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Gina, Nathalie and Helga share their reactions to being diagnosed with MS and how they stay informed and positive in the face of ever-changing symptoms.
It’s been 155 years since neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot gave the first lecture on a mysterious progressive illness he called “multiple sclerosis.” Since then, we’ve learned a lot. We know MS causes the immune system to attack healthy tissue, including damaging the brain and spinal cord. Resulting symptoms can be debilitating and include fatigue, blurred vision, memory problems and weakness. Huge advancements in our understanding of MS and its underlying causes, as well as treatment advances, have been made in the past few decades, but MS remains a complex and unpredictable reality for the 2.8 million+ people diagnosed around the world.
Ironically, the only real constant for people living with MS is change. There’s no set pattern or standard progression of the disease, so each person’s experience is unique. Some people with MS have mild symptoms that worsen slowly but sometimes improve, while others can have severe symptoms that drastically alter their daily lives.
All people with MS share some things in common, however, such as the need to stay informed on the ever-evolving research, find various lines of support and try to remain hopeful as they continue living with the disease.
To better understand what navigating life with MS really looks like, three women shared their MS stories with us. Their journeys demonstrate how MS can look different for different people and interestingly, how the language used to talk about the disease can greatly impact how people understand their realities.
Gina loves riding her horse, Benita.Courtesy of Sanofi
When her youngest son was 4 months old, Gina started having problems with her eye. She’d soon learn she was experiencing optic neuritis—her first symptom of MS.
“Immediately after the diagnosis, I looked up facts on MS because I didn’t know anything about it,” Gina says. “And as soon as I knew what could really happen with this disease, I actually got scared.”
As her family’s primary income provider, she worried about how MS would impact her ability to work as a writer and editor. Her family was afraid she was going to end up in a wheelchair. However, for now, Gina’s MS is managed well enough that she still works full-time and is able to be active.
“When I tell somebody that I have MS, they often don't believe me the first time because I don't fulfill any stereotypes,” she says.
Overwhelmed by negative perspectives on living with MS, Gina sought support in the online MS community, which she found to be much more positive.
“I think it’s important to use as many positive words as you can when talking about MS.” It’s important to be realistic while also conveying hope, she says. “MS is an insidious disease that can cause many bad symptoms…that can be frightening, and you can't gloss over it, either.”
To give back to the online community that helped her so much, Gina started a blog to share her story and help others trying to learn about their diagnosis.
Though she deals with fatigue and cognitive dysfunction sometimes, Gina stays active swimming, biking, riding horses and playing with her sons, who are now 11 and 6.
Cognitive dysfunction is common in MS, with over half of people affected. It can impact memory, attention, planning, and word-finding. As with many aspects of MS, some people experience mild changes, while others face more challenges.
Gina says that while there’s still a lot of education about MS needed, she feels positive about the future of MS because there’s so much research being done.
Nathalie is an award-winning rower with multiple international titles.Courtesy of Sanofi
Nathalie was a teenager and a competitive athlete when she noticed her first symptoms of MS, but it would take four years of “limbo” before she was diagnosed.
“Ultimately, the diagnosis was more of a relief, than a shock,” she says. “Because when you have signs and you don’t know why, it’s worse than knowing, in the end, what you have.”
However, learning more about the disease—and the realities of disease progression—scared her.
“That glimpse of the future was direct and traumatic,” she says. Her neurologist explained that the disease evolves differently for everyone, and her situation might end up being serious or very mild. So, she decided to stop comparing herself to others with MS.
She said to herself, “We’ll see what happens, and you’ll manage it bit by bit.”
By 2005, Nathalie’s MS had progressed to the point of needing a wheelchair. However, that has not dampened her competitive spirit.
Nathalie began her international rowing career in 2009 and has won multiple world titles, including two Paralympic medals—silver in London and bronze in Tokyo. Now, at 42, she still trains 11 times a week. Fatigue can be a problem, and sometimes hard workouts leave her with muscle stiffness and shaking, but she credits her ongoing sports career for helping her feel in tune with her body’s signals.
“Over the years, I’ve learned to listen to my body, letting my body guide when I need to stop and take breaks,” she says.
