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For those of us who love reading and diving into a great story or being consumed by characters, places and time, I have a question for you.

Do you have a favorite book of all times?

Something you can read over and over again, share with others?

If you are on the goodreads website, as I am, often times when you put in a friend request to another reader, reviewer or author they will have a challenge question in order for them to see why you have an interest in being their friend.

Some questions are easy and normal requests like:

"Tell me a joke"

"Do we have many books in common" or "What percentage of books do we have in common?"

"Worst book you've read?" and "Give me a book recommendation"

Most common though is the question of "Your all time favorite book?"

I know that over the years I've read many books that I have truly enjoyed. Stories that prompted me to think bigger, step out of my comfort zone or entertained me so much that I've laughed out loud. Books that have taught me something new, brought awareness, broken my heart and renewed my spirit.

But if I were to pick one that was my favorite of all times I'd have to say it's Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.

When I was in elementary school we made weekly visits to the media center. Your school may have simply called it the library, ours chose media center. Our media center sat in the center of the school not far from the front lobby and quite close to most of the younger kids classrooms. I have few memories in the lessons that were taught when we visited with the librarian. I don't recall much beyond learning the dewey decimal system and how to work the card catalog to find a book. For the younger crowd, we didn't have a computer to find a title and point us to a section. The process of thumbing through drawers of cards in order to track down the proper title and section of a book took a bit more time than a few key strokes on a key board.

As I was saying, my memory of lessons are few but I can recall this exact day in third grade when we made our way down to the media center. The librarian met us at the door and ushered us through rows of books toward the belly of the media center that had a sunken floor in a half octagon shape. The step down made for additional seats for little kids as we gathered around her chair waiting to hear whatever story and lesson was prepared for us. Today's topic was poetry. As you can imagine, most of us being 8 and 9 years old didn't have much experience with poetry. I want to say she started with Sick or Peanut Butter Sandwich but I can't recall. What I do rememeber is the gloriuos world of Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me too, and The Crocidile's toothache, Jimmy Jet and Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout.

These stories wound around rhymes were eye opening. You can be funny and rhyme and tell a story all at the same time. I was excited with each new poem she shared, each new character and every scenario.

As she read, she also showed us the artwork which was was drawn by the author. My mind was on fire. I love drawing, my first chosen profession for when I grew up was an artist. The fact that you could a writer and an artist too? I was addicted. I needed this book.

It was no surprise that our small media center only had two copies and one was earmarked for the class lessons. The librarian sadly told me that I would have to wait until the other copy was returned before I could borrow it and suggested other books I may like just as well.

I can't tell you if I chose something else or how long it took for that day to end but as soon as I got home from school this book was all I could talk about. I remember begging my parents for a copy of my very own.

They must have given in or thought a book was a small price to pay to quiet a pestering child because in the car on the way to dinner that night we stopped at a bookstore. It was as if I had hit the lottery and a wish come true all wrapped together. I now owned what I thought was one the the best storybooks of my life and this purchase not only introduced me to book ownership but the idea that I could own my favorite books, not just borrow them from the library.

I spent most of dinner sharing these stories with my parents and when they tired of my storytelling I read this book from back to front, in no particular order and memorized a few of my favorite poems to try to impress my friends.

I carried this first copy into my late teens before I lost it to a house flood. I immediately purchased a new one to replace it. A few years later I gave that copy away to share the wonderful world of poetry to someone else and then turned around and purchased another.

I have given this book a gift over and over through the years for baby showers and children's birthday gifts. It was a pleasure to share it with my own children and see their reactions and laughter to the same stories I've grown to love.

So when I am asked what my favorite book of all times is this is always the book that comes to mind.

Do you remember when your love of books began?

What was the first book you can remember that opened you up to the world within the pages?

I'd love to hear your answers.

Happy Reading!

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"Did anybody get the number of that bus that just ran me over?"

I had big plans for a blog post a couple of weekends ago when life interrupted me.

Because of my current health challenges, multiple and simultaneous medical tests, and the stream of doctors appointments, no one, to date, absolutely thought it was a top priority for me to be vaccinated.

I know that seems a little strange but I shrug my shoulders, I figured time would tell.

I actually thought, in the beginning of all of this, that I would fall into the group of The Unvaccinated. While others got theirs and created herd immunity, I would be surrounded by a padded and protected cushy little bubble.

As time went on, though, and the Covid strains began to mutate and multiply my eyebrows began to raise and my thoughts turned from not caring to wanting, even needing, to have some kind of protection for my already challenged body.

*As we get to know each other you’ll learn of my health trials and tribulations and my ever growing education of our “healthcare” system.

I did as much research as I could, questioned my doctor friends and my actual doctor doctors.

The info says I should be ok, the people in my peer medical support groups seemed to be ok, so once my docs gave me the green light I got on the computer in search of an appointment.

