News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 04/20/19

Angela Braun 

(715) 370-1736

2nd Annual Meagan’s HOPE Memorial Walk and Roll

Ehlers Danlos syndromes Awareness & Suicide Prevention

Wausau, WI: On Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 1 PM EDS Wisconsin, Inc. and the Braun Family are hosting the Second Annual Meagan’s HOPE Memorial Walk and Roll for Ehlers Danlos syndromes Awareness & Suicide Prevention at Weston’s Kennedy Park. In its first year 186 people came to this event from across the country. The family hopes to double that number this year. The public and media are encouraged to attend. Prior to the walk, speeches will be done by Tammy Kosbab of EDS Wisconsin, Dr. Linda S. Bluestein, M.D. of Wisconsin Integrative Pain Specialists, Licensed Professional Counselor Trena Loomans of The Caring Tree Children’s Counseling Center, and others. A special announcement will be made prior to the one mile walk and roll.

Ehlers Danlos syndromes (EDS) are a group of heritable connective tissue disorders that impact individuals of all ages & genders. Frequently misdiagnosed as Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or various psychosomatic illnesses, EDS affects nearly every body system since connective tissue is what holds the body together like glue. Many of those who have EDS experience daily pain, excessive fatigue, increased bleeding, and they have overly flexible joints which can lead to joint dislocations, as well as many other seemingly unrelated symptoms. Support and resources for medical professionals and patients affected by EDS remains limited. Sadly, EDS frequently goes undiagnosed for many years causing patients and medical professionals unnecessary suffering. Diagnosis is validating and empowering for patients, their loved ones and medical professionals! Early diagnosis enables proper treatment strategies, fewer unnecessary medical visits, and prevents injury.

Born December 12, 1987, Meagan Rae Braun was a kind, caring, loving individual with a most beautiful, gentle soul. She grew up in Medford, WI and then resided in Weston. Meagan was an outstanding mother of two young children who truly enjoyed helping others while continually seeking knowledge, truth, peace and harmony. Even so, behind her beautiful smile, Meagan suffered with multisystemic illnesses including EDS, hyperadrenergic Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (hyperPOTS), allergies, sensitivities, and more. Frustrated with limited treatment options for her health, in addition to battling postpartum depression, Meagan lost all hope resulting in her death from suicide on April 24th, 2017. This annual event is held in honor of Meagan’s gracious spirit.

The mission of the not-for-profit organization EDS Wisconsin is to provide support and resources to Wisconsin patients and medical professionals about Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes and related conditions via education and research. Together with the Braun Family, this Walk is an opportunity to increase awareness, support, resources, and education for those affected by EDS and to prevent suicide. There will be t-shirts, lanyards, balloons and rock painting for participants.

This event is proudly supported and sponsored by Wisconsin Integrative Pain Specialists, The Caring Tree Children’s Counseling Center, Gray Law Firm, Chrysalis Massage & Consulting, Burkhardt Physical Therapy Center, Natalie Helen Photography, Black River Hemp Company, Evolve Counseling, Sport & Spine Physical Therapy, Tools of Marketing, and Mariah Liisa Design. We are fiscally sponsored by EDS Awareness aka Chronic Pain Partners.

Please join us at Weston’s Kennedy Park on Saturday, May 4, 2018. Registration begins at 11:30 am. Donations can be mailed to EDS Wisconsin, Inc. PO Box 485, Sun Prairie, WI 53590.

Sincerely, The Braun Family

 

 

THANK YOU TO THESE GENEROUS SPONSORS FOR BRINGING AWARENESS AND HOPE TO OUR COMMUNITY!

Thank you for supporting EDS Wisconsin in whatever way you can–and there are many. Your support through monetary contributions, event attendance, social media presence, supporting patients through mentorship and listening, following our blog, and even just by having an awareness of our experience with EDS has allowed EDS Wisconsin to make an impact in 2018.

We wanted to let you know what EDS Wisconsin achieved as a result of YOUR generous contributions and unwavering support.

Of all the events that took place in 2018, we were most thrilled to hold the First Annual Meagan’s HOPE Memorial Walk for Suicide Prevention and EDS Awareness. This event had 186 participants and for an event in its first year, we could not believe we were so blessed to have this many people in attendance.

