Friday, March 8, 2013

Coming Up Soon!


Okay, so I want to dedicate this short post to the things that people can look forward to seeing up here on GwBD and to touch on a few other random things. :)

First of all, remember how I talked about those interview questions a while back? It was last year when I did the post about talking to people, specifically close friends, about your bleeding disorder. Well I found those old interviews and I'm planning on posting them up soon! These came from two of my very best friends, and I'm putting them up to give an example of how a chronic illness does not stand in the way of true friendship! Your friends are part of your support system. A huge part of it, actually. Open up and share if you haven't already, and fill them in on what's up. They'll be happy you felt comfortable enough to share, trust me. :)

Second, I'd like to announce that my co-author and partner here on GwBD, Megan, will be posting about some of her experiences very soon! The post should definitely be up by next week, so look forward to that. :) She's coming back from a Conference for people with bleeding disorders and I'm sure she'll have some great things to say, as usual!

Third, I'd just like to point out how many pageviews we have here on GwBD. *drumroll* 3,453! That's right! We, as a blog, have been visited over three thousand times! I cannot tell you all how happy this makes me. :) Not because it's "my" blog, and not because it's some kind of blogging popularity contest, but because we have possibly reached hundreds (maybe even thousands!) of people in the bleeding disorder community. :) There are girls who may have stumbled across this blog and found support and encouragement simply in the fact that they're not alone! This is the real reason I ask people to leave comments or email me. Because I want this blog to be a community, and that can't happen without participation. :)

Which, of course, brings me to my fourth and final point. ;) I would really, truly, deeply love it if some of you would volunteer to share your stories here on GwBD! I'd love to start a string of posts featuring different women (and hey, I wouldn't mind featuring a few boys as well!) who have tried and triumphed during their battle with VWD or another bleeding disorder. You're all the reason that this blog keeps going, and your respective stories are an inspiration to all of us!

If you are interested in sharing, email me at and we'll get the format and details worked out. :)

Thanks for reading! I hope you all have a GREAT weekend! Much love!

Jamie :)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

College, Blood Stuff and New Thoughts

Hello friends! It's hard to believe my last post was almost a year ago! I sincerely apologize for that. :( It turns out that the summer before you start your college experience was way more stressful than I imagined.

Despite the stress of that summer, however, I have officially made it to college! I'm living about 6 1/2 hours away from home in a huge city where I attend a small but fantastic University. :) This is my second semester, and as I sit here writing this post in our student center, I'm reminded of the fact that it's only been a few months despite the fact it feels like I've been here a lifetime.

This is a picture I took while
the nurse was drawing blood :)
But this isn't a Jamie's-personal-life-and-college-experience blog ;), so I'll get back to blood and all that jazz. :)

One really great thing about living in this city is that I'm actually about 20 minutes away from a treatment center! Back home, we had to drive at least 5 hours to get to the nearest HTC, and they were only pediatrics, so we knew I'd have to find some other place after I turned 18. So I came here.

My first appointment was in August, only a few days before move-in at my school. It went really well and I got a lot of questions answered, and it's just nice to know that they're right there in case of any emergencies. Or just in case I want to come in and have something checked out. I had some blood drawn and was completely finished within about 5 hours.

So far, being in college hasn't presented that many difficulties that are VWD related. I have some ice packs in my fridge, some heavy duty bandaids and gauze pads, two ace bandages and some Celox in my first aid kit. During my first semester I started running with my roommate and our other friend, but my knees really started to hurt and it got to the point where putting ice packs on them after a short run wasn't doing anything. This was probably one of the few times I've been really frustrated with the fact that my bleeding disorder has interfered with exercise. I'm not a sports person, I'm more of a sit-down-and-read-a-book-and-then-go-play-piano kinda gal, but running at our Wellness Center with my friends was something I was really starting to enjoy. It was annoying and embarrassing to run for about 10 minutes, feel the pain in my knees and then have to stop. So no more running for me. Honestly, the pain wasn't too unbearable, but what really scared me was the possibly of a joint bleed. I've never had a joint bleed before, but I've heard stories and seen pictures and I can't afford something like that when walking is my only form of transportation to all of my classes. I made a mental note to ask about running and joint health the next time I had a HTC appointment.

