Re-Introducing ActiveMSers means a lot more Dave🤪
Welcome to the newest edition of The Hunker Games. Dave and his wife Laura of ActiveMSers are hunkering down in isolation for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic—these are their stories (cue the L&O dong-dong) ... along with helpful advice, necessary levity, and, most crucially, hope.
Greetings, so you may have heard there was this election thingy here in the States. But while that’s taken up far too much of my brain space, there have been a few other things going on that have gobbled up actual time faster than Joey Chestnut at an eating contest on Coney Island. Fortunately, you will soon see the fruits of that labor, and it’ll be way more appealing than consuming dozens of Nathan’s hotdogs in under 10 minutes. (And less gassy.) For starters, Laura and I just finished a brief caregiver interview for Super HealtheVoices Live coming up November 21 (designed for health advocates, but all are welcome). I’ll also be presenting a short how-to about e-newsletters, re: this one. Then there is the string of gear reviews I’m working on, including the NormaTek Pulse Boot, a leg recovery system originally designed for athletes (will it help MSers with spasticity?). But a bigger splash will be a new educational video on MS and exercise I just filmed remotely with a team from New York City. I won’t spoil the surprise, but it’s full-on vintage Dave, complete with mentions of Wookiees, Baby Shark, kale smoothies, and more. (And yes, that is me on the bed underneath a tripod—we pulled out all the tricks!) I can’t wait to see how it all turns out when it’s released late next month! But the more pressing announcement and the reason for the “Heads Up” alert in this email’s subject line concerns what is going to roll out next week. But before we go there, let’s turn our attention to the Games, The Hunker Games!
// OUR EXPERIENCE: Carefully visiting friends
Socially distancing together with friends has been an essential part of our Covid coping regimen. Now that we have a minivan with a portable toilet, we can safely go see friends instead of entertaining exclusively on our patio. Most recently we backed our van right into a backyard just steps (er, a few rolls) from our private dining table, complete with hand sanitizer and sterilized plates and cutlery. Indeed, every glass, saltshaker, and even the bottle opener were sterilized! The only thing missing? Champagne flutes to hold the bubbly we brought to celebrate this small slice of new freedom. But those arrived soon, too!
TIP: Managing Symptoms. Few neurological diseases have such a wide range of symptoms as multiple sclerosis, and they often amplify during relapses. Fatigue, numbness, cog fog, vision issues, bladder problems, spasticity, weakness, walking difficulties, balance, constipation, overheating, ewww. So I’ve dedicated an entire section on ActiveMSers to help. Here’s some advice.
// MS RESEARCH: Exercise as a protective intervention in MS
As if you needed MORE reasons to get off your duff. Here’s a study that found exercise changes brain structure as a “protective intervention” in MSers, especially in terms of cognition. Ohhh, and this study that talks about “improved connectome, neuroprotection, neurogenesis, oligodendrogenesis, and remyelination.” And so many others, including this one that found aerobic exercise significantly improves the quality of life of MSers, and this one that confirmed the QOL finding and that exercise decreases fatigue. And this one about yoga and improving muscular strength, and then this study that exercise may even modulate inflammation and MS severity (at least in mice). The craziest study, though, might be this one taking a DEEP dive into the impact of exercise on immunometabolism that is WAY above my head. Finally, there was this study that found exercise can help with nighttime peeing, to which I say HALLELUJAH.
// LAUGH: Managing an MS relapse with grace and poise 🤣
Relapses are no fun. So I’ve put together a pair of entertaining videos to help you cope, packing them with advice I’ve learned over the years about dealing with that uninvited guest. This first goofy one involves a horror movie called “The Eye Stabber,” which will have you nodding your head in agreement and laughing out loud. Especially at my grace and poise. The other? I discuss the challenges of relapses, comparing them to having an obnoxious hangry dinosaur looming over your shoulder roaring at you incessantly. Hate when that happens!
In closing, yes, the coronavirus is surging worldwide and the US is in a world of hurt. And yes, it’s scary, as this harrowing post from my friend and popular MS blogger Laura Kolaczkowski confirms. She survived her tangle with Covid, but *why* she survived is the real message you and other MSers need to hear. Despite the scary, hope nuggets abound. For starters, research on MS and Covid has been mostly positive. We are not any more likely to contract or become severely ill from the virus than the normals. Catch up on it all as the MS International Foundation has published this global MS and Covid advice, which is being updated regularly. And in general Covid news, overall death rates are dropping as doctors are getting a better handle on how to treat the virus. The cutting-edge antibody treatment from Eli Lilly just got the FDA’s emergency OK. Oh, and I hear Pfizer has some vaccine thingy with 90% effectiveness coming out in a matter of weeks. So hang tight! 

Speaking of hanging tight, that brings us to our “heads up.” I’ve finally updated our Welcome Series of emails for new members—more than 80% have been revised (ahem, removing woefully outdated references, re: Taylor Hicks won American Idol!?)—and they are great, informative reads. So much so, that I’m temporarily making you all honorary new members, even though some of you have been in my corner for well over a decade. That means for the next year or so you’ll be hearing from me regularly as I reintroduce myself and ActiveMSers. If that holds zero appeal, just ignore them (they all say *Welcome Series* and are ringed in green) or unsubscribe IN A HUFF and click the box that says “I get too many emails from you” and return to watching cats playing in rock bands and doing acrocatics. Either way I won’t take it personally, since I’ve actually PAID MONEY to watch a live performance of just that. Be active, stay fit, and keep exploring!

Dave Bexfield

p.s. There's lots more news in our forums. One biggie: the National MS Society is now officially endorsing HSCT as a therapy for aggressive relapsing multiple sclerosis, a treatment I underwent in 2010 as part of a cutting-edge clinical trial. I'm glad to see my volunteering to be an MS human guinea pig is paying off!
be active - stay fit - keep exploring