Nathalie explains that she used to only look backwards because of the initial shock of her diagnosis. In time, she stopped thinking about what she couldn’t do anymore and focused on her future. She now lives in the following mindset: “Even when doors close, don’t miss out on those that open.” Instead of focusing on what she can’t do, she focuses on the opportunities she still has. Right now, this includes her training for the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris, where she will compete for another rowing medal.
“I only go forward,” she says. “Well, I try, anyway…It’s easy to say, it’s not always easy to do. But that’s what I try to do.”
Helga's Great Dane has become a helpful and beloved companion.Courtesy of Sanofi
When Helga first started having balance issues and numbness in her feet, she chalked it up to her training as a runner. But when the numbness moved to her face, she knew something was wrong. She never guessed it was MS.
“When I was diagnosed, I felt completely overwhelmed and clueless,” Helga says. “I felt that I had nowhere near enough information. I did not know anything about the disease…I had no idea that it was going to be a process of continually monitoring and adjusting your lifestyle.”
In the beginning, Helga’s symptoms developed slowly, and she didn’t appear ill to others. She was even able to run for a few years after her diagnosis, but she couldn’t do marathons anymore, and she began to fall frequently due to balance issues and right-foot dragging. Then her cognition issues became more problematic, especially in her job as a trainer in a printing company.
“My executive function, decision-making and short-term memory were affected to the point that I was eventually medically unfit for work,” she says. She stopped working in 2017.
However, she didn’t stop living life. Even though she could no longer run, she continued to swim competitively. She got a Great Dane puppy and trained him as a service dog to help her walk. She also serves as vice chair of the patient support organization Multiple Sclerosis South Africa, and she advises others who have been diagnosed to join a patient advocacy group as soon as possible to get reliable information and meet others with MS.
Helga says she is “hopeful” about the future of MS. “I must say that I am so grateful that we have all the new medications available, because my life would not be the same if it wasn't for that,” she adds.
Part of how she manages her MS is by looking at the positives.
“If I could tell the world one thing about MS, it would be that MS is an incurable disease of the nervous system, but it's also the greatest teacher of valuing your health, family, friends, and managing change in your life,” she says. “My life is diversified in a way that I never, ever thought it would, and MS has been honestly the greatest teacher.”
Each MS journey is unique – with each person impacted experiencing different struggles, successes, and feelings as they manage this unpredictable disease. But the common thread is clear – there is a critical need for information, support, and hope. We are proud to participate in World MS Day and share these incredible stories of living life while living with MS. To learn more about MS, go to https://www.sanofi.com/why-words-really-matter-when-it-comes-to-multiple-sclerosis.
This article was sponsored by Sanofi. Participants were compensated when applicable.
"Imagine telling them that their free unlimited minutes only started after 9:00 and on the weekends."
There will likely always be some kind of playful generation war going on between older and younger generations. This time it's a millennial throwing what some may deem as truth bombs at Gen Z, seemingly unprompted. (Well, it could be that he's upset that Gen Z is getting all the credit for being tech savvy since the majority of his complaints were technology related.)
Dwight Thomas uploaded a video to TikTok listing things that millennials grew up with that the generation below him would be outraged by. As someone who would be considered an elder millennial by some people, I'd have to agree. The man makes some valid points about things we experienced as teenagers that would likely make teens today aggressively send out Change.org petitions.
"These new-age kids will never understand the struggle. Imagine telling them that their free unlimited minutes only started after 9:00 and on the weekends," Thomas says into the camera.
He goes on to talk about trying to have a love life during those times. Since phone access was restricted, you had limited time to woo anyone after school, which meant the alternative was attempting to do it during school hours. But that was also a problem because teachers were kind of tattle-tales back then, according to Thomas.
"It's not even like you could talk to your friends at school 'cause they would call your house and tell your mama that you didn't care about your education and you wasn't trying to learn," he complained. "Because all you come to school for is to sit around and talk to your friends."
Honestly, the video is causing flashbacks, especially when he talks about teachers intercepting love notes and reading them in front of the class. Thomas jokes about how millennials were making history with their self-taught coding skills on MySpace while the younger generation has the help of AI. The entire video is full of head-nodding moments if you grew up a millennial, or like me, a Xennial. Watch it below.
We was out here making history! But go off though..
