The first thing I did after the 2nd opinion came in was have a "pity party". That was a long drive from LA and I think I cried the whole way home. Once that was over Steve and I got serious about planning. He was all about the equipment and I took on lifestyle changes. I was not at the Embrace stage yet but we did start to adapt.
The next important task was to form THE INNER CIRCLE. The Inner Circle is responsible for answering the questions that people are uncomfortable asking me directly. It is much easier to ask an unrelated party the awkward question "What's wrong with her?". We live in a very small valley and even though the central coast wine industry is rapidly growing, everyone knows everyone.The message to the public had to be carefully played. Positive and in control. The speculation that the Controller of a well-known, up and coming winery had a fatal disease would stir up unwanted water cooler talk..At least until we had a plan in place . The first members of the Inner Circle were my close friends and colleagues Anjie, Lynne and Andy. They completely took away the stress of dealing with the public. This freed me up to concentrate on the plan for my eventual transition out of L&L (That was a reality check! ) . There were several things that fell into place that I could not take the credit for. I started to see that there was a higher power at work here. My replacement had to be more skilled than I so she could take L&L to the next level. I do start- up, young companies and we were past that by 2006. She had to be fun and open to change, not too rigid, and she had to like wine. There was Barbara, a soccer mom, we became friends during our weekend soccer club tournaments. We hit it off, had fun, she was a CPA and she was known (and respected) by one of winery owners. Now, I am thinking PERFECT FIT. Sure, she was working elsewhere but that was just a matter of persuasion.:) I mentioned lightly that I would be retiring and she was not opposed to talking more. I told the owners that I was giving 1 year notice and why. They couldn't have been more gracious and supportive. When I told them of the potential replacement , Royce (one of the L's) lit up , he was thinking of her as well. We negotiated and started the transition. It couldn't have been a better match.
Anjie and me
Andy, Anjie, and me
Me, Lynne, and Anjie
So with the work decisions made and the Inner Circle at work taking care of PR and keeping me in a constant state of laughter, I was able to turn my attention to the home front. It's early 2006 and Steve, my mother and I go to UCLA for my first appointment. To get to UCLA by 9, we would start the day by 5. Steve and my mom had to help me with everything. My left leg was dependent and my left had hand was starting to lose strength. The nuggets we walked away with were The ALS Closet and that we should be researching beds, transfer equipment and shower chairs. The best part of the day was lunch after. Jerry's New York deli was just around the corner and a Reuben sandwich you could die for!
On our way home we stopped at an ALS Closet in Oxnard. We called ahead and found out they had an electric Hoyer Lift. This is a big metal arm on wheels that picks me up in a sling that is placed behind my back and under my thighs. Retail >$5,000, ALS Closet, free and for as long as needed. We loaded it in the car and couldn't believe how fortunate we were. Again, someone was watching over us. The Closet is a treasure that must be told to people with needs. It was located in a warehouse owned by a wheelchair company so we met a future vendor in the process .
OK, that's enough information and rambling for today. More later this week , maybe even the part where we actually start to embrace the situation. Check back for Part 2.