Friday, October 31, 2008

Monsters in the House

Michelle and "Frank"

Spooktacular Decor

Our decor for our party theme "The Creepy Cabin Crawling with Creatures"

Happy Halloween!

the pumpkins my sister and I carved last friday
Mine is the winking one and hers is the space needle lit up below.
Have fun this evening! :o)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Diverbeck Returns!

a view of me under the water
what it looks like from down below (that is me on the surface)

me giving the deaf applaud (click on the photo to see Mt. Rainer in the background)

More photos of me by Mike Fitz.

Rolling In

Success! I am giving Mike the thumbs up that everything is cool! This is after I have already given Harley the OK symbol after my back entry into the water. Mike and I are hanging out waiting for Harley to gear up and enter the water.
A view of me from the opposite side about to do a back entry
(click on the photo to see a larger view and you will be able to see a magnificant shot of Mt. Rainier in the back drop on the right side of the picture (at the back of the zodiac).

Me (in the pink) sitting on the edge of the zodiac ready to roll back into the water while Harley (standing in the blue) checks to make sure my gear is all together correctly.

Here are a few photos compliments of our dive buddy Mike Fitz of my 2nd boat entry on the dive last Sunday.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Onto Dive #5


Mike and DebbieHarley and I

Prepping to dive again this Sunday (today). We had a nice time with Michael and Debbie last weekend doing a dive from a zodiac boat which is a much easier entry and exit for me. It was my first dive from a boat in over 5 years! All I had to do was roll back in and then climb up the ladder after taking off my gear. Fantastic! I did not feel the strain of being an olympic weight lifter (my comparison for the shore entry and exit on dive #2).

I will have more photos and stories to share Monday.

Have a great Sunday! :o)

Who Matters

I ran across this quote while reading another blog of someone with NF2. It keeps coming to mind when I run into some of the brick walls.

"Those who mind, don't matter and those who matter, don't mind."
Dr. Suess

Pets and Exercise Are Good Therapy

I was rather discouraged this afternoon after I spent the better portion of a nice day indoors composing another fundraising campaign email. I was rather satisfied with what I wrote only to be beaten down a few minutes later by a crude and mean response to my email. It was so hurtful and discouraging that it actually brought me to tears (yes I can cry some tears now).

Fundraising can be very hard and cause you to make yourself very vulnerable. Yes! That is right! I am actually human and can tend to take things personally and be rather hurt. After all my work and effort, it is times like this that I feel like quitting.

So I did what I wanted to do all day but waited until I had finished the campaigning. I went to the dog park for a nice refreshing walk with my dogs. It is exactly what I needed! It was so nice to see all these happy people and to be greeted again and again with joyful smiles of other dog owners. Further, it was great to see Katie and Jake totally enjoying themselves darting around and playing with the other canines. It is such a treat to them when we go to the park (which is at least 1 mile to lap the entire thing).

When I go walking, I do lots of thinking and working things out. At first I was very angry and upset when I arrived. But with each step and breath of crisp autumn air, my head began to clear as I tried to put things into perspective. This week I ran the dog park twice with Katie. After 2 laps earlier in the week, I was very tired, tripped over 2 dogs who stopped suddenly right in front of me, and then had to stop to use the bathroom. After all that, it was just too difficult to motivate myself to continue one more lap. I went back 2 days later determined to do it again and complete at least a 3 mile run for the week.

So I kind of looked at the situation like that. I am alive because I don't quit. You have obstacles but you have to keep going to overcome them. I told myself to "toughen up" like I had to when I wanted to complete the run for the week. I reminded myself that the incident was just another brick wall to test me and see how badly I wanted to attain my goal.

After 3 laps around the park, I went to the gym which was even more helpful and productive with improving my state of mind. Nothing like oxygen to the brain! The tension which had built up fueled my weight lifting routine allowing me to even add some weight to some exercises.

I felt very calm, relaxed, and satisfied afterward. I felt ready to continue on and work on doing and being the best I can be.

