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Articles By Chris Tatevosian

The Gang’s All Here by Chris Tatevosian
 
My marriage of ten years began dissolving when the “Monster” invited his friends to live in my house. If you have MS, I’m sure you’ve met the gang. There was the kingpin, Stress, his best friend Anger and his twin, Misdirected. Of course, Feelings of Worthlessness was there and his brother Feelings of Inadequacy who brought his best friend Low Self-esteem and his sidekick Depression, who hung out with everybody’s buddies, Worry and Anxiety. As usual, Communication was a no show, but sure enough his sister Miss-communication popped in and overstayed her welcome. They never left, but my wife did.

Sounds like the cast of a real nightmare. At that point of my life it literally was a real nightmare, and I couldn’t see myself ever waking up. MS can become a real nightmare destroying relationships between spouses, family members, even friends. I wrote the book “Life Interrupted, It’s Not All About Me,” a self-help memoir, my real life story of marriage interrupted by multiple sclerosis. It could have been any chronic illness or disability and it could have been anyone’s relationship. Still, this book is intended to help others going through a similar situation deal with the stress and hardship put on one’s relationship as a result of life being interrupted by chronic illness or disability.
 
I should’ve known something was up when my then wife and I went days without any real communication. I guess I did know. Call it being a dumb guy, but I was expecting a literal warning, an out right ultimatum. Something like, “Chris you need to change or Chris, you/we need counseling or I won’t stay in this marriage. Eventually the combination of this physically debilitating disease and my quick to anger poor me attitude was more than enough to make the difficult decision for my wife to leave come to fruition. This interruption to our once loving relationship had become too much for my wife to bear. Remember, it wasn’t just my then wife watching her partner struggling with his physical losses. No, it was also, and in my case likely more so, my unintended compassionless and bitterly radical emotional changes and instability unbearable. Unintended or not my unacceptable behavior and complete personality change combined with my overwhelming stress, misdirected anger, feelings of worthlessness, feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, worry, miscommunication and depression, the “whole gang,“ just became too much to bear. I lost sight of what was important in life, that’s why I wrote my book dealing with all the emotional turmoil that is thrown into a relationship that is interrupted by chronic illness.

I was remarried last April. My new bride, Jane, is fantastic. And even though my disease is worse off than during my first marriage I could not ask for more. So what’s changed? We truly have a wonderful relationship. Why is my marriage working so well now, even though my MS has continued to progress over the past eight years? I can attribute this to two factors. First, Jane is truly a special person, and second. I have written this book, which has afforded me the opportunity to slow down and examine my life. The obvious fact is, we have the choice to go through life dealing with whatever trials and tribulations we must, and we must deal, with either a smile or a frown. Yes, we have an affliction, but that doesn’t mean we have to go through the rest of our lives ticked off at everything and everyone, living in complete misery.
 
My wife Jane and I, we laugh and laugh together and at one another all the time. Sure, I have slipped ups, get frustrated and angry. It happened just the other night. I became so frustrated with Jane during the middle of the morning. It must have been about 3 AM. No it was 3:17 AM; I have one of those giant digital alarm clocks for the legally blind. When I can’t sleep, believe me I know what time it is. You see, Jane suffers from restless leg syndrome and the other night it was kick me in the shin, among other places all night long BAD! Of course I have to deal with nocturnia, which means every time I wake up I have to empty my bladder. I take prescription Flomax so normally I can sleep through the night without having to get up to visit the bathroom. Needless to say, it was a long night and I was ready to scream at my wife, which I would have done in my previous marriage. So what’s the difference, what’s changed? The difference is that I have written, re-written, read and re-read my book so many times that when I do begin to slip-up it’s so obvious that I can’t help but catch myself. And let’s not forget, Jane has read the book too, so when I slip up she’s quick to point out “Chris, I think you need to revisit page 76 “and we have a good chuckle. Remember life is too short, you choose whether to laugh or cry. I never thought I would get married again. After all, who would marry damaged goods? At one point prior to my marriage I said to my wife to be, why would you marry someone with MS, that is like buying a vase with a hole in the bottom. Her response was, maybe I want it to hold dried flowers. So these dried flowers are happily married and loving every minute of it.