You can imagine my surprise when my husband had no trouble with one of our hospital systems and literally had his “pick of the litter” in terms of appointment choices. I, however, in the very same system was told repeatedly that there are no appointments available to me. I sent an inbox and was met with a myriad of excuses as to why my husband could get an appointment and I couldn’t.

"Maybe he's" : No, he’s not over 65, we are the same age.

"Maybe he's" : No, he doesn’t have extenuating health issues that would bump him, mine are worse.

and Yes, when my husband showed up to his appointment, without me, to an nearly empty convention room, with plenty of space and vaccine available. We weren't entirely surprised by this but it was annoying.

Regardless of the back and forth I couldn’t schedule an appointment through them. There seems to be a flaw in their system.

It won't shock you that I’ve been through most all of the medical systems in my area due to my ills, so I signed into another online chart system and found handfuls of appointments, in all sorts of locations. If I wanted Pfizer or Moderna I was going to have to drive over 90 minutes, but if I wanted J&J I could be seen the very next day and it was only 35 minutes away.

I had my appointment almost two weeks ago.

I 'll be honest when I say that I was secretly hoping that I would skate through with very little reaction. I only say this because historically I’ve never had a reaction to much of anything.

I also had this twisted little dream, hope, that maybe this vaccine would grab hold and shake my body like "Get your act together man, this is how you do your job!" Just maybe it would fix something, anything that has been broken for the last few years...LOL, I know, totally crazy, right?

Anyway, I never felt the initial poke or "mosquito bite." The best way I can describe the feeling after the injection is like the aftermath of a hard punch to the upper arm.

I then went to the the waiting room and sat for the required 15 minutes along with the other folks amongst the chairs spaced out about 3 feet.

*Hubby and I had a laugh because he felt slighted that his medical center didn't offer him water or cookies like mine did. I didn't take either but I did get my sticker :) and that handy little vaccination ID card.

The soreness wore off fairly quickly, which I found to be a relief.

And as the day wore on I felt pretty good, for me, and thought maybe I WILL skate through.

Then sometime early evening-ish, I started to feel the quicksand. My body became heavy and I had to sit down. I sat down for just a minute on the couch and actually nodded off.

I had a short little couple of naps before dinner, dragged myself to the table and forced a small meal because I knew by then I was going to need to take some Tylenol. ... and You know it's always better to not take meds on an empty stomach.

Once in bed and all tucked in I felt ok. Not too hot , not too cold, just long as I didn't have to move.

I slept as crappy as usual, which was a bummer, because I was really hoping for a reprieve from my normalcy even if it was only for one night.

I woke up the next morning and I was not only freezing, chilled to the bone but my body weighed as much as a cement ocean liner.

"Ah, so no skating." My bed was the place to be for the unforeseeable future.

All of the symptoms I experienced were 100 percent normal. I am grateful for that, truly.

Chills and shivering, hot flashes, low grade fever, mild on and off again headache, complete lack of appetite. I haven't had the flu in a million years but this brought back some memories of my youth.

After spending all of Sunday in bed I was thrilled to feel more normal Monday morning as I got up and ready for a doctors appointment. The day went exactly as planned and I was almost giddy about it. I not only managed to get my vaccine and have a one day normal reaction but it was the single shot, one and done, Woot! I didn't have to think about going back for another one.

You know the universe has a twisted sense of humor and that I clearly spoke too soon as I woke up Tuesday just I had Sunday, cement ocean liner with the added bonus of the news headlines blaring on about how they were halting administering of the J&J vaccine for concerns over blood clotting.

From my bedside I texted my doctor friends to ask what the deal was, did they have any facts or figures to go with this news? Where should I place my concern, if at all? I got the "it's rare, 1 in a million" spiel but that didn't answer my actual questions.

Were they women and/or men?

Same blood type? Common genetic make up? What about medications? Do they share a illness or disease, autoimmune or otherwise?

Seriously, what is their connection?

The only answer I got, like many others, was that it was 6 women between the ages of 18-48.

It hasn't been 2 weeks yet since this has happened and we still know very little.

So far, merely based on articles I've been able to find and texting with a doctor friend, we know that the 6 women are all white and some may have been on some sort of hormone medication, whether it was birth control or a replacement product I do not know. Some, maybe all, maybe not. And that they felt symptoms of pain somewhere between day 6 and day 20 after receiving the vaccine.

I don't know how it is that they have yet to find a common thread between them.

I mean, seriously, this is amazing given that a random person can post a video with barley a profile of some offending other person and the internet can ID them down to their location, workplace, social media accounts and favorite coffee shop in a matter of hours. But given the full medical history of blot clot sufferers and all we know is that they are white women who may or may not have used hormone meds?

As if the current climate isn't stressful enough? 1 in a million, great, but why? How do we avoid it going forward and how do we know who the next potential patient may be?

Am I worried? Not exactly. Am I white and a woman? Yes. Am I on hormone meds? No.

