Public Access to Mesh Trials – It’s a Constitutional Right

The layout of a typical U.S. Courtroom

The layout of a typical U.S. Courtroom

Please read my most recent blog for @BaronBudd | Protecting What’s Right! In it, I explain how you can confidently exercise your right to observe our judicial system at work for “We the People!” It can be intimidating, but after reading my post, you’ll be “In the Know.” Thank you Baron and Budd for helping us to elevate the voices of those who are mesh-injured and their families.

Access the full post here:

Public Access to Mesh Trials – It’s a Constitutional Right.

#HatsOff to my fellow WeGo Writers! 5 Blogs I Missed! #HAWMC

Our wedding invitation from 11 years ago! Yep, I did that - scarlet red! It was BEAUTIFUL!

Our wedding invitation from 11 years ago! Yep, I did that – scarlet red! It was BEAUTIFUL!

Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary (11 years!), so I am finishing up my WeGo Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge (#HAWMC) today! I am thrilled that I was able to participate and so grateful for a big ‘ol wild internet, full of people, like me, who want to make a difference in this life by writing and speaking up in support of a cause, condition, disease, or in support of a better way of journeying towards personal health and a more caring, empathetic, knowledgable and healthy world for all of us.

#HatsOff to my fellow writers for a meaningful month of writing and for crossing the finish line!

For my last entry, I am going to recap by writing an omnibus blog including the prompts I missed. I am proud of my commitment to stick it out for the long haul, but I did miss some days of writing!

Here’s my way of making up my homework! :)


April 10th Prompt – Comfort Food

We’re not all 5 star chefs, but we all need to eat! Tell your readers how to make your favorite dish. Does the recipe hold a good memory for you? Is it the act of cooking itself that brings you joy, or the people that come together to eat it? #HAWMC

My family loves to cook. My father’s side of the family has taught me how to cook and the joys of sharing a kitchen and table with those I love. My grandmother taught me that every single meal is a celebration. Breakfast, lunch, dinner – finger sandwiches or foie gras, she’d set the table with the entire inventory of proper utensils, beautiful placemats, beautiful dishes, cloth napkins, serving dishes and their attendant details – serving utensils, trivets, and decorative displays. I lost my Grandma Honey my senior year of high school. I miss her often and know she would have adored mine and my sister’s families. I imagine her cooking for the hoard of us and loving every minute of it. My dad picked up her love of and talent for cooking, and between both of them, I learned all I’d ever need to know to be a home chef. Since my dad ended up owning restaurants as his career (That’s how much the Johnson family loves food!), I learned classical styles of cooking and restaurant-quality fundamentals of cleanliness and kitchen protocol. I am so grateful for my grandmother and my father’s teachings. I did not know until middle age that I had skills that many people pay to learn – knife skills; order of operations; which pans to use for what; basic techniques like how to sautèe; how to make a roux; how to tell when a steak is cooked to medium, medium-rare or well-done; how to caramelize onions; and the difference between a fine chop, dice and a julienne. I knew these terms in elementary school. Amazing actually now that I think about it.

My dad's biscuits and gravy! Gravy is best made in a seasoned cast iron skillet! This skillet has been handed down through our family to me! Yay me!

My dad’s biscuits and gravy! Gravy is best made in a seasoned cast iron skillet! This skillet has been handed down through our family to me! Yay me!

In my family we have a funny way of talking about our all-time favorite comfort foods. We call it the “death row meal.” I know it’s kind of morbid, but morbid things are sometimes pretty funny. Anyway, we ask one another frequently, “If you were on death row, and you had to choose your very last meal, what would it be?” Some of my family members say extravagant things like steak or lobster, accompanied by a fine, red wine.

Proof of proud redneck status and life long love of GRAVY!

Proof of proud redneck status and life long love of GRAVY!

Nope, not me.

I’m pretty down home. My death row meal is my dad’s breakfast. Like any good Texan, one of the first “complex” dishes I learned to make was cream gravy for biscuits. Yep, seems pretty trite, but that’s my death row meal. My dad’s homemade biscuits with cream gravy, fried potatoes, scrambled eggs topped with cheddar cheese (or Migas – a Mexican dish with eggs) and bacon, yes, bacon. That is how red this neck is. :)

April 14/ “I feel best when…”

Write about moments you feel like you can take on the world. Where, when, and how often does this happen?
 #HAWMC

Wow. The last year has been learning about how to manage that “taking on the World” thing. We all have limits. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis has taught me to ask for help in taking on the world! :) I feel we can take on the world when we’re surrounded with those who love us and want us to succeed. I feel I can take on the world when I’m in a cooperative environment of good folks who have the same goals. I feel like I can take on the world when people put aside their own egos in order to help others and be part of a successful team that helps others. I feel I can take on the world when I get a phone call from someone in our community who has benefitted from the work of the foundation I built, The Mesh Warrior Foundation for the injured, www.tmwfoundation.org. I feel I can take on the world when people “get it,” when someone understands the work I’m doing and why I am trying to help at such a feverish pace. I feel I can take on the world when someone says, “Thank you.” All that said, I’ve learned that it’s wise to ask for others to help, for no one can take on the world alone!

