This blog entry starts out about me but eventually discusses a total stranger. Whatever the case, it’s amazing how one thing can lead to another.

Over 7 years ago, Joe and I lived in Tampa. We were big fans of an Orlando-based a cappella group called Toxic Audio and hearing their CDs and shows inspired me to follow a dream I had been holding on to for years…to join a female Barbershop singing group. I quickly learned that the female version of Barbershop is actually called Sweet Adelines and besides the opportunity to sing in quartets (NOT for me), SAs are larger groups of women singing as a chorus. After some research, I discovered that my local chapter of SAs was called Toast of Tampa.

I really enjoyed singing with TOT, but there were a lot of things involved in it that made me second-guess my participation in the group…I couldn’t (still can’t) sight-read sheet music and, because I was coming in to an established group, always felt like I was behind the 8-ball when it came to knowing my music. To their credit, they had a “Big Sister/Little Sister” program in place for newbies but I never felt my Big Sister was a good match for me…she was at least 30 years older than I was and instead of holding my hand like I really needed, she was more of a “ask me any questions you have” sort of person. As a virtual newbie, I had NO idea of ANYTHING so I didn’t have even any sort of “base” to ask questions from. My entire participation was one big “question”, LOL! On top of that, I soon found out that the Sweet Adelines’ main goal is that of Competition…Regional, National and International. Part of the Competition meant I had to have the same shoes, costume, makeup and hair style as everyone else, to say nothing of learning a LOT of choreography for each song we did i the Competition. Well, I didn’t want to look like everyone else, I certainly didn’t want to learn choreography and I really didn’t want to compete, either…I just wanted to sing! On top of all of this, I had (rather unwisely) joined TOT a whopping month and a half before Joe and I got married. So my mind was, understandably, on other things.

I did the best that I could under all of those circumstances but eventually wound up quitting Toast of Tampa about two months after the wedding. However I somehow remained on their email newsletter list. I didn’t mind because I had made some acquaintances there so it was fun to see what they were up to.

One day though, I read some very sad news in the newsletter…the young daughter of one of the singers I remembered and liked had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and was being treated at St. Jude’s in TN. They had included a web address for a blog so people could read updates on how she was doing, which I visited and bookmarked. I’d check her blog periodically, happy and hopeful when she was doing well and saddened when it was discovered the tumor had spread. The blog also included links to other kids who were St. Jude’s patients and, ever the health care professional who liked to read Case Histories, I’d occasionally check out their blogs, too.

The years went on, I’d read links of links and eventually I found the blog of Anissa, a woman whose daughter had Leukemia. The daughter, fortunately, made it through her chemotherapy well and has been off treatment for over a year now. Without having to report on medical stuff, Anissa changed the focus of the blog from mainly her youngest daughter’s health to the happenings of her entire family, with funny stories and her view of the world. And let me tell you, Anissa is one kickass writer! Funny as anything and the kind of person you think you could really like in person, if you ever were to meet (don’t worry…I no have plans on being anyone’s stalker, LOL!). http://freeanissa.com/ became “just another awesome blog” that I read, like Pioneer Woman or GaijinSmash, and I looked forward to every new entry.

Until late this past November.

That’s when her husband posted something on her site: Thank-you for all of the kind words of encouragement. Going forward, all further updates on my wife’s progress will be at www.hope4peyton.org.

As it turned out, Anissa, a healthy 30-something-year-old woman, a wife and mother of 3 kids under the age of 12, had suffered a massive stroke in the area of her brain stem. A few days later she had yet another brain bleed. She was non-responsive for several days and it was touch and go for a while; no one was sure she would make it. Fortunately she did and the “long road back to her former life” began. Based on her husband’s writings (and my own professional knowledge as someone who has worked with hundreds of stroke victims), she’s progressed well and is doing very, very well for someone who had such a significant event happen inside her head.

After 3 months of hospitalizations and inpatient rehabilitation, Anissa finally came home to her husband and kids yesterday.

She’s not done though. She’s still got a ways to go in her rehabilitation, trying to get her right side to work, learning how to speak more clearly, and everything else that goes along with recovering from a massive stroke. Her health insurance is allowing her 40 Outpatient Rehab visits, but there’s a $100 co-pay per visit (I hate insurance companies). I’m not sure what her husband does for a living but whatever it is, it doesn’t pay enough to cover $4000 in co-payments. So they’ve set up a Paypal site, with requests for donations.

I’ve sent them some money because I felt it was the right thing to do. Anissa has given me hours of enjoyment with her writing…sure, she’s essentially a total stranger but since it’s something I can do, it’s the least I can do. Take a look at her blogs and if you get sucked in, or laugh out loud, maybe you’ll feel moved to help her out too.

— Anissa’s original blog, written to keep people abreast of her daughter’s fight with Leukemia, now being used to keep people abreast of Anissa’s recovery from the stroke: http://www.hope4peyton.org

— Most recent entry, with Paypal link, written by Anissa’s husband: http://www.hope4peyton.org/2010/ahem/

— Anissa’s “non-medical” blog: http://freeanissa.com/

Thanks, y’all!!!

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