Friday, December 20, 2013

Off The Bench - Fall Champions for the 3rd consecutive year!

Off The Bench, the team I captain at Atlanta Club Sport, has done it again. I had never won a championship until the fall season of 2011. Then we won it again last year in the fall of 2012. And just last night we pulled off the 3-peat by winning 13-12 in the first game and then 17-7 in the finale. I want to congratulate my players.



McKenzie Wilson
Brandon Stapleton
Jason Szczech
Josh Brass
Ira Graiser
Jason Brooks
Scott Pharr
Kelli Estep
Katey McCandless
Jaime Grimes
Matt Skesavage
Mary Beth O'Rouke
Kelly Cutts




The Champs

Ira Graiser and myself started Off The Bench because we played on a team together who sats players for the entire length of the game. Ira and I thought that was unfair and decided to branch off and start our own team. We felt "Off The Bench" was a good name to use. In my 5+ years captaining this team, no player has sat an entire game and I was willing to lose a lot of games in order to keep that streak going. We were not very good at first as Ira, myself and Josh Brass (another long time member of the team) started finding free agents one by one. Jason Szczech and Scott Pharr were the next in line to be longtime members of the team. Eventually we grabbed a lot of free agents and people liked playing on this team and they told their friends and they told their friends and eventually we went from the back of the pack to the top team in the league. I'm more proud of our philosophy than I am the number of titles we have.

The irony is that we play our best ball when it's cold which is usually the toughest time of year for a cystic fibrosis patient. So it makes it even more special that we win during the late fall when it is frigid outside.

I want to thank my team for making me a very proud captain this morning. The championship meant a lot but the way these guys played as a team and enjoyed playing together meant even more.

On Monday we trailed 9-0 after a half-inning but came back to win 10-9. Two nights later, we won 20-10. Last night we trailed Vandalay Industries 7-1. Vandalay has more championships than Michael Jordan yet still we came back to win 13-12. Then in the final, we played our best game and pulled away 17-7.

When the game ended, I told Tom to let Joe's family know that we dedicated the championship to him. Joe loved softball and would have been proud to see us play it the right way. Joe, we miss you.

I hope everyone has a nice weekend.

Andy

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Coping with Tragedy

Joe

"Play ball!"

Those words struck me yesterday as my quarterfinal playoff game started. Those were the words Joe Fontana used prior to the start of every game I'd played since joining Club Sport back in the late nineties.

Yesterday was a difficult day. For those of us who face clinical depression and anxiety, these days happen far too many times to count. Yesterday though I believe was a day that I had a right to be sad. First off, my friend Joe Fontana, an umpire at Club Sport who I'd known for nearly 2 decades, passed away earlier in the week due to a heart attack. Joe volunteered for several years at Wish for Wendy and was always one of the last people to leave the event. I didn't know Joe off the field. I'd seen him out a few times but I knew him usually a few feet behind me calling strikes or a few feet behind me when I was at second base. The guy was sarcastic. That's for sure. He reminded me of my Uncle Bobby because even as sarcastic as he got, you still cared about him and you cared about what he said. The irony was that Joe had asked about my health the last few months because I was coughing more and a lot skinnier. Joe will certainly be missed by all of us that played our games at the Brookhaven Boys and Girls Club. In fact, we had a 30 second moment of silence before our playoff game last night to remember him and to pray for his family. How strange that he died the same year that Dennis Farina died. Farina played the character Joe Fontana on Law & Order for years.



Joe Fontana - a huge Pittsburgh fan - a huge loss to the softball community

Wendy

Yesterday would have been Wendy's 43rd birthday. Though I never met her, I miss her terribly. I know that's probably difficult for most of you to understand. I would trade every $1 of the $1.9 million we raised to have her back on this earth and understand what it's like to have an older sister. While part of me is very sad that she is not here, part of me takes pride in the fact that we have raised a lot of money in her memory to avenge the disease that took her from us more than four decades ago. People always think of me as the first born in my family. The truth is that I was not. I will always be the oldest brother and the oldest cousin but I will never take the title "first born." That was Wendy's title and will always be hers.



Our family's first born

The Sneiderman Case

On Monday, as many of you know, we found out that Andrea Sneiderman's bond request was denied. We were in the courtroom last Thursday and were pretty convinced that she was getting out on bond after listening to Andrea's lawyer Brian Steel. Still it wasn't to be. Hopefully by spring, Andrea will be out on parole. We'll just have to see. I'm not going to go into all of my feelings on this case. I've done so in the past and received lots of hate mail for it. With all of my emotional issues, I don't feel like going further into it would benefit me or anyone else. I will say that me and my family continue to support her and hope that she will be reunited with her family in the near future.

My Issues

A lot of my anxiety and depression surprisingly stem from my days in high school and college. I worried too much about fitting in, having cystic fibrosis and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I believe those were the days that I actually had my mid-life crisis because I didn't expect to see 30 much less 40. Some days I wake up and I don't know how I got here. I didn't expect to have a wife. I never dreamt that I'd have children. I didn't see myself having a 40th birthday party. Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful that I have all of these things. I'm just surprised that all of these dreams came true. Perhaps I mourn my younger days too often. The truth is that I've learned to use these difficult memories as reasons to try and have fun now...through playing with my children, going out on the town with Andrea or just something as simple as playing softball.

The Silver Lining

The day wasn't all bad yesterday. Avery heard what happened with regards to Joe and wrote me the sweetest note when I got home last night. She's a really caring kid and I couldn't believe she did that without Andrea prompting her to do so.



She made my day.

Taking the Good from the Bad

"Life isn't about breathing. Anyone can do that. Life is about living...and sadly that's a skill that many of us fail to grasp."

That's something I coined several years ago but sometimes I forget to live by those words.

As I prepare for my final softball game of the year tonight (hopefully 2 softball games as a win in our first game means we play for the title a few hours later), I question why some people live long and other people's lives are cut short. Why am I here? Why are people like Joe and Rusty gone? Is there something I'm missing?

I guess the point isn't who is here and who isn't because we all have to go someday. The point is to enjoy every moment with the people we care about most because the memories last a lot longer than any of us will. The point isn't that we were unfortunate to lose this individual. The point was how fortunate each of us was to get to know this person and what a difference he or she made in this world. I guess it's a glass half-empty, half-full sort of thing.

Now as Joe would say with those 2 infamous words that mean as much off the softball field as they do on it..."Play ball!"



And so I will...for the rest of my life.

Andy

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter is almost here...but that's not going to stop me!

It's been a while since I've written a blog. October and November were crazy as we were in the midst of a move PLUS we had Wish for Wendy which raised about $325K for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. In 14 years, we have now raised approximately $1.9 million. I'm pretty proud of that number because it's going to go a long way towards finding a cure for this disease.



Thanks everyone!

It's always tough for me to blog this time of year as winter (though it's still a week and a half from officially being winter) is a very difficult season for me.

"Why?" you ask.

First off, it is very cold (even in the south) and cold weather affects those of us with cystic fibrosis. My lungs take a beating this time of year and therefore I've had some of my worst pulmonary function results and bacterial infections during December, January and February.

Due mostly to my CF issues, I have experienced major bouts of depression in the winter. I tend to have these moments when I think about being in a dark coffin for eternity and being erased from everyone's minds. There's a part of me who thinks I'm being ridiculous and another part of me that is frightened by those very thoughts and how true they could be.

My sister Wendy died in the winter. Granted, I never met her but it was this season growing up that I could tell was a lot more difficult for my mom to handle. I can't even imagine what she and my dad had to go through.

I also can't stand the time change which means I wake up in the dark and I come home from work in the dark. For someone who loves to play outdoor sports, this is not a pleasant feeling.

Baseball season is over and by now usually all of my sports teams have let me down. This year is no exception. I know that seems silly but the Braves are a very big part of my life. They got me through some really tough times both as a child and an adult. No matter how bad things got, I could always turn on TBS at 7:35pm after an episode of Sanford and Son and there would be Skip and Pete to tell me about the pitching matchups.



Winter despair

To prevent depression from filling my mind with desperate thoughts, I am working my tail off in the gym this year. I started with a trainer a few months ago and can really see a difference. I've put on about 5 pounds of muscle and my cardio has increased drastically. I went from not being able to do the jump rope 50 times to doing 3 sets of 50 and sometimes a couple of sets of 75. I was doing the treadmill at a speed of 4.0 and now I'm up to 7.0. I'm doing two sets of 20 pullups a piece twice a week. I'm doing 10 sets of stairs once a week (up and down) and lifting more weight than I have since college.



