Updated: Mar 11
The Birdshot Uveitis Society of North American, or BUSNA , is planning to host a series of virtual get-togethers for Birdies! Called The Gathering, these online events will allow small groups of us who have Birdshot Uveitis to meet for an hour or so and chat about how we manage our autoimmune disease. Think “coffee klatches”, “cuppa tea” or even “happy hour”!
“What kind of topics?” you might ask. We looked for inspiration from a few groups of Birdies who, at least pre-COVID, have been meeting in person.
Marie, one of our BUSNA board members, has been part of a group of birdies from the Toronto area. They’ve been together for over ten years, meeting on occasion and helping each other navigate the changes in their conditions. The core members have maintained their friendship over the years and last fall they started welcoming new members from not only Ontario, but British Columbia and Alberta as well.
During one of our BUSNA board meetings we started chatting about connecting Birdies and Marie invited a few of us to join the Canadians for a Zoom session. Christine and I both attended meetings.
At first we chatted about the latest COVID news. (At least the vaccines are bringing us all some hope!) We discussed the types of tests that our doctors were using and we also shared our own Birdshot stories. It was a comfort to know that, no matter how much time had passed before being properly diagnosed, everyone was pleased with their doctors. Overall I’d say that we each learned something about Birdshot and we came away with a feeling of camaraderie.
Another group of Birdies has been meeting in Oklahoma. According to Deanna McGee, who started the Birdshot Uveitis USA Facebook Group seven months after her diagnosis, sharing with other Birdies has been a godsend. Until the pandemic began, her group of five had been meeting annually. Deanna says, “We shared our stories and it was the greatest thing for me to see and talk to others who were much further down the road and were going about their normal lives. It gave me hope and a measure of peace.”
I remember the first time I met another Birdie. Ora as standing on the sidewalk outside the Philadelphia hotel where some of us were staying for Birdshot Day 2019. She answered my question as to where I should park. Knowing other Birdies has done more than simply encourage me to manage my own Birdshot issues. I've also become inspired to join the larger community. Whether you’re meeting your first Birdie in person or responding to a post on a Facebook page, lending each other support can make a difference.
The first session of The Gathering will take place on Tuesday, May 18th for Birdies who live in the eastern states and provinces (EST time zone). Sessions for other time zones will take place in the months that follow. If you are on the BUSNA Contact List you will receive an email early in May. Followers on our social media platforms will see posts around that time. Pre-registration will be required and the number of attendees may be limited.
BUSNA is establishing a list of expectations for these gatherings. We plan to host a small group for our first session to see how it goes. It’s important that we are able to manage the conversations to make sure they are supportive and respectful. We are not medical professionals and attendees will be cautioned not to give out any medical advice. That said, there are plenty of helpful tips and experiences that will make these sessions worthwhile for those who join in.
If you have questions or suggestions for The Gathering, feel free to email Christine at Christine.firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you at one of our meeting-ups!
Birdshot Uveitis Society of North America (BUSNA) is a volunteer organization comprised of persons diagnosed with Birdshot Uveitis. It provides information and support for North American patients and it raises funds for Birdshot Uveitis research. For more information, please visit our website.
Birdies, friends, family and medical professionals
are invited to join our BUSNA community at