They're little angels … until they aren't
Pets are wonderful, loving, innocent creatures that add so much pure joy into our lives.
They also have an unruly penchant for eating things they shouldn’t be eating, find heinously bad places to go potty and are weapons of mass destruction when it comes to shoes, fragile knickknacks and furniture. If you’ve had a pet, then you have at least one story involving one of these sins, if not all three.
No matter how egregious the act, it’s pretty hard to stay mad. After all, much of the time animal misbehavior is merely a natural reaction to stress or boredom. Plus, one look at their sweet little faces is all it takes for anger to be subdued. Most of the time.
A Reddit user recently asked pet owners, “What’s the worst thing your pet has ever done?” and boy, some critters really know to act out. Whether its fur babies or feathered friends or scaly companions, pets are capable of some truly horrific-slash-hilarious antics. We love them anyway, of course.
Below are 22 of the best responses from traumatized pet owners. And though their stories don’t necessarily paint the best picture of their beastly bestie, it’s certainly an amusing read, if not an all-too-relatable one.
“My dog dug up my neighbors cable line on Super Bowl Sunday when they had a big crowd coming over.” -@Living_Departure_265
“My parrot has learnt to swear and will not stop. The weirdest thing is that I don't even know how he learnt to swear. Maybe he overheard the neighbors or something.” -@Pizza-pen
“As a kitten, she managed to get hold of, and tear to pieces, a dried flower my mother took from my grandmother's funeral as a keepsake. Literally irreplaceable.” -@Catstrudle
“My dog, then teething, chewed through and broke the beanbag chair he used to sleep on; which was filled with styrofoam pellets, each about 3mm dia. Tens of thousands of them. There is no effective way of picking them up due to their attraction to static and propensity to fly at the slightest change in the wind. The vacuum cleaner just pushed around more than it picked up. It took ~3 hours to clean up. We were finding pellets for years in random places.” -@Darthfloyd
“I used to have this ball python. I wake up one morning and take him out of his cage because he's looking restless. I throw him on my bed and lay back down. He'd often crawl on me and curl up for warmth. On this particular occasion he came sniffing around my face right as I yawned. When I did, a small tear came out of my eye, which he licked. A second later he latched onto my eyebrow like it was some furry little rodent. I sat right up, holding the four foot snake straight off my face. He let go after a few seconds and we didn't talk for the rest of the day. Left two bloody holes right on my eyebrow. Jerk.” -@Stevel-Knievel
“Baxter once pooped in the refrigerator and ate an entire wheel of cheese. I wasn't even mad, it was amazing.” -@ryclarky
“My boxer knocked over a statue of the Virgin Mary. Her head broke off, and my dog was running around with the head.” - @Motherinlawdouche
“As I lay down for a much needed nap the other day, I heard a crash in the living room go out to check what fresh hell...my Calico had climbed a desk and knocked over a small shelf containing a case of small silver thumbtacks alllllllll over my living room. I made it about 5 steps in before I realized I was surrounded by tacks.” -@slumvillain
“I filled a cup to the brim with fruit punch and walked away to put the bottle back into the fridge. When I turned back around I saw my blind cat standing on the dining room table feeling the cup with his paw…he winds up and swats it off the table. Got fruit punch everywhere." -@colethefatcat
“Back in 2014, my parents owned this vase that had been passed down 4 generations to the youngest in the family. It sat on top of the cabinets, like higher than the refrigerator. Our family went on a 4 day vacation to Disney World and had our neighbor feed our 2 cats. On the 2nd day of our vacation, my father gets a text saying that our vase shattered on the floor and both our cats were next to where it once sat. We believe our cats were able to jump up there with the help up [by] climbing on our air fryer we left on the counter.” -@mittiens
“We bought our first house and the first time we left our dog alone he ate through the trim surrounding all the doors, the drywall behind it, and almost through the exterior. Needless to say I wasn’t pleased.” -@Fuzzy-Ad5756
“I’m a caffeine addict and I admit it. I start out every day with an energy drink and pop Diet Mountain Dew all day. In college I was very, very broke and at one point was down to about 14 ounces left in a 2 liter of Mtn Dew poured into a cup. My cat came to check out what I had, sniffed at it and I guess the popping bubbles tickled her nose and she sneezed directly onto the surface of it.”-@LatterTowel9403
