Friday, October 23, 2009

NIH Results

Paul and I flew to NIH in Bethesda, MD so I could take part in the clinical study of NF2 being conducted by Dr. Asthagiri. My Nana flew in and spoiled my kids rotten, so I was able to focus completely on the trip. We left Sunday before sunrise and as the plane began it's descent into Maryland all we could see were golden leaves. I guess that is what Autumn is actually supposed to look like.

I had MRI's done by a high tech MRI, saw an ENT, a neuro opthalmologist, and finally on the last day sat with Dr. Asthagiri to go over my NF2 history. Luckily I had already emailed him a timeline, my memory is foggy, probably by choice at this point. The neuro opthalmologist saw what could be a tiny hamartoma in my right eye, we are going to watch it. The ENT thinks my choking episodes may be related to my reflux and recommended prilosec. The MRIs were incredibly clear, and Dr. Asthagiri was able to show me area by area how many tumors I have. I don't know if the MRIs were just more accurate, or if I have had growth everywhere, but everything seemed huge. My vestibular schwannoma which I have had treated with Gamma Knife are still stable, but the huge double blob at the top of my head made me cringe. Looking at my spine, I have a bunch of tiny, unassuming growths. The doctor assures me there is no need to worry. I know there is no point in correcting him, each of those tumors will grow. I know full well as of today I am just fine, it is the future those tiny tumors represent which I fear. At the very top of my spine, maybe even near my brainstem, was also a small tumor deep inside. This was my first introduction to this particular tumor, and my stomach twisted even as I smiled and nodded politely at the doctor. The lumbar tumor I had treated with Cyberknife looks larger now rather than smaller, but that could be from swelling. I've had cramping and pain, but attributed it to... I don't know... running 26.2 miles? So we will wait 6 months and reevaluate that tumor, if it continues to grow, I am looking at yet another spine surgery.

There is nothing I can do right now, or any decisions to be made. Like most people with NF2 all I can do it wait, and try to keep looking ahead. I can't crawl under the covers, I just have to shake it off and keep running.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fall out...

My stove is sticky, my laundry is in a huge pile, my kids are eating Top Ramen (again), and my acrylics are ready to fall off... I have a midterm, a paper due, and a week long trip to pack for. I have been so focused on this marathon, and supporting the team, that my home has fallen apart a bit. I wouldn't be too worried, except that my Nana is staying here with the kids while I am gone next week, and as Tish pointed out, this place should be as clean as a hotel... um how about a motel?

Instead of really accomplishing much today I have puttered, sipped coffee, and moved piles around. I am really good at reorganizing piles. Go me! However, I did get my marathon wrap up emails out to both the team and my supporters! I also found out that I was mentioned in the Long Beach Press-Telegram's write up of the Long Beach Marathon! Front page! I plan to play the "I ran a marathon" card for another day, and yes that does include wearing my medal everywhere.

Now I must peel myself off of this desk and actually accomplish something concrete before Paul comes home. If he gives me the look, I'll just wave my medal in his face.

Monday, October 12, 2009


26.2 Miles. I have a newfound respect for the distance. Yesterday morning at 7am in the cold beach air I found myself looking out at a sea of runners. Everyone was facing one direction and I noticed a few old guys with their hats over their hearts. Our National Anthem played itself out in my head, and before it could finish I joined the thousands of people around me applauding. The NF Endurance Team had gathered bright and early. We all huddled together, a splash of bright yellow pumped and ready to run. We hugged our volunteers extra tight and wove our way to the start, flashes went off everywhere as the mass began to move forward and onward. Most of the team took off individually, everyone running their own pace and fighting their own fight. My friend Beth and I had made a pact to get each other to the half-marathon point, where she would finish strong and I would continue into the unknown waters of a full marathon...

The Might NF Endurance Team! Love all my family representing! I had family there from Las Vegas, San Francisco, and San Diego!

A marathon is a mental battle, after 3 or 4 hours of steady movement, you start to feel every little thing on your body and you get.... BORED. Around mile 15 my knee started to click with every step. By mile 16 I was unable to put any bounce in my run at all. I tried to focus my mind on the goal, but finally settled into a painful shuffle that most people would not define as running. Those people can kiss my butt. I told myself I would speedwalk for 5 minutes, then I would run, only to find it was not possible to run. I can push through any pain, but I knew if I ran my knee would just collapse.

