MS and the Vaccine, Pandemic Laughter, and Tears
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, guess who just finished his FIRST OFFICIAL RACE?! And I crushed it the way only I can. Thousands ran and cycled in America’s Shamrock Run this past March, and yours truly appeared to have the BEST WORST time for the 10-mile ride locked up. I mean, it takes a certain level of moxie and stone-cold lack of competitive spirit to turn in a time of 1:50:32 on a 1/10 of a century bike ride. I had victory in my grasp. No one could possibly go slower than me and my handcycle. Or so I thought. Enter Bobbi, a 73-year-old grandmother from Goleta, CA. She rode so slowly, that if she were riding a 2-wheeler, she would have had to DEFY THE LAWS OF GRAVITY to stay upright. Me: 101st place. Bobbi: 102nd. Bragging rights for finishing DFL (dead friggin’ last) vanished like two-dollar tacos on a Tuesday. Vanished like all those rest stops on a road trip when your bladder starts barking. Vanished like Lou Vega after Mambo No.5 (what, no Mambo No. 6???). But no matter, I’m still a champion. I completed the ride with ZERO bathroom issues, ZERO assistance from Laura on the hills, and ZERO excess ego. And bonus: according to a new story in The New York Times, because of my regular exercising, I’m better protected against severe Covid, which brings us to the latest edition of The Hunker Games!
// OUR EXPERIENCE: Getting the Covid-19 Vaccine
I got my second Moderna vaccine exactly two weeks ago (and Laura got her first), so I am now considered fully vaccinated! The first shot was easy peasy, and so was the second one… until the next morning. Fatigue went through the roof, my temperature soared to 98.8(!!), and my barely working legs apparently decided to go all Ted Cruz on me and went to Cancun for 24 hours. Challenging. But way, WAY more challenging? Getting Covid! Speaking of vaccines, the MS Society recommends highly that MSers get vaccinated (both shots!), and their expert panel has found that all of the available vaccines are safe for people with MS, including the temporarily paused one-and-done Johnson & Johnson vaccine. SO DO IT. Seriously.
TIP: Advice for the Newly Diagnosed. The other day, Healthline tossed me into a mix of other MSers and medical experts for their inaugural virtual MS Roundtable (#sponsored) for a frank discussion on the challenges of getting diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Combined with insight from clinical psychologist Dr. Tiffany Taft, our first-hand experiences form the backbone to Healthline’s newest resource: The Ultimate Guide to MS for the Newly Diagnosed. Check it out here. (They are also letting me take over their Facebook feed for a week starting Monday, uh-oh!) For even more help in dealing with those scary words "you have multiple sclerosis," don't miss our dedicated area on ActiveMSers.
// MS NEWS: New Oral DMT Released, Exercise and Repair in MS
Ponvory is the newest FDA-approved disease modifying therapy for MS (now over 20!). Developed by Janssen, the pharmaceutical arm of Johnson & Johnson, Ponvory (ponesimod) is a once-daily oral medication, and it “significantly” outperformed Aubagio in a head-to-head study. Not on a DMT? Then let this fact sink in: researchers have found that "the most consistent protective factor" to prevent secondary progressive MS is exposure to disease-modifying therapies! But even if you’ve got progressive disease, another study found that fitness and exercise shift the balance from inflammation to repair “even among people who have accumulated significant MS-related disability.” And then another study found that high intensity interval training induces "superior effects" in verbal learning compared to moderate exercise in MSers. 
// LAUGH: Dave Goes Off the Rails
When Stuart Schlossman of MS Views and News and YouTuber Damian Washington chatted it up with me about finding humor during Covid, it went about as you would expect. Originally recorded as an escape from the pandemic blues, I steered it into the bizarre: talking about sloth sex, $80,000 toilets, and weed (among other craziness!). Perfect for when you need an hourlong break from MS seriousness and those gosh darn Covid variants!
I usually don’t make a big stink about MS Awareness Month. Which was last month. Which was also National Breast Implant Awareness Month, National Caffeine Awareness Month, National Celery Month, National Peanut Month, and National Umbrella Month, among many others. Spitballing here, but couldn’t someone combine a few of these, like maybe put peanut butter ON celery and celebrate a twofer? And how in God’s name does someone recognize celery FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH?! (Or, as a guy, appropriately express one’s awareness of breast implants.) I digress. In between drinking coffee while holding an umbrella, I did manage to help MS buddy Cathy Chester with her quest to get tips from a dozen top MS bloggers. And I managed to make compelling posts on social media (see above). But my normal happy-go-lucky glow dimmed March 27. Laura’s dad, featured in two recent editions (for his “timely” offer of hair clippers and his newly discovered cake-baking prowess at age 82), unexpectedly passed. We are still trying to comprehend, to find our footing with this new reality. Our world may have been knocked off its axis, but life still spins with future adventures awaiting. There is not a moment to be wasted. Be active, stay fit, and keep exploring!

Dave Bexfield

p.s. I've been testing a cool automatic nail clipper called the ClipDifferent. The first couple of clips went great. I just wish it also did toes! More to come.
be active - stay fit - keep exploring