Monthly Archives: February 2016

MS and Simple Memory Boosting Ideas

     Mailbox Numbers Unfortunately MS robs many of us of our physical ability to stay active and keep a more normal blood flow to the brain which in turn affects our ability to remember the simplest of things sometimes. One way of stimulating all of those little nerve bundles up in our heads is by reading and writing which many of us do now on a daily basis even if it was something that we didn’t enjoy all that much pre-multiple sclerosis.

     However there are a couple of other little tricks that forces your brain to reset its ability to recall information on a daily basis. But first, here’s a very short but amusing story that gets us started.

     The other day I asked my twenty three year old Niece how many passwords she had because of all the social media and other things that her generation has to keep abreast of on any given day? Her answer certainly surprised me, “Two.” And I would imagine that is probably the same answer that you would get from almost any Millennial. And now, you too, know their secret of living in a password protected world.

     In my case I have at least ten that I can think of off the top of my head and it’s not just because I am old and terrified of someone hacking my personal information. I have them all because it forces me to recall them each to the appropriate site that I am visiting or using at that particular moment. Oh yes, I have my own version of a little black book that I can pull out and search if the brain fog is just to thick to get through, but I have found that by doing this those moments of staring at a blank screen with a blank mind have been fewer and fewer as the years have passed.

     And I have another mind game I play when I’m either riding or driving in my car if I want to wake my brain up from a multiple sclerosis haze. Every time I pass a set of numbers like on a mailbox I’ll add them up until I get the smallest domination. For instance: 7324 would be 7+3+2+4 which would equal 16 and then 1+6 would equal 7. You can also do it with subtraction 7-3-2-4 would equal negative 2. And if you get really bored of that you can also multiply instead 7x3x2x4 would equal 168 and then you could also add and/or subtract from that point as well.

     The whole idea is to keep your mind active and refuse to let MS clog the pathways of your brain. And I’ve become so used to doing this that I can do it easily even with the radio is on while also paying attention to the road around me while I’m driving. However, I don’t do it if I have a passenger.

     And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has these little brain teasers to keep a clear and healthy mind, what are some of your ways of keeping all of the neurons firing in the proper order?

 

Bill Walker

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MS and The Day I Met, LL Cool J

    As you wake up on any given day you can never be to sure what surprising thing may lie just ahead of you.  Back in the early nineties a friend of mine, Julie Burton, now a singer song writer in Nashville Tenn., asked me if I would be interested in being a roadie for a day as she and her band showcased for some of the largest record companies in the world.  It didn’t take a genius to figure out that this was something extraordinary that I would probably never get a second chance to do again so I jumped at the offer.

     The first big surprise of the day came as we rolled into New York City in search of the studio where the showcase was to take place.  I expected some high rise palace where no expense had been spared to attract the upper royalty of the music industry.  What I got was a nondescript building on this out of the way alley that no one would have ever suspected to harbor the megastars of music as they prepared for world tours or whatever.  And once inside this cold cement fortress it was anything but what you would think a multi-platinum millionaire would spend time at during rehearsals. 

     After checking in which required passing thru two heavily locked and secured sets of doors we were ushered into studio B of a triplex of studios that surrounded a common room that was even more unimpressive then the building itself.  The furniture, what there was of it, appeared to have come straight out of someone’s basement or the nearest second hand store.  Otherwise, it was clean, but that was the best I could say for it.   

     After setup, and during sound checks of which I was absolutely no help, I decided to take a book that I had brought along and take a break out in the common area while I waited for the first of two showcases to take place.  As I entered the common room I soon realized that I wasn’t the only person who had the same idea.  And I found my day suddenly brightening beyond all expectations.  Let’s just say that I instantly fell in love with my new reading partner but that’s another story.  In no time at all I was engaged in a conversation with a woman who if memory serves me right which it probably doesn’t, remember this was twenty some years ago, was named Christine or Christina.  And she told me that she was a dancer with LL Cool J.

     I replied, “LL who?”

     She said, “LL Cool J, we’re rehearsing for a tour in studio C.”

     I confessed that I was surprised because the guys that I had come with all said that LL Bean was in studio C.  And yes, I was really that naïve about Rap and Rap Musicians back in those days.   When Christine stopped laughing, and believe me she was bust a gut laughing, she took pity on my lack of knowledge and explained that my friends had played a huge joke on me.  And she went on to tell me a little about her story and how she had managed to become a dancer with LL Cool J.  And not long after this I had to return to studio B for Julie’s first showcase.

     When I next emerged at the conclusion of the showcase I was extremely pleased to see that Christine was still sitting in the common room.  I could have talked to her all day if I had the chance.  However, this time she wasn’t alone.  LL Cool J’s entire band, as well as his manager, were all taking a break. 