TMW_line_art_color_logo

April 15/Get Excited!

What revs up your internal engine? When you see, hear, feel this it gets you excited and ready to face what comes next. Tell us what it is! #HAWMC
Health Activists Need a LION'S HEART!

Health Activists Need a LION’S HEART!

We also have to develop Alligator Skin!

We also have to develop Alligator Skin!

When I see, hear or feel AT ALL, I get excited and ready to face what comes next. I’ve learned that the trick to being a good Health Activist is growing Alligator Skin but keeping a Lion’s Heart. This world is brutal sometimes, and as we all know, it doesn’t stop for anyone – sick or healthy. I’ve had to learn to take the hits (that keep on coming) by growing a thick skin, knowing who I am, and retaining a tender heart that will take on anguish in order to continue to bravely press forward without fear of doing good. When I feel that I’ve hit the mark, keeping a tough skin, but remaining tender despite a brutal emotional beating by life, that’s when I’m most invigorated!

April 16/Life Goal

What’s one thing that your 10-year-old self thought you would do? Can you still do it? How would you approach it to make it happen? #HAWMC

My life goal is pretty simple. It took me a while to learn how to articulate it, but at 10 years old, 20, and 30, it’s always been the same, and it’s fairly simple at its root.

never-waste-your-time-dream-hampton-quotes-sayings-picturesI do not want to waste my life. I want to be useful.

In my 20s, I was terrified that I would waste my life on meaningless things – activities, passing the time with indulgences, forgetting what is important in life. I wanted to find a way to do good with my life, and I wasn’t sure how to go about the task.

As a child, my life was very dynamic, and I always felt a sense of purpose. I started working at my father’s business when I was 14, and I had a rich life of work and play. I held leadership positions on my sports teams; I had plenty of friends; I excelled in school and enjoyed learning; I became a Christian when I was 13. All of that gave me a sense of purpose. College was a time of great personal gains – discovering the joys of life; meeting different types of people; living in a different city; and, of course, a rich inner world of constant learning. Some classes were exhilarating; some were crazy hard; some were dull, but I finished with good grades and a diploma! Whoop! I cherish my college education.

In my 20s, I thought my vocation would define me. I had a hard time breaking out of the monotony of my job. After the intensity of my senior-year college classes, I had a hard time with a “corporate” or “9 to five” type job, which, surprisingly, required little thinking. I had a hard time NOT identifying my entire being with what I did for a living. This, coupled together with some hard life lessons, ensured my 20s were a difficult time of soul searching; trial and error; mistakes and missteps. As I matured, I realized that a vocation is simply a way to EXPRESS life’s goals, a means to use my skills to earn money, not something to define my whole being. With that realization, I became involved in volunteering in many capacities, and by my late 20s, I had learned to lead small groups of women; I had mentored young adults; my husband and I had mentored newlyweds and folks who’d been married longer than us but needed counseling. I thrived in this environment. I felt useful. I learned what made me tick, how I’m wired. I am Myers Briggs ENFP; I’m the quintessential Aquarian; I’m more of a right brainer than a lefty. Now in my 40s, I’m hitting my stride. I know myself. I know my life goals, and I know I am not wasting my life, and that I am useful – useful to my husband, my family, to those in need, to my mesh-injured community an family of chance, to myself and to my God. That is my life’s goal and really all I’ve ever wanted.

April 17/Health Tagline

Give yourself, or your patient experience a tagline. Grab attention with your slogan. Make sure it’s catchy!
#HAWMC

Oh holy moly. . . taglines. I have lived my life with taglines, deadlines, cutlines, ad lines and bylines. A career of almost twenty years in the disciplines of marketing and advertising has taught me about all sorts of lines. I actually always loved writing lines of copy, when I could. Though I was most often in a management role, managing others who wrote copy, it is still one of my very favorite parts of the creative process. Creating a tagline is not just about a pithy statement; it one of the most important ways to develop the voice of a community or in the business world, a brand. When I created The Mesh Warrior Foundation for the injured, I knew that our community needed a voice – a singular message. There are so many people helping and fighting for those who are mesh injured, but when I began to learn about my mother’s injury and about the community that I was becoming a part of, I sensed a lack of voice. None of us had yet figured out how to explain mesh injury with simplicity and humanity, for it’s a complex injury, illness and it’s also a political injury. It’s controversial by nature because the injury is due to a failed medical device called #transvaginal polypropylene mesh. Many of the profoundly injured are involved in litigation, which makes EVERYTHING so much more difficult.

