Monday, April 30, 2012

WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge Month - Day 30

Today's Topic: Word Cloud

The word cloud I made came from my book Life Music Lessons Learned at the University of Catastrophe. It's from the essay Joy Benchmarks, which you can read here

"The darker the road, the more precious light becomes. Since I've walked down a terrible dark road, I can celebrate the tiniest rays of light in my life. I have joy benchmarks that many people don't have, and I treasure them all."
This remains a cornerstone in my life. So much so I wanted to turn it into art. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge Month - Day 29

Today's Topic: Six sentence story. In this day of micro-blogging – brevity is a skill worth honing. Can you tell a story and make it short and sweet?

The teacher looked at her student sitting with his small cello. She asked him to put his bow on the lowest string and play an open C. It was the first time he held a cello, but he didn't hesitate. He put the bow on the string and a long low sound vibrated through his whole body. His eyes shined and the teacher felt elated with him. Playing music is a gift, but teaching music is magic.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge Month - Day 28

 Today's Topic: The first time I...

The first time I performed Weaving: An Inspirational Journey, a one woman musical performance about disability, I was electrified inside. I was alone on stage with just my cello and my service dog lying on a mat at my feet. I was there to play 10 pieces I'd composed. In between playing the cello I was going to talk about myasthenia gravis, cancer, disability myths and service dog etiquette.

WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge Month - Day 27

Today’s topic: 5 Challenges & 5 Small Victories. Make a list of the 5 most difficult parts of your health focus. Make another top 5 list for the little, good things (small victories) that keep you going.

The Challenges

  1. Dealing with how incompatible myasthenia gravis and diabetes are is the number one most challenging thing in my entire life. Should I listen to this advice about dealing with diabetes?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge Month - Day 26

Today’s Topic: Health tagline. Give yourself, your blog, your condition, or some aspect of your health a tagline. Make sure it’s catchy!

Insulin! It's what's for breakfast.

Chemotherapy and you: Hats, wigs and scarves, you can wear them.

I'm High... on blood glucose.

Myasthenia Gravis: can't spell it, can't say it and can't cure it.

Joy benchmarks: noticing little reasons for joy today.

Since my life is a complex balancing act as I try to deal with two incompatible illnesses, I try to keep my heart focused on things that add meaning and beauty to my life. My reason for joy today was...

Spending time in the forest preserve looking at butterflies. That's reason enough for joy. Last tag line: Life: Reason enough for joy.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge Month - Day 25


Today's Challenge: 3rd person post. Write about a memory and use 3rd person.

At Columbia College in Chicago I majored in fiction writing. (Would you like fries with that? Will that be for here or to go?) I have always loved writing and the power of words. Here's a memory, one I'll never forget. It's the day that changed my life forever.


She sat in the hospital waiting room with her father. In a few moments the nurse would call her name. Her heart beat fast and her eyes throbbed. The pain in her eyes was worse than not being able to see. Fourteen months is a long time to be in pain. Various doctors had explained to her that the pain was because of a muscle spasm in her eye. A tiny muscle cramped and wouldn’t let go. Why? How many times had she asked that? Sixteen doctors didn’t know the answer. The 17th doctor thought he might have an answer. It’s why she was in the waiting room. She pushed her black eye shades toward her nose. The folded white cane in her hands had a rubber band around it. She ran her fingers under the rubber band, feeling it stretch and tighten and stretch again.

“Marie Smith?” A woman’s voice asked.

Her heart caught in her throat. “I’m Marie,” she managed to say. She stood and extended the cane. It snapped into a long stick. Months of living in the dark had taught her to navigate without sight. She didn't need her sight back. She needed for the pain to stop. The tiniest ray of light felt like a thousand needles jabbing her eyes. Behind her eye shades Marie’s eyes cramped tighter with every movement. An invisible grapefruit spoon gouged behind her eyes, cutting tearing. Crying out didn’t help. Narcotics didn’t help. Maybe, just maybe, Dr. #17 would help. She listened for the nurse to speak again and found her way forward.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge Month - Day 24

Today's challenge: A mascot. If your health condition had a mascot, what would it be?

The unofficial mascot of the Diabetes Online Community is...

A unicorn!

Or as the amazing Kim Vlasnik of Texting My Pancreas put it...

Unicorns + Glitter +Magic Sprinkles = Diabetes Perfection.

Er wait, um... no.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge Month - Day 22

Today's topic: The Things We Forget. Visit and make your own version of a short memo reminder. Where would you post it?

I think I'll stick this on my computer desktop. I need to remember all of these things every single day.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge Month - Day 21

I'm participating in the WEGO Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge. Today's Topic: Health Madlib poem Fun with parts of speech! Today’s prompt is inspired by the classic game – and poetry – put together.

