The End of an Era & a New Beginning

On June 25th, 2002 I officially became “unemployed.”  Rather than being fired, I left a 10+ year IT career and became “disabled.” I had lost my mind… literally.

Oh, don’t think for a MINUTE that I was AT ALL happy about it.

In fact I was mad… actually “mad” doesn’t even come close to how I felt… angry, resentment, grief, despair, hopelessness…

… it has taken me NINE YEARS to come to terms with it…

WHY was my ability to “work”, the very way that I “defined myself,” ripped away from me at the young age of 35?

What was I going to do with my life, how could I redefine myself?

How was I going to replace a six figure income when I was denied Long Term Disability due to a “pre-existing condition”?

The FIRST thing I realized is that my biological clock was ticking LOUDLY and that I could NOT hit the snooze button any longer.

I have Lupus (SLE) and I was told that my “window” for becoming a Mommy would close at the age of 35.  On Christmas Night (exactly 6 months after becoming jobless) I decided I lost my ability to work because it was time to have a baby… our daughter was conceived on February 26th, 2003 – ONE DAY before my 36th birthday.

I spent the next 8 months being a full time “baby factory” and even though it was a tough 8 months, we were blessed with a PERFECT, beautiful healthy daughter on October 24th (induced 4 weeks early)… which also happened to be my mother’s birthday… to this day they have been and continue to be soul mates.

So now what?  I’d been dabbling in eBay over the prior 6 months (September 2002), and I was now addicted to “yard saling”…

It was of course a natural progression to start outfitting our nursery and baby accessories from yard sales, thrift stores and the like.

I started learning about stuff that sold well on eBay and the stuff that didn’t.

I also learned what I had to “fight for” and what got ignored.

And then a flash of inspiration hit me, then and there….

Was there an overlap between the stuff
that got IGNORED at yard sales and what sold WELL on eBay?

You bet there was!!!!

What a revelation…. and a new career began to take shape….

Now, all this time I STILL had the primary reason why I was now an “unemployed, disabled, stay-at-home mom.”

And it WASN’T because I liked to watch the soaps and eat bon-bons….

I have two brain tumors.

The first was initially found in 1999 when I was suffering from chronic vertigo.

After a bunch of “dizzy tests” — think big chair, lots of wires hooked up to me and either pitch black or strobe lights… then picture being strapped into a chair – arms, chest, legs and head and spun, tilted, whirled… luckily I LOVE carnival rides just like that (except maybe I would have liked to lose the wires and straps).

It was AT LEAST an hour of “fun” – and in the end it was determined that I have balance issues BOTH from early ear infections causing scarring AND brain involvement.

So I had an MRI to check for obvious problems… and they found nothing, EXCEPT for what has now been identified as a cavernoma; evidence of a past brain injury/bleed.

My doctor at the time, Doc Scott, told me not to panic… it was probably very old and I could have been born with it.  So we decided to wait and watch…. and we looked at it again in 2000… no change… and again in 2001 (early in the year).

THAT is when my “problem” was discovered.  I had “sprouted” a meningioma.  It was very, very small… and again “nothing to worry about.”

In hindsight, as The Little Prince wisely pointed out; Baobab trees START very small before they take over and do damage to a tiny little planet.  Such is the story of my tumor.

Life passed, I quit my job at GE (General Electric Global eXchange Services), took a Military Contractor position for a couple months and then joined a start up web collaboration tool software development company  – my final IT career destination.

I started in late August of 2001… and then my world, most Americans worlds actually, fell apart when the twin towers fell, part of the pentagon went up in flames and the brave passengers on the third plane went down in the PA field….

I lost my doctor… and NO she didn’t die… I was followed at NIH (the National Institutes of Health) and Doc Scott had only 5 patients that she had kept on when she left her position in the Rheumatology Clinic at NIH to work with the FDA.

She had been my Lupus doctor since July 1988.

BUT, once 9/11 hit, she was forced to work even more hours on researching smallpox and vaccination protocols, etc.  She could no longer keep up with her small case load, and to say I was devastated, is a gross understatement.

By early 2002, I was doing really strange stuff.  I had unexplained fleeting pain, I developed ADD, I lost ALL short term memory capabilities….

