11 posts tagged “support”

“It gives me a source of hope”: Gloria’s 9+ years of tracking Parkinson’s disease and making connections on PatientsLikeMe

Posted May 24th, 2017 by

Member Gloria (sunshine221) has been here almost since the start. The Parkinson’s Disease (PD) community on PatientsLikeMe launched in 2007, and Gloria joined in 2008. We recently caught up with her about her early days with PD, how she has used PatientsLikeMe through the years and what she’s up to now.

Early days with PD and finding PatientsLikeMe

Gloria had been dealing with walking problems for four years, and was initially diagnosed with spinal stenosis. After having surgery for that, she was diagnosed with PD. She had to shift gears, in terms of finding support online.

“Another web board that I was using was great for the spinal stenosis but their Parkinson’s section was inactive,” she says.

 

“I liked PatientsLikeMe’s tracking sections and how it matched with what the doctors were asking.”

 

Gloria notes that HIPAA laws made it harder for doctors to connect patients with each other, so meeting people with PD online (and in in-person support groups) was key.

“PatientsLikeMe lets me share with people of similar age and illness progression, and when I might be feeling discouraged it gives me a source of hope,” she says.

Using PatientsLikeMe through the years

Early on, Gloria turned to the website for members’ drug evaluations (noting some frustration over the delay in being able to track Rytary XR – but that is possible now). Over time, she has used the site for tracking her own condition and helping others who’ve joined the community.

“I often look back at the historical data – sometimes it’s frustrating, other times encouraging,” she says. “I mostly look at my own data but if I’m trying to answer another poster’s question, I might look at their data to see what else might be happening with them.”

She has used her data to help people offline, too, including at her support groups. The wife of a local retired dentist with PD needed more information about the condition.

“So I gathered literature from my file and brought it up to her yesterday,” Gloria says. “This just shows that people from all backgrounds need education and support.”

Meanwhile, Gloria has continued to make strong friendships through the forums.

 

“The regular posters come to feel like family.”

 

Gloria says she has met up with fellow PatientsLikeMe members at the World Parkinson Congress in Montreal (2013) and Portland, Oregon (2016).

What’s she up to these days?

“It’s been over 10 years that I’ve had Parkinson’s,” Gloria says. “Looking back, I’ve been lucky that the progression has been slow.”

Gloria and her husband recently retired but continue to do some consulting work. They divide their time between their home in upstate New York, a winter home in Florida and a family retreat in the Catskill Mountains. She travels, exercises, maintains a personal blog, and even exhibits her work in art shows (top photo).

“My mantra is ‘use it or lose it,’” she says. In addition to encouraging others with PD to exercise and stay active, she also recommends: using a movement specialist, keeping legal documents (will, power of attorney, and healthcare proxy) in order, and educating adult children about the condition and its possible long-term progression.

Gloria fears her condition will get worse and her grandkids could be afraid of her PD (because she witnessed this with an aunt who had ALS), but she remains hopeful.

What brings her the most joy? “Spending time with friends and family, and watching my 2-year-old granddaughter learn – and hoping that there will be more grandchildren to come in the next few years.”

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Chris Hannah, founder of CHSG, talks cluster headaches, clinical trials and more

Posted June 29th, 2015 by

In the beginning of June, we posted about National Headache and Migraine Awareness Month, and today, we’re continuing the conversation with Chris Hannah, the founder of Cluster Headache Support Group (CHSG). He recently sat down for a PatientsLikeMe blog interview, and he spoke at length about everything related to cluster headaches. Below, read what he had to say about PatientsLikeMe, new drug treatments for cluster headaches and his own personal experience with “the worst pain he has ever felt.”

What do you feel is the most important information people should know about cluster headaches vs. other types of headaches?

First and foremost, if you are a cluster headache sufferer, it is important to know that you are not alone. It may seem that way since so many have never even heard of it and often mistake it as just another name for a regular headache. It is actually one of the most painful conditions known to medical science (you can Google that). It’s also not a form of migraine, it is a primary headache disorder but is quite different from migraine in many ways, especially given its odd periodicity where sufferers will have attacks at the same time of day, even the same time of year, over and over again. The pain is excruciating, typically centered around the eye on one side of the head. It also is accompanied by parasympathetic nerve response, causing tearing of the eye, eyelid drooping, running or blocked sinus, and ear ringing. It is quite disorienting when it occurs, and may occur 8 or more times in a single day lasting from 30-90 minutes typically. An attack may also be triggered at any time by consuming alcohol, chemical or perfume smells, second-hand smoke, and many foods.

