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[at-l] to introduce the "new me"..Sorry but LONG



Hello!

I recently joined this list again, after a very long abscence.  I was
delighted to see so many of the same names still active and sharing on the
list.  There are still many friends I met on the "other list" as well!  I
have kept in touch with a few folks here (you know who!) on an individual
basis.  But I have also drifted away from many folks who meant a great deal
to me in "my past life".

A brief reminder...or update.  I used to be Linda "Bertoncini" and lived
near Springer, did a lot of shuttling there and thrived on hiking and living
so near where it all begins.  I stated hiking after brain surgery (AVM) and
after being told that I would never be able to "live a normal life".  After
the surgery, I was unable to walk or talk and spent six months in rehab.  My
goal was to "prove them all wrong"...and I did!  I started walking again,
then started hiking and, before long, became a " long distance section"
hiker.  Was I proud to join those ranks!  Rosie told my story in her recent
book.....but so much has changed since that time!  I am trying to condense
this as much as I can, as it is a painful story and I am trying not to bore
you.  After a really rough couple of  years...the brain sugery and losing
everything material, including my three beloved pets, in a house fire,  it
went from "bad to worse".  I again became ill with a serious blood dyscrasia
(diagnosed as a type of leukemia, after bone marrow biopsies, called
Myleodysplastic Syndrome...did I spell it right Orangebug?) I was told that
I probably had about 5 years to live.  Then I found of that my "wonderful,
supportive" husband had started an affair while I was intensive care after
the brain surgery, stating later that I should understand because "I was not
available at the time."  Well, I DIDN'T (to make a long story stort, and
divorced him.

Since that time, everything turned around for me... and all kinds of good
things started happening.  I left him, moved to Florida to care for my
newborn granddaughter.  (Just before that time, my daughter had been
severely beaten up by the baby's father and almost died.  She was unable to
care for the baby at that time, but has now recovered...and got rid of the
jerk!)  This little baby gave me the will to live.  I got a second opinion
about my medical condition and then a third, both much more positive.  My
bloodwork had improved greatly and both of the doctors doubted that I ever
had the life threatening illness that they were so sure about when I was at
Emory. (Both thought that, because I had a severe viral illness, as well as
CDiff picked up at the hospital (nosocomial infection to those who are
medically literate) the bone marrow biopsies were not accurate.)  As we
speak, I am doing great and my blood counts are almost normal.

I feel great!  I met the most wonderful man in the world and we were married
on July 8th. (We met on a medical internet site..which is a story in
itself!)  I moved to be with him in Raleigh, N.C.  After a wonderful
honeymoon trip to Tahiti and Moorea where we did some hiking in the rain
forest, we are hiking as often as possible. What an incredible experience!
The only bad thing I can say about this situation is that the nearest A.T.
trailhead is 4.5 hours away!

So....here I am happily hiking again and ready to get back on the list!  I
have remained active on the WomenHikers list during this time and made some
wonderful, supportive friends there.  Luckily, my new husband loves to hike!
We went to Traildays (and met a few "old friends" there).  Jan (pronounced
Yan as he is Dutch) and I had a wonderful time at Traildays, where we spent
time with Nimblewell Nomad.  My husband is a professional musician, who just
had a new CD released.  Nomad asked Jan to put his poetry to music and has
much of it ready to present to him at the "Gathering".  We are in the
process of working with officials there to incorporate it into the program.
So...hopefully, many of you will be there!  Sorry to make this so long, but
I had so much to catch up on.  I hope that I will hear from some of you who
might remember me (Individual e-mails and updates about YOU to
lvb@midspring.com are very welcome!)
Many of you helped me so much through my " personal crisis" and I never
really got to say thank you.  We are planning a thru hike together in March
of 2003 and looking forward to learning more from the "pros" here too.

Happy Hiking!
Lin (now Linda Benschop, "Hummingbird")


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