Your Occupation vs. Your Spiritual Vocation

By Chris Tatevosian Expert In Strengthening Relationships Interrupted by Chronic Illness or Disability


As many of you may know by now, I have written a book that I believe glorifies God. I have shared numerous discussions and held book signings at Christian churches, libraries, coffee houses and bookstores here in Massachusetts and my goal in each has been the same. That is to help those struggling with relationship issues as a result of life being interrupted by a chronic illness. A situation with which, I am all-too-familiar.
 
Allow me to introduce myself ,”Life Interrupted-It’s Not All About Me”, by Chris Tatevosian is my real life story dealing with marriage interrupted by multiple sclerosis, the emotional issues and possible coping skills. It could have been any chronic illness or disability or anybody’s relationship, but my goal for writing this book is the same. My goal is to help others in similar situations recognize and eliminate the growth of the relationship destroying “poor me” attitude; which frequently accompanies chronic illnesses.
 
Much of this information within the book may seem obvious, but as I learned the hard way, the obvious becomes clouded when life is interrupted by chronic illness or disability. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis over twenty-seven years ago, when I was a freshman in college. The disease would eventually result in the demise of my marriage. Whether you are the patient, a family member and or the caregiver this book is for you. If by writing this book, just one relationship is benefited it will have been a success and well worth exposing my past, literally making my life an open book.
 
By sharing my actual experiences with chronic illness and divorce I hope to provide others with the knowledge, awareness and understanding intended to help them avoid making the same relationship destroying mistakes that I did by dealing more positively with the emotional and physical stresses put on a relationship when life is interrupted by chronic illness or disability.
 
So, how does your occupation vs. your spiritual vocation find its way to being the title of such an article you ask? First, we must differentiate between the two. Your occupation is what you do to make money…..your job. Your spiritual vocation is a gift, a talent that you possess which you choose to utilize to please God. For example, you may be a gifted artist, singer, writer or homebuilder whatever it is, it is a gift from God that we as people turn around and utilize to please God by showing others His glorious love at work within us. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Article Source: http://www.bizymoms.com/expert-advice

 

Clear and Open Communication:

Coming to the Rescue when the Stress of Life Interrupted by Chronic Illness Clouds the Obvious in One's Relationships,
by Chris M. Tatevosian

 
Tips for couples, families, friends and caregivers when the Stress of Life Interrupted by Chronic Illness is your reality.....
 
Having personally lived with MS for my entire adult life. I have dealt with the condition since my diagnosis in 1980 when I was a freshman in college__ and yes, sadly my first marriage of ten years ended in divorce in 2002. As a result of this horribly difficult, depressing and almost life ending experience comes good. I have been blessed with the ability to write a self-help memoir Life Interrupted, It's Not All About Me. It was my intention to help myself by restoring my good name so to speak. My divorce was bitter and my ex-wife’s lawyer embellished so much that I wanted friends and family to know the truth. That’s when God intervened and helped me to realize that He was allowing me to write a book to help not one person, myself, but perhaps thousands of people around the world who may be in the midst of a similar situation. A situation of overwhelming gloom and disconnectedness. If just one marriage or relationship is saved or benefited because of that which I have experienced, have knowledge and written__ having literally made my life an open book, exposing everything good and bad (because it's not always pretty but it's real), it will have been well worth it.
 
Clear and open communication is an absolute necessity for any relationship. Sadly, most relationships are lacking and many severely in the area of communication especially among couples dealing with an individual suffering from a chronic illness or disability involving brain function. There are many conditions, to numerous to list here anyway, but the point is that illness can effect brain function like communication. A common condition suffered by millions commonly referred to as brain fog whereby the individual may not be able to retain a thought long enough to complete a statement__short term memory deficit is a symptom of so many neurological conditions like MS, Fibromyalgia, (RSD) Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy and lets not forget (TBI) Traumatic Brain Injury.
 