One of the most important tools and major hurdles for EDS patients is genetic testing. In 2018, we developed a relationship with Director Christina Zaleski and Dr. Juan Dong at PreventionGenetics. We were able to tour their state-of-the -art facility, and work with them to help make their new 45-gene panel available to more patients! Afterwards, we had the tools  to help patients get the testing they need.

We hosted over FORTY support groups for patients with EDS and related conditions throughout Wisconsin – in Wausau, Milwaukee, Madison, LaCrosse, and Appleton/Green Bay. These groups and the support they provide continue to grow and help individuals in need. EDS Wisconsin also provides online support group meetings for those who live outside these areas or struggle to leave their homes. We have also connected kids and teens by having TWO support groups for them, something we are thankful we will be able to continue thanks to the ongoing support and financial contributions of our volunteers, sponsors and donors! These support groups are so important as the  feedback we received showed an overwhelming majority felt they had ZERO support prior to attending our support group meetings. 

EDS Wisconsin  strives to provide education that address the specific needs of our community. Since our inception, we have hosted and/or participated in :

  • 5 Tips for Managing Persistent Pain with Dr Linda S Bluestein, MD
  • Managing Your Pain with Dr Linda S. Bluestein, MD
  • Conquering Appointment Anxiety for Medically Complex Patients
  • Frequently Asked Questions on Genetic Testing with PreventionGenetics
  • Trivia Challenge 2018
  • Assisted the Chicago Support Group with educating medical students at the University of Illinois – Chicago
  • “My Personal Experience with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome” (available on YouTube)
  • How to Make a Medical Binder with Backpack Health
  • How to Make May EDS Awareness Month (available on YouTube).

Both Meagan’s Walk and the 2019 Trivia Challenge are right around the corner. These incredible fundraising events Strengthen Connections within our community, while providing the valuable financial resources and support we need to keep this organization on track to achieve its vision of a better Wisconsin, where EDS and related conditions are better understood, treated, and supported!

Your contributions have made it possible for us to provide support group print materials and supplies, support group leader training, supplemental grants for 2 children and 3 adults to attend conferences related to pain and EDS, have provided food to a family where both parents had surgery within a week of each other – the second one was due to an accident. We helped one patient pay for medication when it would have otherwise been impossible, improving quality of life for a member of our EDS family.

Looking forward, we are developing a support group leader training and education program because we believe it is so important to have quality, support groups in as many areas as possible, and that our support group leaders also need to receive the support they need.

We have begun working on a program to provide education about EDS and related conditions to medical professionals. This program will be piloted in the Fox Valley area in honor of our fallen member Lisa Klatkiewicz. Find out more about this initiative at Meagan’s Walk 2019

We will continue to regularly feature blog posts by Stephanie Vander Pas who shares not only about EDS itself, but about her experiences and events that connect us all. Stephanie’s candid writing provides readers with an insight into what it is like to be living with EDS, at the same time her words build strong, human connections, even with those who do not have EDS. Thank you Stephanie for sharing our thoughts and feelings, and for being our voice.

We are so excited to be working with over 70 amazing, dedicated, passionate and motivated volunteers who take valuable time out of their lives to help progress the mission and vision of EDS Wisconsin! When you see or talk to one of our volunteers, make sure you tell them thank you. Many of our volunteers also live with EDS which makes volunteering especially challenging sometimes. As a result, EDS Wisconsin is implementing a Buddy System to ensure that our Volunteers get the support that they need.

We have an incredible amount of gratitude to the medical professionals who have learned about EDS themselves and are educating both patients and peers as we move toward a future with improved quality of life for EDS patients--or maybe even a cure. These medical professionals are incredible and we are so thankful to know and work with them.

The mission of EDS Wisconsin is to provide support, resources and education to both patients AND medical providers. Our generous supporters and volunteers make all of this possible. We firmly believe our work will continue to make all goals achievable and contribute to the overall improvement of living with EDS and related conditions in Wisconsin.

From the very bottom of our hearts, thank you for your support of all we do as we work to improve peoples lives daily.

