Thursday, July 27, 2017

Take Care of Yourself When You're the Caregiver

My husband is my number one caregiver. He does most of the grocery shopping and carrying of heavy or large items up and down the stairs at home. I’m capable of doing these things, but splitting the work between us is very nice and my osteoarthritic knees are thankful.

In recent months, my husband and I have been occupied with taking care of his mother. She has experienced a series of unfortunate health complications that require us to devote a significant amount of time tending to her needs. As a consequence, there has been much less time available to tend to my own.

This experience is teaching me the importance of taking care myself first before I can be of much help to someone else. This goes beyond the familiar analogy of putting on your own oxygen mask before assisting others in an airplane emergency. As your mental and physical energy are depleted, you must focus on your own needs to protect against sheer exhaustion, potential relapse, or full collapse.

As people with chronic illnesses, the quality of our caring is rich, but our capacity is limited. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we run the risk of slamming into that proverbial wall.

Ways to care for yourself

  • Focus on your own health and wellness. Eat right, sleep well, and exercise. It’s too easy to skip meals or become sedentary when you are sitting for hours in hospital waiting rooms, doctors’ offices, or patient rooms. Keep up with your own medical needs.

Read this post in its entirety:
Being a Caregiver When You Have a Chronic Illness

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Basics of Primary Progressive MS

Not all forms of MS are the same. The majority of patients who develop MS begin with a relapsing form of the disease that features acute neurological attacks and a waxing and waning of symptoms.

Approximately 10 to 15 percent of patients who develop MS have a progressive form of the disease from the beginning that features steady worsening of neurological function with occasional plateaus or minor improvements. A number of patients with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) go on to develop the secondary progressive MS (SPMS) form of the disease.

Primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) can be more challenging to diagnose and is definitely harder to treat than relapsing MS. Since PPMS doesn’t feature distinct clinical attacks like RRMS, the criteria for diagnosis is different. According to the National MS Society, the criteria for diagnosis of PPMS are:
  1. One year of disease progression (worsening of neurological function without remission), AND
  2. Two of the following:
  • A type of lesion in the brain that is recognized by experts as being typical of MS
  • Two or more lesions of a similar type in the spinal cord
  • Evidence in the spinal fluid of oligoclonal band or an elevated IgG index, both of which are indicative of immune system activity in the central nervous system   Fulfilling these diagnostic criteria may take years longer for PPMS than the equivalent does for RRMS.

Treatment for PPMS is limited.

Read this post in its entirety:
What is Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Retired Hockey Player Talks About MS and Service Dogs

Retired Canadian hockey player Bryan Bickell sat down with HealthCentral to talk about hockey, multiple sclerosis, fatherhood, and his new service dog program for people living with MS.

Bickell, 31, played in the National Hockey League from 2006 to 2017 for the Chicago Blackhawks and the Carolina Hurricanes. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November 2016.

Health Central (HC): As a professional athlete, what were the initial symptoms that concerned you the most and how long did it take to get a diagnosis of MS?

Bryan Bickell (BB): I had a pain in my shoulder, which I thought was from sleeping on it wrong. I brushed it off, took some Aleve, and moved on with my day like many athletes with injuries do. Then it went down my arm and a week later down to my legs. I was really concerned. I’d been through a lot of injuries and knew that something was off. Days later, I had an MRI and got the news.

HC: What were your biggest fears after your MS diagnosis?

BB: If things were going to get better. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play hockey, or if I would feel the way I did [at that moment] for the rest of my life. But due to the MS treatment I’ve been taking now for six or seven months it’s gotten a lot better. I feel awesome right now and things are looking positive.

Read this post in its entirety:
Bryan Bickell: From Skates to Service Dogs