For those who know someone diagnosed with cluster headache, please know that they are dealing with an insidious and debilitating condition. They are most likely under the guidance of a highly skilled neurologist who specializes in headache disorders. It may be hard for them to socialize as they did before onset, even with family and close friends, because they fear having an attack in public. Where migraineurs can lay their head down, cluster headache sufferers are unable to stay still, often including odd behavior like slapping their head or walking in small circles. This is not a conscious choice, rather the body’s way of dealing with the intensity of the pain. Please give them space but also your compassionate support. They are not looking for things to try that you may have heard about. They are probably experts in all options available to them as is the case with many chronic pain conditions and rare diseases.

How do you feel CHSG.org members might also benefit by becoming members of PatientsLikeMe?

I think one of the key benefits of PatientsLikeMe is codifying anecdotal data that all too often gets lost in the daily dialog of our support group. I think both are still very important, especially in terms of the experience and expertise of the community. Keep in mind that as a global organization, we benefit from the patients of some of the greatest minds in healthcare from all of the major headache centers, along with the many years of experience of many of the members. Although we have that information capital, turning that into quantifiable data for research can be quite challenging. PatientsLikeMe helps us translate each person’s experience with treatments, symptoms, co-existing conditions, and emotional well being into aggregated data that may help clearly identify new research targets, correlations to other disorders or demographics, even the number of patients who suffer similar disorders. It is done so in a positive way, helping the patient with excellent recording and tracking capabilities, even a doctor’s visit report. At the same time, it is helping to accumulate data over time across a diverse patient audience all living with the same disorder. We have a name for this ongoing data collection, reporting, research cycle, called SpiralResearch. We frankly see this collaborative approach as the future path of medical research for rare disorders in comparison to the onerous process of enrolling people in a point in time survey or one-off study that eventually gets published in summary as a document in hopes that someone will take it further, or better, correlate the results across many publications. We think there is an opportunity for greater synergy and insight in the process of continuous data gathering and analysis.

Do you have a personal cluster headache story you’d care to share with the PatientsLikeMe community?

I was in the prime of my career in the pharmaceutical industry when I initially encountered the worst pain I had ever felt. I was at a Harry Potter movie with my family and had to go straight to the emergency room. I truly thought I was going to die. It took six months from that point to get a diagnosis of cluster headache. Unfortunately, due to its rarity, approximately .3% of the population, even healthcare professionals are not all that familiar with it and may have never seen a case. I ended up getting a clear diagnosis first at the Jefferson Headache Center in Philadelphia and a second opinion confirmation from the Cleveland Clinic Headache Center. Until then, I was prescribed opioid pain killers which were largely ineffective. I was having on average 8 attacks per day interspersed with an ongoing baseline headache that made it hard to do anything. Of course, I didn’t sleep much either during that time and actually was housebound for most of the time, like I dropped off the face of the earth. That’s not easy for a man with a family, friends, a high profile job, and an avid golfer and outdoorsman. I had no idea such a thing even existed until I got it myself.

I searched out any and all information about cluster headaches. I found some online communities, but frankly, I did not like them much. They were full of people who were self medicating, self harming, and there were frequent issues of suicide. In fact, cluster headache is nicknamed the “suicide headache” because the effects are so profound on daily living. I decided there must be a better way, especially a way to work within the healthcare system, with pharma and other organizations to improve the quality of life and the resources available to cluster headache sufferers. There remain no preventive treatments specifically indicated for cluster headache although there are some partially effective off-label medications typically prescribed with varying results. For some like me who are chronic sufferers, finding relief is a long path. It is a life-long disorder, incurable currently. We hope to change that. In fact, since starting CHSG in 2010 and incorporating in 2012 as a 501c3 nonprofit organization, we have contributed to several new clinical studies and have even introduced effective treatment options through the headache centers we touch. We also offer a safe, compassionate place for sufferers to learn, share, connect, and engage with activities like our integration of PatientsLikeMe in our overall strategy of spiraling toward a cure.

In your opinion, what are the most promising drug treatments available to people suffering from cluster headaches? What about clinical trials—do you feel people with cluster headaches are good candidates for new drugs still in clinical trials?

We (CHSG) have most recently been working to trial ketamine infusion therapy in the hospital setting with excellent results that will, in fact, be published this year in Cephalgia and Neurology. Ketamine got a bad name from illegal street abuse, but in fact it is an approved, safe, and effective treatment for several neurological disorders, pain, and anesthesia. It is also opioid reducing, meaning it reduces dependency on opioid pain killers for chronic pain. Opiods are highly addictive and in the case of chronic pain conditions, often have diminishing efficacy, so people take more or seek stronger pain relievers. It’s not a viable path. Ketamine, on the other hand, is effective, non-addictive, and has a short half-life in the body. One of the most compelling effects of ketamine infusion therapy is based on neuroplasticity, meaning the brain actually has the opportunity to create new pain pathways, eliminating the “broken” and overexcited pathways common to chronic pain conditions. This is currently my primary treatment.