I have done Zumba a handful of times before, however, and that seems to be working out really well. It's fun exercise and I've never experienced any abnormal soreness or pain after an hour or so of doing it. I'll probably stick with that when I have some time to squeeze in an hour at the gym after classes. :)

My only other VWD-related mishap occurred a few weeks ago when I was in the shower. I cut my knee while I was shaving but it was so small that I didn't think anything of it. I rinsed it off in the shower and the cut was tiny. It looked more like I'd just picked a scab or something. Anyway, I'm focused on rinsing my hair and all that stuff when I look down and see an abnormally significant amount of blood running down my leg and into the shower drain. This made me think twice and I examined the cut again, only to conclude, once again, that it wasn't that big. Anyway, long story short: it didn't stop bleeding and I had to ask my roommate to bring me a bandaid because I was afraid of getting blood on the carpet of our dorm. (Side note: my roommate is a nursing major, so that's pretty spiffy. (: ) She brought in the bandaid and I managed to change into my pajamas when about 2 minutes later I notice that I've completely bled through the bandaid and blood is, again, running down my leg. So I pull out the gauze, fold it into a thick piece and then stick it onto the cut using a waterproof bandaid as medical tape substitute. No surprise, I bled through that pretty quickly as well. Turns out that it didn't stop bleeding until the next afternoon. The most annoying part of this was that I was constantly checking my jeans during and after class for blood stains and I had to change the gauze about every hour and a half. Honestly, I've never had a razor cut bleed that much. It freaked me out just a little bit, and I don't know if the location of the cut had anything to do with it or if my blood was just choosing to be more defective than usual. If any of y'all have had similar experiences, I'd love to know how you stopped the bleeding. :)

So those are my two "big" incidents. Not too bad at all. :) I'm hoping to get through all 3 years without any significant problems, but we'll see. :)

Being away from home and off at school has made me realize how truly independent we're all becoming. And I've realized that managing your chronic disorder is just another part of life. We're not that different from everyone else, because everyone has something that they have to learn to manage. For us, it's blood that doesn't clot, for other people it's an assortment of different problems and issues. But we get through them. We have to, because they shouldn't slow us down. Not even a little bit. :)

So, those are my "new" thoughts. Not sure how original they are, but it's my 2 cents worth. :)

Are any of you in college or about to graduate? I'd love to know how you handled your bleeding disorder through these years of living away from home! Any tips or suggestions? Or, for that matter, any warnings? Everything is useful and I know we could all benefit from each other's experiences and thoughts! :)

I hope you're all having a wonderful week and, for my fellow students, a wonderful semester! Leave your thoughts in the comment box below!

Much, much love,


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

World Hemophilia Day 2012!

Today, April 17th, is World Hemophilia Day! In this post well going to include pictures of people sporting RED in support of what WHD stands for and various topics written by Megan and I!

I'd like to start off this post by talking about getting involved. When you have a chronic condition, it's natural to seek out a support group or circle of friends who will understand. It's normal to want someone to talk to, bounce ideas off of and so on. And in this day and age of internet, Facebook and YouTube, you have many support groups and potential friends right at your fingertips! All it requires is a little effort and research. :)

For example, Megan and I met at an annual retreat for Women with Bleeding and Clotting Disorders in Texas. I was diagnosed when I was 9 and went to the retreat (or "camp" as we often call it!) only a few years later. While I was there, I met many girls who also had von Willebrand Disease and who shared their stories with me. I was also educated about my bleeding disorder and taught about medications, safe forms of exercise and 'girl issues' like menstrual cycles and how VWD would affect that. It was a great experience! And the older I got the more I appreciated all that I learned! I would highly encourage all of you (if you haven't done so already) to ask your Hematologist or HTC about camps or retreats like that in your area! Our retreat is for "region 6": Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana! It's a fantastic opportunity to talk to others dealing with the same issues and complications! I'm sure your HTC staff will be happy to help you find a camp/retreat! :)

