August highlights: Overcoming diabetes, asthma and more

Catch up on what you may have missed on Thriving last month. Our staff takes a look back at a few of this month’s favorite posts.

How to survive six months in the wilderness with type 1 diabetes

Hiking in Vermont

Rachel Hemond, an 18-year-old who has type 1 diabetes, doesn’t need much direction when it comes to survival. This winter, Rachel completed a 600-mile circumnavigation of Vermont by backcountry ski, white water canoe, rowboat and bicycle—and kept her diabetes under control.

Read more about how Rachel manages her diabetes.

Overcoming IBD obstacles…and traveling the world

Megan was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis on December 23, 2009—her life changed forever. She went from a healthy and active 14-year-old to a teen with some very concerning symptoms. A few years later, a decision to have surgery changed her life and allowed her to travel the globe.

Experience Megan’s journeys.

“When you hit rock bottom…the only way to go is up.”

Justin at his first 5K in 2014 and his second in 2015 after nine months of rehabilitation
Justin at his first 5K in 2014 and his second in 2015 after nine months of rehabilitation

The Franciscan Hospital for Children Heartbreak Hill 5K on June 14, 2014, was a special day for Justin Ith. It was the first time the 16-year-old, who weighed a mere 70 pounds at the time, had been outside for months. As a nurse pushed the wheelchair-bound teen across the finish line, he turned to her and vowed, “Next year, I’m going to finish this race by myself.”

Learn about Justin’s triumph.

Getting in the ring with asthma

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10-year-old Joel was diagnosed with asthma at age 2, which was difficult news for his mother Ellis. At age 6, a severe asthma attack landed Joel at Boston Children’s Hospital Department of Emergency Medicine with the risk of a collapsed lung. After spending two weeks in the hospital, Joel was released home and referred to Boston Children’s Community Asthma Initiative (CAI)—a free program that helps Boston-area families manage their child’s asthma at home.

Find out how Joel and Ellis keep his asthma under control.

5 things to know about teens and depression
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Depression impacts many youth and families across the U.S. Up to 28% of young people experience an episode of major depression by age 19 with an average onset age of 13 years old. However, only 38% of teens experiencing depression receive treatment. Raising awareness is a key step to addressing depression.

Learn how you can help teens with depression.

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Ask the expert: How to handle back-to-school stress

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Carolyn Snell, PhD

My child has expressed some anxiety about going back to school. How can I help?

Anxious in Andover

Back-to-school can be a stressful time for children of all ages, as well as for their parents. Children and teens may worry about practical things such as being able to find their way around the school building, may have concerns about their ability to get work done and receive good grades, or may experience anxiety related to friends and peer relationships as the year begins.

One way that parents can help is by giving children information or experiences beforehand that allow them to have a clearer idea about what to expect. For example, sharing information with a young child about what the classroom schedule and routine will be like, or about the child’s teachers, can help kids feel prepared.

Read more, and watch this video interview with Dr. Snell to learn how to help your child.

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Celebrating parents: “You are doing a great job”

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Many patients and families spend hours, days and sometimes weeks in our halls and in our care—Linda and her son, Christos included.

Christos, 17, is a medically complex child who has had many admissions lasting two weeks or more.

During a recent admission, Linda was inspired by a post written by mother and writer Lexi Behrndt. The post, she says, is a source of hope and a reminder that parents “are not alone.”

“When Christos is hospitalized, I sometimes walk the halls to try and relax,” Linda says. “I see other Moms, the look on their faces trying to be strong. I see them talking to the doctors trying to understand what it all means. I see some crying. Sometimes I just want to hug them and say ‘I understand.'”

Parents are on the frontline. You are researchers and advocates. You are compassionate and love unconditionally. You sit bedside and wipe away tears and carry your children through their medical journey.

To honor parents near and far, Lexi is kindly sharing her experiences with our Thriving readers.

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Mason’s story: A newborn with a peach-sized tumor

momandmasonWhen Tara Johnson found out— after 10 years of trying to get pregnant—she was carrying boy-girl twins, she was thrilled. “It was so exciting, it felt like a double blessing,” she remembers.

The pregnancy progressed normally until her 21-week checkup when everything changed. Doctors found a large growth on the neck of her unborn son.

Tara’s care was transferred to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and doctors from Endocrinology and Otolaryngology at Boston Children’s Hospital formed a team to manage her son’s care.

When she was 31 weeks pregnant, Tara and husband Bruce were in Boston to meet with Boston Children’s Associate Otolaryngologist-in-Chief Dr. Reza Rahbar for the first time, when she unexpectedly went into labor. Doctors were able to stop the labor, and Tara was put on bed rest at Brigham and Women’s. “I was really at the right place at the right time,” she says.

The ensuing weeks were filled with a lot of waiting and anxiety, two MRIs, many ultrasounds and multiple meetings with Dr. Rahbar to plan for the twins’ birth and the inevitable surgery to remove her son’s ever-increasing growth. Dr. Rahbar was certain the tumor was a benign teratoma, but couldn’t determine exactly the severity until the baby was born. Bruce remembers, “I worried a lot about whether Mason would make it through all of his medical issues, and at the same time I also worried about the long-term complications if he did survive.”

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