“Got a new dog and wanted them to be happy and acclimated to a new home. Gave them a pig ear to chew on (already a fairly disgusting treat) and they happily take it. A short time later, where did the dog go? On my bed, chomping away on the pig ear, with a large pile of drool and pig ear bits, now quite possibly a permanent part of my sheets. Not the way I wanted to start off a relationship with a new dog. Silver lining, my sheets smelled like bacon for a while even after washing them!” -@ItsGotHeart
“My beta killed 3 fish in a week.” -@Tox1cShark7
“My dog was still a puppy and has never seen a baby bird. One night I was taking her for a walk and there was a baby bird on the ground. It was chirping and it really caught her attention (probably cause it sounded like her squeaky toys). I started reaching for the bird so I could try and put it back in its nest but my dog jumped towards the bird. I just heard a loud squeak and silence. My dog's expression changed when she realized what she had done. The rest of the night she was not herself, I'm sure she felt really bad.” -@justanotherperson218
“He (dog) broke my mother's nose with his big head by jumping around too excitedly.” -@mortokes
“A few nights ago, in the middle of the night, my monster cat brought in a live pigeon through the cat door and released it in the living room. Feathers EVERYWHERE.” -@effieokay
“I have a roomba. I set it to clean at 7:30 AM every morning… because I am always out the door for work by then, and my dog has just been walked. One morning, apparently, the 7 AM walk was not enough, and my dog shit on the floor. Then, like a good little robot, my roomba took off. I came home to poo circles all over my carpet and a dead roomba.
TL;DR--My dog teamed up with a robot to create an abstract art piece made out of feces.” -@SleepsontheGround
“Whilst walking my friend's dalmation, Stripey, one summer's day in a park filled with happy picnickers and laughing children, she spotted a birthday party. A river separated the party from us and, underestimating her love of food, I kept her off the [leash]. I'm not sure how she even saw the birthday cake wrapped in tinfoil but she leaped into the river before I could stop her. She tore apart the tinfoil like a savage and devoured the cake before quickly moving on to the BBQ where she managed to eat every sausage, burger and chicken leg she could see whilst the birthday boy watched in terror. I stood awkwardly on the other side of the water, shouting her name and apologizing profusely but she only listened when she'd decided her meal was over after which she swam calmly back over the water and pranced into the distance whilst the entire family stared me down. I am sorry, birthday boy, I hope your day wasn't too badly ruined.” -@Tanyabee
“One time I was running to the basement to grab an ingredient I had forgotten to add to dinner. Like an idiot, I kept the burner and hot pan going because I figured that running to the fridge in the basement would only take a minute. Instead, I tripped over my dog before reaching the first step and tumbled down into the basement. I stared up to see my dog looking down and smiling as I scrambled frantically to run back upstairs before my stupid dinner set the entire house on fire.” - [deleted]
“Maybe not ‘worst’ for me, but definitely for my mom. She pissed off the cat… kicking her out of the bedroom before bed because she hates animals sleeping on her bed or next to her…Apparently in the morning, she was running late for work. Rushed to put on her shoes and found vomit in one of them. Out of all her shoes, and of all the times in the day, the cat had decided to revenge-puke in the ones she wears to work almost every day.” -@badguywindow
“My 55lb dog ate an entire tray of pot brownies.” -@karmavorous
This article originally appeared on 8.9.22
Fifth-century English is impossible to understand.
Given that language evolves so rapidly, it’s hard to imagine what people sounded like 200 years ago, let alone 500 or a thousand. Even when we watch movies about ancient civilizations, the characters usually speak in a language similar to the audience, giving us a false sense of what people in those times were like.
The folks at Equator AI are giving people a realistic idea of what people in ancient civilizations sounded like by recreating the languages of 15 languages that haven't been heard in centuries. In the video, the languages are spoken by computer-generated recreations of people who lived in that era.
The Equator channel on YouTube has numerous videos that recreate historical figures to make them relatable to people of today. Equator “strives to preserve and revive the past of mankind, making it closer and more understandable for people of our era.”
