U is for Unfinished: Blogging from A to Z Challenge


I have recently come to the realization that I leave a lot of things unfinished. I don’t much care for that revelation because I suspect that there is something pretty telling about my inability to finish things, some deep-seated psychological meaning that I don’t have the time to unearth. But I do find it to be a pretty compelling “quirk” and I do find myself asking questions. Why didn’t I finish college in time to walk across the stage and get my diploma? Why didn’t I finish cleaning the attic last spring? Why did I give up on Weight Watchers and gain that twenty pounds? Why was I too scared to go back to that musical theatre class?

Obviously, when things are truly important, I finish them. My work gets done, my bills get paid and my family is cared for. Those are the most important things. If I’m directing a show or if people are relying on me, I do my absolute best to see it through to the end. However, if a task isn’t mission critical, it could potentially fall to the wayside or be put off until the last minute.


The thing that makes this more confounding is that I am a planner. I really, really love to organize and make things more efficient, so why do I put myself in the position of procrastinating and adding stress to my already stressful and busy life? Part of the reason is because I have a very difficult time convincing myself that just because I can do something, doesn’t mean that I should. I’m working on that. Also, I don’t really like to sit still and do nothing, unless I’m napping. Otherwise, I multitask.

This blog is a perfect example of something that lost focus. I signed up for a challenge at the beginning of April to push myself to write something every day throughout the month, prompted simply by a letters of the alphabet. I started off pretty well, only having to play catch-up a couple of times. Then life got busy and I found myself thinking about posts more than writing them. I was two days behind, then I was three days behind. Then suddenly April 30th was here and my blog was stuck at the “S” post. Dammit. Another thing unfinished.

Yesterday I read a comment on that “S” post from somebody who stopped by from the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. She said, simply, “Hope you’ll finish up the A to Z. You’re so close to the end.” And I am! So. Close.

I only have four more posts to go after this one. I may not have finished on time but I fully intend to make it all the way to Z. I will not add this to the list of things left unfinished that I will question later, I will add it to the list of things that illustrate that it is sometimes better to finish something later than to never finish it at all.

The next thing I plan to finish? The hat.

Q is for Quiet: Blogging from A to Z Challenge


Although I haven’t been “officially” been told by a medical professional, since it is rarely diagnosed condition according to this Wikipedia article, I believe I suffer from a mild case of misophonia. I say it is mild because the condition is basically defined as “the hatred of sound.” Now, I don’t hate sound. In fact, there are a lot of sounds I like: music, the sound of my family, the joyous bark of my dog.

But when the TV is blaring, and the music is thundering from upstairs, abd the children are bickering and the dog is barking at the mailman… CALGON TAKE ME AWAY! Perhaps that isn’t misophonia, perhaps that is sensory overload.

Another symptom of misophonia is when seemingly trivial sounds make you want to self-destruct. I think this is specifically evident when people are eating – the scraping of the bottom of the yogurt container, the incessant crackling of the chip back as the last few are retrieved from its bottom, the crunch after crunch on raw carrots. And, oh, for the love of God, the sound of someone clipping their nails!

You get the picture.

So when those annoying sounds are served up in abundance, the next true quiet that comes is so blissful. Usually I tune the sound out with headphones and am able to get my anxiety to subside. However, when pure absolute silence comes, it is like nature’s Valium. It just covers you in a warm, soft blanket of solitude where you have nothing but the sound of your thoughts and the occasional ambient sound. I have had quiet for the last couple of hours and truly I truly feel both at peace and invigorated.

And then the mailman comes.

N is for Nectrotizing Fasciitis: Blogging from A to Z Challenge


It is the stuff of which horror movies are made or something that may crop up as a storyline in a Grey’s Anatomy episode. Almost fourteen years ago, it was the primary focus of our lives. People who know me now will occasionally hear me say, “That was when my husband was sick,” sort of tossed off like it was something fleeting or commonplace. It was neither. It was flesh-eating bacteria, clinically known as nectrotizing fasciitis.

My husband Billy and I had just moved into our new home in Danbury with our 18-month-old daughter. We’d been living there not even two months when he started to get an aching pain in his leg, which spread quickly to his hip. He had gotten his first ever flu shot and attributed the aches and pains to the common side effects that come with the flu shot. He went to the doctor and an x-ray showed nothing, so he was given steroids and pain medicine and was sent home.

After a couple of days, that pain had gotten so bad that he wasn’t even able to get out of bed. That morning, before I headed off to Stamford to work, I packed a cooler with a couple of sandwiches and some Gatorade, hoping that he would eat or drink something. I called him from the office in the afternoon and told him that I was going to take him to the hospital because, if anything, he was surely in need of fluids.

When I got home, his brother greeted me in the driveway and told me that Billy had called an ambulance and that he was taken to the ER. I rushed straight to Danbury Hospital, where my husband was being tended to by a fleet of doctors. When he had arrived at the hospital, the doctors removed his pajama bottoms to discover a dark purple rash. They circled the rash with an ink pen and in the mere hour that he had been there and you could visibly see how fast it was spreading. I remember Dr. Nee, the infectious disease specialist, looking at me and saying, “It looks like we are dealing with a bacteria of the flesh eating variety.” Wait! What?

My husband was then rushed to the OR where they did emergency surgery to debride the necrotized tissue. In addition to the extremely large wound on his leg, he had also gone into renal failure. Had he waited any longer, the disease would have gone systemic, attacking his heart and lungs and most likely killing him. Fortunately, the team of doctors at Danbury Hospital acted quickly and expertly. He was then placed into a medically induced coma for 10 days.