Working out = Beating depression

The other day I had my Mr. Myagi moment when Daniel catches the fly with chopsticks. We were at the end of our workout and my trainer laughs when I wanted to try and do dips on the rings. She said one of their trainers who was a gymnast in college has been practicing for weeks and can now do one dip. I said I could try it. Seeing her mouth open in shock was priceless as I did 5.



I caught the fly!

I'm still playing softball for another few weeks as the playoffs are starting. After that, I am not participating in any sports other than taking Ethan to basketball on the weekends. Still I walk the dog most mornings and run on the treadmill every morning prior to doing the jump rope 60 times.

My next doctor's appointment is in February and I don't want to be doing OK. I always worry about doing OK. Not anymore. I am slowly becoming the old fiery Andy. I want to shock the doctors. I want to shock the statistics, the so-called experts and anyone who thinks they know what my lung function should do. I always hear that as I get older my PFTs will decline. My opinion is to be EXCEPTIONAL you have to believe that you can be the exception. I do believe that and I will continue to work my butt off until I prove them all wrong. My lung function is currently around 84%. The doctors want me to be between 82 and 87% in February. I want to be 90%. I know it's not realistic but neither was making it to my 40th birthday and here I am!



That's my goal!

I am trying to look positively as winter arrives. This February my daughter turns 8, my son is in his first basketball league and Andrea and I will soon be at 5,000 days together (It's April 20th for those of you keeping track).

So in summary, my health is vastly improved, my outlook is increasingly positive and I'm ready to shock the world come February.

Seasons greetings to all.

Andy



Friday, November 1, 2013

Health improvement, Wish for Wendy and Moving In

I can officially say I'm on the mend. For the last 2 months, I have been having pulmonary issues thanks to a couple of bacteria in my lungs. Around the time I received the bad news at my early October doctor's appointment, I hired a personal trainer. Lori has been absolutely tearing me apart but I love it.

Some people think you get a personal trainer because you have not been working out and are in bad physical shape. That's not always the case. I'm not in bad shape and I work out 6 days a week but still I needed someone to push me and teach me some new stuff that could help my lungs. I equate working out with a personal trainer to going underwater and telling yourself you need to stay under for 30 seconds. At 30 seconds, you come up when you have no one to push you. A personal trainer is that person who says to stay under for 60 seconds. You don't think you can do it but you end up doing it and you feel great because of it even though you're out of breath at the time you do it.

I'm now jumping rope once and sometimes twice a day 50 to 75 times each. If you remember, the first time I worked out with my personal trainer I was winded just trying to get up to 50. I'm doing abs every other morning. I run for 5 minutes and 30 seconds every morning on the treadmill. I am working out with weights six days a week. I'm going to my trainer twice a week. I'm still playing softball every Monday.

I had my recent doctor's appointment this past Monday and got encouraging news. My lung function was up 5% and therefore I can take a break from antibiotics. That doesn't mean I can be satisfied. I'm still not at my baseline but I'm halfway there. I will continue to train with Lori and get stronger both physically and mentally. Thank you to everyone who asked how I was doing.

Wish for Wendy exhausted me but I was thrilled to see how successful it was. We raised over $315K and our 14 year total is now over $1.9 million. The teams had the best fundraising average in our history so I was proud of all of them for that feat. I am grateful to all of the volunteers, sponsors, donors, committee members, umpires and teams who participated.



Pete Bok's (pictured on the right) team, General Paton's Third Army, won the fundraising title for the third consecutive year! Great job Pete!



This is my team captained by Ira Graiser (Ira is on the far left with the Georgia cap). The Wish for Wendy Warriors finished second in fundraising. Great job guys!



Ethan doesn't realize how fortunate he is to have this camera op...but I do! Thank you Atlanta Falcon Cheerleaders for coming to Wish for Wendy again!



And a picture with Braves pitcher Brandon Beachy, me and Andrea. This kid is the man. Avery was leading her troop of second graders during pictures. Ah, to be 7 and cool again.

I was on Business Radio X on Tuesday talking about the Inspirator Award I received last month. I am still shocked that I won but I am very grateful for the Turknetts for giving me the opportunity to be around such amazing leaders in business and non-profit.



I'm proud to be mentioned with this great class of leaders.

I wanted to send a congratulations to my sister Emily on a successful first season of The New Atlanta. Em was a real fan favorite. I'm very proud of her. Now if we can just get "Jewnicorn" branded.

I wanted to congratulate Andrea on her tennis team making the playoffs. I remember when I was the tennis player in the family. Now I believe I'd finish second. Congrats to Ethan on finishing his soccer and baseball seasons. Basketball is right around the corner. Avery continues her NINE hours of gymnastics each week. I don't know how she does it. Personally I don't know how our floor can take all of the back handsprings when she gets home. We are finally all moved in though we are still going through boxes. We can't wait to have people over at the new house later in the year.

I hope that everyone had a great and safe Halloween.

I'm wish everyone health and happiness.

Andy

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

That morning in 1999...the beginning of Wish for Wendy



The first Wish for Wendy logo

Dear Friends,

As we approach our 14th Wish for Wendy, I'm reminded of that morning back in 1999 when I woke up, put on a suit and tie and drove down to North Druid Hills in Atlanta. I parked my car and walked in a building I hadn't been in since I was a kid when I used to crouch behind my mom because of my excessive shyness. I was there to see Maureen Fraser, the Director of the CF Foundation of Georgia.

As I walked in, I didn't know what to call her. As a kid, I knew her as Ms. Fraser. I was an adult now so I figured a first name was fine.

"Maureen," I said, "I have an idea for a fundraiser. I want to raise money for cystic fibrosis in memory of my sister."

I could see Maureen looking at me. I was a 26 year old who had no idea what he was about to get into. Maybe she didn't see that though. Maybe she saw a younger version of my mother.

My mom had started the Santa Claus House decades ago to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Imagine a Jewish woman working on an event with Santa Claus in the title. She did an amazing job though. My mom told me the story of how she was driving down West Paces Ferry and saw renowned singer Isaac Hayes running in a jogging suit with his entourage. She stopped and asked if he would help with their charity event. Most people would be reluctant to try but my mom was not afraid of the word "no." Soon after, a few large men came in the morning of the Santa Claus House event and brought autographed memorabilia generously donated by Mr. Hayes. That's when I learned to never fear the word "no." Because of that story, we have raised nearly $2 million today. Thanks Mom!

Maureen asked me how I was going to go about raising money. All I knew was I had the motivation in my sister. I had the resources in my family and knowing so many people through softball. What I had no idea was how to find sponsors. Still I had a few great friends who helped me to create the event and even more friends who volunteered the day of the event. I'll never forget our first volunteer umpire Joe shouting "Play ball!" as the event started nearly a decade and a half ago. We raised close to $30,000 that first year. I honestly thought it was going to be a one-time thing but as we were leaving to go home that night in October of 2000, one of the players said something that turned the event from a one-time money-maker to a 14-year philanthropic giant.

"Can't wait till next year!"

Every year following the first shout of "Play ball!" and the close of the event, I think about hanging it up. I really do. Each year I grow a few more gray hairs, something that was considered impossible for a CF patient to ever have when I was a kid. I focus on other joys in life but I can't give up on this event. Not only is it fun but it funds a cause that myself and my family are dedicated to. I lost my sister to cystic fibrosis. My children are carriers of this disease. I have CF. Wish for Wendy is kind of like my baby. It will never be as big a priority as my wife and children but it will always mean a lot to me.



It's hard to believe that I've given this speech for 14 years.

I know a lot of people who are fighting every day to beat cystic fibrosis. Just in the last few months, I have known several people who have lost the battle to this disease including Ana Stenzel who I wrote a blog entry about. Ana, ironically, didn't die from cystic fibrosis but a symptom of it as you'll see from the entry.

I continue to battle CF and my numbers, sadly, have gone down the last few weeks. I am working my tail off to get them back up but I will be at the doctor the Monday after Wish to see if I need to go on IVs. Regardless I will continue to fight and fundraise and I will be playing again on the Wish for Wendy Warriors. I don't just intend to go out there and go through the motions. I plan to get a few hits while I'm out there and maybe a diving catch or two.




Put me in coach!


Wish for Wendy has played a significant role in my life. It was the event that brought me closer to my sister, a person who I never got to meet but I'm sure is at the event every year judging by the amazing weather we have. It brought me in touch with so many amazing people and for that I am truly blessed. One day, I hope it will also help to bring us a cure for this devastating disease.

I will see all of you on Saturday as we make A Wish for Wendy come true for the 14th time!

Play ball!

Andy

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Goodbye Ana Stenzel

A person like Ana Stenzel comes around once in a lifetime. I have enclosed her obituary. She lived an amazing life despite so many obstacles. Last year she allowed me to use her picture for our Wish for Wendy program. Ana, you will be missed but your legacy will live on. Thank you for being a role model in the fight against cystic fibrosis.

