Monday, September 30, 2013

Lovin' this Fall Weather

Evan LOVES to be outside so this time of year is perfect for him. We have been out and about on walks, hikes and car ride adventures. My sister and brother in-law bought Evan a cute little ride for his birthday. This thing has been a huge hit since June and when we want to take an adventure outside we usually bring the car along.

I do not offer to let Evan "walk" until the hike is coming to a close. Once this kid gets on his feet there is no turning back no matter how tired or lack of effort he puts in. He will absolutely refuse to be held and throws a fit if you try because he wants to be on his feet. It's a strain on your back as Evan needs a some support in his trunk and for balance. He has yet to stand on his two feet completely on his own. Hikes are a lot easier when there are two adults around so we can switch off to help Evan walk.

Here are a few shots of us  out and about in beautiful Northwest Connecticut. 

How could I not include this one! The whole crew posing for a shot!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Helping Others in Need

Ichthyosis is tough. Though I will never know how "tough" it actually is, I just have to witness it. I can't imagine what it would be like to live with but if I could trade places with Evan, I would in a second. Yet with all things considering we have been incredibly fortunate. Evan was born in one of the best hospitals in the country with Ichthyosis experts there waiting for his arrival. We have an incredibly supportive family that would do anything to help us. Our friends have been at our side and our community has welcomed us with open arms including us in a number of charitable events. My husband works hard to provide for us and is able to give me the opportunity to stay home and care for Evan. We have a good life. It makes having or caring for Ichthyosis a bit less stressful.

Some others are not as fortunate and hold a lot more burden than we do. Some are born in different countries with medical professionals who are uneducated about the condition unable to provide up to date treatments. Some individuals are rejected from society and thought of as a person who could be harmful to others. It is unfortunate these circumstances exist but it is reality. At least there is something we can do about it.

For one, educating others about Ichthyosis is incredibly important. A major reason why I support FIRST is because they can provide others with the accurate information about Ichthyosis and its current research and treatments, thanks to medical experts. Allowing medical experts to share this information with others in the field will lead to more accurate diagnoses and treatments for survival. Educating the public is just as important. It allows an opportunity of acceptance without judging. As Ichthyosis is a very physical condition many are scrutinized by their appearance. That is why raising awareness is so important.

Carly, a good friend of mine, is the author of Tune into Radio Carly. She writes about her life personally and professionally while living with the Netherton's Syndrome form of Ichthyosis. She is a motivational speaker and appearance activist. She seems to always be taking time to help others (including a month long series of shared stories during Ichthyosis Awareness Month).

One story in particular stood out. A woman with Ichthyosis who lives in India. Tina's story is very moving and really reminds me of how fortunate my family is. Here are some of Tina's words from Carly's Blog :

"At the age of 5 all children started to go to school but I could not as the schools never wanted to give admission to a child who was terrible to look at, I don’t remember anyone carry me as a child, or speak kindly. I did not have friends as the mothers used to tell their children to keep away from my as I had a terrible disease and they would get affected. I had lots of problems as the skin used to scale all over from scalp on to my shoulders and arms and I had to hear those unsightly remarks My only friends were the stray cats and dogs and pigeon that I rescued when they were injured. I took solace in these animals, and as I grew up books and music and church was my entertainment. I used to dread going out because of the stares and the rude remarks. I was always and still considered an outcast by some. There are people who will not touch anything that I touch. They will not eat when I offer and will not like to offer food to me. Parents do not like me to hold their babies. In fact many used to say I have leprosy. I have friends a few now who are very supportive." 

She's been through a lot and continues to do so on a daily basis. Please take some time to read her story HERE. Fortunately, Carly has decided to make a move to help a friend in need. She set up a My Cause Page  to help gather donations to buy medical equipment and necessities to help Tina at a time in need. Please consider making a donation or passing along this story to help a woman who deserves it. We have been so fortunate to receive so much help from others including strangers that I'd like to return the favor. My donation has been made.  Kind deeds do not go unseen!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Picking Up and Moving On

What a perfect post to follow my previous, Staying Positive...

So a few days ago, Evan and I took a trip to Target. It was in the evening and the weather was changing into a warm spell. I have a handicap pass for him so it is easier to get into the store, especially on hot days. This day I did not use it as I tend to look for a close spot first and found one. I still don't feel completely comfortable parking in the handicap spot and really only use it on those dangerously hot days.

As I was getting Evan out of the car a mother and daughter walked by, leaving the store. I could see that the mother started to stare and continued to do so as she walked by us. I smiled as usual and as we walked away towards the store I heard her mutter, "Ever hear of sunblock?" Quite surprised I whipped my head and instinctually responded with a "Hah" and sarcastic smile. The kind of "hah" that I can hear my Grandfather say when someone said something "smart" (that would be you Rob!). But by the time I looked back I only had a microsecond to make eye contact with her before she walked behind a car. I would have liked to nicely put her in her place by educating her but I was not about to turn around and chase her down. I was just surprised that she reacted that way in front of her child. That kind of example only leads to one thing.

