Archive for December, 2010
My heart is so completely filled with Joy right now I can’t describe it! I fulfilled a dream of mine I once thought would never come true! I sang, for the first time in ten years. It was on the Strip in Las Vegas at the Guardial Angel Cathedral. I found myself rather calm during warm-up. The lighting is so different at night in the Cathedral… the candles were all glowing, and two trees on either side of the alter were lit. It was really quite angelic I must say.
The organ started and as the trumpets began, I said a prayer, “Dear Lord, please let me hit every high note and let every note be on key. Help me to be attentive to the song’s dynamics and Debbie our chior director.” With the upbeat of the stroke of Debbie’s trained hands, I started to sing, singing like I’ve never sung before! I was amazed at the sound coming out of my mouth, full, rich sound like it’d been trained for years. I know I still need lots of work on my breathing, but I worked it out for those particular songs and in my moment, I pulled off my dream.
As I looked into the congregation, I saw faces with smiles enjoying our singing. Two levels of people had waited in anticipation to hear us in concert before the mass and then celebrating mass with the Bishop. It looked like their hearts were filled with Joy as well. I sang to them. And then my son caught my eye. There, right where I told them to sit for the best angle, was Brian and my husband, Greg. Brian was signing the peace symbol to me and then using his sign language, the “I Love You” sign. I smiled and nodded. I was complete. No present could ever compare to the feeling I had in my heart, no, my soul, at that moment when I hit those high notes and made every one of them with surprising ease.
Each cue to stand or sit brought me that much closer to the end and I didn’t want to see that come, but after an hours’ concert before mass, and a little under an hour for mass, I was weary. The shoes I chose were not the most comfortable, though they were two inch heels. My hip was sublexing pretty bad and I had a twinge in my mid back that wouldn’t go away. I was uncomfortable at best.
I had to be at the Cathedral for warmup by ten. I was up at 5am and busied myself with last minute cleaning and decorations. I had a visitor who brough a big box of Krispy Kream donuts which I promptlyate one and got a sugar buz from. I rehearsed once in the morning, then again after my visitors left. I laid down for a short while with the bunnies but by then it was time to cook dinner. I made dinner very traditional but simple. In my mind I wanted to relax while getting ready so I started at six to get my shower and do my makeup and dress.
Ahh, my dress. I felt elegant in my dress! It was actually two pieces but it looked like a dress. Since I had to wear all black, I chose a black ankle length, chiffon skirt. My top was a short sleeved, black beaded and sequined top with a V-neck. I glistened but it was subdued. My earrings, bracelet, and necklace were made of crystal rhinestones, shaped in a V to accentuate my neckline. I bought some powder makeup that had a touch of glitter in it to dust my chest so it sparkled in just the right light. I felt like Cinderella. It was a magical night!
There was a group picture taken with the chamber orchestra after the second mass. When mass ended, I just sat there filled with so much emotion I started to cry. I did it! Those were tears of happiness and joy. The lady who traveled to Turkey came over to me to wish me a Merry Christmas. Seeing my tears as I said, “I did it!” she said, “You sure did, you’re now a part of us and we’re not letting you go!” I have, as “they” say, ARRIVED!
Some rehearsals I found difficult, especially at first. They were total strangers and I was trying to connect with them on a personal level; there’s a certain amount of trust needed to know the person next to you is going to sing the right notes. Then there’s the musical level; how does each one of these people perform under pressure and how serious will they take what they’re doing? And then there’s the connection between the director and myself; how well can I follow her directions and do what she asks of me or is it way beyond what I’m capable of? As I sorted out all of this there were times when I’d see some of the people and then two rehearsals would go by before I saw them again. I discovered one lady traveled to Turkey to perform, and one of the guys didn’t start rehearsals until we’d been at it a while.
These people were living their dream, traveling all over the world doing what they loved, performing. I was in a league I’ve never been priviliged to be in before. In the recesses of my mind I wondered if I could keep pace with them. Some days my voice was very rough, but I forged on.
I knew I needed to strengthen my vocal cords so I exercised them at home. My poor bunnies! It was tough on them at first. I rarely had music on before starting rehearsals and once I started practicing, their ears twiched as I hit the high notes. It was enough to make me laugh outloud! As I got better, the twiching stopped. Maybe it was a sign they were getting used to it but I’d like to think they started enjoying what they heard!
I was so eager to be a part of this wonderful group of people that one Sunday I even showed up for rehearsal when there was none scheduled! Debbie just looked at me and laughed! I did an about face and went home. I never missed a rehearsal.