Andy

http://m.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Anabel-Stenzel-organ-transplant-advocate-dies-4861166.php?utm_source=Copy+of+Remembering+Ana+%2810%2F22%2F2013%29&utm_campaign=Remembering+Ana+%2810%2F22%2F13%29&utm_medium=email

Monday, October 14, 2013

My numbers may be down but my outlook on life is far from it...


"Andy, your numbers are down. What's going on?"

Those eight words bring up so much anguish.

Those were the exact words spoken by my doctor this past Friday.

I didn't know what to say when the doctor asked me that question. "What's going on?"



I hate the CF cough!

When I was younger, I knew what it was. I was lax in taking my meds. I wasn't getting enough exercise. I wasn't doing my treatments everyday. I could just say "Ready or not, here I come!" and I'd be back on my feet as long as I was complying with my doctor's plan. It was that simple.

It's not that easy anymore and it has nothing to do with me not complying.

It's age.

I'm 40. CF is coming for me. I know it. My doctors know it. My body knows it. That means I have to work that much harder to beat it. I caught a virus over a month ago and I can't seem to shake it. My numbers are down 8% and if this continues I'll be on IV meds right after Wish for Wendy. This comes at a tough time because we're in the midst of moving.

CF is winning right now but unlike the past I won't let depression get to me. I will prevail.

I know that I have to take a stand and fight this and so I began last Thursday (one day prior to my doctor's appointment) as I knew my appointment was not going to be very positive. I started by hiring a personal trainer. Jumping rope nearly killed me. I was coughing up a storm. I had to stop 25 minutes into a 40 minute workout. I know that if I keep working, I'll get there. I'm doing a few other things to get better. I'm eating a little more to get my weight up. When fighting an infection with cystic fibrosis, it's important to have some weight behind you. Can you say "Hello Gummy Bears?" Ok, maybe not that extreme but I am grabbing smoothies after every workout session and eating more snacks during the work day (mostly gluten-free).



Nah!

I'm delegating many of my responsibilities for Wish for Wendy to the CF Foundation. I used to hate delegating. Now I'm giving myself no choice. I'm fortunate to be working with Linda Murphy who does a great job there. I'm also making sure that I keep to a strict regimin by doubling up on Pulmozyme, making sure to take all of my antibiotics on time and keeping in good shape by walking Magic everyday and working out to the best of my ability. I'm very fortunate to have Andrea who has taken the bull by the horns with everything around the house and who is amazing with the kids. I love her so much. Thanks honey for all you do.

It's difficult coughing and seeing people around me notice. Andrea asks if I'm ok. My trainer is concerned and is worried about pushing me. My mom and dad are constantly checking on me and telling me to rest. The thing is I can't lay in my bed and just accept the fact that I'm sick. I need normalcy. Of course, I also have a sister who is a reality TV star so I'm not sure I even know what normalcy is anymore.

I need to live my life. People who don't have terminal illnesses don't get that. When I get sick, I don't stop exercising, I certainly don't lay in bed and I don't call in sick to work. I do the opposite. I work out harder. I constantly think of ways to get better. I never want to say that I could have done something to get better and didn't. I have to be mentally strong when battling a physical issue. In the past, I would have collapsed onto my bed, pulled the covers over my face and hoped that life would just end. I can't do that anymore. I have too much responsibility. I have Andrea, Avery and Ethan and I cannot and will not let them down.



I will not let these three down!

I wish I could just repeat those words from my youth, "Ready or not, here I come!" It's just not that easy. Not anymore.

The doctor e-mailed me Tuesday with my culture results which is always scary. Imagine waiting to hear if you are really sick or worse, need to be hospitalized. That's what it's like waiting to hear if I have pseudomonas or some type of bacteria that is not antibiotic-sensitive. The bright side is that both bacteria that I cultured are sensitive so I'm on two more oral antibiotics. The good thing is that I finished a previous antibiotic and just finished my 28 days of TOBI. Just call me CVS.

I'm trying to deal with all of this while dealing with a move, running Wish for Wendy, captaining my softball team, working a full-time job, being a dad and being a husband. The latter two are my top priorities. I have to be healthy for my family. I'm not asking for pity. I chose all of these roles and to be honest I enjoy them all. It just sucks when CF rears its ugly head and I'm forced to make changes.

I am starting to see mild improvement. My cough is slightly better. I do feel a little bit more energy. I'm able to get through my workouts with my trainer without being too winded. Things are moving in the right direction and I will make sure that they continue to do so.

My plan is to be 80 to 90% by Wish for Wendy which is in another 10 days or so and I'd like to play for my team in the tournament. I've been down and out for more than a month now so I realize that my goal to be relatively healthy in a third of that time is pretty unrealistic. Doctors would probably be a bit skeptical. Of course, if I believed in medical books and doctor's predictions, I would have died years ago...

But I'm still here!

After much thought, I now have a response for those words "Andy, your numbers are down. What's going on?"

A comeback! That's what's going on. Cystic fibrosis is going down! Ready or not, here I come!



Maybe it is that easy.

Andy

Friday, October 11, 2013

Atlanta sports rears its ugly head again



I knew it!

They tried to reel me in but I didn't fall for it. The Braves lost in 4 games. The Falcons are now 1-4 and lost arguably their best player for the year. The Atlanta Dream was swept in the finals. All of this in ONE WEEK!!!

I don't want to hear it anymore from Cubs fans because they have the Bears, Blackhawks and Bulls.

I don't want to hear from Boston fans. They have their titles now.

The only fans I simpathize with are Cleveland, Philadelphia, Buffalo and San Diego fans. They get it.

This sucks.

Now here is my fool-proof plan to fix the Braves so they can get back to October and barely miss winning a title again.

1) Get B.J. Upton some help. Hire a hitting coach to work exclusively with him this offseason. Get him to a sports psychologist as well. It helped John Smoltz.

2) Let Brian McCann go. I love the guy but you can't give a guy a 5 to 6 year deal when he is almost 30 and plays catcher. Gattis and Bettancourt will be the catchers next year.

3) Bye Bye Uggla. You have 2 years left on his deal. Call the Dodgers and see if they'll split it with you. Call the Yankees if Cano goes somewhere else. He is just not good for the team anymore. He has gotten worse and worse the last few years. A change of scenery will help him and the team. Bring up LaStella. He is killing it in winter ball and is an OPS machine.

4) Fire Fredi Gonzalez. I like Fredi. He seems like a good guy but his decisions for the most part are awful. Starting Garcia in Game 4 was terrible. He was lucky he pitched as well as he did. Not bringing Kimbrel in for a 6-out save with your season on the line was just not smart. We need a manager who is familiar with sabremetrics and also can work a bullpen. No one should be out-strategized by Don Mattingly. No one! I can't tell you who my choices would be right now but I would look at organizations like Oakland and Boston and see who they have in their system.

5) Sign the following guys to long term deals NOW: Kimbrel, Simmons, Heyward and Freeman. TB is very good at doing deals like this.

6) Trade for David Price. If you have to lose Lucas Sims, so be it. Imagine a rotation of Price, Medlen, Minor, Teheran and Beachy. That's pretty sick. I think Beachy will be 100% next year. I would not re-sign Hudson.

7) Go get some arms for the pen. You have Kimbrel but Walden is always hurt. Venters won't be back till May. O'Flaherty is a free agent. I like Carpenter but he shouldn't be the setup guy. Go find a great lefty arm. Wood may end up being that guy if we don't trade him.

There you go! Now it's time the Hawks season to begin. Someone put me out of my misery.

Andy

Monday, September 30, 2013

October is here - Ut-oh!

It's that time of year again in HOT-Lanta. It's cooling down. There is a little bit of a chill in the air. Here in Atlanta that could mean only one thing - it's time for the Braves to let us down again.



We had a great regular season! Yeah, yeah. Call me when the October misery is over.

Yes, it's time for the Braves to be in the playoffs (and once again they are) and to quietly fade away. This team has lost 9 out of the last 10 postseason series they have played including the last 7. Since 1991, the Braves have been to the playoffs 16 times and won their last game a total of 1 time. It's a pretty remarkable feat but not one we are really proud of in Atlanta. This season's team promises to be different...or the same. It just depends how you want to look at it.

Here are the top 5 reasons this postseason will be no different than the last 7:

1. This team strikes out a ton and they'll be facing the Dodgers who have 2 Aces at the top of their rotation.
2. Fredi Gonzalez is Bobby Cox reincarnated.
3. The Braves 2 highest paid players barely made the playoff roster. Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton have been 2 of the biggest disappointments in the majors this season much less the Braves.
4. The Braves starting pitching is good. The Dodgers starting pitching is great.
5. The Braves bullpen was once its strength but thanks to injuries and exhaustion, it may now be a weakness.

