Sunday WEGO Blog Challenge - November 20th 2016 - 20th BLOG POST! What has been the Highlight of my Activist Journey So far?
Out of ALL the things I've learned and gotten to do that were highlights in my activism so far, going to the Arthritis Summit in 2014, to do my dream (Stand on the White House Steps and tell my Story to All of CONGRESS) I must say has so far been the real moment that I felt that I WAS MAKING a difference!
Being a writer, since the age of 13 years old, I had two goals, one to have a "book published". I told my kids that if I never got to "see" that happen they had to promise me to try and get at least ONE published. Thus in 2012/13 that goal came through twice! With the self-publishing and I used Amazon; although still a great deal of work, if you want to be frugal yet get your book(s) out there, that was my way to go,
So, I had many poems, short prose, and had began on my story several times. I wanted to tell my journey throughout the chronic illnesses and pain, but also some other very personal terrible things I lived through. I am a huge advocate for Women's Rights, and not being subjected to abuse, rape and such. A piece of the book will include that, plus my journey that began in TX, took me around the Western part of the Nation, to live in Lancaster CA for a short while. Then I came back, and went through an entire series of events; honestly a role of changes, that I am proud I got to go through. Without those, I am not sure I would have survived and been here this morning to be blogging this.
After several years I literally made a circle, and came back to my hometown. That was the one thing, I had hoped I would not have to do, come and stay permanently here. It held many lousy memories, and times that I did not want to face again. I had "been there, done that" and was so hoping all of that was behind me. I can tell you, life just like a wedding band, or the moon, is always a circle. Many of us do exactly what I did,
So, I lived to see two books published, and although they are not "chart toppers" I did get to live that dream.
I desperately needed something in my life, once again that I felt would truly help to change things for others, make a difference, and since I always wanted to be in the medical field, the entire "medical research", being a voice, advocate, activist, and Ambassador, in the realms of what I felt may do just that.
Long before I really "got extremely chronically ill" (I have lived with severe Migraines and joint problems since I was 17 years old), I kind of viewed an "activist" as someone standing on a sidewalk, or on the steps of some place, shouting, screaming, making waves, and that was how you tried to get your point across.
As I became aware of my ongoing health issues, I began to view the act of being an Advocate could be anything but "picketing", and there was non-profits, individuals that especially due to Social Media and the Internet who were making changes in so many ways, but especially when it came to Chronic Pain, Chronic Health Problems, from Autoimmune Illnesses, to Heart Attacks, to Degenerative Joint diseases, and MANY others, such as Fibromyalgia.
I began asking questions, researching some of the non-profits, looking for groups on Facebook, and saw that MANY of these types of opportunities are out there, and in TOO MANY when you are someone who would like to DO IT ALL!
I found out more about the Arthritis Foundation, through Tiffany Westrich-Robertson who had started her own "non-profit" more specifically for "Autoimmune Arthritis Diseases" such as RA, Sjogren's, at the (IFAA) - The International Foundation for Autoimmune Arthritis". She really began, along with the other advocates there taught me so much about getting into the organizations I felt were the "best fit" for what I wanted to try and accomplish. Thus the Arthritis Foundation (plus I still do Activism) for several other places.
Shortly, right after I attended my 1st "Ambassador Meeting" via the Internet and Phone, I found out that there was a possibility I COULD GO TO TELL CONGRESS MY STORY! Well, those that represented my District. The one person that did that happened to have been from my own home town, he had worked for the same company long years ago, that my Dad, Mom and I had worked for and I "knew" him, and some of his staff. In fact he has an office right here in my hometown.
So, I applied for a "Travel Grant" to go to Washington DC on March 24th, 2014. It was already probably kind of "past due" to even apply, but I did anyway. Tears of joy streamed down my face, when within a couple of weeks, I received notice I had been GRANTED A TRAVEL AWARD, for room, round trip flight, training, and such. I was almost shouting at my neighbors when I found out, telling everyone I could about getting the grant. My MOM was SO PROUD!!! SHE always SUPPORTED ME, AND BRAGGED ABOUT ME, to everyone! Mom was my "greatest fan", from my writing, to my advocacy work, to everything else I ever tried to do that was worth doing.
So, on March 24th, I flew to DC, and got to meet with Representative Joe Barton, tell my story, along with some other incredible people I met there. I cannot say enough about not only all of the Ambassadors, but the entire STAFF, are the most caring people. Laura Keivel was also such an inspiration to me from the AF, and she continues to be there for me at times,
On my last day of the Summit, I got a phone call (emergent) but at the time I did not hear my phone ringing. I was waiting to be picked up outside the Hotel, by my "Mother In Law" whom I had never met, (her son and I had been together over 10 years), plus we were going to stay, he was flying in, so we could spend time with her, and he could show me Washington DC!
Tragically, that phone call, came in about the same time my Mother in Law, walked into the Lobby to find me. It was from the Emergency Critical Care Unit in Dallas TX at Baylor Hospital, telling me my husband was in an extremely horrible car accident on the way to the airport in Dallas, to fly out to meet me! I dropped to the floor, and of course no one knew at that moment what was happening. But, a gentleman there that helped me get back to Dallas within about 6 to 8 hours, and I was at Baylor in ICU, my husband at the time, other than many other injuries, had a "broken back" and was headed for major surgery.
I shall end this piece here, but little did I know after March 26th, 2014, just how much more my life would change forevermore. Little did I know I would lose my Mom's sister, my Mom this past June, 2016 to a horrid Lewy Bodies Dementia, and that I became more ill, lost ALL OF MY TEETH TO SJOGREN'S, and the story just continues to go on. My husband went back to Seattle after mending a year here, for reasons, I feel mainly guilt, although it was NOT HIS FAULT! An 18-wheel tractor trailer literally ran over him, and yes there is much more to that story also. Then my Pug, Tazzy, who was a Christmas Present in 2004 in Seattle, passed away within 24 hours of getting very ill. Thus "loss: had been a large portion of my life, loss of my own health, my own ways, my husband, my Dad in 2005, my Aunt and then my Uncle, and shortly thereafter my Mom.
So, I realize due to the nature of emotions tied into that fateful March 24th-March 26th, 2014, have been a mixture and blend of the good, the great, the bad, and just the plain horrid.
YET; although what happened in March 2014 WAS such a horror, being able to go to Congress, tell my story, and KNOW I HELP TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE, has been the "highlight" of my activism so far.....