Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chris's article appearing in MS focus magazine summer 2008 issue

Earlier this spring I had written an article for MSfocus magazine and it was recently published in the summer issue. My article, entitled "The Gangs All Here" is on pages 50 and 51 if you receive this quarterly magazine and you want to check it out. If you don't have access to the magazine, I have included a similar version below. Please let me know what you think it, and where it was that you saw the article.

Below that also new, the Easter Seal's organization recently placed a profile about me and my use of assistive technology provided by Easter Seals in their newsletter. Because, Easter Seals provided me with voice recognition software and the training to use such software, I was able to write a book and several articles designed to help others better deal with the stress placed on a relationship as a result of life being interrupted by a chronic illness.

The Gang’s All Here
By Chris Tatevosian

My marriage of ten years began dissolving when the “Monster” invited his friends to live in my house. If you have MS, I’m sure you’ve met the gang. There was the kingpin, Stress, his best friend Anger and his twin, Misdirected. Of course, Feelings of Worthlessness was there and his brother Feelings of Inadequacy who brought his best friend Low Self-esteem and his sidekick Depression, who hung out with everybody’s buddies, Worry and Anxiety. As usual, Communication was a no show, but sure enough his sister Miss-communication popped in and overstayed her welcome. They never left, but my wife did.
Sounds like the cast of a real nightmare. At that point of my life it literally was a real nightmare, and I couldn’t see myself ever waking up. MS can become a real nightmare destroying relationships between spouses, family members even friends. I wrote the book “Life Interrupted, It’s Not All About Me,“ a self-help memoir, my real life story of marriage interrupted by multiple sclerosis. It could have been any chronic illness or disability and it could have been anyone’s relationship. Still, this book is intended to help others going through a similar situation deal with the stress and hardship put on one’s relationship as a result of life being interrupted by chronic illness or disability.
I should’ve known something was up when my then wife and I went days without any real communication. I guess I did know. Call it being a dumb guy, but I was expecting a literal warning, an out right ultimatum. Something like, “Chris you need to change or Chris, you/we need counseling or I won’t stay in this marriage. Eventually the combination of this physically debilitating disease and my quick to anger poor me attitude was more than enough to make the difficult decision for my wife to leave come to fruition. This interruption to our once loving relationship had become too much for my wife to bear. Remember, it wasn’t just my then wife watching her partner struggling with his physical losses. No, it was also, and in my case likely more so my unintended compassionless and bitterly radical emotional changes and instability unbearable. Unintended or not my unacceptable behavior and complete personality change combined with my overwhelming stress, misdirected anger, feelings of worthlessness, feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, worry, miscommunication and depression, the “whole gang,“ just became too much to bear. I lost sight of what was important in life, that's why I wrote my book dealing with all the emotional turmoil that is thrown into a relationship that is interrupted by chronic illness.
I got remarried last April. My new bride, Jane, is fantastic. And even though my disease is worse off than during my first marriage I could not ask for more. So what’s changed? We truly have a wonderful relationship. Why is my marriage working so well now, even though my MS has continued to progress over the past eight years. I can attribute this to two factors. First, Jane is truly a special person, and second. I have written this book, which has afforded me the opportunity to slow down and examine my life. The obvious fact is, we have the choice to go through life dealing with whatever trials and tribulations we must, and we must deal, with either a smile or a frown. Yes, we have an affliction, but that doesn’t mean we have to go through the rest of our lives pissed off at everything and everyone, living in complete misery.
My wife Jane and I, we, laugh and laugh together and at one another all the time. Sure, I have slipped ups, get frustrated and angry. It happened just the other night. I became so frustrated with Jane during the middle of the morning. It must have been about 3 AM. No it was 3:17 AM, I have one of those giant digital alarm clocks for the legally blind. When I cae in the shin, among other places all night long BAD! Of course I have to deal with nocturnia, which means every time I wake up I have to empty my bladder. I take prescription Flomax so normally I can sleep through the night without having to get up to visit the bathroom. Needless to say, it was a long night and I was ready to scream at my wife, which I would have done in my previous marriage. So what’s the difference, what’s changed? The difference is that I have written, re-written, read and re-read. my book so many times that when I do begin to slip-up it’s so obvious that I can’t help but catch myself. And let’s not forget, Jane has read the book too, so when I slip up she’s quick to point out “Chris, I think you need to revisit page 76 “and we have a good chuckle. Remember life is too short, you choose whether to laugh or cry. I never thought I would get married again. After all, who would marry damaged goods? At one point prior to my marriage I said to my wife to be, why would you marry someone with MS, that is like buying a vase with a hole in the bottom. Her response was, maybe I want it to hold dried flowers. So these dried flowers are happily married and loving every minute of it.

