This year, MS-UK will be coming to the end of our current Strategy, and right now we're exploring what we should focus on in the next three years. But we need your help to get it right, and make sure that the wider MS community is included every step of the way!
Please take our short survey today and let us know what barriers you face to feeling happier and healthier in your life with MS. Perhaps you feel there is a vital MS service missing? Maybe you believe MS-UK could raise awareness of multiple sclerosis among the general public? We'd like to know your opinions, and use your voice to shape our work in the next three years.
Your voice matters. Thank you for sharing it with MS-UK!
This time next week MS-UK will be celebrating MS Awareness Week, and you can join us!
This year we are spreading the word about our newest national service, MS-UK Counselling. I would love you to get involved by downloading our Twitter and Facebook graphics...by adding them to your profiles you will be helping us reach even more people affected by multiple sclerosis who may benefit from counselling.
Right click on these images and select 'Save image as...' to download them to your computer:
Thank you for your help!
April is always an exciting month for us here at MS-UK as we mark MS Awareness Week, and 2018 is no different!
This year we are celebrating our newest national service, MS-UK Counselling. We launched the pilot of this service in October 2017 and since then have delivered over 150 telephone counselling sessions to people with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. But we want to help even more people!
At MS-UK, we believe that it’s good to talk. However, we know that there can still be a stigma around accessing counselling, and we want to break down these barriers so people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis can get the support they need.
So, this MS Awareness Week I ask you to help us spread the message that it’s good to talk! Throughout the week of 23 – 27 April we will be posting on Facebook and Twitter all about MS-UK Counselling, and it would be great if you could help us spread the word by retweeting or sharing our posts. Thank you!
Keep an eye on our blog for updates as we near the big week...
We just wanted to let you know about this important source of information that our MS-UK Helpline team regularly uses to support the multiple sclerosis (MS) community.
The Disability Rights Handbook is a guide to benefits and services for anyone with a disability, their families, carers and advisers. It contains a wealth of information relating to the benefits system, as well as social care services and help for carers. This guide will be relevant to many people living with MS.
Clients who use the MS-UK Helpline have let us know how valuable the information provided by our advisors is and, since a lot of that information can be found in the Disability Rights Handbook, we wanted to share it with you. If you would like to buy your own copy, you can do so on the Disability Rights UK website store.
We wanted to let you know this was available to pre-order as last year’s handbook sold out in quite quickly!
As always, though, our MS advisors are available to listen to you, talk things through with you and keep giving you as much helpful information and support as possible.
Issue 107 of New Pathways is out now, with the latest news, features and exclusive interviews from some of leading MS experts. So I thought I’d give you a roundup of what’s not to be missed.
In this edition I interviewed Jane Felstead, star of Channel 4 reality show Made in Chelsea. Jane had been experiencing symptoms for around two decades until recently when she finally demanded an answer from her doctor. Read her story and why she feels it’s so important to fight for a diagnosis on page 24.
MS can throw up a variety of symptoms on a daily basis, but how can general life events such as the menopause impact the condition? Turn to page 12 to find out more.
If you’re looking for a complementary therapy and haven’t tried reflexology, Lee Anthony Taylor, a worldwide authority and specialist in reflexology for MS discusses the benefits on page 14.
It’s a question we at MS-UK are asked a lot – ‘what is medical retirement?’ On page 42 our resident HR columnist Rebecca Armstrong explains what it is and how to make it work for you.
Plus, with all this talk about gut health in the news we provide an update on the latest development and how it affects you. Turn to page 18 for ‘The truth about gut health’.
New Pathways magazine is a paper magazine, but is also available in a variety of accessible formats including an audio CD, PDF and plain text – we even have an app (search My MS-UK), so if you would like to subscribe click here.
I hope you enjoy reading!
In her latest guest blog Chloe gives us an insight into her first year of Tysabri treatment…
I can’t believe it’s been a year since I embarked on my new multiple sclerosis (MS) treatment, Tysabri.
What I started in trepidation has now become my lifeline. It has really transformed my life…but let’s start from the beginning.
