The Parade-less Pride

This past weekend was Pride Weekend in Chicago.

I was really looking forward to the weekend’s festivities.  In addition to the parade itself on Sunday, there was the CGMC concert on Saturday night, and my friend Tracy in Sweeney Todd at Loyola University on Friday night.  It was definitely looking to be an action-packed week and I was ready for it.

The show on Friday was wonderful.  Tracy was awesome and I hung out with her afterward and met some of the cast.  Later I joined the Feast of Fools boys at Big Chicks and we did a bar crawl through Uptown, Andersonville and Edgewater that ended with me getting home late and a bit drunk, but still happy that I had a great time.

Saturday was recovery day (thanks to Friday!) but I was still able to get out and do a little shopping.  Then of course, Saturday night was the CGMC show, which was absolutely wonderful.  The chorus changed its Pride concert venue from the Athenaeum Theatre to Lakeview Presbyterian Church for this show, and it allowed the chorus to perform “Naked” – without any audio enhancement.  The result was a rich, wonderful show that the audience (and chorus) enjoyed immensely.  I wished I could be up there singing with them.

I joined a group of the chorus members out for a drink or two after the show and we were all psyched for the Pride Parade.  I was planning on joining them as we marched our annual march from Belmont Street to Diversey Parkway.  The Chorus was teaming up with the Illinois Lottery this year and we were planning on bringing 100 people to not only show our support but to sing out, loud and proud.  It was to be very exciting.

But for me, this was not to be.

When I awoke on Sunday morning, I felt my chest burning and my lungs heavy.  It was difficult to breathe.  I started coughing continuously. And the more I did to try to get ready, the worse it got.  I knew this feeling, and I knew it well.  I was having an asthma attack.

Foolishly, I thought maybe I was just hungry, so I started making breakfast.  I drank some orange juice and things seemed to settle a bit, but as I kept working and preparing my food, it got worse again.  I had another attack.

Defeated, I grabbed my Albuterol inhaler and took a couple of puffs.  The attack subsided but my heart was racing.  I knew this was a bad sign.  I ate my breakfast and tried to calm myself down, but it was too little, too late.  I had another attack.  So I puffed again and sat down.

By now I was running late for the parade, but I also knew there was no way I could do it in my current condition.  I sent messages to our chorus General Manager and another fellow member, letting them know I couldn’t make it, and got back into bed.  I slept for about four hours.

This was the first time since I attended my first Pride parade in about 1993 that I didn’t attend Chicago’s Pride parade.  If I had a different excuse I suppose I would feel better about it, but I guess my health is as good an excuse as any.  One thing  I knew for sure- my asthma is no longer just something I “might” have to worry about in the future.  It’s something I definitely need to worry about — NOW.

My mom had asthma throughout most of her life but let it go untreated and unchecked until it was almost too late.  Granted, she smoked throughout most of her life, too– but chances are she would be in the same boat she’s in today — with COPD/Emphysema— whether she smoked or not, simply because she let her asthma go for so long.  I don’t want to end up like that, and I know she doesn’t want me to end up that way, either.  So I’m doing something about it today.  I’m calling my doctor and we’re going to get me scheduled for a pulmonary exam.  I can’t deny the obvious any longer.  Asthma is a hereditary disease.  I have it.  I have to live with it.

I just want to live with it — and not die because of it!

So my pride weekend was a bit marred; but it wasn’t without its good moments.  And if I had to take something away from the weekend that was positive, it’s that I learned something important about myself and I will do something about it.  I guess that’s part of taking pride in living your best life.

Help me Hustle — AGAIN!

As you may recall, last year I participated in the Hustle up the Hancock, a fundraising event for what was then called the American Lung Association of Greater Chicago, but is now named the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago (RHAMC). The premise of the event is to climb to the top of the John Hancock Center— all 1,632 stairs; all 95 floors.This was the first time I had ever done anything like this, and truth be told, I barely made it– but I did make it. It was an incredible feeling to accomplish that goal.

Help Me Hustle!So I am happy to tell you that on February 24, 2008, I will be participating in the 11th Annual Hustle Up the Hancock event to help raise money for lung disease research and education.

I will join thousands of others throughout the Chicago land area to raise funds for Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago (RHAMC) as we aim to promote healthy lungs and fight lung disease. You may think that it’s crazy to climb the John Hancock Center but I am doing so because I am able. I can breathe freely, and there are many people who are not as lucky as I.

People like my mom.

My mom was diagnosed with Emphysema in 1995, and has had Asthma for most of her life. For the last 12 years, I have seen the toll that this disease has taken on her life and her well-being. While she is still able to get around and live her life, the disease is slowly robbing her of her ability to do the very things that she has enjoyed all of her life. As each year passes, it gets harder and harder for her to perform simple tasks– from walking from her car to a store, to even taking a shower.

I also suffer from Asthma symptoms, and am a prime candidate for the disease, since it runs in my family. (My grandma also had Emphysema and Asthma.)

With your support, people like my mom can be helped. Your assistance will allow RHAMC fund research and support lung disease research and programs for people with lung disease.

Please click the link below to go to my personal donation website, and make a contribution. Any amount is accepted– and every amount is appreciated.

Last year, with your support, I raised $1,165.00. I am hoping to top this by raising $1,500 this year – maybe even $2,000!  Every penny goes to the RHAMC, and every penny is well-spent.

Rick Aiello’s Personal Fundraising Site

I will be updating my progress, again, right here on the Launching Pad.  Click here to see how I did last year.

Thank you for your help… and wish me luck!