For all those strangers who smiled at me at the park and gym, Thank You for making a difference in my life today! :o)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Little Bit of Comic Relief

Ok. It could be age related but since the radiosurgery in 2004 I have had problems spelling, using wrong words (such as "red" instead of "read"or "there" instead of "their") and then just completely typing something totally different than what was intended or unknowingly omitting content all together. Lots of "normal" people have scoffed that it is just age (I just turned 37 and it happened since I was 32). Gee, how old is old?

At any rate, for some people these errors may have been normal all of their lives but for me it was not! As a matter of fact, spelling was a breeze for me and English was always something I excelled at in school. I was not out of practice either as I just completed my graduate degree in teaching months prior to the radiosurgery. For those who have never been to graduate school, it is 2 solid years of massive reading and writing. I cannot even fathom how I made it through now and was so successful.

When I struggled with these issues in 2004 I began to research it and discovered that the characteristics are common with brain tumor and head injury patients. Thus, I had to develop some skills to overcome it which included getting out my high school dictionary to look up many words and always editting and reading through what I wrote a couple times.

Sometimes however, I am in a hurry and neglect to read through something thoroughly. As a result, I see it AFTER I have already sent or posted what I wrote or someone kindly lets me know.

LOL Yesterday was such a day. Next week is Halloween already and I wanted to make plans with my sister to see the fantastic haunted forest out here called "Nightmare at Beaver Lake". In my haste, I sent off the email without proofing it as I always do. She got a real kick out of the fact that I asked her to come with me to see the "Beaver at Nightmare Lake".

LOL Oh that gave me a good chuckle for the day and I could not stop from laughing at myself all the way home last night!

Watch out for that BEAVER at NIGHTMARE LAKE next week! ;-)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Reflection For This Evening

As I was doing biceps curls on the nautilus machine at the gym and glared at my reflection in the mirror, I looked deeply into myself and my mind began to wander. At first glance I thought about how my trials have aged me and weathered my face. Then I began to ponder over exactly what I have been through. Suddenly, the magnitude of my life changing events hit me.

"My God! I am alive!"

As if enduring stage 3 cancer and surviving chemotherapy when I was barely 21 was not enough, I actually lived through a brain surgery! One...ok, is not really expected but now that I am 37, cancer is kind of normal. Never in my young life could I have fathomed I would be hit with a double whammy and need to go through both.

What is even more amazing is that I am not just alive, but I have managed to preserve a good portion of my quality of life. As I admire the tone of my biceps, I contemplate all of the things I do have and appreciate what it means to not only have life but quality of life. I am still able to run, walk, lift weights, eat, drive a car, see, and recently engage in my passions of hiking and diving.

Thank you Dr. Delashaw (my brain surgeon in Portland at OHSU). That was the goal. It never was to fully remove the problem tumor or to be rid of it forever. Unfortunately, that does not exist yet for those with NF2. The focus was to find someone with skilled hands that had the experience to remove just enough in order to no further harm. It requires an incredible amount of trust as you can imagine.

I really hope my good fortune and luck continue in the future. For now, I am just going to relish in what life I have right now.

Photos of Mt. Rainier

Eureka! I finally went through and uploaded them AND added captions!

Enjoy! :o)

Picture time?

Hmmn. I suppose it is time to post some photos, eh? Well let's see what I can do. I recently noticed that I never posted all the photos to my Rainier hike, Wallace Falls hike, Mt. Si hike, and the Pacific coast beach all from last month to my Picassa albums (the link is under "My Great Adventures" in the left column). It takes some time to upload, edit, and caption them so I will try to post a few at a time. For today I will try to get some of the photos from diving in Seattle and on the Hood Canal. I forgot the camera when we went to Edmonds and the conditions were perfect with a gorgeous sunset. Must have been meant to be one of those stunning moments only reserved for us like some of the rainbow moments I have experienced in the the past few years.

Thanks for your patience and continuing to read! :o)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Make A Difference

Thinking back to my ultimate life goal and pursuit in life, it has always been to make a difference in someway to contribute to the greater good of society. This Sunday, October 25th, will be National Make a Difference Day. There are many ways in which you can contribute. You don't have to be rich and give oodles of money to a cause in order to make a difference. You only need to just DO. If you have not pursued this in your life yet, you are missing out and most importantly losing that which makes us have the conscious ability to decide to give and to care.

