Tuesday, September 16, 2014

though Dystonia is not the Diagnosis, awareness is SO important

So I have been extremely quiet on here lately as there have been some major developments with my dads condition along with me having had a sweet baby boy. We were blessed to welcome Timothy Stephens Sharp to our family on July 14th and have been adjusting to life with two boys. Also, school has started around here and with that comes all the activities from choir to soccer, not to mention school itself. Things have been quite nutty and learning to balance it all has been quite an adjustment but one that has been rewarding and fun all the same while.

Now, I'm sure you are wondering about the title of this blog and what on earth it means. Lately, my dad has sought a second opinion on his Dystonia and was starting the process of DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) surgery and had changed doctors and was seeing Dr. Mahlon Delong of Emory University. Dr. Delong is the Scientific Director for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation and along with many accolades, comes highly recommended and is quite qualified to treat any and all forms of Dystonia. He is a wonderful person with a kind heart and one that seeks to hear his patients all while making the best diagnosis he could. All of this to say, my dad has been seeing Dr. Delong for almost a year now on a consistent basis and Dr. Delong filmed my dad and went through all of the diagnostic tools needed to qualify dad for the DBS. He took dad's case and films before the board that cofirms these cases and gives the 'go ahead' for surgery and there wasn't a consensus on dad's case that it could be Dystonia. Some of the people on the board questioned another disorder and wanted a simple blood test along with another clinical test run to rule out 'one last thing' before they gave the green light for the DBS surgery. Well, after a few very anxious weeks of waiting on test results, the test came back that dad does NOT, in fact, have Dystonia, as we have believed for the last 7 years. He has was is called Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS). According to HopkinsMedicine.org, "Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS) is a rare disease of the nervous system. Progressively severe muscle stiffness typically develops in the spine and lower extremities; often beginning very subtly during a period of emotional stress. Most patients experience painful episodic muscle spasms that are triggered by sudden stimuli." This diagnosis caught us so incredibly off guard. We have settled amongst ourselves the diagnosis of Dystonia and have poured ourselves into the lives of a Dystonic world. We have educated ourselves and others on this terrible disorder and have dedicated extreme amounts of time and energy into raising funds and awareness for research on this disorder. 

All of this has NOT been in vain! Had we not taken the series of steps over the last 7 years to end us up where we were, we would still not have the correct diagnosis. Also, had we not taken these steps, our lives would be less fulfilled because we would lack the friendships and relationships with some of the most incredible people and some of the bravest people we have ever met. We are grateful to still say that we will PROUDLY still advocate for all of our Dystonia friends each and every day. Tony is still excitedly running in the New York Marathon in honor of each and every person affected by Dystonia, I plan on still participating in Dystonia Advocacy Day on Capital Hill next year, and we feel even stronger about the needed awareness and education for Dystonia. It is commonly heard by Dystonia patients about how many years and how many wrong diagnoses they received before they received the correct diagnosis of Dystonia and how people need to know what it is more so that it can be better diagnosed. We are, now, personally aware of the need for knowledge and better diagnostic abilities and education on Dystonia so that Dystonia is so well known, that other disorders aren't misdiagnosed as being Dystonia. 

Please bear with us as we all adjust our course, but PLEASE don't forget to educate yourself and someone else each day about Dystonia. The fight is real, the lack of knowledge is immense, and the need for a cure and better understanding is great!

Please visit 
http://wh.gov/lh5aj and sign the petition to recognize September as Dystonia Awareness Month. Also, if you feel so led, please make a donation to the DMRF for Tony's marathon fund at www.dystonia-foundation.org/tonysharp. 

Bless you all and more to come soon!