By Matt Cavallo
Hello and thank you for checking out the MSAA blog. My name is Matt Cavallo and I will be contributing a bi-monthly blog to the MSAA. Since being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in May of 2005, I have dedicated my life, work and education to helping others live well with this devastating disease. My goal of this blog is to draw upon my personal experience to discuss relevant topics and resources for persons living with MS, as well as, for their caregivers.
My journey with MS started in 2005. At the age of 28 years old, I had an acute onset of Transverse Myelitis (TM). The onset of TM claimed my functionality from the waist down. I was unable to walk or go to the bathroom on my own. Six months later, I lost vision in my right eye due to Optic Neuritis. Following the bout of Optic Neuritis, I had a cognitive loss which dramatically affected my memory and word recollection. Finally, in 2010 I had a suffered a fractured C6 vertebrae, which resulted from damage left over from my TM onset. I had to undergo an emergency cervical fusion to prevent becoming a quadriplegic.
When I first started experiencing symptoms, I was depressed and afraid. I thought that at 28 years old my life was over. I would like to say I handled it better, but I didn’t. I pushed away my family, friends and even my wife, Jocelyn. I was sure that the hopes and dreams that Jocelyn and I had together were over because of my condition. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to have kids because of the TM and even if I could still have kids, I didn’t want them to have a sick dad that couldn’t participate in their life.
Today, I am happy, healthy and feeling great overall and am doing things that I never thought was possible when I was first diagnosed. Despite having MS for eight years and the complications that go along with it, I am living my dream. Following my diagnosis, I completed my Masters of Public Health Administration and now work as a consultant in hospitals across the US to help practitioners better service patients like myself. I also penned my personal memoir, The Dog Story, which has been tremendously well received globally by patients, as well as, caregivers who can relate to my story. Today, I am the proud father of two boys, Mason (5) and Colby (3). The most important thing to me is that I am able to be a father and even coached Mason’s baseball team this past spring.
Today, I have partnered with the MSAA because I believe that we can make a difference in the lives of persons living with Multiple Sclerosis. I will be writing a series of blogs that focus on maintaining a great quality of life despite having MS. My blogs intertwine my personal experience with MS with resources, programs and links that I have found helpful. I intend this blog to be interactive. Please comment, ask questions or suggest topics that you would like to learn more about. We are on this journey together and together, we can make a difference. Thank you for taking the time and for supporting the MSAA.