Mission

UP is a comprehensive treatment planning service designed to help individuals who have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Whether you have just been diagnosed with MS or you have been diagnosed for many years, the mission at UP is to help you organize your treatment and take control of your self care. Being diagnosed with MS is life changing and your treatment requires time, attention, and careful planning. It is often very hard to find the time to make these important decisions for ourselves. We are here to help you make these decisions.

So many questions surface with this diagnosis. How do you go about finding the neurologist that is right for you? What are your needs when choosing a doctor? What about everything else you could be doing? What about how you feel? What about diet and exercise? What about alternative treatments? How do you go about even figuring any of this out?

That’s where we come in.

We understand how extraordinarily hard this all is. We will work with you to craft a holistic, dynamic and comprehensive treatment plan that will put you in the best possible place to deal with all the things you now have to contend with.

About

UP is the result of years of thought, planning, and research by Founder Cara Hirsch, Ph.D. Cara grew up in NYC and went to Vassar College where she graduated in 1995 with a BA in Psychology and English. She started studying at the Derner Institute at Adelphi University in 1998 and received her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in 2005. During graduate school she did internships at Beth Israel Medical Center, National Institute for the Psychotherapies, NY Presbyterian Hospital and North Central Bronx Hospital, where she worked, post graduation, in the Child and Adolescent Crisis Intervention Program up until her first symptoms of MS and her pregnancy with her first child. Her 10+ years in the mental health field provided her with extensive experience in counseling, assessment, crisis intervention and in understanding the complexities of health insurance. Cara now lives in Los Angeles, and is trying to find her voice as she digs deeper into the abyss that is Multiple Sclerosis. She does not think that everything happens for a reason as there are far too many things that are immeasurably unreasonable. She does think, however, that this diagnosis was inevitable for her, whether it be biology or fate, and that it is up to her now to transform it into something positive, something that gives not deprives, and something enabling, not disabling. This is UP.

In Cara's Words

In December of 2005, I remember feeling a sharp pain in the back lower part of my head, thought it was a headache and then stopped thinking about it. It was uncomfortable but ultimately went away. Then one evening in January 2006, I felt sick, kind of like a mild flu. I think it was a Sunday night. I went to work the next morning at North Central Bronx Hospital and as I did every morning, I went to the local café and got a cup of coffee. As I got into my car, I put my coffee, as I always did, into my left hand. But on that day, it slipped right through my fingers. I was annoyed more than anything and cleaned up and kept driving. As I drove, I started to feel dizzy and heavy and not well, and pretty suddenly started to lose all sensation in the left side of my body. When I got to work, I went straight to the emergency room and asked for help. I remember feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable to be a patient in my hospital but also so relieved to just admit that I needed help. The doctors there did a CAT scan and thought because of a mark on it, that I had had a stroke. I decided at that point to get a second opinion and met with a recommended neurologist. I had an MRI done and one lesion was found. He subsequently diagnosed me with Acute Post Infectious Encephalitus, not MS because there was just one lesion. I didn’t question that diagnosis. I took steroids, a short leave from work, and slowly recovered, regaining all sensation in the left side of my body.

In March 2006, similarly out of the blue, I woke up feeling nauseous, dizzy, and as if the room was spinning constantly. It almost felt like I couldn’t stand up straight, as if the world was pushing down on me. It may have been the worst I’ve ever felt in my entire life. I saw my neurologist who thought I had an inner ear infection. I saw an ear, nose, throat specialist, who found nothing. I did acupuncture with the assumption that it was an inner ear issue. Ultimately, I did my own research and figured out that I had vertigo. When I told my neurologist, he ordered another MRI and this, this moment, in hindsight was so pivotal. The radiologist thought that this MRI showed multiple lesions and thought I had MS, my neurologist did not. Call it collective denial, but we ultimately decided that I did not have MS and after more steroids, the vertigo subsided. Once again, I did not get a second opinion. I didn’t want this diagnosis. I was engaged to be married, just starting my career and I take responsibility for not challenging these interpretations. Soon after, I got married and in April 2007, gave birth to my son.

