It’s been 20 days since we’ve returned from the Barth Conference in Florida. And I am still finding myself trying to work through all the different emotions that you experience when attending such events. Maybe it’s the fact that Wally turns eight months today and I’m feeling sentimental and emotional. Or maybe it’s because I am in awe of all the people we met and the members of the Barth Foundation.
These last eight months have not been easy. They have been so so hard. And when we received that Barth Diagnosis our world came crashing down. The fear and anxiety was mind numbing. I have never felt more alone than I did sitting in that hospital room, wondering if I was ever going to take my baby home.
When you’re in the hospital you have a lot of time on your hands. That time I had led me to google. In my search for information about Barth Syndrome, led me to Shelley Bowen at the Barth Foundation. It would be a couple weeks, a trip home, another trip to the hospital for failure to thrive, before I’d actually have the guts to contact her. What was I scared of? It’s funny now, looking back. Because Shelley… how can I even put into words what Shelley is. But she is simply inspiring. Amazing. The calm to your storm. I was terrified the day I called her. Our world still teetering all over the place. We were still questioning what Wally’s quality of life would be. We were scared. Sad. Gearing up for a g tube surgery!! And no one understood! No one could give us facts. Because Barth’s is so very rare even Wally’s physicians couldn’t give us much information. I was desperate to talk to someone who understood. Who could answer questions that I had. So I emailed Shelley, a member and founder of the Barth Foundation. And what happened next will forever have a special memory in my heart.
Shelley called me a couple days later and we talked for what seemed like hours. That conversation filled me with hope. Finally. I was finally having a conversation with someone who understand every single emotion I was feeling. Was answering questions before I even asked. Who was simply sitting on the other end of the phone listening. After that conversation, and crying may be a few tears, I told my husband we’re going to that Barth Conference. We need to find a way to make it work financially. And God love him he found a way for us to go.
Walking in to the conference on the first day I had no idea what to expect. I was so nervous to meet these people I had gotten to talk to over Facebook. Silly to be nervous, because my nerves was completely gone the minute I met Shelley face to face and she wrapped me in a hug. Over the next couple of hours we got to meet so many different people and families with Barth boys just like our Wally. The conversations were easy and they flowed. It’s hard to explain what it’s like to walk in to a room of people you’ve never met but immediately you feel at home. You’re surrounded by people who get what you’re going through. Who love your son almost as much as you do. It’s the most incredible feeling to be surrounded by so much love and kindness. And be surrounded by people who welcome you with open arms.
The week was emotionally draining but also inspiring. There was information and knowledge presented, tough conversations, lots of tears, but more importantly, a lot of laughter and love. I would sit and watch all of these amazing boys and men living with Barth’s and my heart felt like it could burst. These boys, and men, are simply the best. All the struggles they have to overcome but they do it with grace. It was truly inspiring to be able to witness the friendships, the bonds, the love, that has formed because of a disease called Barth Syndrome. And the people who make the conference happen?It’s truly a sight to see. All these amazing people coming together, to help find treatments and a cure for our boys. The planning and the executing. Making sure everything runs smoothly. I know it cannot be easy but we the Bastian Family thank you! Thank you for dedicating your time to help bring us all together! To help fight along side us for a cure for our boys! We are truly grateful.
I wouldn’t wish Barth Syndrome on anyone. But if we as a family have to walk this path in life, I am so very blessed and thankful to have these amazing people to walk it with. We love our Barth Family so very much! And we count down the days until we can all be together again. I believe a dear, new, friend of mine, Sue Wilkins, once said this, “We may be small, but together we’re stronger”. And she is so very right. 💙💚