When I asked Dr. Jimenez, the head of the intensive care unit, how my husband contracted this bacteria he looked at me and said: “The bacteria that causes it is ubiquitous.” That is one of those weird moments in time that you always remember. I looked at him and said, “What does that mean?” He responded, “It’s everywhere. It is caused by streptococcus A, the same bacteria that causes strep throat. It just gets into the body at a site of trauma and wreaks havoc.”

The night the surgery was performed, the surgeon called me and told me that the surgery went well and that we would have to wait and see whether or not the leg would need to be amputated or if he would ever walk again.

The next morning, I dropped my daughter off at day care and headed straight to my husband’s office where a close friend of ours worked. I didn’t want to be alone when I went to the hospital. My friend, who had known Billy since his college days, accompanied me to the hospital where my husband was in the ICU.

I spent the majority of the next 10 days in the ICU waiting room, almost always accompanied by friends or family members. The people that came and visited Billy or just sat with me in the waiting room, they hold a very special place in my heart. I saw it then and I’ve seen it since, when confronted by the fear of loss, the cream rises to the top and you are able to assess who the true friends are. My husband is a much loved man and people flew from all parts of the country to be with him and support me and our daughter. Others did whatever they could around the house – painted rooms, did minor electrical work, prepared suppers or babysat our daughter.

Ever practical, as soon as the initial surgery was completed, I asked the doctor’s if I could see the wound. They advised me against it but I insisted, telling them that I needed to know what I was going to be dealing with. From that point onward, the doctors and I documented in photographs the healing process. (Click here to view the pictures. WARNING: Images are graphic and may be unsettling to some.) The months that followed were difficult ones. For my husband, they involved over a month in the hospital, several surgeries, including skin grafts, hours of physical therapy and a wound vac to close a wound located in a tricky spot on his hip.

I am happy to report that my husband defied all of the worst prognostications. Not only did he keep his leg but he walks without the aid of cane or crutch and, in fact, dances from time to time, even if he does look like this when he does it.

In fact, almost a year to the day of his diagnosis, Billy and I welcomed our twin girls, Isabelle and Delaney. They were like the Universe’s way of showing us that even out of the darkest of times, miracles can happen.

And that, really, is what life is all about.

Click here to read an article about my husband’s return to the stage after his battle with necrotizing fasciitis.

L is for Letting Go: Blogging from A to Z Challenge


A couple of weeks ago I upgraded my iPhone 4s to a 6. I always like it when a capable Verizon employee transfers my contacts and stored information over to my new phone. It’s sort of like a security blanket. I know I don’t need to go on about our pathetic reliance on our smart phones. I also know that if I had to call any of my daughters on their mobile phones by recalling their numbers from memory, I would be screwed. Before upgrading I ensured that I backed my phone up to the cloud. CYA truly is a highly recommended standard operational procedure, in case you wanted my opinion.

After the salesman was done porting my info to my new phone, he asked me to review my contact list to make sure it looked complete. It did. All of my voicemails were there and my apps were in my settings, waiting to be repopulated to my home screen. I toggled over to my text messages and the folder was empty. I instantly panicked and asked the schmoozy Verizon guy where my messages were. He said they don’t transfer but that the messages were still on my old phone and I could download them from the cloud and transfer them to my new phone.

And I breathed.

See, the thing is, there was a text conversation between me and my friend Jude, who passed away almost a year ago from Stage IV metastatic cancer. I loved it because it was a conversation that took place over the course of a year, maybe longer. We chatted about theatre, her health, writing, my health, Olivia Pope’s white silk pajamas. Silly stuff. Important stuff. Not sure why I didn’t delete the message thread. I think it was because she was sick and there was no way to know when the last text would come. On May 16th, I think that’s the date, it did come. Jude had arranged home hospice and I was meant to go to Green Acres to have lunch that day. That morning, when I was confirming our date, her husband sent a message telling me that she’d had a rough night, would have to cancel and that I should make a point to see her soon. I said I would but I never did. Two days later she was gone.


It comforted me having that text conversation on my phone. I have yet to retrieve it from the cloud. I found some instructions online and apparently I am to locate a text file and then somehow move it to my new phone. This is presuming, of course, that I figure out how to do it so that I would not be overwriting any new data. Needless to say, I can no longer access that conversation with the swipe of the finger on a touchscreen. I miss having that piece of Jude with me; those frozen moments in time that I could just reference whenever I missed her. Something that was just ours.

There are similar pieces of the recent past that I have a hard time letting go of. I have two voicemails that came from the Danbury Public Schools alert system on December 14, 2012. It was a robocall alerting parents about a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I can’t delete those messages. Nor can I delete the message from an agent informing me that I was no longer going to be the book writer for an optioned show that I had co-written. Very different threads in my digital tapestry and each one so very important to me.


A friend of mine experienced something similar when a light bulb had burned out in her home. The last person to change it was her late husband, who she lost about two years ago. She struggled with changing the light bulb because it was almost like letting go of a presence that remained for her and her daughters. Yet another friend was so thankful that her husband purchased software for her so that she could download a treasured voicemail to her computer. It is a process, this letting go. This moving on. And damn it, it’s hard.