With Twitter’s advent of the hashtag phrase, taglines have become a ubiquitous part of everyday life on the internet, whether people know it or not. Phrases not already in use are hard to come by, and sometimes, it’s best to use an already-in-use tagline (if not copyright protected) because it can draw people from any walk of life, even those, maybe even especially those, not familiar with #polypropylene mesh injury. This injury can happen to anyone and has. The wider net we cast, the better.

The phrases, in the form of a tagline, I’ve most often used to define our community’s plight is #NotOneMore, because the harm caused by transvaginal mesh is 100% preventable. It is medical error, greed and arrogance at it’s worst. Educating those who’ve not YET been injured is just as important as aiding those already injured. This grass-roots video that our community made is a good example of our tagline and hashtag phrase, #NotOneMore.

One Doctor, One Paragraph – What I Wish I Had Known

One doctor’s paragraph explains what I wish I would have known before my mother was approached and recommended to receive a polypropylene transvaginal mesh implant.

Dr_Greenberg_Quote_Hindsight

#HAWMC

Have you ever been “shoulded on?”

Have you ever been the recipient of a well-intentioned comment like, “You should just…. (take a walk, meditate, pray, take antidepressants) and then you’ll feel better?” The well-intentioned person is usually speaking from some form of personal experience, probably not a personal experience with chronic pain.

I call that getting “shoulded on.”

With any chronic illness or injury, including mesh injury, it’s just not that simple. If the suffering person could do this “something” that he or she “should do,” it’s likely that person has already been there, done that. And it’s likely whatever “it” is didn’t work. Sometimes, these well-intentioned “you shoulds” make the chronically ill feel a sense of shame and failure.

A common and natural reaction I’ve observed in response is:

“Well, don’t you realize that I have tried EVERYTHING, and if it were that simple, I would be doing what you say I SHOULD do, and I would feel better, and of course, I’d keep doing the very thing you’re suggesting I SHOULD DO because it would work!”

Again, well-intentioned suggestions are just that, but most people would be surprised at the lengths the chronically ill have already gone to, to remedy the pain and loss their condition brings.

Most people who suffer with a chronic, debilitating condition live life day by day, or often, hour by hour, minute by minute or second to second, struggling and coping.

In the reality of chronic illness, when asked, “How are you doing today?” many sufferers shudder at the thought of what response you might be expecting, and the only honest answer is, “I have good days and bad days.”

So on the bad days, here are five things I do for myself and with those I love. I don’t think you should try them, but if you want to, you can.

A bee hive! A real live bee hive!

A bee hive! A real live bee hive!

5) I look for a distraction/diversion – Chronic is a full-time job. That means pain, fatigue, depression, discomfort and all forms of illness never take leave fully of their victims. Can you imagine having to feel and cope every single minute or every single day? Even a second of distraction is worth any amount of effort. Example: Today, God gave us the good fortune to witness a swarm of honey bees settling down to begin building their comb and hive. What a miraculous diversion. I’ve never seen a swarm of honey bees. It was a delightful distraction.

4) I Learn Something New – about anything other than illness or how to cope with it. Chronic illness narrows our experiences so much that it can sometimes feel like there is nothing more to live for, nothing left to gain from life. A hint of the extravagance, vastness and the majesty of the universe awaits in a single new thought, word, or path. Learning something new can be the springboard for new experiences when we’re well enough to leave the hospital, the bed, or whatever kind of incapacitation with which we suffer.

A new word!

A new word!

It's true; you can't make an old friend. This is my friend of 17 years!

It’s true; you can’t make an old friend. This is my friend of 17 years!

3) I Call a Friend – This idea seems trite, but it isn’t. It works. The trick is to call the right friends. Call someone who loves you, someone who has walked through your journey with you, someone who’s a good listener, someone with empathy. Sometimes chronic illness crowds out the blessings of life. None of us can make an old friend. Someone who’s stuck by you through your illness obviously loves you. Give them the chance to show that love by calling and asking for help through a hard day.

2) I Get Creative – You really don’t have to be Rembrant or Andrea Boccelli to gain joy from artistic endeavors. A pad of art paper, a lap desk, and a set of pastels can go a long way. Science has proven that changing up the way we express our emotions can help to reset the mind and our negative thought patterns. Listen to a new type of music with headphones. Draw the colors you hear; draw the shapes you feel; create an image from the music or lyrics. Self expression through art is surprisingly rewarding, and surprisingly unrelated to how good you are at it!

abundance

Thank you Mesh Angel Dany!

Thank you Mesh Angel Dany!

1) I Show Gratitude – Some days are just bad. We all know it. When nothing works to relieve the pain and discomfort of chronic illness, sometimes our best option is to just get through the day the best way we know how. On days like these, I pray. I thank God for the good I have in my life. I try with all my might not to ruminate over what I don’t have or what isn’t fair, how things could or should have been, or the dreaded “why me?” Instead, I thank God for my husband, my mother, my home, my sweet dog cuddled up next to me. If I’m feeling a hint better, I write notes of gratitude to others. I tell them what I love about them and that I’m grateful for their friendship. On some days, all I can muster are spoken words or thoughts, interspersed with “thank you.” In other words, I try to ruminate on joyful thoughts and the blessing I have.

