Columns

Is This a Step Toward Lower Medication Prices?

Here in the U.S., the price we pay for medications is complicated. The usual process is for a pharmaceutical company to set a high price for a medication when it first hits the market. But, like buying a car, that “sticker” price is negotiable. Health plans use pharmaceutical benefit…

Is the MRI Contrasting Agent Gadolinium Safe? (Part 2)

Part two in a series. Read part one here. In the last column, I discussed gadolinium’s role in contrasted MRI procedures and a December 2017 warning by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that the body can retain gadolinium in its tissues and brain for years. I also shared my personal experience with…

Tricks of the Trade

I saw my neurologist a few weeks ago for what was effectively an emergency meeting. I’d had the customary two rounds of Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) and still had a relapse. We discussed weighty subjects and there seemed, surprisingly, to still be some hope. It depends on the outcome of an MRI;…

New DMT Guidelines Are Good for MS Patients

The American Academy of Neurology (AAN) has just released some new guidelines about when to begin, change, and end disease-modifying therapies (DMTs) that are used to treat MS patients. The guidelines, published on April 23, encourage aggressive treatment when symptoms of MS first appear. They’re also patient-centric. And…

The Need for Follow-through with REAL MS

I’m a great starter. How about you? I start projects but often lack the time or motivation to finish them. Hence, I have bins full of yarn waiting to be turned into scarves and lots of seeds that were meant to be planted in the past growing seasons. It’s…

Research Reveals Another Possible Epstein-Barr Virus Link to MS

Editor’s note: To learn more about the link between the Epstein-Barr virus and MS, read Ed’s May 2020 column titled “More Evidence Links Epstein-Barr Virus to MS.” For years researchers have believed a link exists between the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and multiple sclerosis. But scientists have had…

Is the MRI Contrasting Agent Gadolinium Safe? (Part 1)

When a doctor orders an MRI with contrast, gadolinium is usually the contrasting agent used. Gadolinium is injected into the patient’s vein after the radiologist takes the first round of MRI images. This helps the radiologist receive sharper, more readable images. In the case of multiple sclerosis (MS),…

A Look Around the Terminal

It’s spring — at least, it’s supposed to be — so getting stuck at the airport due to snow was the last thing I expected during a recent trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan. But that’s exactly what happened to me on Sunday. I sat with thousands of fellow passengers,…

It’s the Little Things

Really big things are going on in the world. WW3 is again flagged as a possibility. My world is considerably smaller. It’s mostly my bedroom. I can get out of it, but it takes a considerable effort. In the last seven days, I only exited it once. Last night, I…

Pain Meds Help Me Live

There is no guidebook to living with a chronic, progressive, and incurable disease. Even if such a book existed, it would only be somewhat applicable, as things change on a daily basis. We are all as unique as this disease, yet have one commonality: pain. Before my multiple sclerosis…

I Hope My MS Treatments Are Done for Good

With apologies to Edgar Allan Poe, quoth the Lemmie, “Nevermore.” As I write this, the final brown bag of Lemtrada (alemtuzumab) has just begun to drip into a vein in my left arm. If all goes “as advertised,” this will be the final disease-modifying therapy I’ll ever receive.

When Did Showering Become Such a Thrill Ride?

My morning ritual of showering for a fresh start to my day has progressed to a once-a-week occurrence. Like everything else that my multiple sclerosis (MS) affects, less shower time is not by choice. I take sponge baths daily of course, but actual showers are reserved for when I…

Back to the World

The stars sometimes align, even for us atheists. My son was making a fleeting weekend visit from his last year at his university. It’s all we were going to see of him over the Easter period. He’s taking it very seriously and aiming for top grades in math. The week…

An Ocrevus Update Has Me Cautiously Optimistic

After a delay in treatment in late December thanks to a nasty head cold, and the after-effects of contracting the flu in February necessitating another delay, I finally received my second six-month dose of Ocrevus (ocrelizumab) in mid-March. Much like the first time, the infusion was uneventful. I had no…

A Message of Hope from a Firefly

While growing up, I loved seeing fireflies (or lightning bugs, as I called them) at night. My friends and I would chase them, trying to grasp one. There was something about the light and their ability to shine in the blanket of darkness that engulfed us. We felt…

Lemtrada Round 2: My Drip Stops Here

As you read this, I likely will be in the middle of, or finished with, my second round of Lemtrada (alemtuzumab). Hopefully, this will be the final round of this disease-modifying therapy (DMT), and the final MS treatment of any kind, for me. Though some have required more,…

Taking My MS on a Road Trip

On Good Friday, my family and I took a three-day road trip to lay my husband to rest. Our goal was to honor his last wishes and set his ashes free in the wilderness that he so loved. My husband enjoyed going archery hunting almost every fall, until a…

You Only Think You Know

When I tell people I have multiple sclerosis, I usually get one of three responses: • “Oh, no! I feel so bad for you!” (Pity) • “Is that the one with the telethon?” (Confusion) • “I know all about that disease! My sister-in-law’s cousin’s college roommate has…

Be My Wife

Let me introduce you to my wife, Jane, by cheekily lifting the title “Be My Wife” from possibly the only accessible track off Bowie’s seminal ’70s album, “Low.” Through these weekly columns I’ve mentioned her often enough, but I’ve never formally introduced her. Mea culpa. I didn’t have…