Here are the top 5 reasons this postseason could be different than the last 7:

1. Luck. Seriously, the Braves have not had much of it. See the infield fly call last year and Brooks Conrad's awful play a few years ago.



The terrible infield fly call against the Braves last year probably cost them a chance to advance in the postseason.




Brooks Conrad isn't getting a key to the city anytime soon for his 2010 postseason performance against the Giants. The Giants should have given him a World Series ring.

2. Freddie Freeman. The guy is clutch. He has put this team on his back. He's a legitimate MVP candidate.

3. Kris Medlen. The guy is pitching lights out right now.

4. The Braves have homefield advantage in the first round. They had the best home record in the Majors this year. Should they win and face the Cardinals, they'll have revenge on their minds from the last 2 seasons.

5. Maybe God has a sense of humor. Maybe he'll just let them win once so Atlanta fans can have something to cheer about.



A preview of a 2013 World Series photo? Fingers crossed!

Finally, it's time for my prediction which is basically my way of listening to my head and my heart.

Braves vs. Dodgers - Braves in 5 - homefield will actually mean something even against Kershaw

Cardinals vs. Pirates (Pirates will beat the Reds tonight) - Cardinals in 4

Rays vs. Red Sox (Rays will beat the Indians) - Red Sox in 4

A's vs. Tigers - Tigers in 5

Braves vs. Cardinals - Braves in 7 - I think it's time for the Braves to finally get even with the Red Birds and erase the demons of seasons past.

Tigers vs. Red Sox - Tigers in 7

Braves vs. Tigers - The Tigers swept the Braves in the regular season so I'm picking the Braves in 6.

Ok, that was from my heart.

Now the prediction using my head - Dodgers in 4, Uggla will complain about his vision, Fredi will do a terrible job of managing, someone will make a big error, blah, blah blah.

Enjoy the postseason everyone!

I hope I can share a real postseason with my wife and children this time around. They need to feel the magic and excitement of a terrific October...a man can dream.

Andy

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Humbled by an award and I need a nebulizer!

First off, for those who read my blog talking about "taking a break from CF stuff" and were concerned that Wish for Wendy was over. Not a chance. I still plan to keep this tournament going until there's a cure or until my health is just not well enough that I cannot run the event anymore. I just meant that I needed a break for a few months once the event is over and want to focus less on CF in my life.

I was really proud to win a Turknett award last week. Among the nominees was Shirley Franklin, the former Mayor of Atlanta. It was great to have my friends there and to enjoy the award with them. I didn't think there was any way in the world I would win. Andrea will attest that I was actually eating my dessert when my name was called. I think you can detect a smidge of chocolate pudding on my face in the winning picture.



The "I need a nebulizer" video is attracting a lot of interest. We already have 5,000+ views in less than a week. It's pretty cool stuff. I'm more happy with the comments that people really appreciated being represented in the video.

The Braves clinched the division and will likely host a postseason series. I'm looking forward to a deep playoff run and hope it's not a quick one-series and out like it has been the past 10 or so years. Revenge for the Infield Fly Call!

Andrea, Avery, Ethan and I went to Dollywood for the weekend. We had a blast. The kids loved the roller coasters and water slides. I can't say I agree with them as I was scared to death. My daughter loves roller coasters so apparently I better get used to this. I disappointed myself by not winning a single big stuffed animal during the carnival games. I believe that I've lost my touch. By the way, Dollywood is open from 10 to 6. Wouldn't you think with one of Dolly Parton's most successful movies being 9 to 5 that those hours would be different. Oh well.

Andrea and I make our debut on Bravo tonight at 10pm (September 24th). We are on Emily's new show "The New Atlanta." Check it out if you get a chance.

It's a big sports weekend in Atlanta. The Braves, Dawgs and Falcons are all playing locally. All 3 still have something to play for. The Dawgs are in a top 10 Gameday matchup with LSU. The Braves are playing for homefield. The Falcons are looking to get off the snide against the Patriots Sunday night. Even Georgia Tech has a big home game on Thursday night against Virginia Tech. One thing is for sure. Tech will win.

I hope that everyone is well and make sure if you haven't already to check out "I need a nebulizer" and retweet and forward the heck out of it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyrqrjcPDq4

Thanks!

Andy

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My sister Emily Lipman has made it big!

I'm so proud of Emily. Tonight is her show's debut. Check out "The New Atlanta" at 10pm on Bravo. Check out her fundraiser as well. I can't wait to go to her store's opening. Check out Raw Denim! And then seeing the big premiere with family and friends.



I always knew my sister would make it big. I remember the days when she would always have people say "There goes Andy's sister." Not anymore. Now I'm known as Emily's brother and couldn't be prouder.

I still have this sign in my office that she wrote to me when she left for college. I always knew it would mean something to keep it. And Em, I will never forget my sister!!!



Keep it up! I love you!

Andy

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Is it time to stop being Superman?

Have any of you seen Superman II? The movie had me thinking at my therapy session today.



The conflict within me

Since my 25th birthday more than 15 years ago, I have been dead set on finding a cure for cystic fibrosis. It was that day I began writing "Alive at 25" and everything in my life dropped to number two on the priority list. Since then, I've written 3 books, run 13 softball tournaments, made 50 plus speeches and created a music video for cystic fibrosis. Don't get me wrong. I love doing things for the cause but I think somewhere along the way I became defined by CF and I have no idea who I am anymore. In the midst of those 15 years, I managed to find my soulmate, have 2 beautiful children and keep my health in good shape for CF standards. Still I have forgotten who I am. I don't know why people like me. Is it because of who I am? Or is it because of what I do? I have some great friends but I wonder if they really know the true me. I wonder if I know the true me.

For those of you who remember Superman II, there is a scene where Clark Kent (Kal-el) talks to his mother (Lara) and tells her that he doesn't want to be Superman anymore. He just wants to be Clark Kent. He wants things simpler. He doesn't want everyone depending on him to save the world. I think I feel the same way. I don't know that I want to be the Superman of finding a cure for CF right now. Maybe I just want to be me. I think I need a break when Wish for Wendy and the new CF video are over. Maybe I need that Clark Kent time on my hands. I need my friends to hang out with me at a party not just at a charity event. I need to be at a ballgame talking about my family rather than how much money we raised.



This is who I thought I wanted to be all of my life and especially the last 15 years

For 15 years, I have given my heart and soul for the cause. I love doing it, but I think somewhere along the way I lost touch with who I am or what I wanted for me in life. There is no doubt that I am defined by this disease. In many ways, that's great. I've been able to do things that most people have not been able to do...throw out a first pitch at a Braves game, run with the Olympic Torch and speak all over the world to large audiences. Still, I wonder what it's like on an October or November day not to panic about the weather for Wish for Wendy. I wonder what it's like not wearing a shirt and tie and talking to hundreds of people. I wonder what it's like not thinking about a terminal disease every minute of every day.

I find myself finishing Wish for Wendy meetings or closing out speeches to rotary groups and wanting to go home, talk about nothing CF-related and snuggle with my wife and kids. I want normalcy...a normalcy I take full responsibility for ridding myself of 15 years ago.

I am not saying I'm Tom Cruise or Derek Jeter. I'm definitely not saying I'm a celebrity or I'm better than anyone else. I want you to understand that right away. I just mean that in the world of cystic fibrosis I have become somewhat of a role model and I'm not sure I want that anymore. There was a time that nothing meant more to me. Right now, nothing means more to me than my wife and kids. Maybe that's just part of growing old.



Cystic fibrosis can't compete with this

I get e-mails just about every day from people talking to me about cystic fibrosis whether it's the CF Foundation or someone who is affected by the disease. It's great to feel like I'm helping but still it's tough constantly thinking about a terminal disease with a median life expectancy in the late thirties especially when I have it and I'm 40. It really makes me respect Michael J. Fox and the late Christopher Reeve. It makes me wonder if they ever needed a break.

I had a lot of family come into town to celebrate my 40th birthday and while that was great, it made me realize what a big deal it was that I made it to 40. I remember Rusty Sneiderman telling me that I was going to make it to 40 and how excited he was. Rusty died at 36. He was my friend and my cheerleader. My therapist thinks I have survivor's guilt and maybe that's part of it. I don't know. I think a lot about death lately. I think a lot about what would have happened if I hadn't made the fight against CF such a huge part of my life. Would I have found Andrea? Would I have Ethan and Avery? Would I have issues with depression? Would I have succumbed to CF?