So many people, myself included have to function with the aggravating and frustrating symptoms of short term memory deficit resulting in the often embarrassing inability to complete a sentence or thought. This frustrating situation frequently leads to anger. Sadly, your spouse, family members, your closest loved ones bear the brunt of this misdirected anger, because that is how the frustration, aggravation and diminishing self-esteem is released. I know this because my ex-wife was the recipient of my anger for the ten years we were together. I was not mad at her, but she received or bore the brunt of my frustration because as my caregiver, my ex-wife was always present as my helper, provider and comforter.
 
I elaborate on this relationship destroying situation and attempt to provide the knowledge and awareness which I feel and pray will eliminate or at the very least reduce the misdirected anger that often destroys one's relationships. I lived through this and share my personnel experiences with readers of my book Life Interrupted, It's Not All About Me, which guides and provides patients and caregivers with the awareness, knowledge and understanding they need to deal more positively with the emotional and physical stresses put on a relationship interrupted by illness or disability.
 
I would love to improve the communication and the overall interaction between everyone, but especially that of couples and family members. Try these few suggestions, which were recognized by me post the most devastating experience of my disabled life, my divorce. Divorce is a life altering happening for anyone, but especially devastating for one who has come to rely on his or her spouse to actually live from one day to the next. If this is your situation as it was in my case, slow down and ask yourself why would anyone carry on in a manner that all to often ends with divorce? As I stated in my book "the obvious becomes clouded in the midst of life interrupted by chronic illness or disability."
 
Below are some general suggestions for communication between spouses, as well as, friends, family and the caregivers of those individuals struggling to communicate more concisely. Ultimately having a constructive, positive interaction and most importantly a caring, understandable and satisfying discussion. 
 
Here are a few tips which I have found to improve the act of communication amongst people who are living with cognitive issues and other disabilities:
 
__It is important to relax and treat one another with dignity and respect. Sounds so simple .
Excerpt from Life Interrupted, It' Not All About Me, page 39, chapter 4, Clear and Open Communication
"From experience, I can tell you that the individual suffering the chronic illness or disability is likely to feel anger and depression, which consciously or unconsciously develops into what I call the “Poor Me Attitude”. Both partners must consciously be unselfish, be understanding, provide one another with special attention, be respectful of one another, and most importantly, communicate clearly and openly"
__Because of cognitive interruption we need to almost expect and be prepared to repeat that which we say or ask of the individual dealing with short term memory deficits. Preparing a written list can be a wonderful idea which can dramatically improve and simplify your loved ones day.
 
__Keep your sentences short. I struggle, especially when I become stressed, overwhelmed or frustrated. Once I have reached this point inevitably I no longer have any clue as to what we where discussing and recollection without going to the video tape, smile is an impossibility. If you don't keep your statement brief it's quite possible that I'll forget the beginning of your sentence by the time you get to the end.
 
__I suggest pausing for a few seconds between your 'thoughts' or sentences. Those of us struggling with brain fog and other forms of memory deficit often require that the person speaking pause briefly after their sentences so that we may reflect on it for a moment and absorb .
 
__Try to minimize high pressure situations - peaceful, relaxed environments reduce stress, confusion and becoming overwhelmed. When anyone is overwhelmed, they often lose patience and behave 'less than ideally' with those around them. I could have been the poster child for such behavior. I'm embarrassed just recalling my past behaviors. The following real life example,
Excerpt from Life Interrupted, It' Not All About Me, page 40 chapter 4, Clear and Open Communication , may better help you to understand that which I am trying to say.
 
"my hands felt like baseball gloves, and I couldn’t support my torso or maintain my balance. I immediately lashed out because the air conditioner was not on high enough and I couldn’t stay downstairs for dinner. I became so upset and frustrated because I felt that my parents, who best understand my situation, were not paying attention to my needs. My mother became upset because she did not know what more she could do and thought I was overreacting to the temperature, which caused me to become enraged and say a few things that I didn't mean.
 
In that moment, after all I had been through in the past, I recognized that I wasn't very different. I wasn't much better at controlling my emotions, and that I had in fact changed very little. I also realized that I/we can’t make these changes on our own. This is bigger than me/us. We need God in our hearts if we want to change for the better. It’s just the reality of the situation".
 
