclosing MS in the Workplace : How, What, Where and When

By: MSF StaffMS is not as disabling as people presume. Separating fact from fallacy, however, takes time. Once you've come to accept your diagnosis, and the adjustments it entails, new questions immediately begin to surface. Whom do you tell about your illness? When is it appropriate to disclose this information? How much do you tell and how do you tell it?
Life With MS

The Americans With Disabilities Act at Work

By: Prof. Elizabeth A. Pendo, St. Thomas University School of LawThe Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 is a powerful and progressive civil rights law that prohibits discrimination in employment, public transportation, public accommodations and public services operated by private entities and telecommunications. Many people remain active and continue to work despite the challenges of living day-to-day with MS.
Life With MS

Can Your Relationship Survive MS?

By: MSF StaffThe answer is…YES! By understanding how the disease may affect your relationship and each other, learning how to cope with the added stress it brings, and by putting preventive measures in place, your relationship may not only survive, but may actually strengthen as you unite to fight a common enemy.
Life With MS

Dynamics of an Intimate Relationship

By: Robert E. Godsall, Ph.D.There are few things in life that are more perplexing than our relationships with other people, and none more so than the relationship we have with our significant other.
Life With MS

Looking For A Love Connection?

By: MSF StaffWhether you are looking for conversation, flirtation, companionship, online chat, or a true love connection, here are some resources that may prove helpful.
Life With MS

Keeping Romance Alive

By: MSF Staff and reviewed by the MSF Medical Advisory BoardThis article contains frank discussion of the ways in which MS can affect intimacy and sexuality. While open communication about sexual function may be embarrising or uncomfortable for some people, we are all sexual beings with the right to sexual expression and satisfaction. It is our hope that this information will educate and empower you to seek out the many options available to overcome the obstacles presented by MS in relation to sexual intimacy.
Life With MS

Intimacy and Sexuality with Multiple Sclerosis

By: Frederick W. Foley, Ph.D.From birth until death, our capacity for communication , relatedness, and intimacy unfolds in a natural developmental sequence. It's natural for everyone to desire affection and intimacy. Whether you are newly diagnosed, young, mature, single or in a committed relationship, chronic illnesses and disability do not diminish these needs and desires. With MS, symptoms may present obstacles in your capacity for emotional relatedness and sexual intimacy. By approaching these obstacles as challenges, you can empower yourself to explore the variety of solutions in relating intimately.
Life With MS

Disclosing MS in Romantic Relationships

By: MSF StaffAre we ever more vulnerable than when we're falling in love? Perhaps that is the reason why deciding how and when to tell that special someone that you have MS can be difficult and even frightening. Disclosure is a unique experience for everyone. If you have no obvious disability, the disclosure of MS may surprise your partner. With no outward manifestation of the disease, you may worry that they will deny its existence. If you use a cane or other mobility aid, your discussion may be an explanation of what MS is, and how it affects your daily life.
Life With MS

Energy Conservation and Work Simplification for People with Multiple Sclerosis

By: Jennie Q. Lou, M.D., M.Sc., OTR/L; and Carolyn Tischenkel, Occupational Therapy Program, College of Allied Health Nova Southeastern UniversityEnergy conservation and work simplification refer to completing tasks in the most energy efficient way, in order to have enough energy for the activities you enjoy most. The following are some principles of energy conservation and work simplification that will help you plan your activities to conserve your energy, and pace yourself appropriately.
Life With MS

Emergency Planning

By: MSFocus staffShould some type of emergency arise, would you be ready? Recognize all potential hazards, such as loss of electricity, gas, water, or telephone service. Flooding, street and store closings, blizzards, earthquakes, and hurricanes are several possible scenarios. Prepare today for an emergency tomorrow. Having some idea in mind of what you might be planning for can make emergency planning easier.
Life With MS

Pediatric MS: The Challenges of Identifying and Treating MS in the Very Young

By: Jennifer Boyd, RN, MHSc, MSCNAbout 5 percent of people living with MS are diagnosed before 18 years of age and are considered to have pediatric, or childhood onset, MS. Although very rare, children as young as two years old have developed this disease.
Life With MS, Pediatric

Patient Rights and Responsibilities

By: Annie Brewster, M.D.In my work as a doctor, I have learned firsthand how the limitations of our current medical system can compromise patient care. Doctors are expected to see too many patients in too little time. Appointments are often as short as fifteen minutes. Developing quality relationships and ensuring quality care within these constraints can be difficult. While it is our right as patients to expect certain things of our doctors, we are active participants in the patient-doctor exchange. We, too, have responsibilities.
Life With MS

