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Timothy L. Vollmer, MD
Department of Neurology
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center Professor

Co-Director of the RMMSC at Anschutz Medical Center

Medical Director-Rocky Mountain MS Center
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Multiple Sclerosis Institute
Center for Neurological Disorders

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Weill Medical College of Cornell University

Clinical Attending in Neurology,
New York-Presbyterian Hospital
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Timothy L. Vollmer M.D.
Department of Neurology
University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
Co-Director of the RMMSC at Anschutz Medical Center
Medical Director-Rocky Mountain MS Center

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At MS Poker Night, All Bets Are Off

By Trevis Gleason

There have been a lot of bright, shiny moments in my life. For a good long time after my diagnosis with multiple sclerosis it seemed that those sparkles of life were no longer in my cards, but they did come back.

Last night I experienced great warmth and pride when I visited Poker Night, the National MS Society self-help group I co-led for several years.

Poker Night was established back in 2004 as the nation’s first all-male support group, and was set up for men in the Seattle area by the Greater Washington Chapter of the NMSS. It was an honor to help start the group and run it with my brothers Tony and Vito. Later, after Tony moved away, Mike stepped into a co-leader role.

Attendance at Poker Night varied from packed rooms for renowned speakers to a few guys sharing a pizza and chatting about this or that (sometimes even about MS).

Last night, I stopped counting at 15, including two new guys and one man whose sister has the disease and just wanted to understand it more to be of support.

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They let me blather on a bit about living in Ireland with MS and some of the differences and similarities I’ve experienced. More importantly, I saw a group of men who have been down in their own personal holes because of this disease offering suggestions, help, and hope to others of their disease fraternity. It was touching.

Guys help guys the way we want to be helped ourselves. We offer encouragement differently, we suggest gathering facts before making decisions, we offer personal experience rather than suggestions. Men may not be known in the broader society as desiring the intimate conversations that took place on Poker nights. But I witnessed a thriving web of support and laughter at our gatherings in Seattle on the second Tuesdays of each month.

Revisiting the group also reminded me of the important place that this monthly meeting had in my life for so long and how much I had missed it without realizing.

I know all (seriously, ALL) of the people who live in and around my little community in Ireland. I don’t see a gathering like the lightning in a bottle that is Poker Night happening in my town. That said, I think I may need to seek out someplace where I can meet up with like-minded people who understand living with MS the way the Poker Night lads do.

Good docs, a supportive family, assistive devices, etc., can get us through much of the daily slog of life with multiple sclerosis. Sometimes, however, I find that only those who trod the path with us know how to avoid the deepest mud puddles and the way out of the deepest potholes.

Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by EVERYDAYHEALTH
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length
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