Lisa Emrich is a patient advocate who has been helping patients educate and empower themselves since 2008. After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005, Lisa learned firsthand the challenges of navigating the healthcare and insurance systems as a self-employed freelance musician in Washington, DC, performing on horn and piano. She uses her experience to educate patients and encourage them to take an active role in their own health care.
Lisa experienced her first case of optic neuritis in 2000, waking up one morning with the world growing into one large gray blob. Lisa lost the vision in her right eye for over two months. Any orchestral musician will tell you that you must “keep one eye on the conductor and one eye on the music.” However having only one eye which worked was a unique challenge during performances with the Baltimore Opera. Fortunately, Lisa’s vision returned to normal and she continued to pursue her music career.
Less than two years after her MS diagnosis, Lisa lost the use of both her hands due to weakness and crippling pain which made piano performance quite impossible. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an inflammatory autoimmune disease, and with appropriate treatment regained her strength and dexterity.
In 2007, Lisa began blogging at Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and established the Carnival of MS Bloggers which has evolved into a vibrant meeting place for MSers to share their stories online. Shortly thereafter, Lisa began writing as a Patient Expert for HealthCentral.com’s MS and RA communities. She has been featured in Momentum Magazine, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Pharmaphorum, and Arthritis Today.
Lisa serves on the Board of Directors of MS Softserve, a non-profit dedicated to help people with MS embark on a lifetime of learning through anxiety-free access to information, resources, and support. Since 2008, Lisa has brought the patient voice to conferences and meetings in New York, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Chicago, San Francisco, San Jose, Orlando, New Jersey, Washington, DC, and Basel and Zurich, Switzerland, including ePatient Connections and BlogWorld Expo. She has served as an advisor and consultant to the National MS Society, Biogen Idec, and Novartis.
Lisa strongly believes in the powers of community, education, and support in empowering patients to lead better lives. Lisa continues to teach music lessons to aspiring young musicians in Northern Virginia and shares a home with her husband and their three cats.
Click here to read all of Lisa’s articles on MultipleSclerosis.net.