Friday, December 29, 2006

Re-defining Normal

"Every morning I wake up and must re-define normal". That's what Augustine (Augie) Nieto said. He was diagnosed last March, at 48, with ALS (Lou Gerig's Disease), a degenerative neuromuscular disease for which there is no cure. Most people die within 5 years of diagnosis as their respiratory muscles fail to allow breathing.

To me, Augie Nieto is a hero who fights everyday to maintain what he has, and works tirelessly to bring awareness and money to help find a cure. He is a fitness guru and consultant and doesn't dwell on what he's lost to the disease. He can no longer use his arms and his speech is slurred, but he puts himself out there everyday to improve the lives of those to come from the devastation of ALS.

Earlier today, I was going to write about how I am learning to re-define normal for myself, but I am very humbled by this man and all the other courageous people who live with life threatening and debilitating disorders. I would just prefer to say my hat is off and my heart is full by the heroes who continue to work to help others in the face of their new normals.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

bits and pieces

*I just have bits and pieces to say today. I'm very content with Christmas coming and being with my family. And sharing a bit of Bailey's Irish Cream with them...ho ho ho!

*I've loved looking out my windows at the neighborhood for the past couple of weeks because everyone's had their Christmas lites up and shining every night. For some reason, they are all off early tonight and I know I am going to miss them after they're down.

*I just watched the last episode of the Everest expedition on Discovery. I still don't understand the need to push oneself to the point of losing fingers and toes to frostbite or even dying in an effort to reach the summit of ANY mountain. It's very sad about the men missing in Oregon on Mt Hood, too. I'm wondering what it takes to be that single minded about something. I will never know because I have trouble breathing at sea level, never mind at 29,000 feet above it!

Friday, December 15, 2006


It's hard to believe that I haven't posted since last month. For the past several weeks I've felt achy (pulled a muscle in my back) and cranky and down in the dumps. This always seems to happen during the holidays, and I know that it's fairly common, but it still feels like an out of body experience.

Most of the time I try really hard to keep a positive attitude, look on the bright side and appreciate what I have, rather than what I don't have. I have to say that this breathing thing is putting me in a foul mood. I start to do something, and have to stop to catch my breath even wearing the oxygen. Whatever I do, it takes twice as long to recover from doing it. This really disheartens me after a while. I am tired of fighting for each breath and pretending that I am happy to just be alive. It sucks to exhaust yourself just doing basic daily things. I have to force myself to get beyond that to do anything like shopping, cleaning, cooking or even going to visit someone to the point that I try to avoid doing them at all.

Okay, that's out of my system. Moving on, I've got another class starting after the first of the year. They're really going smoothly now and I find that I just love teaching and sharing my nursing and life knowledge with others. We've just gone through the interviewing process for the next class and what I love about that is that we can find funding for some very underprivileged and worthy people. We have a couple of students who are living in shelters right now and I think it's awesome that we can provide an opportunity for them to change the course of their lives for the better. When I start feeling sorry for myself all I have to do is look around me and find ways to help others and *poof* goes the pity party and it is replaced by a renewed purpose to life.

So my life is a continuum of dichotomies. Good and bad. Up and down. Wise and dumb. Back and forth. Happy and depressed. Sometimes in the same day, sometimes not for months. Today I am grateful that I'm alive and feeling anything.