I was getting lost while driving to work… where I would go into a panic / anxiety attack to the point where I had NO CLUE where I was at all (other than driving my car)….

I started running my car into other things as I never saw them or imagined red lights when they were green or vise-versa.

I threw away my palm pilot…  and I lost my entire “life.” I never was able to reconstruct what was on it!

Things went from bad to worse… and I finally left my IT career before I was fired…..

Any NORMAL person would have immediately realized that since the 2002 follow up MRI showed the little tiny meningioma had grown, maybe, just maybe the INTELLIGENT thing to do would have been to have it removed… did I mention normal?

I’m anything but that… so no surgery!

I had a litmus test at this point.

I was already out of work, and I saw no way to be able to return anytime soon.

My criteria was strange, my criteria was LOW, my criteria was incredibly short sighted!

“As long as I can dress myself, and I don’t drool – it stays put!”

I actually DID have to revise it at one point — when I was pregnant, I started drooling at night, and I once left the house with my shirt on backwards AND inside-out….
but that was only for a few months of “Pregnancy Induced Stupidity (Seriously).”

So the years passed… I got follow up MRIs, and the first tumor never changed… but that damn Baobab kept on growing… that weed in my head, that I was unwilling to pull.

As time marched on, I developed MORE cognitive symptoms.  I could tell I was losing a little bit more function each and every day… 2004 after I had my daughter, it doubled in size.

Still… NO surgery… I even went to a neurosurgeon who suggested I consider it.  NOPE! No drooling here!

I had another MRI in 2007… still more growth…

still no change in attitude…

Then LAST JUNE I started up this blog.

I hadn’t been able to write for ALL that time prior to starting this blog.

It is one of my strengths… but still I struggled to get stuff up here.

I STILL have my good days and bad days (hence my erratic publishing schedule LOL)  – but I have been pushing through….

Last November, I felt that I was again declining somewhat…. and, of course, my weed had grown again!  NOW, not only was my Internist and Neurologist in COMPLETE agreement that it was time to remove it… I reluctantly agreed as well.

I then dragged my feet and put up as MANY barriers as I could to avoid going to the neurosurgeon… I wasn’t THAT ready….

In April… after the riot act was read to me with a lot of stern tones and threats of imminent death, I finally (begrudgingly) agreed with Dr. Brinkley and went and had yet ANOTHER MRI.  Still bigger, this time producing a noticeable mass effect… and my vision had become blurry with headaches…. she was right … time to get it taken care of!

The big gray blob is my “weed”… it’s in the left frontal lobe.  Positioned near my left ear.

I’m happy and proud to announce that I actually KEPT my appointment on June 2nd.

Almost 9 years to the day (on June 21st) I am finally going to let the landscaper go in and clean up my garden.

I am scared, to be sure… but I am OKAY with it too.

Chances are VERY high that I will emerge at least the same (if not better) cognitively and the blurry vision and headache should be a distant memory.

I am also okay with leaving my business for the time it’ll take to have the surgery done and to recover… because I have something that EVERY entrepreneur needs…
a business support system.

One of my latest Joint Ventures with me, Debra Conrad & Stuart Turnbull (What To Sell For Money) will be re-vamped, officially launched and stocked with new guides…

Look for NOaH (Niche On a Hook), PROOF (Prints Return Outstanding Online Fortunes), uPDate (unique PUBLIC DOMAIN advice, thoughts & e-commerce) ….

and a BRAND NEW eBay Guide that I’ll let you in on later this week …

As of June 1st, I have officially partnered with Stuart Turnbull on EVERY aspect of our businesses and we are working very hard producing stuff that teaches his antique & vintage print business model.

So between Debra & Stuart I know that everything is in extremely CAPABLE hands and will continue to function as well if not BETTER than when I was the only one in charge!

It’s GREAT to have friends to help you get your house AND garden in order!

Debbie, Debbie…. quite contrary,

How does your garden grow?

The countdown begins….

and in just over two weeks I will once again function as if a professional landscaper and housing contractor was FINALLY hired (“Holmes on Homes” to the rescue)….

Thanks for all YOUR support as well…

it’s WONDERFUL knowing I have you to talk to!

All My Best ~


28 comments to The End of an Era & a New Beginning – What’s Up With Deb, Anyway?

