My husband and I participated in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Birmingham Walk MS event on April 7 in Homewood Park as members of the Sam’s Super Samwiches team. The team has already raised almost $27,000 and is currently in first place for fundraising at this event.

The team is led by Sue Graphos. Her husband, Sam, owns the Homewood eatery that the team is named for. Their two adult children, Suzanne and Ted, have been diagnosed with MS.


Each spring, 300,000 people participate in more than 400 Walk MS events in cities and towns across the United States. Donations fund local programs and services for people diagnosed with MS and support essential cutting-edge research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and other research institutions around the country to find a cure for this debilitating neurological disease.

Sam’s Super Samwiches, at 2812 18th St. South in Homewood, is a great little place to go for breakfast or lunch. Sam’s hamburgers have been voted the best in Birmingham.

I hope you’ll consider donating to a Walk MS event in your town. To find out more, go to the National MS Society’s website at nmss.org.




Because I have a disease for which there is no cure, I tend to take a second look at just about any product that might help ease my MS symptoms and my make day-to-day life more bearable.

If you follow my blog, you may know MS has affected my ability to walk. For some years now, I have been using a cane to help me walk better.

And I began wearing a WalkAide device on my right leg about three years ago.A WalkAide is a functional electrical-stimulation device for the treatment of foot drop. I  wear it on my right leg, just below the knee. And it works!

Last year, I purchased a mobility scooter that I use when I travel. Normally, I walk with the aid of a cane. But with a scooter, I can get around in places that require lots of walking without the fatigue that walking causes me.

Around the first of this year, I happened upon something else that helps improve my gait —  Voxx socks. I heard about them from my friend Peggy Bonfield and watched a testimonial about how the socks had helped someone else with MS, so I bought a few pair and tried them out. (I even stopped wearing my WalkAide for almost a month while I tested the socks.)

Having worn them for a month, I feel that they help improve my gait. I feel more stable when I am wearing the socks on than when I walk without them. Earlier this week, I started wearing my WalkAide again, and I continue to see improvement.

As I said earlier, I will try anything within reason that I think might help with my MS symptoms. I’m not saying these socks will help everyone walk better. I’m just saying that they seem to help me.

If you would like to learn more about Voxx socks, you can go to the company’s website at voxxlife.com/peggyb, where you can read about the technology and see testimonials.




fullsizeoutput_c8I am one of at least 400,000 people in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with MS, a debilitating disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain and between the brain and the body. This is my story.

I was diagnosed with MS on Aug. 4, 1998 — almost 20 years ago. For most of those years, I had the relapsing/remitting form of the disease and was fortunate to have had few exacerbations. Now, in the early stages of secondary progressive MS, I am told that the disease is progressing very slowly. (Fingers crossed!)

Don’t get me wrong; MS isn’t a walk in the park. I battle its challenges every day. My symptoms include gait, balance and vision problems as well as fatigue. Hot weather and stress worsen my fatigue. And I develop cognitive problems when I let stress get the better of me.

To manage the disease, I take two medications prescribed by my neurologist, who specializes in MS. One drug limits the progression of the disease; the second medication helps me walk better.

I also have made lifestyle changes that help me feel better. I  take supplements, exercise five days a week and eat a gluten-free, low-carb diet. I try to control my exposure to hot weather and humidity (which isn’t always easy in Alabama), and I try to be mindful of stress.

In addition, I get support from the National MS Society, an organization whose vision is a world free of MS. Through annual Walk MS events, the society provides programs and services to people with MS and funds cutting-edge research.

This year’s Birmingham Walk MS will be held on April 7. I urge you donate today to the Birmingham Walk MS to help provide those programs and services for people with MS in Alabama, and to fund research to find a cure for MS in my lifetime.

Donate Now

On Sunday, we took a driving tour of Paris with the tour guide who took us to Versailles in his accessible cab. He drove past the Louvre and down the Champs-Élysées. As we watched nervously from the back seat, he maneuvered effortlessly through the crowded multi-lane traffic circle around the Arc de Triomphe.


TH at Sacred Coeur Basilica

He showed us historic palaces, churches and other buildings, including Napoleon’s Tomb and the Sacred Coeur Basilica, a Catholic church dedicated to the sacred heart of Jesus. Located at the summit of Montmartre — the highest point in Paris, this church was built in the 19th Century and is open to the public for prayer 24 hours a day.