I arrived a bit early for the second mass and asked Debbie if she ever did voice coaching, she said she wanted to talk to me about that since she had a little time in January and thought we might get together to work on my breathing. I was jumping for joy inside! Just after our warm-up, I asked if I could say something and Debbie gave me the floor. I shared, “I just want to thank all of your for such a warm welcome into your group and it’s been a real honor to sing with all of you.” Debbie looked at me and said laughing, “What are you trying to do, make us all cry? We still have to go out and sing another mass!” They each turned to me and gave their own version of how they felt to have me there. I am a part of something good.
After mass, I went up to Debbie to hug her and wish her a Merry Christmas. As I leaned in, I thanked her for the opportunity to sing with them, she looked at me and said, “You know, Easter rehearsals start soon! I’ll be in touch!” I guess that means I’ve really found a home to sing and Christmas wishes do come true!
Remember to take care of you and yours,
hugs, and with much love,
PS here is the link to my facebook pics
In a few hours I’ll fulfill my dream. What better way than singing God’s praises. Thank you to all my facebook and website family, for giving me strength and courage to face the last seven months. There’s one person, one very special person, who won’t even be reading this, I’d love to show my gratitude to, Dr. William Smith, for giving me this opportunity, to him I can only say, you’ve blessed me with your talents, and I wish you could share mine, and hear me sing. Thank you, doc, thank you all! Merry Christmas! May all your Christmas wishes come true as well! Have a safe and blessed night!
Remember that Christ was born on Christmas Day!
Also remember to take care of you and yours,
with much love,
PS Pictures and how things went will be posted by tomorrow night!
So I’m all full of myself feeling really good about having had a great warmup and first half of our rehearsal. We are then led out to the church area where we’ll be seated for midnight mass… I’m on the end! The lady next to me is almost giddy… she can make it onto the platform… I tell her I feel the same way after having had back surgery… she then tells me last year she had to use a cane… she has multiple sclorosis… but for the last nine months she’s been able to walk without a cane… in that moment I was so humbled…. and grateful to God that He gave me a bad back… one that could be fixed…. and an AWESOME surgeon, Dr. Smith, to fix it…. I was starting to tire from standing until she shared that with me… after that…I didn’t notice what I felt like standing… we were just full of joy for our own reasons to be able to stand and sing God’s praises!
more later, just remember to take care of you and yours,
In some form or another we all have a bucket list. Things we’d like to do before we die. I’m no different in that respect. My number one thing on my bucket list is to sing. Sing like there’s no tomorrow, sing like I sang when I was 17, sing with passion and show all the joy that’s within my heart when I do. I WANT TO SING!
There was a time, when I was married to Brian’s biological father, that I wasn’t allowed to sing. At least not in front of him. He hated me singing. I don’t know if it made him uncomfortable, or embarrassed or what but I was not to sing in his presence. I spent a lot of lonely hours while he was tinkering with the race car that I could have passed the time filled in song. When he was gone to a race or on the road on a tow call, I’d rush to the stereo to play my songs and sing along. We lived on three acres in the middle of 88 which gave me all the privacy I needed to crank the stereo up as loud as I could and practice. Practice hitting the high notes and sometimes I’d go into the bathroom to look at my facial expressions to make sure I wasn’t looking like I was straining to hit the notes. That’s actually harder than you may think!
Since I was six years old I’ve wanted to sing professionally. I sang in choirs at school and even performed at my middle school talent show and then at my high school. They held Fiddlesticks at the Packard Music Hall, home of the Kenley Players. It was a summer stock theater where huge named actors like Ed Ames, Sandy Duncan, and Robert Goulet all did a Broadway play, a different one each week. They rehearsed out back on the outdoor stage and when I was a llowed to go to Packard Park, I’d make a bee line to see if they were out rehearsing. I always dreamed of singing on that stage someday. And I did.
My high school was bringing back some of the “old” acts for a 25th reunion show. I offered to sing, but by the time of the show I was 7 months pregnant. The really cool part about that show was that Christopher Columbus was MCing it. He is the Hollywood producer/director of “Home Alone”, “Gremlins”, and “Harry Potter, 1,2 & 3″ fame. So pregnant, I went out on that stage once again, after Chris announced I was having a boy even though I asked him not to…. and I sang my heart out. That was the last time I was on stage, some twenty one years ago.
I’ve sung at church in choir but never quite as good. Brian was so sick and I was so poor, I had little to barter with God to let Brian be well. I prayed that if God would make him well with my help I would give up singing. As it was the sound was harder to control and I was always so exhausted that I felt kindof ok with the one thing God gave me as a talent that I knew He’d know was so important to me. As Brian got progressively stable I attributed his well being to that barter. I was at peace with it, though when I’d go to church and not sing I still winced and my heart was always sad about it. I avoided listening to music for the better part of 15 years, because when I did it made me cry. Not because of the song, but because of the loss of my talent.
