Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Wonderful Way of Fundraising: The Story of Ricochet

Today I'm going to tell the story of a wonderful way of fundraising. It combines love and patience along with the creative discovery of purpose. We all know how our hearts melt with the energy and antics of a beloved animal. This is the story of a golden retriever who was supposed to be a service dog. In that purpose she failed. Failure led her to a new purpose, perhaps even more valuable than the first. Even though she loved to chase birds too much to become a service dog, she exceled in the unusual sport of "canine surfing". Here is the story of Ricochet. It's a good name as you will see.

The video's and sites listed here tell the story of Surf dog Ricochet’s (Rip Curl Ricki's -- a Golden Retriever) inspirational journey from a failure at service dog training that leads to a joyful new direction.

She surfs in contests and also surfs with quadriplegic surfer, Patrick Ivison, Her fundraising for charitable causes is portrayed in this set of videos on youtube and on other sites. Many other videos of Ricochet can be found on docchat's channel: Another informative location is Ricochet's web page at:

She has raised over $10,000 for Patrick Ivison's physical therapy and a grant from WebMD has provided Patrick with an additional three-year grant for physical therapy. Her fundraising activities have also provided the funding for Patrick's service dog.

Also follow Ricochet on Facebook. Search for "Surf Dog Ricochet" or paste: into your browser's window.

This is an excellent example of turning disappointment into success. After all, we learn from and build on our mistakes. Our purpose in life is discovered often in a long series of trial and error efforts. This effort combined with patience and love teaches us what our true calling is in life. There are many ways we can serve others. Even with disabilities and limitations there are an infinite number of ways to help. All of us can learn from Ricochet's inspirational journey. She loves what she does with all her heart. If only we could follow her and her owners lessons. What purpose do we have here that opens our lives to empowering others with our love?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Dad Leaving : Emptiness Passes With Hope

Thanks for your message my friend. I had those same feelings when my Dad passed away. Your mom was a very close friend. You will need time to digest that loss. I know that feeling of emptiness well. I loved my Dad so much and we golfed together and enjoyed it as a family hundreds or thousands of times. He was just such a kind man and hardly never in a rush. He worked hard but not in a rushed way. I think this allowed him to take care of many aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters as they got older and needed someone who would keep in touch and visit. I did not believe that emptiness would ever leave us either. It is still there sometimes but not as emotionally charged with depression. Now, I'm getting to know my mom much better than I did before he passed away in late August of 2008. I'd say the heaviness of the feeling began to subside after winter ended this spring and worked on into the summer. Now a little more than a year later, I'd say what I have is many happy memories and not so much depression. When we got together after his passing, my brother Al sometimes led prayers that helped me remember Dad. It also helped me to write my thoughts down to accompany the youtube video I posted of Dad's Internment Service and taping the military honor guard that was there and played taps and did a 21 gun salute. You might want to read what I wrote in the information to accompany the video.

I think that having hope is very important -- something to look forward to, something to strive for and aim for gives me an impetus to keep on going. When you speak of wanting to work with newly diagnosed MS folks, you may not see being able to do that yet, but ask what would you need to do differently than in your old life to make it work out for yourself. How could you make it doable and manageable? For me, I think doing it at home and having video meetings would help me a lot. That would enable me to avoid the disabling drive downtown with the hand cramping it often brings on. I also think of how long and how often could I work on something. Being real honest with myself about my limits is core. Next, I need to understand what type of projects they work on and how they evaluate them at Sister Kenny Research Institute. How might I fit in there for a few hours each week? Some weeks I have therapy and doctors apptments all week every day and I'm just too tired. Sometimes my legs will flare up so bad that all I can do is lie down with my legs elevated and try to keep things under control. I'd be honest with them about that so that they and I have no misconceptions. I know it's not time yet to do this type of thing, but I have some hope that this aim of helping with experimental design in physical therapy research will help my recovery. A few hours a week, somewhat irregular, physical limits, even though I'd be limited, I believe I can still help you at Sister Kenny Research Institute here in Minneapolis.

So, what could you do to help out? What are your limits and how might you cope with them? What type of organization/group of people could you help? How would you make this manageble for you and make it a big positive in your life? It seems like you might be able to do some finance education for folks too. Many public libraries have such programs where an expert talks to people and helps them.

Well, this is the type of thing I'm aiming for. It's a little ways off, but I can see it coming together if I make some more progress. Thanks for writing to me and sharing. I very much appreciate what you have to say and the insight you have. Thanks my friend from Texas. Frank aka BigBird from Minnesota.

