Tagged: gratitude

hOly rOadrunner, Batman, it IS valley fever!


I have never been so happy to be diagnosed with something in my life! On Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013 my husband and I went to my appointment with the resident Valley Fever guru, Dr. Galgiani. He is the renowned VF expert in the country, and was my last hope for sanity. It probably was a good thing he didn’t realize how much was riding on this visit.

Dr. John Galgiani was kind, funny, thoughtful and extremely knowledgable. He was interested in hearing my story, asked questions and was genuinely interested in helping me. When he said, “I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard the same things from my Valley Fever patients”, I just about burst into tears with relief!


hOly cactus blOssOm, Batman,

I really dO have Valley Fever!

Like I said, I’ve never been so happy to be diagnosed with an untreatable disease in my life! Gone forever are the crazy thoughts and questions I’ve had rolling around in my head for the last 14 months. Gone are the sleepless nights wondering why I can’t do any normal activities or even just talk on the phone. Gone are the worries about what it is that I do have, and whether I will ever get well.

I was relieved when Dr. Galgiani said I fit into one of the classic Valley Fever profiles – a very healthy, active person, with all the VF symptoms (cough, night sweats, headaches and fatigue) and fatigue being the worst lingering symptom. They don’t know why very active people get the long drawn-out version, but he has seen it many times. He confirmed that the medication doesn’t really help in cases like mine, and that here is not one part of my story that doesn’t fit for Valley Fever.

I am extremely relieved and happy to finally have a confirmation of what I have “known” all along.  There are so few doctors who really know this disease, so I’m extremely grateful to be a patient of Dr. Galgiani’s. He has dedicated his career to studying, researching and treating Valley Fever in the hardest hit areas in the US.  He was clearly excited to be working on it and making a difference for people who are suffering with it. Thank you, Dr. G!!

He said he has no treatment for the disease itself, but gave me a prescription for a months worth of physical therapy to slowly begin reconditioning my body. Love this! He said to let go of all the figuring out and trying things, and just let them set up a plan that fits me and my condition. I feel very supported and heard. I will go back to see him in 6 weeks – he actually wants to know how I am doing. How cool is that?! (The last 3 doctors told me to come back in 6 months or a year.) Again, thank you, Batman!

lOvely wOrds frOm my sister...

lOvely wOrds frOm my sister…

Dr. Galgiani is so sure I have Valley Fever that he asked if I would be willing to do an interview for one of the local TV stations last Monday. We were having terrible dust storms that day, and Valley Fever is always a topic of concern on those days. I readily agreed to the interview and loved being a part of educating and voicing the realities of the disease. Below is a link to the interview if you want to take a look.


Right now, this is my favorite t-shirt. I know the keep calm sayings are a bit overused, but I love The Beatles and wearing it makes me smile. So, rOck On, dear friends, rOck On!


I would love this on a t-shirt, too! But the truth is, it is Dr. Galgiani who needs this t-shirt. He really IS Batman!


The real life Batman……

Dr. John Galgiani - He is now on my team! Yay!

Dr. John Galgiani – He is now on my team! Yay!

I think I could save the world in these shoes! Don’t you?!

hOly high heels, Batman!

hOly high heels, Batman!

Okay, okay, I will stop myself from carrying this too far. It’s just that as a kid I loved Batman and Robin, and all their corny jokes and funny sayings. But most of all I loved them because they were out there battling evil and winning. I, too, want to be a force for good in the world and plan on continuing to fight for the underdog (oh, I loved Underdog, too).


Here is my final thought on Batman for the day. Maybe we are all being called to connect to our own inner super hero. The part of us that wants to speak up and fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. I think it is really trying to encourage us all to be super heroes in our own lives. Maybe there is a Batman, or Batwoman, inside all of us. Claim your inner super hero, and go out and change your special corner of the world for the better today.

Be kind. Love gently. Live large.

Yay for the real life super heroes!

lOve, vickiO

P.S. Here are a couple of very helpful links if you suspect you have Valley Fever and are looking for more information.

Valley Fever Center of Excellence

Tutorial for Primary Care Professionals – select this option on the page displayed for a PDF file that you can print and give to your doctors to receive the best care possible.

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”

– Pablo Picasso

starbucks, gratitude and life Of snOOpy


Starbucks has great coffee, comfortable chairs and free wi-fi.  They have great sandwiches, wonderfully fresh lemon bread and a frequent customer card where you can earn free drinks.  Woo-hoo!  You can sit in their cafes for some solitude, or with a few friends fixing the problems of the world.  All of which is very comfortable, inspiring and mighty tasty.  But the coolest thing about my Starbucks in Fountain Hills Arizona are the baristas and servers and managers.

Long before I got sick, I was a daily visitor to Starbucks for my venti vanilla, non-fat, no-foam latte.  Yes, daily. For some reason I’ve never mastered the art of brewing coffee at home. My husband would confirm the fact that I missed out on the cooking gene when it got handed out, so maybe that is why the whole home-coffee systems never worked for me.

I loved being a daily Starbucks customer. It became my version of the sitcom, Cheers – you know, when everyone yells “Norm!” upon his arrival. Everyday I would leave Starbucks with my lovely and delicious cup of coffee, feeling better than when I walked in. That makes that cup of coffee, and the people serving it, very special and quite priceless.


When I first got sick, my daily trips to Starbucks stopped. What didn’t stop were those delicious handmade vanilla lattes. My dear friends or husband would make the coffee run for me, and deliver it with a smile and hug. When the partners (that’s what Starbucks call their employees) heard about my illness, they began sending me messages written with a black Sharpie on the outside of my coffee cups.  Every message brought with it a sense of healing, thoughtfulness and care, and every cup really did make me feel better. I was truly grateful beyond words.  I couldn’t imagine throwing these special messages away, so long before I was well enough to begin painting, I began saving every love-filled cup that was brought to me.

lOve in a cup.

lOve in a cup.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the Starbucks company mission is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time.”  Well, I was (and still am) nurtured and inspired by the wonderful Starbucks partners every day. And when I thought they couldn’t get any better, Snoopy shows up one day. I lOve snOOpy! And it turns out that Nolan, the barista, is a master artist when it comes to Snoopy!

life Of snOOpy

life Of snOOpy

Because of  their kindness and creativity, I was inspired to dig deep and show my appreciation and gratitude to the wonderful Starbucks partners in a very special way. I wanted them all to know that what they do every day makes a real difference. So I stepped way out of my comfort zone and set out to paint them a one-of-kind thank you note. When it was finished I contacted the district manager and asked that she present it to the store manager and staff. They deserved to be recognized for their outstanding customer service and for carrying out the company mission with such grace.

"lOve starbucks, Oh!

“Love Starbucks 1”, acrylic on 16×16 canvas, In Starbucks in fOuntain hills, az

Many more fun and creative messages have come my way over the last year, and snOOpy has been busy celebrating holidays, going to Mars and fighting the dark forces. Another piece of Starbucks artwork is taking shape in my studio, so stay tuned.  I will be forever grateful for the inspiration provided by the very special people of Store 5586 in Fountain Hills Arizona. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

nOlan - master barista, musician & snOOpy artist

nOlan – master barista, musician & snOOpy artist

So treat yourself to a Starbucks today. Who knows, it may just change your life.