Episode 124 – Unstoppable Mom with Jody Hudson
Jody Hudson was born in Michigan but has moved a number of times since graduating high school. She spent 15 years in the retail industry. She then spent five years being a stay-at-home mom before finding new employment in the nonprofit sector.
Her story sounds somewhat typical, right? Not really. Jody has a much different story to tell which you will get to hear on this episode of Unstoppable Mindset. Jody is the penultimate unstoppable person. Jody’s second child, Alex, was born in 1995. Alex was a very active child and worked hard at everything she did.
While in the fifth grade, Alex began exhibiting physical symptoms which eventually lead to her no longer being able to be an athlete and active person. In high school, she began losing weight. No doctor could diagnose what was happening.
It wasn’t until college that happenstance lead Jody and Alex to a doctor who correctly diagnosed Alex’s condition as Lyme’s Disease.
Listen as Jody tells hers and Alex’s story. She will tell you about the book she wrote as well as about the Alex Hudson Lyme Foundation.
This episode is very powerful, and Jody leaves us with strong advice we all can take to heart when we are presented with life challenges.
About the Guest:
Jody Hudson, Grants and Philanthropy Director for California CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), is a fundraising professional with over 15 years of nonprofit leadership experience. She is the CEO and founder of the Alex Hudson Lyme Foundation, an organization that seeks to increase research efforts and patient support for Lyme disease and MCAS. Before joining California CASA in 2021, she served as Vice President of Development and Communications for Girls Scouts of Central California South and, before that, led the Catholic Charities Diocese of Fresno as Director of Operations. In 2018, Jody was honored with the Marjaree Mason Center Top Ten Professional Women Award.
Hudson is also an author and speaker. Her book, My Promise to Alex: Through Pain Comes Purpose, is a memoir about her daughter’s journey with Lyme disease and her passing at the age of twenty-two on March 24, 2018. For more information on Alex’s foundation, please visit www.alexhudsonlymefoundation.org
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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Michael Hingson 00:00
Access cast and accessibly initiative presents unstoppable mindset, the podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet Hi, I’m Michael Hinkson, Chief mission officer for accessibility and the author of the number one New York Times best selling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion, and acceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The Unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessibility, that’s a cc e ss I, capital B II. Visit www.to. Access a b.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson 01:20
Well, Hi, and welcome to unstoppable mindset. Today we get to interview Jody Hudson and Jody has got a very good and strong and compelling story to tell. She is a person who has worked in the world for a while. She is the Director of of grants right for California casa.
Jody Hudson 01:43
That’s correct. The advanced philanthropy director,
Michael Hingson 01:46
advanced philanthropy director Wow. And, and, and again, but there’s a lot more to Jodi than that. So we’re gonna get to it. So Jodi, welcome to unstoppable mindset. Now, where are you? Exactly.
Jody Hudson 01:58
So I’m in Fresno, California. And we have just been getting hit with these recent rains. It’s really sad to see what’s going on out there. But in fact, before I jumped on, we just had another big downpour. So we’re, we’re right now good, but you never know when a next one is going to hit us.
Michael Hingson 02:18
Yeah, we don’t get that level of rain in Victorville. I don’t think it’s rained here today. We had a little bit of rain Tuesday, but we just don’t get that kind of rain here. And as I mentioned earlier, I heard on the news that there are a few places in the Sierras that have had something over 670 inches of snow, and they’ve gotten more snow this week. So how will this affect the drought it will, at least in the short term, but whether this is really going to have enough of an effect on the aquifers to really give us long term aid remains to be seen. But the way it’s going, I think we’re going to see more years of a lot of rain and other things happening. So we’ll we’ll kind of see how it goes.
Jody Hudson 03:05
I yeah, I agree. It was crazy. Last week, the 99 was shut down because of flooding. So you just never know what’s going to happen. Right?
Michael Hingson 03:15
Go figure I know. Well, so let’s start a little bit by you maybe telling us some of your background. As a younger God, what you did when going to school and all that give us all the highlights from an earlier time.
Jody Hudson 03:33
Oh my goodness. Okay, we could be here a long time because I’m not a young man. You know, I’m in my early 60s here now. But now I’m teasing.
