Sunday, March 29, 2020

Behind Blounts: COVID-19 Anxiety

Grocery shelves are empty, states going on shut downs, schools are closed, and that appointment or surgery that was scheduled for your rare disease kiddo was canceled. Who would ever imagine 2020 would lead to a global pandemic? This situation can affect our mental health and create heightened anxiety for many. Although we are all feeling anxious right now, I believe this pandemic will change the world for the better as challenging situations encourage others to evolve and grow into better people.

 During this crisis talk to people you trust . Think about reaching out to friends, family, or your community. The outbreak of the coronavirus may be stressful for some who already live with anxiety. We all watch the news wondering what will happen next. Try and make it a priority to stay in touch with friends and family. Don't be afraid to talk about the corona virus with your children. Social media is a powerful tool reminding us that we are not alone.

Anxiety can rise for those with Blount's disease. It can be frustrating not being able to follow up with your specialist during this time. We as a rare disease community need to come together to help be a positive influence during this anxious time. Helping others will make you feel better and support your own mental health.

I just want to remind you it is ok to feel whatever you are feeling. Some days will be harder than others, but make time to unwind and connect with others as we all face this pandemic together. Most of all stay strong....blount's disease strong.

Angela,
Admin of Blount's Disease Strong

Monday, February 10, 2020

Helping Siblings Cope with Blount's Disease Diagnosis

sibling hug
There can be a mix of emotions when it comes to a brother or sister being diagnosed with a rare condition. Coping with change can be a scary experience for siblings and worrying that their brother or sister has to have surgery and stay in the hospital. Some emotions they can experience include anger, fear, guilt, or jealousy. The diagnosis of a child can impact the entire family and when everyone can come together during the journey, it makes it easier to help with one another's emotional needs. 
When a child is diagnosed with a rare disease, sometimes the parents focus may be on the diagnosed child and they may sometimes forget the other siblings in the home. That is why communication is important so siblings feel their concerns are being heard and questions they have are being answered. We can't fix every feeling that may have, but we as parents can make it easier to meet the needs of siblings. 
During diagnosis, treatment and recovery, we should understand what behaviors to expect from siblings. Siblings should be encouraged to talk about their feelings even if it is not positive. Most of all, make time for undiagnosed siblings so they know they are still important. A rare disease can bring many changes and challenges. Doctors appointments, schedules, and surgeries can be exhausting for the entire family system, so never hesitate to ask for hep when needed. 

-Angie, Founder of Blount's Disease Strong

Sunday, December 29, 2019

A Message to My Daughter


My daughter wasn't born strong, she was made strong. Every strong girl has their breaking point. Someday things will make sense. I want my daughter to believe deep in her heart she is capable of achieving anything she puts her mind to. 



To My Daughter:                                                                                                                               

                       Stay strong and be brave princess. You may have scars on your legs from the countless surgeries you have had, but you wear those scars like a warrior. I don't want you to be ashamed of your scars. Each of those tell a story of the journey and emotions you have been through. The journey you have been through has shaped you into the beautiful person you are today. You may have Blount's Disease, but Blount's Disease does not have you. I want you to inspire and influence others to do the same. I want you to share you story and help educate others who face the same challenges as you. You have a voice and a story that can give hope to others fighting Blount's disease. I know sometimes that the pain takes over you and I want you to know that there is hope. Don't allow anybody or yourself tell you otherwise that you are not enough, because you are loved.  As a mom, I am not perfect. I make mistakes. In the end, no one could ever love you the way I do. I will fight for you, I will advocate for you. I will do whatever I have to do to make sure we make it through this journey together. This world is hard and it can be filled with dark and scary things. No matter how dark it gets, the sun will rise again. I am so blessed to get to love you and be your mom.You'd be surprised who's watching your journey and being inspired by it.....don't quit. 