Megan also wants to share about her recent visit to the NOW! Conference!:

This year, I was invited to attend the first NOW! Conference in Arizona. I however faced a difficult choice: I could go to NOW! or the WWBCD Retreat. I chose to attend the NOW! Conference because it was being hosted by the Arizona Hemophilia Association, who did a wonderful job by the way, so that meant it would be held in my hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. My mother and I attended and flew to Arizona not sure what to expect. Being that it was their first year, the association had done a poor job of communicating information beforehand. We arrived to a BEAUTIFUL resort with SEVERAL programs to attend, all related to VWD, given that it was a VWD retreat. This was the first time I had met a male with VWD. And mind you I met several, and quite frankly, the majority of them were rather attractive. Which was very disappointing given that bleeder's shouldn't mix romantically. However, it was great to see that it wasn't just girls that are affected by VWD. There were people of all ages, from ALL OVER the US (if I remember correctly, there were 26 different states represented), and the people there were not only people directly affected by VWD, but also their caretakers, so there were support groups for not only me but also for my mother. 
There were "workshops" on sexual education and dating, dentistry, effects on women, nutrition, genetic history, current studies, financial advising, and general information. There were many MANY others, but those were the ones I remember. We were given many breaks to enjoy the Arizona weather and the beautiful resort we were at and they provided a themed dinner and improv comedy night.
The conference was sponsored by many organizations and companies associated with VWD, most notably was CSL Behring, the pharmaceutical company that produces Humate-P as well as other VWD products. They had many representatives there to interact with the people with VWD and to take an interest in their cases and ask what they can do to make things better and easier for those affected with VWD. I have been in contact with one of the representatives and a few doctors she introduced me to. At the closing ceremony, a representative spoke about sponsoring another conference next year as long as the AHA (Arizona Hemophilia Association) was on board.
Overall, I'm glad I went. Though I missed my girls at the retreat, it was definitely a conference I was overjoyed to attend. I don't think there was anyone there, including doctors, that didn't learn something new. I would definitely recommend anyone and everyone affected by VWD to attend!

Also, Megan and I would love to share these links with you! They're all about ways to connect with the rest of the bleeding disorder community and offer support to each other and raise awareness! :)

1. Hemophilia Summer Camps (NHF)

2. Yoga Retreat for Women with Bleeding Disorders

3. Victory for Women with Bleeding Disorders


Friday, April 13, 2012

New Author: Megan! :D

Hi! My name is Megan and as a contributor to this blog, I found it important to share my story. I have attended the NOW! Conference in Phoenix, AZ and the Region 6 Women With Bleeding and Clotting Disorder's retreat, where I met Jamie, and have been able to identify with many of the women and girls there which has offered me great support! Hopefully, someone reading this will be able to identify with my story. Now, as a fair warning, I am an oversharer :)

I am a summer baby, born in Scottsdale, AZ and moved to Texas almost 3 years ago. I am a high school sophomore and am in our National Honor Society. I am in almost all advanced classes and my dream is to move to Seattle, WA and become a doctor. Did I mention I also have Von Willebrand's Disease Type 1?

I'd like to go under the assumption that most of you know what Von Willebrand's Disease is, but I realize that I wasn't very educated about it until recently and some of you reading this might not have VWD. VWD is a bleeding disorder with 3 types caused by a lack of the Von Willebrand Factor in your blood. The factor helps clot your blood and also carries factor 8 through your blood. In type 1, you simply don't have enough of it. In type 2, you also don't have enough of it, but there are several sub-types of type 2. I would try to further explain type 2, but it is highly complicated and given that I have type 1, I don't fully understand it. Type 3 is the most severe type of VWD, in this case, you do not have any of the Von Willebrand factor circulating through your blood. It is very rare to have type 3 because both of your parents must have VWD, of any type, in order for you to have type 3. And even if both of your parents have VWD, it doesn't mean you'll end up with type 3 or VWD at all!

Now, what does that all mean? Basically, it means that you bruise easily, take a long time to clot, are high risk for internal bleeding, and if you are a female, you will likely struggle with your menstrual cycle.