Things got a little tense when our driver stopped the cab in a handicapped parking place near Notre Dame Cathedral. Members of the national police (holding automatic weapons) approached the cab and asked the driver to move on. He argued loudly with them – in true Parisian style — for 10 minutes, and they yelled back at him, until he finally agreed to leave. He later explained that the police wouldn’t allow him to park there because they were taking special precautions; on June 7, a terrorist had attacked a police officer with a hammer outside Notre Dame Cathedral.

Before we returned to the hotel, we asked our driver to make a special stop so we could hang a padlock on a bridge over the Seine. I had read about a tradition in some cities – including San Francisco and Paris, by which sweethearts symbolize their everlasting love by engraving their names on a padlock, or “love-lock,” hanging that lock on a bridge and throwing the key into the river below.

I had planned to leave a lock on a bridge in San Francisco last year but forgot to pack the padlock. But as I packed for Paris, I remembered the lock. I didn’t have access to engraving tools, so I wrote our initials on the lock with a Sharpie permanent marker before I packed it. (While writing our initials with a Sharpie  — instead of engraving them — might not guarantee everlasting love, it was worth a shot.)

We had hoped to hang our lock on Pont des Arts Bridge, as was the tradition in Paris, and add our lock to the hundreds of locks that hung there. But when we asked our driver about it, he explained that the locks on that bridge had been removed because of concerns that their weight would bring down the historic bridge. He did, however, know of one other bridge on the Seine where we could hang our lock, and he took us there. He pulled to the side of the road, and I sat in the car and watched as TH hung the lock on the bridge’s chain link fence and threw the key in the river.

On Monday, our last full day in Paris, we met our knowledgeable tour guide, Marie, who had studied art history and conducted tours in the area for two years. She took us on an extensive walking tour of the Left Bank. (Well, TH walked, and I rode my scooter.) She led us on an accessible route through the area; she knew where all the curb cuts were – and where they weren’t.

She showed us some of the buildings that make up Sorbonne University, as well as the oldest tree in Paris, the Shakespeare and Company bookstore and other sights in that part of the city.

The highlight of the walking tour was a visit to Notre Dame Cathedral. As we approached this famous example of French Gothic architecture, Marie pointed out its flying buttresses, gargoyles and detailed carvings on the western wall.


Rose window in Notre Dame Cathedral

Although lines of tourists filled the courtyard, Marie escorted us through an accessible entrance with no line. Inside, we were awed by the cathedral’s beauty, including its three rose windows that retain much of their 13th Century glass.

Looking back on our trip, I realize its success was due in great part to our using Sage Traveling to plan it. The accessible transportation and tours we located using www.sagetraveling.com made the trip pleasurable as well as successful. I highly recommend this company to anyone who needs help with mobility issues on a European vacation.














Looking for a Christmas gift?

November 25, 2017



If friends or relatives on your Christmas list have ties to Leeds, Alabama, consider buying them a copy of Leeds, a history of this small Alabama city that straddles Jefferson, Shelby and St. Clair counties.

A resident of Leeds for 25 years, I collaborated with Leeds native and City Historian Pat Hall to write the book. The 127-page book includes 200 photographs that tell the story of the people of Leeds, from the first generation to the present one, and their many accomplishments that make the city a pleasant place to live. The first history of Leeds to be published nationally, the book was released by Arcadia Publishing on Oct. 1, 2012.

You can order a copy of Leeds on my website, www.janenewtonhenry.com, or on www.amazon.com.


This four-part post describes my recent trip to Paris, France. I have posted this information because I hope other people with MS, or a close connection to MS, will read it, and it will make their MS journey easier.

No trip to Paris would be complete without French cuisine and a trip to the Louvre.

French cuisine

On most mornings in Paris, we enjoyed a relaxed breakfast at our hotel. The restaurant’s menu was extensive and included a variety of fresh-baked, mouthwatering breads and muffins that our friendly waiter reheated before serving.


TH enjoys lunch at a sidewalk cafe.

On more than one occasion, we enjoyed a light lunch — a sandwich, a glass of wine, and once, a decadent chocolate dessert — at a sidewalk café across the street from our hotel. Even the club sandwiches were delicious! As we ate, we people-watched while tour groups got off busses and walked past our table on their way to the Louvre.

In the evenings, we had dinner at our hotel or nearby restaurants suggested by the concierge. One evening, we went to an upscale French restaurant a few blocks from the hotel. As usual, Charles walked, while I took my scooter.

The sidewalks were narrow, and we had to backtrack once to a find a curb cut, but we managed to find the restaurant. I ordered chicken and TH (traveling husband) ordered lamb – and both were flavorful. But the highlight of the meal was the best Caesar salad either of us had tasted, made with small, crunchy leaves of Romaine and delectable dressing.


