So Long, 2017…

Winter Greetings!

This isn’t a blog post about a gal who just turned 40 and it isn’t going to tell you to eat this, not that, to meditate for this long and do yoga this many times a week.

This post is about the year in which I turned 40 and how I intend to make the best of the next 40, so awesome that the year in which I turn 80 a sequel must be written.

This is not just a year in review.  I torture people with those one-pagers with a handful of photos every Christmas card season, but not this year.  More on that later.

This is an “I can’t believe all of this shit happened AND it’s not even mid-December.”

So, let’s work backwards….

In December I had to  have my nose cauterized twice after some majorly long and disgusting nosebleeds, but enough about that.

On November 14th I received a message via the “patient portal.” Heaven forbid the doctor’s office, nurse or nurse practitioner call you herself.  It’s the doctor’s office way of communicating in 2017 – you log in to the portal with yet another username password combination you either forget every time, or have memorized so you don’t have to – and read a lot of medical jargon that ends with: “looks like fibrosis of the liver, let’s draw more bloodwork and scan again in a year.” Fabulous. 

Wait!! I am barely a drinker so nothing, and I mean nothing, should be wrong with my liver of all things.  Come on, I drove the sober ride home program for all four years of college.  What??

October was chock full of a jaunt to the Mayo Clinic full of three days of testing, four flights total and all to be told “Well, you’re not worse, but you are no better either!” Again, what?
mayoweod

In late July I found myself back to work “fully part-time” as Do More with LES has returned to the real estate world and I am a Team Assistant to The Stokes Group at McEnearney Associates, which is where I began my real estate career, so I feel I’ve returned “home” – every pun intended.  Doing a little bit of everything from meeting the contractors, to coordinating the mass mailing of 288 holiday gifts to satisfied buyers, sellers and referrers.  I am loving it!  Looking to buy or sell your dream home in 2018, give us a call, the team is absolutely terrific! (And I don’t get paid to put that here!)

Skipping around a bit, in late May, early June, after Mayo but before Aunt Betty’s passing, I snuck down to Orlando, Florida to attend the Adult Congenital Heart Association’s annual conference.  This was precisely the break I needed.  Let me back up a little more.
zippers
Father’s Day weekend in June I spent holding vigil at the Montgomery Hospice, a place I pass a thousand times and think “oh the sadness that must come out of that place.” That weekend I lived it. I was there for and with my dear Aunt Betty, just as she was present practically every single time I landed in a hospital throughout my entire life. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her I was there or why, but I know she knew.  She could not have asked to have been surrounded by more love and laughter.  As awful as was the outcome was, our family had a lot of fun and laughs reminiscing that weekend.
AB UH Us

In May, departing on Mother’s Day together with my mother, I made the journey to the medical mecca that is the Mayo Clinic for the first time.  I prefaced the news when telling friends that I was headed there with “yeah, no kid born with a congenital heart defect wants to “grow up” to be “so sick” that she has to go to the Mayo Clinic,” but – I was flattered and excited and nervous and anxious to get there as the place has an excellent reputation.  To say it met and exceeded our expectations is an absolute understatement.  The travel logistics aside, the city of “Rah Rah Rochester,” Minnesota is beautiful.  Friendly people, a lot of history and great blue skies made it just awesome.  We spent Mother’s Day as tourists in Ubers, on trolleys and mostly on foot.  It is hard not to want to exercise when it’s so pretty there and you are there to meet with cardiologists after all!

mayo

April was it, the start to the year that I was turning 40.  I was born in 1977 on Easter Sunday.  My birthday brings in springtime and the most gorgeous time of year.  This year my birthday was on a weekday, so we partied the Sunday prior which was Palm Sunday.  I didn’t want a big bash, I hate surprises, and I don’t drink so my husband put together a small brunch at a great venue in the restaurant where we had our rehearsal dinner, overlooking the water in Alexandria.  I bought a new dress online, and it fit, so party we did!

Lucky me!  Everyone I wanted to be surrounded by was there to celebrate with me.  Friends, colleagues, my college “sweetheart,” two brothers, friends and their cute kids, a brother from another mother, even my dear friend and client who had just had her hip replaced!  And at the very end, my friend who is a priest and her wife showed up, complete with collar and palms!  Just a terrific morning!

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That afternoon we went straight to the hospital to visit my grandfather.  I thought he would want to see me that dressed up, so off we went!  He was as fine as could be, albeit a bandaged arm from a failed surgery attempt, and he said “Hey, sorry I missed your party!” I laughed and shrugged it off and gave him the okay and my forgiveness.  I knew he would have been there if the situation were different. It was that day that the nurses told his daughters and me, only because I was hovering, that it was time to call in hospice and that he would likely not return home.