I am a firm believer in fate. I believe that’s what brought us to Vegas and all the good things that have happened to us. But mostly, I believe it was fate that brought me to Dr. Smith. If it weren’t for his snap decision to take me on as a patient even though my case looked hopeless to other physicians, he believed in me, he believed in himself enough to make me whole, to give me back my voice. SOMEONE FINALLY BELIEVED IN ME! I don’t trust much and if anyone knew my life story they’d know why I don’t, but when I met Dr. Smith I felt an undescribable calm. A trust I’ve not ever felt, knowing this man would have my life in his hands. I was at peace with my decision to have the surgery.
Singing was not at the top of my list of things I wanted to accomplish early on after surgery. I was too busy dealing with the drugs and healing to even think about singing. When I was given permission to drive, before I went to the store one day, I dropped by the Cathedral on the Strip in the city. There I sat in prayer, thanking God for all the things he’s given me over the years. I prayed for healing, and I even slipped in a line about if He thought it might be possible, I’d still like to sing.
I made my way back to the Cathedral getting stronger each visit. They have a glorious mass with music and singers and a small orchestra! I was enthralled with it. It reminded me of my parish in Ohio. Ours there was very similar. I missed singing. I started to sing with the congregation and by October I saw an annoucement in the bullitin they were looking for singers for the Christmas Choir for Midnight Mass. I called with sweaty palms. I was fearful I’d have to audition. NOPE, just join us next sunday after 12:30 mass. My first hurdle was over. A warm greeting met me as I introduced myself to the choir director and then to the rest of the group.
We started right in with one of the highest, hardest pieces I’ve ever seen. I was cold reading and hearing it for the very first time. First came the Sopranos… we were first to bat. As I sang, I felt my spirits lift, a flush came over me, and I welled up with sound! OH MY, did that feel good! I was home! One of the altos who also plays violin looked over to me with a great big grin and showed a thumbs up and said, ” nice sound!” I was floating! For two days I floated! That night before I went to sleep, I couldn’t help but thank God for yet another blessing He’s given me. And now, through me I can share it with all of you.
Sometimes I have to pinch myself to realize just how fortunate I’ve been. I truly am blessed beyond all measure. The dress is bought, the jewelry is waiting to be worn and as I prepare to fulfill number 1 on my bucket list, I am humbly grateful for the talents God gave to Dr. Smith to give me this chance to perform for all of you. I’m not soloing, but I’m back in the game in the grandest way I know how to be.
The Cathedral will open it’s doors at 10pm December 24th for the 11pm concert before the midnight mass. I hope you can at least share my moment in spirit with me.
Thank you God, and thank you Dr. Smith.
Remember this holiest of seasons, Jesus, the reason for it, and to take care of you and yours,
with much love,
After talking with Amanda, my PT doctor today I feel a little more at peace about my attitude. She seemed to think I am such a unique case that it’s understandable since my condition’s been chronic, I would seek out a permanent measure of relief. Yes, I know there’s risks involved. But walking across the street or driving a car has it’s risks. I think I’m on the right track, but only if Dr. Smith feels it’s right for me to have the neck surgery.
I hedged my bet, so to speak, by doing all that he asked and being in as good a shape as I could be before the surgery and I’m in even better shape now than I think EVER before. So if I should have the neck surgery, I feel I’ll be in a better position than I was even seven months ago.
Dr. Smith said the shots were diagnostic anyway, so I’ll go through them no matter what but if he thinks I’ll have a good outcome, I’ll have the second surgery. I don’t want to live attached to any caveats any more. This 2.o version of me is a little bit scary! I’m actually thinking for me!
Well, tonight I have rehearsal, so I’m gonna keep this short and simple. I have a couple of writings I’m working on and I’ll post them as soon as I can…. maybe even one tonight.
I’ll talk more later, but for now remember to take care of you and yours.
I’m supposed to be fixing dinner, chicken on the grill, but all I can think about right now is the conversation I had with the newest doctor in my trek to wellness. Dr. Jeremy Lipshutz, a very pleasant guy, down to earth and not full of himself at all. He’s a pain management specialist…. but technically he’s an anestesiologist who specializes in pain management. Anyway… I was sent to him by Dr. Smith to get what he called diagnostic shots.
How it was explained to me was that the first set of shots will be a numbing agent. This will be shot right into the area of my neck they think is causing me to awaken like I did this morning at 3:20 with pain, from a sound sleep. If I get any measure of relief from them they will know they’re tinkering in the right area. If I don’t, it’s back to Dr. Smith I go without passing GO. If I do get some relief, then Dr. Lipshutz will progress with another set of shots in another week to see if I get another level of relief. If that doesn’t work it’s off to Dr. Smith I go without passing GO. If it does work, then Dr. Lipshutz will inject me one more time only this time it will be with radio waves to give a few months of relief.