     Christine looked up and smiled as she said, “This is Bill, the guy who thought we were all a part of The LL Bean Band.”  They all laughed as I looked for the nearest couch that I could climb under to hide. 

     It was LL’s manager who decided that it might be best if he taught me a little bit about the culture and inspirations behind Rap Music.  I guess he genuinely did not want me to ever be so humiliated again so he spent the next fifteen to twenty minutes laying out how intricate the underlying messages really were.  Christine, as well as the rest of the band, were all great throwing in little bits of information here and there. 

     And then it happened!  The door to studio C opened and a very big guy, LL Cool J is a lot bigger then most people probably realize when you see him in person and up close, and this mountain of a man who I realized had to be a body guard emerged.  After a moment I heard LL Cool J’s manager speak up.  “Hey LL, this is Bill the guy we told you about.”

     I was glad that he left out the LL Bean part but I realized that was my queue, “Hi, it’s really nice to meet you, especially after making such a fool out of myself.”

     To which Mr. Cool J replied, “Eh!”

     And that was it my entire earth shattering conversation with the man himself.  It was a moment that he probably had forgotten by the time the door to studio C once again closed but one that I’ll never forget.

     And then I had to go back for Julie’s second showcase and I never saw Christine or the band the rest of that afternoon.  Christine, I might not have your name right, but I will never forget the short time I got to spend with you!  And without you, I probably would never have met LL Cool J.  Cheers, and thank you, where ever you are these days?

     And Julie, the biggest thank you goes to you.  The only thing that could have made this day even more special would have been if you had been signed by a major label.  Thanks for this cherished memory!

Bill Walker

MS Chocolate and Valentines Day’s Healthy Choice

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     In a previous article I discussed the heart healthy and anti-inflammatory benefits that chocolate can provide but that’s certainly not all of the benefits that science is learning about this treat.

      Chocolate especially the purer kinds with higher cocoa content and less sugar can also help to lower blood pressure while also making blood platelets less sticky allowing them to clot easier. And dark chocolate also contains oleic acid which is a heart healthy monounsaturated fat that is also found in something else that’s considered very heart healthy, olive oil.

     Chocolate is loaded with antioxidants; in fact chocolate has eight times the amount of antioxidants as strawberries. And the antioxidants in chocolate help to remove free radicals from environmental factors that we encounter on a daily basis from smoke and other air pollutants as well as from other things that we eat. Chocolate also helps keep LDL, or the bad cholesterol, from forming in the body while also helping in balancing certain hormones.

     And chocolate even has some benefits for your mental health like stimulating endorphin production giving you a feeling of pleasure. And chocolate also contains serotonin which acts as a natural anti-depressant. And finally it also contains theobromine and caffeine which act as stimulants for a quick little pick-me up when needed.

     Chocolate should always be eaten in moderation as it does have a high fat content however most of these fats are considered to be the healthy kind, so go ahead, and indulge a little.

     Happy Valentines Day! ♥

 

Bill Walker-Author of Visus

Could the Zika Virus be Devastating to People with MS?

100_0262      The Zika virus is being called a worldwide health crisis mostly because of its apparent effects on pregnant women and a high rate of microcephaly which is a rare birth defect. This virus is already suspected as having a link to Guillain-Barre syndrome which has also been suspected as a possible trigger of multiple sclerosis in people who are, or might, be genetically predisposed to developing this auto-immune disorder. And Guillain-Barre syndromes symptoms can include severe fatigue and varying degrees of temporary partial paralysis. Sound familiar?

     The good news is that this mosquito-borne virus has so far been contained in more tropical environments than where MS is generally to be found. But even this offer’s only a minimal amount of comfort as this virus also seems to be able to be transmitted from one human host to a mosquito while being bitten. If this does in fact turn out to be the case then any person who travels to an area where Zika is prevalent could be infected and return to a home in the northern hemisphere during summer months and quite possibly transmit the disease to the local mosquito population thus spreading it to a brand new geographical location where MS is much more prevalent. And if all of that isn’t bad enough it has already been discovered that this disease can also be transmitted through sexual contact much like a sexually transmitted disease.

     At the moment, main street science is saying that they doubt that the Zika virus is a cause for panic as the symptoms in healthy individuals have for the most part been mild and short lived something akin to having the flu virus for a few days or up to perhaps a week. But as yet we don’t know how this virus might affect someone with a compromised immune system like those of us with multiple sclerosis who already suffer from some very similar symptoms as to what some of the more severe cases are reporting.

     What bothers me the most is that I remember this other little virus that was supposed to be nothing more than a wimpy little pest that otherwise shouldn’t be much to worry about? And that wimpy little virus HIV, turned out to be the cause of AIDS!

 

Bill Walker