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EMPLOYMENT AND MS RESOURCES The National MS Society recognizes the critical connection between economic security and quality of life. Throughout the course of living with multiple sclerosis, many people will have to deal with a changing status in the workforce prior to being able to apply for Social Security retirement. An individual’s sense of security is unique given levels of household income, age, savings, dependents, career paths and lifestyle, but many federal and state government programs and legislation that people with MS may eventually access are the same.

How much do you know about Social Security Disability Insurance, State Disability, accessing job retraining or understanding applicable laws for your current job? At the Northern California Chapter, we have a comprehensive approach to address workforce shifts. On our website you will find a collection of critical links and recorded teleconferences that address key issues such as applying for California State Disability Insurance, Federal Social Security Disability Insurance, disclosing your disability, and career changes. Another great resource is the Job Accommodation Network (JAN). JAN is available to both employees and employers for free and is funded by the US Department of Labor. This is a resource which helps people

with disabilities continue to succeed in the job they already have. JAN is the leading source of expert and confidential technical assistance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues. Also recommended is This website clearly defines the differences between benefits and resources available to people with disabilities. Accessing these tools may help answer many of your questions. Our chapter is here to help you consider your choices. If you need to talk with someone, call 1-800-344-4867 to connect with a trained individual consultant who will help you consider the different choices. You can also connect with your local Community Development Manager, Ann Johnson at 916-927-9195 or email â—Š

FIND EMPLOYMENT RESOURCES ONLINE You can access these employment resources by visiting us online at www.NationalMSSociety. org/can. Click on the Programs and Services tab in the middle of the page.

08 UPCOMING PROGRAMS Registration is required for all programs. To register, please visit our Program Calendar at or call 1-800-344-4867.

Newly Diagnosed Orientation

NORTH BAY: PROGRAMS & SERVICES: FALL 2013 Navigating Employment and Benefits Options for People with MS Saturday, October 26th 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. Humboldt Area Foundation, Emmerson Room, 363 Indianola Rd., Bayside -OR-

Wednesday, November 6th 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. McKenzie Smith Eagle West Insurance 1341 N. McDowell Blvd., Suite A, Petaluma (Across from Lagunitas Brewery)

Tuesday, November 12th (employment) and Wednesday, November 13th (benefits) 6:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Vacaville Public Library, Conference Meeting Room, 1020 Ulatis Dr., Vacaville

Are you newly diagnosed with MS? A diagnosis of MS can create many unexpected emotions that leave you with a strong need to understand the changes you may be facing. This program will address the most common concerns for people who are newly diagnosed as well as family and friends who want to learn more. Join National MS Society staff and discover resources and get answers to some of your MS questions.

Get an overview of employment laws, resources and benefits to consider for the workforce and beyond. Join Ann Johnson with the National MS Society who helps people living with MS address common issues to support proactive decision making. Light lunch and beverages will be provided.

DO YOU KNOW A DOCTOR, NURSE OR THERAPIST WITH AN INTEREST IN MS? The National MS Society offers resources not only for those affected by MS but also for healthcare professionals who treat MS. Increasing access to quality MS care throughout Northern California is a priority for our Chapter. To help us share resources with professionals in your community, please contact Ann Johnson by emailing her at


WHAT’S HAPPENING IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA Bay Area • Free From Falls from October 10th -

December 5th from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. in Oakland • 8th Annual MS Family Day on October 26th from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. in San Francisco • Newly Diagnosed Orientation on November 6th from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. in San Francisco • MS Connection Dinner & Networking Event from 6:00 - 8:00 p. m. in Berkeley

Central Valley

• Newly Diagnosed Orientation on

November 5th from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. in Modesto • Christmas Stories: The Radio Plays on December 15th at 2:00 p.m. in Modesto

Greater Sacramento

• Mix and Mingle Networking Hour on

October 16th from 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. in Sacramento • Newly Diagnosed Orientation on November 7th from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. in Carmichael • Newly Diagnosed Orientation on November 7th from 5:30 - 6:45 p.m. in Chico • Coping with MS on November 20th from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. in Sacramento


South Bay • Morning Mingle on October 17th,

November 21st and December 19th from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. in Santa Clara • Newly Diagnosed Orientation on November 5th from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. in Santa Clara • 2nd Annual Time to Trim the Tree on November 12th from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. in Santa Clara • Bunco on December 10th from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. in Santa Clara


• Eureka - Ann Louise: 707-839-0177,

Kim: 707-445-9803


• Corte Madera (*Group does not meet in

July & August) - Vicki: 415-892-7370, Anita: 415-892-5548


• Fort Bragg - Alice: 707-964-7850

SONOMA COUNTY • Santa Rosa - Susan: 707-544-9654,

Debbie: 707-548-8437 • Windsor - Kate: 707-433-9194, Becky: 707-303-5207


I have had multiple sclerosis for 36 years. I was diagnosed in 1976 when I was 26 years old. That means I have officially had MS longer than I have not had MS. Whew. If you asked me who I was before the world came to an end, I’d probably say active, talented, theatrical - the same words I’d use to describe myself now. You see, the world did not come to an end for me. The title “drama queen” was invented for me. My plan was to spend my life singing and dancing on a stage. I was working toward this goal when, one summer day in 1976, I had trouble balancing on my toes and I couldn’t make my fingers sign my name. Oh yes, and my head had a spacy feeling, as though air had been pumped into it. The following day I was back to normal. A few weeks later, I was an airhead again, but now I was a beach ball with a limp. Was I crazy? I consulted a shrink to try to make sense of the melee my life had become. But he thought my symptoms were real and sent me to the man to whom I owe my ability to have lived a relatively normal life with MS - my neurologist, Dr. Neil Allen. After a spinal tap (there were no MRIs back then), Dr. Allen diagnosed me with MS. Dr. Allen treated me with prednisone. I loved it because it beat back the madman. I hated it because it made my face look like

MS CONNECTION: FALL 2013 Humpty Dumpty. And make no mistake; I have always been exceedingly vain. I came by this trait honestly from my beautiful mother, who had made it her life’s work to see her only child betrothed to a Jewish doctor or lawyer. Now that MS was in the first line of my bio, what was my life like? I had bad days, when I resembled an extra from Monty Python’s “Ministry of Silly Walks.” Other days, I was so dizzy I did a sloppy tango with walls and refrigerator doors. But then I had good days, days so good that it seemed like I didn’t have MS at all. The best advice, and what has kept me going for 36 years, was given to me by Dr. Allen. “Get on with your life. Don’t let MS define who you are. MS is unpredictable and affects everyone differently, so you must learn to know your MS and be your own doctor.” This last statement was incredibly ahead of its time, and remains so today. I took his advice and carried on. I hung up my tap shoes for good and focused on another talent, writing. From my vantage point of 60 years, my life has not been very different from anyone else’s. I have continually tried to challenge myself, physically as well as mentally. It hasn’t always been easy, but MS has not ruined my life. I inject a diseasemodifying drug three times a week, which has taken away many of the surprises. I still experience fatigue and a handful of other manageable demons, but through a strict dietary regime and endeavoring to write and exercise most days, mine is a fine life. ◊

Fall 2013 MS Connection_North Bay  

Fall 2013 MS Connection_North Bay

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