Of course, we do have the objects, the tactile reminders: the pictures, the sweater she gave you, the hat he wore, the furniture that they purchased when they were newlyweds. We also have the family recipes, the traditions and, oh, those beloved shared memories. I portend that it is the intangible things that are harder to let go. They are the things that, once gone, they cannot be retrieved. When you paint over the height markings on the door frame. When you delete the text message. When you change the light bulb. Something fades away. Even memories, the most personal and persistent way we stay connected to a lost friend or loved one, even they disappear.

Krysta Rodriguez, a young member of the Broadway community and someone who’s had a pretty enviable performing career at 30, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. When Krysta started her blog dedicated to her journey through a cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy, it made me think of Jude. Jude wrote Breast Left Unsaid, a book about her battle with breast cancer and it is one of the funniest, most poignant and informative memoirs out there both about being a woman and about fighting this insidious disease. I typed in the URL for the book’s web site so that I could send it to Krysta and I got an error message. The web site had expired.

Again, another part of my friend, without a breath of warning, disappeared into the ether. Her Facebook page still exists, her Twitter feed is still there, I can still find her on YouTube, and I can read her blog, her Huffington Post articles and her book*. In many ways I can still hear her voice across space and time, loud and clear.

Letting go is the hardest thing to do. Those moments of missing come out of the blue and in different ways. They can hit you like a ton of bricks or like a soft feather, gently tugging at your heart and soul. It never leaves, that longing for just one more moment to share another word, another sip of wine or a knowing laugh.

If you never met Jude, I am sorry that you missed the opportunity to know a truly extraordinary woman. She will be forever and often missed, by so many.

* If you are dealing with cancer, divorce, career changes or challenges in general, Jude’s book, Breast Left Unsaid, is a must read. You can order it on Amazon here.)

D is for Diabetes: Blogging from A to Z Challenge


Two weeks before my 40th birthday I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. For the last six years I have been living with a chronic illness that, for the most part, goes undetected by the people I encounter in my day to day life. Only when I suddenly have a low blood sugar or have to calibrate my insulin pump are people fleetingly aware of what I live with every moment of every day.


Diabetes is one of the more stealth of the chronic diseases. Every seven seconds a person dies due to complications from diabetes. One out of every 12 people has diabetes and one of every two people with diabetes don’t even know they have it.

When I was diagnosed, I had very little knowledge about diabetes. As with any diagnosis, I am continually amazed at the things that people say:

How can you have diabetes? Nobody in your family has it! No. Nobody in my family has it, thank goodness. I guess I got lucky. Surprisingly, even doctors have said this to me.


Do you have the good kind of diabetes or the bad kind of diabetes? Ummm… Any diabetes diagnosis is scary, whether it is Type 1 or Type 2. The difference is that Type 1 is insulin dependent and Type 2 is managed with oral medication. Both types of diabetes are better managed with close attention to diet and exercise. So are many other diseases.

Wow! I can’t believe you have diabetes, you aren’t fat! I’m not thin, I’m not fat. I’m diabetic. In fact, before I was diagnosed with diabetes, I was quite happy with the weight I lost. Little did I know it was because I was living with blood glucose in the 500+ range for quite some time.


You must’ve had a sweet tooth as a kid. Actually, no, I didn’t.

Well, at least it is a controllable disease. Yes, modern medicine has made diabetes a much more manageable disease. However, it cannot be cured. I will never go into remission. Also, it is a crazy expensive disease. Thankfully I have good insurance. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t. If I didn’t have insurance, I wouldn’t be able to afford my insulin pump supplies, which average $700/month. If I didn’t have insurance, I wouldn’t be able to afford insulin and test strips, which average $760/month. That is $1,460 a month for the rest of my life. Just to stay alive.

I could never do finger sticks and inject needles into myself! Yeah. I never thought I would have to do that either. It is amazing what you’ll do so that you don’t feel sick or end up in the hospital. Or worse.


Should you be eating/drinking that? I can eat and drink anything you can. I just have to take insulin to cover it.

I read on the Internet that if you do X then the diabetes will go away. The number of cures and ways to regulate sugar levels is astounding. I am amazed that medical practitioners that devote their lives to helping people live with diabetes haven’t heard about how eating a pound of beans a day, adding cinnamon to everything or taking Vitamin B every day will cure diabetes!

These are just some of the things that I’ve heard since becoming a diabetic. As with any disease, questions or statements that seem irritating or uninformed are best answered with proper information and, even better, with a little humor.

The Thirty Pound Journey: Weight Loss Tips From A Layperson


I have struggled with my weight my whole life. While I’m not someone who is considered obese, I’ve almost always carried between 20 and 30 pounds of extra weight. My addiction to food, for both pleasure and comfort, combined with my genetic predisposition to gain weight has made shedding pounds a constant challenge. I’ve tried fad diets, calorie counting and Weight Watchers and, while there has been initial success, I usually ended up back where I started, proclaiming loudly, “Who cares if I’m fat? At least I’m happy.” (Yes, food and drink make me THAT happy!) The only diet that put me in the 130-pound range was what I’ve dubbed The Diabetes Diet. I ate and ate, the pounds melted off and I was down to a size 6. Of course, the reason was because my body was developing adult onset Type 1 diabetes, so that was probably not the best weight loss program. It was the easiest though.

So, here I am, once again attempting to lose weight and make healthy choices. I am not a fitness instructor or nutritionist but I thought that I would share the things that have worked for me. Perhaps they will work for you, too.

