About the Author

I live in Olathe, Kansas, with my husband and puppy, Harper. (Yes, Harper’s middle name is Lee, reminiscent of one of my favorite books, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.) 

Some of my favorite things in life are music, books, cooking, nine little people who call me Mimi, and two teenagers who call me Grandma. My husband and I are blessed to have raised three children who have found their passion and mission in life. 

Growing up among the corn and bean fields of east central Illinois, I eventually graduated from Martinsville High School with sixty other students. Satisfied with working on my M.R.S., I tried to dissuade my father from sending me to college. However, he insisted I earn a college education, and I complied. Being the youngest, I learned everything at the expense of my brother and sister, including that refusal to comply never ended well. I received my bachelor’s degree in English Education and French. Staying true to my original life goal, I also achieved my M.R.S.

Much later in life, I earned my master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

The fall of 2020 was  my first year as a retired high school teacher, so it seemed the perfect time to finish and publish this story of Richard Ruiz. After all, I had been working on this project for three and half years.

I don’t know about you, but the most valuable lessons I’ve learned have come from listening, reading, praying, and considering someone else’s journey in life. Richard Ruiz gave me a lot to consider about my passion, mission, level of perseverance, and my personal perspective.

I hope Creating Futures, a narrated biography of an amazing man, inspires you, causes you to reflect on your own life, and ignites your own passion to pursue your mission in life.

Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia

In 2016, I was diagnosed with Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia (ATN). If you have never heard of it, you’re not alone. 

Basically, the trigeminal nerve runs from the brain stem, travels behind the ear and then branches into three arms: temple, upper jaw, and lower jaw.

The cause is somewhat unknown, but mostly it consists of damage of or pressure against the trigeminal nerve.

Symptoms vary from person to person, but there are two main types: Typical Trigeminal Neuralgia /Trigeminal Neuralgia I (TN) and Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia / Trigeminal Neuralgia II (ATN).

Treatments vary, but commonly seizure medications are used to mitigate pain. Some surgical procedures are used, but often with few results, and sometimes new nerve damage is incurred.

I have had Microvascular Decompression surgery and radiation, yet my pain episodes still interfere with normal life and forced me to resign my teaching position. 

Without the understanding and support of my family, I’m not sure how I would cope. TN is often referred to as the suicide disease.

For me, lifestyle changes include avoiding moving air, cold temperatures, stress, and loud noises. The medicines slow my brain processes and increase fatigue, dizziness, and sense of balance. Yes, sometimes I walk like I’ve been drinking! It’s best just to laugh during those times. ATN has impacted my entire family; in order to be together, there are so many restrictions on what we can do for me to participate. Even then, I may get hit with a pain flare and have to back out at the last minute.

More research is needed to find effective treatments. Right now, I’m looking for some clinical trials on deep brain stimulation surgery, since I was seen by the head of the national face pain neurological surgeon, who recommended this treatment for me. However, my insurance will not cover the cost due to lack of research.

Please stay tuned as I search for ways to increase awareness of TN and ATN as well as raise significant money for research. Awareness is very important to help others obtain an accurate diagnosis and educate emergency room personnel. Too many times the pain drives the patient to seek relief at the ER, only to encounter humiliation and  be treated like a drug addict, leaving feeling worse. I have had that experience personally. The irony in that scene is that opioids usually do not address the pain.