Here's the link for the Internment Service for Dad in the summer of 2008. The url for my overall youtube site is:

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Trusting In Hope

This week hasn't been going very well. I'm joined by a large group of people here I know. I am praying for all of us. My legs are both very swollen, exhaustion and pain are overwhelming me, and I'm getting unusually depressed... If you know me, you've realized by now that I thrive on challenges and solving problems. That's a benefit from living by ministers for half my life and talking with some wise psychologists and counselors. They have all taught me to approach difficult situations with a hopeful attitude. Even though things appear difficult or problems unyielding, believing in ourselves and in God's love can transform problems into opportunities for growth. As each problem yields to hope, faith, and action, we become more powerful and persuasive ministers of God’s Love.

On Monday I had a very good lymphedema massage appointment with Martha, my friend and someone who was just mentioned as one of the most encouraging and positive physical therapist at the Vascular Center. She said she's not going to give up on me and that it's natural to be depressed given the setback I've had. I pointed out the recent article with a large section about her and congratulated her. She liked that. I told her I had an extra copy of Jerome Groopman's Anatomy of Hope. I asked if she'd like to have a copy. She said, well, Yes. I could tell she enjoyed receiving the gift. She has M.S. herself and I know we would both benefit from reading it. My hands were cramping badly while driving home, but I felt good about our meeting. I can be in pain and yet still be very helpful. It does not take away my essence.

On Wednesday I made up my mind to discuss my increased depression. Joan, my nurse practitioner who helps me with my brain chemistry is another person I trust. I told her about my swelling, pain, and exhaustion problems being worse and about burning myself badly. It's difficult to overstate how painful and difficult the wound healing was for me. The main thing is she understood. She wants me to add a little bit of Accolade to the Cymbalta. She's seen it help a lot of people. I'm thinking ok Frank, another problem approached and probably solved. Being unusually depressed doesn't help my healing

Today's appointment was with my allergist. I said to myself write out your most pressing issues and give him a short note when the appointment begins. Make sure we deal with them. Ok, well first it's to avoid that snafu from last year when the prior authorization was delayed for six weeks for the $40,000 per year medicine (Xolair) that is keeping my breathing going. Last year they kept sending the prior auth to my health insurer who does not handle my prescriptions. Rx America does that for me. The next thing was to adjust my allergy injections. I get three of them and can't tolerate more than one at a time. So that means I have to go downtown three times every two weeks for that plus my Xolair injections appointment and do all the other appointments. We had a good talk. He'll reduce the dosage some on each allergen, but he'll see if he can put everything into one shot. Hurray. Then we talked about how I was doing. I know over the almost three years with Xolair that I've gone from 48% lung function to 74% lung function today. He remembered it as me being in the 70% range for a long time. He had forgotten all the progress. I've moved up 2 or 3 percent with each appointment after we stared with Xolair. After three years those little changes have become substantial. Not good enough yet. On a very good day for me, the best I can manage is 74% of normal. But a big change for me. I said look at all the change we've made. If we just stick with the Xolair, I'm going to be ok. He smiled. He understood that we’re out of that danger zone now. Sometimes docs get caught in their defeats and bad days too and shower it on their patients. Please let's see positive change for positive change.

So, you see that although things are a struggle now I'm not giving up. We're working on things. Progress is real slow. Sometimes even maintaining or dropping back a little more slowly are victories. There is so much too look forward to each day. Maybe a lot of us are going to be those types of people that thrive even with many illnesses. It's all about hope and feeling some self-worth and power in what we do to attack the problems. It’s about doing our best, striving to improve, and trusting in the Lord’s guidance and help. Sometimes it's just about helping others see things in a little more positive and hopeful light. Our lessons and understandings are beacons of hope to many.

I'm going to leave you all with a quote from the book I mentioned. Anatomy of Hope, page 193.
“We often speak in poetic terms, I noted to Davidson: we are “lifted by” hope, hope “has wings.” Certainly this sense of elevation was apparent from the bedside, as I observed patients, and in my own experience as a patient. When Jim Rainville painted a picture of a very different future for me, my feeling of hope encompassed more than information about a different diagnosis and a new therapeutic approach - - it involved a unique feeling state that was intensely visceral, sensed as a sharp upward shift in mood.
May all of us be lifted by Hope and on the Wings of Angels. Your friend Frank.