One of the most interesting parts of the video is the young man speaking 5th-century Old English. It sounds a bit like a mix of English spoken by a modern-day Scotsman with a dash of Latin rhythms and a lot of R-rolling. English has changed so much over the past 1500-plus years that it bears little resemblance to the language spoken today.
“Old English is mind-blowing! How could it sound so different?” TechnoGlowStick commented.
“They really loved rolling the ‘r’s, don't they,” Huai Wei Edmund Teo added.
The video is a wonderful way to visit the past while also a reminder that our language will continue to evolve. And one day, in the not-so-distant future, people will dig up old footage of people speaking English in 2023 and have no idea what they're saying.
Here's a list of all the languages in the video:
0:01 Old Norse
1:29 Middle Chinese
1:57 Old English
2:28 Old Japanese
2:57 Old Church Slavonic
3:26 Proto-Celtic language
3:56 Middle Egyptian
4:26 Ryukyuan language
4:56 Ancient Greek
5:30 Phoenician language
5:53 Hittite language
6:53 Akkadian language
David Zinn's characters bring joy to the lucky folks that happen to come upon them before they wash away.
Just imagine walking down a sidewalk and seeing this little fella at your feet:
Or this young lady:
Or this creature:
That would make your day, wouldn't it? Or at least bring a smile to your face for a while?
Public art is an act of love to strangers, a way of connecting to people without saying a word. It says, "Hey there, fellow human. Here's a little something to make you smile, just because."
That's the beauty of David Zinn's street art. It's meant for the public—just average passers-by—to enjoy, individually and collectively.
Zinn has created an entire world of characters who pop up in unexpected places. For instance, meet Gerald the otter, who is waiting for a blind date in this tree stump.
Zinn uses chalk and charcoal to make his cast of characters come to life in cracks and crevasses, sidewalks and tree trunks. His creations aren't meant to last forever; in fact, as Zinn points out, the temporary nature of them adds value to them.
"Famous works of art hanging in museums get seen by thousands of people every day. But this? You could be among the dozens of people who get to see this while it exists," he told CBS Mornings. "That's pretty special."
Watch how he takes something he finds in the sidewalk and transforms it into a sweet little duo.
Sometimes he uses natural things he finds as inspiration for a piece.
Other times, he uses something human-made, like this upside down terra cotta pot:
Or this manhole cover:
Sometimes the shape of a rock lends itself to a character, like Keith and his emotional support chick here:
Or the space itself serves as inspiration.
Nadine the mouse features in many of Zinn's pieces, probably due to her small size making it easy for her to fit into small spaces.
Usually his pieces use what's already there—like a crack in the sidewalk—to tell a story.
The 3D nature of his drawings make it feel as if his characters are truly there.
"Looks like another long day of things stubbornly refusing to be impossible," he writes in a caption of one of his "pigasuses."
(Speaking of having wings, Nadine found a pair for herself.)
Watch Zinn turn a simple pot into a character with personality in a matter of minutes:
His entire Instagram page, Facebook page and TikTok channel are filled with endless delight. It was nearly impossible to decide what to include in this article because I wanted to include everything.
This is all well and good, you might say to yourself, but how does Zinn make a living if he's not selling this art?
He sells books and prints of photos of his artwork on his online store. He also gets invited to schools and events. He has created a career for himself by rejecting blank canvases, putting his imagination out on the street for everyone to see for a while, then selling versions that will actually last. Pretty brilliant, really.
Zinn gave a fascinating TEDx Talk explaining how he found his own artistic niche. You'll never look at a parking meter or sidewalk the same way again.
This article originally appeared on 02.12.22
Her son Eric Kilburn Jr. is a 6'10" freshman in high school.
A local reporter at Hometown Life shared a unique and heartfelt story on March 16 about a mother struggling to find shoes that fit her 14-year-old son. The story resonated with parents everywhere; now, her son is getting the help he desperately needs. It's a wonderful example of people helping a family that thought they had nowhere to turn.
When Eric Kilburn Jr. was born, his mother, Rebecca’s OBGYN, told her that he had the “biggest feet I’ve ever seen in my life. Do not go out and buy baby shoes because they’re not gonna fit,’” Rebecca told Today.com. Fourteen years later, it’s almost impossible to find shoes that fit the 6’10” freshman—he needs a size 23.
