Saturday, November 10, 2012

Guest Post with Author, Matt Cavallo

The Story Behind, 'The Dog Story'

The Dog Story is the story of my 2005 Multiple Sclerosis (MS) diagnosis. The story is a narrative non-fiction account which starts when I got out of bed one morning and couldn’t walk. What happened to me next was a real life human drama of going through the hospital, being diagnosed with a chronic illness and the depression which ensued.

As I lay in my hospital bed being poked, prodded and subjected to a variety of medical exams, I started becoming overwhelmed with fears of my own mortality. One of my major fears that existed at the time was that I was not going to be able to have children. I was only twenty eight years old and the MS had impacted more than just my walking ability. I was completely non-functional from the waist down. This was a demoralizing blow to my psyche as the prospect of not being able to have the family life that my wife and I had always planned was fast becoming a reality.

My wife and I had planned for what we deemed a normal, white picket fence life together. We both worked hard, bought a little ranch house and planned on starting a family soon. This all changed when I was admitted to the hospital and became diagnosed with MS. We knew at this moment that nothing was guaranteed and the dreams we worked so hard for were in jeopardy.

Through treatment and extensive rehab, I did finally regain functionality from the waist down. Two years later, my wife gave birth to our first child, Mason. Being able to have a child was something that I took for granted when I first got married. While we were blessed to conceive Mason, we never forgot the struggle that we went through during, The Dog Story.

I wrote this book, in part, so that my children could better understand their mom and dad. If my condition progresses, I wanted them to be able to read an account of what their parents went through and how the experience strengthened our relationship. I also wanted them to learn that we were just normal people with normal faults and that it is ok not to be perfect in every situation. The Dog Story explores some of the toughest emotions a person or couple can experience with humor and honesty. I want my kids to know that whatever the situation, if they stay strong and positive that good things can come from the worst of times.
While one of the reasons I wrote The Dog Story was for my kids, I also wrote the book to give hope to others that are experiencing similar issues starting a family, and not just due to an illness. Intimacy and family relationships are underlying themes throughout the book and two of the most common issues reported by MS patients. In being open and honest about these issues during my diagnosis, I hope to show other patients and spouses that there can be a light at the end of the tunnel. I think that most of us enter marriage with the ideals of starting a family and living happily ever after, but life doesn’t always  work out as planned. The Dog Story gives readers the message that although your course in life may change unexpectedly, don’t ever give up on your dreams.  With courage, hope and love you can overcome any obstacle. 

Book Synopsis:

At the age of twenty-eight years old with a promising career in real estate development, Matt Cavallo got out of bed on May 18, 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.

About the Author:

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.

Connect with Matt:

Website: Matt Cavallo

Twitter: @MattCavallo 

Facebook: The Dog Story 

Goodreads: Matt Cavallo

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