The MS Gym Podcast

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October 16, 2019  

THE MS CAREGIVER: Navigating this Critical Role with Realistic Expectations and Grace


  • The evolution of the amount of care required over time
  • Failing drugs, failing health
  • When doctors don't acknowledge caregiver input
  • Preserving the patient's dignity
  • Being a spouse and a carer
  • The price a carer can pay if they don't tend to their own healthcare needs
  • Never underestimate how stress can affect a caregiver's wellbeing
  • You can't care for the patient if you don't care for yourself
  • Home modifications to make life easier for the patient and the caregiver
  • When your home feels like a medical facility
  • Handling a patient who has bouts of anger or lashes out
  • The Mirror Theory
  • Not taking a patient's behavior personally
  • The importance of support groups
  • Explaining your situation to family and friends
  • How to approach a child about a parent's illness
  • How organization is the key to your sanity
  • Utilizing white boards and diaries
  • Don't panic. Get help.
  • Planning for the future when your partner has a chronic illness
  • Don't stop planning for the future. Plan differently.
  • Don't lose yourself. Ask for help. You are not alone.


MS Caregiver Support Group

Aaron and PPMS

The MS Gym

Brooke Slick

October 2, 2019  

DEPRESSION - Recognizing and Managing One of the Most Common Symptoms of MS

Depression is one of the most common symptoms of a chronic illness. One half of the MS population will be faced with depression at some point in their journey with the disease. 

This episode's goal is to shed light on depression, not only for the patient, but for the family, friends and loved ones who care for them.


- The definition of depression

- How to differentiate between sadness and depression

- What signs to look for

- A testimonial on depression from Tracy Pulkrabek

- When you lose the ability to do the things you used to

- Fear of engaging

- Isolation - What keeps you there

- How to approach someone you suspect is suffering from depression

- When you start to feel like a burden

- Rationalizing that depression is *normal"

- Communication is key

- Listening is essential

- Asking the right questions

- Opinions and judgment

- What NOT to say

- Why "cheerleading" is not always the best approach

- Depression is NOT a weakness

- How medication can precipitate depression and suicidal thoughts

- Figuring out your "why"

- The stages of grief

- Depression is not a linear journey

- Less telling and more asking

- How the MS Gym comment brought Tracy out of her shell

- Being patient with your emotions

- Moving past denial in engaging with the MS community

- Acknowledging that support groups may be one of your most valuable tools to recovery

- Helping Hands Support Groups

- Substance Abuse and Mental Health National  Hotline

-'Review of signs to look for

- Making space for conversation

- What types of medical specialists should you reach out to


Helping Hands Support Groups

Substance Abuse and Mental Health National Hotline - 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Psychology Today

The MS Gym

Brooke Slick

September 18, 2019  

HOW TO APPLY FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY* Getting Past the Stigma & Moving Forward with Confidence

Social security disability. It's a benefit we hope we never have to claim, and one so many of us hesitate to apply for. You may be saying things to yourself like...

Will I be able to afford to quit my job if I go on social security disability?

Will people think I'm giving up, looking for a free ride, or that I no longer have any value?

Am I disabled enough to qualify?

Even if I do decide to apply, I have no idea where to start.

In this episode I'll be talking one-on-one with Pittsburgh-based Attorney Dennis Liotta, of Edgar Snyder and Associates.

Dennis has been representing social security disability claimants for over 20 years. For the last decade, he's been recognized as a top legal talent by the well-respected peer review publication, Best Lawyers in America. Add to that his designation as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer, out of outstanding lawyers from over 70 areas of practice, and I was confident that I found just the right person to help me tackle this touchy and often complex subject. 


- The shocking percentage of initial claims denied

- How being under 50 may work against you

- How preparation can help you beat the backlog

- If your claim is denied and you need to appeal

- The application itself. Be prepared to ask for help.

- Are you disabled enough to qualify?

- What about my pride?

- Workplace accommodation

- What if I'm young or haven't worked very long?

- SSD & SSI. What's the difference?

- What does the social security administration (SSA) consider "disabled"?

- Do SSD laws vary per state?

- Back pay. What is it, and will I receive it?

- Can I work part-time and still receive disability benefits?

- What if you decide to go back to work again and realize you can't do it?

- How do disability benefits effect your taxes?

- One mistake that almost always guarantees denial!

