Silver Linings - a Column by Jennifer Powell

suffering

Jennifer is the Director of Community Engagement for BioNews (Multiple Sclerosis News Today is a subsidiary of BioNews). Jenn is also the  host of the Multiple Sclerosis podcast, as well as a featured columnist. An active advocate in the MS community, Jenn imparts her hopeful optimism into real-life challenges facing the MS community. Now with secondary-progressive MS, Jenn continues to elevate the patient voice to better the lives of those living with MS. When not writing, Jenn enjoys volunteering with golden retriever rescue, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. Jenn resides in Orange County, California, with her husband and golden retriever.

My Scars Are Beautiful

Our life experiences shape and define who we are. While some wash over us and dissipate, others leave indelible impressions. Both emotional and physical, our scars hold our past and influence our future. We are the totality of these scars and their narrative is powerful. Each is a chapter in…

Let Go and Live

Six weeks ago, Abby, my golden retriever, had a seizure. I was sitting behind her when she began to rock; I have never moved so fast. I could only see the bloodshot whites of her eyes as she whimpered lightly and I began to wail. I intuitively hugged her,…

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…

Shining Through Boundaries

I spent the majority of my life as a people pleaser. From the time I was young, I equivocated “yes” with likability; please and be pleased. As the years passed, compromising my own needs became second to meeting those of others. While I genuinely enjoy…

Navigating Ups and Downs with MS

Today, I ate a dog treat. I was eating cookies from a nearby bowl when I broke a dog treat in half for Abby. Instead of putting the other half in my pocket, I put it in my mouth and chewed. Wondering how the brand could screw up so…

Emotions Run High

I am a sensitive individual by nature. Good, bad, or insignificant, that is part of my genetic makeup. I cry when the dog gets hurt in the movie, at every episode of “This Is Us,” and every time I hear “O Holy Night” at Christmas Eve services. While sometimes endearing,…

Mercury Rising: Heat and MS

My favorite season is fall, which is almost tied with winter, then spring, and finally, summer. I love fall for being the beginning of the holiday season as well as for the change in temperature. Although, since moving to Southern California, it…

Navigating Relationships with MS

Relationships are work. When you add in a chronic, progressive disease, the work becomes exponential. This is not to say work is a bad thing, as we reap immense rewards when we put effort into anything. Rather, anything worth doing…

Coming out of the Cog Fog

I am watching the computer curser taunt my inability to collect my thoughts. Three days out of chemotherapy, my brain is more fried than usual, the fog thick and dense. For those unfamiliar with cog fog (cognitive fog), it is a clouding…

A Year in Review with Progressive MS

  They say a near-death experience will invoke a montage of your life in a matter of seconds. Gratefully, I have not had the experience to find out if this is indeed a truism, but I recently experienced a mini-mélange of my own. I read the mail, more specifically the…

Energy Efficiency and MS

I am tired, like beyond tired. I make tired look scintillating, and as funny as that sounds, it is anything but when trying to live your life. My spoons are numbered, and by midday, I am usually through all of them. Before you deem me crazy, I am referencing…

Finding Peace During the Holidays

The Christmas season is upon us — decorations, shopping, and get-togethers dominate the month of December. If you tune into the Hallmark channel you will see this season as synonymous with love, laughter, and an abundance of cheer. With joy the prevailing theme it can be difficult to experience…

A Beacon of Hope Amid MS-Related Pain

Do you have pain? Although prone to subjectivity, I am certain the majority of you silently said yes. I did. I hesitated to write this, as pain, from the definition of it to the management of it, is idiosyncratic. Rather than draw hard and fast lines, I prefer to…

Don’t Miss Out on Life

I love photographs and have them strewn about and framed throughout the house. From grandchildren and goldens, holidays and travels, each holds a cherished memory. I am happiest taking photos and have cultivated somewhat of a hobby doing so. As I have gotten older, I have (gratefully) discarded the…

Finding Support When Living with MS

Last Saturday, I received a FaceTime call from my father who was attending my cousin’s wedding reception. Both he and my mom traveled out of state to attend it, as did the majority of my large extended family. The happy clamor of boisterous chatter made it almost impossible…

Canine Companionship and Multiple Sclerosis

I am an avid dog lover and very involved in volunteering with the golden retriever rescue here in Southern California. On any given day, you will find my 8-year-old rescue, Abby, here along with two to three other happy golden retrievers. I may have  rescued Abby physically, but there…

Being a Caregiver with MS

I pride myself on never lending power to my limitations, but when I became the primary caretaker for my husband after he underwent hip replacement surgery, my limitations were reached. Ten days later, I am slowly emerging as a somewhat functioning individual. As with most challenges, I tend…

Choosing Happiness

I find it funny when people ask how and why I am so positive and happy. Am I supposed to be sad and negative just because I have multiple sclerosis? There are certainly days when the pain and/or side effects get me down, but gratefully, these are exceptions…

Enjoy the Journey While Traveling with MS

I have always had the travel bug, and I’ve been to a myriad of countries and cities around the world. From far-away foreign cities to exotic beach locales, I find great pleasure in refining my cultural literacy. That refinement took a back seat after my diagnosis and subsequent…

Making Plans with an Unpredictable Disease

I love getting together with family and friends, volunteering at the golden retriever rescue, attending events and keeping my calendar full. It is fulfilling to make plans, but as many of you with MS know, it is a paradox. The very plans that bring hope and happiness also…

Using Peace of Mind to Cope with MS

In this chaotic world in which we live, it is hard to be still, to sit with nothing but our thoughts. There is always something to worry about or preoccupy our minds that never allows us to rest in the present. As I sit on the patio and write,…

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