Another interesting avenue we are pursuing is that of TRP Channel antagonists, specifically TRP V1, A1, and M8. TRP channels are a basic mammalian sensory system that react quickly to certain noxious stimuli, including bright light, chemical smells, certain tastes like the hot in hot pepper, atmospheric pressure change and mild temperature increases. Interestingly enough, these specific stimuli are also the most common triggers for both migraine and cluster headache. There are several candidates currently in the pipelines of both biopharm and pharma as TRP channel antagonists. We do have some work to do to initiate evaluation for cluster headache and migraine and are actively in pursuit.

For many sufferers, there are viable medications that show efficacy at least for a time. Most do have to switch medications throughout their course due to taking relatively high dosage levels of “borrowed” medications primarily indicated for blood pressure regulation, anti-seizure, or serotonin gating. The high dosage levels prescribed for cluster headache introduce many side effects, including heart arrhythmia, low blood pressure, dizziness, severe fatigue, and even confusion. There are also two very good abortive approaches. Sumatriptan injection is effective for most, but limited to no more than 2/day and 4/wk which leaves quite a gap. High-flow oxygen at 12-15LPM also works for many and is quite safe with little side effect. Unfortunately, there is no complete solution yet for most sufferers.

How to you feel tracking or logging on to websites like ours is useful in terms of identifying headache triggers, learning about pain-management therapies, and moving researchers to find treatments for cluster headaches?

There simply can’t be too much real information, but making sense of it can be quite a challenge for the patient, especially in the mix of so much misinformation on the Internet. PatientsLikeMe and CHSG both help distill that information into a quickly understandable and informative format that is based on both experience and research. There is always more to learn, more options to consider, and new information coming from the ongoing collection of data across a wide base of users. Distilling that down into an easily digestible form is what PatientsLikeMe does best, in my opinion. It’s not just about patient tracking and learning about their own conditions, which is quite important; it is also about looking at the data across the patient base and identifying key commonalities and correlations that may not have been visible previously. This information is shared freely with all patients, ongoing. That “informing” process makes better patients, frankly, and puts the knowledge in their hands to help them better manage the dialog with their healthcare provider and others. It builds up the community both individually and as a patient group.

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LUNGevity Foundation and PatientsLikeMe Unite for New Partnership

Posted October 30th, 2014 by

Organizations Team Up to Enhance Patient Network for People Living with Lung Cancer,
Expand Reach for Research

Washington, DC (October 30, 2014) – Today, LUNGevity Foundation, the leading lung cancer nonprofit, and PatientsLikeMe, the leading patient network, announced a joint initiative to help people diagnosed with lung cancer. The organizations are collaborating to increase the number of lung cancer members on PatientsLikeMe so that more patient-reported information can potentially guide research on the condition. LUNGevity will also continuously provide information on lung cancer to enrich PatientsLikeMe’s content, and in the longer term, will become the first nonprofit to integrate and display dynamic data from PatientsLikeMe on its own website.

PatientsLikeMe is a unique tool that helps individuals living with lung cancer to learn from others. Members can gain a real world understanding of lung cancer treatments and symptoms, track their condition, and contribute health data for research. “Our work with LUNGevity aims to create the premier lung cancer registry in the world, and to make a lasting impact on research and on those who live with the condition every day,” said PatientsLikeMe Executive Vice President of Marketing and Patient Advocacy Michael Evers.

The initiative will provide a complementary information-gathering resource to LUNGevity Foundation’s powerful educational resources and Lung Cancer Support Community (LCSC). Andrea Stern Ferris, president and chairman of LUNGevity, said it also gives people easy access to firsthand information they cannot easily find anywhere else. “We are pleased to partner with PatientsLikeMe because it is a powerful resource for patients to learn from other survivors and to be more empowered in the healthcare process.”

LUNGevity Foundation’s annual Breathe Deep Boston Walk on Saturday, November 1, 2014 raises awareness for the fight against lung cancer. PatientsLikeMe will participate in the event and will provide information about the registry to interested survivors, family members, and friends. More information on the event is available at www.lungevity.org/boston.

PatientsLikeMe welcomes anyone living with lung cancer to join the website.

