MS Stories: I Am Viable

This Viable Film is all about Aaron Solowonliuk, the drummer in the rock band Billy Talent, and his “#IAmViable” message.

Check out some awesome tattoos inspired by multiple sclerosis.

Aaron was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1997 at just 24 years old. Frustrated with the lack of support for young people with MS, Aaron decided he would put on rock concerts and art shows to highlight the disease for younger patients.

Can lifestyle choices affect the severity of multiple sclerosis? Read more here.

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  1. Michael Springer says:

    Kudos to Aaron for finding a way to stay connected, increase awareness of MS and, I hope, financially afloat.

    Although I was experiencing a broad range of MS symptoms for 30 years,I was 51 when I was first diagnosed. As a nurse practitioner I was tapped into the medical community but, other than some support groups, there was little else available for MSers in a major metropolitan area. I had SSDI and a pension to draw from. We live month to month but we have enough to cover our needs.

    I started writing a piece about the economic catastrophe that young MSers face but have not finished it. The salient point is that most of them have not started a retirement fund and may not have the 40 quarters required by SSI. To make things worse there is little to no financial support or adequate facilities for young MSers to live in that do not cost more than their SSDI.

    Some of us have family that we can depend on but others who may have family or friends are often abandoned after a year or two. This leaves them on their own with little or no expendable income and no chance of retraining or being hired for a job. We are expected to live on the outskirts of society and in trash heaps that are infested with junkies and thugs.

    If you could post the concerts that Aaron has set up it would be nice to attend them.

    • Tim Bossie says:

      We are so happy to hear that you have done the work ahead of time to help you now in this very difficult time. There definitely needs to be more education for young people to help prepare themselves for problems which may arise later in life. We will look into the concert dates and post them when we can. Thank you for your comment Michael!

      • Michael Springer says:

        Hi Tim,

        From my teens up until I was in my late 40s I was a typical guy who thinks he is indestructible (tho I did break my arm hang gliding). The blurred/double vision, color perception loss (it did return), numbness that I attributed to my back pack or climbing harness being too tight, tingling, odd pain sensations, loss of hand dexterity, walking into walls, cognitive impairment, falling and crushing fatigue came after my diagnosis but I ignored all of them before my right pupil became dilated and I had an MRI.

        I chose a career track that allowed me to support my family and with that came retirement benefits. Although I was a very good at diagnosing other peoples diseases, I did not plan or prepare for anything like MS – very few do. Like almost everyone in the 20 to 40 age group, I could not imagine being disabled – especially by something that could take years to diagnose.

        I get that being a responsible adult means taking care of yourself but my focus was on taking care of my children. I kept moving forward thinking that I would live into my 90s with few if any physical or cognitive impairments. I do not think I am alone in this but the difference between Aaron and his peers and me is that I was able to get to 50 before my world collapsed.

        I am grateful that there are efforts to identify MS early and to stop the disease but there are are no options for many of us to return to work. I would hope that sometime in the near future there will be a source for financial assistance available to MSers – especially those who are diagnosed early.

  2. Judy Lynn says:

    Thanks for sharing this- I like that Aaron doesn’t sugarcoat any of it. MS does suck. And it has to be harder the younger you are at diagnosis. I was a stay-at-home mom and college student when diagnosed, my previous work had not been recent enough for SSDI. Luckily I was able to go back to work eventually, but if not… There is a need for more support for young people.

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