This week MacAnderson has written about a new book Simple Truths offers which provides you many ideas of things you can do to make a difference. Here is a simple example:

It all started with a piece of trash...
Matthew Emerzian, a successful music industry executive in Los Angeles, was walking back to his office with a co-worker one afternoon in 2004 when he stopped to pick up a plastic fountain drink cover from the sidewalk and put it in a nearby garbage bin.
“My co-worker quickly asked me what I was doing,” Emerzian recalled. “I explained what I thought to be the obvious, but apparently I was wrong.” To the co-worker, litter simply belonged to the litterer, not to the population as a whole.
“I explained to him that litter and pollution are everyone's problem not just the person who couldn't find the trash can for their cup lid. He profoundly responded with 'Dude, you're weird.'”
Emerzian, now 38, walked back to his office both angry and sad.
“I couldn't believe that someone could remove themselves so far from the greater good of our world.”
Matt began to think, 'what if everyone in the country picked up one piece of litter on the same day.' Or 10 pieces! The math was easy, yet so powerful. He then began to think of a few other easy things that 300 million Americans could do to make a difference.
From this, a great idea was born. He called his friend, Kelly Bozza, and told her that he wanted to write a book about how all of us can make a difference with our lives. Within a week, they had over 100 items on their list and were ready to start writing.
Their book, titled
Every Monday Matters...52 Ways to Make a Difference, has sold 120,000 copies. It is both powerful and thought-provoking. The ideas are simple - small acts that collectively add up to an enormous impact for the greater good. It's 144 pages with lots of illustrations - chocked full of big ideas.
Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Everyone has the power of greatness; not for fame, but greatness. Because greatness is determined by service.”
Also, today, I am pleased to offer you a way to get started with making every Monday matter, in honor of National Make a Difference Day, Sunday, October 25. The tip for week 41 is to use a re-usable shopping bag.
The next 500 orders of
Every Monday Matters will receive a free Simple Truths eco-shopping bag. By shopping with a reusable bag, you can use 1,000 fewer plastic or paper bags this year, especially shopping for groceries.
Click here for full details.
(Note: This promotion is available for US shipments only)
Live with Passion,
Mac Anderson
Founder, Simple Truths
Visit for more information about Make a Difference Day.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Prepping to Dive

We are getting ready to go out of town for my 4th open water dive (5th dive since August 8th). This August is the first I have been diving since March 2004 due to the ordeal I have had with the problem brain tumor. It is not because of actually having brain tumors that I could not dive. The pressure inside the brain remains the same at depth. The issue was that I went through a year of being sick, dizzy, and having vertigo.

On the third day of radiosurgery treatment I almost drown in 4 feet of water in a hotel pool when I was alone and closed my eyes under the water. Once the sickness and dizziness resolved, I almost completely lost my balance function. I say almost because I did not have to rely on a wheelchair and I got away with using a hiking staff for a cane.

Since then, I took swimming lessons in 2006, started snorkeling with a floation vest, and have been consistently going to water aerobics and lifting weights starting in winter 2007. All of these things have been in preparation to dive again. First I needed to adjust to the water and become comfortable in it again. Then the last part I have been working on for over a year has been to improve my balance so that I can handle wearing a tank and heavy gear.

I have had many things to figure out with a new body and needing to get appropriate fitting gear. It is amazing what a difference in size makes for what gear to use and how streamlining as much as possible is important when you have a loss of balance function.

All dives so far have been a practice to try out gear and try to solve bouyancy issues which I am working on but getting close.

Tomorrow I will be trying a new thermal configuration and doing a second dive on a new BCD which I found to work out for me last weekend. I will be trying out a new inflator on the BCD, playing around with the weighting again, discovering if the undergarment and thermal setup I now have will keep me warm without affecting my bouyancy, and diving from a boat for the first time in 6 years.

There is a lot to know and work out. An experienced diver of 40 years told us it takes about 20 dives to get oriented and really comfortable with your equipment. So if this present setup works, I have 19 more dives to get it downpat. I can't wait for the day when I once again feel like a fish under the water and that being down there is natural! (That means everything is working out just grand with my weighting perfect; I have been so comfortable down there in the past that I could almost take a nap!)

Ok. Gotta go get ready. More later!