Michael Hingson 03:41
So just talk about the early parts.
Jody Hudson 03:44
So I’m a Michigander born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, went to school at Central Michigan University where I graduated with a degree in retail. I’ve always loved fashion clothing. And so that’s what I did for quite some time. Worked at Marshall Field’s Lord and Taylor made my way west to Los Angeles. My claim to fame was that I was the manager of the Chanel boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. I felt like I had arrived, so to speak. Then got married and made my way to Fresno where I currently reside. Two children, Garrett and Alice, my son’s 29 My daughter’s 22 And I stayed at home for about five years just to be a stay at home mom. And then when I decided to get back into the work environment, I got into the nonprofit world which I absolutely love. I have a servant’s heart and it really spoke to that worked at Catholic Charities for about 1314 years. I worked at Girl Scouts for a little bit until I couldn’t eat any more cookies. It was not good for my waistline and at all. And then I’ve been with California, Casa for two years, and we oversee all of the 44 Casa programs throughout the state of California. I am a product of foster care, I was born to a single mother who put me up for adoption. So I was in the foster care system for the first six months of my life until I was adopted. So I’ve kind of come full circle in that whole realm. But so that’s what I’m currently doing. And then we’ll get more into my true purpose and mission, which is the Alex Hudson line foundation.
Michael Hingson 05:46
So Marshall Fields, so did you get good deals on Franco mints?
Jody Hudson 05:50
Oh, my gosh. I know, Chris, and at Christmas time, because I worked out in Chicago at State Street at their flagship store. And during Christmas time, they’d have like the big pyramids of frango mints and I just devoured those. Like there was no tomorrow I have a weakness for sweets. I could not have sweets in my home, because they will be gone. I don’t have willpower. I don’t know what the word means.
Michael Hingson 06:17
No. Have you ever had mint? Meltaways? Yes. Which do you like better? Franco mints? Yeah. I like them both. But I do have to admit that there is something about Franco mints.
Jody Hudson 06:29
Oh my gosh, that just brought me back. I love that brought me back in time for sure. Yeah, and I miss them. I do too. I do too. I love those Frank moments. So good. It’s kind of like melt in your mouth.
Michael Hingson 06:42
Yeah, really tasty stuff.
Jody Hudson 06:44
I think that’s probably why girls with the Girl Scout cookies, then men’s is my favorite. Because I was born and raised with the kids go mess with men. Go into the cooking mode. Then minutes. So what’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie?
Michael Hingson 07:00
And Miss? Then Miss? Yeah. Although I’ve also enjoyed venture foals, which is one of the newer Well,
Jody Hudson 07:06
that’s yeah, that’s one of the the newer ones.
Michael Hingson 07:09
A new one rasberry one that I haven’t tried yet. Yeah, you
Jody Hudson 07:12
know what I’m not a big fan of of the data, kind of like to keep my my the fruit and the chocolate all separate love them both, but really like the the combination together, but anything with chocolate, mint, peanut butter, I’m down for all of that stuff.
Michael Hingson 07:31
So I bought a case of Thin Mints. Well, actually, last year, I guess, I bought a case of Thin Mints. But somebody misunderstood and they made the order for two cases. Oh, and so I accepted that and I took them all. But even with the one case, what I did with two would have been the same with one which is they all mostly get put away mostly in the freezer. And for me, especially out of sight out of mind. And so most of them are still there. And they will be eaten over time. Which makes it a little bit frustrating for the Girl Scouts every year because I don’t buy a case every year. It’ll take me three years sometimes to eat those two cases, as I said, out of sight out of mind. But I do know where they are now having thought about them. This may cause a open so
Jody Hudson 08:26
I think I know where you’re going after this little conversation here.
Michael Hingson 08:31
Yeah, I promise I won’t get up and go do that while we’re talking. Okay, but still. So So you got into this whole idea of the nonprofit Well, I actually another memory going back to Chicago and Marshall Fields. Do you remember Robert Hall? I do. Where the values go up, up, up and the prices go down? Down? Down?