About Lung Cancer
More information on these statistics is available at www.LUNGevity.org

  • 1 in 14 Americans is diagnosed with lung cancer in their lifetime
  • More than 224,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year
  • About 60% of all new lung cancer diagnoses are among people who have never smoked or are former smokers
  • Lung cancer kills more people than the next three cancers (colorectal, breast, and pancreatic) combined
  • Only 17% of all people diagnosed with lung cancer will survive 5 years or more, BUT if it’s caught before it spreads, the chance for 5-year survival improves dramatically

About LUNGevity Foundation
LUNGevity Foundation is firmly committed to making an immediate impact on increasing quality of life and survivorship of people with lung cancer by accelerating research into early detection and more effective treatments, as well as by providing community, support, and education for all those affected by the disease. Our vision is a world where no one dies of lung cancer. For more information about LUNGevity Foundation, please visit www.LUNGevity.org.

About PatientsLikeMe
PatientsLikeMe® (www.patientslikeme.com) is a patient network that improves lives and a real-time research platform that advances medicine. Through the network, patients connect with others who have the same disease or condition and track and share their own experiences. In the process, they generate data about the real-world nature of disease that help researchers, pharmaceutical companies, regulators, providers, and nonprofits develop more effective products, services and care. With more than 250,000 members, PatientsLikeMe is a trusted source for real-world disease information and a clinically robust resource that has published more than 50 peer-reviewed research studies. Visit us at www.patientslikeme.com or follow us via our blog, Twitter or Facebook.

Media Contacts
Aliza Bran
LUNGevity
(202) 414-0798
abran@susandavis.com

Margot Carlson Delogne
PatientsLikeMe
(781) 492-1039
mcdelogne@patientslikeme.com


Depression Awareness Month- What does it feel like?

Posted October 26th, 2014 by

Here at PatientsLikeMe, there are thousands of people sharing their experiences with more than a dozen mental health conditions, including 15,000 patients who report major depressive disorder and 1,700 patients who report postpartum depression. What do they have to say? This word cloud has some of the most commonly used phrases on our mental health forum.

It gives you a feel of the many emotions, concerns and thoughts that surround the topic of mental health. But the best way to increase awareness and knowledge, we believe, is to learn from real patients. To help show what it’s like to live with depression, we thought we’d share some of our members’ candid answers to the question, “What does your depression feel like?”

  • “My last depressive state felt like I was in a well with no way to get out. I would be near the top, but oops….down I go. I truly felt that I would not be able to pull myself out of this one. I felt hopeless, worthless and so damn stupid, because I could not be like other people, or should say what I think are normal people.”
  • “It feels like living in a glass box. You can see the rest of the world going about life, laughing, bustling about, doing things, but they can’t see you or hear you, or touch you, or notice you at all, and you cannot remember how to do the things that they are doing, like laughing, and just being ordinary and satisfied with it. You are totally alone although surrounded by people.”
  • “It feels like walking in a dimly lit hallway (or totally black, depending on the severity) with no exit in sight and no one else around.  You keep walking hoping to come to the end, trying to feel along the walls for some sort of door that will take you out of this tunnel, but to no success. At the beginning you feel like there has to be an end or a door of some sort – something to get you out, but as you keep walking, your hopes damper by each step. You try yelling for help, but no one hears you.”
  • “Depression is very much like feeling as if I have no arms nor legs and (what’s left of) my body is upright in the middle of a road on a cold, dark, foggy morning. I can’t run. I can’t walk or crawl. In fact, I have no options. I have no memory of how I came to be there. I know I’m going to die, I don’t know when or exactly how. There’s nobody around who sees me or understands my situation. If somebody gets close by and I scream, they’ll run away in fear. My family has no idea where I am and I’m alone… except for the headlights down the road.”

Can you relate to any of these descriptions? If you’ve battled depression, we encourage you to join our growing mental health community and connect with patients just like you.

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MS members share about their PatientsLikeMeInMotion™ experiences

Posted October 15th, 2014 by

PatientsLikeMeInMotion™ is a way to celebrate our three star members (super health data donors) and sponsor them at events so that they can raise awareness for their condition. If you’re passionate about advocacy and you’re participating in a walk, run or other fundraiser on behalf of your condition, learn more and sign up right here. 

We caught up with three MS community members who are active participants in PatientsLikeMeInMotion. They shared about the events they’ve been a part of over the years, why advocacy is important to them and several ways PatientsLikeMe has helped them manage their MS. Scroll down to read what they had to say. 

