I have been one of the luckiest people that I know. No, I didn’t win the lotto, although that would help, I count friends and experiences far more than I count dollars. In my life, which I lived mostly disease free, I have visited 106 of the world’s countires, and all seven continents (although I must say Antarctica is not my favorite–it comes close). I have met and enjoyed the company of people of many religious backgrounds, different languages, and customs, And after all of that, I have come to the conclusion that everyone needs the same things, and bearucrats are the same, no matter what country you are in.
I was a linguist in the Air Force, and traveled the world, After the Air Force, I worked with USAID in eastern Europe, and then back to the US, where at the tender age of 51 I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.
Of course, the diabetes is only one of the autoimmune diseases that I have, the first to show itself was Hashimotos, and then, just after I started working at Microsoft I came down with autoimmune inner ear disease. I went to bed one evening fine, and woke up the next morning completely deaf. I stayed that way for six months, and then some of my hearing came back. A scary time! and then came the diabetes.
I spent those six months on Mt. Rainier, and got to know Lou Whittaker (first American team to climb Mt. Everest north face) and the mountain pretty well. I went to the top about 14 times-most of them solo.
One of the fondest memories I have was near lake Bikal in Siberia-it was 14 below zero, my team and I had been invited to dinner, and we arrived early in the day. We caught a five foot sturgeon, and sat outside in the “kitchen” drinking vodka and eating fish soup.