And honestly, some days none of the above works. I still feel horrible. I still can’t get out of bed, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. When I’m at the bottom of the bottom, there is literally only one direction to go, so I move away from the bottom, and the more skills I have to do so, the better.

#HAWMC

Patient Profiles – Word Clouds Reveal Hidden Truths

Today I’m using Word Clouds to rewrite the patient profiles I’ve written for this blog. Word clouds are an excellent resource to create the mind’s eye view of a written piece. I think the following patient profiles are pretty self explanatory.

Mesh is a family illness, and it is painful for the injured person and every one who loves that person.

My family's story: http://tinyurl.com/qdswzps

My family’s story:
http://tinyurl.com/qdswzps

Lady Doe's Story: http://tinyurl.com/o4cj4fx

Lady Doe’s Story:
http://tinyurl.com/o4cj4fx

Heather's Story: http://tinyurl.com/mepppn8

Heather’s Story:
http://tinyurl.com/mepppn8

#FitnessFriday Makes Me Wanna Gag

Our #HAWMC prompt today is:

“Tell us about your how you maintain a healthy lifestyle. What is your favorite type of exercise? How do you manage fitness with a chronic illness?”

This could be a really be a short blog.

The answer is I don’t know how to manage my fitness with my chronic illness.

YogaArteWhat I do know is that an hour and a half “Power Yoga” class is what I used to do on my “rest days.”

Before my illness took hold of me, I was able to run 3 to 5 miles with ease – uphill, in the middle of the day, in summer, in Texas, and I was invigorated, not fatigued or tired at all. For the first five years of my marriage, I was up at 5 a.m. two or three days a week running up to 10 miles before work.

The Taco Run in - a rainy Dallas morning that was full of fun with my dad and friends.

The Taco Run – a rainy Dallas morning that was full of fun with my dad and friends.

What I know is that for most of my 30s, I was able to go outside and garden for several hours, in 100 degree weather, and feel rejuvenated afterwards – ready for a night out on the town with my husband even.

What I know is that I’ve trained for two marathons; finished one; and I’ve run many half marathons and 15Ks on Saturday mornings before a day of running errands, or Sunday mornings before church and a day spent with family cooking and playing with the kids. Sure, there were injuries along the way – pulled muscles, a twisted ankle here and there, and overuse injuries, but defeating these injuries was what drove me to recover.

Good clean fun on a Saturday morning with my friend, Leigh.

Good clean fun on a Saturday morning with my friend, Leigh.

The Dallas Color Run, one of my FAVORITE 5Ks of all time! So much fun!

The Dallas Color Run, one of my FAVORITE 5Ks of all time! My bum is the middle one.

No exercise for you. Today is like yesterday. Art credit: Allie Brosh

No exercise for you. Today is like yesterday.
Art credit: Allie Brosh

Now, I plead with my doctor. . . “Can I get back to jogging yet?”

His response, “If you do that right now, it’ll put you right back in the bed.”

Sigh, grrrrr, defeated, deflated.

My exercise now includes taking the dogs for a short walk, and that feels like I’ve run several miles. A fully-active day feels like I’ve been intentionally exercising all day. It’s “a good day,” when I’m able to get up early, get out, do some shopping, research for a writing assignment and/or write a blog, and possibly a very low-key dinner out with friends.

I guess what I’ve learned about fitness with a chronic illness is to be patient with my body. I don’t know if I’ll ever run another marathon (actually, I think I just decided I don’t WANT to run another marathon) but I do know that exercise WILL feel good again, and that my body has a miraculous ability to heal itself as I support it with good nutrition and self care. I am committed to my healing, and as one Hashimoto’s Warrior puts it, I’m committed to #DIG-AT-IT (find the root cause).

D – Depletions, Digestion

I – Iodine, Inflammation, Infection, Immune Imbalance

G – Gut, Gluten

A – Adrenal, Alkaline Phosphotase

T – Triggers

I – Intolerances

T – Toxins

Here is a video that inspires me; tears at 1:13.

I’m so grateful for the pharmacists, nutritionists, physicians, nurses and other caregivers who are committed to digging at it with me. Dr. Izabella Wentz, thyroid pharmacist, has written a written a great Hashimoto’s reference book, centered around finding the root cause of Hashimoto’s with the understanding that not everyone has the same root cause. I’m looking forward to many more Color Runs, Taco Runs and rejuvenating sessions of yoga. I’ve never taken exercise for granted, and now I know I never will.

#HAWMC

Pascal’s Wager – Have you considered it?

Most days, by 10 a.m. I have already asked myself one of two questions:

1) “How am I going to deal with this?”

and/or

2) “Who can help us now?”