Luckily I was in a good mood. Even if I was in a bad mood I wouldn't let it bring me down. I might have said something snarky but wouldn't let it ruin my day. But I pick up and move on because like I said in my last post, "There is only so much you can do and so many people you can educate. From there you just need to live your life". There is no point in dwelling on it. There is no need to get upset over it. This is the kind of example I must set for Evan since ignorant people like that have no place in your life. They cannot control the way you feel. Unfortunately there will be bad days and that's just how it is. Everyone has a bad day here and there, yet another part of life. But life is short. Life is precious. So we will live our lives happy with the people we love and love to be around.

I feel like I am coming out of my shell too. I wouldn't hide Evan in public but I would try not to let people look at him, especially in the beginning. I would always look for the people who were looking. But as Evan has gotten older I have become more comfortable in public. Now I care less about the looks, stares or questions and just smile, educate and live my life. Evan is a social butterfly anyways, is constantly gabbing or being silly so most encounters are quite pleasant. We can't worry about what the world thinks.
It feels good to be happy.

 "Brush off the dust and pick up your head. Walk tall."

Happy boy- First day of school!


Friday, September 6, 2013

Staying Positive

My life is intense. It only became this way since Evan was born. In one of my very first posts, I wrote, "I have had a pretty easy going life.." and although I still consider true, it is also intense. But it's an intensity I won't really let set in. There is no time to let intensity take over and disrupt my purpose, my mission. I'm lucky I can push it aside to live. I appreciate that because with everything that has been thrown onto my plate, I still have it pretty good. I think about other parents who have a child with special needs which are much more severe, rare or life threatening and then think to myself "wow, we are so lucky." I have a great deal of empathy for these parents and can't imagine some of the things they may be going through.

When I think of Evan's life in the future I wonder, "Will he fit in?", "Will he have friends?" "Will he ever walk, sit or talk?" And then I stop myself because I know he will. I know he will be OK. I know we will teach him to be a strong independent person. His personality is happy and outgoing already so we will have no problems there. But will he walk when he is 4? or 5? or 6?  Who knows and I'm starting to care less because I know he will. Some parents don't even get to think of these types of things because other serious issues are going on that they have to worry about. That is why I appreciate everyday. As bad or as tough as it may seem, someone has it worse, unfortunately.  

I like to live and lead a positive lifestyle. Being sad, overwhelmed or frustrated has no benefits. Of course these moments occur but they are brief and I do not let them break me. How could I not appreciate this life. We live in a beautiful home in an amazing community.  We were blessed with an amazing family and group of friends. I am fortunate that I can stay home with my boy thanks to my hard working husband. We have a friendly rambunctious dog that is very gentle with Evan (and even the cat too). We are very lucky. We are lucky that Evan is with us and that our life is pretty much normal. At least I think so.

I know I am on a mission to raise awareness so that Evan's life will be easier when he gets older but there honestly is only so much you can do and so many people you can educate. From there you just need to live your life. As Evan gets older we will teach him how to politely respond to questions or looks, starting by displaying these actions before he can voice it himself. He will learn how to deal with these situations but at the same time I don't want him to ever think that he owes anyone an explanation. I want him to know that he is just like everybody else. I do not want him to go out in the world always on guard thinking he's "different". And as much as it is important to teach him this, it is also important to teach him to be positive and appreciate everyday. Appreciating the major things like family, friends or a safe and comfortable home is just as important as the little things like a walk on a fall afternoon, a warm cooked meal or snuggling with mom and dad on Saturday mornings. It all makes for a happy life. Happiness is key.

Carly , author of Tune into Radio Carly, wrote a great post sending a message that "It gets Better" When I asked her if she had any advice for Evan when he got older this is what she said. (I intended on posting this during Ichthyosis Awareness Month as a part of "tips" and time got the best of us!)

- Try not to compare yourself with others (or parents, don't compare your kids with other kids). Your progress is your own. You may look different but you're perfectly you. 

- Have a good relationship with your doctor. Hopefully you'll be seeing a dermatologist. If you're not, ask your general practitioner to refer you to one immediately. See them regularly. Listen to their advice, but also let them know you want a say in your treatment. You'll know what feels best for you. As you grow up, you'll get to know your skin pretty well.  

 - Try to stretch yourself as you mature. Get out there and have a go - play sports (though this is my least favorite thing!), join a group like cubs or girl guides, sing in a band. You'll make heaps of friends and learn new skills. The best thing I did was get a part time job in a department store age 17. Working in a public role helped me become more confident, and it also forced me to answer questions about my skin in a calmer and more professional way. I made life long friends at this job. I wished I'd started working earlier.

- Find a support group. Your local hospital may run one. You may find one online. You need not even talk about your Ichthyosis - you may want to just talk about your interests. Remember though, everyone's experiences are different and what works for your friend in the support group may not work for you - check with your doctor before trying something new. And don't let others' issues with their illness bring you down. Surround yourself with positive people. 

Seeing what a normal, happy life Carly leads makes worry less about Evan's future. She is happy and successful and though, of course, has had her "bad days" due to skin, it's a part of her life and she picks up and moves on. She sends a great message and I am glad to know there are so many positive people to influence Evan's life. Happy is a great way to live.

Happy boy waiting for the bus on the first day of school