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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Discussion Guide: Why Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Matters

multiple sclerosis

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When it comes to getting treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS), people can have a lot of apprehensions. For one thing, treating MS isn’t easy. A lot of trial and error is necessary to find a treatment that works. Then, people have to follow through with it. Because of this, it can be tempting to stop your medications or at least skip a dose or two.
Here’s what a few people in our Living with MS Facebook community have to say about stopping treatment, along with advice about the potential risks of doing so from Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., M.S.N., C.R.N.A, C.O.I.
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10 Reasons You Should Start Treating Your MS


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While no cure is currently available for multiple sclerosis (MS), you can still benefit from treatment. Disease-modifying therapies can slow the progression of MS and reduce relapses. Other medications can treat severe flare-ups by reducing inflammation. A comprehensive treatment plan also includes rehabilitation programs and emotional support from mental health professionals. Together, these treatments can help you cope with the mental and physical symptoms of MS.
Here are 10 reasons to start treating your MS:

1. Earlier treatment leads to better outcomes

Even if you aren’t developing new symptoms soon after diagnosis, your MS is still active. During this time, new areas of inflammation may form in your nervous system. Every disease-modifying therapy is moreeffective during the earlier stages of MS when inflammation is happening.
Studies suggest that delaying treatment may allow for the accumulation of brain atrophy and irreversible nerve damage. Disease-modifying therapy can reduce relapse rates and help improve or stabilize mobility. People who start treatment later may not have the same benefits.

2. You’ll see long-term benefits

MS treatment is most effective over a long period. Starting regular treatment may take a while as you assemble a medical team, develop a treatment plan, and adjust to treatment. Many people receive consistent disease-modifying therapy for up to six months or a year before they notice an effect. You may also need to try several therapies before you find a treatment that works for you.

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Monday, October 17, 2016



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Find a place in your home to set aside for meditation.  You may also select an outdoor location.  Choose a time of day for your session.

Find a special object or more to place at your meditation area.  Example:  dried flowers, a candle, spiritual figurine, incense, etc.  You may eventually wish to create a meditation altar on a table or shelf with inspirational objects.

Select a meditation posture that supports your spine comfortably.  Examples:  lotus position on the floor, or seated in a chair with feet flat on the floor, spine straight and hands resting on the lap with palms face up.  Beneficial mudra (yogic hand position):  Palms face up, touch the thumb and index fingers together, creating a circle.

Breathe deeply through the nose into the abdomen.  Feel the abdomen fill like a balloon while inhaling; feel the abdomen gently go inward while exhaling.  Breathe evenly, counting the same length for your inhalation and exhalation.  If you like you can place one palm over the other on your stomach, to feel the rising and falling of the abdomen as you inhale and exhale.  You can also try this exercise lying down in bed before going to sleep.

Additional suggestion – place the tip of your tongue behind your front teeth, the roof of your mouth or wherever comfortable on your upper palate while breathing deeply.

You may meditate with eyes closed or open.  When meditating with eyes open, keep the eyelids relaxed and gaze downward a few feet in front of you.  When your eyes are open, you may  practice the technique of gazing - focusing eyes gently on a single object, such as the flame of a candle, flower or other relaxing or inspirational object.  Keep a slow, steady breath while gazing.


Note:  With all techniques, if thoughts arise, observe the thoughts rather than trying to push them away.  Remember the saying, “What you resist, persists.”  Allow thoughts to be and keep focusing on your practice.  As you develop your practice, your meditative mind will become stronger and stronger.

1.  See yourself as a clear blue sky, beyond form.  See any thoughts or distractions as a few white clouds moving across the sky, knowing that you are the blue sky beyond the clouds, beyond that which comes and goes.

2.  See yourself as a clear, flowing stream.  You are the clarity of the water itself, beyond form.  See a few leaves floating on the surface of the water downstream.  The leaves represent thoughts, distractions and that which comes and goes.  You remain the clarity of the water itself.

3.  Take yourself to the bottom of a body of water.  Feel the stillness there.  While aware of waves and ripples at the surface, your main identification stays at the bottom.  Feel the stillness within you, at the depth of your being.  Now allow the image to fade gently with each passing breath, until you are left with stillness itself, beyond form.

4.  Close your eyes, become still and invite a “place of peace” to reveal itself to you, your own personal sanctuary.  Experience the feeling of being in your place of peace, perhaps a forest, beach, room, etc.  Allow yourself to rejuvenate and receive any messages that come to you.  As with all visualizations, once you are ready to return, allow the image to gently fade, becoming softer with each passing breath until you are in the void beyond form.  Spend some time in the void, then bring your awareness to the current place and time, feeling the chair or floor you sit upon, be aware of your physical body, move toes and rub fingers together, gently open eyes when ready.  Keep the eyes relaxed once they are open, gently integrating your meditative experience into the everyday state.