Eat foods that are organically low in fat and calories. Reading food labels and calorie guides becomes an obsession for me when I am trying to lose weight and feel healthier. When I’m not eating right, I think nothing of picking up a Big Mac from McDonald’s but I’m always shocked when I am being conscientious and am reminded that there are 530 calories in one sandwich and 27g of fat! When I follow a Mediterranean or Weight Watchers type diet, I focus more on lean proteins (chicken, fish, beans, egg whites) and lots of fruits and vegetables. It is also important to pay attention to the fats that you consume. I eliminate or minimize butter from my diet and use olive oil (usually from a Misto) or a light butter substitute like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light. I also try to incorporate at least one serving of dairy into my daily intake, usually in the form of a low fat yogurt, cheese or a glass of milk.

Get active for at least 20 minutes per day. This is usually the hardest aspect of weight loss for me. I was NEVER the athletic type. I hate running and yet, when I do get moving, I find myself incorporating walking/running into my exercise routine. I think it is also important to diversify your workout. Walking and running is usually the easiest way to incorporate cardio into your life but there are other ways: Zumba, swimming or ball sports are great ways to get moving that don’t seem quite as mundane as a half an hour on the treadmill. Strength training is also an important element of your routine, whether it is free weights, Nautilus machines, resistance training or a DVD targeting abs, legs and/or arms.

Drink at least 64 ounces of water per day and limit your intake of carbonated beverages and juices. It is fairly common knowledge that it is important to consume eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, whether you are dieting or not. Not everyone needs exactly 64 ounces, so check out this way of calculating your water intake requirements based on your weight and activity level. Staying hydrated is important to flush out impurities, increase energy, aid in weight loss and maintain regularity. Additional benefits of consuming water are an improved complexion and saving money! If you eat at a restaurant once a week and you only ordered water, you could stand to save $150 or more a year, depending on what you normally order. Drinking a glass of water before mealtime not only helps to increase your water intake, it also helps to trick your mind into thinking you aren’t as hungry. If you aren’t a fan of water, these helpful hints for consuming more water are worth looking into.

Take a multivitamin every day. This is a habit that I picked up from Weight Watchers. While it is important to pay attention to the nutritional content of the calories you are consuming, your food may not always provide the vitamins and minerals you require. My stomach is sensitive to multivitamins so I take One-A-Day Vitacraves, which are gummy vitamins that are easier on my stomach. There are variety that meet varying needs: immunity, energy, Omega-3, etc.

Measure and weigh everything that you put in your mouth. This is one of those areas where there stands to be a large margin of error. When I’ve done Weight Watchers, I would start out weighing and measuring everything and then I’d get lazy and “guesstimate” the quantity. Sometimes, obviously, it is impossible to weigh and measure but, when you are at home, there is no excuse. For under $20 you can get a decent digital kitchen scale with a zero/tare function and it is worth every penny, I assure you. I am often surprised and how much (or how little) 4 ounces of something ends up being.

Do not drink your calories. I love martinis. I love beer. I love wine. Without doubt, if you consume alcohol, you should allow yourself this indulgence from time to time. However, in addition to the effects that alcohol has on your body and your sleep, it is highly caloric. A 3-ounce Grey Goose vodka martini is 240 calories! By the way, my martini glasses hold 6 ounces of liquid, so when I’m making a martini at home, a martini glass with 3 ounces is not half full, it is half empty! A light beer or a glass of wine is a less caloric way to go but a couple glasses of an adult beverage can definitely add up.

Track the calories that you consume and the calories you burn. Whether you are doing it through Weight Watchers points or calorie counting, you simply must track what you are eating. You can do it the old fashioned way, with pen and paper, but there are so many apps available for Android and iPhones or on your computer. With the most recent IOS release, Apple has the Health app where you can track measurements, fitness, nutrition and sleep. I personally use the MyFitnessPal app, which is also available from your computer, because it syncs with my Fitbit. If you don’t have a Fitbit or other activity tracker, I would highly recommend investing in one. As silly as it seems, when you hit your step goal and the little device lights up and vibrates, it really does feel like you’ve accomplished something. I also like the MapMyFitness app because it does a live GPS tracking of walks/runs, in addition to other workouts. One thing I have found with these apps, however, is their tendency to over-assess the calorie burn. If you are using an app to track intake and burn, don’t eat back the calories or use the activity points. If you must, reference this site from the CDC which more accurately depicts the calorie burn for exercise.

Allow yourself a treat from time to time. The thing I hate about changing my eating habits is that I feel that I’m depriving myself of the things that I love. I’m not really a sweets person but for some reason, when I am monitoring the foods I eat, I find I have insane cravings for things like chocolate ice cream. This is where your discretion comes in. I am perfectly happy with a half a cup of fat free chocolate frozen yogurt. If you are a purist, however, make the indulgence and have the Hershey’s chocolate (whether it’s a kiss or full candy bar). Just make sure you account for it in your daily intake.

Schedule a “cheat day” for yourself. I allow myself two cheat days a month. How you define cheat day is up to you. In my mind, I intend for it to be a day when I won’t track and food, drink or exercise, knowing the plan is to get back on track the next day. However, on cheat days I usually end up being aware of the long-term plan and find myself making smarter choices. Instead of a dozen buffalo wings and fried mozzarella, I might have only six buffalo wings and a salad with shredded mozzarella. Instead of that yummy 300 calorie IPA, I opt for a 95 calorie Amstel Light.

