Thursday, September 20, 2012

Obstacles Are Great Incentives

“Obstacles are Great Incentives” as Jules Michelet was quoted as saying. My obstacle du jour? My incredulously compromised left eye and how to adjust for it during my bike rides. I will not let it interfere.


I love riding my bicycle. It gives me a great sense of freedom to feel the wind against my skin as I pedal my legs off whizzing along at speeds up to 20 mph. Ha, for me this is fast! How those boys of the Tour de France reach speeds of 40 mph I will never know. And, side bar, for some strange reason, I seem to be able to straighten out my balance issues when sitting in the saddle. Must tell my neuro about this during my next exam.

My left eye, however, gives me a lot of problems when I ride.  I’ve got optic neuritis in said inflicted eye and as my body temperature rises, my vision becomes more compromised. This makes exercising challenging, especially when riding my bicycle. As I ride further and faster, I become warmer and warmer and my eye gets worse and worse. Annoying. Really annoying. This is a problem for obvious reasons.


I love riding too much to let my left eye get in the way of my yellow jersey cycling dreams so, my solution? A mirror. I know, I know. It seems so simple. But I’m not talking about just any mirror. You see, I am not a fan of the type of mirror one sticks on a helmet. I need to focus when I ride and having something dangling off my head would be very distracting. A moving mirror on my head will cause me to niggle about sudden vertigo attacks while cruising along at 20 mph. That would not be good.

This mirror I found (see photo) slips right into the handle bar and is nearly undetectable. The best part for me is that this allows me to use more of my right eye to help when I need to see behind me. Otherwise I might be forced to turn to my left to look over my left shoulder using only my left eye to see who or what is following me (yes, I’d like to think most riders are behind me!).
Brilliant little mirror! 
How’s it working so far you might ask? Brilliantly. Not only can I see better, that small little mirror has given me so much more confidence on the bike. It seems so small but it is a huge deal. That little mirror gave me the strength and courage to enter the Bike MS Bay to Bay event as captain of Team Luca. I am riding more now than ever. And, I feel somewhat liberated because I removed an obstacle and can see so much better!

Now I can really be warned of who is (trying) to ride up behind me to grab that yellow jersey off my back!

Look out.

Best always,

P.S. to get an idea of what optic neuritis is and how some of us MSers see through our inflicted eyes, check out this picture

Friday, September 14, 2012

Welcome Aubagio

Some big news this week out of the FDA this week! On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved a Sanofi pill to treat multiple sclerosis (RRMS). This makes it the second oral therapy player in the MS drug market. Not too shabby.

The good news?
  • Research from clinical trials says that the relapse rate for patients using Aubagio was about 30% lower compared to those taking a placebo (or, sugar pill).
  • It’s cheaper. Sanofi states that the drug is estimated to cost about $45,000 a year, which is lower than Copaxone, Avonex, etc. Aubagio is guessed to be about 22-28% less expensive than Gilenya. 
  • It’s a pill. Options are good for those living with MS. 

The not-so-good-news?
  • The drug may cause fetal harm and, as such, women must take birth control during treatment. And…
  •   …the boxed warning includes potential liver problems, including death, and risk of birth defects. 

I for one am grateful for new MS drugs coming out on the market and that MSers have more options. Granted, it goes without saying, I would much rather it be that no one get diagnosed any further and that we just land on a cure. 

What do you think about the news of Aubagio's launch? About MS therapy in general? I would love to hear from you. 

To read more about Aubagio, check out these articles:
  1. Press release from the FDA (read more here)
  2. Wall Street Journal (read more here)
Best always,

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