Well, having the nurse mother I do, that nurse was mistaken. He returned to his condo under hospice care, surrounded by his three daughters, me and his wife.  He passed just a few days later.  Selfishly, I am glad it was not on my birthday, as I’m not sure I would have ever recovered from that. I am blessed to have been close by in his final hours and playing a role in overseeing his best loved ones saying their goodbyes. 

It was an hour or two after shift change…  We had Comfort as our overnight aide tending to Grandpa as his daughters and granddaughter slept on the living room floor around his bed.  We shared good stories and lots of laughs and looking back it seemed to over too soon.  Then, of course, the real work began.

Grandpa had family far and wide and friends all across this great country.  He was a terrific, honorable and noble man who could charm anyone in his path, whether in uniform at the U.S. Capitol or in his scooter zipping around his condo.  Always a collared shirt, always a smile, and most definitely always a good story.  He is sorely missed.
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For a week in January, Inauguration week, to be exact, my husband took a week of vacation days that were dubbed “use or lose.”  Then he was called in for a very important meeting.  Ironically it was the same day that I had stayed home sick.  I came home early from work and he was headed in.  Then, just like that, he returned home, threw a glossy folder down on the end table next to the couch where I was conked out.  That was it.  Bam!  All he said was “February 10th will be my last day.”  Holy schnikes, WHAT?!  Yeah – so that was pretty much the beginning of our 2017, the end of frivolous spending and the reason there’s no glossy photo collage of his sweet daughter and our sweet dog! (but if there were, it would look like this!)

card

Sneaking in one more months’ worth of newsworthy fun, I did participate in the Women’s March on January 21st with my mom, sister, cousins, friends and millions of other fabulous females, and let’s not forget Fallopia herself!

All in all, what a year! I still have my health. I have new friends & old and very dear friends and family far and wide. I know many who are fighting too many battles and many fighting the good fight.  Despite all of this I really do try and find silver lining.  So, it goes without saying, no fun picture-filled card this year.  Nothing too personal.  All the very best to you and yours.  I hope your elf has remembered to relocate all these crazy nights and I hope your way is lit by all eight candles this Hanukkah season & I hope Santa finds his way down your chimney.

Here’s to a peaceful and positive 2018 for ALL!

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The “Walk” Was Successful ~ Thank YOU!

Three months ago I posted on here about the Adult Congenital Heart Walk taking place in Wheaton at Brookside Gardens.

In the meantime, with the help of 42 donors, I was one of the top five fundraisers for the 2016 Washington DC Area Congenital Heart Walk!  Just $3 shy of $3500!  Smallest donation:  $5.  Largest donation:  $500.  Love felt:  All of it!

This year I was supported by my parents, siblings, in-laws, husband, aunts, uncles, friends in Hong Kong, family in Germany, friends closer to home, friends of my parents, colleagues, Do More with LES clients, families I babysat for, even my (retiring) cardiologist – so much love far and wide!  Thank you so much!

Last Saturday I participated in the walk.  See, I cannot say I “walked” because that would be lying.  I managed to be handed yet another medical speedbump and was forced to be pushed in a wheelchair by my fabulous husband and a few little helpers.  It was vascular surgery on my legs so that I can make an international flight across the pond for our upcoming honeymoon and physically, actually walk.  I opted to travel, thus saving my leg and requiring the wheelchair.  Big bummer, but still lucky enough to participate!

My brother-in-law, his cute daughter (almost 3), my step-daughter (9), my girlfriend, and her son (also, almost 3) and my dear ole dad walked alongside.  My amazingly supportive (and thankfully strong) husband pushed yours truly in her wheelchair!  Thank goodness for the carousel afterwards.  The sun didn’t come out, but it didn’t rain on us either, so it was a terrific morning surrounded by love and support.  Even at 39, I still feel like a pretty lucky kid at that event.  It was nice to see friends from Children’s National there, too.

Thank you to my forty-two donors, and if you’re reading and haven’t yet done so, it’s never too late to give, as the cause and research will always be there.  Thank you from the bottom of my ticker!  Cheerio!

http://events.congenitalheartwalk.org/goto/lesridgway

 

heartfelt thx

 

 

A Referral Turned Friend, Two Times Over

A co-worker of a long-time Do More client, who we will call Dee, needed Do More earlier this year and so, I happily helped out and more got done! 