The teen's height doesn't stem from a gland issue; he comes from a family of tall people. Both his parents are over 6 feet tall.
Eric plays football for Goodrich High School in Goodrich, Michigan, but doesn’t wear cleats, which led to a sprained ankle. He also suffers from ingrown toenails that are so severe he’s had two nails on his biggest toes permanently removed.
Last year, the family was lucky enough to stumble upon five pairs of size 21 shoes at a Nike outlet store. It was discovered they were made especially for Tacko Fall, the NBA player with some of the most enormous feet in the game. To put things in perspective, Shaquille O’Neal wears a size 22.
However, Eric soon grew out of those as well. The family was left with one more option: have orthopedic shoes made for Eric at the cost of $1,500 with no guarantee he won’t quickly grow out of those as well.
After his mother’s heartfelt plea to Hometown Life, the family got much-needed help from multiple companies, including Under Armour and PUMA, who are sending representatives to Michigan to measure his feet for custom shoes.
CAT has reached out to make him a custom pair of boots. Eric hasn't had any boots to wear for the past five Michigan winters.
Kara Pattison started a GoFundMe campaign on behalf of the family to help them purchase custom shoes for “the rest of the time Eric has these feet.” It has raised nearly $20,000 for the family in just over a week.
“The success of this fundraiser is well beyond what was ever expected,” Pattison wrote on the site on March 18. “The Kilburns plan to open a bank account dedicated to Eric's future footwear and some specialized sports equipment. He can use this to get a helmet that fits for football along with pads. They will also look into a football and track jersey for him.”
The sense of relief felt by Rebecca, Eric and the rest of the Kilburn family must be incredible. It has to be frustrating to be unable to provide your child with something as basic as footwear.
“It’s been overwhelming,” Rebecca told Hometown Life. “I have been this puddle of emotions, all of them good…It’s the coolest thing to be able to say we did it! He has shoes! I am not usually a crier, but I have been in a constant state of happy tears…We are so grateful.”
This article originally appeared on 03.23.23
And the Oscar goes to…
Animals can be far cleverer than we give them credit for, especially creatures we don't think of as having distinct personalities. Most of us expect cats and dogs to do show us their unique quirks, but what about a flying squirrel?
A video is making its way around the internet that has people giggling over the dramatic antics of a large pet flying squirrel. It includes no narration explaining what's happening and no context—it just shows a flying squirrel repeatedly faking its own death by broom.
That's right. Death by broom. And from the way it looks, the little bugger came up with the idea on its own and made multiple attempts to create a convincing crime scene.
This is one you just have to see.
Twitter user @Birrellebee wrote that the squirrel "faked his own death, and created a whole crime scene…for attention. I think I'm in love."
Whether the squirrel really did this just for attention or for some other reason isn't clear, but no one seems to offering a more plausible explanation for it.
\u201cThis flying squirrel faked his own death, and created a whole crime scene\u2026for attention. I think I\u2019m in love. \u201d— Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d (@Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d) 1685808791
While some people have expressed understandable concern over flying squirrels living indoors as pets, we don't know what the living situation here really is. Maybe the squirrel was injured and rescued. Maybe it can't survive in the wild. We simply don't know.
What we do know is that this adorable rodent deserves an Oscar for its performance. The way it gracefully somersaults right into position. The placing of the broomstick on its neck and splaying itself out flat on its back. The checking to see if anyone is looking. The repositioning of the murder weapon multiple times to figure out which one seems more believable.
Was that really what it was doing? Who knows. But it was a genuinely incredible performance nonetheless.
And of course, the people of the internet didn't disappoint in the comments.
\u201c@pimlius @nycsouthpaw Well, maybe he should\u2019ve thought of that, befor being such a wee drama queen. Nobody likes an attention whore.\u201d— Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d (@Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d) 1685808791
\u201c@RIDICULO_pathy @BirrelleBee I love this squirrel \ud83d\ude02\ud83e\udd70\u201d— Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d (@Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d) 1685808791
\u201c@GreigBeck @BirrelleBee @MAllanScott It\u2019s an insurance scam.\u201d— Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d (@Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d) 1685808791
\u201c@Marx_Bros_Thing @BirrelleBee Same\u201d— Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d (@Sarah Bee\ud83d\udc1d) 1685808791