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Andrea's column: Who tops Andrea's list?

A few weeks ago, I took stock of the year that was winding down and made a list of who and what had made a difference in my life during the previous 12 months. When I finished, all I could think was, "I am one lucky woman."

If you regularly read my columns, you may remember I had a scary week last summer when I thought I had lung cancer. That week ended with a correct diagnosis of pneumonia, a prescription for antibiotics, and a rousing hip-hip-hooray.

You may also remember I have an autoimmune disease called Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM). Towards the beginning of 2012, the executive director of The Myositis Association sent an email to Minnesota members asking for someone to take over as facilitator for the state's support group. I volunteered. My job is to arrange for speakers and meeting places for our gatherings and send notices to members.

Previously, my dad was the only one I knew who had IBM. This past year, though, I have come in contact with others who are traveling a road similar to mine. I've chuckled with those who have the same stiff and uncooperative hands as I do. Commiserated with others over our falls and been inspired by those who stay positive despite the toll the disease takes.

My list of reasons to feel fortunate included friends and family who would do anything for me. It contained my husband's and my good kids who married good people. Our grandchildren who are funny, responsible, smart, and kind. It included the words, "I love you," because no one in our family hesitates to say it.

My husband's employers had to be written down, too. They have allowed him to have a flexible work schedule by simply saying, "Do what you have to." Or, "Take care of your wife."

Along with that, I noted my hubby's co-workers who regularly express concern about my well-being.

At the top of my inventory, all in capital letters, I wrote my husband's name. "The saint," a friend has dubbed him. It makes me mad when she calls him that, but I know it's true.

Anyone who knows me will attest I don't sing his praises very often.

The truth is: I'm a fault-finder and he deserves better. After all, he's the one who lets me stand behind the curtain and be the wizard while he runs around town making my Oz-like wishes come true.

The myositis group is a good example. When no one volunteered to take the helm, it was my husband who suggested we do it. I reminded him that attending the meetings would be unlikely for me but he offered to be my stand-in. He could bring the beverages and name tags and introduce the speaker. He likened us to a team.

If we make a good team -- and quite often we do -- it's because my husband is the steady hand on the boat that I always seem to have a-rocking.

When I take on more than I can handle -- which quite often I do -- he takes the ball from my hands and runs with it. A good thing, too, because everyone knows my running days are over. Even so, I am one lucky woman.