  • Susan

    Dear Deb – I lost my only sister in June – and was so devistated I just kept deleting most of my incoming emails, but for some reason, not even reading them I kept yours. To be reading this months later, and knowing I have not received an email from you in awhile – I understand it all now. All the strengh and courage you show is helping me move on from my loss. I pray that this note finds you doing well – and getting stronger and healthier each day. May God Bless You and Your Family

  • elmo


    Thoughts and prayers continue your way.

    Debra and I have been in contact some. Maybe three of us can do
    some steampunk biz when you are back in action.



  • Lisa Uhrich

    Hi Deb:

    I am a new subscriber and I just want to Thank you for all your help. I have been going through some personal problems myself but you have inspired me to push forward. Also thank you for sharing your story with all of us. Your are the Best!!! You will be in my prayers daily for a speedy recovery. Take care and rest yourself and may God Bless you and keep you in his care.

    Take Care
    Lisa Uhrich

  • Elizabeth Mansell

    All the very best. I have two friends who have had tumours removed and they ahve made full recoveries. Sheer bloody mindedness will get you through. I can’t wait for your future bulletins, always full of good ideas that I am trying to implement … meanwhile have taken up cat sitting! You are in my thoughts.

  • Jim

    Deb, you are one of the most creative people I have come across. I enjoyed the Fishing for Niches and it is a great read. You give a lot of people inspiration. I speak for a lot of people wishing you the speediest recovery. Yo will be in my prayers as well.


  • Ric Uhrich

    Hi Deb,
    Thank You so much for all that you do. I wrote you some months ago about building a website and you mentioned that you couldn’t at this time because of family issues. I was disappointed, but you were so gracious in getting back to me. With this story that you just related to us, I am so enriched by the way you have opened your heart to us. You are an inspiration, and I pray that God’s Divine Will is for a total success in the operation and recovery. I will be praying for you up to and through June 21st and for your recovery.
    May God Bless and Keep you Safe!

  • Lisa


    Thanks so much for sharing your inspirational story! I pray for your speedy recovery and that you’re back to doing what you love quickly!

    Your story has helped lift me up from my depression a bit. My husband of 17 years told me 5 weeks ago that he doesn’t want to be married anymore. That’s so small in comparison to what you have been through, but it’s been tough for me. I can totally relate to your motivation issues and it’s been hard to pick myself back up. But your story was what I needed!

    Thank you so very much! You also happen to be a close neighbor of mine. I live in Mt. Airy, MD. Wishing you all the best!


  • Deb,

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I just can’t imagine having to take a break from my business right now. So I’m glad for you to have Debra and Stuart as your support system. (One less thing to worry about.)

    I’ve been reading and learning from you since I found you through Debra Conrad. I’ve learned so much from both of you. Because you give away so much information for free, I just knew that your NOaH would be great. I’m about half way through your Fishing for Niches and it’s helped a lot with my getting back into selling on eBay. Thank you for that.

    You and your family will be in my prayers on June 21st. It’s my in-laws anniversary so it will be easy to remember.

    Take care! Rest up! And know we’ll all be waiting here for you when you are ready to get back to work. 😉

    May God keep you and your family in His care.

  • Thanks for putting pen to paper and sharing your personal journey. You are truly inspirational. Best wishes for a speedy recovery, looking forward to more great posts and products on you return. God bless

  • Lois

    Wow! This is an amazing story. Thank you for sharing. I am praying for your surgery, and a speedy recovery. Your story gives me much needed perspective. What perseverance. God Bless you.

  • elmo

    Best thoughts for you.

    Checking with my Docs in June to see if one more op is due for me.

    Your story has encouraged me.

    I may have something to share with you that we can work on together when you are back at full steam.

  • Connie Luciano

    Hi Deb,
    I came upon your website recently and ended up purchasing Fishing for Niches! I love your website and writings; you are so creative with colors, different fonts, etc. etc. You make it fun!! When I saw you were doing more with
    Stuart and Debbie, I was motivated to get moving again. So today I noticed your new email and excitedly click on…to find you are confronting major health issues… My husband’s co-worker went through brain surgery recently to remove a tumor. Incredible…He was up and about in no time!! (As you will be!) Life will get easier and work will be easy (fun) again!! Until then, you are in my prayers,

  • Greg

    Deb – What courage! Cling to God – He’ll be with all the way!