This is how I feel by 10 a.m.  Art Credit: Allie Brosch

This is how I feel by 10 a.m.
Art Credit: Allie Brosch

Recently, it’s become clear to me that the small voice in my heart answers the same way each day, “I am the only one who can help you. I am helping you. Trust me. There is no one else.”

I know this inner voice well. It is the voice of my God, the God of the Bible, with whom I have walked for 27 years now. It’s not always been a straight and narrow walk, but over the years, He has shaped me into more of the woman he created me to be. Growing in faith is often painful and humbling. Contrary to popular belief, walking in Christian faith is difficult. It was difficult in Biblical times, and it’s difficult now, but God told us it would be. Sacrificing temporal comforts for eternal peace isn’t as easy as this sentence makes it seem.

Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal

I have written about Pascal’s Wager on other occasions. It could be called a logical path to what many feel is an illogical faith in the unseen. Pascal’s Wager is a theorem, proposed by 17th century French philosopher, mathematician, and physicist, Blaise Pascal.

For today’s WeGoHealth blog, it’s “writer’s choice.” So my choice is to tell you about the healing love of a supernatural God who pursues us in order to love us, comfort and help us in our time of need and teach us truth. History favors the truth of the life of Jesus Christ and the God of the Israelites, so digging into questions about God and the Bible is the best way to be surprised at how real and relevant the God of the Heavens really is.

I’d like to introduce you, reconnect you or comfort you with the truth of this God through another writer’s interesting take on this well-known apologetic philosophy, Pascal’s Wager.

After all, for the sick, the injured and the healthy, healing is never simply physical in nature. It’s also mental, emotional and spiritual. God says our bodies will break down, betray us, age, and eventually dust will return to dust, but our spirits are everlasting. He has gifted me with a faith that believes this to my core. I hope considering this philosophy engenders curiosity and a greater understanding of the proposition of believing in God and believing God.

Investment Advisor and Author, Jared Dillian

Investment Advisor and Author, Jared Dillian

 Enjoy author and investment advisor, Jared Dillian’s take on Pascal’s Wager:

http://www.mauldineconomics.com/the-10th-man/pascals-wager

#HAWMC

Reflections of a founder, health advocate and patient

Reflections of a founder, health advocate and patient

This is a day to reflect. The WEGO Health family is reflecting on the inspiring and tireless work Health Activists do every day while we, in turn, reflect on our personal journey.

wego_healthWeGo Health asks, “What are your thoughts and hopes for the future?”

As the founder of The Mesh Warrior Foundation (www.tmwfoundation.org), my thoughts and hopes for the future have become much more concrete and practical.

Last week, a mesh-injured woman cried out to cyberspace and left the Twittersphere to us, to wonder whether she’d wake up from a suicide attempt.

MY DREAM FOR THE NEAR FUTURE IS TO HAVE THE FUNDS TO CREATE A HOTLINE OF MESH-INJURED WOMEN WHO CAN BE THERE FOR HER AND THOUSANDS MORE LIKE HER.

The past few weeks, I’ve been hard at work to plan a fundraiser so the foundation can send a group of injured women to West Virginia in relative comfort in support of the woman who will undergo the next bellwether trial.

MY HOPE IS FOR DONATIONS TO ALLOW THESE WOMEN TO SEE A COURTROOM THAT MAY OFFER JUSTICE TO A WOMAN, AND IN SOME SMALL WAY TO EVERY WOMAN WATCHING, MOST OF WHOM WILL NEVER SEE THEIR OWN COURT DATES.

In the previous month, I’ve been developing a tee shirt for the foundation with my long-term friend partner in all things creative, Scott Springer of Skona Advertising in San Francisco – a tee shirt that women will be proud to wear that will make their “invisible injury” visible to others and help to give them a voice.

MY HOPE IS FOR ENOUGH MONEY TO BUY THE SHIRTS SO THAT I CAN SELL THEM TO HELP WITH THE FOUNDATION’S EXPENSES.

I’ve not been able to attend a trial in support of a mesh-injured woman since last year when I got to know the lovely, Ms. Batiste over her three week trial against Johnson & Johnson.

thyroid changeMY THOUGHTS ARE ABOUT HER. WHEN CAN I SEE HER AGAIN? I’M TIRED OF BEING SICK FROM HASHIMOTO’S THYROIDITIS. I WANT TO DO AND BE MORE FOR MY COMMUNITY. I WANT MY BEAUTIFUL HAIR TO STOP FALLING OUT.

My hopes and thoughts for the future are about IMMEDIATE relief and recognition for the women and men in this country, in your community who are suffering greatly.

MY HOPES FOR THE FUTURE ARE THAT MESH WILL BE REMOVED FROM THE MARKET AND THAT THE DOCTORS WILL STOP LISTENING TO THE MANUFACTURERS AND INSTEAD LISTEN TO THAT INNER VOICE THAT SAYS, “PETROCHEMICAL WASTE IN THE FORM OF A PERMANENT PLASTIC IMPLANT IS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH LIFE.”