Starting at the feet, feel a warm wave of relaxation fill your body section by section.  Inhale and feel the relaxation fill you.  Exhale and feel any tension or negativity dissolve.  Become a clear, empty vessel, receiving positive, nurturing energy.  Your breathing will become deeper as you relax more and more.  Allow your body to relax all the way from your feet to the top of your head.  For each part of your body, feel the warm wave of relaxation enter as you breathe in, filling it with warmth, peace and relaxation.

A mantra is a single word or phrase silently repeated to oneself, to help the mind stay one pointed and focused during meditation.  The mantra assists in deepening one’s consciousness.  The word chosen should invoke a peaceful, tranquil state.  Examples:  peace, joy, love, serenity, om.  Silently repeat the mantra with each inhalation, letting the essence of the word fill your being, becoming fuller with each breath.  After a while, allow the essence of the mantra to gradually become softer and the word fades out until you are left with stillness beyond form.  Spend some time in the state of emptiness beyond mantra before returning to the everyday state.


Meditating with an affirmation will support a desired state of being , such as “I am calm,” “I stay peaceful in the midst of challenge”.  You may repeat the affirmation silently, out loud, or write it on paper and keep the paper where you will see it throughout the day (you can also do this with the one word mantra described in the previous paragraph).  You may use intentions to affirm a state of being for an extended period of time or before a situation or event, such as “Today I will remain calm and focused at work, and become refreshed at home after a healthy snack and outdoor walk.”  You may practice affirmations/intentions in the morning before you start your day, before bed, or whenever you feel it will be absorbed by your subconscious mind.  Before going to sleep is an especially effective time to program the subconscious mind.

You may project an intention upon an object, such as a glass of water, special stone, candle, pen.  You may project a quality such as “peace” or an affirmation such as “healthy relationships” and the object becomes “blessed” with intention.  Each time the object is used, notice how the qualities are felt within you.

You may experience the appearance of color(s) while meditating.  You may invoke a color by inviting its presence as you breathe meditatively, allowing the color to present itself.  With each inhalation, feel you are breathing the color into your being, allowing it to permeate more deeply with each passing breath.  After a while, allow the color to become softer with each passing breath, gently fading until you are in the void beyond form, returning to the everyday state in the same manner as for other techniques.

Remember that you can practice mini-versions of the meditation techniques throughout the day, at home, work, during leisure time.  With visualizations such as blue sky and small white clouds, you may see the image in your mind with eyes open while interacting.  You may practice any technique or combinations of techniques while exercising, eating, enjoying nature, doing chores, etc.

Being in nature or visualizing nature greatly enhances the meditative state.  Nature holds great truth to how everything is connected, and takes us beyond the analytical to the expansive mind.  Feel free to be creative with the techniques and create a personalized practice for relaxation that will transform your life.  Turn everyday moments into meditation opportunities, such as when you park your car, take a moment before exiting, enjoy the silence inside the car, take a few deep breaths, say a mantra or affirmation, peacefully observe the outside scene before exiting.

Length of time is up to you.  If you are a beginner, practice for as long as feels comfortable, if only a minute or two.  You may build up to longer lengths of time.

Quality and dedication to your meditation practice will create peacefulness and benefits to your well being.  15 minutes or more is a good meditation length to work up to.  The quality of the experience will deepen as you stay focused on your practice.

Before opening your eyes:
·       Remind yourself of your physical location.
·       Remind yourself of being in your physical body.
·       Gently move your fingers and toes, re-orienting to physical movement.
After opening you eyes:
·       Slowly look around through the meditative state of perception.
·       Allow time to merge meditative awareness into everyday activity.



(Ancient Sanskrit greeting meaning “I bow to you.”  In modern circles, extended meanings include “the divine light in me honors the divine light in you.”).

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New Evidence Substantiates Guillain-Barré Syndrome–Zika Virus Link


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Researchers have now identified virologic evidence of Zika virus in patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), showing that the onset of the neurologic disorder can parallel the onset of systemic manifestations of the mosquito-borne infection.
Earlier studies have linked GBS and other neurologic issues with Zika virus; however, this research is arguably the first to substantiate the link—beyond epidemiologic evidence—in multiple patients. The findings were published in the October 5 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.
The authors of the study, from various institutions in Colombia as well as the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, identified 68 patients from 6 university-based centers in the South American country who had been diagnosed with GBS during a Zika outbreak. The patients were evaluated prospectively as part of the Neuroviruses Emerging in the Americas Study (NEAS) and each underwent clinical and neurologic evaluation by internal medicine and neurology specialists. Clinicians performed nerve-conduction studies and electromyography and obtained samples of blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for use in virologic testing for Zika as well as confirmation of GBS diagnosis. GBS diagnosis was based on the Brighton Collaboration GBS Working Group criteria. In patients with a diagnosis of the GBS level 1, 2, or 3, based on the Brighton criteria, Zika diagnosis was defined as definite, probable, or suspected, with definite cases being those confirmed via RT-PCR assay and probable cases being those with positive ELISA results.


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