Your Health: The Total Picture

By: MSF Staff and reviewed by the MSF Medical Advisory BoardFrom a tightness in the chest known as the MS Hug to overwhelming fatigue, tingling in the feet, and pain, there seems to be no limit to the number of ways MS can affect the human body. While it might be tempting to blame every symptom on MS, however, medical experts caution against ignoring what could be warning signs of other conditions.
Life With MS

Diseases That Mimic MS

By: Chris Ratliff, reviewed by Jack Burks M.D.It is hardly unusual to hear stories of people who have been misdiagnosed several times before finally being diagnosed with MS. Others remain in limbo for years, wondering if they will ever get a definite MS diagnosis. This is partly because there is no single diagnostic test to establish a definite MS diagnosis, and also because there are many diseases which manifest symptoms similar to MS. These are called MS mimics.
Life With MS

The Changing Face of MS

By: Ben Thrower, M.D.The true identity of MS is still a mystery, but another decade of research has furthered understanding of the disease and how to manage it.
Life With MS, Women

Exploring Our Differences: African Americans and MS

By: Mizti Williams, M.D.When people think of a face associated with MS, they often picture a Caucasian woman. Although the majority of MS cases are still reported in that population, there are many other faces of MS, including those of African American men and women. Exploring how MS affects these various faces may provide important keys to understanding this disease, so we may work towards finding a cure.
Life With MS

MS in the House: Putting the Unwelcome Intruder in It's Place Keeps Family in Balance

By: MSF Staff and reviewed by the MSF Advisory BoardWhile the biggest effect of a MS diagnosis strikes the person receiving the news, the ripple effect of that diagnosis can throw even the most stable families off balance. Routines change, roles shift, relationships revise – there’s no denying when MS is in the house.
Life With MS, Family-Friends

Alone with MS: The Symptom People Don't Talk About

By: Erika BolinIt’s hard enough to hear the words, “You have multiple sclerosis.” For so many the next thought is, “Who can I turn to for support? Who is going to be there for me?”
Life With MS, Family-Friends

Putting the Pieces in Place: Planning Your Life with MS

By: MSF Staff and reviewed by the MSF Advisory BoardWhen it comes to planning life with MS, there’s not just one disaster to anticipate. The unpredictability of the disease and its many symptoms, as well as the way it affects each person differently, can make planning a challenge.
Life With MS

The Boiling Point

By: Traci Seidman, Ph.D.Anger, along with denial, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance are some of the natural reactions or processes involved in adjusting to a diagnosis of MS. But living with MS requires continual adjustment, especially in the beginning, when people typically go through a series of unfamiliar symptoms. A person with MS may get angry upon diagnosis, and then over and over again, with the recurrence of symptoms and exacerbations.
Life With MS

Proper Injection Technique

By: Laura McCatty, RN, MSCN and Sherry Adcock RN, MSCNPreparation, preinjection, injection and postinjection are all critical steps in the injection process.
Life With MS

Top 10 Injection Day Tips

By: Laura McCatty, RN, MSCN and Sherry Adcock, RN, MSCNTry these suggestions for making shots less painful and minimizing injection site reactions. Remember, many of these suggestions are anecdotal and may require further study.
Life With MS

Overcoming Your Fear of Injections

By: Laura McCatty, RN, MSCN and Sherry Adcock, RN, MSCN Don’t let anxiety about injections keep you from using a medication that can help slow the progression of your MS. Damage from MS can start early and therapy with a disease-modifying drug (DMD) is important to keep it in control. Even if you have had MS for years, there may be new things to learn. Try looking at your next injection day as a chance to have a positive experience using these tips.
Life With MS

MS in the Prime of Life

By: MSF StaffThere is no best time in life to learn you have MS. Whether you are a child, young adult, mid-lifer, or senior citizen, MS will bring challenges unique to your phase of living.
Life With MS

Empower Yourself Through Self-Advocacy

By: MSF StaffKnowledge and education are the keys to successful self-advocacy. The more you know, the more you understand, and the better you can explain things to others. But knowledge is not attained overnight, and becoming a successful self-advocate is an ongoing process. So, be patient with yourself.
Life With MS