My hopes and dreams are now inextricably linked with my own mother’s hopes and dreams.

I HOPE MY MOTHER CAN GET OUT OF BED TODAY. I HOPE I CAN SEE HER AGAIN SOON. I HOPE HER INJURY DOES NOT TAKE HER FROM ME TOO SOON. SHE’S ONLY 60 YEARS OLD.

Maybe Ms. Washington will help us.

Maybe Ms. Washington will help us.

My hopes and dreams for the future are practical, direct and achievable, so why won’t people listen? Have we not learned ANYTHING from the lessons of history?

I HOPE THAT TODAY, SOMEONE IMPORTANT ENOUGH WILL LISTEN TO ME, WILL TAKE THIS INJURY SERIOUSLY AND WILL HELP US STOP THE PREVENTABLE HARM, STOP THE MEDICAL HOLOCAUST.  #HAWMC

TO DONATE TO #TMWF, visit: https://themeshwarriorfoundation.nationbuilder.com/donate

Herta Oberhauser, who was a physician at the Ravenbrueck concentration camp, is sentenced at the Doctors Trial in Nuremberg. Oberhauser was found guilty of performing medical experiments on camp inmates and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Nuremberg, Germany, August 20, 1947. — National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.

Herta Oberhauser, who was a physician at the Ravenbrueck concentration camp, is sentenced at the Doctors Trial in Nuremberg. Oberhauser was found guilty of performing medical experiments on camp inmates and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Nuremberg, Germany, August 20, 1947.
— National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.

Traveling with Chronic Illness – How do you cope?

Today WeGoHealth has asked us to write about travel. Specifically, if we could travel anywhere in the world, where would we go and why? I’ve traveled quite a bit in my life, most of it for work, but I’ve traveled for pleasure as well. When people ask about my travel history, I say, “I’ve been everywhere I want to go and everywhere I don’t want to go at least twice.” As I speak that sentence, my mind’s eye flashes through what seems like hundreds of memories. I think about my time in Barcelona, Napa Valley, Seattle, NYC, France, Mexico, Hawaii, Colorado, London.

Even with these amazing memories to reflect upon, now when I hear the word “travel,” I think (free word association here). . . “Uggh; ouch; can’t.” I don’t have that wanderlust anymore. I think of dragging my luggage, which now feels like lead instead of a weekend over night bag on wheels. I think of passive-aggressive airline staff, standing in lines, and searching for a shred of kindness in the air of any given airport.

Traveling with the debilitating symptom of chronic, painful fatigue is, quite simply, a proposition of Herculean form. I cannot travel the way I used to, and in some ways, I’ve lost a sense of independence because of that fact. And, ask my husband, I am FIERCELY INDEPENDENT. I’m not really too happy with the notion of always having to travel with a companion in case I can’t make it alone, which has happened now on several occasions over the past year. As I learn to live with my illness, I am learning new ways to cope, like always traveling with a companion, which isn’t so bad, except that it doesn’t exactly scream, “SPONTANEITY!” :(

The Big Blue (European release on DVD)

The Big Blue (European release on DVD)

If I could travel anywhere, I would take what I call, my “Big Blue Trip.” My favorite movie, released in limited circulation in the United States was directed by the talented Frenchman, Luc Besson. He’s the director of such blockbusters as The Professional, The Fifth Element & La Femme Nikita. My favorite work of his is called The Big Blue (1988). I still have it, and I have to watch it on VHS, because the American version was never released on DVD. I have every word memorized, and if I could travel, I would go to each place in the movie in sequential order, following the film, imagining the events depicted in its unique plot.

Taormina, Italy where I someday hope to eat Frutti Del Mare!

Taormina, Italy where I someday hope to eat Frutti Del Mare!

The movie begins in Antarctica and moves briefly to NYC, then on to Peru, Taormina Italy, France and then back to some smaller towns in Italy. Through character development, we learn of the quaint heritage of these villages and their peoples. I would want to start at the beginning of the movie and traverse the same exact course, God willing.

That’s my dream vacation. I believe it will happen someday. I have no reason to believe it won’t.

Peru

The Andes Mountains in Peru

Where do you dream of traveling? Do you like exotic vacations or those more down to earth? A beach and a good book, or trying street foods in Thailand? How do you dream? Do you believe you will achieve travel to your dream destinations?

#HAWMC

Summers in Texas, Spoken Like a Native

My dad and me in 1977

My dad and me in 1977

Today WeGo Health has asked us to write about the delights of summertime – family vacations, grilling outside, water sports – all of the joys that only summer can bring.