Jody Hudson 08:52
Michael Hingson 08:55
Ah, those were the days having been born in Chicago and live there for five years and been back occasionally. But still. Great stories, great stories.
Jody Hudson 09:05
Yeah, I just don’t like Chicago when it’s December, January. It’s like 80 degrees below with the windchill factor and you’re trying to make your way from where you live in Lincoln Park down to State Street a little bit.
Michael Hingson 09:18
A little bit tough. And even with the L it could be tough. Oh yeah.
Jody Hudson 09:23
Oh, yeah. But boy, I had good good times there. I just graduated from college. So I was making a little bit of money hanging out and living with my sorority sisters. So it was just like an extension of of college. But when you have a little bit of money, it’s a little bit more fun. Yeah.
Michael Hingson 09:41
Well, you were you bring back memories for me also, a few years ago, I was in Chicago for a speech or I was there for a convention I don’t recall which now, but they were doing the event where you Um, to raise money for something, they did the Polar Plunge so everybody would go and jump in Lake Michigan. And I think Rahm Emanuel was the mayor. And Jimmy Fallon was there and they decided they were going to go do the plunge. And I was watching it with my cousins on TV. And they went in the water. It was zero or colder. Oh, we were very happy to be in a heated house. And the reporter said, these guys are doing it all wrong, because they went in in their suits, you know. And as soon as you get out of the water, you can go into a tent that was warm, where you could dry off. But just before they got out, a woman got out who was just wearing a bathing suit. And the reporter said, How much smarter she is because it’ll dry right off and she won’t be cold very long. And they were right, you know, but Well, that’s the difference between intelligent people and politicians sometimes, I guess. I don’t know.
Jody Hudson 11:01
My gosh, when my dad had a summer camp in Grand Haven, Michigan, and that brings me back to those memories that summertime with like the Polar Bear Plunge, we had that with the kiddos getting up early in the morning, like at six o’clock and going down. And if you if you did it every day, then you got like a special award. But yeah, I never did it. I watched my campers go in. But I’m like, Yeah, that’s too cool for me.
Michael Hingson 11:29
Yeah. But you know, it’s part of our country. And it’s always fun to go to, to different places. And of course, go into Chicago go always for me at least. There I’m sure better places. But I like to go to UNO’s and get a nice good deep dish pizza to
Jody Hudson 11:46
deep dish pizza. And it’s a fun place to be in Chicago on St. Patty’s day too. So Oh, yeah. That’s always a blast. Dine the river green and drinking green beer and all that good stuff. Yeah, Chicago. Chicago is a fun fun city.
Michael Hingson 12:02
Yeah. Memories will tell us about California casa a little bit. So you’ve been doing that for now? What two or three years? Yeah,
Jody Hudson 12:10
for two years. And as the grants and philanthropy director, I helped to raise money not only for California, casa, but for our network. So California, CASA is the the parent, the umbrella so to speak, over the 44 Casa programs throughout the state of California. And we our initiatives, our mission, our you know, philanthropy, everything is in support of foster children. And there’s 80,000 foster kids in the state of California. And what a casa does is they are that one person that link to help these kiddos to navigate through the court systems to be that voice for them, to help them where maybe they don’t have a mom, dad and adult anybody to help guide them through life. And it can be transformational for these children to have a casa appointed, watching over them, it really makes a big difference.
Michael Hingson 13:24
Do foster parents help with any of that? Or is this really kind of pre them or our in spite of them? Sometimes,
Jody Hudson 13:31
you know what I mean, it’s kind of done in conjunction with them as well as a CASA is a volunteer, they go through a training which I went through a training as well, just to kind of better understand what a CASA volunteer does, it’s about a 3040 hour training commitment. Once you go through, you actually get sworn in as a casa and the in the court system. And then you are assigned a child and you could be assigned a child for maybe a year, two years, some people have had classes for, you know, even greater longer periods of time. It just depends upon, you know, the the cases. But it really is such a great meaningful program. And we definitely, you know, right now, we have probably 12,000 classes, but as I said earlier, there’s 80,000 foster kids, you know, in the state of California, so there’s definitely a gap. And that’s what we try and do is you know, raise money raise funds to recruit classes, to train them to help the local network, you know, really pouring into the hearts of these foster kids.
