If you want the professional, business-y side of things, you’ll find that lower on the page. But if you want the real, day-to-day me, then here’s the un-cut, up-close-and-personal stuff about who I am, what I do, and why I feel it matters. Grab some hot chocolate or sweet tea and let’s get to know one another a little better.
Nowadays, I’m a person who lives with chronic pain and the autoimmune diseases of rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s Syndrome and dysautonomia, to name a few. I’ve enjoyed success as an international small business owner, an author, speaker, teacher, musician and a healthcare auditor. A highly successful small business career in healthcare was an unexpected blessing in our journey to Tennessee, and I’m forever grateful for the success we’ve had here.
Most importantly, though, I’m a wife, mom, and now a JoJo! I live on a small goat farm in Tennessee and enjoy farm living. Baby goats are the cutest ever!
Though I no longer work in corporate America due to illness, I stay connected to patient care by volunteering as a writer/teacher and patient advocate for families affected by chronic disease and disability. My sweet spot is teaching patients all about self-advocacy and how to be their own voice along the journey of chronic illness.
Rheumatoid Arthritis - the uninvited guest
Five years after our move, in 2009 chronic illness rocked my world. As in, turned it completely upside-down. Diagnosed with severe, aggressive and debilitating rheumatoid arthritis, I felt the sting of living with chronic illness and disability, and I watched helplessly as it took its toll on my body, my career, my family, our friends, our small business, finances, and every.single.area.of.my.life.
Chronic issues are hard.
The physical side of the journey is hard, without a doubt. But there’s an other side to this journey all its own. No one prepared me for the admin side of being sick. Yeah, I’d been in healthcare administration for decades, but it was never personal to the extent it would be on my own health journey. Making appointments. Dealing with insurance. Going in and out of disability. Trying to hold a job. Heck – simply trying not to give in to discouragement. This is the side of sick no one prepares you for. And it can derail any physical progress we hope to make in the blink of an eye.
With a lot of faith, persistence, desperate determination – and even some sheer grit- I’m winning over chronic and finding joy in my journey. Though the chronic life is often not fun, we belong to a unique community of extra special people, and encouraging one another through the hard times is a much better option than trying to go it alone.
You are never, ever alone.
It’s my hope that you find education here about successfully living a chronic life, feel encouraged by the stories, tips and resources, and that you feel empowered by the help you find here, especially on the admin side of sick.
Please visit often, join the dialog, and pass the site along to everyone you know who’s affected by chronic illness. I hope you are blessed greatly and will, indeed, win over chronic and find joy in your journey.
Rock on, fellow CDPs, rock on –
Now the fun stuff !
Here are some fun facts about this crazy life I lead
1. My favorite food is probably ketchup. Or chocolate. No, ketchup. Definitely ketchup.
2. My husband Chris and I have three kids, a daughter and twin sons. And a really cute Brittany spaniel who is Mama’s boy.
3. I’ve played the piano all my life. My mom was my teacher and I honestly don’t remember ever not playing the piano. I went to college on a piano performance scholarship, though I majored in nursing.
4. While I attended nursing school, I didn’t get to graduate due to a severe anaphylaxis latex allergy. This was my first experience with chronic illness. I was able to transfer from the nursing staff to the admin staff at work and got to learn the administrative side of medicine. Boy, has that ever come in handy!
5. My favorite concert is a TSO Christmas concert. Nothing better. One of my favorite family traditions.
6. We live on a farm with the cutest goats ever. Nothing cuter than a baby goat! I sing to them, Silent Night is their favorite. They don’t seem to care if it’s July or December.
7. I’ve been skydiving. Would absolutely go again.
8. I’ve had a pacemaker for 10+ years. My pulse was 19 when I went to surgery. All I could think of was how hungry I was because they wouldn’t let me eat.
9. I’m a recovered Type-A overachiever who’s let go of the relentless (and unachievable) pursuit of perfectionism. There really is such a thing as an “achievement addict” and God can heal that, too.
10. Seeing former students serve through their music is one of the greatest thrills ever. Don’t think I’ll ever tire of this.
2005, Top 40 Under 40, Business Leadership/Excellence Award, Tennessee
2005-2009, National EHR Coordinator for Transcription, US/American Assn for Medical Transcription
2006, Small Business of the Year, Tennessee
2006, Blue Ribbon Business, United States Chamber of Commerce, Washington, DC
Certified REFIT® Fitness/dance-based Instructor
My Fitness Instructor Journey
Just before my relapse in 2016, I got certified to teach fitness classes. I enjoyed teaching mind-body-spirit fitness for women, many of whom were on a chronic illness journey just like me. We learned all about progressions and regressions and how to be fulfilled with gentle range of motion, or even exercising from a chair some days.
Sadly, I’m no longer able to teach arthritis/fitness classes due to my health, but it’s definitely one thing I miss most along this journey. I continue to pray that God would allow me to do this again.