My doubts started to eat away at my intent. As the miles slowly dragged by I started to calculate my finishing time in my head. I passed Holly and then Jen, they were coming the opposite way, at least an hour ahead of me! I was so proud of them! I had wanted to finish in 6 hours, and was now looking at a 7 hour finish! I searched longingly for each mile marker, and obsessively checked my stop watch, as though it would somehow make a difference. As mile 20 creeped up I saw Beth on the horizon! She came back for me! She had finished slow for her time too, her broken foot had held her back, but she came to keep me company for a mile and called Paul to tell him to come as well. After Beth headed home I kept pushing, looking over each hill for Paul... and then around mile 23 I saw his bright yellow CTF shirt and almost actually ran, imagine that. I wanted to cry but there is no crying allowed in running. I hugged him as tight as I could and we started walking together. I talked his ear off, filling him in on all of the inconsequential things I had seen over the last 6 hours. He held on tightly to my hand and I just thought, this is why I married him. He is my best friend. I wouldn't want to be here with anyone but Paul.

Finally, like a mirage, I saw Val and Shaleyah standing near the turn for the final stretch. I stopped to get hugs and used the energy to take off running, I saw my family cheering like crazy near the finish line. Paul said you could hear them a mile away! I reached them, grabbed my kids, and said RUN! Mica tottered on her little legs trying to keep up, my Nana jogged next to me and JT held on tight to my hand. I could feel Paul right on my heels, supporting me as always. All together we crossed that finish line! Suddenly it was over, they handed me a medal and everyone was taking pictures. I felt tears rim my eyes but blinked them away, no crying allowed!

Finishing the full marathon was an amazing accomplishment, and I raised over $3500 for CTF! It is not too late to donate, you can click the collage of my family I have lost to NF2 on the left to visit my Active Donation Page.

Thank you to everyone who came out to support me!

I finished! The clock time is for the 1st wave, my official time 6:50:30!!!

But wait! This post wouldn't be complete without thanking Bob Skold!! We had a blast this weekend and I totally talked his eyes off with my hands... he loved it HA! He said I always have a story... tis true!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Examined Life

I left my flash drive at home and am at lab, wanted to be sure I didn't lose all of this work and thought I would share my FIRST DRAFT (just fyi for my Dad and his red pen) below. Comments etc are welcome thanks!

