InforMS: Summer 2021

A Light at the end of the Tunnel

After a challenging 15 months, we’re entering a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s been a long and difficult 15 months as we’ve collectively lived with the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruption to our lives and routines that it’s caused.

It’s also unfortunately been tragic and heartbreaking, as severe illness and more than 600,000 deaths related to COVID-19 have rocked the United States. And places outside the United States continue to feel the full brunt of COVID, as new variants are spreading in parts of the world where vaccines aren’t yet widely available.

But while the pandemic certainly isn’t “over” yet, we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Conditions have improved and infections rates continue to fall in places where vaccination rates are climbing. Many states and local health departments have begun to lift restrictions, businesses are re-opening, restaurants and shops are filling up again — slowly, we’re headed back toward normal.

In this issue, we’ll give you the current lay of the land as we understand it, with special attention to those navigating our return to normal while living with MS. We’ll provide the latest update on COVID-19 vaccines from our neurological team at the Rocky Mountain MS Center at University of Colorado. And we’ll also talk to Elissa Berlinger, LCSW with some tips about your mental and emotional health as we navigate this new phase.

 

Vaccines, Risks, and the Next Phase of COVID

By Peter Broderick | Everything we’ve collectively done over the past year — social distancing, washing hands, staying home, wearing masks — has contributed to the slowdown in infection rates and cases. But the biggest step forward was the introduction of vaccines and their widespread availability over the past few months. The vaccines are our most critical tool toward ending this pandemic.

All U.S. adults over the age of 12 are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Individuals who are 12 and older are eligible to receive the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, and individuals 18 and older are eligible to receive the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

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The Challenges of Getting Back to ‘Normal’

We recently spoke with Elissa Berlinger, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and MS counselor and educator to reflect on the challenges of the past fifteen months, and to talk about navigating this new phase of the pandemic. With increasing vaccination rates and things opening up, there is hopeful progress and light at the end of the tunnel, but navigating continued uncertainty is still challenging. Here, Elissa discusses strategies for taking care of your well-being, including communication and boundary-setting tools.

InforMS: As a mental health professional, could you reflect on the challenges people have faced over the last year?

Elissa Berlinger: The challenges have been multi-faceted due to the many unknowns and uncertainties we’ve all had to navigate in various ways. Those uncertainties surfaced in different ways for everyone. Some individuals have felt cooped up or stuck and many have felt fearful for their health and safety. Many have also experienced defiance, frustration, anger and confusion. Many have struggled with not feeling connected and missing physical interactions, especially those that live by themselves or in difficult living situations.

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Conquer Your Summit With MS4MS!

The 2021 Multiple Summits 4 MS season is underway, and we are looking forward to getting back out on the trails safely this summer. Will you join us?

Back in 2010, several enterprising volunteers put their love of hiking and desire to support the Rocky Mountain MS Center together and kicked off the first MS4MS. Our uniquely Colorado active fundraising campaign has grown to hundreds of hikers every year. Even in the midst of 2020’s social distancing guidelines, we had many dedicated MS4MS participants shifting gears to continue their efforts. This summer, we’re ready to get back into full swing!

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