Looking To The Future

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20 years have gone by as quickly as a wave in the ocean. I drifted into the world of TV to help a friend and ended up wading my way through nearly every position that exists. After keeping myself afloat in the business by being a jack of all trades, I finally found my calling as a writer.

I wanted the world to hear my voice through words. So, I expressed myself through my stories, show segments and specials. For two decades, I recorded and relayed information on nearly every major world event for one company. Today, as I arrived home my 20 year statue was waiting.

I don’t have another 20 years of snowstorms, missed holidays and long days of breaking news coverage in me. This is not because I’m not physically up to the task. I don’t want to miss out on the other parts of my life anymore. I also have more to say that won’t fit in a 20 second voiceover.

Yet, I look back on my career with fondness and I wonder what’s next for me? How will I make my mark on the world next and make a difference? I ask myself this a lot and as soon as I have the answer I will wade into my next 20 year adventure.

#journalism #tvnews #careerwomen #disability #chronicillness #autoimmunedisease #invisibleillness

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Autoimmune Walk NYC

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My praise for Alka-Seltzer cold and sinus and its ability to suppress my cold symptoms enough so I could speak at the Autoimmune Walk NYC 2017 wasn’t caught on camera but the majority of my speech is here:

I can only hope that as I continue to share what I’ve learned will motivate others to find a way to cope with whatever obstacles are in their path.

#invisibleillness #autoimmunedisease #chronicillness #chronicpain Autoimmune Walk #disability #spoonie

Speaking From The Heart

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I downed a bottle of Alka Seltzer severe cold medicine in a water bottle before I stepped on stage at the Autoimmune Walk NYC to speak. My chest was burning. My voice was fading and my nose was running but I was at Pier 95 and I was going to speak. I was going to make the friends, relatives and co-workers that supported me and came to hear me proud.

I stepped up to the microphone with my speech in my hand and I folded it in half. I decided not to read it. Rather, I chose to speak from my heart. I told them I got a triple a plan; a plan to accept, adapt and achieve.

I said, “William Shakespeare asked: “What’s in a name?” I submit to you that there is freedom and power in a name. Knowing what I had led me to Mass General Hospital to the Igg4 center; a place where hundreds of other people suffering like me receive treatment. Knowing what I had let me know that the procedures is endured were necessary; that my illness was not just in my head. The name of the sickness freed me to find the best doctors to treat me. It also released from the fear that there was no hope for me. Accepting I had an autoimmune disease, like most of you, meant understanding that I can’t be cured but I can be treated; I can have a better quality of life.

Once I came to that realization, I had to learn to live with my chronic illness; that has required adaptation. For better or worse, I’m not like everyone else or even the next person afflicted with the same autoimmune disease. I had adapt so I could continue to achieve all that I want in life.”

#autoimmunedisease #chronicillness #chronicpain #invisibleillness #autoimmunewalk #igg4 #nyc

Ten Dollar Gratitude Lesson

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I was rushing to catch the light rail home after working on Labor Day when I decided to buy a corn muffin. I figured I deserved a treat. I brought my lunch, ate fruit for dessert instead of a mountain of candy and I competed more parade stories than I care to remember. I was tired but focused on the things I have yet to do when a man approached me.

“Miss, can you please buy me a cup of coffee?”

His manners struck me because no one else on the way home seemed to have any. Families blocked the stairs at NY Penn and didn’t move when people walked up. The handicapped section on the train was taking so I had to search for a seat. People pushed on the stairs to catch a train on track five at Newark Penn Station. And, I had to give the side eye to a lady who pushed into me as I got to the exit door.

I turned around and a man, maybe my parents age was next to me. He too had a cane.

“Sure, I can do that.”

When I ordered my muffin, he said, “that sounds good.”

So, I asked, “are you hungry?”

“Yes, I am. I’m tired of being homeless and begging but I’m so hungry.”

“I’m sorry things are so hard.”

“I can’t work because I’m too weak.”

I thought, I’ve felt that way myself.

“Well, tonight let me get you something to eat.”

I happily spent the last ten dollars in my wallet. I was grateful I had it to spend. I don’t have much but I’m grateful for what I do have: a job, a home and food to eat. None of it may be perfect but I’m doing okay.
#autoimmunedisease #invisibleillness #chronicillness #chronicpain #homeless #nyc #newarkpennstation #gratitude

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