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“Sharing has given me support” – PatientsLikeMe member Debbie opens up about her MS

As PatientsLikeMe member Debbie (chilli123) says, it’s a very private decision whether or not to discuss MS openly. But as you’ll read, she’s doing more than just speaking about her MS – Debbie is spending time with others so they can better understand what life with a chronic condition is like. Debbie also talked about what it’s like to be a mom living with MS, her volunteer work with Penn’s LEAPP program and the inspiration behind her MS blog Adaptolution. Read on for her full interview. A lot of MS members have shared that finding a diagnosis isn’t always easy – what was your experience like? For the first eight years of living with MS, the disease was not visible to those around me. However, I have not shied away from discussing my disease. If I can educate one more person about life with a chronic illness, then I could make someone else’s struggle just a bit easier because they will be encountering people who understand. Everyone around me has been supportive. It is a very private decision whether to discuss MS openly – for me, it has allowed others to come into my world a little more and chronic …

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“Just saying” – PatientsLikeMe member Shep talks frankly about his MS

The members of the multiple sclerosis (MS) community on PatientsLikeMe are very open when it comes to sharing about their journey, and shep0454 (aka Shep) is no exception. He recently spoke with us about his life with MS, and he pulled no punches when talking about his emotions after being diagnosed, the wonderful people he’s met on PatientsLikeMe and the difficulties in traveling and vacationing with MS. Read on to see his personal journey (and his great sense of humor).  Hi Shep! Tell us a little about yourself and what you’re currently up to. I’m currently up to about FOUR foot TEN since I’m now a member of the Power Chair Guild full time! “A little about myself….” huh!?!?!?! I have been on my MS journey since I was a little boy running into the side of Cadillacs while waiting for the school bus…NO!!!! really!!! Relapsed and remitted with balance and falling and gran mal and absent seizures and impaired comprehension and blurry vision and heat sensitivity and unexplained lapses of chronic fatigue for about fifty years with no confirmed diagnosis. After a heart attack about seven years ago, I began to proactively seek an answer to these enigmas that all of …

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“Gee, doc, ya think?” – Barbara speaks about her diagnosis and life with IPF

PatientsLikeMe member Barbara (CatLady51) recently shared about her journey with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in an interview with us, and she spoke about everything from the importance of taking ownership of managing her condition to how she hopes to “turn on the light bulb” by donating her personal health data. Read her full interview about living with IPF below. Some PF members report having difficulty finding a diagnosis – was this the case with you? What was your experience like?  My journey started back in 2005, when after my first chest cold that winter, I was left with severe coughing spells and shortness of breath. An earlier chest x-ray didn’t indicate any issues, so I was referred to a local community-based respirologist (what we call a pulmonologist here in Canada) who wasn’t concerned with my PFT results. I also had a complete cardiovascular workup, again with no alarming results. Then, in 2008, I had another chest cold. Growing up in a family of smokers and being the only non-smoker, I seemed to have managed to miss having chest colds, but 2005 and 2008 were definite exceptions. Again, a normal x-ray, another visit to the respirologist and another PFT that didn’t …

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A day in the life of Software Engineer Jonathan Slate

Our members share a lot about their unique health journeys and experiences here on the blog. Just recently, Kim spoke about her shock with MS, Betty talked about her frustration finding the right diagnosis, and Lori’s been sharing about life on the lung transplant list. And as part of our ongoing “A day in the life” series, PatientsLikeMe Software Engineer Jonathan Slate shared about his own recent journey after his son Nolan’s hand injury. He walked through the whole experience, from Nolan’s initial accident to how a simple CD with some x-rays on it sparked an ‘ah ha!’ moment for him.   You started working at PatientsLikeMe about 6 months ago – tell us a little bit about what you do. I work as a Software Engineer, developing new site features, fixing issues and working with other engineers to come up with creative solutions to the technical challenges of building and maintaining the PatientsLikeMe site. I’ve also done some work on the PatientsLikeMe Open Research Exchange project. You’ve said you experienced two “eureka” moments at PatientsLikeMe – what happened, exactly? Well, the first was on the PatientsLikeMe forums, where I found out, first hand, just how comforting it can be …

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“Shocked” – Kim talks about life with multiple sclerosis, becoming an advocate and PatientsLikeMeInMotion™

Last week on the blog, we celebrated the 6th year of the PatientsLikeMeInMotion program. And this week, we’re touching base with PatientsLikeMe member Kim (aka “2006”) who we’ve had the honor of sponsoring a bunch of times through PatientsLikeMeInMotion™. After she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), Kim was inspired to get involved in advocacy and fundraising events with her now legendary team, Kim’s Cronies. She spoke with us about her diagnosis with relapsing remitting MS, the evolution and growth of her fundraising efforts and just how much the MS community on PatientsLikeMe means to her. You were diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS in 2006 – what was that experience like? My experience with being diagnosed was probably like everyone else. “Shocked.” My symptoms started with visual changes. I had Lasik surgery done 3 years prior and thought that something was going wrong because of that procedure. I went to the eye doctor and he mentioned optic neuritis, and being in the health care profession, I knew that was usually in relation to multiple sclerosis. Already, my mind started racing thinking all about the negative things related to MS. Within a week, I went to see my MD and had an MRI, …