As treatments go, it’s pretty non-invasive. I remember the first time well…I was nervous. I used to have a fear of having cannulas put in (after an unpleasant experience when I was younger) so to have one every month was nerve-racking. I sat down in the high backed treatment room chair, my heart fluttering. Heather, my MS nurse, had just started at the MS unit herself, so we were embarking on this journey together.
So after basic observations (temperature, blood pressure) were taken it was time for the cannula. And what a fuss I had made! I had built it up into something awful in my head, but it was absolutely fine. It was no more painful than having a blood test, and I’ve had plenty of those in the past! What a relief it was though.
Once the cannula was in, I was rigged up to my first infusion and we were away. I couldn’t feel anything going in, there was certainly no stinging or irritation, so all I had to do was sit back and relax. Heather joked that it was ‘enforced rest’ for me because, what with the children, it’s very rare that I get an hour in the day to just sit back and read a book.
The infusion took roughly an hour, and then I had to sit and wait for another hour to make sure I didn’t have any ill effects. There were no side-effects for me at all. If anything I felt quite buzzed up! It was probably from the relief!
The whole appointment took 2 hours, and then I was sent on my merry way.
The ‘buzzed up’ feeling lasted a day or two afterwards. I felt stronger and more energetic.
13 infusions down, and a whole year later and I feel like I can reflect now on any positive effect Tysabri has had.
Firstly, I haven’t had a relapse since I have started. I normally have at least one relapse a year, so already that is a very good sign and shows that something positive is going on. I don’t get the ‘buzzed up’ feeling after treatment any more (if anything I come out feeling tired), but every month is the same non-painful and simple procedure.
I can honestly say that I can do more now than before. Tysabri isn’t meant to get rid of day-to-day symptoms such as fatigue, but what it has done has pushed me into a good state of remission. My symptoms are manageable, and being able to do more exercise, I feel healthier. At the end of each month I do find myself flagging a bit, so I look forward to my appointments so I can get ‘topped up’ again.
I am so happy to have found a treatment that finally works for me. I had previously tried Rebif, Copaxone, Avonex, and Tecfidera, but none had helped reduce down my rate of relapses. I was in a bad place with my depression also at a peak, so Tysabri really felt like a light at the end of a tunnel.
But of course, there have to be down sides.
Firstly, Tysabri is only eligible for those who have two or more severe relapses in a year. I was ‘lucky’ in that after two relapses close together I was now eligible to try it, but for years I had just missed out.
Secondly, there’s a risk of developing Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML).
Tysabri has its fair share of common side effects (tiredness, headache, muscle pain, to name a few) but a less common and extremely serious side effect can be contracting a brain infection called PML (Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy). This can lead to severe disability or even death. A test is done before treatment to see whether you have something called the JC virus. If you are positive, then it increases your chances of contracting PML from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 1,000.
For the past year, I have been JC negative, so for me the positives outweigh the negative risks. However, would I continue on treatment if I turn out to be JC positive? That’s a really tricky question and one I will have to dwell on if the situation arises. I have met other people on Tysabri who are JC positive, but carry on with treatment anyway, but I’m not sure whether I would feel comfortable taking the extra risk.
That’s a topic for another day though. So far Tysabri has turned out to be a positive experience, and it’s allowed me to take on a new lease of life. I can make plans again without having to worry about cancelling them, I can take the dog for a walk independently and confidently and can play with my children without getting too tired. Long may it continue!
You can follow Chloe’s story at tantrumsandtingles.blogspot.co.uk.
In October last year, we launched MS-UK Counselling, a brand new service for people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). We were delighted to welcome Nileema to the team as our Counselling Coordinator, and in December Jonathan and Wendy joined the team. We are all BACP registered or accredited, have many years of counselling experience and are trained in working with people with MS. So we think it’s time you get to know the latest additions to our team!
Hi, I’m Nileema. My interest in counselling started when I first had counselling myself over twenty years ago. I saw the massive difference that counselling made to my life and felt inspired to train as a counsellor many years later. I have found that no matter what the problem, there is a space for it in counselling. I have worked with individual and couple clients. I also provide training and clinical supervision to counsellors. I was really excited to join MS-UK in September 2017 to lead this exciting new service. My role is to run the service, carry out assessments with clients, ensure that we are legally compliant and work to high ethical standards, as well as provide counselling.