Weigh yourself only once a week. This is one that I have a very difficult time sticking to. I’m constantly thinking about the number on the scale. The prevailing opinion is to weigh yourself once a week because of how gains and losses vary from day to day. I’ve seen some diet experts recommend weighing yourself daily so that you can see the direction the scale is going. To see the big losses or gains, once a week is probably the best way to do it. Right now, I’m weighing myself every other day but I intend to change that habit.

Understand that a pound of muscle does not weigh more than a pound of fat. This reminds me of the old riddle, “What weighs more? A pound of feathers or a pound of rocks?” The answer is that they both weigh the same. The same applies here. A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat, so it should not be factored in to your weigh-in number. The difference is that muscle tissue is denser and leaner than fat tissue. The reality is that a pound of muscle takes up less space than a pound of fat. Where the change can be seen is not on the scale but when you compare your measurements over time.

Reduce salt intake. I am a saltaholic. I would sooner give up my dirty (read: salty) martini before I give up salt. Salt is another weakness of mine but I do know that it is a dieter’s enemy. In addition to the negative impact salt has on blood pressure, maintaining a high level of sodium forces our bodies to retain water in order to dilute the presence of salt. By reducing sodium levels in our diets, we stand to lose 2-3 pounds in water weight alone.

Eat spicy food. Adding chili pepper in the form of hot peppers, cayenne pepper or hot pepper sauce can help boost your metabolism and suppress your appetite. Studies have shown that people that add spice to their food consume less calories at meal time and burn in the neighborhood of 10 extra calories. In addition, I find that spicy food has me reaching for more sips of water, so it’s a win/win!

Plan meals ahead of time. When I’m watching what I eat, I am constantly thinking about food. This is the addiction factor creeping in, I know, but I am sure that this is not uncommon. Every morning, I plan out what I am going to eat that day. I try to have my biggest meal at midday and generally account for about 200 calories in snacks, which I have to do because there are couple of times a day when I have to drink juice or eat fruit to raise my low blood sugar. The benefit of planning your meals is that it helps to prevent last minute indulgences that can throw off your calorie intake. Another activity that I enjoy when planning meals is finding great low-calorie recipes. Two sites that I absolutely love are Skinnytaste and Hungry Girl. In addition to the recipes being healthy, tasty and interesting, each one includes the nutritional information as well as the Weight Watchers Points Plus values.

Find reasons to add extra steps or activity to your regimen. This is one that I’ve heard for years now but it is amazing how you can rack up additional activity points or steps just be being a little less lazy. Park in the spot furthest from the door, take the stairs instead of the elevator, use the shovel instead of the snow blower or get up from your desk and walk for five minutes. It is surprising how quickly this activity can add up.

Get a good night’s sleep. Sleep is a vital aspect to our lives and one that we tend to deprive ourselves of. A higher sleep efficiency leads to more focused and alert waking hours. In addition, the earlier you go to sleep, the less likely you are to engage in late-night snacking. More to the point, sleep deprivation increases the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin  and decreases the satiety hormone leptin. People who are sleep deprived tend to consume more calories, are less active and compensate for fatigue with poor eating choices.

Make weight loss fun! I don’t usually thing that weight loss and fun belong in the same sentence. However, one things that I have found surprisingly beneficial is doing a Diet Bet with some friends. In addition to the financial motivation of the Diet Bet, you have a group of friends with the same goal: to lose weight. The support of friends during a weight loss journey is invaluable. You can start your own Diet Bet or join an existing one at the Diet Bet site. There is also an app for Diet Bet, too!

My Broken Foot Will Never Heal

Today is World Diabetes Day. Here are some sobering facts about diabetes:

  • Almost 39 million people in North America have diabetes. If we do not act now, this figure will reach 50 million by 2035.
  • 1 in 9 adults have diabetes in North America – the highest prevalence across regions. 27% of them have not been diagnosed and are at a higher risk of developing harmful and costly complications.
  • In North America, diabetes will cause 297,000 deaths in 2014. 41% of those deaths will be in people under the age of 60.
  • Worldwide, every 7 seconds one person dies from diabetes or complications of diabetes.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure and amputation.
  • Worldwide, $310 billion will be spent on treating diabetes.

In November of 2008, less than two months shy of my 40th birthday, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I have decided to re-share the account of my diagnosis today, as I have another related blog post planned for the 6th anniversary of my diagnosis.

Despite the fact I had been around the theatre practically since birth, it wasn’t until 1979 that I first acted before an audience that wasn’t assembled in my living room. It was in a children’s play called Once Upon A Clothesline and I portrayed the pivotal role of Dr. Beetle who aids the unfortunate clothespin Pinette, who has fallen from the clothesline.

We rehearsed at the YMCA in whichever room was available to accommodate our tween-aged thespian troupe. On one particular afternoon we rehearsed in the gym amidst the gymnastics equipment. Like most 10-year-old girls who had been swept up in the whirlwind of Nadia Comaneci’s 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, I took gymnastics. And having taken two years of gymnastics classes at that very same Y, I fancied myself a gymnast. One wintry afternoon, during my offstage time, I found myself wandering over to the balance beam and performing a round-off dismount that ended in a very un-Comanecilike landing.

