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Timothy L. Vollmer, MD
Department of Neurology
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Co-Director of the RMMSC at Anschutz Medical Center

Medical Director-Rocky Mountain MS Center
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Multiple Sclerosis Institute
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Weill Medical College of Cornell University

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Timothy L. Vollmer M.D.
Department of Neurology
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How My ‘Sick’ Friends Help Me Get On With Life

It's common — and comforting — to have friends who share a similar condition.I have a lot of sick friends — and I’m talking about their wonderfully off-center, mildly deranged, caustic senses of humor.

Many of those “sick” friends are also ill.

I’m off this afternoon to have a cuppa with an acquaintance from our town who, since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) this past winter, has become a friend.

Yesterday I was on a video conference call with a German woman with whom I will share a podium at an international MS patient summit in Prague around World MS Day (May 25) later this month. She said, “I’m going to see your friend Emma in Stockholm next week.”

It got me thinking about the number of people I call “friend” now who might not have become friends had we not shared a diagnosis.

Last month, I was asked to present at an online health advocate conference in Chicago (you may remember the passport debacle leading up to the meeting), and I got to meet people I’ve known only online for the past several years. But we’d become friends in those years, and I also met a whole cadre of like-minded people with diseases other than MS with whom I’m now developing fledgling friendships.

What Makes Us Friendworthy
My experiences may be a bit exaggerated because I’ve been blogging about life with MS for so long, as well as doing off-line advocacy work. But I’d have to guess that each of us has formed at least camaraderie — if not true friendships — due to the similarities we share with others who also live with our condition.

Ours are not “MS-all-the-time” friendships. Rather, we have a thing (our disease) in common, as well as a shared set of coping skills that make us friendworthy. We may not all have in-person MS friendships with people from dozens of countries and multiple continents, but we share our experiences with loads of people via social media friendships, blog relationships, and brief, in-person connections at fundraising events.

We all have sick friends. Some of them have our disease as well.

Helping Others Form Online Communities
Representatives from 27 countries from 5 continents will be at the Prague meeting. I’ll even get to share the stage with the deputy prime minister for science, research, and innovation of the Czech Republic, Pavel Bělobrádek, who also happens to have multiple sclerosis.

The theme of my workshop is online communications. I hope to share with patient advocacy organizations the importance — really, the imperative — benefits and joys of engaging with our communities online.

It is because of you that I get asked to speak at such events, because of our MS friendships and the way our Life With MS community has become a standard for how people with a disease can help one another get on with their lives.

We help one another feel better, live well, and get on with the living part of a life with MS. Thanks for being my “sick friends.”

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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