I wonder what people would think about the real me. Here are some things you may not know since I speak to large groups and throw 600-person softball tournaments. I am an introvert. I'm terrible in a crowd. I like to be by myself. I want people to like me. I doubt they really do. I'm terrible with conflict. I appreciate when people say that I look so healthy but it embarrasses me at the same time. I try to avoid any discussion regarding health or my charity work when it comes to hanging out with friends. It's not that I'm ashamed of it. It's just that I'm constantly reminded of it. I'm modest to a fault. I hate hearing about the things I've done because even if someone else is saying it, I feel like I'm somehow bragging.

That reminds me of a story I rarely talk about. I don't tell many people. When I was 10 or 11, I was getting really good at tennis and therefore getting a big head. My grandmother Ethel Lipman (who would die the following year) was watching me play at Wild Dunes against this kid named Perry. Here's what I remember about Perry. He was exactly one day younger than me and resided in Detroit. That day, I was crushing Perry. He had no chance. I think it was like 7 games to none. It was then that I grabbed a racquetball glove that was my father's from my tennis bag. I did it at match point to show off. I won the point and was just smiling. "My grandmother was going to be so impressed," I thought. The opposite happened. A woman who some who knew her called her the nicest person on earth scolded me for showing off. She told me that showing off like that did not impress anyone and I should apologize to Perry. I don't even remember if I did but I remember her words. I remember the humiliation I felt. I have diverted cockiness like the plague since then. I still think about Perry every year on my birthday. I have tried to look him up but it's hard to find someone in Detroit, Michigan with the first name Perry when all you have is a birth date and no last name. Maybe it's best I never call him to apologize. I'd say the odds of him remembering this moment in time are astronomical. I only wanted to tell you that story so you know something about me. Modesty is one of my attributes as well as one of my downfalls.

After Wish for Wendy, I'm going to hang up the cape, take a break from CF for a while and see what else there is in this world. I don't know if I'll come back and be "The Superman of CF again." But who knows? Clark Kent decided Superman was who he wanted to be.

Maybe I will too.

Andy

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Turning 40!




Since it's my 40th birthday tomorrow, I thought I would remember the 40 best memories of my life in no particular order. Enjoy!

1. The birth of Avery Lipman - My first born. I was so excited.

2. The birth of Ethan Lipman - I thought I loved football before but this kid has taken it to a new level.

3. Meeting Andrea Herz - Meeting my wife was the best thing to happen to me and changed my life in so many ways. I still remember being at a party that I was not even supposed to be at. You gotta love fate!

4. Marrying Andrea Lipman - 11 years ago this past Sunday Andrea and I were married in Atlanta. I am grateful for each day
with her.

5. Running with the Olympic Torch - That was one of the coolest things I've ever done. Andrea, thanks for nominating me!

6. Seeing my first book in print, "Alive at 25" - My dad didn't even think I could read much less write. Ha Ha!

7. Seeing the Braves finally win the World Series - I was at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium that night. I was kind of hoping it would happen again one day. Still waiting...

8. Graduating from the University of Georgia - Though I took the long route, I was proud to get through all of my troubling times and make it out of school.

9. Each close to Wish for Wendy - The close of each Wish for Wendy is very exciting for me as I know we raised a lot of money for a good cause in memory of my sister.

10. Watching my wife run with the Olympic Torch - Seeing Andrea run with it was incredible. We all had T-shirts with her picture on them.

11. The birth of my sister Emily - I always thought I was happy being an only child but Emily changed that. Who would have thought that I had a reality star as a sister? Remember "The New Atlanta" everyone on Bravo this Fall.

12. Seeing Ethan score his first soccer goal - The kid actually kicked 8 goals in one game. The kid had been through so much after he was born but he survived and now is thriving. I'm so proud of him and grateful to Andrea for getting him in that study at Duke. Thanks honey!

13. Seeing Avery win her first medal as a gymnast - the kid is flexible! She puts in so much time at the gym. I'm really proud of her.

14. The day I won my first tennis trophy - Most people forget when they win trophies during their youth but that trophy could not have come at a more important time in my young life.

15. Running my first Peachtree Road Race - It will always be more than a race to me. Thanks Uncle Bobby for pushing me.

16. Running my first triathlon with Andrea - She demolished me but at least I finished. I always was a terrible swimmer but got through it. I was so proud of her as well.

17. My Bar Mitzvah - I was so nervous up there but I was proud to finally get through it. Now I have a video to prove that puberty took way too long for me.

18. Winning my first USTA championship - I remember that the guy who was supposed to play #1 singles got hurt after he and his mom basically put him at 1 singles, 1 doubles and mixed doubles that day because they thought the rest of us couldn't cut it. I won 8-1 and we won the title!

19. The 2001 UGA-Tennessee game - My wife would probably like to forget it. It was my first trip to Neyland Stadium and we won the game with just a few seconds left. My wife and I were only about 20 rows up from the end zone where the final catch was made. If our relationship could survive that, it could survive anything. Thanks to Manny, my father-in-law for the tickets. Go Dawgs!

20. Seeing the Opening Ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta - Thanks Dad for taking me.

21. The CSA Awards - We got to be on 11 Alive and I was one of 11 people chosen for this honor. Thanks again Aunt Susie for nominating me. I also made a good friend from it...Paul Ossmann, news meteorologist, who comes to every Wish for Wendy.

22. Being the speaker at Chipper Jones' gala dinner - The only issue was it was the day after Wish for Wendy and I didn't have much of a voice but I made it through the speech and even made fun of him for his Gators...as for once, the Dawgs had beaten them that year.

23. Being a batboy for the Braves - I got to meet Dale Murphy. I got to see a brawl that day too. So cool!

24. Being a 40 under 40 UGA honoree - Getting to walk on the field and be included with so many great UGA alumni was really cool. I remember having a table at the luncheon and my Aunt Loretta, who nominated me, cheered like nobody's business when they call my name. Thanks Greatest! I still don't know how I was asked to be part of that group but they can't take it back!

25. Being a speaker at the opening for the Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities for the CDC & Prevention - Thanks Andrea for helping me get this gig. I got to speak at the same event as the late great Dana Reeve (wife of the late Christopher Reeve, one of my heroes in life).

26. The day I lifted 300 pounds - It wasn't just about the number. It was about accomplishing a goal that was seemingly impossible when I was a scrawny kid in college.

27. Being a brother of Tau Epsilon Phi - I have so many friends from my fraternity at the University of Georgia that I can never be more thankful to the brotherhood. I have signed 2 Ketubahs which is the wedding contract for a Jewish marriage and is a great honor, been in 2 other weddings and was best man at my buddy Ross's wedding. All of these people were fraternity brothers of mine. I actually found out that this year a new UGA TEP pledge also has cystic fibrosis. Talk about passing the torch.

28. Being a speaker at a conference for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland in Wexford, Ireland - It was exciting to spend a week with my wife that concluded with me speaking in another country.

29. When Andrea surprised me with a baseball trip to Yankee Stadium and Fenway with my buddy Ross - Thanks Andrea. I had the time of my life watching America's pastime. Thanks Ross for going.

30. Going to Wimbledon with my family - That was a cool trip we took when I was in my teens. Tennis was my sport and seeing some of the greats of the game at these famous hallowed grounds was awesome. Thanks Mom and Dad!

31. Seeing the Dream Team debut in Barcelona - Going to my first Olympic Games was pretty cool but seeing The ORIGINAL Dream Team play in Barcelona was even better. That was the greatest team I've ever seen in person.

32. Being a ballboy for the Atlanta Hawks - The CF Foundation helped me to do this for a night. It was the Celtics and the Hawks. Dominique vs. Bird, McHale and Parish. I got to throw the ball to the Celtics in warm-ups. So cool!

33. Being a ball boy for the Federation Cup which is the Davis Cup for women - You'd think it would be cool because I saw young stars like Jennifer Capriati and Gabriela Sabatini but no, that's not it. I got to be the official ball boy for the Norway team. Enough said.

34. Being asked to be a board member for The Georgia Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation - I became the first patient to be a member which shows how far the median life expectancy of a CF patient has come.

35. Seeing Kalydeco approved by the FDA - This is the first HUGE CF treatment to come along...the first of many!

36. Finishing the advanced weight-lifting class in college - That was the most important class I ever took in college. It literally changed my life.

37. Being told that Andrea and I were pregnant with Avery and then with Ethan - Again, this is in no particular order or this would be very high up on the list. I never thought I'd be able to have kids. I'm blessed to have not one but two awesome little ones. Thank you Andrea for being a great mom...and wife too of course.

