Lessons Learned


I’ve been out of commission for two months now. It has felt like eternity at times. But finally, the big “pause” button on my life is lifting. I would say I’m at 70–80% capacity. I’ll know when I’m at 100% when I can drink again, attend concerts again, talk with friends for hours again…when I don’t have to take drugs every few hours anymore or wear earplugs and a baseball cap to block sound and light anymore…

I’d like to share the biggest “takeaways” from this experience:

Life is too short for bullshit.

…Whether at work or in your personal life. I’m talking about the consistent, annoying bullshit. The repetitive, unrelenting bullshit that we tend to put up with. Not the minor bullshit; I don’t think it’s possible to rid your life of minor bullshit. Illness brings clarity in this area.

If you don’t have health, you don’t have much.

Oh, the things my healthy self took for granted. Small things such as taking a deep breath without feeling pain. Eating toast without feeling pain. Sleeping on my side without feeling pain. Reading a magazine without feeling pain. Talking or listening to someone without feeling pain. Being able to walk up and down my street without feeling pain.

Have a stash of “emergency” money and have health insurance, for god’s sake.

Doctoring is expensive. Luckily my illness was temporary; otherwise I’d be selling my worldly possessions to cover doctor and prescription co-pays and ER and hospital bills. Once I was finally diagnosed, I was admitted to the hospital for two days. Know how much those two days cost my insurance company? $33K. Know how much 3 ER visits cost my insurance company? Well, I’m still waiting for one more bill, but I can estimate $8K total. Prescription drugs? I think I’ve had about 20 prescriptions at this point. The main drug I’ve been taking cost my insurance company $3K. I mean, mind-blowing.

When you are sick, you need to advocate for yourself.

Don’t wait too long for doctors to call back. You must hound them. When you do get in touch with them, ask a lot of questions. When appointments are made for you and they are months out, make sure you get on a cancellation list. Then call the doctor’s office randomly to ask if there were any recent cancellations (this actually worked for me). And when you are really sick and in a lot of pain, have family and friends do the advocating for you.

Your friends are family.

When you’re sick and your family lives hours away, your friends are your family. You learn who’s got your back. I am ETERNALLY grateful for everything my friends did. They sent cards. They sent flowers. They had meals delivered. They cooked meals. They scooped Olive’s cat litter. They took out my trash. They hauled and unloaded groceries. It was truly amazing.

Your family is family.

‘Nuff said.


Thanks for the Wegmans cookie cake, Mom.

Thanks for the Wegmans cookie cake, Mom.





The Scent of Lilacs


On the way home from a doctor’s appointment the other day, I walked through the Arnold Arboretum. My path took me through the lilac collection. The lilacs were still in bloom and were beautiful. I stopped at random bushes to inhale the scent.

The scent of lilacs means “home” to me. There were lilac bushes in the front yard of my childhood home. I remember cutting off blooms and handing them to my mother, who would put them in a glass and set it on the kitchen windowsill.

The city that I’m from, Rochester, New York, has a vast collection of lilacs in its Highland Park arboretum. As the Arnold Arboretum celebrates “Lilac Sunday” every year, Rochester holds an entire festival every year to celebrate the flower. I’m glad that my local arboretum is able to transport me to my roots every May.



Lilacs at the Arnold Arboretum

Lilacs at the Arnold Arboretum

Lilacs at the Arnold Arboretum

Lilacs at the Arnold Arboretum

Deadline Extension

My birthday is less than a month away…and I am still not fully recovered. So I will be giving myself a healthy deadline extension for the birthday list. End of the summer? I think I have about 20 things left to do.

The big lesson I’ve learned in the past five weeks or so is: DO NOT take your health for granted. Be insanely grateful for your good health with every step you take. Because in a blink, it can be gone…either temporarily or permanently.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

40 things to do on the birthday list!

BirthdayJune 1st, 2015

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.