Ajcoia 

“Since being diagnosed in 2002, and after my sister was diagnosed in 2001, I have participated and captained every event the Greater Delaware Valley MS Society chapter has offered. This includes the one-day walks, MS150, Muckfest MS and Challenge Walk MS. My favorite event is the Challenge Walk MS, in which I have participated all 12 years. I have met so many wonderful and inspiring people through this event, which brings me back year after year.

Advocacy is huge, because without voices out there speaking on our behalf, we would never get any funding or support. I have been to Washington, D.C. 3 times on behalf of the National MS Society, and I know that our stories being told to legislators help.

PatientsLikeMe has been a wonderful tool for support and also a great way to keep track of symptoms. I love that I receive valuable information about MS and data that they have collected. I also love that they support my teams and I when we participate in events, both monetarily and with their great tee shirts.”

Special1

“I have done the Southern California/Nevada Walk MS events every year since diagnosed in 2009. So I have participated in approximately 5 walks. The first year, I was not able to walk far because of fatigue and heat intolerance. The 2nd and 3rd year, I sat and cheered my team on. This year, I was so glad I was able to walk the 5k with my team of 32 members. We have grown from 14 members the first year. When I form the team, I always go with raising awareness and then concentrate on raising funds. The weather was cool this year, a great day to walk, and I am glad I was able to walk. Last year, the Beat MS Dance walk was started by “So You Think You Can Dance” member Courtney Galiano, and I participated in the event for the second time on Sep 13, 2014.

I have always been a people person, and since I have to be home so much because of symptoms from my MS, I love getting out and seeing new people, including people I meet online or through others. All have showed me that as long as I just keep doing what I CAN do in this new life of mine, I will continue to find reasons to smile. This last year one of our team members, a 16 year old, was diagnosed with MS, and it opened everyone’s eyes and reminded them that life can change at any moment. Value today.

I worked in the medical field for 15 years, and I medically retired due to cognitive issues. When working, I would push my patients to fight, whether it was high blood pressure, diabetes or any illness they were being attacked by. They would come back and thank me through the years. So when I was diagnosed the first year, I was glad to know I wasn’t just going crazy, but I didn’t know how to now be the patient. Slowly I fell into the role of patient, advocate and fighter. I have gotten calls from old coworkers to get info from me to give to patients who are newly diagnosed. Those calls made me a little sad, but also made me happy because I was still needed.

I first heard about PatientsLikeMe on a social media site. I signed on and connected with strangers who I now call friends, I log my meds and health info and sometimes print my health info out and take it with me to doctor’s visits. I like how I get an email asking me how I’m doing, and it’s so easy to use. PatientsLikeMe has also helped me raise awareness and funds for my walks and MS events since 2009.” 

CKBeagle

“I walk. I walk every day. I walk my dogs every day. I walk for my physical health. I walk to get outside for my mental health. For the past several years I have walked for the MS Society and I have the t-shirts to prove it.

Most recently, I have been a part of the Journey of Hope Walks that the MS Society uses to help provide additional funding for society-approved MS Clinics and MS Specialty Care Centers. Currently, I am team captain for our AbFab Concord Neurology Team for MS Specialty Care Center walk team. I know, bad name, but I had to make sure that everything was in there, especially the AbFab, because that is important. Why do I do it? I am not a neurologist. I don’t work for Concord Neurology. I don’t even work for Concord Hospital. I do volunteer at the “clinic” once a month as peer support. Did I forget to mention that I have MS?

The clinic is a wonderful service for patients with MS. On clinic days, they have the opportunity to meet with a neurologist, counselor, physical therapist, occupational therapist, social worker, nutritionist, MS Society representative and peer support to discuss any and all aspects of how MS affects their lives and how their life affects their MS. For the most part, I spend a lot of time asking questions and listening. I try to provide direction on what strategies I have tried to deal with different situations and offer an understanding ear for complaints. I encourage people to relay information to the doctor or therapists even if they think it is unimportant. I learn how other people are coping with the changes brought on by MS. I feel I get as much out of it as I give to it. We all have something to offer.

One of the things that I make sure to give people is the information on the PatientsLikeMe website. I have found it to be an interesting resource for information on treatments and also a way to track my health and attitude history. I especially enjoy the researcher interest on the site where you can provide input on treatments or general health through surveys.

On top of that, I LOVE the PatientsLikeMeInMotion™ program. It was how I first became aware of PatientsLikeMe. I got in touch with the community team, let them know when and where my walk was, kept myself as a 3-star patient and bam! I was accepted into the program. They made a donation to my walk and sent t-shirts for the team. Cool beans! The whole team loves the shirts and the donation helps the MS Society and the clinic. Now all I have left to do is the walk. For now that’s the easy part. Because I walk. I walk every day.”