His reasoning is, if I get a measure of relief from the shots then I would just be able to take the shots two or three times a year to get some pain relief.
IF IT’S BROKEN, FIX IT!!! I don’t want to “take” anything for the rest of my life! The level of pain I endured for the last ten years with my leg and back has convinced me… I don’t want to do that again on any part of my body!!!
I totally understand that surgery isn’t always the answer, and I trust Dr. Smith to make the right decision for me about that. BUT, I’m just saying…. I don’t want to take pills, I don’t want to do shots three times a year…..and I certainly don’t want a bandaid! Ionly have so much time left and I am willing to sacrifice my time and be compliant with my perscribed recovery to get to a place of wellness. I don’t want to think about pain any more, or taking pills or remembering to go in for shots. I go to physical therapy and do whatever it takes so I can get back my life. Dr. Smith didn’t fix part of me just to let another part of my body take over and take away the future he gave to me.
Besides I need an income to get on with things in my life. At my age, with all the people out of work, and me not working for the last ten years, what are my odds if I have a “condition” which could be costly later on. UUUUUGH! I’m so frustrated! YES, I want this measure of relief for now. I want to go to the conference and I want to sing. But I’ve got other plans too and stopping and starting isn’t among them.
The appointment for the first shots is on the 18th of Dec. I’m not going to do them with sedation so I can hopefully sing the next day for a full rehearsal with the orchestra!
I also found out today from my dermatologist I have four spots on my face that are precancerous. I went in to have a simple skin tag removed from my eye. I didn’t want them frozen off because that leaves white spots after the healing. IT’S ON MY FACE FOR GOODNESS SAKE! I’ll have polka dots all over my face! I’m not a vain person, I want to grow old gracefully, but GEEESH! I’m only 57, I’d like to think I still have the right stuff in me even at my age! I hate wearing a lot of makeup, it looks so fake. As it turns out I was given some samples for the spots but I couldn’t have the skin tag removed or the bumps on my face removed because that’s considered “strictly cosmetic” according to the doctor. I would have to pay about 300 out of pocket for each one of them and there’s five of them. Yeah that isn’t happening! I suppose I should be grateful. Mom always said “I complained about my shoes until I met a man without any feet.” So I should be grateful I at least have precancerous and not melanoma. I got the message mom!
Yeah, I’m glad today is almost over… when I go to sleep tonight, I’ll have lots to pray about, then I’ll cry in the solace of my own space and tomorrow I’ll keep up the fight!
I feel so alone right now. Just like when I had to make those tough medical decisions for Brian when he was a baby. GOD, please give me the strength and the wisdom to do the right thing. Amen
Thanks for letting me bend your ear, whoever may read this… I’ll get through it…. I always do.
Remember to take care of you and yours,
COMING TO LAS VEGAS
This was a letter written on Brian’s website to let all our friends know what we’ve been doing.
Well, for those who’ve had no clue where we were for the past 6 weeks or weren’t informed, I can now tell you, we moved….. To Las Vegas!
We knew before the end of last school year, but we were busy gathering info for Brian’s new school and where we were going to live and how we were going to get here and, oh yes, packing, packing and more packing.
When all was said and done, we packed until the minute we left Liberty. AND it was a whole day later than planned before we were on our way to our future. Anything that could go wrong did, and at the worst possible time. Murphy was in our path the entire trip.
As I said, we left a day late, at 10:30pm in the rain. I had been awake for 31 hrs. and Brian for about 20. I was driving a 26 foot U-Haul truck with a 12 foot pull-along trailer. Brian drove the Mustang which was packed to the seams of the convertible top! Needless to say, since we were taking our whole lives with us, the truck was at the least, WAY overweight!!! It would be grossly understating we were over the gross vehicle weight of 20,000lbs by, oh, I don’t know, maybe another ton!
Put it this way, there was NO void space in that truck anywhere. It was due directly to a couple of wonderful neighbors we were just getting to know. Before we left we found out this couple have been over-the-road truck drivers for the last 20 years, and before that, he worked for a moving company. Keith and Dorothy sweat right along with my group of helpers and we owe a BIG debt of gratitude to them for showing us how to really pack a truck. Also we owe our humble gratitude to all who labored with us for days to get the truck loaded.
Poor Brian had to follow me the entire trip watching me go off the road several times to avoid cement K-rails or construction barrels. But, the best investment we could have made was a set of walkie-talkies with a 15 mile range. They certainly helped us when we were in heavy traffic. Brian would get into the lane I needed and tell me when the coast was clear to pull the rig over.They also helped when Brian wanted to stop and get pictures of the Serta sheep traveling across country with us.