The next morning my swollen and purple foot prompted a visit to the doctor’s office. Upon further examination, the doctor suspected that the foot might be broken and put my foot in a temporary splint that would stabilize it until we got to the hospital to have it x-rayed. As he was wrapping my foot, I remember crying. Not because my foot hurt, although it did, but because I was going to miss out on my big acting debut.

A broken growth plate, a foot cast and a set of crutches later, the accommodating creative team rallied and I was still able to make my acting debut. In fact, the doctor that made her entrance on crutches was cause for a bit of a chortle. So, despite the drama and the tears, the show still went on and I with it.

Throughout the years, many of my acting experiences have had a “broken foot” that I’ve had to work through alongside the performance: my aunt’s suicide, the death of my grandfather, my sister’s near fatal accident, my father’s cancer diagnosis. In many ways, having a show to focus on has helped me work through those difficult times. It is probably one of the many reasons that I have such a passion for theatre and why I repeatedly refer to it as my one true constant.

Nowadays, after having dallied in many of the theatre’s disciplines – acting, writing, directing, design, stage management, choreography and crew – I find myself opting for directing projects. Don’t get me wrong, I love acting but because I have to be more discretionary with how I select my theatre projects I usually opt for directing projects. In most cases I am more passionate about the shows that I have the opportunity to direct than the ones that I would be interested in auditioning for.

Of course, as fate often dictates, when it rains it pours. 2009 promises to be quite the theatrical year for me. I have received four offers to direct, two of which I have accepted. Furthermore, while official announcements won’t be made until January, there are a few other theatre-related endeavors that I will have a hand in. Naturally, amidst this flurry of theatrical activity, two dream roles that I would give my eye-teeth to audition for have surfaced. Given my love for theatre, all of this opportunity is akin to letting a kid loose in a candy store. And being the realist that I am, I have been waiting for a few months for the other shoe to drop.

And it has.

The shoe first dropped with the reminder that I need to be cognizant of the other responsibilities that I have in my life: my family, my marriage, my job. Regretfully, I never pursued my theatrical ambitions in earnest and, therefore, my love of the stage does not pay the bills. As such, there is no justification for my theatrical adventures outside of the happiness and personal fulfillment it brings me. Given the strain that it puts on the other aspects of my life and recognizing the selfishness of pursuing an unrealized dream is basically a dropping shoe that was both inevitable and justified.

However, unbeknownst to me at the time, that dropping shoe was falling off of a broken foot.

Last week I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. During tech week for Little Women and the week abroad that followed I was feeling a bit under the weather. I knew something was up and scheduled a doctor’s appointment for the Monday following my return from the UK. At the appointment I listed off my symptoms and the nurse asked me if I had history of diabetes in my family. After a couple of quick tests in the office, it was evident that I did, in fact, have diabetes. My doctor sent me to the pharmacy and I was put on insulin straight away. The next day, I went to the endocrinologist who explained to me that I had such high sugar and ketone levels that I narrowly escaped ketoacidosis and hospitalization. Another blood test later, it was revealed that I did indeed have type 1 diabetes and that I would be on insulin injections for the rest of my life.

Now, like any self-respecting theatre aficionado, I have seen Steel Magnolias and, until now, that play/film had formed the basis for my knowledge of diabetes, specifically type 1 which Julia Roberts’ character Shelby has. When I tell people of my diagnosis, I can see in their faces whether or not they are replaying select scenes Steel Magnolias in their heads. And that’s okay. I have done it countless times, too.

There are times when I’m scared. There are times when I’m pissed off. There are times when I’m sad. There are times when I’m defiant. And those feelings will not go away, much like the disease responsible for generating them. I’m sure these emotions will grow more infrequent as I prepare for a lifetime of “managing” diabetes. It is just a matter of incorporating them, and it, into my now drastically altered life.

It is amazing what a person can learn in two weeks. Naturally, I am reading as much as I can about the disease and am doing my level best to get it under control. My life experiences have provided a pretty solid medical knowledge, so I’m learning the textbook side of things fairly easily and I’ve become a pro at injecting insulin into my now bruise-covered stomach. But in the past two weeks I’ve also learned a lot about myself. I’ve learned that I have a passion for many things: my family, my friends and my art. I’ve also learned how difficult it is to balance so many loves. While it isn’t a skill I’ve yet mastered, it is one I plan to hone. But as Emerson says, art is a jealous mistress. Believe me, I recognize the priorities I’ve got at the moment but I also know that my mistress will wait only so long before she gets restless.

So here I am, left to steady my course and face the road ahead. Yes, I have a broken foot and, while it may slow me down for a bit, it will not stop me. So, despite the drama and the tears, the show will go on and I will go on with it.

Mark my words.


And Here’s To You, Mrs. Robinson

On Sunday, May 18th, I arose earlier than usual. As a believer in signs and with the hindsight I now have, perhaps it was for a reason wholly different than the fact that I had a shit ton of stuff to get done that day. I brushed my teeth, ran a comb through my hair and threw on some clothes I didn’t care about. This morning was going to be messy and I didn’t want to get paint on my skinny jeans or on the shoes I bought to train for the Avon 3-Day in October.

I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions but on January 1, 2014 I made a lot of them. Last year was a difficult year for me so I thought it was a good idea to have a list that would serve as a barometer for all of the positive changes that I wanted to make. One of the resolutions was to form a book club with some of my bibliophile friends in an effort to spend time with people that were voracious readers while, at the same time, forcing myself to read a book or two. On this particular Sunday, our book club, appropriately named Reading Between The Wines, was meant to get together to discuss Lois Lowry’s The Giver. Ever the procrastinator, I double-checked to ensure that the audio version of the book was loaded on my iPod and I headed to the theater to get a few hours of set painting in while finishing up the book for the afternoon’s discussion.

