Hello, I am Lawrence R. Phillips Ed.D; though I go by Rick (a middle name thing). I live in Noblesville, Indiana and I have been married to Sheryl for 37 years. We have two sons whom I love more than life, two wonderful daughters-in-law and three grandchildren who I am sure are the greatest children ever. (Ok, I know the grandchildren thing is a matter of opinion, I might be a little biased).
I also have rheumatoid arthritis and type 1 diabetes. I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1974 and RA in 2000. Over time I have had a plethora of RA drugs including five different biologics; I have suffered many setbacks and had some victories. In 2008 because of the progression of RA I had to stop working. At the time I was Director of Personnel for a School District. I really enjoyed my career and the day I had to leave work was one of the worst of my life. If I could, I would return to work in an instant.
After I stopped working I decided I would do something that was totally irrational: I went back to school and in 2012 I earned a Doctor of Education Degree from Nova Southeastern University. My Bachelor and Master Degrees were earned at Indiana University in 1979 and 1989 respectively. I decided to pursue the doctoral degree because it was something I had always wanted to pursue; and since I was not working I had the time. It was a difficult road to earn the degree but well worth it. While the education has not paid off economically, it did keep my mind busy, something I absolutely needed at the time.
You might find my blogs are a little off beat, at various times funny and others very serious. It is often said I inherited my mother’s intellect and my father’s unusual sense of humor. As my life has progressed I can say that I certainly inherited my father’s humor, however my mom’s intellect, well I am not in her league by a long shot. So you will find I usually see things in a somewhat unique way. I also like to tell stories. Oh I also never met an adjective I didn’t want to use, in every sentence.
As a precursor to my blogs, let me tell you my two diagnosis stories. The first involved type 1 diabetes. I was 16, at Disney World with my parents when I became so terribly ill. This proves one irrefutable fact to me: Disney World is not always the happiest place on earth. Actually my parents knew something was wrong since my father thought I was making a tourist guide of the best drink stands and men’s rooms in the park. Incidentally on those three days I rated the Tomorrow Land concession as my favorite drink stand (they started giving me free refills) and Frontier Land as my favorite men’s room (it was air conditioned). After being hospitalized for a week I was released on my 17th birthday so I count my birthday every year as my dianniversary.
My RA diagnosis story is a bit more mundane and took a bit longer. My oldest son purchased a brand new Pontiac Trans Am muscle car and it was a beauty. He brought it home and offered rides. Now normally I would have been first to go, but I had to decline. I simply could not bend my legs to get in the seat. It hurt my son’s feelings and I was heartbroken to have disappointed him. As it turned out I never rode in that car. Even post diagnosis and treatment I still could not get in. To my great upset he traded it before I was able to ride with him. One of the terrible disappointments of my life is that he was disappointed that I did not ride with him the day he brought it home.
The second event involved my younger son. If you are around me very much you would come to know that I am a rather vocal supporter of Indiana University. In the spring of 2000, my younger son was investigating which university to attend. As a proud Pop I was thrilled to accompany him to my alma mater. When it came time for the campus tour, I chose not to go; instead I stayed behind in the visitor center due to RA symptoms. Because of these two events I knew something was terribly wrong and in short order I was diagnosed with RA. Incidentally, my son attended IU and had a great experience, but like the new car, I am sad to have missed the chance to experience the campus in this way with my son.
I suppose for most of us RA has to reach out and hit us hard for us to know something is terribly wrong. I am certain I had RA for a few years before I acknowledged it. I often ask what else I missed, and why was I so stubborn. I didn’t acknowledge that things were slowing down and my body was becoming more painful with each passing day.
Well, I will never know for certain the answer to that question except maybe I was simply stubborn. And that brings me to the final point, I am stubborn. If someone says, I cannot do this or that; I suddenly take an interest in doing it. I have always been that way and today I can laugh at that stubbornness. I hope as I write my blogs you will find reason to think—and laugh. After all I believe introspection and laughter are the inward and outward observations of life. I hope you will join me on my journey.