Journaling My Story (MS) – MSAA Reblog

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**Originally posted by Matt Cavallo on MSAA Conversations on 7-24-2015 at http://blog.mymsaa.org/worth-fighting-for/**

In July of 2005, I was in a deep depression. I had just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in June of 2005 and I was in the midst of an internal struggle trying to come to terms with being newly diagnosed.

I have a family history of MS. My aunt had MS and died when I was only four years old. Her MS progressed quickly and she left us at a young age. Watching me lose my ability to walk was particularly hard on my family who couldn’t help but think of my Aunt Loretta when looking at me. It was like they were reliving a scene from my aunt’s life that did not end well.

Those emotions that my family experienced in watching my aunt progress through her disease were awakened as I started to progress. Unintentionally, those emotions were transferred to me making it impossible to cope or come to terms with my diagnosis. So, I did what I always do, and turned to the pen.Matt Cavallo wearing his careful or you'll end up in my novel shirt posing with his mom, who got him the shirt because she ended up in the story.

You see, I’ve been writing since I was a small boy. Whether it was poems or short stories, writing was always therapeutic for me. So when my symptoms first presented themselves, I started keeping a journal of what I was experiencing.

At first, the journaling was very helpful for my memory. Then, as I got admitted to the hospital, I used my journaling to capture the patient experience. I had never been in the hospital before and between the pain meds and all of the tests, I wanted to capture all of this information in my journal so that I could refer back to it when I was discharged.

Little by little, my journal began to grow. I had captured my symptoms, my hospital stay, follow-up doctor’s appointments and now I was capturing my depressive thoughts as I struggled coming to terms with my new fate. I just had no idea what path in my life my journaling would take me on.

Then it happened. I found myself sitting in my pick-up truck at the beach, listening to the waves crash. All of a sudden, the song Moonshadow by Cat Stevens, popped into my head. I used the inspiration from that moment to carry me to Barnes and Noble.

Being follow by a Moon Shadow (Multiple Sclerosis)
Painting by Jessica Hernandez. Learn more at http://www.jessicaleighhernandez.com/

At Barnes and Noble, I wanted to find a personal story of the diagnosis that I went through. I wanted to hear another person’s story, so that I would know that I was not alone. However, the books on the shelf were all technical or diet manuals about MS. Disappointed, I returned home and pulled out my journal.

As I flipped through the pages of my journal, I could recall my symptoms, my emotions, my fears. It was at that moment that I realized I was reading the story I was searching for. It was all in my journal. I would spend the next couple of years transforming my journal, into my memoir. Now, in an ironic twist of fate, Barnes and Noble carries The Dog Story: A Journey into a New Life with Multiple Sclerosis.

At the age of twenty-eight years old with a promising career in real estate development, Matt Cavallo got out of bed on May 18th, 2005 and stumbled. Overnight, he went from a fully-functioning, healthy man to someone who was numb from the waist down and unable to walk. After consulting his doctor, he was sent to a neurologist who immediately admitted him to the hospital. What would happen to Matt over the next four weeks would redefine all that was important in life. At the end of this four week period, he would learn that he has the chronic neurodegenerative condition – Multiple Sclerosis. This book chronicles Matt’s journey of being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and his struggle to not only regain his physical health, but also to regain the inner strength needed to fight this chronic illness. It is a story of hope, love, healing and finding man’s best friend. Matt is sharing his story in hopes of raising awareness of this devastating illness. A portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to support MS research and charities.
The Dog Story: A Journey into a New Life with Multiple Sclerosis written by Matt Cavallo

My journal has been transformed into the very thing I was seeking. Now it is a resource for other people who are experiencing the diagnosis I had faced all those years ago. Today, I continue sharing my journal though my books and my blogs. Sharing my story with the world has been the most rewarding and humbling experience for me. My best days are always when a reader reaches out to me and lets me know that my story helped.

Journaling doesn’t have to lead to writing a book or blog, but it is an important way to remember how you were feeling at a certain place or time in your life. How are you sharing your story? There is someone in your life right now who may not understand what you are going through. When words fail you, write down your thoughts and feelings and share with that person. If you can’t write, keep a picture journal or scrapbook. You will both be glad you did.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Journaling My Story (MS) – MSAA Reblog

  1. Thanks Matt, I do enjoy reading your blogs. They help me every time and they are a much needed eye opener. I will say that I have not written in a while and I hope that I will be able to because a journal would open a lot of eyes that do not know or understand my daily struggle. As well as, I believe keep me focused on this fight that I’m now fighting for the rest of my life. You are and have been my inspiration for a new path that I am on. Thanks Matt, I do appreciate you for you being you and sharing your life and world with the rest of the world. Keep writing because it’s helping at least one person.

    1. Thank you Ursula! I’m glad that my writing helps you on this journey. Just knowing that I help make a difference makes it all worth it for me 🙂

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