New client, Ellen, was happy to have found me and appreciated all I had done so much, that she mentioned my services and capabilities to a neighbor. She asked if I would be able to help this neighbor, who is also a dear friend of hers and I said, of course!

Little did I know!

Turns out Ellen’s friend, Marie needed to have some surgery that “they” said would be “same-day”.  So, without knowing Marie for one second before the morning I picked her up at her home, we became fast friends as we high-tailed it thru morning rush hour traffic to the hospital. 

I dropped her off at the main entrance and went to park the car. 

Once I re-entered the hospital, it didn’t take long to find her at the registration desk. She didn’t need me. She’s got this!

Next we were off to “the bowels of this building” to check-in for surgery and pre-op.  Marie checked in as the patient and checked me in as her “driver”. They took my cell number down and gave me her secret code number to protect patient identity (Hello, HIPPA!) so I could track her progress through the day. 

They took her back and then told me I could go back and join her a few minutes later. (Huh? I’m just her driver?)

So, I went back, saw her in her hospital and pre-surgical best and took her personal belongings bag and kept it close. I met the doctor and told him to take good care of my new friend. She loved telling everyone “I just met her this morning when she came to get me but I feel like I’ve known her forever.” Mostly because, in the waiting room we talked about everything from her kids to her grandkids and what got her into having to have this surgery in the first place.  Heaven forbid you make AND deliver homemade chocolate chip cookies to the kind neighbors who dig you out after the blizzard!

Anyway, long story short, I left Marie there for surgery and they would call when she was in recovery.  I double-dipped and took another client that day.  Upon my return to the hospital I found her sawing logs in the recovery room.  Nowhere near waking up, I soon realized that this “same day surgery” in and out procedure was going to go on to well past the sun went down.  She eventually re-joined the land of the living but finally agreed that she was just still too out of it to go home. 

Using my “medical background,” as she stated she was so relieved that I had, I booked her a room for the night – you know it’s bad when the patient opts to stay put overnight, and it was far from a Hyatt, trust me!  Luckily the doc I snagged in the hall was the same one I saw the next morning as he was walking out of her room handing her her discharge papers!  So, 24 hours later, I was departing the hospital, with patient, who was finally back to her spitfire self!  I’ll spare my readers of the stitches coming out pictures! You’re welcome!

Call her a satisfied client or a new found friend, it’s one and the same and we have kept tabs on each other ever since!  I love my job, friends, clients and referrals!  Keep ‘em coming!

Never Have I Ever…

There’s a game you may have heard about recently called “Never Have I Ever”. I learned of it recently on House of Cards, Season 4, Episode 11, to be exact, but last Tuesday I played it!

See, a client called the other day completely perplexed.

She had seen an ad for something for sale on the Internet.

She clicked and chatted with seller and then lo and behold, BAM, she became the buyer… of something off of Craig’s List and completely panicked.

She should have been excited at this point, to have made contact and ultimately #winning, but, no, in fact, the total opposite.  She was panicked and immediately said “Do More – I need Do More!”

She called.

I answered. 

Little did I know she had never bought anything on Craig’s List before and just simply was at a loss.  “What do I do now,” she asked, “this just seems so absurd!”

I brought her down off the ledge, calmed her down and said.  “It’s easy – I’ll go with you and we’ll pick it up together!  WAIT – What’d you buy?”

“Sweet, you will?  Don’t worry about what it is, it’ll be fun, but I definitely need LES!  How soon can you get here?”

We agreed the next morning at 11, I shall arrive at her house and she told the seller we’d be there at noon.  Little did I know, no, we weren’t taking my car, this would require her completely empty, all-seats-down minivan!

And away we went.  Laughing and smiling all the way, she wouldn’t tell what we were fetching.

We arrived at the condo of her new friend “Wes” and backed the van up the driveway.  Oh man, what on earth could we be getting from this garage?

Getting? Ummm, nothing!  We were Freeing Dobby!

This Dobby in particular stood in a movie theater lobby in its Harry Potter heyday but his new home is definitely supposed to be smack dab in the middle of my client’s house!  This client is one die-hard Harry Potter fan and always will be!

Thanks to Do More with LES, we were able to Free Dobby!

If this doesn’t prove that Do More Does It All, I don’t know what does!

I offloaded Dobby straight out of the back of the van and delivered him to her front door!  He couldn’t reach the doorbell, so I rang and left the surprise, a freed house elf for her wife to greet!

Too funny!

So, if you’ve never really felt super comfortable going to get something you’ve purchased via Craig’s List, or whatever else, give Do More a call today…you’ll be glad you did. I know Dobby is glad this client did.

