I was sitting all the way in the back at my 1st ever big Autism Conference for my son Holden who was then just recently diagnosed. My iPhone, which I was frantically trying to take notes on died and I was without a charger. I glanced around and saw a stranger that was sitting crossed legged in a different corner next to an electrical outlet charging her phone. Being awkward and at the time wheelchair and walker dependent I very timidly went up to her and asked if I could borrow her charger. I stammered, words didn’t come out right, I had visible tremors, and terrible brain fog at the time. She sweetly looked up and said “sure,” immediately followed by “so what the hell is wrong with you?!?” “What meds are you on?!?,” in a strong Chicago Italian accent. I was so thrown off. I said I have fibromyalgia and POTS. I rambled off a list of meds I was on. Not even knowing her name I gave her a short version of the struggle I had been dealing with for years as my health declined.
I finished my story and she goes, “Nawh….. what is really wrong with you is that you have mitochondrial disease, and probably your kid too.” She proceeded to introduce herself as Tina Popa, a Mom with mito who also had two boys with mito and autism. I had never heard of mitochondrial disease before. Tina sat and talked to me for the next hour telling me what my symptoms and life were to a T. Within 5 minutes of meeting her she had correctly diagnosed me, where I had gone from doctor to doctor since I was 15, only getting sicker and sicker. Tina wrote down the names and phone numbers of Dr. Richard Frye and Dr. Dmitriy M. Niyazov. She insisted I call them and try to get appointments. Tina saved my life. She saved my sons life. Fast forward – now 7 years later Holden and I both are diagnosed with mitochondrial disease and are under the care of some of the most well respected and knowledgeable physicians. Holden and I had our life path altered by the love and kindness of another Mito Mom. Thank you to every single Mito Mom and Mito Warrior fighting the good fight with unconditional love.