Hi, my name is Jonathan. I decided to train as a counsellor after appreciating the importance subjectivity plays in our lives, and the uniqueness this holds when attempting to understand our circumstances. I am an integrative counsellor and have particular interest in the role that attachments play in our lives. One of the principles I strive to offer is autonomy, which is the respect for the client’s right to be self-governing. My intention is to offer choice to the best of my abilities, and aim to reflect this through a discussion of your expectations during our work together.
Hi, my name is Wendy. I used to work as a learning support teacher and I became aware at the time of how children and their families needed additional support through counselling. I am a qualified person-centred counsellor here at MS-UK. I am really keen to support clients by helping them understand themselves in light of their MS. I have experienced the value that counselling can offer each individual through my own personal circumstances. As a team, we are proud to be offering the only counselling service of its kind across the UK. We believe that by listening to people affected by MS, we can shape a great service and offer something that people need and want.
In her latest guest blog Joanne ponders on Christmas, multiple sclerosis (MS) and ‘me time’...
Like many of us, a #christmas #break was on my list but didn’t happen.
For the simple reason, there has been too much going on. The family has been battling bugs (which has made my #MS rubbish), many festivities with late nights, #travelling, #family politics and eating indulgent food. It has all had a toll. All adding up to putting my #writing on the back burner.
Many recent events can be put down to MS. My rubbish #walking (I’ve realised Prosecco doesn’t help, despite it tasting nice), #speech sounds like I’m drunk (I’m not but everyone assumes I’ve had a few!) #spilling drinks (more noticeable at this time of year when transporting from the kitchen to guests) breaking wine glasses which need clearing up (another sign that things aren’t right) and #forgetting important things like turning my Dad’s home upside down as I convinced myself that I’d lost my wedding rings (they were back at home). I’m also contending with lots of pain.
You can say I’m just a clumsy, forgetful cow and despite resting, I’ve probably pushed myself too much, resulting in the MonSter coming out.
Christmas has made me realise how real MS is. OK, so I knew MS was real. There has been lots of tears. Tears because I know this is my reality as I’m so frustrated. Like a well known sports brand “just do it” is what I want to be like, what I was previously to #multiplesclerosis but I can’t “just do it” because of this stupid disease. My body has given up. As that advert says, we are in that Christmas limbo period, when we’re probably having a break before new year. I’m sat in my pjs (it’s 4pm, hopefully no one is coming around), watching Christmas television on catch up and doing very little because I’m exhausted. I’m getting my break now.
So with a #newyear on the horizon, reflection in the air, what do I want differently for #2018:
MS is a daily battle but remember you only have one shot at being you. Tears have come and gone. I will have good and bad days but doing the best I can is the only option.
There’s no magic pill to pop for MS (I’ve been told take this or eat that). Nothing cures, it may help, who knows. Fatigue for me, feels like I’m swimming in thick chocolate (there is probably too much of it at this time of year!) Recharging doesn’t cure MS fatigue but helps. I wrote my tips for managing #fatigue as a mummy with MS for the #MSSociety. I said “MS is like having a battery that can’t be fully charged, so know your energy drainers, those things that just zap the life from you”. Christmas is an energy drainer. But I know next Christmas (or any big event) has to be different.
In my past #writing, I’ve talked about this. I feel guilty for having no energy. I will continue to remind myself to cut some slack, especially as next year comes with more of little man’s milestones. I live with MS, that’s pressure enough.
This links with the previous point. This year has been full of acceptance. I’ve had grab rails, a walking stick, Blue Badge and a EDSS scale of 6 ( I had to google too!) All physical reminders that I’m no superwoman (I probably wasn’t before MS although I thought I was!) Life might be tough but accept all help and adjustment. Anything for a better life.
This year, #stleonardsyork have been great giving me more “me time”. I’ve tried #arttherapy, #laughteryoga and various treatments like #reflexogy. With my weekly stint of #pilates, I will plan in more “me time” for next year. Everyone deserves it. This year, I’ve used writing as my therapy. I will continue to. Thank you to everyone who believes in me. All there is to say, is have a fab 2018. Let’s hope it’s full of love, health and happiness. And sod resolutions!
