Hello, my name is Matt Cavallo, and I am one of the founders of Situation Positive. Situation Positive is a nonprofit organization that provides a community for people living with chronic illness. Did you know that there are over 157,000,000 million people in the United States alone that have one or more chronic illnesses? Those numbers are staggering. That is over forty percent of the population.
So, let’s say you’re in a crowded room, if you look to your right then you look to your left the chances are that one of the people you see, or maybe even yourself, has a chronic illness. The chances are that they are probably not talking about it.
Life with a chronic illness is tough I should know when I was 28 years old, I became temporarily paralyzed from the waist down. I was numb. I had pins and needles and I could not walk or go to the bathroom on my own. I got admitted to the emergency room and then admitted to a hospital. I underwent a series of tests including chest and back X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, with and without contrast dye, and I was discharged, in a wheelchair, without a diagnosis.
I had to learn how to walk again in a pool. I did aquatic therapy with a physical therapist, where I learned how to walk again. This took me a long time.
A month later I met with my neurologist and I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). I’d like to say I handled it better, but I didn’t. I went into a deep depression. My aunt Loretta had MS and she died when I was four years old. My only living memory of her word was that she was in a wheelchair. She could not walk. She also could not talk she could only mumble and moan. At only twenty years old I’m thinking that’s my fate. And all the whispers from my family say, “he looks like Loretta again.”
So, I shut down. I pulled away from everybody. I did not want to talk to my friends or family about it. I did not want to talk to the people at work about it. The people that work already started treating me differently. I was a real estate developer, and I was always at the job site. After my diagnosis, my coworkers just wanted me to stay at the office.
“Matt, you look tired. Why don’t you just stay at the office?” They would say.
They were afraid that I was a fall risk, so they didn’t want me doing some of the things that I use to do. That was life in general at that time. So, I went into a cocoon where I withdrew from my friends and my family.
I wanted to find other people like me, nobody was talking about their illness. I tried to find a book on the subject and all I could find were these, “Rah-Rah, You Can Do It! “motivational stories about people with MS that could all of a sudden climb Mt Everest. Or these Holistic diet books with claims of, “eat these leaves and you’ll be cured.”
That was not my story. I couldn’t relate. I just wanted to talk to a real person who was going through some of the same things. Luckily, I kept a journal of my patient experience and I started flipping back to my journal. I realized that mine was the story I was looking for so I ended up writing a memoir that I called, The Dog Story. Writing my memoir launched me into a new career because from that day forward once I was diagnosed, I wanted to learn how I can make a difference by sharing my story.
Everybody has a unique story. To support my memoir, I started delivering motivational speeches all over the world telling people my dog story. They would laugh, they would cry they feel good at the end and then they would share their story with me. Together, we started to build a community of positive people that were living the best that they could despite the challenges of chronic illness. Today, we invite you to join us.
Do you want to connect with others that share a similar experience? Go over to Situation Positive and check us out. If you are somebody living with a chronic illness and you’re having a tough time and you want somebody to talk to, submit a contact form. You will get me, or somebody like me. I have been there, and we have a community of people who’ve been there. We can lean on each other.
We can provide resources to each other. Your story could help somebody heal. Visit us at Situation Positive. Check out our interviews, check out our resources, and become a part of our community. Speaking of our community, please help us grow. If you or someone you know has a chronic illness please like or share this blog. We are going to be having a lot of great content coming out. Visit the Positivity Project to learn how your story can be featured.
So do us a favor help our community grow by pressing the like button and share button. Also, please subscribe. It means the world to us. Thank you for spending these couple minutes with me. Again, my name’s Matt Cavallo and you can find me at situationpositive.org. We look forward to you joining the conversation. Keep it positive everybody!
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