Well, our first major event which pretty much set the tone for the entire trip was when we weren’t but in Mansfield, Ohio, 2 hours into the trip, we decided to stop and rest, than the truck broke down. Now U-haul is very good about providing road service but their process to get it was at least a 3 hours’ wait. So we decided to get something to eat, but not before I got the truck and trailer almost jacked-knifed in a no pull through parking lot. Brian being somewhat dyslexic, was an added source of frustration for us both since he couldn’t tell me the right direction to turn the wheel to make the rig go the proper way to get us out of that mess. AND, unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the only time the scenario occurred.
Fred, the tow guy, had to get me out of the parking lot before he could fix the truck. He also offered to call for another truck and said we could unpack ours and put it all on a new truck. Brian and I looked at each other and said profoundly NO WAY was that truck getting unpacked. He was tired, I was tired and there was no way we could have ever gotten the other truck packed the way the first one was!
Much to our amazement, while Fred was getting us out of the lot, the truck somehow healed itself and I stood there looking in utter disbelief like some stupid idiot who just got this guy out of bed to drive an hour and a half from his home just to get me out of a parking lot. Thank God he was a good natured human being! We laughed (while I died of embarrassment inside) and he was on his way. And so were we, after we got breakfast, but still with no rest. I had to get on the road and at least out of Ohio. Since I’m a more seasoned traveler than Brian, I left it up to him for our rest stops and breaks. He did this trip with far less caffeine than I did. Or so I thought. He was doing cans of Monster which I thought was a new sodapop. Little did I know it was an energy drink. Once when we stopped to get some lunch he offered one to me because I said I was getting sleepy but I knew we had to press on. I felt like Eve being tempted by Adam. It’s a good thing I didn’t like the taste of it.
Our first official stop was St. Louis where Brian’s Godparents, Kathi and Ray, took pity on us and gave us a place to lay our heads and let the bunny stretch a bit. Yes, our bunny, Skittles, traveled with me in the truck in his cage in the passenger seat. He had it the best of all but he was still a little stressed as well.
When we left St. Louis I finally had my “sea legs” about driving the rig even though Brian’s Godparents told me several times I was nuts for driving that overweight monstrosity. I agreed but that’s the way we were going to get to Las Vegas. So we moved on.
Now, I have to tell you how much I learned about my son on this trip. I learned he was no longer my little boy. I learned he can keep a cool head in a very serious situation when I started to drift off the road. He very calmly talked me back onto the roadway. But more than anything, I learned he had faith, in me and in God. And he wasn’t afraid to express it. And did I mention he has a terrific sense of humor even in the worst of situations?
We laughed at some of the dumbest stuff, sometimes just to stay awake. I learned so much about my son on this trip. I learned how to respect his judgment, I learned to respect his savvy when he chose to get a single room to save money only to find out we had no water to shower or wash with. He had to take care of the negotiations himself! And, I learned to respect him as a man. He certainly earned it. This journey was as much about adulthood and responsibility as it was about moving.
That‘s why, somewhere about Tulsa, when we were having lunch one day when Brian told me he was so sick of looking at the U-haul ad on the back of the trailer, I stopped at a truck place that sold girly posters and bought him one. Walking out of the store he asked me what I was doing, but without answering him I unfurled it, got the tape and put it on the back of the trailer. I looked at him and said, “Now follow that trailer the rest of the trip.” He smiled and said, “YES!” I never heard another complaint out of him the rest of the way to Vegas. The “trophy” poster now hangs on the wall in his bedroom. It was a picture of a scantily clad girl but decent enough for the road.
As we traveled on, our bodies became weary of the sitting and the drone of the tires on the road. It was black – the highway pavement was black,the sky was black and it was hypnotic. The nights were the hardest to drive, the cities were so far apart after St. Louis that the horizon and road all became one. There were no streetlights on the open road, just darkness and your thoughts.
Under those conditions it was hard to focus and more than once I either veered off the side of the road or I went off an exit ramp I shouldn’t have. Still, Brian was my support. We laughed at what I did and kept going, but back on the road, alone with my thoughts I couldn’t help but feel guilty for putting Brian’s safety in jeopardy like this!
What a trooper he was. He claims he was having the time of his life! But I was so scared, and I wasn’t ashamed to admit it. One particular night we stopped at the very first no-tel we saw. I got out of the truck and Brian the Mustang to be greeted by a small man in shorts who looked to be from India. Now, if any of you’ve ever been with Brian when he’s doing his Indian accent, you already know I was in trouble to remain politically correct.
I gave him that “Mommy-look,” the evil-eye telling him he was going to get hurt if he even hinted at using the accent while we were paying for the room. Somehow, without looking at each other the entire time registering, we managed to keep our composure and went to our room, where we fell on the beds laughing hysterically till we almost cried. We were only there about five hours but we slept hard and good and woke up ready to move on.