As I was slathering paint on the upstage walls of the theater, I listened to the last hour of The Giver. My phone began to rang as the story reached its conclusion. The lead character, Jonas, was sledding down a hill with the infant Gabriel, leaving behind Sameness and heading toward toward the freedom of Elsewhere, replete with all of the joy of music and the color of twinkling light. This ambiguous ending is simultaneously sad and hopeful. (Yet another moment made oddly clear with hindsight.) Once the story was completed, I picked up my phone to see a missed call and a text from a friend. It said, “Call me.” I have learned two things since the dawning of the age of digital communication: (1) if you receive a text or an e-mail to call someone, you do and (2) it is rarely good news when you make that call.

“Where are you?”

“At the theater, painting the set,” I replied. I could tell in her voice what was coming next.

“Jude passed away this morning.”

And that is when the fog began to roll in. My friend said something about cancelling book club and about getting together at a friend’s house later. She may have said something about seeing me at rehearsal that night. I honestly don’t remember. I hung up and called my husband, who’s first words, “I’m sorry,” which seemed ill suited for me but at the same time, since my husband knew how this news would hit me when it came, ideally suited. Then I called another friend to let her know that Jude was gone. Then I filled the theater walls with loud music, covered them with blood red paint and I cried. I was alone in my church, the whole time thinking of and remembering my friend. I like to think should would have dug that.

Jude had been a presence in our theatrical community well before I happened upon it. To me, she was this enigmatic figurehead of talent that I had yet to experience firsthand, she was The Baker’s Wife, she was Maggie the Cat, she was that charismatic woman who danced with reckless abandon at weddings or the sophisticated lady at the barbecue. But she was not yet my friend. I first really came to know Jude in October 2001, when my husband contracted necrotizing fasciitis (the fancy term for flesh-eating bacteria). She would come to visit him in the ICU every day and hang out in the family waiting room with me and the many friends who came to offer me and our family support and encouragement. When I wasn’t at the hospital, I would be home with my 1-year-old daughter and whichever family members or friends that were staying with me at the time. I remember Jude stopping by one afternoon, sitting casually on my living room floor, reminiscing about time spent onstage with my husband. She brought with her a photo of her and my husband in a production of The Actor’s Nightmare  that had hung on her porch. She felt he needed to have it.


While interactions such as these helped me to kn0w her better, I didn’t yet consider her my friend. She was really a friend of my husband’s. Over time, I finally had the privilege of seeing her perform and she was, of course, magnificent. One of those performance included sharing the stage with my husband in Twelfth Night, the production that marked his return to the stage following his year of medical uncertainty. We went out to dinner with Jude and her then husband and it was a delightful evening of French food, fine wine and hanging out with her beautiful dogs in their newly purchased home in Redding. I began to feel that she was someone I would like to spend more time getting to know. Someone I’d like to call friend.

It wasn’t too long after that dinner that we received news that Jude had been diagnosed with breast cancer. All at once she was experiencing what she would later refer to in her memoir, Breast Left Unsaid, as a “Category 5 hurricane” – a life that simultaneously included divorce, the passing of her best friend, both parents taking ill with a topping off of a breast cancer diagnosis. It would have been unrealistic to expect our friendship to become anything more than casual acquaintances as she weathered her hurricane and I gave birth to twins and set about raising three girls under the age of three.

Fast forward to Fall 2008. Jude was in remission and married to the love of her life, my twins were no longer babies and my husband was healthy. The timing found both of us back at our church – the theater – when Jude auditioned for a production of Little Women that I was directing. It was then that I finally felt that I connected with Jude on a more meaningful level. We became friends. We’d share glasses of wine and theater war stories and I realized that the awe I once felt for her had turned into mutual admiration. We were cut from a very similar cloth, she and I. During the run of this production, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. As I was working to control the ketoacidosis that had set in and juggling needles and insulin vials, she would constantly check in on me. I was so thankful for her concern, very aware of the fact that her father was gravely ill and truly touched that she still made sure to check in on me.

Over the years that followed I was proud to call her my friend. We would attend small dinner parties together, she counseled me through my own breast cancer scare, we would get together and talk about the challenges of starting a theater company and our love of boots, wine, travel and writing. No, I wasn’t a member of her beloved Stumble Upon Crew nor was I referenced directly in her memoir, but we were friends and I felt such a deep connection to her. In fact, as I laughed and cried through her book, I grew angry with myself for not being more “there for her” when she was fighting her battle with breast cancer.

In March 2012 I received an e-mail from Jude’s husband. I was at work and the message told me to call his cell when I had a private moment. As I said before, when you receive a message to call someone, it is never good news. I called him and he told me that Jude’s cancer had come back and that it was Stage 4. He assured me that they were going to do everything they could to fight it – clinical trials, chemo, whatever it took. Jude was going into this with guns blazing. My heart sunk, the tears flowed and, as I did a couple of days ago, I called my husband.

