Tag Archives: PBC

#MeToo No More

From the beginning of my aviation career, I dealt with unwanted advances.  I’m reluctant to talk too much about it in my blog, because I just don’t want to ruin anyone’s life.  Maybe people have changed.  Maybe I’m just a wimp.  I am definitely going to talk about it in my book, but not here in my blog.

A few days ago, we got a death notice from the Delta Air Lines retired pilots network, and the person who died was truly one of the most obnoxious people I’ve ever met.  As I read his obituary, I wondered whether this was the same person whom I banished from my flight school and did everything possible to avoid at Netjets.

Let’s call him Steve.  The first time Steve came into the flight school in 1997, he was wearing a flight suit.  His smile was more like a leer than a friendly greeting and he had dog breath.  “You must know who I am,” he said.  No, I really didn’t, and based on this greeting I didn’t want to know who he was.  “Maybe I can take you out to dinner tonight.”  No, not in this lifetime he wouldn’t.  It wasn’t just his bad breath that was revolting.  It was the lewd and lascivious way he looked at me and how he couldn’t keep his eyes on my face.  I declined and said a silent prayer of thanks when my phone rang.  I ran into my office.

He always found reasons to come into the school.  We had a deli inside the flight school, the only food concession on the field.  We were also required by our lease to have a retail shop for charts and pilots supplies.  Most days I was able to escape, either by going flying or taking a phone call in my office.  Eventually, however, our paths crossed and I couldn’t escape.  Everyone else was out flying and I was manning the front desk.  In came George.

I’ll leave out the details but I ended up speaking with a member of the Airport Authority. I told him what had happened.  This is where I was at an extreme disadvantage.  This individual had greater status than I had and was highly respected.  He was connected with literally everyone.  It would be my word against his, and I could potentially lose a large block of business and  even my access to the mechanics.  But I wouldn’t compromise.

Soon he disappeared.  I began to relax.  Maybe he had found a new target for his crude behavior. I didn’t give him another thought.  He was gone and I was safe.

Or so I thought.  Three years later I was an airline pilot and was on the ramp at Teterboro.  By now I was accustomed to the bad behavior of a lot of pilots, and there he was in New Jersey.  In one of Nelson DeMille’s books, he said the only difference in pilots and pigs is that pigs don’t turn into pilots after two beers.  In George’s case, it didn’t even take one.  Right there on the ramp, he greeted me like we were old friends.  I was polite until he grabbed my tie and said, “You need a good man to show you how to tie this thing.”  I slapped his hand away and walked back into the FBO.  I did not report him.  All I wanted to do was fly.  I could handle this.

We would periodically cross paths on the road but he was based in Savannah and I was based in Atlanta, so it was infrequent.  “Another empty kitchen” was his favorite line.  Eventually enough flight attendants complained about him and he was let go from the airline.  I didn’t give him another thought until I read his obituary.

Maybe he turned his life around.  Maybe his children are responsible adults.  Maybe he is remembered as a loving husband and a loving father and grandfather.  He was apparently active in his church and in multiple community organizations.  Whatever.  I wish his family the best, but I will breathe a sigh of relief and  gratitude that I can go with Bob to Delta Retired Pilots activities and know I won’t run into this creep, ever again.

#MeToo No More.

The Choice to Live

This has been an amazing weekend.  I just completed the runDisney Glass Slipper Challenge, with a 5K on Friday, a 10K on Saturday, and a 1/2 marathon today.  I am here and I did it.  if you believed the doctors in 2003, this wouldn’t have happened.

2003 was an incredible year.  I had started a hospice and was working with the best people you can imagine.  I married Bob, my Prince Charming, in June, with 120 of our family and closest friends present.  We built our dream home.  My children were all living close by and we had one 3 year old perfect grandson, Glenn.  We were on top of the world.  Then my daughter noticed these awful bruises, up and down my legs.  I looked like I had been beaten.  She wanted them checked but I said no.  Then, at a health fair, I found out that my cholesterol was elevated.  It had gone from 125 to 225, seemingly overnight.  It was time to get the bruises checked out.

My first stop was my medical director, who was surprised that my liver enzymes were elevated. After all kinds of tests, I was sent to Crawford Long Medical Center to the “grandfather” of liver disease in Atlanta.  He looked at me and said, “Young lady, I believe you have a rare autoimmune disease, something called PBC.”  I was scheduled for a liver biopsy, the very next week.  I started researching, and what I found wasn’t particularly encouraging.  The biopsy was done and the doctor confirmed it; most people with PBC had a life expectancy of 10 years, unless they received a transplant.

I joined an online support group, but everyone was so negative and they all shared a litany of ailments.  It seemed all were either on disability or were trying to get on disability, and this was not how I intended to live.  I made a conscious choice, that I was going to live.  I knew that I needed to take charge.  I am an RN and knew about the liver’s role within the body, so limiting chemicals and processed foods made perfect sense to me.  I am also a spiritual person, so prayer and a positive attitude were two of the other strategies I chose.  Finally, I decided I needed exercise. The doctor wanted to wait three months before placing me on the medication that would hopefully delay the progress.  My strategy worked, and after 3 months my labs were all normal, except for one.  My alkaline phosphatase was just a couple of points high, nothing concerning.  The doctor placed me on Urso Forte anyway, and everything went back to normal.

In the meantime, I began searching for options.  If I was going to have a transplant, who had the best results?   I became friends with a woman, on the PBC support group, whose husband had recently had a transplant at Emory.  We “clicked” and we met for lunch.  She recounted the process, but I had one question.  How much was the private jet that was required to get him to Jacksonville in time?  $3000.  That settled it.  I was going to Mayo, but I would still continue with my own treatment:  diet, exercise, prayer, and a positive attitude.

Since I was diagnosed, I have earned my PhD, started another business, had a total career change, and now have run a half marathon.  Bob is still my Prince Charming and we now have 10 grandchildren. I go to Mayo once a year and the tests at Mayo say that I am at Stage 0 (I was 1-2 when I was diagnosed). The docs say I will die with PBC and not from it.  Tonight, while I am spraying myself down with Biofreeze, I will offer a prayer of thanks.  My legs hurt and I have shin splints, but I am alive and have just accomplished something pretty darn amazing, even without an autoimmune disease. I choose to live.