When I think about all the summers I’ve spent in this beautiful state where I was born and raised, I immediately think of my childhood – playing on the soft green grass of my father’s meticulously-manicured lawn, no shoes on; enjoying the endless summer days with sunsets that lingered until 9 o’clock; our days filled with swimming and sports; summer’s tanned skin; highlights in my hair; family dinners and Sun Tea. My sister and I were blessed to spend many summers in intimate fellowship with our parents. My mom stayed home with us, and together with her best friend (also our godmother), was always at-the-ready to create gleeful galavanting for us. My dad took us to work with him sometimes, and he came home early more often in the summer. How I loved to “go to work” with Dad and help him run our family restaurants. He had a way of making me feel useful and important, because he treated every moment as a chance to teach me. I felt all grown up yet with a kid’s twinkly-eyed spirit and a feeling of complete safety to explore life’s every opportunity. I never felt scared or afraid to pursue, imagine, ask questions or find new ways to stretch my young mind, even when school let out for summer.

My sister and me in 1982

My sister and me in 1982

I’ve learned that many people, if not most people, who are not from Texas, have the perception that Texas is nothing but HOT. For most people, I guess Texas is pretty darn hot, but the Lone Star State is much more than its weather, and since I grew up in the heat, it really doesn’t phase me. What many people don’t know is that Texas is really like five or six small states, and the weather is vastly different across the differing regions, making any given Texas summer the possibility to be a new and exciting memory-in-the-making.

A Texan's Map of Texas

A Texan’s Map of Texas

Mesquite's BBQ & Grill | Lubbock, Texas

Mesquite’s BBQ & Grill | Lubbock, Texas

West Texas – For example, I grew up in Lubbock, Texas which is considered to be part of the High Plains or Panhandle Plains. Colloquially, we Texans refer to the region as “The South Plains” or “West Texas.” West Texas is mostly a dessert with its signature hot days and cooler nights, high winds, mesas, cacti and cotton. Of course who could forget all that dirt, all that cattle, all that barbecue, and the uniquely addictive cuisine, Tex-Mex (read: cheese, chili, beans and flour tortillas)! Of course, there are also dust storms that sometimes rival those of the Middle East, big Texas rainstorms over vast horizons, and booming thunderstorms that often produce tornadoes. Despite the dust and accompanying hay fever, West Texas also has all the charm of all four seasons. It even snows!

The city of Lubbock (where I’m from) is lovingly referred to as “The Hub City” since it’s the largest city within hundreds of miles and serves as the main medical, educational and commercial area for this seemingly boundless region of Texas, which includes the Texas Panhandle and even parts of eastern New Mexico. West Texas is also the birthplace of Buddy Holly. The area has an unexpected and rich heritage of music, art and entertainment, not limited to country music or cowboy style. Our summers were spent at summer camps, going to festivals and fairs, participating in July 4th parades, entering family recipes into Chili Cook Offs, countless backyard barbecues and playing in a swimming pool somewhere almost every day. The weather is so dry that a dip in the pool is barely noticeable after 10 minutes. The dry winds have a way of vacuuming every drop of moisture from any surface.

buddy_holly

An afternoon thunderstorm in West Texas. The peak on the right is called a Wall Cloud, the precursor to a tornado.

An afternoon thunderstorm in West Texas. The peak on the right is called a Wall Cloud, the precursor to a tornado.

While my personal experiences are probably typical for many families in the area, in actuality, West Texas is quite a quirky place. We are definitely a bunch of rednecks in the middle of a dessert, but the experience of living there seems more like growing up on an island in some respects since the city is so isolated. Collectively, West Texans share many of the same experiences. For example, Texas Tech University is a part of every Lubbockite’s coming-of-age experience, from the powerful and ever-present reverence for football to the not-so-apparent academic side of country life.

A Texas Tech football game is a religious experience of sorts!

A Texas Tech football game is a religious experience of sorts!

The Texas Tech campus is one of the largest in the U.S. and boasts a beautiful, unique and historic Spanish architecture.

The Texas Tech campus is one of the largest in the U.S. and boasts a beautiful, unique and historic Spanish architecture.

Even in this dessert-island of sorts, we had the privilege of growing up in an diverse community surrounded by amazing people – artists and professors; musicians and restauranteurs; researchers and scientists, who come attempting to unlock the secrets of the sky; doctors who teach, research and practice; lawyers who are trained at the university’s well-respected law school; undeterred business owners who learned to make a living in an unpredictable business environment; big construction and real estate moguls; big oil money; deep roots and sometimes deeper pockets. I’ve found that the unique environment has a way of producing some of the most hearty, good-mannered people who are full of character, chivalry, and a big ol’ dose of give-a-damn. West Texans are rebels, pioneers, full of strength and grace, with big dreams and even bigger hearts, high hopes and level heads that are packed with book smarts and street smarts. The older I get, the prouder I am to call West Texas “home,” though I have not lived there full-time since high school.