Michael Hingson 14:51
So are their centers that these people are based out of or how does it work?
Jody Hudson 14:55
The classes themselves? They Yeah, so There’s, you know, like I said, 44 class of programs throughout the state of California. So there’s like a casa in Kern County, there’s a casa and Fresno County. It’s all, you know, based upon that the counties, each county is really supposed to have a CASA program. And, you know, there’s what 51 counties, I think, in the state of California, so, yeah, 58 So we’re, we’re missing obviously, a couple of Casa programs, but each CASA program is you know, their own 501 C three, they, you know, raise their own funds money, they have their own board, executive directors, own staff, and we come alongside them to support them, and to give them you know, additional training, additional resources, and help where we can, we were lucky enough California casa, to be working with a lobbyist team who petitioned and we did receive a state appropriation in Governor Newsom budget for $60 million. And that is, you know, going to be funneled out to our Casa programs. However, as we know, the state of California is a little messed up right now with with budgets, and we only received the first wave of that $60 million, we received $20 million, and we were able to pump out that money to our network. But the other two bases are in jeopardy right now. And we are petitioning and trying to get that money back. So we will see
Michael Hingson 16:39
is that because of the legislature in some way or what? Yeah,
Jody Hudson 16:45
we are very grateful for what we did receive, and that was a blessing, we didn’t even think that we were going to get that. And it really is to help our, our programs with infrastructure, it’s to help them with, you know, recruiting, it’s to help them just really build upon their their programs. So yeah, we’re hopeful though, the, you know, legislators and other government officials and senators and people in the Capitol, they were not happy that our funding was was cut, because they really have become aware of our programs and the impact on the foster children. So we do have some really good people in our corner. So we’ll, we’ll see what happens.
Michael Hingson 17:30
He cut it. Who cut the funding, if the governor had it in his budget, and so on what happened,
Jody Hudson 17:37
it was in the legislative portion of the budget. So I don’t know all the details. Yeah, in our inner workings of how all that happens. And, you know, with politics, things can be moved around, things can be cut, because maybe they’re negotiating and looking for something else. Who knows what goes into all of those discussions. But like I said, we’ve got a lot of good champions and people in our corner, and it wasn’t just cost of that was cut, there was a lot that was cut. So yeah, we’re just hoping that we’re gonna get that back.
Michael Hingson 18:14
I remember. Now, a number of years ago, the national level, there was a major discussion about the government. And what it had been doing through what was called the Talking Book program, which later became the National Library Service of the Blind and Physically Handicapped. And they, the Congress decided that they wanted to cut a bunch of the funding. They said, we can get things from other ways. And one of the magazines that was produced under the program was playboy. And the Congress people’s fee with a conservative said, Well, that’s ridiculous to publish Playboy, that blind people can take advantage of all the pictures and stuff. And the answer to that was, that’s correct. But go read Playboy read the articles, because there were there were many, well written articles. And mostly, they are really good articles in Playboy. The original story, the short story, the fly came out of Playboy among other things, and eventually it got dealt with, but people do get some very strange ideas about things from time to time, don’t they?
Jody Hudson 19:26
They sure do. And, you know, I’ve never seen a playboy, but I did hear that. There are some really great, great articles in there. So but yeah, so you know, well, we’ll just have to kind of wait it out. I mean, we’re so full speed ahead. And we are, you know, implementing what we can with the the funding that was awarded to us in our in our programs and and we’re grateful for that.
Michael Hingson 19:49
We are a 501 C three, right. So you do you obviously do a lot of soliciting outside of what the government provides.
Jody Hudson 19:55
Oh, absolutely. I mean, we have, you know, government money. We’ve got you no private funding. So, yes, we have different pockets that we definitely, you know, reach out to. But, you know, from the pandemic, it’s it’s tough. Yeah, for for fundraising for nonprofits, I mean, everyone, you know, that was was losing out because they weren’t able to have fundraising events and other things. And people were really tightening up their belt. So, yeah, well, we’ll have to see how how things work out. But the nonprofit world is definitely definitely hurting.