Should I be concerned? Maybe, maybe not. I really don't know.

What I do know is that I have seen first hand over the past few years just how much doctors either don't know or don't care to know.

Science can be amazing and yet flawed given the interpretation by the messengers. Whether it is simply the lack of experience and inability to be a keen diagnostician.

No different than an attorney who chooses to interpret a law based on how it should apply to the case in front of them, some doctors rely on textbook definitions in order to care for us rather than actually listening or paying attention to us as individuals. We are not "one size fits all" beings.

One of my doctor friends tells me all the time that nothing comes without risk. I can't disagree with her on that, but most of us common folk still look to our medical professionals to be on the cutting edge in order to protect us and promote well being, even with the machine that it's become.

I personally try to temper my negative thoughts based on my poor experiences with the fact that I know there so much good in the medical and science world.

At the same time as I go through the daily motions of my unknown yet familiar painful symptoms I am quite aware that it is day 13 after receiving my one shot of a currently halted vaccine.

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The month of March represents something different for each of us.

Most of the time it's just the beginning of longer days and warmer weather. Sometimes it's about Basketball Madness, National Nutrition, holidays with bunnies and lots of chocolate or just simply the green that begins to bloom, spread and show us the rebirth cycle in motion.

Each month in our calendar also points to awareness of a particular type of injury or cancers and March is no exception but it is also Autoimmune Awareness Month.

I can say with all honesty that five years ago I had an inkling of what that meant but I didn't really "get it" or understand. If someone were to have quizzed me I would have failed miserably only being able to name maybe 5 or 6 actual autoimmune diseases.

You probably know more than you think, maybe, and on the same note, I may be giving you more credit than you deserve.

I know now, and even back then, the names of a bunch of illnesses but may not have been able to categorize them correctly. And to be fair you can probably name more types of cancer than you can autoimmune diseases. It's not uncommon.

If you were to place a number on how many autoimmune diseases there are what would you say?

Forty? Seventy-five? I wouldn't have guessed more than seventy five. There are in fact over a 100 known autoimmune diseases and 70% of them affect women more often than men.

So, If you have one...or more, you understand. It's not uncommon to have more than one. If you know someone that has one you may or may not understand. And if you think you don't know anyone with one, you're probably mistaken simply because not everyone talks about what ails them on a regular basis.

Having an autoimmune disease can be a full time job. When you are newly diagnosed it can be easier to talk about it for several reasons but after living with something that can feel like varying versions of the plague some people try to give it less energy so that it feels like it has less of a hold on your overall life.

Now, the part, a part, that really sucks about autoimmune diseases is how often they are either overlooked, ignored or misdiagnosed. Don't believe me? Just drop into a AI support group on social media and read the posts. It's not only eye-opening but heart breaking.

Many symptoms cross the lines from one disease into the next and while there are all sorts of diagnostic tests and blood work that can be done, before you can even get to that step you need to have a doctor that actually knows what they are doing. Guess how many miss the signs? a lot. As in too many, too often.

And before you defend your doc, or tell me how amazing all doctors are, I'm not dissing all doctors but I am dissing the more than a dozen that missed every sign, symptom and ignored me for the majority of my life. If you think I am the exception, I can assure you that I am not.

I was diagnosed with Hashimotos about 3.5 years ago after one doctor, a chiropractor, actually listened to me about my ailments and ran some blood work. What immediately followed was a slew of new doctors, more tests and the surgical removal of my thyroid because the Hashimotos had destroyed the gland to a shriveled nonfunctioning unrepairable placeholder.

In order to get to that point, based on science and according to my surgeon, I had to have had Hashimotos for over 30 years. Over ...30.... Years.

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in my late teens. It shouldn't have been a far jump nor a difficult connection to make if any of my doctors had been paying attention, been better educated or honestly just listened to me.

This snapshot gives you a glimpse but hardly the details of what I've been through. You can read my book when it's published if you'd like the whole's a doozy.

So - Autoimmune Awareness Month.

Awareness is key, being kind is extremely important.

If you were to ask your friends with chronic illnesses about the current pandemic it has presented several challenges for our treatments and yet mixed blessings about staying away from people.

I was wearing a mask long before any of this started simply because after my surgery I caught every virus that breezed by me.

I couldn't travel without catching something on the way there or on the way home.

Frankly, it sucked.

This is not a political post and I don't care who you voted for - At the end of the day we are all human bodies that can be affected by illness.

We, as a society, must do better.

If someone wants the current vaccine, Support them.

If someone doesn't want it or can't get it, Support them too.

Not everyone can physically actually tolerate the vaccine. And while cancer is not autoimmune, many autoimmune patients have cancer or are still recovering from cancer and cannot get vaccines.

AND Don't get me started on the patients who have gene mutations and issues with metabolizing or detoxing elements and ingredients.

There is so much more going on than what you can see on the surface.




Life is already too hard.

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