Summer in West Texas is wholly different than that of the other regions of the state. West Texas summers during the 70s and 80s, when I was growing up, were truly restful, rejuvenating, full of family time and memory making, full of community and long enough for parents and children alike to be ready for the new school year. We got out of school around Memorial Day and went back after Labor Day, when the first hints of autumn were in the air. I often wonder what good it’s done to keep kids in school through June only to send them right back in August. Most of my school buildings were not air conditioned, so maybe that had something to do with the longer summers, but a lot of my best learning happened outside school, during the long summer days in Texas.

Summer is a completely different experience, depending on what region of Texas you’ve had the occasion to enjoy. Texas is more than just HOT, more than just one season called HOT.

Texas-hill-country-blue_thumbThe Hill Country, home to our capital city, Austin, is a beautifully-verdant hippy town and home to my alma mater, The University of Texas (Hook ’em Horns!). Oddly, I’m pretty sure I know the Texas Tech fight song better than UT’s fight song! Football and Texas – any region – go together like peas and carrots. In the Hill Country, also sometimes called Central Texas, the Bluebonnets and other native wildflowers bloom in spring and early summer. The result is a forest of color, unmatched by any other place I’ve seen. Known as the Music Capitol of the World, Austin is beginning to outpace Nashville with its diverse music scene. My college years are some of the best years in my life. From “floating the river,” to Robert Earl Keen concerts, to Zilker Park festivals and El Arroyo, the memories I made here are enough for a lifetime.

TexasRosesThe Piney Woods is home to what we Texans call “East Texas,” a secret garden of sorts. There you’ll find pine trees as tall as any you’ve ever seen and Tyler, Texas – the small city where the famous Yellow Rose of Texas blooms. My godmother is from this part of Texas, and my great aunt and grandmother have both retired in these parts, making this my “second home” in Texas. It’s where I got married, and probably where I’ll spend my last days. Summers here smell of toasted pine needles. The damp and humid summer nights are punctuated by lightening bugs, beautiful roses, azaleas and spectacular farm lands.

The Glitzy Dallas Skyline at Night

The Glitzy Dallas Skyline

North Texas is home to “Big D,” that larger-than-life city -Dallas, Texas. According to the regional map, it’s in the Prairie & Lakes region, but we call it “North Texas.” The lore, the tall tales and tall hats, the rodeos & boots, it’s all here. Dallas is a bigger than life city. Over the almost 20 years I’ve lived here, the city has become even more glitzy and glamourous. We still care lots about our hair and lipstick. We have world-class food and world class shopping. Although in many ways Dallas it the most “Texas” Texas city, it has become less and less so over time. For the most part, the people you may meet in Dallas are not originally from Texas at all. It’s becoming more like L.A. – not a good thing in my opinion, since there already is an “L.A.” But what sometimes is our better half, the neighboring city of Ft. Worth gives me a peace that this region will never lose its Texas roots.

Ft. Worth's central watering hole, The Stockyards

Ft. Worth’s central watering hole, The Stockyards

Big Bend Country

Big Bend Country

Big Bend Country is the land of big skies and even bigger stars. This is where the famous film, GIANT, starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean was filmed. It’s where the “Fashion 500″ doted upon for a time, by way of the quirky and unmatched town of Marfa, Texas. Did you know Texas has mountains? Guadalupe Peak is our highest peak at an elevation of 8,751 feet!

Prada, Texas :)

Prada, Texas in Marfa, Texas :)

The "South Beach" of the Gulf Coast

The “South Beach” of the Gulf Coast

The Gulf Coast – Sometimes we like to play with the “big boys,” The West Coast and The East Coast, by calling ourselves “The Third Coast.” Despite the little coast reputation of our Big State, we do have beaches and islands. In fact, summer vacations in Galveston and Padre Island are a rite of passage for many 18 and 21-year-olds (for fairly obvious reasons). Summers on the coast are salty, sandy, filled with sand castles and sea shells and the smell of suntan oils and sunscreen. This region of Texas also has its own Gulf Coast Cuisine, a unique mixture of Texas’ fried cuisine, fried fish and the rich Cajun flavors of our coastal neighbors in Louisiana.

The Rio Grande Valley

The Rio Grande Valley

South Texas – Texans call it “The Valley,” (Rio Grande Valley). It’s where Texas Ruby Red Grapefruits and oranges are grown. It’s where beautiful Spanish missions of antiquity are still standing. It’s where the rich heritage of the Spanish, the Mexicans and the Texans come together to make an entirely different and rich culture of Texans. Summers here are HOT, but it’s what makes for a Texan who’s full of heart and the sweet harvest of late summer.

To sum it all up, I could spend 100 more summers in Texas and still not be satisfied. Too many grand memories have been made here, too many destinies have been sown here, and if you think the heat will kill ya, just wait ’til you meet the people of Texas. I promise, they’ll make it up to you.

In the words and songs of Lyle Lovett,”That’s right, you’re not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway!”

All it takes to be a Texan is a Texas-State-of-Mind. Don’t worry, y’all. We’ll teach ya!