- Does the SSA continue to monitor your health status after you begin receiving benefits?

- The #1 tip for improving your odds of approval

- Documentation. Documentation. Documentation.

- The stigma surrounding social security disability

- The two best ways to apply

- The one way you shouldn't apply



Attorney, Dennis Liotta, Edgar Snyder & Associates

Social Security Administration

The MS Gym

Brooke Slick

NEW! The MS Gym Podcast on Instagram

*Social Security Disability is a Federal program of the United States government that provides assistance to people with disabilities.

September 4, 2019  

STAY CALM, STAY PRESENT, STAY CONNECTED. Taking Control Over Your MS through Self-Awareness

Coach Trevor's bringing the heat with a motivational speech that will recalibrate your thoughts and get you back on track.


Living flare to flare?


Feeling alone?

Wondering how to get out of this?

Think you're backsliding?

Is MS consuming your life?

Then, STAY CALM, STAY PRESENT, STAY CONNECTED. This episode's for you!


The MS Gym

Brooke Slick

August 22, 2019  

WHAT IS HSCT? Everything you wanted to know about the treatment that HALTS (not slows) MS

In this episode of The MS Gym Podcast, the host becomes the guest, when comedic actor and MSr, Damian Washington, interviews Brooke Slick about HSCT (hematopoietic stem cell transplant) for MS.

Brooke, a 6+ year veteran of the treatment, explains what HSCT is, how it works, who it's for, where you can get it done and why it's currently considered your best chance at halting your disease progression.

In addition to this podcast episode, starting next week, you will be able to hear portions of this interview on Damian Washington's weekly YouTube vlog (link below) where he chronicles his journey with MS and Ocrevus as  well as discusses a plethora of MS lifestyle topics.

It's important to note that although HSCT has continued to gain exposure recently, the MS Gym was way ahead of the game when over 2 years ago, Coach Trevor Wicken designed a 30-day "Rebuild" program that's designed specifically for HSCT veterans and available in the membership.


- What is HSCT?

- The logistics of HSCT

- The role stem cells play in HSCT?

- The two types of HSCT protocols

- It's all about the chemotherapy

- Safety precautions after HSCT

- Symptomatic improvements

- Criteria for acceptance

- What is EDSS and why it matters?

- DMDs slow disease progression. HSCT halts disease progression.

- How long should you wait to get HSCT?

- Recovery & expectations

- Statistics/success rates

- Does insurance cover it?

- The cost

- Mortality rates

- The best online resources for HSCT information

Damian Washington's Weekly Vlog on Multiple Sclerosis:

Brooke Slick -

The MS Gym - http//

HSCT Resources:

General HSCT Facebook Group

Russia HSCT Facebook Group

Mexico HSCT Facebook Group

August 7, 2019  

MS - Beyond the Diets, Bonus! Post-HSCT Nutrition Unraveled. How to Avoid Setbacks and Recurrent Relapse.

In this bonus episode on diet Post-HSCT (hematopoietic stem cell transplant), licensed dietitian and HSCT veteran, Ahna Crum, unravels the multi-layered task of safely redirecting your nutrition after transplant. Ahna, who's certified in integrative and functional medical nutrition therapy, holds a masters certificate in dietetics and is currently working on her 2nd master's degree in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. 

You've just been hit with a physiological atomic bomb! Let Ahna educate you on how to heal your body and maintain your immune health by taking control of your nutrition.


- Avascular necrosis

- Your second chance to avoid autoimmune disease

- Adrenal glands and physiological stress

- Steroids and their assault on your adrenal gland

- Sleep and neurotransmitter balance

- Compromised bone health

- Preventing AVN (avascular necrosis)

- Vitamin k2, Vitamin D and osteoporosis

- Genetic vulnerabilities that require customized supplementation

- How taking high-dose Vitamin D only is a disservice to bone health

- Covering all your bases with conventional medicine, functional medicine and biochemistry

- Factors that may have propelled you to require HSCT

- Thyroid health post-HSCT and the huge role it plays in overall health

- How to bolster your thyroid function

- Hormone levels and your thyroid

- The effects of chemo on your microbiome

- Your gastrointestinal tract and your central nervous system are direct targets of chemo

- The disadvantage of staying on a neutropenic diet longer than necessary

- How to know when it's safe to transition out of a neutropenic diet

- What heals your GI tract post-HSCT. It's NOT food.