Michael Hingson 20:37
Yeah, and it’s gonna be a process. Well, for you, though, what made you go into the whole idea of doing nonprofit stuff? So it’s different than what you’ve done in the past?
Jody Hudson 20:49
Oh, absolutely. Retail and nonprofit, very, very different. But
Michael Hingson 20:54
although you, you can tribute it to the nonprofit of Marshall Field’s with Franco mints, but that’s okay.
Jody Hudson 21:00
That’s right. So, so I had my son in 93, I had my daughter and 95. And then I stayed home for for five years. And then when I was deciding to you know, get back into the workforce, one of my girlfriends, became a development director over at Catholic Charities, and she called me up. And she said that she was going to be starting this position at Catholic Charities, and she was going to be forming a women’s Guild and that she wanted me to be on it, there was gonna be about 12 of us that were going to, you know, be the the pioneers of this Guild, and a common, you know, take a tour of the facility and see what I think, see what I thought so sad to say, I mean, I’m Catholic, but I had never heard of Catholic Charities before. So got my car went and down and opened up the doors, took a tour, I saw the clientele, I saw the people there that were, you know, waiting for services. And I just had this aha moment where this was where I was supposed to be, I was supposed to be giving back. I was supposed to be helping those, you know, less fortunate. And I told my girlfriend Kelly at that time, I said, Yes, I go, I want to be part of this guild. But even more importantly, I want to see if there’s employment here, I would love to work at Catholic Charities. And as luck would have it, there was a position open. And it was for in the food pantry overseeing the food pantry. And check this out, overseeing the thrift store. Well, I think with my degree in retail, and working on Chanel boutique, I qualified to oversee the Catholic Charities thrift store. So the joke was always, you know, hidden, here’s Jody from Rodeo Drive to Fulton Street, where Catholic Charities was and yeah, the price tags are just, you know, a couple of zeros off, but hey, she’s, she can handle those. So, I fell in love with it. And it was so good as my kids were getting older, you know, to bring them to these, like food drive events, and, you know, the the farmers market that we would have, and they would see what the face of poverty looked like. And they fell in love with it. And you know, they were always there supporting my fundraising efforts. And and, you know, just supporting, giving back. So it was it was wonderful. It was really good. It must
Michael Hingson 23:45
get pretty emotional. Because you see so many people who are facing challenges and so on. How are you able to just move forward and not take it so emotionally personal, if you will?
Jody Hudson 23:59
You know, that’s an excellent question. And it was very hard for me in the beginning, I wanted to take home these children that I saw, I wanted to fix everything I wanted to be the Savior. I wanted to be the knight in shining armor and I realized that I couldn’t do it right. I mean, there I was limited in what I could do, but I could go out and raise money so that the pantry would be full of food so these families could eat so these families could you know go into the thrift store and purchase clothing or be given clothing, clothing and hygiene every so often so I can I can do you know what I can do in my in my wheelhouse. But you’re right, it was tough. The first six months, I took it home with me there was no separation of my work and my life. But it just became more of a driving force for me in my job, more motivation to really get out there. and get the community involved with our mission and what we were doing. And even though the names of Catholic Charities, we never asked what people’s religion was, hey, if you have a need, then we’re going to be there. And we’re going to meet that need.
Michael Hingson 25:18
Yeah. And it’s, it is a an issue and a challenge for, for I know a number of people to get beyond the being so emotionally involved that you can’t separate it, while at the same time developing a greater empathy. And I in fact, I think it’s, it makes sense to develop the empathy and the understanding. But you can’t take it personally because you didn’t cause it all. And all you can do is try to work to fix it.