Growing up, there was never a time where my legs weren't covered in bruises, however, I was a very very clumsy child. In fact, I still am. Just yesterday I fell down the stairs at school and sprained my ankle. We never thought anything of the bruises though. My problems with VWD did not start until I was 11. I turned 11 in June and began my menstrual cycle at the end of July. Like most girls starting their periods, mine was very irregular but we were told that eventually it would regulate itself. However, by December, I was having a period every 2 weeks and it was lasting longer and longer. One day in December, I started hemorrhaging. I was sent to the ER by my school nurse. To be honest, this day is kind of a blur, but I do know that the ER doctors couldn't find a reason for my excessive bleeding and sent me to see an OB-GYN. A very scared 11 year old me became a very scared, traumatized 11 year old me when my doctor performed a pelvic exam.

Nothing was "wrong" with me, but my doctor knew that something was wrong. I got lucky, she had just returned from a conference about bleeding disorders and their effects on menstrual cycles, she sent me to get tested for a variety of bleeding disorders including VWD and when the test results came back, I was sent to Phoenix Children's Hematology.

The fact that I was diagnosed very quickly was extremely lucky. We now knew the source of my problems but still had to treat them. My doctors put my on birth control to try and regulate my periods. But, being the child I was, taking a pill every single day at the same time wasn't working. I was put on the BC Patch, but I had an allergic reaction, so it was back to the pills. Everything worked for a short time, but would eventually stop working. At one point, I was on 5 pills a day trying to stop my period that had lasted for 6 months straight.

I have been on a cocktail of birth control pills, patches, shots, hormones, Humate-P infusions, Stimate, and Lysteda. I was the first person in my clinic to be prescribed Lysteda(woo!). Nothing seemed to work longer than 6 months and my Hematologist worked closely with an OB-GYN as well as the Adolescent Clinic at the hospital. Because none of this was working, I did something stupid. And y'all, I do NOT condone this, I do NOT suggest this, nor do I want you to try this. In December, I stopped taking everything, even my vitamins. Magically, my period stopped on its own and I have gone 5 months without bleeding.


And that, is my brief medical history. Mind you many more things have come into play along the way, but that is my story. I really hope that you can identify with some part of my story or that it offered you some type of support, because it helped me to share.

I am an open book, so ask me any questions you would like, and expect to see many more posts from me and Jamie! We would love to hear your stories as well!!

XOXO, Megan <3

Coming Soon: World Hemophilia Day

This year, on April 17th, people all over the world will be celebrating World Hemophilia Day! The theme for WHD 2012 is "Closing the Gap".

To be perfectly honest, I had not heard of WHD before this year. But a few months ago I was browsing through some recent articles on the NHF website and I saw the date. Needless to say, I was very pleasantly surprised! WHD is a day to raise awareness for men and women around the world living with chronic bleeding disorders. On this day, to participate and show your support, wear RED! 

I've heard that a lot of people are attending Hemophilia Walks or going to a dinner/event that their treatment center is putting on. Currently, as I am switching hometowns for college (and no longer under pediatrics!), I am in between treatment centers. So to my disappointment I will not be able to participate in any of those activities. :( But I will next year for sure! :) 

The World Hemophilia Federation (WHF) website lists several activities to put on during WHD here! There's still time to organize something! 

To raise awareness, I created a WHD event on Facebook and have since then shared many articles and informative videos on my Facebook wall to help my friends and family understand how important awareness is! 

So what will you do on World Hemophilia Day? Sport a red outfit? Create an event? Organize an awareness booth? Share your ideas below and include pictures if you'd like! :) 

Have a great week!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Let's Talk."

"Talking to people, one-on-one, is an extremely powerful form of communication, because it is personal and genuine. If many people with VWD and members of their families make a concious effort to speak up, it could have a big impact on educating the public." ~Renee Paper "A Guide to Living with von Willebrand Disease"

We've all had to talk about our bleeding disorder at one point. Sometimes it's voluntary and you're open to sharing, and other times it's just downright embarrassing and you give a 5-second explanation before changing the subject.

