Here I am with my Dad!

Hi, Iím Ryan, a 16-year-old Sophomore in high school.  Iím an only child, but I have a huge extended family, including close friends that I consider family (are you following?).  Iíd have to say that most of my favorite things involve sportsÖI love them, in fact someday Iíd like to be either a play-by-play announcer or a professional golfer.  Hockeyís my favorite sport...aren't the Carolina Hurricanes the best?  I even got to meet the team last year when they were in the Stanley Cup!  I watched them warm up and go into the locker room before the game; pretty much one of the most amazing experiences ever.  Some of my other favorite teams are the New York Yankees (even though my dadís a Boston Red Sox fan) and the New England Patriots (especially Tom Brady).Tiger Woods is my favorite golfer.  When Iím not watching or playing sports Iím doing other normal high school stuff with my two best friendsÖgoing to movies, eating out, you knowÖthe usual.
This is Ron Francis, my favorite athlete. I've met him several times; in fact, he
gave me a stick he autographed during the Stanley Cup! 

I bet youíre wondering why someone like me has a story on Band-Aides. Well, I have a medical condition called VATERS association, with the letters standing for an assortment of problems...can't even remember what stands for what.  I've pretty much always had medical problems since I was born with this odd VATERS thing, but there's a lot I donít really remember because I was a baby when I had operations to fix some of the problems. I still have to cope with the effect of VATERS on my lungs and my digestive tract (my stomach and the tube that runs from my mouth to my stomach called the esophagus).  Iíve had around 30 surgeries and procedures (15 of them major); most before I was 9-years-old. Understandably, this made going to school and making friends pretty hard.  I used to get this really bad cough that I couldnít control, and the other kids spent a lot of time making fun of it, so by the time I was 9, I was pretty depressed.  Around that time I got an idea to write a story to try and make myself feel better.  My mom helped me type it, and once it was done, my parents had it illustrated and published and it got sent to some children's hospitals around the country!  I got lots of letters from kids it had helped, which, in turn, helped me deal much better with how I was feeling about my illness.

After a major surgery that same year, I had seven years of fairly good health. Until now. This past year I got pretty sick again.  I had to go to Boston for an 18 hour surgery where the doctors took part of my intestine and replaced it with the lower part of my esophagus.  While Iím feeling much better now, the past few months have been really hard.  Imagine thinking you were doing well and were healthy, then finding out you were really, really sick and had to go through the same tests and procedures all over again.  It's rough, but luckily my family has been with me through it all so at least Iím not alone.  It helps me to look towards the future, and hope that the tests, procedures and operations are all coming to an end. Right now, I feel good, and Iím just living and enjoying one healthy day at a time.  If you have to deal with some sort of medical problem, here's some Ryan wisdom, free! Try and take time off from your disease regularly, and enjoy the good things in lifeÖhave a party, go for a walk if you can, donít let the disease (whatever it is) run your life.  Enjoy the people and things in your life that you love...they make the tough times a little more bearable.

Here I am with my student nurse, Allison. She helped me put this story together

To the frog ponds

To send Ryan a note

To the site map
Joan Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468

Published: October 17, 2002
Last updated, November 16, 2004