Weird, makes no sense, and not much to do with health, but this is the assignment...

quaint Dog's quaint Dog

silently i have never accelerate, normally beyond
any house, your rope have their vast:
in your most violet bow are things which tremble me,
or which i cannot wave because they are too eagerly

your greasy look patiently will unzip me
though i have uphold myself as collar,
you stretch always marble by marble myself as hydrant crush
(dropping quietly, carefully) her witty insect

or if your treatment be to open me, i and
my poison will inject very immediately, easily,
as when the lawnmower of this house burst
the medicine softly everywhere conceptualizing;

nothing which we are to dissect in this chair execute
the vein of your melodic wilderness: whose volcano
experiment me with the cello of its globe,
transforming piano and needle with each restructuring

(i do not participate what it is about you that manufacture
and treat; only something in me wander
the knife of your rope is abundant than all hydrant)
saucepan, not even the bacon, has such mysterious string

- Marie & e.e. cummings

Create Your Own Madlib on

This post was written from a blog prompt for April 21  from The Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge at WEGO Health. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge Month - Day 20

 I'm participating in the WEGO Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge. Today’s topic: Miracle Cure. If a miracle cure came what would it look like?

When I looked at the list of topics for this blog challenge this one made my heart hurt. An invisible hand reached inside, ripped something loose and held it up in front of me Aztec style. I want a cure. Not an imaginary one. I want a real one. I am too tired inside to wonder what it would be like to have a cure. I am exhausted in places I didn't even know could hurt or be weary.

I got sick April 15 1997. I woke up and couldn't see. Every tiny muscle in my eyes went haywire. I couldn't focus. I had double vision and I couldn't control the way my eyes moved. I went to bed April 14, 1997 living a fairly ordinary life and I woke up the next day in a nightmare. I want this nightmare to end. I do not want to pretend it is over. Pretending just makes me sad.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge Month - Day 19

I'm participating in the WEGO Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge. Today’s topic: Five dinner guests.
Who are 5 people you’d love to have dinner with (living or deceased) and why?  

True confession: I'm not a dinner party kind of person. I am an introvert. I prefer eating dinner alone with my computer so I would never actually host a party. Parties tire me out. If I had to host one I wouldn't know where to begin. So I'm picturing inviting each of these five people out for coffee one at a time. Might not fit the assignment but it fits my imagination better.

Mark Twain. I could sit and listen to him for hours and laugh myself sick. I enjoy his writing so much I think it would be incredible to talk to him.  

Voltaire for the same reason.  

Oscar Wilde. Yikes that would be fun.

My Mom. Because I miss her. I would love to tell her that one more time.
Mrs. Dorothy Lund, my first and best cello teacher. She taught me to love my cello and I do. 
That's the five I would pick. Some awesome writers and the two women who helped shape me into who I am today. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge Month - Day 18

I'm participating in the WEGO Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge. Today’s topic: Open a book. Open a book to a random page and write about a phrase.

On my iPad I've been reading Candide by Voltaire. I read it years ago and decided to pick it back up. It's still just as outrageous and funny as I remembered. I found this phrase:

“Do you believe,” said Candide, “that men have always massacred each other as they do to-day, that they have always been liars, cheats, traitors, ingrates, brigands, idiots, thieves, scoundrels, gluttons, drunkards, misers, envious, ambitious, bloody-minded, calumniators, debauchees, fanatics, hypocrites, and fools?”
“Do you believe,” said Martin, “that hawks have always eaten pigeons when they have found them?”
“Yes, without doubt,” said Candide.
“Well, then,” said Martin, “if hawks have always had the same character why should you imagine that men may have changed theirs?”

This caught my attention. Maybe it's because it is an election year in my country. Every four years we go through the same ritual of selecting a president. Much hot air is spewed and much more hyperbole. The media separates our country by region, and then by state. Then we are separated by gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation. Each social grouping is expected to vote a certain way. The white male blue collar vote. The black vote. The Hispanic vote. The soccer mom vote. The pet goldfish owning, Suv driving, Diet Coke drinking vote. If this deliberate division happened for any other reason we would all stand up and cry foul. Why do we allow this to happen every election cycle?

Our national motto is E pluribus unum: Out of many one. But when has the USA been united about anything? I watch the pre-election spin whirling and laugh at it. If Candidate A is elected happy times will return. If Candidate B is elected, we're all doomed and our country will fail. Or maybe it is the other way around?

They all promise to transform our country into a place it's never been. Just like in Candide. Hawks have always eaten pigeons. Americans have always been divided. Our healthcare debate was loud and divided. Sometimes I just wish the rhetoric and yelling would stop so we could just talk to each other. There has to be some common ground to stand on.