A few weeks later, we got together for lunch and she and I chatted about all the things that mattered: our spouses, our children, family and friends, theater and, of course, our illnesses. She said that she had found a good course of treatment and that she was thankful that her hair wasn’t falling out. I told her that I was on the short list to receive an artificial pancreas as soon as the FDA approved it. I found it almost laughable to reference my illness in the same breath as hers. But Jude understood. Whenever I was in the hospital, Jude was always one of the first people to send me a note asking how I was. I would say that she had no idea how much that meant but, the reality of it is, she did know.

In the all too short years that followed, Jude released her memoir and we proudly attended readings and events as she added writer and activist to her list of talents. Last spring, while my husband and kids were in Barbados, I stayed home to do some home improvement projects and to participate in my first ever 5K in an effort to support Jude and her quest to find a cure. I was literally the last person to cross the finish line but she was there, waiting for me, encouraging me to come to Green Acres and have a glass of wine and a nosh.

As Jude became more ill, the time we spent together was more and more infrequent. At one time, I was included on the e-mail updates pertaining to how she was doing and treatments she was undergoing but as time went on, I was no longer included. I believe that it was because the circle was becoming smaller and I was very aware of the how many lives Jude touched and where I fit into her concentric circles. In January, I sent her a message and told her that I understood that she needed to digest everything with her friends and family first but that I’d love an update. I knew that she didn’t want her illness to define her, yet I was concerned. She responded telling me how much she appreciated being my friend and acknowledged that I understood in a way that many do not. We made plans for lunch.

The next three months were spent arranging dates and then canceling them for one legitimate reason or another. Jude was having procedures or undergoing treatment that would exhaust her or leave her incapable of walking, I would have a cold and wouldn’t to expose her fragile immune system to it or I had a medical procedure and was drugged up. Our Scandal slumber party ended up being a smattering of Twitter statuses about who was more evil: Cyrus or Papa Pope? In short, the timing just never worked for us.

A couple of weeks ago, at a social affair, a mutual friend asked me if I had seen or talked to Jude. Given the numerous cancels and reschedules, I had not. My friend proceeded to give me all of the inside information that she had amassed from her circle that rested closer to the center than mine. I told her to stop. I told her it upset me knowing that she got to see Jude and I didn’t. I told her I was fearful that I would never see her again and that I was deeply saddened by that fact. Fighting tears, I explained to her that I didn’t want to get news second or thirdhand. It seemed time and fate was never on our side, no matter how hard we tried.

A couple of days later, I sent a text to Jude, asking her how she was. Jude was very candid on social media, so I would usually get all of the information I needed from from there. But Facebook and Twitter had fallen into a very telling radio silence. She responded back, telling me that she had stopped chemo and that she was meeting with hospice. I told her that I loved her and that she meant more to me that she would ever realize. I’m glad I got to say that. She told me she loved me. I’m glad I got to hear that. We made plans to have lunch.

A week ago today, as I always did when we had plans, I sent her a text in the morning confirming that we were still on. I received a text back from her husband. “Jude did not have a good night. She needs to cancel. You should reschedule soon.”

And on Sunday she was gone. We never got to have lunch. We never got to have one last word. I never got to hear that laugh one more time. I didn’t want to impose on her. All I wanted to do was bring her a funny picture, sit on her living room floor and talk about Tuscany whilst drinking a glass of wine. I realize, though, that that is about me. Not her.

As I’ve been working through her passing, I keep telling myself that I should have tried one more time and that I should have fought my way harder to be a bigger part of a life already abundant with friends. Should I have just showed up on her doorstep with a casserole and tried jamming it in a refrigerator that I knew was overflowing with food? I didn’t want to insert myself inappropriately or be a nuisance. All I wanted to do was bring her a funny picture, sit on her living room floor and talk about Tuscany whilst drinking a glass of wine. I realize, though, that those are things I wanted, for me. And Jude’s passage from this earthly place was not, and should not, be about me.

Jude left behind an adoring husband, a mother who fought the breast cancer battle twice and won, three siblings who meant the world to her, a stepdaughter to whom she served as Mom2 and a community of friends, tangible and virtual, who loved her very much. There is a tremendous void in so many lives as a result of her passing. The realization I have come to is this: it is not about where I fit in her life, it is where she fit in mine. She made an indelible imprint on my soul and I will be forever changed because of those intertwined moments we shared, however infrequent they may have been.

I am reminded of a scene in Little Women. It is a scene after Beth dies and Jo is in the attic talking to Marmee about the fact that she cannot write, that she is filled with emptiness, that she should have been there and done more for Beth. Believe me when I tell you that I can relate to all of these struggles and have been for over a year now. Last year a show of mine that was meant to have its world premiere was cancelled and, on another project, the producers had replaced me as bookwriter for a show that I had co-written that had received a Broadway option. Jude, as a fellow writer, would always ask me about my writing. I’d tell her that I just didn’t have it in me anymore. I felt defeated by the cruelty of the business. She’d nod and sagely tell me that the time would come and when it did, my writing would be better than ever. My last birthday wish from Jude was this: “Happy happy birthday, darling. Wishing you a wonderful day and year. Drink wine, eat cake, and keep writing.”

As Marmee said to Jo, “But I refused to feel tragic, I am aching for more than pain and grief. There has got to be meaning, most of all when a life has been so brief. I have got to learn something, how can I give her any less? I want life to go on.”

My life will go on, filled with memories of a special woman, and I will start writing again. I will be as truthful in my writing as Jude was in hers and I will spend less time worrying about what others think. As Marmee said to Jo, I will carry on, full of hope. And she’ll be there. For all my days of plenty.