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Research, support and hope for spinal muscular atrophy

Posted August 11th, 2014 by

If you know PatientsLikeMe, you know that neurological conditions take us all the way back to our beginning. Stephen Heywood, the brother of our founders Ben and Jamie, was diagnosed with ALS back in 1998 at age 29. Today, almost ten years after PatientsLikeMe was created, thousands of members living with ALS and other neurological disorders are sharing their stories and donating health data to help improve the lives of others and contribute to medical research. And in the spirit of Stephen and everyone living with these conditions, we’re recognizing Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month this August.

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) affects the nerves responsible for movement, including breathing and other bodily functions. It is inherited through genes passed on by parents who are carriers of the genetic code.

SMA affects people of all ages, genders and backgrounds. There are four types of SMA – Types 1, 2 and 3 all affect children and adolescents, while type 4 is usually limited to those above the age of 35. And although SMA is classified as a rare condition, think about this: SMA affects approximately 1 in every 6,000 babies, and about 1 in 50 people are carriers for the condition.1

So what can you do this August to raise awareness for SMA? Orange and purple are the two colors designated for SMA awareness, so wear or display them and let people know why you are! The Families of SMA (FSMA) also organizes many awareness events around the world, everything from walks to dinners to Bowl-A-Thons. Check out their website and find an event near you.

Share this post on twitter and help spread the word for Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month.


1 http://www.fsma.org/FSMACommunity/understandingsma/quickfacts/


Learning from Others: Newsletter Highlights 2011

Posted January 28th, 2011 by

In the spirit of the New Year, here are some highlights from our recent newsletter.  Read what patients like you have to say about what they’re most interested in learning from other patients this year.

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2166 (Amy) What are you most interested in learning from other patients this year?
user_45436-full (bradley25 – Mood Conditions Community)I find I offer advice to patients more often than I listen. Offering advice helps me; it makes me think about what I am suggesting. More often than not, I find I offer good advice that I do not necessarily follow myself. Hearing the words come out of my mouth can cause me to think about why I may not be doing what I am suggesting and to make changes in my own life.
kidney (mrskidneysurvivor – Transplants Community)There is not any one thing that I can say I am most interested in learning from other patients like me because I gain knowledge and insight from all patients who have had a transplant or who are waiting for one.  We all have experienced or are still experiencing similar situations and take similar medications and cope with our day-to-day health, and I learn from that.

Mine has gotten so bad that I have regular grand mal seizures from time to time, and sometimes it’s hard to carry on a conversation without looking weird.

user_9703-full (prelado – Parkinson’s Disease Community)Of course, how they’re doing with their medicine, mainly if it is the same as mine.

irish (irishtxn – HIV Community)How to keep unwanted stress out of my life! It’s hard enough being one of six siblings living in the same town, much less [being the one living] with our mother. I’m not getting any real support from them as I’d like.
My siblings do take care of my mother’s prescription costs, but they rarely offer to come in and get my mother out for while. I might rephrase that [it would be nice] to ask her to their homes.  She rarely ventures away from the house unless it has something to do with the church.  Never gets to see the other children unless it is a holiday such as Christmas.
slicky (slicky – ALS Community)I am like any other patient.  I have not experienced everything.  There is always something new to learn, and I think the best way to learn is to ask other patients on this site.  The doctors can tell you what they know from reading books or other doctors, but getting knowledge from patients firsthand is the best way to learn how to cope or [determine] the best equipment to use, or the best treatments.
I am not saying every comment on PatientsLikeMe is right, but most of the information you get on this site really is valuable to all patients and their caregivers.  The best thing is you can choose to try it for yourself or ignore it.  It really is amazing to see all these patients come together to help one another.  There is no stupid question.  If you want to know, just ask and you will get a response.
And the best thing is it is from people all over the world, so some countries may have different studies or trials or meds we do not have here in the U.S.  I have talked to people all over the world who have asked me how I have had ALS so long and what do I do to keep going.  I tell them my regimen.  I also tell them I can only tell them what seems to work for me, as most everyone knows ALS affects each of us differently, so what works for one person may not work for another.
picture_5-full (sunnyt – Fibromyalgia/CFS Community)When I discovered PatientsLikeMe it was a God-send! It was so good to know I was not alone in this. Most people do not believe what we go through. It is so hard to explain the pain and tiredness of this. I know, I was once one of the doubters.
This year I would very much like to learn how other deal with this, for one. And what treatments others use also, more alternative treatments. The list goes on…like how to cope everyday with not knowing how you are going to feel, where you will hurt or how tired you will be.
I am sure of one thing, I will probably find other answers to questions I did not even know I had! I can not thank PatientsLikeMe enough for the support and information I have gotten in the past year.
suevand1 (suevand72 – Epilepsy Community)