This trip was to take a maximum of 3 ½ days of non-stop traveling but it turned into a 5-day several-stop saga because of my back. AND, not before we made a stop for the night from sheer exhaustion in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. Again, so tired we could hardly see straight, I pulled into the first under-fifty-dollars-a-night place I could find, Brian right behind me. The sign read “Parking for Trucks, Trailers and RV’s Here” so I pulled in making sure I made a wide enough turn so I wouldn’t get jack-knifed again. BOY WAS I MISLEAD!
The week prior to our arrival, New Mexico had heavy rains and earlier that day the owner of the parking lot regraded the gravel to accommodate more of the run-off if it rained again. I’d have made it too if I didn’t have to cross over a ditch that, in the dark, I didn’t see. I was stuck and all Brian could do was watch in horror. He jumped out of the car as I came to an abrupt halt. I got out to assess the situation only to hear him laughing at me telling me I was in trouble again. The hitch was dug into the dirt about 9 inches. After calling U-Haul and hearing I was on my own for a tow truck, I got in touch with the only tow company in town but they wouldn’t be open until 8am the next morning. So we got a room, laughed and slept.
I was frustrated with myself and embarrassed enough until I heard the lady ahead of me while walking to the front desk start telling her friend about the truck in the parking lot. I told her I was driving the truck, looking for a little sympathy. She laughed, I was mortified. With several onlookers, the tow truck wenched me out of the ditch, moving the truck all of about 15 feet. I thanked the guy and sadly parted with $75. Brian laughed at me and made some comment to the effect that it would be a miracle if we finally made it to Las Vegas. But it was that very thought that kept pushing us on.
When we started getting to higher elevations odd things started to occur. For one, Brian excitedly got on the radio and told me he heard a loud “POP” sound. I asked if he thought everything on the car was working correctly. He said he thought it was and he didn’ t have a flat tire so we agreed to check it our next stop. Neither of us could find anything wrong with the car so we moved on. Brian later got on and said he thinks he figured out what the sound was. He still had a bag of chips we brought from Ohio that hadn’t been opened and due to the change in air pressure at our higher altitude, it burst. We thought that was pretty cool.
Because we were so heavy, we used an inordinate amount of gas, especially as we got closer to Vegas and had to go over the mountains to reach our destination. I was never in Las Vegas and didn’t realize it sat in a valley. In one jaunt I used three fourths a tank of fuel for only fifty miles of travel. It was a fifty gallon tank! Not to mention because of tight security around the Hoover Dam we were turned back by customs officers.
They said they could either just turn us around and we could go three more hours back or they could pull out the rule book and have the truck weighed, I’d have to pull off part of my load and leave it where it was pulled until someone could come back to get it. I opted for the additional three hours of travel time. Somehow it sounded like the best option. I even thanked the officer.
As we back-tracked over the mountain, I saw I wouldn’t be able to make the next peak, I was running low on fuel. I made the painful decision for me to stop at the foothill and wait until Brian braved it on his own to buy some gas tanks and purchase enough gas to get me over the mountain to the next exit. It was 110° and I had just enough gas left to run the air conditioner for the Skittles’ sake until Brian got back with the additional fuel. He accomplished his mission and soon we were on our way. It was the last leg of the trip and both of us were anxious to get out of our vehicles for more than a few hours.
Chatting back and forth as we came over the mountain into the valley where Las Vegas sits, we were both awe-struck by the town’s beauty and relieved our travels were almost over. Our future lay just ahead. Almost in front of us way off in the distance you could see the spire of the Stratosphere Casino and just to the left of it was Wynn. What a glorious sight to behold. Brian’s dreams would now come true.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2006 – An excerpt from a diary I started but never kept up:
It’s been exactlyone month since we arrived in Las Vegas. Our new environment is everything we had hoped for. Setting aside all the glamor and glitz of the Strip, there’s still much to be said for the climate, the beautiful purple, orange and yellow sunsets and the beautiful mountain vistas with the palm trees gently swaying in the breeze. Last week high winds toppled two man-made steel cranes at the Hoover Dam but still those sturdy columns of palms stand at their posts unaffected by the same destructive forces. They are amazing to take in up-close and personal too. I think every street in the entire valley should be lined with them. I guess you could say that we were ready for a change and it’s true, we love it here.
Well, we got in Friday afternoon and pretty much hit the ground running. Rick, Joyce and Samantha, Gregg’s sister and family, was here at our condo. As soon as the truck stopped, the door to the trailer opened and out came the boxes….some up into the condo and others into the one-car garage. Needless to say this ain’t no Tibbetts-Wick property! In Ohio I finally had space for my stuff,
(three acres) but here, everything is still mostly in boxes. By Sunday the truck and trailer were empty and Monday I took Brian to be registered at his new school. He started on Wednesday.
