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Monday, April 30, 2012

Thought Provoking News

Hello All,
I was featured in our local newspaper, The Macomb Daily, this past Saturday, April 28, 2012. I was interviewed about raising awareness for MS & the NMSS, as well as how I cope with it.

Here is the link to copy and paste if you'd like to read the article and see my family in their "online" picture version. The first 2 lines of the article were cut off. (Next line to be read with sarcasm. *hint* *hint*) Thus proving how much better it is to get your news online rather than the actual "paper" version you hold in your hand. But, hey, I digress.

I would like to copy and paste the email I actually sent to the writer for background on myself. This way you can be "privilege" to all I said. Mostly, because I want to share, not because they didn't print it. We all know I can be a "little" wordy. (You were thinking it. Admit it.)

Actual email:

Here is a little more background on myself. Use it if you like or scrap it if you don't. No worries. :)

My name is Tammy Malkowski, before I met my wonderful husband, I was Tammy Caramagno. I was born in 1971 and am the oldest of 5 girls. I have 4 sisters & 4 step-sisters. I grew up in Harper Woods until I was 10 years old when we moved to Grosse Pointe Farms. I graduated from Grosse Pointe South High School in 1990.
I went to Central Michigan University and graduated in 1995 with a B.A.A. in Interior Design.

My parents have a lot to do with the woman I am today. My dad taught me to always look at a problem from all angles so you're prepared for anything. He loves to play devil's advocate. My mom has taught me be myself and show the people you love how much you care. I have always been that person who stands up for the "little guy" or for some "injustice". Many times to my own detriment. I speak my mind, I love with all my heart and I am always ready to lend a helping hand.

I have been married to my husband, David, since 1997 and we have a 9 year old daughter, Kristina & a 6 year old son, Paul. We live in St. Clair Shores now. I have always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, so when Kristina was 18 months old I became a newspaper carrier with the Macomb Daily in 2003. It allows me to help with the bills and be at home for my kids.

In 2008, I began having symptoms that eventually lead to my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. I had double vision in one eye, I would lose my balance and fall, and my hands would tremble. Some things seemed so random, but when I would become exhausted after walking to the top of the stairs or just by taking a shower, I knew something was wrong. Once I was diagnosed with MS, my "Devil's Advocate" side of my mind played out all of my possible futures. My positive side kicked in and found ways to laugh at my symptoms. If I fell down in the living room & look for loose change under the sofa. I believe in planning for the worst & hoping for the best. Just because I have MS doesn't mean my life is over.

I can control each morning how I face my day. I choose to smile as much as I can and enjoy every moment. I may have to plan differently then I used to do. Extreme heat makes my legs weak & it's hard to walk. Extreme cold or high winds cause horrible pain throughout my body. I won't be bike riding anytime soon with my kids, but we can go for a walk, or read books together or just cuddle. I choose how I will be a parent. I refuse to let MS choose for me.

There are a few questions people ask me often.

#1) How can you still deliver the newspaper everyday?

I deliver the Macomb Daily 365 days a year & about 20-30 of those days I really struggle and wonder what I am doing. When I remember how few that is compared to the 365, I do my best to keep going. I can move the best in the morning & it keeps me limber.

#2) How do your children feel about you having MS?

I know they worry, but the one key thing I try to remember is how I felt when I was a child. The moments children remember the most aren't the expensive gifts you buy them or the places you take them. Children want to know their parents love them and to pay attention to them. I can do that with my heart, no matter what Ms does to my body.

#3) Why do you think you have MS?

I am a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. We may not always understand why, but we all have a role in the world. I am starting to believe I am meant to be an advocate for MS. I think I can help raise awareness.

I would love for people to realize that MS is different for every person who has it. Some may be wheelchair bound. I use a can for most of my day. Others may never have walking problems. Some people can rise above their pain and be positive like myself. While others will struggle to come to terms with it. There is no one face for MS or one way it looks, but it is still very real. I just choose to wear my MS with a smile on my face & hope in my heart.

My blog about my journey with Multiple Sclerosis(MS) began as a way to update family & friends about my health. It has grown into a avenue about my health, MS, poems and stories and life in general.

Here is the link to my blog, "Pick Tammy's Brain":

Walk MS Page:
Here is the link to my MS Walk Page & the Brain Farts Team:

How Facebook helped me find my voice:

After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I went online to search for other people who had MS too. I found the National MS Society's Facebook page. I quickly made many friends and found a place where people understood how I felt & who I could ask questions about my hopes, fears, medications & my future. I was able to offer support in return. After a couple of months, I kept hearing many of my friends with MS becoming frustrated when their friends & family would say, "But you look so good!" People meant well, but also assumed if you look good, you MUST feel good. I decided to put their words into a poem, and wrote "Seeing is NOT Believing". After I posted it, so many people were so grateful to me. It was very humbling because I felt like it was such a small gesture for them. Since they liked it so much, I have kept writing more poetry about it and am up to 15 poems and counting. I hope to publish a book of them to help raise more money for the NMSS.

This is still my most popular poem with people who have MS.

"Seeing is NOT Believing" Poem

Don’t believe because I smile
That the numbness went away.
Don’t believe because I laugh
That I’m not in pain today.

Don’t believe because my hair is done
That anything has changed.
Don’t believe my body won’t react
To the sun, the snow, the rain.

Don’t believe because I walk
That I’m not prepared to fall.
Don’t believe that “looking good”
Changes my health at all.

Don’t believe because I hug
That it doesn’t make me wince.
Don’t believe because I “look good”
That MS does not exist.

Don’t believe I will give up
The person I am inside.
Don’t believe that MS is gone
Even when it hides.

By Tammy Malkowski

That concludes todays thought provoking news. ;)

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