Welcome to the first edition of Sharing Our Spoons Community! Every other week, A New Kind of Normal will host a new guest who will share a bit about his or her journey with chronic illness! It will not only be a great way to meet others in our community but also a great way to learn a thing or two!
It is my honor to introduce our first guest, Betsy! Betsy blogs over at Just a Pharmgirl so be sure to pay her a visit after reading her interview!
Tell us a little about yourself (just a short bio)
My name is Betsy Sammarco. My husband and I have 2 boys who are in college now. I’m a pharmacist and am trying remain in the work force in every way possible by working per-diem and teaching as a pharmacist, and working as an online assistant for my favorite crafting and vintage supply company, Jenni Bowlin Studio.
What is your diagnosis (or diagnoses)
I have Multiple Sclerosis or my “Lovely Life Challenge” as I like to call it.
How long did it take you did get diagnosed from the onset of symptoms to the official diagnosis?
I had vague symptoms in my knees for much of my adult life, but I attributed it to common “knee problems”. In 1998, more symptoms developed and I actually told my doctor I was concerned about having MS. He did not think this was a possibility and unfortunately no further tests were ordered. It’s interesting to this day, reading the conversation in my medical chart as the doctor documented it. I received my diagnosis is December 2008 after extreme exacerbations of my symptoms.
What do you consider the most important factors in finding the right doctor?
I think you need to get second and third opinions about treatment options. I have one doctor I use primarily, and visit another doctor at least once a year to get his opinion on my status. The second doctor is comfortable with playing the “second fiddle” for me. I want to make sure I have investigated all of my options. I’ll seek more opinions if I need to.
What has been the hardest thing about facing chronic illness?
Wondering what the future holds. Although nobody knows what their future holds, those with chronic illness know their worry carries a greater concern for them than those without illness. It takes a great deal of mental strength to push the worries behind to allow yourself to live a peaceful life. Because making it through the day, week, month, and year is an accomplishment to be proud of, I great every single one of my birthdays with a big “yipeee!”
What is something positive that happened as a result of your illness?
There have been a couple of things. Since I’m a pharmacist with MS, I’m in a position to help others as a professional with the disease. It has made me so happy to help others by helping them to understand their medications, explain the jargon, and give hope.
If you had to give one piece of advice to a newly diagnosed spoonie, what would it be?
Don’t keep yourself alienated. Get out even if you don’t feel like it. Surround yourself with positive people. Finding positive people who also share the challenge of living with a chronic illness is a double bonus.
Never give up hope.
Anything else you would like to share?
Never give up trying to do something you love. You may need to modify how you do it and do it differently, but try to keep doing the things that make you happy in some way.
I have loved to scrapbook and craft. MS has greatly affected the way I can do this. When my symptoms were more difficult to deal with, I looked to the computer as a creative tool. It was a different way of creating than what I did before, but allowed me to create in some way.
How can we follow you?
You can find me on my blog, Just a Pharmgirl, where I share little pieces of my life, especially my crafting, scrapbooking, and photography.
You can also find me on Facebook!
Thank you so much Betsy for sharing your story with us!
If you would be interested in being interviewed for Sharing Our Spoons community and sharing a part of your story, please send me an email! I would love to have you!