Bishop Gorman High School is the only Catholic high school in Southern Nevada with a student body of 1,034. (www.bishopgorman.org) I thought it would be more “stuff-shirt” with women in fancy suits and men in suits and ties, but it’s mostly like Kennedy, Brian’s old high school! The teachers are terrific! Ninety five percent of them have masters degrees and five have PhD’s. There are about 60 teachers and 2 counselors for each grade as well as one for the whole school. Oh yeah, and they have an RN on staff all day! That was a selling point for me right there!
Brian’s schedule consisted of regular classes and block classes on certain days. The most disappointing thing for him is the Gorman Gales don’t have a winning football team. But when it comes to basketball they’ve gone to state several years and won! They’re also VERY good in golf. Brian already put his bid in for DJ-ing the basketball games and they have accepted his offer. I work in the bookstore but they don’t have near the cool stuff JFK did. Hopefully I can talk them into some cool stuff for them too!
So far Brian’s health has been fair even though he hasn’t had an infusion since he left Ohio. It’s been interesting, and I’m sure part of his condition has been due to the new environment and heat. Brian got sick a few weeks ago like he did in the spring with pneumonia, but it has been slow to develop and hasn’t gotten him down the way it did in the past. That’s not to say we’re out of the woods and he does still need his infusions, but, I’m saying it’s been a real change for him. I’m cautiously optimistic his sicknesses won’t be so horrific.
As for Gregg and I, he is working 2 jobs and has opportunity for 2 more really good ones. I am not only working for the school but I am teaching confirmation classes at our new parish. I found a job with an apellet attorney, a mom and pop office learning about Nevada law so someday I can start back to mediating.
We’ve made some new friends and are just getting to know our way around the town. The people who planned this town did everyone a favor by making all the major streets north and south and east and west. It is really simple to get around here and Boulder Hwy. (we live right off of it) goes diagonally through most of the town and most major streets can be accessed from it. I’ve been amazed by how many shopping plazas there are. In one area of the town I saw two Michael’s craft stores within two blocks of each other. You’re never very far from anything for any reason, anywhere you go. There are several Catholic churches and lots of other denominations. I see lots and lots of gated communities everywhere and construction is everywhere. The news reports there are anywhere between 6 – 9 thousand people relocating to Vegas a month. The public schools boasts a population of 307,000 plus. The need for bus drivers and teachers for them is overwhelming and the need for school police officers is at an all-time high. They have 24 positions available and are begging to find someone to fill them.
If ever there was a land of opportunity, it’s here. It doesn’t even compare to in the 70’s before the bottom of the steel industry fell out when all of Warren was working and you could go anywhere for a job. It’s just so much better here, because there is so much work supporting the major industry of gaming. Like I said, we love it here and wouldn’t considering ever going back to Ohio to live. I want all my friends from back there to move here so we can all be prosperous!
Seems hard to believe we’ve been here four and a half years!
I’ll be posting more soon, in the meantime, remember to take care of you and yours,
I just have to talk about this with someone… since there’s no one else to talk to, you’re it! LOL
I feel like such a dufus! I know my interview could have gone a lot better if it weren’t for a couple of mistakes on my part… hindsight is sooo amazing!
My first mistake was I told the producer I would be doing this interview only once… by that I meant that once the taping was over I knew I’d be drained. However, I think he might have thought I was only going to do one take of the interview…. STUPID ME for even saying something like that to someone like him! GEESH! What was I thinking?
I kinda got the drift of it long after, while I was driving home from the interview. I had a lightbulb moment when, going over the interview in my mind… I recalled him asking me about six different things in one question, some of which were unrelated…I tried to link them all together but there were too many to remember and I didn’t want to look stupid. Maybe he thought I was in a hurry. I didn’t tell him to slow down or ask him to give them to me in related questions. My next mistake was panicing by him saying “So tell me about…” that word ”tell”, when posed to a writer, is like a kiss of death…writers are storytellers, we “show” not “tell”. In my mind I was so confused as to how to answer the question because I was ”telling”. I shortened a lot of my answers because of this and didn’t feel I gave my all.
All this plus the fact that both these guys had international phones and my phone went on the caflooy…I wasn’t able to call them but I could text them….then my phone died. AAAAAARGH! So I regrouped and had Brian get me a different phone, but he forgot to set up the voicemail….AAAAAAAARGH!! It was Murphy’s Law at it’s finest!!
When the producer and I first met, it was while waiting for the doc to come into the exam room, we had such a relaxed back and forth I was really looking forward to the interview. Because of their schedule, they bumped the second part of my interview to the next day…I thought that might be a good thing so I could anticipate more of what they were looking for after getting a feel for his line of questions and could practice it in my mind beforehand. Then I got a call they were bumping it to the following day…by that time I had so many conversations with them in my mind that when the real one came I was quite comfortable with thinking they knew all the stuff already! INTERVIEWING IS NOT EASY!!! LOL I must have looked like a real dork to them.