It was Socrates who said that “The unexamined life is no kind of human life.” The most important word in this statement is obviously “life,” and in order to make stipulations regarding life it must first be defined. Life is the act of living, and the act of living is to exist in the physical world. The physical world is what we perceive through our senses combined with the subsequent interactions between our minds and the matter which surrounds us. Socrates specifically refers to human life in his statement. So he is referring to a distinctive type of life and not simply the act of existing. Any animal is capable of life, but let us assume only humans are capable of reasoning and thinking. Apparently, being a healthy and intelligent human being is not good enough for Socrates. He says that on top of this your life is only worthwhile if you examine life itself. By saying “The unexamined life is no kind of human life,” Socrates is insinuating that a life without philosophy is similar to an animal life. He is saying that those who choose not to delve into the meaning of life itself are simply going through the motions of life without experiencing it in full. Every human that is born experiences life regardless of whether they examine it as they do so, and each of these lives is just as meaningful as the life that Socrates supposed we all should live
At the age of seventy, Socrates was put on trial for atheism and corrupting the youth of Athens. He had developed a way of questioning erudite men who thought themselves to be knowledgeable and leaving them with no choice but to admit ignorance of whichever topic they had originally assumed to be knowledgeable of. He would advance upon a philosophical question by asking first for the unwitting victim to linguistically define an elusive topic. For example, while discussing how virtue is acquired with Meno in Plato, Socrates first coerced Meno into attempting to define virtue. Socrates knew Meno’s answer would be easily disproved, thereby undermining all other points in Meno’s argument. Upon eliciting a response that he desired to further his argument, Socrates would pick out detail after detail within the argument to prove his point further. Often his conclusion would have nothing to do with the original question. In the case of his discussion with Meno, Socrates guided Meno through a frustratingly ambiguous dialogue, and finally left him with the answer that it is impossible to inquire into the actual nature of virtue. He left Meno, and all others present, further perplexed then when he began. He reached no conclusion and left a trail of angry men in his wake.
This pattern of dialogue is now called the Socratic Method and led Socrates to his trial. At the trial Socrates gave a rousing dialogue later known as the Apology. He was found guilty despite his clear defense. As was the way in ancient Greek democracy he was again allowed to speak, and suggest an alternative sentence from the prosecution’s proposed sentence of death for the jury to choose from. Rather than feign repentance for his incessant questioning Socrates said that, “The greatest good for all mankind is this: to everyday discuss excellence and all other thing you hear me discussing, examining myself and others, and that an unexamined life is no kind of human life…” In the moment that Socrates made this statement it had the right meaning and legitimacy attached to it. However, like most other philosophical musings, the statement that “The unexamined life is no kind of human life,” does not equally apply its’ truth when taken out of context. In this situation the context would be that of the trial, and Socrates defending himself. Outside of the context of Socrates’ trial the insinuations attached to this statement bear little resemblance to reality.
Socrates was always beginning his dialogues by proclaiming to know nothing. In the Apology he even explained that a wise man is only wise because he is aware he knows nothing. So Socrates spent his entire life searching for nothing, and therefore accomplished nothing. The man did not earn a living or provide for his family, he took no pleasure in physical gratification, and he left behind a clouded legacy which can only be found by reading the works of other men. He was unafraid to die because he firmly believed that all of the things he held in high esteem, such as ethics, truth, and knowledge, existed in their purest forms only in the realm of the dead. During the course of his dialogue with Meno, Socrates led a young boy through a simple geometrical puzzle, and imposed the correct answers on this boy until the boy believed he had solved the riddle independently. Socrates claimed the boy already knew the answer because he learned it before being born, while his soul resided in the world of the forms, and was simply shown how to recollect the answer by Socrates. The conclusions Socrates draws in the story are so ridiculously unjustified. His belief in the ability of Man to recollect and not learn is a wild assumption without any merit. Why would he make suppositions about death when he abhorred making assumptions about life? His intent was obviously to inspire those around him to use common sense to reach ethical conclusions, but his arguments were flawed and contradictive. He spent his entire life mired in these arguments, and as he debated the technicalities the true meaning of life seems to have flown right past him.
The life of a human is precious, no matter how they spend that life. If a person is born with an exceptionally low mental acuity and therefore unable to wax poetic on the intricacies of virtue or knowledge, their life is no less meaningful then that of the self proclaimed genius they live next door to. There are decent people all over the world who work hard everyday, come home with dirt under their nails, and tuck their kids in tight every night. Many of these people do not take the time to examine their lives, they are too busy living it to obsess about the meaning of it. Life is for the living, and Socrates was wrong to believe that any life could possibly be unworthy of living. Every person has their place in the world, and if they all solely focused on examining life in the way that Socrates suggested, nothing would ever be accomplished. So while the world may be a better place for the existence of philosophy, it equally benefits from all other studies and actions as well. To live the human life requires not just the examining of life, but also the living of it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Costume Benefit a Success!

Saturday night I dressed up as a french maid and tottered on my biggest heels to South Forty for the CTF Costume Benefit! I like to think that fun was had by all, and we raised $211 for CTF!! Groovy Myra won the Most Creative Costume, Masked Anthony won for Scariest, and Gypsy Willie took home the Sexiest Prize! Thank you to all my awesome friends who came, drank and learned a bit about NF!

Now that I have the party behind me I am focusing on the marathon, which is exactly one week away! I'll be leaving home Friday morning and working hard all weekend to run the NFET expo booth and support the team in any way I can! I'm looking forward to having a brand new medal to hang over my bed!

Bebu Moto Moto 433

Myra, Jolene and Anita as the Pink Ladies,
there's Paul in the back and George Lopez snuck in for a shot!

D-A-R-C-I lol

Fred & Willie with Miena and I

My BFF Adria as Erykah Badu!

Darci, Adria, Beth, Sharice, Ann Marie and Daniel

Jarrod, Corey, Paul and Anthony

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