Venus de Milo by Alexandros.

The Louvre

On Saturday, our third day in Paris, we walked across the street from our hotel and toured the Louvre, the most visited museum in the world (7.4-million visitors last year).

We met Oran, our well-informed tour guide, in the courtyard, and she escorted us through an accessible entrance that led to the underground area, which was previously used for storage. She took us through many rooms in the museum, steering us easily to elevators and lifts that connected the museum’s levels.

Among the many artifacts, paintings and sculptures we saw at the Louvre were the “three ladies of the Louvre”: two statues – the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Venus De Milo — and the famous painting of the Mona Lisa. Because I was on my scooter, I got to see the painting up close, while other tourists viewed it from behind a red velvet rope. I drove my scooter in front of the rope. They say that her eyes follow you, and, as I passed by her, they did just that.


The Coronation of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David.


A 9,000-year-old prehistoric sculpture excavated in Ain Ghazai, Jordan.

We saw famous paintings, crown jewels, ancient artifacts, and Greek and Roman statuary.  But we didn’t realize until our tour ended that the Louvre’s collection doesn’t include the works of France’s famous Impressionist painters or other French artwork completed after the 1848 Revolution.

Although those works of art were originally part of the Louvre’s collection, art dated from 1848 though 1914 — including works by the French Impressionists — was moved to Paris’ newly renovated Orsay Museum in 1986.

The Orsay Museum houses the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world.

I made a mental note to visit the Orsay Museum on our next trip to the French capital. (Yes, we are planning a second trip in a few years!)


Next up: TH and I tour the streets of Paris.



This four-part post describes my recent trip to Paris, France. I have posted this information because I hope other people with MS, or a close connection to MS, will read it, and it will make their MS journey easier.


The Louvre

We arrived at the Charles de Gaulle Airport on a warm, sunny day in mid-June and picked up my scooter without a problem. Traveling husband (TH) and I took an accessible shuttle to the Hotel du Louvre’s front door.

I tooled inside on my scooter, which surprisingly fit into the historic hotel’s narrow elevator. When I opened the red velvet drapes on the floor-to-ceiling windows in our room, I saw an exterior wall of the Louvre Museum, directly across the street. We wandered the streets near the hotel, had lunch at a nearby sidewalk cafe and ate dinner at the hotel that evening.

cab driver

Our driver


On our second day in Paris, we headed to Versailles for our first tour. A driver picked us up at our hotel in a French car that resembled a PT Cruiser, with extra room between the front and back seats. With the help of a small ramp, I drove my scooter from the sidewalk into the car, where it fit between the seats, and TH and I settled into the back seat.


Our driver took us to the palace, 16 miles out of town, and I got back on my scooter for the tour. After I slowly navigated the jarring cobblestones on the palace grounds, we found our tour group and were escorted into the museum through an accessible entrance. Our guide made sure I was at the front of the group whenever she spoke, so I could see her as well as the items she spoke of.

line of tourists at versailles

Tourists line up outside Versailles, waiting to get in.

Following a two-hour tour, we had a light lunch and took a self-tour of the gardens, which encompass more than three square miles on the west side of the palace. Although the gardens weren’t as accessible as the palace, we saw manicured lawns, a canal, and parterres of flowers and fruit trees, as well as fountains and sculptures – but the many flights of stairs connecting the gardens kept me from exploring them all. After the tour, our driver picked us up and took us back to our hotel.

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The gardens at Versailles

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Dinner cruise on the Seine

That evening, we took a cab to the Seine River for an accessible, romantic dinner cruise. We enjoyed French wines with dinner and were serenaded by a violinist as we slowly floated down the Seine past the Ile de la Cite, a natural island where the city stood in medieval days. We had our first views of Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and other historic buildings.

After the cruise, I was reminded the word “accessible” has many meanings, depending on the situation. While I got on and off the boat without a problem, I couldn’t take my scooter. Once underway, the boat’s air conditioning was shut off, and I became overheated and somewhat fatigued.

When we got off the boat, no cabs were available on the river level to take us back to our hotel. Because of my fatigue, I was unable to walk up to the street level to hail a cab, so TH walked until he found one and came back to pick me up.

This minor problem was caused by poor planning on our part. In hindsight, we should have asked our hotel’s concierge ahead of time whether cabs would be available after the cruise. Or we could have gotten Uber to pick us up. Instead, we incorrectly assumed we would be able to find a cab after we got off the boat. Lesson learned.


The gardens at Versailles

Next up: TH and I enjoy French cuisine and visit the Louvre.