Like Family

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I work a lot. Sometimes it feels like I spend most of my time at work and less and less time at home. Over the course of nearly two decades, I’ve passed my time in the office with people who are now like family to me.

We fight about politics, debate the merit of stories, and discuss our assignments. We mourn deaths. We eat snack, tell jokes, and tease one another. We applaud achievements and support each other’s causes. We celebrate births, weddings, and birthdays. And, tonight we gathered to wish Lori Stokes well on her next endeavor.

We are sad to see her leave our newsroom. But, to everyone smiling in the selfies, her happiness is paramount.

So, She may not be there when we got to the office on Monday. She may not be on the air in her usual anchor chair either. But, she will always be like family.

 

Is There Any Decency Left?

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Six hours of sleep is not usually enough for my body to function properly. But, I was motivated to rise because it was Meals on Wheels Saturday.

I went to bed 2:15 in the morning following a long day. It began with me asking an able bodied woman to move her purse so I could sit it the handicapped section on the train. She merely slid it over so I sat on part of it the entire ride. I followed that with a frustrating day at work. Afterwards, I headed to a Ladies Night gathering.

I limped, cautiously, up three floors then a spiral staircase inside of my condition-worker/friend Ashley’s apartment to the rooftop. My neuropathy made the trek
dangerous but when I got the top I knew the risk was worth it. I was in a grass covered oasis. The sun went down, her table top fireplace shined bright, wine was poured, snacks were eaten and stories were told. Before I knew it, it was after 11 pm.

The Mets game was over by the time I arrived at NY Penn Station. I moved around on tingling feet trying to escape from screaming, pushing, obnoxious drunks for a half an hour until my train was announced.

I wanted my long day to end so I decided to take a cab when I got to Newark. Two African cab drivers began speaking to each other. Then, one of them shouted, “You pay ten dollars.”

“Ah no! The law says you’re supposed to run your meter to determine the fare. I’ve taken a cab before and its six dollars.”
“You pay ten or no cab.”
“No cab.”

I waited the half hour for the next light rail train at 1:15 then I walked home, wondering if I’d oversleep. I didn’t. I woke up thinking that the woman on train, the drunks and the cab drivers made me yearn for more decency. So I decided to project the behaviors I wanted to be surrounded by like compassion and generosity. I happily delivered meals to seniors then my mother I filled book bags for homeless children.

#MealsOnWheels #DisneyVoluntears #Newark #NJTransit #Mets #disability #neuropathy #autoimmunedisease #chronicpain #chronicillness #BackToSchool

Under The Surface

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Her name was Colleen. We’d only met a few minutes before she asked me to open my robe and expose my chest. After that she was silent other than to tell me to, “lay on your back with your eyes towards the ceiling.”

She used a scanner to spread warm gel on the right side of my chest. Then, she began peering inside me to see, what if anything, looked out of place. Moments later, she found something.I felt her stop the scanner and heard clicking on the keyboard. I glanced over and I saw it.

There was a dark circle on the upper left side of the screen. She used the tool to measure it, zoom in and then there was more clicking. She went back to that spot and one other on the right side several times before it was time to switch. Colleen examined the left side too. But, either she found nothing remarkable or I didn’t notice. Afterwards, I was free to go; allowed to leave to contempt the possible results.

I was on my way back to my office with fear running through me when my college friend/former roommate texted me to say that she and her son were in the city and they wanted to stop by. Years, distance and illness kept us from seeing each other often but today the timing was perfect.

My heart leapt and my concern about the test dissipated. All I thought about was being in the moment, catching up, showing them around the tv station where I work and absorbing the love from them.

#mammogram #breastcancer #friendship #disability #chronicillness #chronicpain #igg4 #nyc #ultrasound #roommate #tvnews

View From The Rooftop

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I couldn’t see the bustling NYC streets from the rooftop at the Empire Hotel, which is near Lincoln Center. I heard the wind whipping, glass clinking, laughter and friendly conversation. I’d ventured just blocks from my workplace after a stressful day writing more stories than I thought I could complete to celebrate Ashley’s 30th birthday.

She’d arranged her own party at the bar on top of a hotel I’d stayed at countless times to cover the news of the day: Superstorm Sandy, snow storms, etc. But, I’d never gone up to that floor before. Today a ventured to a “new place” to cheer Ashley.

A talented newcomer to the TV station, Ashley quickly became a friend. Her brains and talent are impossible to ignore. She also genuinely cares about the service we provide to the public and goes above and beyond to deliver it even when she’s not compensated enough for her efforts.

I didn’t notice the hours flew by as I talked to other co-workers who often don’t get time to get to know from 9:30 to 6:15. I learned and I shared. I soaked up the energy from the endless party. I didn’t think once about my cane, my evening pills, the pain in my hips or my fatigue. I was simply a New Yorker out having fun. Ashley inadvertently gave me a gift at her birthday party. Thank you Ashley. Happy Birthday.