Personally, I've always been pretty open about my bleeding disorder. When I was little, I told most of my friends about it, and it was no big deal. But, as we get older, we all start becoming a little more self-conscious. In fact, the last time I was at the women's retreat that I go to, some of the teen girls were talking about how to tell their friends about their bleeding disorder. I mentioned that all my friends knew, and dealing with VWD was quite a bit simpler because of it!

But...I'm not always so unashamedly open. :P

For example: I was recently at a meeting with all the teens I'm graduating high school with this May. After the meeting ended we all sat around and talked about what we could do together as a group. And what was the first thing everyone wanted to do? Paintball. I sat there and thought: Great. Now I won't even get to hang out with everyone!. One of the guys in the group must have noticed I wasn't jumping on board because he looked at me and asked: "What's wrong?". The majority of the group stopped talking and looked at me. I kind of sank back in my chair a little and said: "Well...I...I'm not exactly allowed to go paint-balling." (BTW--that was a STUPID answer. I see that now. :]) By the time I finished dishing out that little tidbit of information the rest of the group was looking at me. The guy that had asked me in the first place got the really weird, disbelieving look on his face and said: "What? Why not?". I pulled at my jeans and did my best not to blush (a pretty failed attempt): "Well, I have a bleeding disorder. And I'm not really supposed to do stuff like paintball.". The guy looked super embarrassed and said: "Oh my gosh, I'm sorry! Ok, never mind. We'll do something that everyone can do. Sorry."

There were so many things wrong with the way I handled that situation. First, I was embarrassed about the fact I had a bleeding disorder, and second, I did absolutely nothing to explain why I couldn't play paintball. I had a great opportunity to educate someone about a rare bleeding disorder and instead I stayed quiet because I felt weird. Looking back, even late that same afternoon, I felt so bad. Where was that courage and self-confidence I'd just been talking about? One word: FAIL.

Later on at the meeting after everyone had left, the same guy approached me and asked: "So, like, what is that?" I knew he was referring to the bleeding disorder, and, still feeling embarrassed (I could kick myself for this), I said: "Oh, well, I bruise easily. So...paintball is kind of a 'no-no'."

I could've said: "Well it means that my blood doesn't clot right, so it takes a long time for me to stop bleeding." or "It's called von Willebrand's Disease and it means my blood doesn't clot right so I bleed for a long time." But what did I say? "I bruise easily." Ugh. What kind of an explanation is that?

Anyway, I tell this story because I know exactly how it feels to be embarrassed of your bleeding disorder. I know the term "chronic disorder" sounds creepy and weird, and I know sometimes it's hard to see yourself as perfect the way you are.

I should've handled that whole conversation in a mature, self-confident manner. But I let my nerves get the best of me. :) Will it happen again? Hopefully not! I'll try educating myself even more and instead of waiting to be asked about my bleeding disorder, I'll be open about it from the beginning!

Coming up, I'll have even more posts on how to talk about your bleeding disorder with your friends! And, as always, I'd love to hear your stories and techniques and advice! Feel free to leave a comment below and share!

Much love to all of you!

<3, Jamie

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


"They paint their own pictures then they crop me in,
But I will remain where the top begins.
I am not a word, I am not a line...
I am not a girl that could ever be defined.
Cry my eyes out for days upon days,
Such a heavy burden placed upon me! 
But when you go hard your 'nays' become 'yays'!" 
*"FLY" Lyrics by Nicki Minaj and Rihanna*

We all want independence. Sometimes, when struggling with a health issue, we see ourselves as hopelessly dependent on our parents, our nurses/doctors or our treatment centers. We can't see ourselves as strong and independent women. We see ourselves through the lenses of our illness.

Today, I want to write a post on independence, bleeding disorders and hope. I'm sure every single one of you reading this post has a story to tell. A story of battles won and tears shed and burdens carried. What got you to the place you're at now? How do you define yourself? Or, rather, what do you allow to define you? How do you find the strength to face the challenges your bleeding disorder presents? When you look at the girl in the you admire her courage?

