Sunday, August 15, 2010

hole in my heart

There’s a hole in my heart. Okay, yes, both literally and figuratively. However these holes are very unrelated. Physically, my heart is flawed. I have an ASD, or Atrial Septal Defect. Basically it is a congenital heart defect where the wall that separates the upper chambers of the heart doesn’t close all the way. A hole. I already have POTS which makes my heart beat abnormally fast anyways, but other then that I really have no other symptoms. I meet with my cardiologist kinda frequently in order to check the flow and the strength of the heart wall, as well as checking for clots that might travel through the little hole.
Figuratively, I have a HUGE hole. I know it may seem dramatic, I know, but my dog died on Tuesday. It is so strange, everything reminds me of him. Being an only child, he was the closest thing I had to a sibling. He had been around through elementary school, middle school, high school, and almost all of college. He had been around through all of the hard times in the family and all the illnesses. It’s strange to not have to close the bathroom door when I leave. It’s weird to not have a big, brown lump at the bottom of my bed when I’m sick. I miss my Bailey. I think it’s a combination of missing my dog and the fact that all of my friends have gone back to school, leaving me home and very very lonely. I’ve picked up a good book and think I’m going to spend time drawing, reading, and sleeping. Haha. I hope you all are doing well. I plan on getting better about more useful blogging, rather then just whining and moaning.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

little girl, BIG world

Hi guys. I know I have been pretty MIA recently. Truth is, I have had a rollercoaster of a ride the past few days. I got pretty sick and ended up passing out and falling down the stairs. Needless to say, I've been pretty sore. It was also my best friends 21st birthday, so I tried my best to help her celebrate (and maybe overdid it a little I didn't even drink). So, I've been doing a lot of sitting at my computer and playing around online.
This may sound random, but trust me, it ties in eventually...but I have recently had the pleasure of meeting and talking to Sophia Bush. She is an AMAZING woman with such a strong spirit and desire to make this world a better place. I have always been strong in my beliefs, but Sophia has really taught me to not just think on these beliefs, but ACT on them as well. A few big things that have really been big in my life, or some things that I am very passionate about include the oil spill and cleanup in the Gulf, as well as The Ronald McDonald House organization. Soph is VERY passionate about the gulf and is even training for a half marathon here in Wilmington in November to raise funds.
So basically, what I'm getting at is that even though I may be stuck on a couch or in bed because of my illness, I can still make a difference in this world. One of the things I desire the most is to change this world for the better. I think that it is one of the COOLEST things in the world to be a part of something bigger than yourself. No matter how big, small, tall, short, old, young, sick, or healthy you are, YOU can make a difference. How cool is that?? I would love to do a benefit CD or concert, or something like that. Just brainstorming some ideas. I hope that the inspiration that Sophia's provided me can be passed on to you guys!

For more ways to help, check out You can also collect pop tabs and mail them in to the local Ronald McDonald House to help chronically and seriously ill children and their families!

Love to you all!


Monday, August 2, 2010


Hey guys. I am the worst blogger ever, I haven't updated in a while. I've been so busy, I feel like my head is spinning in 70 different directions. I worked on the set of One Tree Hill last week for 13 hours each day. Apparently, that's not something someone with POTS should really do. haha. I have off work until Thursday though, so hopefully that will be enough time to catch up. I'm a very stubborn person and don't like to limit or restrict myself, so since being diagnosed with POTS I have been working on seeing and accepting my limits. Right now I'm at the stage where I see my limits, I see the line I shouldn't cross...but I haven't quite gotten the acceptance part, I still cross that line and wonder why I feel like crap the next day.
It will all be worth it when my episodes air on the CW in September? probably not. but for now I'm having fun and doing as much as I can (and more)!

Hope you all are well. I really am super thankful for a community of people who are so understanding. Praying for you all.



Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lights, Camera, Action

Lights, Camera,'s not that glamorous. It's actually more like. Rolling, Sound, Background, Action. Cut, Reloop! I've spent the last 3 days working on the set of One Tree Hill. It's really fun, but super exhausting, which is why I haven't been updating. My call time for tomorrow morning is 6:00am for hair and wardrobe. Surprisingly, and with the help of my new medicines, I have been feeling pretty good the past few days, despite the exhaustion. However, I know in the next few days I know I'm gonna have a major crash. Oh well. It's fun now getting to hang out with Sophia Bush, Austin Nichols, Kate Voegele, Lisa Goldstein, Jackson Brundage, Stephen Coletti, Bethany Joy Galeotti, Shantel Van Santen, Jana Kramer, and Robert Buckley...and those are just the actors. I've have a blast with the crew and extras and am now know on set as the "dancing girl", since I'm always rocking back and forth between takes. haha! When things slow down, I will get back to regular blogging, but until then, I have to go get as much rest as possible!

