Book Review – Still Alice

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Mar 17, 2013 in Books I'm Reading

While I was away at the last ELP session, I managed to read an entire book in just a few days.  The book was Still Alice by Lisa Genova.

Still Alice

As soon as I opened the cover, I could not stop reading this book.  It had been on my list to read for a long time, but I was afraid that it would be too sad and depressing to enjoy.

While it was sad, the book offers a realistic look into the decline of a mind affected by Alzheimer’s.  Alice is a Harvard professor who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzeimer’s at the age of 50.  The book describes Alice’s struggles in fantastic detail, including the difficult relationship with her husband after her diagnosis.  While Alice begs him to spend her last year of clarity together, her husband clings to the normalcy of his job.  He cannot stand to see his wife become this person that Alzheimer’s has created.

Alice creates a sort of “escape hatch”, entering several questions on her Blackberry and sets them to go off on a regular timer.  If she cannot remember the answers to the questions, she instructs herself to view a file on her laptop that contains instructions for taking an overdose of medication.  However, what she doesn’t understand is that with Alzheimer’s, she won’t realize that she doesn’t know the correct answers to the questions.  And after she places her Blackberry in the freezer, the regular reminders cease.

As her disease progresses, Alice turns from anxious and embarrassed to accepting and even relaxed.  She no longer realizes that what she is experiencing is a disease and it becomes her new normal.

Although not a true story, I believe that this book was so realistic because of the author’s neurologist background.  She used experiences from her patients to colorfully describe how an Alzheimer’s patient sees the world through the lens of the disease.

As I was reading, I couldn’t help but wonder if some of my forgetfulness, confusion or disorientation in recent years could be a precursor to Alzheimer’s.  I can only hope that I will never fall victim to this insidious disease.  And if I do…I need a more fool-proof escape hatch.


Health Woes

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Mar 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

After having some sleepless nights recently, I discovered that my blood pressure is high enough to require treatment with medication (I took my blood pressure at home and figured I needed trudge myself into the doctor’s office).

To add to this, my blood work showed a high level of A1C  – which is an indication of prediabetes (or diabetes, depending on which website you reference).

I was actually having diabetic symptoms, so I asked the doctor to run the test.  I kind of figured those would be the results.

Both diabetes and hypertension run in my family – the former on my father’s side and the latter on my mother’s side.  I REALLY need to get myself back to a healthy state.

I have a follow-up appointment next week – I’ll let you know how it goes…


Getting Ready for Dance Competition Season!

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Mar 17, 2013 in Uncategorized

Just had to share this photo of my cutie-patootie Emily at her dance competition dress rehearsal for the musical theater number Grease:

Emily Grease

Can’t wait to see them perform!!!!


Apparently, I CAN’T Say That On Facebook (and Other Ramblings)

Posted by Kathy Torrence on Mar 17, 2013 in Family Stuff

An update to my previous post about Facebook posts and friendships – the Facebook post I mentioned (regarding my upcoming government furlough) resulting in my being “unfriended” on Facebook by the contractor acquaintance.  I’m not sure if I deserved that kind of snub (and I don’t think it’s a good idea for her to burn those bridges), but that’s ok.  I learned something about that person and how they handle relationships, stress and her career.

Moving on…

I just returned from a week in Cambridge, MD at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina (GORGEOUS property!). Here was the view from my room:

Chesapeake Hyatt

The beautiful infinity pool overlooking the bay (note the unfortunate “Pool Closed” sign – too bad were were there in March):


I was attending the third session of the Executive Leadership Program (ELP) – a nine month program in which I am currently enrolled.  We have been put together in random groups of 8 or 9 people from various agencies around the United States and are working toward a common project while attending various training session on leadership.  This week was Critical Thinking, External Awareness and Presentation Skills.  Meanwhile, we also have to do some challenges and other tasks – this week, we had to take 5 photos representing leadership at its best, leadership at its worst and other characteristics.

After coming home and watching some of my favorite reality TV shows, I realized that our ELP sessions would make great reality TV.  We have groups of random folks forced to live and work together for a brief time (with little or no contact with our families).  There is plenty of drama – at our last session, several team members almost got into a physical altercation and I have also seen several emotional breakdowns.  In our team, we even have folks that have left for various reasons (almost like being voted off) – our team was down to 5 people this week.  If Mark Burnett or Donald Trump are reading this, feel free to contact me for more information.

The good thing is that our team got along pretty well this week.  They have helped me to learn how to sit back and not be so much of an outspoken person, pushing my opinions on everyone (that’s why I have this blog!).  Everyone does truly lead differently, and I have learned to respect others’ styles of leadership.

I loved this hotel – I would like to go back with my family in the summer.  At first, we thought there was nothing nearby until we found the delightful little town of Cambridge.  Great seafood restaurants, beautiful views and friendly people. Except…the hotel rates are crazy expensive!  Maybe my husband will surprise me for Mother’s Day (hint, hint).

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