Sarah is running the Virgin Money London Marathon for MS-UK. Here she tells of how she raised funds for her marathon fundraising by holding a mince pie and mulled wine afternoon...
I am so happy to be running the London Marathon for MS-UK. The reason that I am running for MS-UK is because my sister has multiple sclerosis. She was diagnosed over 10 years ago and she never seems to let it rule her even though I know some days she really does struggle but she won’t let it beat her. She truly does inspire me and when things are tough in my training I will think of her and it will really help keep me going. So, to get my fundraising started, I hosted a mulled wine and mince pie party at my home for my friends and family. The idea was that they would donate some money for the privilege. I thought it would be a great idea as Christmas is coming and what a fab reason to get together and raise some money whilst doing so.
I also have a teddy which needs a name and a home for £1 entry. Everyone loved him/her and most definitely wanted to take it home. The draw will take place next week but has so far raised £26. I had also made a few bits of jewellery to sell which I made about £5. I also used the opportunity to sell some of my old Christmas decorations. These included Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Piglet. These were in great condition but my children had out grown them, I got £7. It really was a really great afternoon and in total I raised £112.50.
In this guest blog, Jamie Macpherson gives a personal account of how the ‘Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis’ program has helped with his multiple sclerosis (MS) and his life...
My story is an interesting one as both I and my Mother have MS, six years and twenty nine years respectively. My mother is now considered secondary progressive and confined to a wheelchair currently. I, despite been diagnosed with the label MS, consider myself the healthiest I've ever been and intend to be for the rest of my life.
Before the introduction of internet and more recently the findings and practice of George Jelinek there wouldn’t have been much help for my mother as there wasn’t even many options for disease modifying drugs. So this will have led my mother to only be able to try methods such as the oxygen chamber therapy or the will of God.
So as my Mother, Jeanette, slowly declined in health, I for a period of time became her run-around whilst my father Peter worked to keep a roof over our heads. All this time I’m doing this I am smoking, eating poor food, no exercise and unknowingly to me becoming ill with each day of this poor lifestyle whilst thinking ‘I’m wonderful because I’m helping my Mum!’
When I had my first episode of MS the pain was very hard to describe and something I would not like to go through again. Obviously I had all the tests MRI etc. and the confirmation by the neurologist was MS and his words were ‘go away and see how it progresses’ (lovely thank you very much)!
The state of my body at that time, other than having MS, included weighing 22 stone, a BMI of 38, waist size 42 and more importantly really low self-esteem and depressive thoughts daily.
What did I do? Well despite having a loving caring family of partner and two young children 13 and 9, I lost the plot and left home and sat for a time feeling very sorry for myself and my position in life.
Then one day I visited my Mum and she had a magazine delivered called New Pathways, which had a reference to a guy called George Jelinek, who had written a book called ‘Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis’, so I ordered the book and couldn’t believe the similarities that both he and I had had, Mothers with MS, and then sadly for George his mother passed away. Well this book gave me hope, a chance and an opportunity to maybe, just maybe, get out of this position and make something of my life.
I attended the seminar that George and his team held in Brighton in 2013 and was completely amazed at all the people that had been following the seven step program and how well they were doing.
Six years later my life is the best it has been ever. I now weigh 15 stone, my waist size 34, BMI around 18 my thoughts are of ‘what can I do today to help people like me?’How have I got here? Obviously the OMS program is a must and I follow as best I can daily. Other things I have implemented include, acupuncture once every two weeks with a fantastic lady, Gisela Conclaves, in Heywood Rainbow clinic, I only eat foods to my blood group, I take high doses of Vitamin D3 and daily flaxseed oil with Herbalife breakfast nutritional shake. More recently I have been trying the virtually no side-effects drug Low Dose Naltrexone which has been a real help in fighting the dreaded fatigue which I no longer suffer from.
Above all these I tell myself ‘Every day in every way I get fitter and stronger.’
Find out about the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis program on their website.