Tammy, Stephanie, & The Entire EDS Wisconsin Team

It’s funny whenever I find myself taking a break from writing, it’s usually because I’m doing the same thing to blog readers as I do to those in my own life–pretending everything is going so well I don’t have anything to say. If any of you know me in real life, the idea of me having nothing to say is, in itself, hilarious. Yet, here I sit, at my desk, in my wheelchair, a dog on my lap, a TENS machine at its highest power attached to my back and I’m still not really sure how to write this blog post.

Essex likes to be cozy

In the world of chronic illness and chronic pain, we all learn to tell healthy and able-bodied people we’re doing “fine” pretty much all the time. We do this for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to:

  • Our medical conditions are complicated and explaining what is going on would take longer than anyone wants to spend on hearing how we’re doing
  • People generally don’t want to hear when things are getting worse
  • Pity isn’t something we thrive on and we know at some point, it runs out
  • Many people just simply aren’t sure how to react to hearing how we’re doing

I’ve been telling even myself I’m “fine” for the better part of the last several months, even as I fought off a severe infection that required multiple emergency room visits in which physicians did not understand my condition and in which I was time and time again not given the necessary antibiotics to fight the infection. I woke up one morning with a fever of 104 degrees, feeling like I was naked on an iceberg, and shaking so hard I couldn’t even type out a message on my phone. That day was our second trip to the emergency room. Even then, I didn’t get IV antibiotics.

I didn’t get them until the doctor who generally treats the pain caused by my EDS saw me for a regular appointment and realized how incredibly sick I still was even after 9 days on antibiotics. I was tachycardic. I had a fever. My kidneys were so infected the pain in my back was far more severe than even on a normal day. As he looked me over, he called the emergency room down the street and instructed them on my condition, telling them exactly how serious this was.

He also looked at all the blood work from all my previous ER trips…and then from all my trips to all the doctors over the last six years, which is when he noticed a commonality. I had alarmingly low levels of a necessary enzyme in my blood consistently for six years. These levels had been flagged in my blood work every time it had been drawn for all these years and are indicative of a condition found in 1 in 100,000-300,000 people. It is a metabolic bone disorder that cause almost all of the things he and I had been trying to figure out for years. You see, I have incredibly curved long bones in my legs. I developed scoliosis in adulthood. I lost my baby teeth before preschool. My pain responds to almost nothing. These are all MAJOR indicators of Hypophosphotasia, marked by these clinical symptoms, and below normal levels of alkaline phosphotase in the blood. He was the first doctor to notice this. Normally, in his words, because it is even less known than EDS, they look only for extremely high levels of ALP, a marker for kidney failure.

He immediately consulted genetics as I was sent to the emergency room for treatment for the infection, which is now finally gone. I received a message the following Sunday night from him (seriously, he is THAT dedicated a physician) letting me know genetics agreed with him that it is extremely likely I have this condition and would be contacting me. Genetics says it is either this condition or another metabolic bone disorder, but by some stroke of luck, a company offers free testing for this condition, so currently, my spit is at a lab after my husband mailed it for me, because I was just too anxious.

How have I handled all of this? Well, I stopped using my mobility aids and have been acting like I’m a completely healthy and able-bodied person through incredible amounts of pain. I have tried to convince myself it’s not possible I have another condition doctors missed for years, especially one that was IN MY BLOODWORK by acting healthy and “fine.” That caught up to me today, in the middle of a grocery store aisle when I dropped something on the ground and realized I couldn’t bend far enough to pick it up. By the time I got home, I could barely leave the couch and had to use my wheelchair the rest of the day, mostly through tears and anger.

I’ve resolved to accept my reality no matter what it is. In fact, it could be good news to know exactly what is going on with my body and why I have had these struggles that do not necessarily line up specifically with EDS. I’ve also resolved to stop saying I’m fine when I’m not. I’ve resolved to stop trying to convince myself I’m fine when I’m not.

It’s a REALLY good idea to work on your mindset. You can work towards a positive attitude. You cannot trick your body in to having different DNA than it does. Sometimes, like I have written before, accepting your limits is okay. Sometimes, when someone asks how you are doing, it’s okay to say, “I’m in a lot of pain today, but my husband and I had a great dinner date last night” or “Thank you so much for asking; I’ve been having a really hard time with my health lately and I need someone to talk to.”

So, I’m not fine, but by accepting that, I think I will be much sooner.

Together we are stronger!