Easter Seals profile May 2008

Chris Tatevosian was an athletic 18-year-old college freshman when he received a shocking diagnosis: the numbness in his hand was an indication that he had multiple sclerosis.
Chris went on to graduate, study for a master’s degree and work as an analytical chemical technician. But his medical condition was progressing at the same time and began touching all aspects of his life. Eventually, his marriage failed and his self-esteem was shattered.

As his condition worsened, Chris turned to Easter Seals for assistive technology that could help him live more independently at home. Easter Seals specialists Katrina Parker and Oren Kuhn improved his computer’s performance and installed an automatic door opener that allows Chris to open his sliding glass door from his power wheelchair. But it was the voice recognition software they provided that made the biggest difference in Chris’s life. The 46-year-old Holliston resident used it to write a book, called Life Interrupted, about his experiences. He hopes the book will help anyone faced with a chronic illness or disability to recognize and eliminate what he calls the “poor-me” attitude that often goes along with these conditions.

Originally published in 2007, the book is being revised and is due to be released in the summer of 2008 in print, audio and electronic form. Chris is now remarried and is grateful to Easter Seals for helping him launch his writing career and find a new direction in his life.

“Without voice recognition software, I never could have written this book,” Chris said. “It has allowed me to help people. I thought I was the only one going through these experiences, but I’ve heard from so many people since the book first came out. These problems are so prevalent.” The book has benefited Chris, as well as his readers. “Writing this book has increased my self-worth and self esteem,” he said. “Everybody at Easter Seals has been very friendly and helpful,” he added. “From Cindy Aiken, who’s in charge of the assistive technology, on down, they’ve been very considerate.” The Easter Seals services Chris received were made possible through a partnership with the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.


Vito J. Fossella said...

If you find it difficult to control your worry or stress or if anxiety interferes with your daily activities, consult your doctor or a mental health professional. If you are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, effective treatment is available.

Chris said...

Happy Thanksgiving Vito,

Thank you for taking the time to post on my blog. I appreciate your comment. You said,

"consult your doctor or a mental health professional. If you are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, effective treatment is available".

I agree with you on this, however I have found that along with prescription medication, which can be an important part of easing stress and anxiety, we need to step up and recognize the fact that we can and must play a large role in reducing anxiety and stress.

We can soothe ourselves in a number of ways. For example, a true interactive relationship with God, various relaxation techniques, holistic medication and counseling all play a combined role in the process of getting control of your life and reducing your levels of anxiety, fear and worry. Even when life is difficult and yes, sometimes miserable because of chronic illness we still receive blessings and good fortune on a daily basis.

Coach Marla, the host, of the blog talk radio show and myself, the show's co-host, were having this very discussion with callers on yesterday's show
(11/25 dealing with the pain and symptoms of Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy RSD, all shows are archived so please visit the aforementioned web site and take a listen). The point that I was trying to make, which was also discussed on the show yesterday is:

Every chronic illness, every disease or injury by its definition has numerous symptoms. When you don't have one of the symptoms of your MS, fibromyalgia, RSD, POTS, muscular dystrophy and the like, it's a true blessing. And, that's how we have to look and deal with things. If we don't everything is a negative and we have nothing but despair. Focus on your abilities not your inabilities, your gains not your losses, the things, support, family and friends that you do have in your life. Oh, what tremendous blessings.

Coach Marla said...

Hi Vito,

You are correct on consulting your physician if you are having issues because of your chronic illness, they can prescribe things that will help.
We aren't against the synthetic medications by any means, but we do know that there are alternatives you can and should try along with those.
In my profession I have found that many sufferers get the "standard" treatment from healthcare professionals and are in much greater need than they can provide. They need people around them who either have the same diagnosis or one similar in order to relate to what they are "going through"!!
Physicians can only provide so much, unless they too have the same diagnosis as the patient. Because they don't know how it "feeeeeels" to have that pain, fatigue, fear, helplessness, loneliness, etc. unless they too have walked a mile in those shoes.

Personally I feel I have been given true gifts from God with each and every one of my diagnosis. They have taught me so very much about myself, God, my family, and life as a whole. Those teachings are priceless and you just can't get that unless you open your heart and honestly believe you have been blessed with some of God's greatest gifts!!

Well, I could go on and on about this all day, but I won't. I will close this now with this:

Vito, I sincerely wish you all the best and if you would ever like to visit our radio show, you are more than welcome!!

God Bless!

Chris, my friend. I love you and respect you. I am so very grateful that you are a in my life and my co-host! I don't know what I would do without you!!
Many Thanks and Much Love to you my friend!!

God Bless!
Coach Marla