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“I would just like to understand the ‘why’” – a conversation with PD community member dropsies

Right at the start of April, you might have seen us post on the blog that it’s Parkinson’s (PD) Awareness Month. And to keep Parkinson’s awareness going strong all month long, we’re sharing a recent interview with PatientsLikeMe member Betty – aka dropsies to those in the community. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s back in 2009, but was experiencing symptoms since way back in 2005. And just at the start of 2014, she was also diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Check out her interview below where she shares about her frustrating Parkinson’s diagnosis experience, how diabetes might impact her future eating habits and what she means by a family of ‘co-takers.’ Tell us about your initial diagnosis experience with Parkinson’s – on your PatientsLikeMe profile, you mention your symptoms aren’t “textbook” – what are they like? My diagnostic tale has been long, complicated, and oftentimes frustrating, like many PWP experiences, and has yet to come to a medically-agreed upon final conclusion. I don’t care what it’s called. I would just like to understand “why” before I’m actually confined to life in a wheelchair. After two years of thorough investigation, working with my PCP and including cardiac and rheumatology examinations, my …

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“Pay it forward.” Following up with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis patient and PatientsLikeMe member Lori

  This is Lori’s third interview on the PatientsLikeMe blog! She’s been sharing her journey with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (a rare lung disease) with all of our followers here, along with her real-world health experiences on her PatientsLikeMe profile. Since the last time we caught up with her, Lori has lost 70 lbs., has made the transplant list and is playing what she calls ‘the waiting waltz.’ Check out the entire interview below where she talks about ‘life on the list’ and what inspires her to donate her health data. And don’t forget to check out Lori’s own blog called Reality Gasps. Thank you Lori for continuing to share and inspire! If you missed one of her previous interviews you can find those here.     You share a lot about reaching your weight loss goal (70 lbs! That’s awesome!). Can you describe what exercise means to someone living with IPF? And some of the other ways you achieved your goal? For someone living with IPF, exercise isn’t about pushing yourself to go farther, faster or harder — it’s about endurance. Pulmonary Rehab is always focused on doing whatever you’re doing for as long as you can. That’s because endurance …

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“Myeloma has not affected my day-to-day life” – PatientsLikeMe member AbeSapien shares his experience during Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month

March is Multiple Myeloma Awareness Month, and to keep the awareness going strong, we’re sharing our recent interview with PatientsLikeMe myeloma community member Bob, also known as AbeSapien. The happily-married, long-time data processing expert spoke about his diagnosis experience with myeloma, the economic effects of his condition and his passion for horseback riding.     Your PatientsLikeMe username, AbeSapien, is a reference to a comic book character – can you tell us a little about the meaning behind it?  The movie Hellboy had been out fairly recently. It’s one of about three that we throw in to watch regularly (the others being Van Helsing and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). The character Abe Sapien fits my personality as a straight man, although I’m not above throwing in a dose of sarcasm when the situation calls for it. Multiple myeloma can be challenging to diagnosis – what was your diagnostic experience like? When did you first start experiencing symptoms? I actually did not exhibit any symptoms until just before I started treatment. I was diagnosed with MGUS (Multiple Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance) in 2001 when a blood test taken during an annual physical showed above normal levels of the IgG protein. At that point my condition was …

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Living with hope – An interview on AKU with Alycia and Nate

We’ve had the pleasure of talking with and featuring many PatientsLikeMe members on the blog over the years, but Nate is the youngest by far. He’s just 5 years old and is living with Alkaptonuria (AKU), a rare metabolic disease, sometimes called Black Bone Disease. Recently, we had the chance to chat with his mom, Alycia, who spoke with us about Nate’s experiences with AKU and her role and philosophy as his caregiver. To get started, what would you like everyone to know about your son? My son is an extremely happy and energetic 5 year old. He has recently started school and loves playing sport. His favourite sports are cricket and Australian Rules Football. He has a younger brother who he loves getting into mischief with. He also has a rare Metabolic disease called Alkaptonuria. However, we have chosen not to tell him about his disease at this stage. Do you remember what the first sign or symptom was? And can you talk a little about the diagnosis process? The only symptoms he had were black urine and dark ear wax. We never really thought much about his dark urine because we only noticed it when he had accidents …

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A life well lived: Giving and sharing with PatientsLikeMe member Geof

At PatientsLikeMe, we believe that the patient voice is what can change healthcare for good, so we’re always excited when our members take the time to talk about their personal stories with the community. This week, Geof, a PatientsLikeMe multiple sclerosis (MS) community member with a big heart and an even bigger family, shared his health journey, his philosophy on giving, and the meaning behind his username life well lived. When were you first diagnosed with MS? What was it like? How did it impact your day-to-day life? To be honest, when I was diagnosed, it was a relief. For months I had headaches which only went away with sleep. The worst part was having them wake me up in the middle of the night. I wanted to scream, “Body! Why are you waking me up to tell me to sleep?” Then came the dizziness, and finally the double vision. I was able to get an MRI, but I was having trouble getting an appointment with a neurologist (my primary care physician said I needed one when he ordered the MRI). The radiologist said the results could only be released to my doctor. So naturally, after thinking about it for …

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