Seeking Experts and Finding Treatment Answers

This blog post is sponsored by Med-IQ- working together to improve the lives of those living with MS

Treating multiple sclerosis (MS) takes more than a drug.  It’s a lifestyle change combined with teamwork.  These changes have made a huge difference in my life and I feel this information can help you live better. By combining self-care with guidance from medical professionals, patients are finding better ways to manage their MS.  

Health care professionals provide medical advice and recommendations.  Self-care empowers patients by helping them take charge of their lifestyle.  

Having access to current research, scientific findings, and professional expertise can make a difference in how health care professionals treat their patients. 

This is one reason why I chose to work with Med-IQ, an accredited medical education company that provides an exceptional educational experience for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, other health care professionals.

The second reason is because Med-IQis helping share my stories with those that can help others - the health care professionals who treat patients on a regular basis.   

The more our medical team understands and knows what we are living with, the better they can serve and help those with MS live a better life.  
They know the medical tools.  We know our symptoms.  Together we can make a difference!

Symptoms Versus Disease

There is strong evidence that treating MS as early as possible has its benefits.   

Whether you are newly diagnosed or living with MS for years, the question about which treatment is best never ends.  

MS is a complicated illness.  There is the demyelination of the nerves and the symptoms that result from this nerve damage.  There is no cure.  

But MS is more than the disease.  The resulting symptoms can cause havoc on someone’s quality of life.  

Because of the loss of myelin, nerves short circuit and do not communicate as they should, resulting in a broad range of symptoms such as extreme fatigue, pain, spasms, numbness, tingling, cognitive issues, bladder problems, vision problems, and more.    

Doctors may prescribe a variety of drugs to prevent future occurrence of the symptoms and help you live better. But, many of these drugs have side effects or are not tolerated by some patients.  

DMT Basics 

Today there are 15 disease-modifying therapies (DMTs)for MS patients, varying from less aggressive forms to bulldogs that have hefty side effects.  They are FDA-approved, clinically tested treatments to help slow down the progression of the disease and its associated disabilities. But which one is right for you? 

DMTs are designed to reduce inflammation by using a variety of factors that affect the immune system.  The hope is for fewer relapses, less severe relapses, slower progression, and reduced disabilities.  DMTs are notdesigned for symptom management.   

DMTs are divided into categories based upon route of administration: injectables, oral drugs, those taken intravenously with an IV.  The drugs range from less aggressive drugs with fewer side effects to aggressive medicine with more risks.  

There are currently 15 DMTs approved for the treatment of MS. You can find a list of these medications on the National MS Society’s website, as well as risk and safety information for each (DMTs). 

DMT Risks and Side Effects 

It is known that treating MS early and aggressively has its benefits.  But how aggressively should it be treated?  

With the increased amount of aggressive MS treatments come greater risks and side effects.  Liver damage, hair loss, and even death may occur.  

In order to best minimize risk while attacking MS, it’s necessary to be in open communication with your doctor and nurses about the medicine, your lifestyle, your habits, and the risks you are willing to take.  There are options.  

Three Habits of a Proactive MS Patient

These three habits can support you in managing your MS.

1.     Create open communication with yourself, your family/friends, and your doctor and care team.  
2.     Attend doctor appointments and use MRIs & other measurement tools to track disease activity.
3.     Practice self-care: Love yourself with healthy actions.

Open Communication

It’s crucial that you are able to talk comfortably with your health care providers to find the best combination of medicine and to help minimize risks.   
Do you drink?  Smoke? Take your medicine on a regular basis? 

Scary as it may seem, being honest with your doctor and care team will provide the best outcomes.  This will only come if you are honest with yourself.  

While advances in research are getting closer to finding targeted drugs for individuals, at this time it becomes a trial and error game.  And this can be difficult.  

Be patient and kind to yourself during this time.  Be open with yourself and your doctors.  Ask questions, be smart.  Together you will find the right solution!  


Every person is different and reacts differently to medicine, but there are actions one can take to minimize MS symptoms naturally.  

This is time to bring in self-care.  While the DMT is fighting your disease, bring in your own actions to fight thebattle.  

Take control of what you can: eat healthy, stop smoking, exercise, and practice life skills to manage stress.  

MS patients have a harder time with their disease when other comorbidities occur, such as diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.  The better we can manage our own health, the better chance we have for controlling MS.  

Finding Quality of Life

MS is a manageable disease.  Through teamwork, honesty, and action, patients’ lives are fulfilled.  Quality of life is increased.  

Consult with your doctor.  Talk with family and friends.  And check out reliable sources of information like those listed below.  

And above all, know that you have this - that you are going to take action and do the best you can. 

That together, we are going to say, #takeTHATms!  


b.       Mayo Clinic 

Take the Survey

Help us learn more about your experience with MS and working with your care team experience by taking this survey.  The survey, which includes more education on this topic, will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are anonymous and will be shared only in aggregate.  Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with MS treatment and your care team, which will help us develop future educational initiatives for doctors to improve MS care.

The surveywhich includes further education on the topic, will take less than 15 minutes and upon completion, and you will be entered into a drawing to win 1 of 3 $100 VISA gift cards, with a total prize value of $300. 

The information provided through this activity is for continuing education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient’s medical condition.

Join the fun and #takeTHATms!

#multiplesclerosis #livebetter #spon #takeTHATms!

I was compensated by Med-IQ through commercial support from Genentech to write about MS.  All opinions are my own.

Meet Aby and Get Tips About Living With MS and Overall Well-Being.