 

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31 donors, 31 years & OVER $3100!

Wow!  Wow!  Awesomeness! WOW!  THANK YOU, All!!!!

Holy excited, Batman!  This is awesome! I am truly blessed with fabulous family and fun friends!  Thank you so much, from the bottom of my ticker!

 

Not only did I meet my (lofty at the time!) fundraising goal, but…..

   ~ I have met this goal with over a month left before the walk!

   ~ I have met this goal with 31 donors total (ironic?) including family, friends, clients and my retiring Cardiologist, even! (because I’m not shy, and bragged about my lofty goal!)

   ~ We’ve successfully raised over $3100 for a grand total of $3154. (…and counting, it’s never too late to give!)

   ~ and all with the reason being to celebrate 31 years since my last open heart surgery!

 

Here’s to April 30 when we walk!  Join us for a fun (early) quick (short) stroll thru Wheaton Regional Park, won’t you!?

…& now back to the Eagle Cam!

A Bronx Tale

It’s all been said, “Mr. November brought October to September,” when “Captain Clutch” came to the plate.

And yeah, yeah, yeah, so he threw an error the first time the ball was hit to him in his last game in Yankee Stadium (“the house that Jeter built”), but really, he’s flawless.  By far the best man to strut out onto the diamond, in the Bronx and stand between second and third base in pinstripes in my lifetime.

Never a bad anything from the guy, no DUI’s no fiancé beatings, lots of girlfriends, but never cover of People magazine-making drama, just class in a jersey with a 2 on the back.

There’s been a whole lot out there about Derek Jeter this week and that’s been super-fitting for my family.  (I was brainwashed by my father at a very young age, chanting “Reggie, Reggie!” with my navy plastic batting helmet on, to love the Yankees.  But this fan of the National League East Division Champion Washington Nationals simply claims, “The Yankees are my favorite American league team!”)

My stepmom, Anna, was a huge fan (& that’s a ginormous understatement) of Derek Jeter.  This week, sadly, we marked some firsts without her as Derek was celebrating a big last.  Wednesday would have been her 57th birthday.  We celebrated and the Yankees played a day game.  Thursday, she and my dad should have been at Yankee Stadium for Jeter’s last trip around the bases celebrating their 21st wedding anniversary together.

On their last road trip together they went to the Bronx for a game, if not for the win, then to simply collect their Mariano Rivera bobble heads!  All for the love of the game…and each other!

Anyway, it’s been fun to overflow Dad’s inbox this week with memories of Anna and accolades to his beloved’s beloved, Derek Jeter.  Here are just a few I thought I’d share…

Jeter’s dilemma: To play or not to play?
NEW YORK — Throughout his career, Derek Jeter has been famous for never wanting to take a day off. But is it possible he’s contemplating taking at least part of the weekend off in Boston, especially if the Yankees are eliminated from the playoff chase?

http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/yankees/post/_/id/80615/jeters-dilemma-to-play-or-not-to-play?ex_cid=null

Pinstripe Pantheon
Derek Jeter has just four games remaining on the schedule in his storied, 20-year career with the Yankees. He’s served as team captain for a franchise-record 12 seasons. Jeter will retire as the club’s leader in career games, hits, and at bats, and has played more seasons in pinstripes than any other Yankee in history.

http://espn.go.com/espn/sportscenter/story/_/id/11583650?ex_cid=null


Red Sox: ‘Respect’ for Jeter
The long-awaited Fenway finale for Derek Jeter is Sunday, and the Boston Red Sox plan to mark the occasion with some type of ceremony — but don’t expect it to be an over-the-top affair.

http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/11586050/boston-red-sox-planning-low-key-derek-jeter-ceremony?ex_cid=null

Stadium Signage

http://www.sbnation.com/2014/9/25/6847475/derek-jeter-yankee-stadium-final-game-signs

WTOP:  CoreValues

http://media.dev-cms.com/wtop/36/3623/362369.mp3

Never ejected from a game!

http://espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/story/_/id/11582355/derek-jeter-umps-make-call-captain-career

Taking The Field Alone…

http://www.sbnation.com/lookit/2014/9/7/6118043/derek-jeter-day-takes-field-alone-video

Billy Crystal on Derek Jeter!

http://www.grab-media.com/premium-videos/5340228/

I hope Boston does Derek justice is all I can say.  I’d hate to see him not play just because they’re in Fenway for the grand finale!

Enjoy & GO Nats!

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& last but certainly not least:  

 

 

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:11590962