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5 ways to stave off colds this winter - flu vaccination

Posted on: October 18 2017

51.pngOur fifth and final blog this week in our series of how to stave off colds this winter is all about the flu vaccination...

It’s a controversial subject – should you or shouldn’t you have it? Flu vaccination is estimated to be effective in 17-53% of older adults compared to 70-90% of younger people.

But if you do decide to have the flu vaccination, a recent study conducted by Nottingham University has found that being in a good mood when you have your flu jab boosts its efficiency.

The team of scientists measured negative mood, positive mood, physical activity, diet and sleep three times a week over a six week period in a group of 138 older people due to have their flu jab. Then they examined how well the jab was working by measuring the amount of influenza antibody in the blood at four weeks and 16 weeks after the vaccination.

The results showed that of all of the factors measured, only positive mood over the six week observational period predicted how well the jab worked – with good mood associated with higher levels of antibody. In fact, when the researchers looked at influences on the day of vaccination itself, they found an even greater effect on how well it worked, accounting for between 8 and 14% of the variability in antibody levels.

If you would like information and support about anything we have covered this week, or would just like to chat, the MS-UK Helpline is here to help. Call us on 0800 783 0518, email us or chat with us online at

Guest blog: 30 years on...

Posted on: September 21 2017

In her latest guest blog Liz talks about the past 30 years living with multiple sclerosis (MS)...

liz-murby_300.jpgOurs is certainly a tricky condition, like life itself, being unique to each and every one of us.., my first response to the thought/question of penning another blog was, honestly, why?..., but mindful of last night’s discussion with son #1, who shall remain nameless, I thought, well, if not you, who....? (a la ******), so here it is...., Following a couple of recent calls to my GP, turns out, I was diagnosed with MS, in August 1987..., 30 years (just) ago...well, I don’t remember either:

  1. This happening at all, [I was in the middle of studying for my degree at the time], put vaguely scribbled 2nd year revision notes down to stress (who wouldn’t?!)
  2. That my MS has particularly stopped me from doing anything that I have been particularly keen to do in the mean time
  3.  Giving birth to, and partially raising 2 fabulous sons
  4. Gaining my Economics degree;
  5. Having a go at ski-ing!!! not great, but I did enjoy it, though probably never again!- balance/confidence etc!

Many very helpful things (for the MS community worldwide) have certainly happened, and continue, day by involvement in/membership of Twitter, the Tweeting community, being one example... Met, in person, the chap who kindly introduced me to MS publications (you know who you are C, and his fabulous wife N, they drove all the way from XXXX miles down South, but they didn’t give up, and certainly taught me a lot: my own needs, visible to others though they may, to a certain extent, are not going to stop the world from turning.) The local (and it’s tricky here, ‘my’ county has borders with 7 others...) has very recently established a new county wide MS group: thanks M, awaiting further details, patiently, as promised. I ‘heard’ from a trusted (MS) tweeter... of a very recent research breakthrough, that has also been successful in the treatment of pancreatic cancer (my best friend, and God-father to my elder son, died of this in 2007..., bye, still love you Coops!) To be honest, there is nothing like the delivery of one’s first born child...his brother, exceptionally large, (12lbs, 5oz) may have been a shock to all 3 midwives involved in his delivery, and certainly it took 3 scales to confirm..., my point{s} being that, like it or not:

  1. However large your belly is, that bump is coming out, hopefully healthy and happy!
  2. Death is a part of life’s rich circle/ tapestry...
  3. The longer we’re here, the closer to a pain/trouble-free departure for us all, we become;
  4. It’s kind of obvious...
  5. However difficult in may seem,
  6. Enjoy the NOW, and maybe think of helping others first as much as you can, you may feel good for it: I do

Now, in yesterday (late) evening’s chat, I promised son 1 I’d tackle a crossword today, brain active etc, so maybe after making sure all is safe here, I’ll give that a go...wish me luck! Cheers! Liz

Guest blog : The Gorilla In Your House

Posted on: August 04 2017

mary-guest-blogger.jpgOur Guest Blogger today is Mary of This Is My Blog after a fashion, anyway, and we thank her for her permission in publishing it on our blog. Mary talks of acquiring a disability and how it is bit like getting home to find there's a gorilla in your house...

With thanks to everyone over at Ouch.

Acquiring a disability is a bit like getting home to find there’s a gorilla in your house. You contact the approved and official channels to get rid of infestations of wild animals (in this case, the NHS) and they umm and aah and suck air in through their teeth before saying something roughly equivalent to ‘what you’ve got ‘ere, mate, is a gorilla, and there ain’t really a lot what we can do about them, see…’ before sending you back home to the gorilla’s waiting arms.