Meet Aby and Get Tips About Living With MS and Overall Well-Being.  
by Caroline Craven

When chronic illness hits, it is not only the body that is hurts.  Everything can be affected, leaving one to feel out of balance in life. 

If you are not nourishing your whole self – including the body, mind and soul, it’s likely that your wellness may suffer. 

It can certainly be difficult to find balance while working, taking care of others and being present for friends and family. 

Divide and Conquer 

Let’s look at how we can dissect these elements into more digestible pieces by using Aby – a new app created by Biogen for everyone living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and the people who support them.

This app is a really useful tool for anyone impacted by MS – from newly diagnosed patients to those who have had MS for many years, as well as their caregivers and health care providers. 
Before getting started, consider your current state of affairs.

Visualize how sensitive you are in your condition.  Are you feeling in balance with everything going on in your life?  

While we may feel as strong as an oak tree on some days, more often we may be delicate dandelions figuring out how to not blow away in the wind.

Then look closely at your body, mind and soul.  How are you feeling physically?  What are your emotions like today? How do they differ from the week or month prior? 

Now take it one step further, and think about your vulnerability at this moment.  Does one little thing happen and you are wiped out for the day?  If so, then it’s time to slow down, breathe deep and nourish yourself.   

To help capture these sentiments, after creating an account on Aby, you can use the journal feature to record your sleep patterns, activity levels and emotions from day to day. I love that it’s all in one!  

I take advantage of the Aby notes section in the journal, to keep track of the myriad of feelings that I feel throughout the day.  Later, when my sleep, activities and emotions have been recorded, I can look back and see trends, using this information to manage how I use my energy and better understand my body.  

6 Tips to Find Balance in Life

With this information, you can identify ways to find balance in life while nourishing yourself.

To find balance, here are some techniques I would recommend: 

1.         Seek quiet:  Whether it’s a “do not disturb sign” on your door or a walk to a peaceful spot outside, find a place where you feel safe and where you can be at peace. This may mean a gentle stroll or roll without people around, or possibly a few minutes in a quiet room, or under a tree in a garden.  Just sit, be quiet and become increasingly aware of your body and surroundings.
2.         Break up the routine:  Do not sit in one place too long, especially at a desk in an office or while working.  Stand up, stretch and walk around.  When life becomes stagnant, it can become a vessel for ill will and bad energy. Think of pond scum.  But, if you take charge and make changes, you can encourage your life to flow with clarity and beauty.  

Tip:  EXPLORE the exercise program in Aby.  “Warm-up” is only 48 seconds long.  Short enough for everyone to fit into their schedules.  

3.  Listen to music:  Music may soothe the beast within, so give it a try!  Many folks find it may help with focus and motivation. You can use it to get moving in the morning or for an afternoon jolt.  Try different genres and see which ones inspire what’s inside of you.  Get up and dance if it so moves you!   

What’s your favorite dance tune?  Right now, I’m stuck on the soundtrack to Peter Rabbit, the film of 2018.  So fun!  

TIP:  In Aby, record your activities in the journal.  And then, add your mood, your sleep and your MS symptoms.  The first day may not seem that important, but trust me, a week or so into it and this information will be handy to have.  It has become a great way for me to spot trends in my MS symptoms.  

4.  Stay hydrated:  Often considered the essence of life, surround yourself with the cooling, cleansing presence of fresh water.  Drink it filtered, all day long.  While bathing and cleansing, be appreciative of the water flowing freely from the faucet.

Take this time to acknowledge the gratitude to those you love and the life you appreciate. Remind yourself of something beautiful in your life.  Carry the sense of water throughout your home and garden by adding water elements to your surroundings, such as a fountain.  Download an app that sounds like the ocean or a river and carry the water element with you throughout your day.

5.  Elevate your diet: Perceive all healthy food and drink as nourishment for your mind, body and soul.  What are you feeding yourself?  Is it working?  One way to feel better about yourself is to add more plant-based foods to your diet. The variety of colors, vitamins, textures and tastes are endless.  Use them raw or find recipes to cook.    

Want some inspiration for a meal?  Make themes for your dishes.  One suggestion is to have a different color in every pot.  Another is to have a meal in honor of a great piece of art in your house. Match the colors and play with the plating and table displays.  Be creative and enjoy your inner “Martha Stewart.”  

Tip:  EXPLORE the diet and nutrition feature in Aby to learn about healthy recipe options!  Check out “Tips for Healthier Eating.”  

6.  Smile: Smiling is contagious in a good way, and it’s hard to be in a bad mood when you have a smile on your face! It also physically works the face muscles, and is just a darn good thing to do. Pass it on!

Look at the Bigger Picture

We define ourselves by what we do, so let’s think again about the bigger picture.  Why are we on this planet?  One might say we are here to do good unto others, to enjoy the beauty surrounding us and to shower the world with love.  While people have other ideas about why we exist, this image is perfect enough to place us in a positive mood.  

Most importantly, enjoy what you are doing!  Life can throw us some real curve balls, but we can duck, swing and catch them when we are at our strongest.  I hope that the Aby app may help provide you with additional inspiration.   

How Do You Aby?  

There is much I find helpful by using Aby.  By easily tracking my life with MS, I’m taking the first step to help take control of my actions. 

After weeks of recording my information, I have found trends in my symptoms.  I can now share this information with my health care professionals to help keep on top of this illness.   

Dive in and give it a try. You can download the app for free by clicking the icons below, or by searching “Aby” in your app store. 

It is my personal goal in life to help everyone with MS.     

Together, we’ve got this!   

*Please note that I am being compensated by Biogen to share my experience with the Aby app.* 

#MS #multiplesclerosis #aby #livingwithMS #spon