I don’t really know what I plan on learning this year. I really haven’t given it a lot of thought since I am so busy at home with family and work, and now I am going back to school part-time. I know everyone is just trying to get back to normal after the holidays. But I live in a family where nothing ever slows down. Believe me, you want it to, but it won’t. I do learn more about seizures (epilepsy) each year.

sapphyr (Sapphyr – MS Community)As usual, tips for living with a disability that have actually worked.

Parkinson’s Patient Interview: A Spring in Your Step

Posted January 18th, 2011 by

As you know, we like to just check in with our members to see how you’re doing as a person, not just a patient.  This week on the blog, we’re highlighting some interviews to help you get to know some of the people here just like you.  Here’s an interview with member “angela_b,” a member of our PatientsLikeMe Parkinson’s Community who was interviewed for one of newsletters last year.   Read on to learn more about what puts a spring in her step, how she copes with her Parkinson’s, and what’s she’s learning from other patients.  Enjoy!

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2166 (Amy) What puts a spring in your step?
angela_b_pd-original (angela_b)

That would have to be my new love for crafting. I didn’t realize how many ideas I had hiding away in my head until just recently. Now, you cannot even mention a shower or party, and I’ll start planning what favors to give.

2166 (Amy) How do you like to spend holiday weekends?
angela_b_pd-original (angela_b)

I am a hostess by nature – that I get from my momma – so I love to have picnics/parties at the house. Plus it’s easier for me to give the party than to go to one. I have four kids, ages 11, 8, 3, and 1, so you never know what the moods will be!

2166 (Amy) What is helping you to cope with your condition?
angela_b_pd-original (angela_b)

I have a humongous support system. My family, friends. It’s pretty awesome. Plus, my husband and I just started our own non-profit (Running for Parkinson’s) to raise money and help fund Parkinson’s related issues within our community. We run (he runs, I try very hard to…LOL) and this helps keep me motivated!

2166 (Amy) What have you learned recently at PatientsLikeMe?
angela_b_pd-original (angela_b)

I’ve learned a lot from lurking. I’ve found many answers, like my cramping when I run is dystonia, and a lot of people have the same sleep issues. I’ve found that we all have a lot of “non-parky” things in common, such as career choices, crafting, running.

We are all in this fight together. It’s great to know that I am not alone in this, but surrounded by great, loving, caring people.

2166 (Amy) Thanks, angela_b!

One for All: Interview with Diamondlil58 (Welcomer of 15k Patients)

Posted December 9th, 2010 by

We’ve been learning about how connected our patients are this week in our blog series called “One for All.”  In the first two blogs by Jeff Cole, we read (and saw through cool graphics) how some of our members are initiating an unparalleled universe of dialogue.  Today, we sit down with one of those members, Diamondlil58.   A true “diamond” in the MS community, she has left more than 16,000 comments to  welcome other members and get conversation started. Here’s our interview with one of the founders of our PatientsLikeMe “Welcome Wagon,” Diamondlil58.

liz1 (Liz) How and why did you start welcoming people? 
diamondlil38 (Diamondlil58) I was welcomed to PatentsLikeMe by two lovely ladies – JHCamero and Greeneyes.  Their messages made me feel welcome.

I wanted to give back to the MS Community.  I didn’t feel that I knew enough about the disease and the effects it had on others to offer advise in the forum.  But, greeting people is something that I felt comfortable doing.

liz1 (Liz) What type of responses do you get from people you welcome?
diamondlil38 (Diamondlil58) I have received many nice replies from new patients.  Some tell me their experiences,  others ask questions or request help setting up their profile page.  Some want to know my view on therapies and treatments.  I continue to welcome because it has been rewarding to me.  I understand first hand how scary the MS diagnosis can be; how friends and family can’t possibly understand what it’s like to feel the way we do; how we can be perceived as lazy; or the fear of parking in a handicap parking spot and hoping no one verbally attacks us.  Welcoming give others an opportunity to view a profile and helps them see what they can do with theirs.
liz1 (Liz) Do you keep in touch with people you welcome?
diamondlil38 (Diamondlil58) I do keep in touch with so many people that I have welcomed through this site.  Some through Facebook, others in email.  I’ve even met several in the past year or so.  I have built some wonderful friendships here and make more everyday.
liz1 (Liz) What is one thing you’ve learned from looking at new member’s profiles? 
diamondlil38 (Diamondlil58) That we have all different backgrounds.  That we are not all the same but we all share one thing in common and that gives us something to build on to support each other.
liz1 (Liz) Do you feel more engaged with the site and its members as a result of the Welcome Wagon?
diamondlil38 (Diamondlil58) Absolutely!  I wouldn’t do it if it was negative or wasn’t rewarding.  It’s my way of giving back to the MS Community.  I have a great appreciation for the founders of this site, the staff, and the caregivers that join us.  This site has been therapeutic for me in more ways than one, and I am so grateful that I came across it three years ago surfing the internet looking for information on my symptoms.
liz1 (Liz) We’re glad you did too.  Thanks so much for keeping the wagon rolling, Diamondlil58.  You’re an inspiration.