When I was young, (about 9) I was diagnosed with von Willebrand's Disease type 1. I grew up knowing about my condition, though it took a while to understand it. I needed to hold Mama's hand when the nurse ran tests or drew blood. I closed my eyes and bit my lip and cried when my parents took me to our HTC to be tested for various things. I was dependent on them. I looked to them for strength and assurance when I was scared. When I was hospitalized after having a baby tooth pulled at the Dentist's office (before I was diagnosed), I was terrified of being alone or facing the tests without my parents. The first time I had an IV, I sat in the chair trying to focus on the Dragon Tales episode playing on the TV on the opposite side of the room. I tried so hard not to cry, and all I could think about was how much I wanted to get up and leave.

My dependence was totally normal. My fear, well, it was sometimes irrational. :) But I was a little girl who didn't understand how to talk to Doctors or ask about medicines. My parents did their job by taking care of me and making sure I had every appropriate treatment and medication. They did it because I wasn't old or mature enough to do it myself.

Now, however, it's a different story. I'm 18 years old, and a high school senior getting ready to leave home for college this August. My condition is my responsibility. I'm responsible for talking to and educating my friends, eating right, exercising, wearing my medical ID bracelet 24/7 and talking to my Doctors about how to further take care of myself and my bleeding disorder.

Gaining independence takes time. It took me about 14 years. :) Looking back I see how decisions I made led me to this independence. From my own experience, I'm going to list a few of those crucial decisions:

1. Getting over my fear of needles.
*This might be just me. But when I was younger, the mere mention of a blood test or IV would make me sick. One time, my parents told me we were going to the HTC and that I was going to have to get some blood drawn. I stressed so much and made myself so sick that when we pulled up to the HTC parking lot I threw up in the car. For me, getting over my fear of needles was a huge step in gaining my independence. When I had blood drawn, I started smiling and talking to the nurse and doing absolutely everything to keep my mind off the needle sticking from my vein. I stopped asking to hold my mom's hand and I started asking the nurse about infusions and the tests she was running. I made an active step to better understand what was going on and therefore desensitized myself to needles. The last time I had an IV (late Oct./2011 I think) I sat and watched the nurse mix the factor and made it a point to remember the steps. I watched her stick the needle and took slow, deep breaths. I told myself that I was a strong, brave, independent young lady. I told myself I could handle it. And I did. :)

2. Educating myself about VWD.
*Until you understand your bleeding disorder, you will always be dependent on those around you. Until you can confidently talk to doctors and nurses and friends about your condition, you'll always be needing someone to explain and stick up for you. Learn as much as you can about your bleeding disorder! Understand your limitations and your treatments. You be in control of yourself. Find camps or retreats and meet other people your age with bleeding disorders! The most I ever learned about VWD was at a Women's Retreat in my home state. My mom and I went, and I walked away with SO much information! Plus, I met other girls who knew exactly how I felt. :) I formed a support group at that retreat that I will always have! (And I kept going. :) My next trip up is at the end of April!)

3. Be open and willing to talk. 
*My friends know exactly what my bleeding disorder is, how it affects me and what I can and can't do. They understand when I have to excuse myself from a paintball party or a volleyball game. Telling them about my VWD and educating them on how it works was one of the key parts of my independence. Not only was I raising awareness, but I was overcoming my fear of being "the odd one" and sticking up for myself!

These are just 3 examples, and I'm sure there are many more! You all probably have your own lists of keys to independence!

Now, I'm by NO means encouraging everyone to sever ties with your family or doctors or treatment centers. Those people are they to help you! Without them, we'd all be in a sorry state. :) What I'm promoting is the idea that your bleeding disorder is your responsibility. Don't cast it on someone else. Learn how to stand on your own and educate yourself and be an advocate! Be independent and confident! Look at yourself in the mirror and know that you have the strength to overcome your fears and doubts and be yourself! Don't let your bleeding disorder shape you...let it be a part of you that is unique and beautiful. :)

Much love to all the girls fighting this battle with me! We can do it, ladies! Have faith and celebrate your independence and your beauty!