For most of this first year of motherhood, I was fine, totally symptom-free as is common. I wasn’t on any medication because I was not diagnosed. I essentially forgot about what had happened, only occasionally panicking that vertigo would return. And return it did, in April 2008. It wasn’t as debilitating as the first time but it was terrible. Following the vertigo, I experienced mild numbness again and after another MRI, more tests, and a new neurologist, I was finally diagnosed with MS in June 2008. This new neurologist told me that I needed to start medication immediately, that a decent prognosis depended on that. I hesitated because I didn’t want this to be real. Because I was terrified. Because I was a new mom and breastfeeding. Because I was in denial. I lingered in denial until one day, on a walk with my son in NYC, a relative called me and told me they were sorry. I remember the store I was standing in front of when I heard those words. Somehow this propelled me out of denial and into deep sadness because I now truly understood that this was real. Undeniably real. On August 11, 2008, the day after my son found his first seashell at Jacob Riis Beach in Brooklyn, NY, I started Copaxone. But as warned, I started a little too late and in January 2009, a month before our move to Los Angeles and in major life transition, I started experiencing right side weakness and shortly thereafter started limping with my right leg. I still do but I will never accept this, will always keep fighting and trying everything so that someday I can feel free again. When my diagnosis, the birth and infancy of my first child, and our move to Los Angeles, all occurred rapidly over a short time, I stopped and reevaluated everything. Since that radically changing year, I have been a mother to my two children, 100% of the time and have tried to make up for in dedication, presence, and focus what I feel that I fail to do for my children physically, namely, run and everything else that goes with having freedom of movement. My job has been surviving, not surviving motherhood, which I feel is a true gift, but surviving. Standing up. Moving. Always getting back up again. Never quitting and trying every kind of treatment that I can while keeping myself educated and informed and in charge of my health. I have changed my diet, tried pilates, yoga, personal training, spinning, acupuncture, herbal medicine, vitamin shots, physical therapy, walk aides, massage, cupping, acupressure, reflexology, cryotherapy. I have seen neurologists, osteopaths, naturopaths, chiropractors, nutritionists. I am always trying something new as my needs and body changes. What works today might not work tomorrow.

Today, after 7.5 years on Copaxone and an estimated 2,700 injections, I am on Gilenya. I still limp. I still try any new treatment that I can while sticking with my very consistent diet/exercise regime. I am frustrated, exasperated, angry, sad, hopeful, determined, and trying to look up, always.

Services

Why choose UP?

Learning and realizing that you have been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis is overwhelming, earth shattering, both emotionally and physically. And as was learned the hard way, time is often of the essence. It is important that you understand the diagnosis and begin treatment in any number of ways, as soon as possible. Nobody wants this diagnosis. You did not choose for this to happen. But you can choose your treatments and you can choose your treatment providers. And in making good choices for yourself and your care, you can start to take back some of the control that you have lost.

UP is a Comprehensive Treatment Planning Service, designed to navigate, with and for you, the complicated world of health care. There are so many different kinds of treatments available, both Eastern and Western and in between. It is very hard to determine what and who is right for you and then to go about finding the right place at the right cost. We will do all of this investigating, planning, and follow up for you until we find the right combination of services.

Choosing UP is an investment in your health. In looking back over the past 10 years of appointments, it is clear how many inevitable wrong choices were made and how much money was wasted on these choices. As your guide, we will help you make the best choices, the first time around.

How It Works

Once you decide that UP is right for you after a complimentary initial phone consult, you will sign the liability release, fill out the new client forms, and submit a retainer fee. We will then schedule a 45 minute phone consultation. During that consultation, we will get to know you, your experiences and needs right now, your immediate and long term treatment goals, your insurance and budgetary constraints, and your individual needs when searching for a provider. Following the consultation, we will draft, share, and execute your treatment plan. Our role is to help guide you to make your own best choices for your health, not to tell to you what treatment to try or not to try. We are not acting as your doctor or therapist, but as your personal consultant. We want to help you unlock your potential and take control of your own health.

Full service prices are available upon request.

Types of referrals provided (to name a few) :

  • Neurologist
  • Osteopath
  • Naturopath
  • Nutritionist
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractor
  • Fitness- gym, yoga, pilates, spinning
  • Personal Training
  • Massage
  • Cryotherapy
  • Psychotherapy

contact

Cara Hirsch

  • Phone: 917.697.7213
  • Email: up.upotential@gmail.com