  • Beth Cajka

    Hi Debbie!
    I will be praying for you !!.I know your surgery will be a TOTAL success and you will be back stronger then ever!
    Many blessings to you and family.
    I am with you.

  • Hosea Willis

    Hi Deb,

    Wow,what a story.I will pray for you this evening,for a quick recovery!


  • Stephanie

    You are just amazing and a blessing to everyone you come in contact with.
    You will be held in prayer and I know that you will have a quick and peaceful recovery.
    We can’t wait to hear how well you are doing.
    Lot’s of love to you and your family.


  • Theresa Dansin

    Wow, to share this with the world is amazing. God Bless you through this. You really have inspired me by putting my own struggle’s into perspective. I will be praying for you.

  • Wow! – what a story or should I say testimony!
    Debbie, I thank God for your life, as you are truly an inspiration.
    We are all holding you up in prayer. May the Lord restore you to health speedily after the surgery.

    God Bless

  • Rev Peter Heywood

    Hi Deb,
    Thanks for sharing your story. Will be thinking and praying for you as you have your surgery.
    Thanks for all your online encouragement.
    Reading through the other comments about your surgery, you will be surrounded by the love and prayers of lots of people.
    I read your Blog and have purchased some of your materials and those of Stuart and Debra. I know that you are a person of integrity.
    I too had to retire early in 2001 for health reasons. I have had much surgery, some on my heart. I can empathise with your feelings at present and can say from my own experience, ‘go for it gal!’ If you need the surgery, then you have to go for it. Take it one step at a time if you can.
    Look forward to hearing further from you when you have recovered and are up and running even better than before!!
    Best Regards
    Rev Peter Heywood UK

  • Hi Deb,

    Thanks for sharing your incredible story of hope and perseverance in your many health trials. Your saga is inspiring and I am happy for you that you have wonderful family, friends, business associates and medical experts to walk this journey with you. May God guide your surgeons and heal you quickly.

    In my prayers,

  • Darlene

    God bless ya, Deb. I’ll be praying for you. My mom had a polyp on her intestine that kept breaking off and bleeding enough to make her dizzy from blood loss. She had surgery to get it removed. That was 34 years ago, and she’s 90 now and still going strong! We’re fortunate to live in a time and a place where doctors can help us with stuff like this. See, when you’re 90, you’ll look back at this and it’ll just be a bump in the road!

  • Jim

    Wishing you the best in taking care of your ‘garden.’ Seems like you have everything under control. A lot of us will be praying for you! Trust Him Deb!!!

  • Billie

    Wow, I’m not sure what to say other than thank you for sharing, can’t wait until you return and continue with your work. You, Deb and Stuart are my inspirations – I so happy that I found all of you. My prayers are with you!


    • Deb

      Billie —

      Thanks so much for YOUR kind words!
      I’m not heading out YET… I plan on working up until June 20th… the day I go in for all the Pre-Op testing…

      So don’t count me out, I’ve STILL got a bunch of products to deliver and eBay auctins to run before I sign off for a little while…

      Best ~Deb

  • Clara Rodgers

    Hi Debbie, I read your pages all the time. I just want to wish you the very best with your surgery. I know the power of prayer. Clara

    • Deb

      Clara –

      Thank you so much… and I apologize for not getting back to you regarding china… I’ve been a bit distracted over the past couple weeks…

      Best ~Deb

  • Andrew Milburn

    Hi Deb,

    Thoughts and prayers with you, your family, and the medical teams. Thank you for sharing with us, it must have been hard for you to write this, but having got to know you through your blog and guides I know you are open and honest.

    My mum had a tumor removed many years ago here in the UK, and she is well and strong some 30 years on.

    Please could you let me know the day and time and I will be praying for you all.

    Take Care
    God Bless

    • Deb

      Thank you so much Andrew…
      Actually, it felt really good to put it all down in writing. I has made it easier for me to just accept it all and get through this.

      My date and (tentative) time is Tuesday, June 21st at 7:45am EST. The surgery is expected to take between 5 to 7 hours to complete.

      Best ~Deb