I feel like I let them down by not ”telling” as much as I did on the first meeting, expanding in the areas where I felt would be most compelling. I WISH LIFE HAD A REWIND BUTTON!!!
I suppose the adage “IT IS, WHAT IT IS” applies in this case, but gosh I feel so stupid!
My only hope is that I may be allowed to redeem myself if I get the chance to talk at the NuVasive conference in January… They’re the company who manufactures the hardware that’s inside me; all 30 titanium pins and one very large screw! I was asked to go to SanDeigo to NuVasive’s annual conference to be on a discussion panel. Hopefully I won’t look so stupid then!
I so want to get on with my life,and finish my first book about Brian and I. I really need to find a publisher! In a few days Gregg will be back and I’ll have no time of my own to write…I need a quite place I can go to just write uninterrupted. The second book is going to be about me AFTER my surgery and how completely and profoundly different I am as a person and where life is now taking me because of it. I have to get my neck taken care of first, the sooner the better. Not too soon, I want to sing for Christmas Midnight Mass and I want to go to the conference. Tomorrow I get some shots… they will tide me over until then and then Dr. Smith will reevaluate me. I hope he just lets me have the surgery so I can finally be done with all of this pain! I have BIG PLANS! But first, NO PAIN!
Eight months ago I never thought I’d be saying some of the things I am now. It’s quite exciting! I am really liking the new 2.0 version of me!
Well, I guess I have said enough, and it’s almost time to go to Physical Therapy I’ll have more to say later because I think when I’m laying on the PT table heating pads. LOL I do my best thinking then and when I’m in the pool swimming!
I’ll post more later, just remember to take care of you and yours,
There are times in our lives when fate and opportunity knock on your door at the same time. It sounds so good to be true that you never really think you deserve it and yet, for the last three days an experience of that nature happened to me.
My doctor, Dr. William Smith, is having a documentary made about the work he’s doing here and overseas. He has perfected techniques to do minimally invasive back surgery on paitients who would otherwise be doomed to a shorter lifespan and or a wheelchair for their remaining years. With his innovative techniques he is able to afford his patients more mobility over traditional methods as well as giving to them a measure of peace knowing they can think of other things besides pain. He helps individuals get back to their lives without pain.
As part of this documentary some of his patients were interviewed to share “their story” about how life was before and after he performed their surgery. There was the interview with the local attorney who was in a wheelchair before surgery who now walks three miles a day. And then there is the police officer who, in 26 minutes on an operating table, will be able to return to work and provide for his family.
And then there’s me. I was the one patient of Dr. Smith’s who was so deformed that one doctor decided he couldn’t operate on me. Another doctor I saw said he could fix me but I would still have pain and I wouldn’t have much mobility. Dr. Smith was convinced he could help me and did. He fused together six levels with bone grafts. I discovered today that I am the first patient of his to have that many levels done.
It wasn’t until I became Dr. Smith’s patient that I fully realized I could have my life back. I was no longer doomed to a shorter lifespan and wheelchair. I’m only six months and some odd days out from my surgery and I feel like I’m 35 again. It’s simply amazing how different I feel on so many levels. Of course there’s the physical differences, and the emotional ones as well. But there’s something even philisophical that changed in me. I can’t quite explain it but it has to do with my world view, about people, places and artifacts and cultures. It’s opened my eyes to a world of discovery I never thought possible. Like traveling. I want to travel, to enjoy other cultures, to be among new environments. I was not able to sit on a plane for any length of time so I never thought I’d be able to go long distances.
I viewed my life in terms of “used tos,” I used to do this or that instead of saying I am doing this or that. I thought I was done having a quality in my life that made a person whole. I feel much more whole now than ever before, thanks to Dr. Smith. I can become a productive member of my community now when there once was no hope in my heart.
The word gratitude doesn’t even come close to the feeling I have inside when I think of all I’ve now been blessed with. I pray for Dr. Smith’s well being that he can do this a very long time and reach thousands more, giving to them what he’s given to me.
If there was a manual on how to change a person’s life, the first words would read… At your first appointment with Dr. Smith you will be given hope for a second chance at life… Although he’s a warm and genuine person, he keeps himself close to the vest so he can help as many people as possible. It is this writers’ opinion he should allow himself to discover the depth and breadth of what he is really giving to his patients, countless lives that were not lost to pain and suffering.
The producer of this project told me he’d be in touch to share the details about the airing of this documentary. I’m not nearly excited to see me on TV as I am to hear all about the innovations he has pioneered. The more I know the more I want to know.
I’ll let all of you know as soon as I do when the piece will air.
The last three days have been very exciting, I’m so glad I opened that door. Remember to take care of you and yours and I’ll post again soon,