I wish no one would have to decide between medication and food. Can we begin there? There has to be a way to make sure everyone gets the help they need and can still afford groceries when they are done. But that's how it is in the divided states of America. We're the land of yelling and screaming and no common ground. Will we get a health care system that actually functions? One that allows everyone to get the care they need and none of us go broke trying to survive? Will that happen? I don't know. Maybe it will happen when hawks stop eating pigeons.

Or maybe I need to put on my optimist hat and think forward.

I tend to be a forward thinker. How things are is not always a reflection of how things have to stay. Change is slow in the USA, but it does happen. Slavery ended. Women got the right to vote. The civil rights movement ushered in a new era. Maybe one day we'll stop being so divided and recognize that if our neighbor is sick helping pay for their medical care is the right thing to do. Maybe some day we will figure out how to make this work so everyone gets the help they need. Will this happen some day? I hope so. I really hope so.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge Month - Day 17

I'm participating in the WEGO Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge. Today’s topic: Lessons learned the hard way.

I sometimes fear the hard way is the only way I know how to learn anything. I've screwed up so often I don't know where to begin. But, as I was giving myself insulin before dinner, I remembered one lesson to share with you. It goes like this: Wait until you see your food before injecting insulin.

In January it was my mother-in-law's 90th birthday. So, my husband and I headed to Florida to celebrate with her. Steve's brother and his son came along, too. It was fun being together. At the retirement community where my mother-in-law lives is a small cafe. They make the best reuben sandwiches. We all ordered lunch. While we were waiting, I decided to go ahead and give myself my insulin. I assumed the food would be there before my insulin kicked in. I was wrong.

Monday, April 16, 2012

WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge Month - Day 16

I'm participating in the WEGO Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge. Today’s topic: create a pinboard. "Share your top 3 images in your blog post and explain why you chose them."

Diabetes punched me today. Not a little slap. This was a full on sucker punch that kicked me when I was down. I don't know how to use Pinterest. But, I can try to tell a story in three pictures. We begin with lunch. I went to a famous chain restaurant that serves unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks. It was a cold windy drizzly day and soup sounded perfect. Before I went, I checked their website. I counted the carbs and figured out how much to bolus according to my insulin to carb ratio. I ate lunch and went to my weekly therapy appointment. That's when everything fell apart.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

WEGO Health Activist Writer's Challenge Month - Day 15

I'm participating in the WEGO Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge. Today’s topic: Writing style.

When it comes to blog writing, usually the title comes last. What comes first is just living my life. As I go through my day I make internal notes about what might make a good blog post. Did I have an epic fail? Like gluing my hand to my Dexcom insertion needle? Did I have an epic win? Like getting a Dexcom? Some experiences become blog posts as they happen.

Writing is a game for me. I've always had an internal narrator inside my head. I first became aware of this narrator when I was six years old and mailing a letter. I made up a story about a little girl mailing a letter, while I was in the process of mailing a letter. I was aware of my internal monologue and entertained by it. That narrative voice is with me everywhere I go. She's making observations, noticing sequences and patterns. She's recording bits of conversation for story dialogue. My internal narrator pays attention to everything that happens.

In the book Writing Down The Bones, the author Natalie Goldberg said, "Writers live twice. They go along with their regular life, are as fast as anyone in the grocery store, crossing the street, getting dressed for work in the morning. But there's another part of them that they have been training. The one that lives everything a second time. That sits down and sees their life again and goes over it. Looks at the texture and detail."

My writing style is fluid and unplanned. I usually know where I want to go, but the details of the journey are unknown to me. Writing is an act of discovery in that way. I write like planning a trip from Chicago to Atlanta. I know the route we're going to take, but what will be encountered along it is a mystery. The mystery is what drives me to keep writing. What's coming next? I don't know. All I know is I'm on the road to find out.

When I reach the end of what I wanted to say, I edit and polish. Then I push the Publish button. Today marks 5,000 visitors and 64 posts. Thank you all so much for visiting my new blog. Knowing you're here and reading along lifts my spirits high every day. 

This post was written from a blog prompt for April 15th  from The Health Activist Writer's Month Challenge at WEGO Health.


I am not a doctor. I do not have a medical degree. Nothing on this site qualifies as medical advice. These are lessons I'm learning at the University of Catastrophe. What I find to be correct answers in my classes may not be the right answers for you.

If you are enrolled with your own major at the University of Catastrophe, please consult your doctor, therapist, attorney, auto mechanic, veterinarian, plumber, dietician, arborist, acupuncturist, manicurist, mother, local dairy council, shoe shine boy, or other equally qualified professional, for advice and assistance.

If you email me your personal information will not be shared without your permission and your email address will not be sold. I hate spam. Even with eggs.

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