38. When my Aunt Anita invited Andrea and I to go to the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Alliance Gala - It was so cool to meet Garth and several professional athletes. Thanks Aunt Anita!

39. Being asked to be a Board Member at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia - It's always an honor to be asked to be on a Board but especially as an alumnus at that college. I'm now in my 2nd year as a Board member.

40. My 30th birthday - When Andrea surprised me with about 75 of my closest friends at the Braves game. Thank you Andrea for making 30 so special.

I'm sure there are so many other memories I'm forgetting but the point is I'm so lucky for the experiences I've had the last four decades. Thank you to my family and friends for always being there. I love you guys very much.

Andy

* Honorable Mention:

My 21st birthday, my 25th birthday and my Bachelor Party - I remember very little about any of these but I heard we had a fun time.

Eventually being at a national championship game featuring the Georgia Bulldogs - I can dream, right?

The day my Aunt Anita brought Howard to me - Thank you Anita, Susie and my parents for bringing me my best friend - a friend I so badly needed when I was young.

The day I got my therapy machine - I didn't list it on the original 40 because at the time I did not realize how important this day would be in my life. It would finally allow me the independence I desired.

The day the Braves clinched the division in 1991 - They went from worst to first. It was an incredible season.

The hate from the trial

So the last few weeks have been very difficult for me. I testified in Andrea Sneiderman's case and though I felt I did well, I immediately became a target for hate mail and tweets. It was really ugly for a while there. I found myself checking my Twitter account to see who had bad-mouthed me and my blog. It was really difficult to swallow all of the hurtful things that people said about me, people who I'd never met or talked to. I know that as my children get older that they will most likely be the subject of bullying whether it be the Internet or in their day-to-day affairs off the computer. I will take this experience as a positive in that I can help them with dealing with their issues. You hear the old song "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me." I could not disagree more after dealing with the horrible treatment the last few weeks.

I'm sad that my friend Andrea is in prison but I have faith that she will get out sooner rather than later. I pray that her children can hang in there without her but I know they are in good care. I've never had a friend in prison before and I doubt many of you have either. It's a difficult position especially with the media outrage over the case. I still fully support Andrea and hope that she will see her children sooner rather than later. I refuse to push my opinions on others. I just hope that people can respect the fact that this is how I feel. I understand that we are all entitled to our own opinions.

I wish everyone the best. For those of you observing Rosh Hashanah, I hope you have a very Happy New Year.

Andy

Friday, August 16, 2013

Innocent until Proven Guilty (The Andrea Sneiderman Case)














Innocent until proven guilty


Those words are the backbone of our judicial system. Over the last 12 plus months, I've learned that those words are just "words." I have learned that there are some people in this world that will do anything to bully others in order to improve their own fates. I have learned that while everyone who breathes has a heart, that some people only use theirs to pump oxygen and nothing else.

I have been very hesitant to write about my true feelings on the Andrea Sneiderman trial. Being a member of both Facebook and Twitter, I have read some very ugly comments about my friend Andrea. All of the animosity towards Andrea stems from her testifying a year ago in the Hemy Neuman trial. Andrea didn't have to testify that day but she did so in order to put away the man who killed her husband and left her children father-less. She did so to put away the man who harrassed her at work and even away from the office. She did so to make things right.

Andrea was upset when she was on the stand because the prosecution turned on her and instead of making this case about the man who killed her husband, they made it about her. Imagine going into your boss's office thinking you're getting a raise and preparing to come home and tell your significant other that things are going to be awesome. We're going to have more money, more security, etc. Then imagine walking into the boss's office and having him say "You're fired! Pack up your things." That is the same kind of 180 degree turn that took place for Andrea. I can totally understand why she was angry. BUT that is not the temperment that our friend Andrea normally displays. She was caught by surprise and I can't blame her for her anger. I can't blame her one bit. You saw 30 minutes of Andrea. I have seen 5 years worth of her. Actually 4 years since she has been under house arrest for 1 year for charges that were later dropped.

I have been a witness in the Sneiderman trial this time around and now that I'm not subpoenaed anymore after taking the stand, I've been able to catch up on this trial. Let me tell you what I know and how I feel. I know there will be a lot of "haters" who will want to bash me. I am supporting a friend and therefore I know that what I'm doing, while not popular, is right especially because I know that she is innocent.

1. Shayna Citron lied on the stand. She told 2 different stories. Read the transcripts and watch the videos.

2. There are people who are trying to take advantage of the spotlight in this case by trying to write a book and take advantage of every opportunity to be in front of the press. Shame on you. You know who you are.

3. My friend lost her husband and the father of her children. I can't believe some of the awful things people are writing. You didn't see Andrea after the loss of her husband. I witnessed her breakdown at the hospital, at the funeral and in several other places. He was the love of her life. I saw them together often and I have no doubt of that. What you didn't see were her behind-the-scene efforts to do charity work in Rusty's memory...for example the Russell J. Sneiderman sponsorship at my event, Wish for Wendy.

4. Just about every one of you who hates my friend has never met her. She's amazing. I wish you could meet Andrea and get to know the wonderful person that me and my Andrea know. Some of you who did not know her have compared her to Jodi Arias or Casey Anthony. How many people spoke on their behalf? How many people spoke on Andrea's? Exactly.

5. Andrea did not perjure herself. Shayna Citron did as did a few other players in this case. I hope that information eventually comes out.

6. This is not a movie. It shocks and pains me that people are cheering a wonderful mom and wife (now widow) to be put in prison.

7. Andrea Sneiderman's biggest crime was not going to HR. She wasn't just dealing with an awful man. She was dealing with a BOSS who was not only a stalker but also a murderer. Read the e-mails again but this time pretend to be someone who is scared to lose your job in a male-dominated employment world. Pretend that you wanted to let your husband live his dream. Pretend that you thought you could deal with the harrassment. I know one person who did not pretend and that was Andrea. Some of you will say you would have done things differently. Until you put on my friend's shoes, you don't know that. Please remember that she considered other options. See the testimony of her friends specifically my wife's.

8. Read the e-mails in this case again. Andrea felt guilty for holding this man's hand. Some of you have said she must be lying if that's what is making her repent. Then ask yourself, "What if she's telling the truth?" That would mean that she loves her husband so much and she is that honorable that this one small act (to some of us) was torturing this woman's heart and soul.

9. This trial has sadly changed my view of people. They have let the media, undermining attorneys and public opinion sway their own thoughts. If I could introduce each of you to Andrea Sneiderman and her children, you would stop thinking the way you do.

10. I want to conclude this by saying I'm sorry for the loss that the Sneiderman family in Ohio suffered. I can't even imagine. This is not Andrea's fault though. This was Hemy Neuman's fault. He deserves 100% of the blame. He was a stalker and a murderer and is spending every day of the rest of his life in prison and I still don't think that's enough. He took away Rusty Sneiderman, an amazing man, a passionate humanitarian and a loving father, son, brother and husband. I don't think there's anything Andrea could have done to prevent this man from taking Rusty's life.

Instead of saying "The Hell with Andrea and revenge for Rusty", maybe you should realize that freeing Andrea is what Rusty would have wanted. His children are already father-less. Are there really some of you who want them mother-less too? Can people be that cold?

Andrea Sneiderman is my friend and I stand by her and I pray that she is vindicated. Watch the trial again but this time ignore the media. Read the e-mails again and see if this woman was really the love-struck vixen the media portrayed or just a woman who was trying to handle a crazy stalker. There is absolutely no hard evidence in this case. Out of all the e-mails, did she ever respond, "I love you."? No! Did she ever tell this man that she was leaving her husband? No! Was there ever any sexual content in her e-mails? No! The prosecution used a perjurer as a witness. The prosecution used a real estate agent who had talked to a man who was in prison for being "Guilty BUT mentally ill." They had talked to a bartender who claimed they kissed but could not get other facts correct. There are also cases where hearsay occurred between Andrea and Rusty's father. The first day they asked, Andrea Sneiderman gave the Dunwoody Police Hemy Neuman's name. She did everything she was ASKED to do.

Whatever happened to "Innocent until proven guilty." Andrea Sneiderman should be found innocent of all charges.

On another note, I'm proud of my Andrea for testifying on Thursday. She was amazing. I'm proud of everyone who has done the "less popular" thing and openly supported our friend throughout this trial.

For those of you who have hated on Andrea Sneiderman, I was once you. NO, not in this case but 17 years ago. That year a security guard was blamed for the Olympic bombing in Atlanta. I, like you, hated on him only to find out later on that Richard Jewel had absolutely nothing to do with the Olympic bombing. It was instead Eric Robert Rudolph. Jewel later died at the young age of 44 and though he was cleared of all charges I doubt he ever healed from the way he was treated...and this was long before the social media revolution. To the family of the late Mr. Jewel, I say that I'm sorry.