Friday, January 30, 2009

News and Subject Information At Your Disposal

Hi, Mary, my wife, shared a wonderful online resource with me. Popular science magazine lists it as one of the Top Fifty Science Sites on the Web. It's called Science Daily and it also has a more general section called: Newsdaily. It
covers almost any subject area in depth and breadth. I'll share a few links here from it. You can follow the developments related to many major illnesses. These are all links to various parts of the same huge web site.

For All Kinds of General News go to:
There are tabs at the top to specific subjects

For All Kinds of Science and Medicine News go to Science Daily at: There are tabs at the top to
 go to all kinds of other subjects including the one

For Medicine and Health News go to:
On the left hand side of the page you'll find a list of illnesses. (I had to play around with the illness list a little to get it to display fully sometimes.) If you click on most any of these you'll get many stories about that illness and some further subdivision of it. This will be a useful info tool for some of us.

For Multiple Sclerosis. I picked from the list of illnesses I mentioned above. It's The link right under Mental Health.

When you get to that page for M.S., it's further divided into Articles, Videos,
Images, Books, and even a breaking news section for very recent articles. The most recent news about M.S. is that stem cell transplants are showing some amazing results. The same Dr. Richard Burt that did the stem cell transplant for Victoria Chavez, our friend on Carepages is reporting the promising results in the very important, widely read Medical Journal entitled: Lancet for January 29th.

If you establish a Google or other newsreader account, you can set up an RSS feed for yourself for Science Daily. This means that new articles or any of these categories of items you want would be placed within your iGoogle page or
the News Reader part of your Google subscription. For example you could subscribe to the Asthma part or M.S. part of Science Daily and then feed it to your Google account. To make this happen you would have to register for a free subscription to Science Daily. The advantage here is that most of what you wanted to follow could be fed to one place for you to read. (Your iGoogle Homepage)
rather than your having to jump to multiple sites. This is exciting to me as I get into it more and more. Can you tell? Ha..

I've set up several news feeds for myself. One is for new articles from the New York Times. Another is from the Christian Science Monitor. I also follow about 25 blogs on the web and subscribe to them through a Blog I created on
Google. It's called FrankLivingFully. It's at:
My friend Cheryl Quist from carepages has a blog too. She's a talented artist who posts her painting almost every day. I love what she writes about the process of painting. Her blog is: Its name is: CHERYL'S CONSISTANT, CREATIVE & COURAGEOUS BLOG. I follow Cheryl's blog through my blog because my Google Homepage was getting too crowded. There's kind of a strange humor in this. Something like my computer has too many computers to keep track of. Ha… Hope I made some sense here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Your Example Is A Model For Me My Friend

You've put me in the mind again to learn to accept things as they are at this moment. As you've said, it causes us so much stress to rail against what is rather than to live in the best possible way even with it all. I notice that when I'm calm and accepting of each moment of time, I'm able to observe much better what's going on. I can even listen to my body and relate its condtion to how various treatments are working better or not. Today it seems like I am backing out and away from many doors and closing them behind myself. The many daily ebbs and flows in this struggle make is so hard to see whether we are improving or declining. It's so uncertain and as I watch myself calmly, my minds eye reveals the inner core of our being. Sometimes, there's a lot of fear. For me especially, I don't know how this will end, and I'm afraid. Sometimes, I see that never ending caring and deep concern which you have shown. There's also your humor in the wonderful graphics of children playing and happy animals which you use. Generally these illnesses, as I see them through your writing, make me think that each of us is drawn together through a deep and caring love which has no bounds in time or space. God's eternal face is revealing itself in the constant care and love we show each other.

You know, I struggle with the weakness and pain from my illness. Depression finds us to be easy prey sometimes, doesn't it? Still, just at the right time for me, I watched a wonderful program this weekend about a neurologist living with ALS. I realize that although he has lost all motion, a wonderful new brain wave detection system has enabled him to keep communicating. He is able to read and write journal articles and continue his research with slight eye muscle movements and measures of his brain waves. He lives with a respirator like Stephen Hawking the famous physicist, but he retains that core of hope, love, caring, and the ability to communicate, publish, and do research. When I think of you, I'm amazed at your mental strength and stamina. I think Yes, you are retaining that essential core of being described as Love.

Stay strong and keep reaching out, writing, sending your wonderful message out, and being an excellent example and teacher for so many of us. I think of you and pray for you many times per day. God Bless You, your Husband, and Family. Keep up with those docs and make sure they help you all they can. We have to be hard taskmasters don't we? Ha.... In this time of disillusion many doctors need your example. Many are easily discouraged and need to meet more folks like you with your humor, caring nature, and ability to reach out. You continue to be the best mentor I've ever met. Your Friend Frank from the cold Northland.