__Both the caregiver and the disabled individual need to be conscious of the importance of practicing patience, and supportiveness. I say "conscious" because it is not and will not be easy. It's just natural to become frustrated and aggravated, because we are dealing with physical and mental losses and disruptions to what was once simple if not automatic. It may well take extra time to understand the individual; and to be sure they understand you. Taking time is helpful to everyone in conversations, not just the disabled
 
__Be patient and try to avoid interrupting the person__ it may take them a while to get out what they want to say and while they may not really mind if you finish their sentence, you may not be 'quite right'. I know first hand that the disabled individual is likely to forget whatever it was he or she was going to say before he or she has the opportunity to complete his or her thought. Losing ones thought because someone speaks out of turn is infuriating.
 
__Likewise, they may interrupt you because a thought, perhaps related to what you're saying, flashes into their mind. I've heard people say, let them know if this is disruptive for you. I say, we need to be understanding of one's disability, allowing__ actually pardoning the interruption so that the disabled individual may interact and add to the conversation.
 
__With most cognitive issues resulting from MS, Fibromyalgia and the like, it is so important to recognize that one's level of intelligence is often exactly what it was. We still have exactly the same thoughts. It is just incredibly easy to be distracted, lose our train of thought or struggle with that "the word is on the tip of your tongue" feeling, which is all to frequent. Your thoughts and words can be rather like prisoners, locked in your brain.
 
__Both the caregiver and the disabled individual need to be conscious of the importance of practicing patience, and supportiveness. I say "conscious" because it is not and will not be easy. It's just natural to become frustrated and aggravated, because we are dealing with physical and mental losses and disruptions to what was once simple if not automatic. It may well take extra time to understand the individual; and to be sure they understand you. Taking time is helpful to everyone in conversations, not just the disabled.
 
__Be patient and try to avoid interrupting the person__ it may take them a while to get out what they want to say and while they may not really mind if you finish their sentence, you may not be 'quite right'. I know first hand that the disabled individual is likely to forget whatever it was he or she was going to say before he or she has the opportunity to complete his or her thought. Losing ones thought because someone speaks out of turn is infuriating.
 
__Likewise, they may interrupt you because a thought, perhaps related to what you're saying, flashes into their mind. I've heard people say, let them know if this is disruptive for you. I say, we need to be understanding of one's disability, allowing__ actually pardoning the interruption so that the disabled individual may interact and add to the conversation.
 
__With most cognitive issues resulting from MS, Fibromyalgia and the like, it is so important to recognize that one's level of intelligence is often exactly what it was. We still have exactly the same thoughts. It is just incredibly easy to be distracted, lose our train of thought or struggle with that "the word is on the tip of your tongue" feeling, which is all to frequent. Your thoughts and words can be rather like prisoners, locked in your brain.
 
__Avoid 'talking down' to the disabled. Be sure to listen to the individual and treat adults as adults. We have not lost our intellect. Sometimes our cognitive deficiencies more closely resembles what it would bi like trying to follow and make sense of a movie where you only hear every other statement. You would get the main plot of the story, but it may take longer and it will certainly be more difficult to figure out what is going on__ it would surely be frustrating. You might be on edge and easily become aggrivated . Can you imagine missing one of the lines because you were interrupted when someone came into the TV room out of nowhere and asked__ do you know where my sneakers are? LOL, you have to laugh.
 
My hope is that this article, Clear and Open Communication, touched you in a manner that touched your heart and provided insight into the lives of individals dealing with cognitive issues resulting from chronic illness or disability. In the same way, I hope you have the opportunity to read my self-help memoir Life Interrupted, It's Not All About Me. The book guides others with multiple sclerosis, chronic illness, disability and their caregivers to control feelings of self-pity, worthlessness and diminishing self-esteem in order to keep their relationships strong and loving. A physically debilitating illness is difficult enough, I strive to help others avoid allowing this situation from becoming emotionally crippling as well. Open, frank and filled with invaluable advice, this is a book for anyone who wants to deal positively with illness or strengthen a relationship.
 

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