Love to you all!


Monday, July 26, 2010

Eating Disorders...very personal

<-- Me at my lowest weight...

I have been very skeptical about writing about this next topic as it hits very near to my heart. But it is something you can’t deny. Here are the facts:
1 in 5 women struggle with an eating disorder or disordered eating. Eating disorders affect up to 24 million Americans and 70 million individuals worldwide. At least 50,000 individuals die each year as a direct result of an eating disorder. Read that again…50,000 people, lives, sisters, mothers, daughters, cousins, brothers, friends. How about this…according to a recent study, over half of females between the ages of 18 and 25 would prefer to be run over by a truck then be fat. This is a serious illness that affects MANY individuals. Although there are many different types of eating disorders, the two most common types are Anorexia Nervosa and Bulemia Nervosa.
Anorexia is characterized by refusal to maintain a healthy body weight and an obsessive fear of gaining weight due to a distorted self image. Signs of anorexia include obvious, dramatic weight loss; soft, fine hair growing on the body; food rituals; temperature intolerance; depression; baggy clothing; swollen joints; and abdonimal distention. The main difference between Anorexia and Bulemia is that a person suffering from anorexia restricts and diets, while a person with bulimia often binges and purges, or sometimes just purges.

Personal Connection:
Ever since I was young, weight has been a big issue in my house. I have always been underweight and seemed to grow up to find my identity in being “the small one” or “little Brooke”. When I grew up and went through the awkward middle school phase, I hit a growth spurt and grew taller. I was now average height, yet still on the skinny side. I longed to be “little Brooke” again, and having control wasn’t half bad either. So I began dieting. Secretly, of course. I started running every night after dance practice and eating more salads and less protein and fat. By the time I was in high school, I was skipping meals and losing weight. My mom assumed it was from stress and anxiety and continued to encourage me to join the cross country and track teams. I loved the feeling of having control over my diet and the results I saw. Things were bad, but I hit my low during my sophomore year of college. During the span of a few months my friend killed herself, 3 of my grandparents died, one of my friends died of cancer, and I was forced to medically withdraw from school after finding out about a hole in my heart. Needless to say, the stress was more then I could handle and I began a dangerous habit of skipping meals and purging. I dropped weight, lost friends, was constantly exhausted, and was basically in and out of conciousness for a year. I distinctly remember a week where I went 8 days in a row with only drinking water and eating a single cough drop. Throughout the whole thing (12 hospital trips included), my parents somehow stayed in denial about my problem, making it hard to get treatment. However, with the help of some wonderful friends, I eventually got to a doctor and nutritionist a few times a week. While I gained some weight back and got a much healthier mind set, I really do believe an eating disorder is something I will continue to struggle with for the rest of my life. Somedays are harder than others, but I really do see the importance of healthy body image and eating habits.

-Eating disorders do not only affect women. Men can be affected by these disorders too!
-You cannot just tell someone with an eating disorder to “just eat”. Most of the time it is not even about eating, as much as it is about control.
-People with eating disorders are not stupid and attention seeking. It is a real medical problem that needs to be treated with respect and sensitivity. Imagine looking in the mirror and seeing yourself with green hair. And then imagine everyone trying to tell you that your hair is a beautiful blonde, brown, or red color. Yet, every time you look in the mirror, you see the green hair.

Eating Disorders are VERY real, VERY dangerous, and often recognizable and preventable. If you or someone you know has an eating disorder or any disordered eating patterns, don’t be afraid to seek help. If there is one thing I have learned it is that eating disorders are not as glamorous as they are made out to be by magazines or Hollywood.

I have never been very vocal about my past with this condition, but if it can help just one other person, then it was worth it.
And remember: “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing it's best, night and day, to make you everybody else, means to fight the hardest battle, which any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.”


Sunday, July 25, 2010

ALS/Lou Gehrigs

Rest in Peace Jerry Chatlos.

