Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Dog Story: A Journey into a New Life with Multiple Sclerosis by Matt Cavallo (Guest Post)

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.

  • File Size: 350 KB
  • Print Length: 210 pages

Matt Cavallo
Author Biography

At age twenty-eight, Matt Cavallo was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Seemingly over night he went from a fully-functioning, healthy man to someone who was numb from the waist down and unable to walk. His story of being diagnosed and overcoming the physical and emotional challenges associated with having a chronic disease can be read in his memoir, The Dog Story: A Journey into a New Life with Multiple Sclerosis.

As a result of his diagnosis, Matt has dedicated his life and career to healthcare and the fight against MS. Matt delivers motivational patient experience lectures all over the country for a variety of MS patient events, as well as inspiring organizational presentations for companies using his story as a platform. Matt has appeared in a MS yoga DVD that is free for MS patients, is active with MS charities, and appeared in The Future of MS documentary about for the MS Cure Fund. His story has been featured in the Boston Globe, and he writes a popular blog on his website as a resource for MS patients.

Matt’s dedication to healthcare led him to work at a Neuroscience Clinic, helping patients like himself every day before taking his current position training clinicians on how to use medical software in order to improve the patient experience. He also recently finished his Master of Science in Health Care Informatics from Arizona State University. Most importantly, however, Matt is the proud father of Mason and Colby, the loving husband to his wife, Jocelyn, and the best friend to his dog, Teddy. Originally from the Boston suburbs, Matt currently works and lives with his family in Chandler, Arizona.

Website: MattCavallo.com
 Twitter:   @MattCavallo    Facebook:  The Dog Story   Goodreads: Matt Cavallo

Guest post

My big secret is that The Dog Story is a book that I never wanted to write. Ever since I can remember, people have told me that I should write a book. Writing has always been a passion and a hobby, but one I never thought that I would pursue. That was until a fateful day in May of 2005, when I lost functionality from the waist down. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t go to the bathroom, and I was freaking out. I’m 6’2”, 200 pounds and had never been sick a day in my life. I had never broken anything and never had been to the hospital except to visit other people. Then, all of a sudden I lose my legs and my life was turned upside down.  I found myself being sent to the ER and subjected to X-rays, MRI’s, Cat Scans and eventually, the most medieval of all bodily tests, the spinal tap.

During this time, it was a mystery trying to diagnose what was causing my symptoms and the nurses and doctors were very tight-lipped about probable causes. Upon my discharge from the hospital, I was still having difficulty walking and wasn’t sure what was wrong with me. This uncertainty was creating an emotional overload that I had difficulty processing. I was also having a hard time remembering what was going on because of the combination pain meds and steroids that they had running through me.

So, I did what I do when faced with adversity. I started to write. The Dog Story started as a personal journal for me to capture my internal thoughts, as well as, the sights, sounds and smells of the hospital. Initially, there was no true format other than I knew I wanted to remember what I was going through. Writing kept my sanity as the world around me was crumbling. As I was trying to cope and process what was happening, the people around me were falling apart. My wife, mother and father were all present at the hospital and throughout my diagnosis but each of them struggled in their own completely different way.

My wife was my biggest supporter, but was in shock, trying to hold it together for me. My mom was an emotional wreck whose fits of crying and self-blame only added to my emotional turmoil. My dad tried to do and say the right things but kept putting his foot in his mouth when I was looking for support. I found it fascinating to watch these reactions to my condition. So much so that I wanted to put it down on paper to remember later what was being said in my doped up state.

You see people’s true colors when faced with an undeniably real situation and that was what I captured in my journal entries. As I started putting all of this on paper, a story started to evolve. My wife started flipping through my journal and commented, “this is really, really, really good.” Now, it is important to note that she does not typically dole out such high praise. She went on to suggest that I take it to the next level to tell a cohesive story. I also let my father-in-law and a few close friends read my writings and there was a consensus that the story was compelling and that my ability to weave humor and humility into a personal situation was captivating. The worst part was that I still wasn’t fully healed when I wrote The Dog Story, I wasn’t sure that I’d ever be “normal” again or what my future would look like. I went into a depression.

I wasn’t working, socializing or coping with my condition in any manner. I shut out the outside world and wanted to be alone. I continued to write and tried to capture my feeling of depression, as well as, the internalization and the anxiety that occurs when you have a significant, immediate change in quality of your life. Whether it be an illness or an accident, it doesn’t matter, you change. It is how I was able to cope with the change that has made all the difference. I said in the beginning that this is a story that I never wanted to write. It is embarrassing, personal and can be a little awkward, but those are the same qualities that are endearing to the readers. I get emails from all over about how my story had inspired or motivated them to overcome personal challenges. The emails are so genuine and heartfelt. I am humbled that my words have had the ability to impact people in such a positive manner.

Initially, I was afraid that the story was be too real, but the reality is that in this sugar-coated society we live in, people yearn for honest human emotion. It makes us feel less alone to read a true account of a real person struggling. So, sometimes the best stories to read are the ones that were never intended to be written.

Thank you so much for having me and you can learn more about me and my story at www.mattcavallo.com. 

Thank you Matt for the wonderful guest post. 
I will be reviewing this book later this fall. I hope you'll stop back by for my review. This book promises to be a great read and is garnering rave reviews. As always, thank you for visiting my blog.


The Dog Story can be purchased on Amazon

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