Until I moved to Arizona in 2002, I had lived on islands all my life. There was Manhattan (yes, that’s an island), Long Island, and Staten Island. I miss the water, but not enough to move back to the cold.
As a New York native, I earned my B.A. (‘69) in English and M.A. (‘72) in Communications from Hunter College of the City University of New York. But then I just kept learning: computer skills, research skills, creative non-fiction. They've all helped with what I call 'the kidney work.'
I’m not a doctor. I wasn’t even interested in medical issues until I was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease in 2008.
Until I retired from teaching for the fourth and final time in 2013, I taught fairly steadily. NYC high schools and colleges were my original stomping grounds, but when I relocated to the Southwest, I taught only college. There were various literature, writing, grammar, and literary history courses. Research writing was one of my favorites.
I retired from acting that year, too. I had a wonderful time with this for over forty years, but finally had to admit to myself that I no longer could keep an entire script in my memory for stage nor did I have the stamina for early calls and long days of shooting for film. I don’t know if it was the CKD or age, but something was in the way and it simply wasn’t working for me anymore.
One thing I haven’t given up is writing. I’ve been a non-fiction writer for over thirty years (That's probably why I so enjoyed teaching research writing.) for venues as diverse as The American Kidney Fund, The New York City Board of Education, and The National Kidney Foundation. I earned an Academic Certificate in Creative Writing from Rio Salado College in 2011 and ended up graduating on Dean's List. My first novel, Portal in Time, was published just before the end of 2016, as I'd promised myself it would be. Don’t let anyone fool you: fiction is harder to write than fact. Maybe that's why I tried it again in my second non-kidney book, a fictionalized collection of difficult times in people's lives: Sort of Dark Places. I also tried my hand at comedy in Kindle Vella's Are You Kidding?
My other passion is advocacy for Chronic Kidney Disease Awareness. Since I was diagnosed (Stage 3B and holding), I 've written What Is It And How Did I Get It? Early Stage Chronic Kidney Disease, SlowItDownCKD 2011, SlowItDownCKD 2012 , SlowItDownCKD 2013, SlowItDownCKD 2014, SlowItDownCKD 2015, SlowItDownCKD 2016, SlowItDownCKD 2017, SlowItDownCKD 2018, SlowItDownCKD 2019, SlowItDownCKD 2020, SlowItDownCKD 2021, and SlowItDownCKD 2022. Except for the first book, each one is a collection of that year's blogs. I started printing these books when readers wanted print copies for those who were not computer savvy or liked holding a book.
I've been hosted for book signings in all sorts of places, and monitored kidney talks (once even in a TwitterChat). I’ve been interviewed on Renal Diet Headquarters, Online with Andrea, Working with Chronic Disease, Improving Your Health, the Author Show, The Edge Podcast, and by Tufts School of Medicine.
I’ve also been honored to write for The National Kidney Foundation, KidneySteps, Is What It Is, Kevin MD, and Kidney Times. The Wall Street Journal, Gaucho Gazette, and The NephCure Kidney International have all featured articles on both my books and advocacy.
And the blog, we mustn’t forget the blog. This venture began after a doctor from India - whose name I've long since forgotten - contacted me to tell me he wanted my first book for his patients, but they couldn’t even afford the bus fare to the clinic. That’s when I got the bright idea to print each chapter as a weekly blog - not that I knew anything about blogging. He would then translate and print it to give to the patients who made it to the office. It was free and he felt they would share it with the other patients they knew. And then I just kept blogging as SlowItDownCKD ….
At last look 17,000 people in 109 countries read it. In 2016, SlowItDownCKD was included in Healthline's list of The Six Best Kidney Disease Blogs of 2016. The same happened in 2017. And in 2018, SlowItDownCKD was named one of 75 Top Nephrology Blogs. I also post CKD information on the Facebook and Twitter pages daily and some kind of interesting photo on Instagram, as well as periodic posts on LinkedIn ...all under SlowItDownCKD. There are also podcasts on Apple Podcasts, Tlumbler, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Breaker, and Castbox.
My wonderfully supportive husband and I have separate offices, a must to keep us sane. We’re lucky enough to have one of our children (one with a family of her own) here in Arizona, while one of our daughters still lives in New York and another with her own family in Ohio. The fourth daughter and her husband live in Texas. The finishing touch to our family is Shiloh, a big, white, fluffy, rescue dog who rescued us at a time when we needed it.