Be brave, have courage, and love life. 
Love you to the moon and back, 
Mom. 
#blountsdiseasestrong 

Saturday, November 30, 2019

May your Holidays be filled with Hope



Families that are affected by a rare disease face many challenges and hope for better research, more answers, and cures for the conditions they face. The holidays can be a tough time for families in the rare community. There are many families who deal with stress on an everyday basis and it can be hard to partake in the holiday cheer during the season. Some families face medical expenses through the year that make it financially hard to be able to afford gifts for their children. Some families are spending the holiday's in the hospital with their child. Some children are unable to participate in  holiday activities because they are recovering form surgery. When most families are gathering to share holiday meals and exchange presents, there are other families who are facing the unthinkable. 

 In effort to bring hope and light to the families affected by Blounts disease, I am here to remind you that you are not alone. Holidays should be a magical time for families and although we may be facing struggles and challenges, our community is stronger than ever. Take time to enjoy something about the season and most of all take time for yourself. Self care can seem like it takes too much time, but we must try to stay mentally healthy especially during the holidays when it can take up our emotional energy. Enjoy the holidays for what they are; a time to enjoy with your family. Whenever we begin to feel as if we can no longer go on, hope whispers in our ear to remind us that we are strong.. Blount's disease strong.

May your holidays be filled with hope. 

Angela U.,
 Admin, Blount's Disease Strong

Saturday, May 11, 2019

May is Mental Health Awareness Month!

         Mental illness is just as real as any physical illness. Many individuals are not comfortable talking about their mental health due to fear of being judged. Mental health can have an impact on individuals and when it is overlooked this then creates problems not only on the individual, but the community as well. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), one in five individuals suffer from mental health issues. Children and adolescents who struggle with mental health face challenges at home and at school which has lead to committing suicide. The problem isn’t with just children and teens. Mental health also affects adults. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Every 40 seconds someone has taken their life due to suicide. We need to be able to see the person and not the illness. The stigma for mental health needs to end. Not everyone is expected to be mental health experts, but it is important the awareness is there. Common challenges with mental health include anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse.  We recently almost lost our daughter due to attempted suicide. It is known that sharing your story can help others to recognize and acknowledge when they are struggling. My daughter wants others to be encouraged to not be afraid to ask for help; and to reduce the stigma about talking openly about one’s struggles with mental health. Many people who suffer with some of these disorders feel alone and they will then isolate themselves from others. In hopes to bring awareness and promote acceptance, here is my daughters story about her struggles with mental health:

It took my daughter a long time to not be afraid to open up. My daughter felt she wasn’t good enough and was constantly made fun of for the way she walks due to her disease. She was also made fun of for her weight and her looks. At first she ignored the bullying then it got to a point where she couldn’t take it anymore and started cutting. She would cry herself to sleep everyday and was having suicidal thoughts. A part of her brain made her feel like she no longer needed to be a part of the world because she was tired of the constant bullying. She was taken to a very dark place where she felt like the world was crashing down on her. She was taken to a low point where all the cutting wasn’t enough and swallowing a bottle of pills or drinking bleach was the easiest way to disappear. She didn’t want anything negative about her to be seen as being weak and that’s the problem with the world...... It’s not weak to ask for help. She was eventually hospitalized at a children’s psych hospital where she received treatment and we received education on how to maintain a safety plan and the signs to look out for. My daughter no longer wants to hide her anxiety and depression. By removing her mask, she hopes to help others better understand what it’s like to live with a mental illness and for others to please open up and seek help if they are suffering. Going to therapy at first was uncomfortable for her and it might take someone a few times before they find someone with whom they are comfortable with and feel confident to share the things going on. 


Talking about it is an important first step. How can we help others struggling with mental health? May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but mental health is everyday. This also affects many in the rare disease and chronic disease community. Reach out to your friends and family and ask how they are doing. Message that friend you have fallen out of contact with because you never know what struggles someone may be going through. Educate yourself and your children about mental health and suicide; because bullying is never ok. Most of all, be supportive and never judge. We hope that this blog will encourage others to ask for help and recognize the importance of mental health. 

-Angie, 
Admin of Blount’s Disease Strong

“There is no need to suffer silently and there is no shame in seeking help.”- Catherine Zeta Jones. 







Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Connecting with other Parents

         

               Everyone has a story. With that story comes a story worth telling. A story that can help a person during the most difficult moments in their lives. A story that can bring awareness and make others feel like they are not alone. Stories can help make a difference in the world. Parents of children with a rare condition often feel alone, judged, and frustrated until they meet other parents sharing a similar journey. The beginning of a new diagnosis can be a scary time for the family and your diagnosed child. You feel like enough questions aren't answered and you wish you can do anything to take the pain away. Connecting with other parents and families who are experiencing the same diagnosis can help make the journey a little less scary. Being able to talk to others with whom you can relate can help with the emotional challenges a rare disease can bring. Being part of a support group or online community can help connect you with other families who may live close or near the same area as you. A support group can help you learn about information you weren't aware of, feel more in control of the situation, and be inspired to wanting to raise more awareness.

             The internet is such a useful tool to connect with other families and receive encouragement. Sharing your personal experiences takes courage and also helps you become and advocate for your child. Blount's Disease is an ongoing experience for patients and families. A social connection can help improve our psychological well being. Having a place to come together can create a foundation for effective interactions. Blount disease is listed as a "rare disease" by the Office of Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This means that Blount disease, or a subtype of Blount disease, affects less than 200,000 people in the US population. 

             You don't have to face this journey alone. You never know who you will connect with. Feeling less lonely, less isolated, and not being judged is a huge benefit of support groups. The best part is you can read about other experiences from the comfort of your own home in your pajamas! Happy connecting! 

-Angela U., Admin of Blount's Disease Strong 


If you or someone you know was recently diagnosed with Blount's Disease feel free to join our closed support group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1633747536929800/

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Parents: It's ok to NOT be ok



There are situations in our life that we will not understand and not everything will have an answer. Take Blount's Disease for example. For those who have kiddos newly diagnosed with this rare condition you don't know how to react. You aren't getting the answers you need from Doctor's, you may feel alone, overwhelmed, and at some point blame yourself on your child having this condition. You try and keep a smile on your face and be the strong one of the household because at the end of the day you know your child depends on you. Sometimes its easier to hold on to things rather than open up and deal with or talk about. As a rare disease parent, I am here to tell you it is ok not to be ok.

 Remember it's ok to not understand. Blounts Disease lacks in research and currently has no supporting organization for this diagnosis. Don't spend countless hours googling this condition as I was that parent 10 years ago when my girl was diagnosed; and in all honestly it just made me more overwhelmed to see all the research I came across was similar information or old research. Remember its ok to get frustrated. Its ok not to know all the answers. Google is not a Doctor and this type of behavior can affect your mental health. Parenting is not easy and especially when your life is changed due to a diagnosis. It takes a lot to be a rare disease parent and not everyone is made to understand your journey. Remember it is ok to get stressed. Stress is one of those things that happens to anyone no matter what. There is no running away from stress. At some point in a persons life they will experience the emotion of feeling stressed. While it is ok to have these feelings, don't allow stress to become who you are as a person. Learn to take time for yourself and space to center yourself before dealing with the next crazy moment that may happen in your life. Learn to breathe and take however many moments you need. Lastly, remember it is ok to cry. There is nothing wrong with crying! Crying does not make you weak as a person. Crying means you are strong. Crying is believed to help release stress hormones or toxins from the body. 

Do whatever it is you need to do for you. Everyone may have problems in life, but it is important to know you are not alone. Sharing your feelings can bring a sense of relief. The journey of being a rare disease parent is filled with ups and downs. Not being ok is building you to be a stronger person and not everyone will experience the same feelings you may be experiencing and that is ok. Through the events in our lives good or bad, you own everything about yourself; your voice, your feelings, your actions. Its ok to not be ok. 
"There’s no shame in feeling like the world is falling around you, and there’s definitely no shame in asking for help."





-Angela U., Blount's Disease Strong


P.S. It is ok to ask for help or to reach out to vent.  We are all in this together!