Have a nice weekend! ;-)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

"Unload Your Emotional Baggage"

When you deal with a serious illness or medical condition, such as coping with the effects and possiblities to come with NF2, attitude is extremely important. It is what makes or breaks you. The measure of your character is not what happens to you but HOW YOU RESPOND to the challenges and obstacles you encounter. A positive attitude will really help carry you through so that you are able to persevere but a pessimistic or negative one will beat you down until it crushes you!

In order to attain the most positive attitude, you must let go of any emotional baggage you are carrying. You have to free yourself. I knew that before I went into surgery, to offer myself the best chance of survival and recovery, I had to learn to forgive. You can't enter a life and death situation with bitterness in your heart. It will literally eat you and cause you to lose the battle. When you are put through something so physically tramatic, you need every ounce of positive energy for your immune system to win the fight.

I will be the first to admit, forgiveness is really not easy nor is keeping a positive attitude at times. However, you have to realize that to get where you want to go, all that other stuff does not matter. The pettyness and things of the past no longer matter and do not have a place in your future.

I get an inspirational newsletter from author Mac Anderson of Simple Truths. This week's words are a nice reminder of where my focus should be. Click on the link and you will see a beautiful slide show on the "Power of Attitude which come with the book.

The following exerpt is from Mac's book "The Power of Attitude".

Our emotions are powerful motivators, and more than almost anything else in our lives they will drive our behavior. Sometimes our greatest challenge is to get inside our own heads to understand what makes us tick. Why do we feel and behave the way we do?
Highly motivated, positive people are focused. The mind is clear, and energy levels are high. Also, many things can hold you back and prevent you from becoming all you can be. One of those things is...Emotional Baggage.
I know two family members who were best friends, but several years ago, one reminded the other of something that had happened thirty years earlier. One thing led to another and, you know what, they haven't spoken since.
Anger or resentment is like a cancer, and when you let it go untreated, it will put an invisible ceiling on your future. You don't know it...but it does.
William Ward identified the cure when he said, “Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the handcuffs of hate.”
Those are powerful words, and I know from personal experience...forgiveness works. A few times in my life I've been greatly wronged and taken advantage of. My first reaction, of course, was anger and resentment. I held it for awhile and felt my stomach tie up in knots, my appetite wane, and the joy slip out of my life. The quote from Ward provided the wake-up call I needed to forgive the person who had wronged me. It was like I had been playing the first half of a basketball game with three-pound steel shoes, and in the locker room the coach said, “Mac, try these new Nikes in the second half.” Multiply that by ten and you'll understand how great it feels to unload your “emotional baggage” through the power of forgiveness.

Monday, October 13, 2008

What Matters

A friend sent me this today and I liked it so much that I had to share it with you. The meaning is very profound.

There comes a point in your life when you realize
who matters,
who never did,
who won't anymore...
and who always will.

So, don't worry about people from your past,
there's a reason why they didn't make it to your future.
'Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.'

Thursday, October 09, 2008

No Surgery - What Does This Mean?

At my neurosurgery appointment last month. we were greatly relieved to learn that surgery for the other brain tumor is not necessary at this point.

Are you confused?

That is okay if you are because we were also confused at first. We were not quite sure how to react after having the mindset over the last 9 months that I was going to have surgery again this fall. It was an odd mix of emotions but ultimately I chose to embrace this surprising news and enjoy the feeling of release from this burden for awhile.

I know some of you are not religious people but I am very spiritual and you have not been through what I have. So how would you know what it is like? I can say that I have never thanked God so much. In the days following the news, I walked around in disbelief of all that I have been through in the last 4 years and very thankful that God had helped me through it. There were times I just could not even imagine reaching this point or fathom that it could get better. I had this tremendous upwelling of buried emotion when I reached my remission from cancer years ago. It was just incredibly shocking that I had lived and that it was pretty much over. It has been a similar feeling to have bought some more time and not need another surgery so soon.

The saga of life with NF2 is far from over but for the moment I am savoring the pause. To be expecting and dreading a brain surgery for months knowing what I would have to endure again, and then to be suddenly released from that burden, is like winning the lotto when you are near bankrupt! I have been planning time for a recovery and worried about packing activities in before I run out of time, and now I am free! I can dive all fall and winter and pursue other things!

