Summa, summa, summa time…

I’ve been neglecting my blog this past month to focus on a book I was writing.  I had previously written 4-5 drafts before finally settling in a banging out a complete draft that I didn’t hate this summer.  I sent it to an editor and just  uploaded my book to be published.  It’s been a labor of love for sure because it is about my chronically ill dog, Georgia Grace.  I know we are in the twilight of her life and often, I am asked if I “regret” having her with all of her horrible illnesses combined with all of my chronic illnesses.  My answer is NEVER.  This dog has brought so much to my life.  She has an inner light that attracts goodness.  It’s been emotionally and financially exhausting being her mommy, but it’s been my honor to love her.  My goal is to raise some money for a fund that helps rescue dogs (primarily Cavalier King Charles Spaniels like Georgia, but other breeds as well) get medical treatments they need.  They helped us when Georgia was hospitalized back in November.  They will get a portion of the proceeds and the rest will cover the publication of the books I get printed.  I had no idea how much it cost to put out a book.  It was not what I expected and has been true learning experience.

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Georgia story should have been short and sweet, but her strong will to live and my knowledge of managing chronic illnesses has made her life story longer than anyone expected.  I’m thrilled to tell her story to all interested in learning about her.    When I tell people I wrote a book about my dog, I get the oddest looks.  Some say, “About your dog?”, with a disgusted face, or “I want to write a book, too!”  It’s kind of funny.   Those who know and love us, seem to be excited for us.  It’s truly a new adventure and I’m looking forward to how the book is received by others.  Regardless, I knocked an item off of my bucket list.  I’m proud of myself and I’m proud of the life I have given my sweet Georgia.

I hope you are all feeling well!  I’ve been working 3 days a week for 4 hours at a time, this summer, and it has shown me that I feel much better when I work less.  Sadly, I can’t afford to not go back to my regular work grind in September.  Good thing I love what I do.  Speaking of my job, I did have Georgia certified as a therapy dog recently.  Here is an amazing video that one of my students created of Georgia’s first visit to my job.  I absolutely love it!!

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Kelly holds masters degrees in both Special Education and Speech-Language Pathology. She works full-time as a speech-language pathologist in both a public school setting and as an adjunct faculty member at a university, in Philadelphia, PA. She specializes in both autism and augmentative/alternative communication and took her skills to Uganda, Africa to start a special needs program for disabled children living in an orphanage in 2011. Kelly began experiencing symptoms of autoimmune arthritis in 1984 (while in her teens) but wasn’t officially diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis until 2001. Her first diagnosis was Sjogren’s syndrome. Eventually her diagnosis was changed to sero-negative RA and now Polyarticular Spondlyoarthropathy. She also manages thyroid disease (resulting from Graves Disease), fibromyalgia, renin-deficient hypertension, and disseminated superficial actinic porokeratosis (DSAP) on a daily basis. Kelly connected with other autoimmune arthritis patients via social media in 2008. She began volunteering with the “Buckle Me UP! Movement”, which evolved into the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM) beginning in 2009. Then became a cofounder of IFAA in 2013. She has represented the ACR on Capitol Hill as an Advocate for Arthritis, was a finalist in Wego Health’s Health Activist Hero awards in 2014, and speaks at various healthcare conferences as a patient advocate in the Philadelphia area.

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