2017 Christmas Letter

 2017 Christmas Greetings to our Family and Friends,

 
Well, we’ve had another fine year but a few things shifted and some of it was unexpected.
 
Tom volunteered, I continued waving the Heifer International flag, we traveled, I had health issues & some great work opportunities.  That’s it in a nutshell.  For those who hate these annual letters, stop here.
 
Tom now has a new position at the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA), as their West Coast Regional Director.  He is also now part  the ACPA Members Advisory Committee (MAC). All this “promotion” means he is putting in more volunteer hours as he continues to facilitate several chronic pain support groups.
 
He continues to be an advisor for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (pcori) and works on several chronic pain related projects with Cedars and UCLA.
 
He is also in his 5th Year facilitating a weekly pain group with housebound or isolated seniors through Senior Center Without Walls.
 
After 15+ years of volunteering at our church, Tom has stopped.  I call it a retirement as his volunteer hours were never restricted, as originally agreed upon.  His time there just kept increasing and increasing. When he started having chest pain and difficulty sleeping, he realized it was time to step away.
 
I have continued to mentor 5 young actors. Here in LA are Marquise, Rose & Carisa, all from U of MN.
 
Had the best 3 weeks ever in NYC shooting a recurring role on ELEMENTARY. Also I got to spend one on one time with my 2 NYC mentees, Gabby from SLU, Carmen from Viz.
 
Shot another pilot this year that didn’t sell. WHERE I’M FROM was smart, funny and hip. I played a nun/principal of a grade school.  Then I shot a SCHOOL OF ROCK that has yet to air. Ended the year with a gang-buster of a commercial for McDonald’s buttermilk chicken tenders. They made 7 spots out of my 3 day/36 hour shoot.  And they saturated the market with them.
Click here to see:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hg69z2k9a9c&feature=share
 
In March I had an unexpected nosebleed that lasted 10 hours and 23 minutes. Yikes! I’ve had them throughout my life, periodically, but nothing like this one.  MD said it was an artery.  Big drag.
 
In June I joined my girlfriends for a glorious trip to Missoula, MT. Our hostess/girlfriend entertained us in high style from trips to a buffalo reserve, to fab eats to a party/recital in our honor.
 
Later that month I joined my sisters in Perrysberg, OH for the final dance recital of our great niece, Caroline. OK just to be honest, she WAS the best of the 100+, all ages, dance company.
 
Tom joined me for the Muellerleile Family Global Reunion in Seattle WA. The three-day reunion was followed by five glorious day trips that included a postcard photo experience of Mt. Rainier.
 
Upon returning I got the sinus infection of a lifetime. Nine weeks of on again, off again, total relapse, give me drugs now, will my ears ever clear. My 3rd MD was a sinus specialist who got me in shape to fly home to St Louis for my 50th Visitation Academy high school reunion.  It was an AMAZING time. Only to be followed by more fun when my sister Cecilia and I gave our niece Allie and her finance Kel Vin a wedding shower. 
 
Our Heifer International’s Partners for Change group put on an inaugural fundraiser to benefit projects in Arkansas and our own Vietnam Dairy Development participants in the Mekong Delta. With the help of sponsors and Bob Greenblatt of NBC/Universal Studios, we truly knocked it out of the park.  We are already at work for our 2nd annual Beyond Hunger fundraiser.
 
On November 13 I experienced what I thought was food poisoning. Six days later I saw my GP, who sent me to Urgent Care who sent me to a CT scan who had me admitted to ER that night for raging pancreatitis.  They took my gall bladder out on day 6 and it took 2 more days for the pancreatitis to calm down.  My surgeon says I’ll be 100% by Dec 13.  Apparently the pancreas takes its sweet time calming down.
 
As you know, I have been Tom’s care giver for 28.5 years as I am never really sick.  My previous hospitalization was in 1963 for a tonsillectomy.   
 
This reversal of care-giving was hard on both of us.  Tom struggled with his chronic pain as he had to miss two epidural treatments and slept at the hospital almost around the clock. His 6'4" frame never found a comfortable way to curl up.
 
I can not tell you how critical it was for me to have him there. As I have a high tolerance for pain it took me forever to figure out and express how much and where it hurt. Finally Tom had me look at those face charts (never knew they existed) and I was second to the right, almost crying. Once we got through that I had my first narcotic and shortly thereafter one more tablet.  Finally the pain was subdued.
 
Since returning home, Tom has spent most of his time in bed, recovering. He has had one of the 2 missed epidurals. My friends have rallied and helped finish decorating our home for the holidays.  Special shout out to Mary Pat, Barb, Mary, Cece, Marquise, Galen, Bob and Fr. Jose.
 
The show must go on and they have seen to it that it will.  We welcome five family house guests this week and host our every other year Christmas party in a few days.
 
On December 18 we are flying to South Africa for a long anticipated vacation. They’ll be lots of down-time interspersed with trips to Johannesburg, Sun City, Pilansberg National Park, Pretoria and Cape Town.  
 
We close with prayers of gratitude for health, family and friends.  
 
We continue to pray faithfully for world peace, understanding and acceptance of one another.
 
Sending you our love and good wishes through this Holy Season & throughout the coming year, 
 
Marianne and Tom
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