As I said, NF2 is not over. I still have tumors in my head "too numerous to count" as do other people with NF2. While we took part of the tumor out last year to take pressure off the brain stem, there is still tumor remaining which can and may very likely grow back. How long? We don't know. Some people have had regrowth significant enough that it warranted surgery again in 3 years. I have passed 1 year so I have another 2 to sweat out.

Meanwhile, the tumor on the OTHER side of the brain stem is compressing it but I am not showing symptoms serious enough that surgery would be needed. I am actually doing quite well at the moment which is the best I have been doing over the last 4 years. The aim is quality of life over tumor removal. As you know, a cure to rid us of these tumors for good does not exist yet. There are no guarantees on improving quality of life through surgery. As a matter of fact, it could get worse and even result in loss of life. Therefore, unless there is an intolerable complication that needs to be addressed (such as the trigeminal neuralgia I had last fall), it is a "don't fix it if it ain't broken" philosophy. There are many risks with surgery so you need to weigh them against the potential benefits. Then you must evaluate, is the risk worth it?

So the plan......
We are going back to the "wait and watch" method which began when I was diagnosed in July 1999. The tumors continued to grow after diagnosis but at a slow rate and I used that time to take advantage of the hearing I had remaining (and my perfect sight and balance). Less than 5 years later one of the tumors grew really large and very rapidly for no apparent reason. It just happens like that. There are no set of guidelines to follow. You just wait and see. So within 5 years from diagnosis I had to pursue a treatment and I became completely deaf, sight impaired, developed facial paralysis, and lost my balance function. The following 3 years were watching that tumor to see if it was going to respond successfully to the radiosurgery in July 2004. It did not improve the way we had anticipated so I inevitably needed a surgery for that one tumor.

So 9 years so far. We are going to go back to monitoring them every 6 months thru MRIs and evaluation of symptoms.

I am EXTREMELY lucky to have made it to the age of 37 and get away with only 1 surgery thus far! According to my age of diagnosis I am a mild case. Yet, due to the number of tumors I have I could be classified as severe. I do not fit either classification of mild or severe. So maybe I am some new mild form with many tumors that grow very slowly or not very much at all.

Hopefully that will buy me some time while we wait for a cure!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

My Quest4NF2 - news wrap up

Visit the link to read another news article published last week regarding the 31.5 trek Harley and completed to raise research funds for NF2.

Thank you everyone who has been so kind and generous in contributing and even helping to collect donations! I fear I and others with NF2 would have no hope without compassionate donors such as you. I am still fundraising so it is not too late to donate if you have not yet or even if you want to make your holiday contribution to my cause. Just click the first giving button in the left hand margin or by visiting the following link:

To give you an idea of how badly your support and funding is needed, I currently attended another popular fundraising walk to cheer on a friend. To my surprise, there were 3200 participants in just Seattle alone! The event along with numerous other events are held in every major city in the US!

It was just Harley and I in the state of Washington doing this hike and raising $4,489 currently compared to the $6.4 million which the other cause raised. There are less than 100 of us across the entire United States giving our whole heart by participating in various fundraising events for NF. There are less than 10 of us with NF2 who have the ability participating in these events.

Even though I am doing great the last few months compared to the past 4 years, it does not mean the saga is over. This is a life long battle and things can change very rapidly. Many of us (myself included) have tumors in the brain or spine or BOTH which are reported as too numerous to count! Life for us is unpredictable and there are no guarantees. So we have to go with the flow of what it dishes us and we always have a loan out to buy more time.

Thank you again for everyone who has been supportive and has contributed to this fund. It is desperately needed. Every year it seems someone is dying from NF2 but not without months or years of suffering and their quality of life being drained away.

If you have happened upon this blog and even read it regularly, I ask for you to find it in your heart to honestly consider this cause and donate what you are able if you have not already done so. Even $5 can make a difference. If you had to give up your morning coffee once or twice, a package of snacks, a movie, going out to dinner or lunch once, or whatever is an optional expense for you, I truly appreciate your sacrafice!

If you absolutely cannot afford to donate $5 but you do want to help support this cause, please email me at bluediverbeck (at) yahoo (dot) com to learn what you can do.