Richard Jewel

For those of you who hate Andrea Sneiderman, I feel bad for you. You'll never have a chance to meet a wonderful person. You'll never have a chance to meet her or her children. I know they will grow up to be amazing people like their father AND THEIR MOTHER.

Today Andrea will meet her fate and I pray that she is found not guilty and that she has an opportunity to speak about the travesty of house-arrest for murder charges that were dropped just days before her actual trial. I hope she can tell people about a friend who betrayed her on the stand and was later caught in a lie. I hope she can tell people about how she was mistreated by those who should in actuality be looking out for her.

I hope she one day publishes this story and uses the money to send her children to school and pay off the debt that has been forced upon her.

If you know me, you know I have a good heart and I look out for every one of my friends. Andrea is very much included. I love her. I loved Rusty. I love her parents and her children. I won't stand by and see them raked by everyone on social networks and the media.

Andrea, I am here for you. Regardless of Friday's decision, you have a friend in me and my Andrea and so many others who will never, ever betray you or your trust.

Let's win this one for Rusty. I know that he is in your corner as well.

Innocent until proven guilty.

Andy

Monday, July 29, 2013

Life back on Lexipro and The Sneiderman trial

I've been on Lexapro for more than a week now and I'm feeling a bit better. I wanted to thank everyone for their feedback and for even pulling me aside in person to tell me that I was not alone. I will continue to update you on my progress.

The Sneiderman pretrial was Friday (jury selection is this week) and there was some good news at least for those of us supporting Andrea. As I expected all along, the murder charges were dropped. I'm just hoping now that she can be vindicated after the perjury charges are challenged. I've been getting calls from Dr. Drew and Nancy Grace and it was not about being at my 40th birthday although that would be entertaining to say the least. The calls are getting a bit overwhelming still I refuse to talk until this trial is over. I know that though Rusty always wanted me to get media exposure, he would not have wanted me to get it this way.



Rusty & Andrea

There is a part of me that is very angry when I read the hateful tweets about my friend Andrea. I hate seeing some of the "stars" of this case that are taking advantage of the spotlight while others suffer unfathomable losses.

This trial has put my Andrea and I through the ringer. Our reputations have been compromised but as I've told my daughter, sometimes doing the right thing is not necessarily the popular thing. The hateful e-mails, the endless media calls and the constant badgering of a close friend have been tough to deal with. Getting calls from people I know and respect who question my reasons for supporting Andrea has also been difficult. Still, I know that I'm doing the right thing by standing up for someone who I know is innocent.

Over the next few weeks, this case will be decided and hopefully that will be the last of it. I hope that not only Andrea is vindicated but that her friends and family can experience some type of vindication as well. Of course, nothing compares to what Andrea has been through.

I wanted to take this moment to thank those in the media that have been very fair and that has nothing to do with siding with Andrea. I just meant that they did not slant this case as a Lifetime movie.

In other news, Ethan is not sleeping very well as he recovers from tonsil surgery. We've been up every night for the last week dealing with his throat pain. I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I continue to lose weight and am trying to now build some of it back through working out and gaining muscle. I've increased my weight-lifting gradually but I hope to see a big difference in the coming weeks.

Andrea's 40th birthday was Thursday. She is now an official cougar at least for another 5 weeks when I turn the big 4-0. We made the entire week a celebration for her though I think she doesn't exactly love being the center of attention. Celebrations like this call for it though in my opinion.



Happy Birthday to a fine looking lady!

The kids start school in a few weeks. It's hard to believe that my daughter will be a 2nd grader soon (though she acts like she's 30) and my son will be going to the same school. We move into our new house in the next few weeks. It's exciting but nerve-wracking.

This July has been one of the craziest months ever between the trial, my wife turning 40, taking our vacation, Ethan's tonsil surgery, closing on our house, running the Peachtree, dealing with clinical depression, working on Wish for Wendy and speaking at a few events.

I am ready for August though it won't be boring. We are moving, dealing with the trial and school starting. I'm also doing the final film shoot for our music video "I Need a Nebulizer."

I spoke of media exposure earlier. I guess my sister is going to be getting some herself. She is one of the new stars on Bravo's "The New Atlanta." Check Emily Lipman out this fall. Good luck Em! We love you! My Andrea and I do have a guest starring role at some point but that's all I can really tell you. Here's her link http://www.bravotv.com/people/emily-lipman/bio.



Em and me a few years back

I hope that everyone is well.

Take care,

Andy

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Andy Lipman - raw and honest

July 15, 2013
1:03 AM

Good morning...I mean good EARLY morning. It used to be that you'd never find me up after 10:00PM though I'd like it known I was born at 10:58 PM so I have a history of doing my best work at night. The last few nights I've had difficulty going to sleep before 1:00 AM thanks to the fact that I stopped my antidepressants. The long and short of it was my insurance company said I should have another 90 day supply but I told them I didn't receive it. They would not send me one as I suppose they think I'm a junkie. Yeah, I get off on taking Lexapro 20mg. Look, if it was gummy bears, I could understand why you think I might overdose. By the way, I haven't had a gummy bear in over a month. I have gone from 187 pounds 6 weeks ago to 173. But this entry is not about my new nutritional routine. It's far more important than that.

Most of my blogs detail how strong I have been as far as dealing with cystic fibrosis, depression and anxiety. This blog will do no such thing. This isn't about comeback stories. It's about life and the issues we sometimes have to face. Not every moment is a Roy Hobbs HR or a Clubber Lang knockdown. There are some moments that cause us to suffer but over time make us stronger people. I hope the story I'm about to tell you will some day do the same for me...and maybe even the same for you.

I wanted to talk about my issues with stopping Lexapro. I talked to my psychiatrist after the insurance company turned down my prescription request. We agreed that I could cut my last few pills in half so I could slowly taper off to 10MG for a week and finally stop taking antidepressants prior to July 4th. I knew that this was risky as most patients take 3 or 4 months to taper off and it's still difficult. I was trying to do it in a week.

That morning, I ran my 6.2 miles for the 17th consecutive year at the Peachtree Road Race. This was the first time I ran without my uncle who injured himself. I thought it was kind of cool that there was a 100% chance of rain in the morning yet in the hour plus that I competed, not a single raindrop touched me. I smiled when I thought maybe Wendy was behind it. That was where the good feelings ended.

After the race, I felt out of it but I blamed the exhaustion on running a hilly 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) in the Atlanta humidity. We left for vacation a few days later and the "out of sorts" feelings had not gone away. I felt off balance like I had vertigo...and that feeling has not subsided. If I look backwards really quickly, I feel like I'm going to fall. The culprit became obvious to me.

While on vacation, I read that stopping Lexapro so quickly could do this to me. Sadly, I was out of options unless I wanted a 2-month supply of pills that would cost about $180 since my insurance company would not pay for it (and that still angers me). Honestly, I thought I'd beaten both depression and anxiety and I was overly confident that I could stop these drugs anytime and be fine. Heck, I'd gone more than 37 years without them already. Still, I'd forgotten that many of those years I'd dealt with both anxiety and depression unbeknownst to me at the time. The vertigo persists and now I'm dealing with extreme anxiety. As an example, the other night I woke up in a cold sweat after about a 30 minute sleep. I began hearing negative voices in my head and felt like I was suffocating. It felt as if I was stuffed in a small fish bowl and having someone press against the top so I could not escape. It was hard to breathe...and that's coming from someone with CF who is quite used to having trouble breathing. I was pacing back and forth in my hallway trying not to wake my wife or kids while at the same time trying to shield myself from the angry voices. I felt like I was the little boy in "The Shining" who is riding his tricycle down the hall when he runs into the scary kids. It was frightening.

Finally, tonight or should I say last night since it's officially morning, I called my psychiatrist and left a message. I did get a hold of my psychologist who believes I'll probably need to go back on Lexapro. In some ways, I'm happy. In other ways, I'm not. I feel like I lost by giving in. Even the gummy bears could not beat me. But George, my psychologist, said it best, "It's not your fault. You have a chemical imbalance and a drug like Lexapro helps you." I guess what he's saying is that I'm not giving in. I'm just realizing that I'm not 100% without a little help from some drugs. I have CF. You would have thought I'd known that drugs help by now.

Let me say that I have not been this honest in a long time on this blog. I've never been dishonest but I haven't opened up in a long time like this. Part of me feels like I'm going crazy. Another part of me knows that I have to take care of myself and there are no limits.

