Episode #32: Melissa Marans
Melissa Glazer Marans is an interior designer and new mom to a 4 month old son, Jacob. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and proud alumna of The Ohio State University, Melissa moved to NYC in 2009. Melissa spent four years at Transperfect in a variety of roles before departing for non-profit life at UJA-Federation of NY, where she served in a managerial fundraising role within the Lawyers Division.
Before her diagnosis, Melissa worked as an assistant interior designer at Carrier and Company Interiors, an AD100 design firm. Following her diagnosis, Melissa has taken on her health management as a full-time job. While managing her physical limitations and caring for her son, Melissa enjoys cooking healthy meals, yoga, and relaxing with her husband, Gabe, and shihtzu Charlie.
For most of her life, Melissa Marans didn’t have an invisible illness. That all changed in 2015, when she began showing signs of rapidly worsening muscle weakness and fatigue. She couldn’t pick up a cell phone, brush her teeth, or get out of bed unassisted. She went to see her doctor, and within a week, had a diagnosis: dermatomyositis. As Melissa puts it, this rare autoimmune disease causes her immune system to cannibalize her muscles and leads to profound muscle weakness. After being diagnosed, she was determined to be as positive as possible, but it was a long road to remission. On today’s episode, Melissa and I talk about the challenges she’s faced, why she went silent on social media for a period of time, and how she prioritizes her own ongoing health needs while also being a mom to her newborn. That last one, in particular, can be hard, but Melissa is no stranger to reorganizing and rebuilding her life around her health.
Here are some of the things Melissa and I chatted about:
How she introduces herself now that managing her illness is such a big part of her life
The moment, when she couldn’t brush her teeth, that she realized something was wrong
Spending six months experimenting with treatments, and why they were some of the hardest months of her life
Learning to ask for help from friends and family, and why that process is trickier than it sounds
How the spoon theory, or as she puts it, “coins in a piggy bank,” plays into her day-to-day life
The treatment that caused her to gain ten pounds per week over five weeks, and how that affected her sense of self
Going silent on social media before making the conscious decision to share her experience
Going into remission from her illness, and the signs that her health was gradually improving
How she had to drastically adjust her exercise regimen, and why that was so challenging
Why prioritizing what she does in a day is critical, and she has to make hard decisions
Feeling great during her pregnancy, and then feeling terrible for the first weeks postpartum
The profound difficulty of realizing that she couldn’t raise her child the way she expected to
Her support system: her husband, nanny, family, friends, and physician, Dr. Mark Horowitz
Acknowledging that taking care of her health and relying on help from others shows strength
Follow Melissa on Instagram
Support for this episode comes from Ouchie. Ouchie is a free app for iOS and Android that provides solutions for chronic pain management. It uses evidence-backed tools like cognitive behavioral therapy, pain tracking, community support, access to resources, and integration with clinicians to help people feel better, faster.