To all of our friends, family, and sponsors who have helped us to raise funding for NF2, we are extremely grateful to you! Fundraising is very challenging and even more so when you are directly affected by your cause and time is running out. We feel very lucky to have you with us on this journey and to have your support! You have provided us and others with a brighter outlook and less despair!

Tough Terrain

Right: the boulder field I had to carefully climb down from.

My chosen route up.

The start of where it really became challenging (who cares about distance! It is the terrain!)

Almost on top of the world again

5 years and 3 months since my last visit, and 4 years 2 months since I have been unable, I finally reached the summit of Mt. Si once again. If you look back in my blog to 2005, this hike was a dream to achieve once again (along with my way out there aspirations of climbing to the summits of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Kilamanjaro and diving with great white joke!).
It has been a long haul and I am not back to what normal was before radiosurgery. Yet accomplishing the endurance and balance to be able to hike the terrain to this 4, 167 foot summit is a HUGE hurdle I have overcome. It is something I have been working toward for the past 4 years and I am stoked, elated, overjoyed, satisfied, and in disbelief. There was a time after waiting for my balance to improve only to watch it slip further away, I was sad that I would never be able to venture to the top of this mountain again.
It is a challenging hike in the area. They say hiking up and down it 3 times is the equivalent of climbing Mt. Rainier and many climbers utilize it for training. The round trip hike is 8 miles of a gradual climb to the top.
My endurance is good n0w and I did not feel physically exhausted or tired. Nor was I as sore as I have been in the past hiking it. However, I did have the challenges of double vision and imbalance to contend with. 15 minutes into the hike the double vision set in again causing me to not be so certain about my footing. Within 20-30 minutes I had to start using my hiking poles to provide stability. Short breaks to shoot some photos, take a drink, and peel off layers of clothes, helped to allieviate the double vision episodes.
The most difficult part was traversing the very top where the terrain became rugged and rocky. To reach the best view, I had to scramble a field of large boulders. LOL I had no idea how I was going to get down. I counted on figuring that out later. I could not help myelf from going further up however I managed to get there (sticking my poles in my pack, scrambling and minor rock climbing). But the view is so incredible! Wouldn't you want to go all the way too?
I will be getting back into scuba diving. So maybe there is hope for those great white sharks, eh?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

10 K without a doubt

Yesterday evening I ran a over a 10 K without question as I followed the mileage markers on the trail. On my previous 10 K run on the same trail I was unaware yet of the markers and went by my pedomete. However, when I walked it out the pedometer reading indicated that I came up a little bit short on the distance. Apparently that is the difference between a walking and running pedometer which I was puzzled about when I purchased it. A walking pedometer will reflect in inaccurate reading when running.

The run was no easy accomplishment for me. Before I reached 3 miles I was pretty tired. I had run just over 3 miles with the dogs at the park the night before. Running is not my passion either and is not incredibly enjoyable so even more motivation is needed. I wanted to do it though and get it done because it was a goal I had set early in the year. When I was unsure if I actually went the distance the first time, I had planned to do it again using the mileage markers instead of the pedometer. My plan was to complete the task after I had accomplished the 31.5 mile trek and recovered from it. With the last day of September and today the first day of October, it was time to get off my butt and get it done.

As I stated earlier, this was no easy task so it takes me lots of mental motivation and a battle of witts with myself. Part of it was stubbornness to get this out of the way, another part was looking forward to the satisfaction of completing the goal, and the remainder was thinking about the people I know who do this and run marathons and most especially the few NF2 patients who run half or full marathons. If they can do that, then I must certainly step up to plate and run a 10 K.

Patrick you were on my mind the entire time. I hope your treatment goes well and you are able to continue running.

Anne, Bob, Greg, Deb, and Olivia,

You are all amazing and have my complete admiration for your dedication and spirit (they are all NF marathon runners).

Kelly and Randy, as always, Ashley has been with me in spirit pushing me along and encouraging me to believe in myself that I can achieve what I set out before me.

And finally Skip, you were the one who believed I could do it and I did not want to let you down. I just had to do the run again to make sure I really ran a 10K. Thanks for believing in me and helping me to trust myself. You are a true friend!