It's now 1:23 AM and I'm wondering if I should delete this blog and write something stupid like the Top 10 reasons I know I'm not a fashion mogel. My number 1 was going to be I still have shirts from Structure which closed down more than a decade ago. They might try to sue me for putting on another piece of their merchandise.

Still I think this blog is a lot more important than an occasional Top 10 list or a discussion on my fashion issues. This blog is to tell people it's okay to be honest. It's okay to admit weakness. It's okay to be yourself even if that is considered "strange" to the majority of the world. There are a lot of things that set me apart from others. I don't drink anymore and that can be strange to those around me who are not aware. I take more drugs than someone implicated in the BALCO case. Of course, mine won't get me in trouble. Sometimes I feel like CVS or Walgreens will call me one day to endorse me. Heck, when they have an outage, they may call me to see if I can help out a customer.

I'm an addict. It's something I joke about when it comes to gummy bears and M&M's but it's not always a laughing matter. Over the last few days, I can tell I have problems. Andrea can tell too. I'm a lot shorter with the kids. I can't focus on anything. I'm very condescending with my wife. This isn't me. This is the chemical imbalance which sadly is a part of me.

I have a lot going on so going off Lexapro could not have come at a worse time. There's still the Sneiderman trial which I'm a potential witness towards the end of this month. My son is having his tonsils out. We are closing on a new house. My best friend is coming to town for his daughter's baby naming...and all of this is just in the next week and half. All of this and my glucose results were not great and my anxiety is at an all-time high. I'm not eating. I'm not sleeping. The other problem is that talking is not helping either. Talking about my anxiety makes me...well, anxious!

In certain ways, I'm like many of you. I want to be liked. I don't want to feel different. I try to treat people the right way. In other ways, I can't conform to normalcy. I do hours of treatments per day. I take 30 to 40 pills from morning to night. I go to a doctor once every 6 to 12 weeks to see if I need to stay in a hospital and concern myself with my life expectancy. I wasn't supposed to reach my teens and here I am just 51 days till I hit the big 4-0! In the real world, 40 is considered a mid-life crisis. In the CF world, our midlife crisis was supposed to occur in high school (at least for a guy like me who was born in the seventies).

I've been writing for 30 minutes now...trying not to concern myself with anxiety and depression. The problem is that I get depressed when the topic of depression arises and I get anxious thinking about how messed up my anxiety is. This blog couldn't be more raw nor could it be more honest than it is at this moment. Still I think I should have done that top 10 list. I have some real fashion issues. I had my 7 and 4 year old children walk me around Banana Republic the other day giving me fashion tips...and I listened and made some decent purchases at the outlets.

The last few weeks I've been following TWITTER mainly to read about my Braves but also requesting nebulizer pictures for my upcoming video "I Need A Nebulizer." While the response to the video has been awesome, it has also reminded me why I can never get close to CFers (the clever name we give to CF patients). In the last week, 5 people (a few who asked to take part in my video) died from CF. The average age of those who passed was around 22. Now, I find myself devastated over the loss of people I'd never met, who were killed by the very disease I battle every day...a disease that also killed my sister decades ago.

People tell me I'm so tough and brave. Sure, there are times when I am but there are other times that you don't see how frightened I am. There are times when I cry at the thought of dying before my daughter gets married, being in a hospital room during my son's graduation and being unable to take my wife to dinner because I'm hooked to an IV pole. This is the other side of me. While these thoughts are "normal" for someone with CF or any sort of terminal illness, dealing with anxiety and depression right now makes me think of these awful possibilities far too often.



This picture from more than 5 years ago reminds me of how depressed I could get.

Andrea and I spoke about all the good things coming up. We have a new house on the horizion. We are both turning 40. The Braves are in first place at the All-Star break. Ok, I added that one. The thing is that anxiety and depession have very little to do with what is currently going on. They are these dark feelings that come on like a school of jellyfish invading the perfectly blue ocean. They are unforseen and they are tough to fight off. I could be winning the Nobel Peace Prize and anxiey and depression could make me feel like I was sealed in a square box without a hole to breathe through and without any hope of getting out.

I'm going to tell you that I've been writing for nearly an hour now and refuse to double-check my spelling or grammar (Okay, this is supposed to honest. I went back and edited this. Who am I? Jerry MaGuire?). I am Andy Lipman and this is my purest form. I'll probably read this in the morning and think "What did I do? People are going to think I'm crazy. They are going to make fun of me." In some cases, that will be true. But I'm not writing this for those people. I'm writing this for the people who need to hear about someone real. I'm writing this for those of you who have your own demons and are afraid to talk about them because you're embarrassed and you think you're alone. You're not. I'm not.

Be proud of who you are. Be strong enough to admit your weaknesses. Seek help when staying quiet may be the more popular option.

In summary, let me tell you about myself. My name is Andy Lipman. I'm 39 years and 10 months old. I love my wife to death. My children are the best gift anyone could have ever given me. My parents have been great examples of how to be a good person. My sister Emily, my aunts, uncles and cousins are all very important people in my life and honor me each day with their pursuit of finding a cure for this devastating disease we call cystic fibrosis. I'm an addict. I suffer from anxiety and depression issues just to name a few. My friends and family may want to add the fact that my sense of humor could be another issue. I'm a terrible communicator who will probably ask you what's going on in your life so I don't have to talk about my own. I'm an introvert who is also a motivational speaker. I'm a workout fiend who has trouble saying no to gummy bears. I'm a purchasing director who still pays full price in most retail stores. Finally, I have a terminal lung disease which is probably the 2nd toughest disease I face every day behind the combination of anxiety and depression.

Tomorrow (or should I say today) I will speak to my psychiatrist and see what the next step needs to be. Thank you for allowing me the last two hours to avoid thinking about my anxiety and depression and helping me to feel like things will get better. I will probably continue to hear voices and persevere by ignoring them over the next few hours and probably the next few days. I will still feel as if I'm stuck in a small fish bowl but I'll continue to peek my head out to breathe. And finally I'll continue to keep this blog raw and honest which was my initial intent.

After all, I'm Andy Lipman and I still have a Structure shirt hanging in my closet. You can't get more honest than that.

Good night and good morning,

Andy

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was put on a lower dose of Lexapro Tuesday morning (half the strength of my old drug) and am already seeing a major difference. Hopefully my family will too.









Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Peachtree and a crazy July!

It's been an interesting month to say the least and it should get more interesting.

First off, I have been sticking to the diet and have lost about 10 pounds and weigh around 177 pounds since giving up gummies and M&M's. I have also been eating Healthy Choice meals for lunch. I knew that I needed to be less weight to improve my nutrition but I also knew I needed to lose weight by July 4th for...



Last year's race

That's right. Tomorrow is the Peachtree. This will be my 17th which means I will go over 100 miles in overall mileage (6.2 x 17). I'm at 99.2 right now. This is a sad year for me. My Uncle Bobby got hurt and will not be running for the first time in 35 years. He has passed the ceremonial flag to me per his text. Also, the forecast calls for a miserable downpour so a lot of people aren't running tomorrow and I doubt there will be many fans on the route. I understand their decision. I'm going to try though. Obviously if there's thunder and lightning, I will re-think my decision. The Peachtree is more than running 6.2 miles to me though. I understand the rain is a major obstacle...but so is cystic fibrosis and it has been an obstacle for 4 decades now. I don't like obstacles. I like overcoming them. I'll let you know what happens. Maybe I'll catch a break and every meteorologist locally and nationally will be wrong. I'll pray tonight. I also have in the back of mind everything that happened at the Boston Marathon. I know security will be tight this year. It's going to be a crazy day.

Today also officially begins the first day of NO MORE antidepressants. After 3+ years, I am done. I don't know how it will affect my mood over the next few days but if the gummies and M&M's can't deter me, I don't think these stopping these meds will either. Personally I think I'll miss the gummies and M&M's more.

We finished filming the video this past weekend. The kids got a kick out of watching their dad do about 100 takes including several bloopers. I'm hoping the video will be available on YouTube at the end of the month and I also hope it goes viral and explains to people what cystic fibrosis is and why it's so important to raise money for the cause.

In more important news, Andrea has a big birthday coming up this month. I'm looking forward to celebrating in style.

Ethan is having his tonsils out so I'm a little worried but this kid is amazingly brave. I know he'll do fine.

We also look forward to some beach time soon and we're closing on our new house.

In addition, the Andrea Sneiderman trial is later this month. As of today, I'm still on the witness list as is my Andrea. I know that will be a stressful time.

I also found out my 40th birthday will be the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Maybe in the middle of services I'll scream out, who is going out after this? Rabbi?

Everyone, have a wonderful and safe 4th! If you're running the Peachtree, you won't need to grab water...just keep an empty cup with you.

Andy