#birthday #lincolncenter #empirehotel #nyc #tvnews #disability #chronicillness #chronicpain #autoimmunedisease

Food For My Soul

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My hips burned, the veins in my head throbbed, and my knees cracked as I rose from my bed on Friday morning. When I placed my foot in the floor, I realized sleeping didn’t relieve the ache in between my toes or the balls of my feet either. But, none of this matter, it was time to get ready for work. I thought, I need to get through work to meet my friends to goto our first dinner club event; a monthly home cooked meal at each other’s homes.

I powered through a frustrating nine hours at work that was peppered with a WGAE union meeting, three and a half hours of shows despite computer problems, and learning new software. When 6:40 rolled around, my friends and I hopped into my Fiat and battled rush hour Lincoln Tunnel traffic to Union City, New Jersey.

My friend Sixto opened the door to his apartment and we were greeted by his cat. He warned Cara and Alicia that the cat could turn on a dime and go from sweet to vicious. But, they followed her into the spare bedroom used as an office anyway. I was sitting near Sixto while he cooked when we heard a commotion. Apparently, the cat attacked them and Alicia was shut in the room with the terror. Luckily, she escaped unharmed.

Sixto’s girlfriend Stephanie came home followed closely by another friend, Mike. Our gathering was compete. As wine flowed, a delicious meal with placed before us. We ate, told stories of our youth and did impersonations. We also talked about the plans for our future and exchanged advice on saving money, finding a home and finding love. We just enjoyed each other’s company.

When the meal was over and Mike went home, the rest of us walked up to the rooftop deck and pool that overlooked Manhattan; the city that brought someone from the Dominican Republic, Spain, a Jewish girl from Virginia and a native of New Jersey and New York together.

I could see Weehawken, where I first moved when I came back from Boston. Sixto pointed out his first solo apartment in West New York. We could see our past and our present at the very same time.
The moment struck me. I wondered what happened to that hopeful girl who started her life over despite obstacles. I wondered whether the woman I’d became would take the same risks. I questioned if I’d had surrendered to life rather than embracing it because I let my chronic illness cripple me. These thought raced into my mind because it had been months since I spent a Friday night out; when I didn’t go straight home from work to eat alone in front of the television.

I realized that the gathering with my friends was more than a meal. It was like food to my soul; it rejuvenated me in a way I didn’t know I even needed. It made me feel connected to other people; it made me want to explore and live again.

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Independence For Autoimmune Disease Sufferers

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Happy Independence Day Weekend!

You have about two months left to decide if you want to join my team and walk for a cure. You can also donate if you prefer or come here me speak to walkers on the main stage at Hudson River Park (Pier 95, West 55th Street in Manhattan) on September 10 @ noon.

Or, you can do nothing at all. Your time, friendship and support is all someone with an autoimmune disease, like me, really wants. We want to continue to live independent lives and better treatment options are essential.

If you don’t think you know someone with or of these illnesses, think again: celiac disease, endometriosis, type 1 diabetes, #lupus #Lymedisease #crohnsdisease #Ulcerativecolitis #juvenilearthritis #rheumatoidarthritis #sjogrenssyndrome #sarcoidosis #gravesdisease #restlesslegsyndrome #psoriasis #vitiligo etc…

Here  is the link to donate or join my team of no nonsense walkers:

http://autoimmunewalk.org/NikaBeamon

#autoimmunedisease #cure #nyc

Sweet Reminder Of The Power Of Small Gestures

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Today is refill Friday; the day I add candy bags to the bucket on my desk for my co-workers. So, that meant I had to I get out of bed fifteen minutes early despite joint point, nausea and spotty sleep. I slicked my hair back in a ponytail (it’s shedding again due to hormonal issues) and I slid into what used to be tight Capri pants (now loose due to uncontrolled weight loss). Remarkably, the NJ Transit 8:59 train got into Penn Station on time. Then, I got cut off at the stairs from the tracks to the concourse by able bodied people who never see not care about my cane. I shot a dirty look and got in line. I limped up to the first floor then made my way over to the store. I was in and out in five minutes and got a discount.

Suddenly, I came to a dead stop. A little person was clearing a space for his double amputee wife’s wheelchair near the number one train. The crush of people barely stopped so the man began to shout. His frustration struck a chord with me so I gestured for people to stop and they did. The awkward a smiles we got because of our appearance didn’t bother me. I took my candy and went onto work.
An hour later, a co-worker delayed going home to do me a favor. I got a doctor’s appointment easily and I heard from a friend who told me the other day that if he won the lottery he’d use some of the money to help me. I didn’t think the day could get better until o was greeted with this after lunch. It’s Hi in tootsie rolls; a sweet message to remind me that the smallest gesture can add so much joy to a day. #wabc #nyc #randomactsofkindness #disability #chronicillness #chronicpain #autoimmunedisease #igg4 #njtransit #pennstation