- Blood work and lymphocyte subset panels

- The services/testing/courses Ahna provides and where to find her

- Don't stop with resetting your immune system!


Ahna Crum - Restorative Nutrition

Restorative Nutrition Facebook Page

The MS Gym -

Brooke Slick -




July 25, 2019  

MS - Beyond the Diets, Part 2, An Individualized Approach to Healing with Targeted Nutrition

Ahna Crum - Part 2

In today's part 2 of our 3-part series, Ahna Crum, license dietitian, certified in integrative and functional medical nutrition therapy will take a closer look at which dietary choices can impede or promote the restoration of your immune system and why.

Ahna will prove once and for all that a one size diet does not fit all.


- Your myelin sheath and fat

- Free radicals and antioxidants

- Fatty acid profile testing

- Metal toxicity and gadolinum

- Vegan vs. animal protein diet

- What's your protein status and how it affects your neurotransmitter balance

- Where to find the right protein

- Probiotics and prebiotics

- Bacterial overgrowth and its connection to autoimmune disease

- Epigenetics and genomics

- Dietary supplements

- Vitamin D

- How your microbiome evolves from birth

- Intermittent fasting

- Vitamin E

- The services that Ahna provides to her patients

- Testing

- Courses

- Consultation

- Guidance


July 20, 2019  

MS - Beyond the Diets, Part 1, An Individualized Approach to Healing with Targeted Nutrition.

Ahna Crum - Part 1

Today I'll be talking with licensed dietician Ahna Crum about the role that nutrition plays in the development of MS as well as how it can assist in reversing or managing your symptoms.

Ahna, who's certified in integrative and functional medical nutrition therapy, holds a masters in dietetics and is currently working on her 2nd master's in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine.

Her involvement in the integrative medicine movement goes beyond the fundamentals of macronutrients, micronutrients, and energy expenditure and focuses on the full health picture of each individual.

Her goal as a practitioner Is to heal the whole person physically, mentally and emotionally through food, vitamins dietary and/or herbal supplements and other complementary evidence-based treatments as a way to heal the body and prevent disease.

Through nutritional immunorestoration, Ahna works to restore health and hope to anyone suffering from autoimmune-based ailments.

Her clinical experience coupled with her own personal experience as an MS patient gives her the perspective of a practitioner but the heart of a patient.

Ahna's objective is to use targeted nutrition strategies to reverse or manage symptoms and restore health hope and vitality to her patients.


- I ask Ahna which three anti-inflammatory diets she would recommend
- The mistakes we're making
- The diet comparison game
- Curing MS with diet
- Ingestion does not mean digestion
- How your body is functioning at a biochemical level
- What is your microbiome and why does it matter?
- Are your sidewalks clean?
- Good bacteria and bad bacteria. What's the difference?
- Epigenetics
- Food allergies and their role in immune system health
- Food sensitivity testing
- Sneaky gluten
- What you should be eating and avoiding on an anti-inflammatory diet
- The fat controversy
- Fiber, fiber, fiber!
- Exercise and adipose tissue
- Omega 6, Omega 3 and lipid balance
- How your anti-inflammatory lifestyle should look
- A preview of Part 2 of the series


July 10, 2019  

Laughing in the Face of MS with Actor, Rapper, Nerd, Damian Washington

Damian Washington, actor, rapper and self-titled nerd shares his unique insight on living with MS in real life and in the public eye.

Damian's professional portfolio includes high-profile commercials like McDonald's,, and Planet Fitness, but if you're tuned into the MS world, Damian, a fellow MSr, has crafted a nice little niche for himself in the YouTube Vlogging world (that's Vlog with a V like in Victor). 

He uses his comedic prowess to share with and educate the MS community on all things related to living with MS. His informative, often hilarious videos feature a wide range of topics. From dietary suggestions, to travel tips to dry brushing, Damian's serving it all up with his chill style.

Press play to listen to this enlightening and fun conversation with Brooke and Damian.

Find Damian at

YouTube Vlogs -


June 27, 2019  


In this episode we pull back the curtain on the MS Society with MS Society Development Director, Kelly Tapper. Kelly, who has RRMS and is a veteran of HSCT (hematopoietic stem cell transplant) sets the record straight with a behind the scenes look at the services they provide, the complexities of research funding, and their mission to serve the MS community.