A Gratitude Triple Threat – Part 3

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

— Albert Einstein

Feb 27, 2017 update: Today Ramona lost her courageous fight. She will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her – and to know her was to love her. Ramona made this beautiful card for me when I was about 11 or 12.  I recently found it in a storage box along with many other childhood memories. I will cherish it forever. Ramona was and always will be a bright Light in this world.

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In Parts 1 & 2 of A Gratitude Triple Threat, we met Ellen Schwartz and Lesly Title Weinstein, two strong and inspiring women who opened their hearts and shared their stories with us and taught us the importance of living life, as Einstein stated, as though everything is a miracle. Ellen and Lesly both had to face a parent’s worst nightmare – a child diagnosed with a serious illness and all the challenges that come with such devastating news. But both Ellen and Lesly have made the conscious choice to look at life through a positive and grateful lens, rather than put a microscope on – and hence be angry about or resentful for –  all that has not gone as planned. The lessons they’ve imparted are truly priceless.

Now, to end our week, just before we bring in Shabbat, we meet Ramona Blinick, another warrior woman who has literally fought for her own life and overcome every obstacle thrown her way.

When I was young, I used to have sleepovers at Ramona’s house. I remember she needed to leave the room for a while – maybe 20 minutes or so – to do her “exercises” with her “machine.” I was young and I didn’t think much of it and clearly did not understand the technicalities around the disorder she was afflicted with; it was just what Ramona did. It was part of her routine. I remember Ramona coughed a lot. But again, it was just what Ramona did. It didn’t stop us from doing all the things young girls did including sleepovers, playdates, and taunting Ramona’s little brothers. Looking back now, however, I’m sure many things were more difficult for Ramona than they were for me, but perhaps she was too proud to reveal them.

I reconnected with Ramona when I learned that my MBA colleague, Josh, married her! It’s been wonderful staying in touch – Facebook helps a lot! – and, especially now, seeing a new Ramona emerge. When I thought of people to ask to participate in this blog series about Gratitude, Ramona came to mind immediately.

Ramona, your strength amazes me and inspires everyone around you. Thank you for sharing your story of courage and resilience.

“I am grateful to the donor who selflessly donated their lungs and gave me breath and life! Without this very special gift, I would not be here today.”

– Ramona Blinick

Ramona, please share your story with us.

I was born with Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disease that mostly affects the lungs and digestive system. Over time, my lungs were ruined by the disease, and I needed a life saving lung transplant to survive. By the end, I was on oxygen full time and really struggling for each breath. Luckily, an anonymous donor became available and their healthy lungs replaced my sick, diseased ones.

What role does Gratitude play in your life? 

This experience of a transplant has made gratitude a big part of my life. I am so grateful for the team of doctors and nurses who worked on my case and saved my life. I am eternally grateful to my husband who stood by my side and with his love and support, helped me through this very difficult time. I am grateful for my kids who missed their mommy and shower me with love now that I am home. I am grateful for my entire family who stood by me throughout all my nausea and pain, and helped me and my immediate family. I am also so grateful to all of our friends who continue to help and do what’s needed to make every day a little easier. You guys are amazing and I couldn’t have gotten through this without you.

 What are you Grateful for today?

Today, I am so grateful for being alive and have such gratitude to my donor for saving my life.

Do you ever find it hard to feel Grateful? In those times, what do you do? 

Some days have been extremely difficult and on those days, of course it’s difficult to feel grateful but I remind myself that although I may be experiencing major nausea, confusion, or pain I am still so lucky to be alive, and that is always the bottom line.

Is there anything else you want to share with our readers about Gratitude? Advice you’ve received?

Living my life with a chronic illness has allowed me to always accept help and be appreciative of others’ incredible support. However, going through a double lung transplant is a profound life-changing event that REALLY made me grateful for all of the amazing people in my life. Old friends and new reached out and did what they could for me and my family.

Chai Lifeline as well as many friends took my kids out and kept them busy and reminded us that we are part of a community. My family was truly there for me and I couldn’t have gotten through this without them.

I am and will be eternally grateful to the special soul who donated their lungs. Because of them I have this second chance at life, to watch my kids grow. Nothing else could be more amazing. I am also extremely grateful for all of the medical staff who made this possible and got me through this extremely difficult surgery and recovery. I have a lot to be grateful for, I am very blessed.

After going through something like this, I have been given lots of advice. To stay active, to be a part of my family and society, and to embrace this new life I’ve been given.

I am working out, going out with Josh and friends, and spending quality time with my family. I am doing my best to slowly enjoy and take back my life that I’ve been given.


Thank you again to Ellen, Lesly, and Ramona for sharing your wisdom. I am overflowing with Gratitude and wish you and your families health, happiness, and peace.

This Shabbat, as I look at my glowing Shabbat candles, I will think of each of you and your inner lights that shine so brightly for the world to see.

Shabbat Shalom!


With Love,

Jori

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