The gorilla in your house will cause problems in every part of your life. Your spouse may decide that (s)he can’t deal with the gorilla, and leave. Your boss may get upset that you’ve brought the gorilla to work with you and it’s disrupting your colleagues, who don’t know how to deal with gorillas. You’re arriving for work wearing a suit the gorilla has slept on. Some days you don’t turn up at all because at the last minute, the gorilla has decided to barricade you into the bathroom or sit on you so you can’t get out of bed. Your friends will get cheesed off because when you see them – which isn’t often, because they don’t want to come to your house for fear of the gorilla and the gorilla won’t always let you out – your only topic of conversation is this darn gorilla and the devastation it is causing.

There are three major approaches to the gorilla in your house.

One is to ignore it and hope it goes away. This is unlikely to work. A 300-lb gorilla will sleep where he likes, and if that’s on top of you, it will have an effect on you.

Another is to try and force the gorilla out, wrestling constantly with it, spending all your time fighting it. This is often a losing battle. Some choose to give all their money to people who will come and wave crystals at the gorilla, from a safe distance of course. This also tends to be a losing battle. However, every so often, one in a hundred gorillas will get bored and wander off. The crystal-wavers and gorilla-wrestlers will claim victory, and tell the media that it’s a massive breakthrough in gorilla-control, and that the 99 other gorilla-wrestlers just aren’t doing it right due to sloppy thinking or lack of committment. The 99 other gorilla-wrestlers won’t have the time or energy to argue.

I have known people spend the best years of their life and tens of thousands of pounds trying to force their gorillas to go away. The tragedy is that even if it does wander off for a while, they won’t get their pre-gorilla lives back. They’ll be older, skint, exhausted, and constantly afraid that the gorilla may well come back.

The third way to deal with the gorilla in your house is to accept it, tame it, and make it part of your life. Figure out a way to calm your gorilla down. Teach it how to sit still until you are able to take it places with you without it making a scene. Find out how to equip your home with gorilla-friendly furnishings and appliances. Negotiate with your boss about ways to accomodate, or even make use of, your gorilla. Meet other people who live with gorillas and enjoy having something in common, and share gorilla-taming tips.

People get really upset about this and throw around accusations of ‘giving up’ and ‘not even trying’. They even suggest that you enjoy having a gorilla around because of the attention it gets you (while ignoring the massive pile of steaming gorilla-turds in your bedroom every morning and night, not to mention your weekly bill for bananas). The best way to deal with these people is to smile and remind yourself that one day, they too will have a gorilla in their house.


9 ways to get the best out of your neurology appointment

Posted on: April 26 2017

blog-promo.pngClinical Nurse Specialists in MS, Julie Webster and Helen Willis give their top tips...

  • Make notes before you come to your appointment with what​ you want to discuss. Bring specific questions and/or a diary of symptoms with surrounding circumstances
  • Bring a list of medications you are on, the dosage and regularity. Not just MS drugs either – any medication you are taking
  • Bring someone with you – It never hurts to have a second pair of ears
  • During the appointment say the top three things that are bothering you
  • You don’t have to follow the advice given, they are just suggestions. It is a two-way conversation. You will not be penalised for not taking the advice
  • Before you leave – check. Have you understood everything? Have all your questions been answered? Do you understand what is going to happen next?
  • If you have had a blood test ask how and when to get results?
  • Don’t be afraid to email or call the MS nurse if you want your blood test results
  • Check your personal details are up to date, GP, address and telephone number

Additional information You should be seen by your MS nurse every year, but if all is well most can do a review over the phone. If you are on a disease modifying treatment you should be seen every 3-6 months by your nurse or consultant. Want to chat? The MS-UK Helpline is open Monday to Friday. You can call us on 0800 783 0518 or chat with us online via our live web chat service.

One Day Essential: Neurology Conference

Posted on: March 30 2017

c7g9cbdxqaevs2x.jpgLast week myself and Diana, our Head of Services, visited the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) in London. We were exhibiting at their ‘One Day Essential: Neurology Conference’.

The RCGP offer one day conferences to GPs, providing expert specialist clinical training and essential information. The aim is to help GPs improve their practice and patient outcomes.

There were a number of expert speakers, covering various neurological conditions including Dr Gabriele De Luca, who spoke about multiple sclerosis (MS). Dr De Luca is an Associate Professor and Honorary Consultant Neurologist in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford. He is also the Director of Clinical Neurosciences Undergraduate Education at Oxford Medical School. We were fortunate enough to be able to listen to his talk.

His session was informative, educational and most of all engaging. He explained to his audience more about MS and provided further information to support the delegates in deciding what are potential neurological symptoms, and when to refer on to neurology. He also discussed ways in which to decide if their patients are having a relapse or not and making the link to the central nervous system.

We had time to chat to the delegates attending the conference and explained how we can help support their MS patients in their day to day living through our services.

It is always nice to attend events where we can chat to people face to face and talk about our work. It was a great opportunity to talk to GPs who are the front line professionals at the start of everyone’s journey and beyond.

Laura Amiss-Smith
Helpline Supervisor

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