ALS has many different names. ALS is commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease and stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. ALS is a disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement. Symptoms of ALS usually don’t develop until after age 50. Loss of muscle strength and coordination gets eventually worse, making the person unable to do routine tasks such as going up and down stairs, getting out of chairs, or swallowing. Often breathing and swallowing muscles are the first muscles affected.
Symptoms of ALS include difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, choking, head drop, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, paralysis, speech problems, drooling, muscle spasms, and weight loss. There is no cure for ALS, however the symptoms can sometimes be treated using medicines. The drugs are used to prolong life, but do not reverse or even stop the disease from progressing. Medical interventions are also used to improve the quality of life. Because choking is common, patients may have a tube placed in their stomach for feeding. Breathing assisting devices are used as well towards the end of life.

Personal Connection:
When I was 15, I had my first job working as a summer camp counselor at an art camp. One day, a man walked in to come and pick up his two children from camp. Nadia and Sandro were 8 years old and beautiful, well-behaved children. When their father walked in, I immediately knew there was something wrong with Jerry. He walked with a slight limp and slurred his speech. Not knowing what was wrong with him made me slightly uncomfortable, but we ended up having a very nice conversation. I learned that him and his wife just moved into town from Atlanta in order to be closer to family, as he was just diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. Believe it or not, their family had actually just bought the house 3 doors down from me. Because Jerry’s condition was worsening, I offered to help out by picking the kids up for camp in the morning and taking them home in the afternoon. I ended up babysitting these children and spending time with this family for years to come. As Jerry’s conditioned worsened, him and his wife would have date nights at home while I babysat the children. Often times I was babysitting the children and Jerry as well. I took him to the grocery store and drove him to the bank. I helped him help his son to build a car for the local soapbox derby, and I watched with tears in my eyes as he got fitted for a special wheelchair. I helped him on and off of the toilet and spoon fed him blended food. I felt a mix of emotions when Jerry passed away in May of 2010. He was a great man and a wonderful father, but knowing that he wasn’t suffering anymore was somewhat of a relief. I watched Jerry go from an accomplished opera singer and very vocal and active father, to a small man who lost his ability to speak and eat. By the end of Jerry’s life, he had recorded messages that he would play, but was no longer able to speak. And he had a feeding tube inserted because he could no longer swallow. Although Jerry’s muscle tone and independence deteriorated, his strength and courage never wavered. I am happy to have known Jerry and feel like I learned so much from his incredible life.

Common Myths:
-It is often believed that people with ALS are mentally challenged or retarded. However, the brain function of someone with ALS is not altered at all. Mentally, they are fully functional and capable individuals.
-ALS is NOT contagious. It is a genetic defect that cannot be spread by contact.

For more information about all things ALS, visit .

Get informed!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a bacterial illness. This disease is spread by ticks who carry the disease and can cause abnormalities in the skin, joints, heart, and nervous system. Lyme disease affects different areas of the body in varying degrees as it progresses. The site where the tick bites the body is where bacteria enters through the skin. As the bacteria spreads in the skin and away from the bite, the infection causes a reddish rash and “flu-like” symptoms. Lyme disease can be described in 3 phases. In the first phase, it is a early localized disease with skin inflammation. In phase 2, it is an early disseminated disease with heart and nervous system involvement. And in the 3rd late phase of this disease, motor and sensory nerve damage are involved. Patients often cannot recall the tick bite, as the ticks can be as small as a period in this sentence.

Lyme disease signs and symptoms greatly vary because Lyme can affect various parts of the body. General symptoms include a rash, flu-like symptoms, fever, chills, fatigue, body aches, migratory joint pain, and neurological problems. If caught in the early stages, antibiotics can often be used to treat Lyme disease, however late stage Lyme disease can be more difficult. Years of antimicrobials and more complicated treatment plans are necessary to treat late stage Lyme disease. Often when treating late stage Lyme disease, something called a Herxheimer Reaction occurs. This happens when the bacteria is killed off and releases toxins into the body. These neurotoxins and endotoxins effect a persons brain and organs, causing symptoms ranging from seizures, migraines, pain, dizziness, heart problems, and much more.

I do not know much about Lyme disease, and I have never physically met someone with this disease. However, through my own illness, I have been blessed to meet a wonderful and strong girl named Candice. Candice is affected by late stage Lyme disease, and yet she is one of the strongest and bravest people I know. She takes life one day at a time and finds joy in the little things. She has great things to say and knows WAY more about Lyme disease then I will ever know. If you get a chance, please check out her blog at .

Take care and I will blog again soon!