One for All: The PatientsLikeMe “Welcome Wagon”

Posted December 8th, 2010 by

plm_ms_comments_diamondlil582

In yesterday’s post, we looked at some of the ways members of the PatientsLikeMe community are connecting with other patients and the value they are getting from it.  Today, we’ll highlight how one person can make an enormous difference and inspire you with her ability to connect with others.

One method of reaching out to another member on PatientsLikeMe is by leaving a comment on their profile page.  Often, you exchange comments to inquire about specific data on someone’s profile or to thank them for sharing.  However, one of the most common uses of the comments functionality is for existing members to welcome new members to the community.  This is has been affectionately coined the “Welcome Wagon,” and it is most prominent in our MS community.  Today, more than 71% of members in that community get a comment within the first 2 days.  Receiving a comment from a veteran PatientsLikeMe member when you first join the site is a great way to “welcome” you aboard and make you feel a part of the community.

A large part of the effectiveness of the MS Welcome Wagon can be attributed to a member named Diamondlil58.  Of the 150,000 comments that have been left on PatientsLikeMe, Diamondlil58 has left a staggering 16,000 of them, addressed to over 15,000 different members.  The graph above shows just how extensively Diamondlil58 has connected with the community through commenting.  In the graph, the dots represents patients in our MS community, and the lines represent a comment between them.  Diamondlil58 is the large green dot near the center.  Notice how she has touched both the inter-connected network of patients (on the right), as well as sent out a huge number of comments to others who aren’t yet as well-connected (the moon-like diagram on the left).  A large portion of these comments were part of the Welcome Wagon.

While the Welcome Wagon was started in the MS community, it has definitely caught on in other communities.  Here is a look at how Babsie, an active member in our Fibromyalgia community, has reached out to welcome new members.  Like Diamondlil38, Babsie has helped create a network of dialogue and connection between patients like you.

plm_fibro_comments_babsie

It’s inspiring to see how one person can touch so many.  Members often tell us how beneficial it is to have a way to find “patients like me.”  (In fact, we cited a few examples yesterday from our research study that shows just how valuable that can be to one’s health).  However, that “find” functionality alone is not what makes this community what it is today.  It’s the people who are using it.  It’s the people who are willing to openly share with one another; the people who reach out to make those connections (sometimes initiated by beacons, like Diamondlil58); it’s people like you who make the most of being a member of PatientsLikeMe.

The next two blogs in this series will include interviews with Diamondlil58 and Babsie.  Stay tuned as we climb aboard the Welcome Wagon and hear what they have to say.

PatientsLikeMe member jcole


MS Patients Stepping into the Real-World

Posted August 13th, 2009 by

With 13,000+ members, the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) community is currently the largest community at PatientsLikeMe. Many of our members are just as active online as they are off. There are a countless number of ways for people to get involved in supporting research for the disease, and many patients choose to participate in the thousands of walks and runs that take place year round. At PatientsLikeMe, our members have a voice in research by sharing data about their condition.  However, we also support patients’ decision to take their involvement offline.

Earlier this year, PatientsLikeMe introduced a program to support and sponsor Walk/Run teams. We are encouraged by the success this initiative has already seen since its inception. To date, hundreds of people across all our communities have participated in teams sponsored by PatientsLikeMe, with many of those teams from our MS community.

Want to see some of our patients in action? Head on over to the PatientsLikeMe YouTube page at www.youtube.com/PatientsLikeMeMS and check out some of your fellow patients on the move.  All the pictures from the video and more are also in our Facebook photo album, so check them out (and while you’re there don’t forget to friend us either!) Thanks to all who participated in the program and gave us the material for this first video. Keep on walkin’ everyone!

(Special props to our summer intern, Shane, for editing the video and producing the music for it!)