My name is Angellisa, and I am 26 years old. I live just outside of Dallas, TX, and I am a Blount’s disease warrior.
It all started when I was a baby – I started walking early, around 11 months old, and by the time I was three years old, my mom noticed that there was something wrong with my legs. The doctors diagnosed me with rare infantile Blount’s disease in my right knee, and it eventually impacted both legs. Growing up with Blount’s disease meant I had to face numerous challenges – dealing with the pain and disability of the disease itself as well as the way people stared at me and how they treated me because of how I looked and walked.
I couldn’t keep up with other kids running, jumping, playing. I had to wear braces, use crutches or a wheelchair, and even got rides between classes because it was too painful to walk. I depended on family, nurses, loved ones and friends to help me with everything. I couldn’t bathe or dress myself or do any of the things I wanted to do on my own.
When I was 11 years old, I underwent a corrective surgery to try to address the issues with my legs, but despite a year of painful physical therapy afterwards, my legs were still bowed, and the surgery hadn’t helped. The doctor wanted to do more surgeries, but my mom didn’t want to put me through the painful process all over again when there was a good chance it wouldn’t help any more the second time and the doctor couldn’t guarantee my mom that I would walk straight again. Unfortunately, my Blount’s disease has caused many complications, including lack of cartilage in my knee (it’s bone on bone), hip issues (dysplasia and uneven hip growth), nerve pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and nerve damage that’s so bad it shuts my body down due to the pain and inflammation. But I try not to let it get me down, even when I’m struggling with pain.