Jody Hudson 25:45
Right? And, you know, I said about my children going down there and being exposed to that, to this day, my my son, he’ll tell me, Mom, he goes, it’s a blessing and a curse, this empathy that has been passed on to me because he wants to be now that fixer, and he wants to, you know, when people come to him and share their problems, I mean, he wants to, you know, help them and he’s going through that process right now realizing that he can’t fix everyone’s problems, right? He can, he can only do so much. But yeah, it’s definitely tough. What does he do? So he used to work at Merrill Lynch. He graduated from ASU in 2008. Teen got a job right out of college, I mean, super smart, young man. And he worked at Merrill Lynch for over a year. And that just wasn’t him. Like I said, he has that empathy, that very sensitive heart. And we also had a, you know, family crisis during that time. And I’ll get into that later. But he just really, and then we had, you know, the pandemic hits. So he left Arizona, came home to Fresno to try and figure out what it was that he wanted to do. And now he’s been with his current job for over a year. And really, really excelling in it and doing well. And I think he has found his niche. And he works for this organization called behavioral stars. And they are assigned troubled children from the school system. And he meets with these kids one on one, he has about 12 kids right now in his caseload, and he really tries to work with them on behavior modification, trying to work with them on just, you know, being a positive influence in their lives, because so many of these kids come from such troubled homes that they don’t have that. And so Garrett is kind of trying to fill that void. And he’s done very, very well, just this morning, he sent me over a text and he had to present to his team on some like motivational, inspirational messages. And it was like a 2030 minute presentation. And I love the two YouTube clips that he shared, and one of them spoke about how, you know, you can’t let your past you know, dictate what you’re doing today. It’s like the overcoming and, you know, we’re all going to have challenges, but how it’s how you rise above from it. And I love it, because as he is administering to these kids, and helping them with their life challenges is also healing for him.
Michael Hingson 28:44
And it’s clear, you’ve passed on a wonderful legacy that that he is taking advantage of, and he’ll he’ll expand out and I suspect,
Jody Hudson 28:58
Oh, absolutely. And, you know, I wrote a book, and I keep telling my son, I go get, your story is going to be even far greater than mine. And I can’t wait to read your book one of these days, because it’s going to be so inspirational with everything that you have gone through. I mean, I’m just really, really proud of him for climbing Klein, and just, you know, making it happen.
Michael Hingson 29:25
Well, we’ve talked about Garrett, and we should get to Alex, I know you want to talk about all of that. So you said that Alex was born in 1995. Correct. And, and a lot of things have happened. So tell us a little bit about Alex, if you will.
Jody Hudson 29:42
Sure. So Alex was supposed to be a Christmas baby. Her original due date was December 25. But she came a little bit early and she was just a sweet, sweet baby. She and her first five years I mean just a very sweet, shy, innocent little girl. And then she discovered sports and the tomboy in her really came out along with the the big brother that was right by her side helping her. So she was very active. She played soccer, she played softball, she ran track, she did cheerleading, volleyball, you name it, and she was very, she was a very good scholar to her brother definitely had more of the smarts. But he didn’t apply himself out, worked much, much harder for her grades, and did very well with that. And then in the fifth grade, she started developing joint pain, inflammation, and we thought it was all related to her sports. And that’s what the doctors thought as well that she was just an overworked you know, athlete. And so she would suck it up. She would like tape up her legs, ankles, do the ibuprofen. Well, that went on for several years, and nothing really changed. In fact, it just kept getting worse. To the point where her freshman year in high school, she was playing basketball running on the court, and her knees ballooned up to be like the size of grapefruit. And she dropped to the ground. And she was carried off by her teammates and coach. And they ran some X rays. And they discovered that she needed to have knee surgery that she had some issues with with her knees. So she had one knee surgery done on her right knee and they said if that took and did well, and it was successful, then they would do the left knee. Well, it didn’t help but it didn’t change anything. So basically from her freshman year in high school on Chica never run again. She it was the beginning of the the end for her because she couldn’t play sports any longer. Everything that she had identified with was gone. And in high school, that’s especially hard when you lose your your peer group. And so she really went through a dark period for a while only had maybe a friend or two, started losing weight started developing digestive issues. Then we, you know, started thinking, well, maybe he’s got anorexia or an eating disorder. I mean, we just really went through hell and back. And she graduated from high school went to a junior college because we were still trying to figure out what was going on with her health. And she did well at junior college and applied to several colleges and ended up getting a full ride at UCLA. But she wasn’t able to carry that out because she was losing weight. And she was down to about 87 pounds. And we were going from doctor to doctor probably 40 Plus doctors, and Alex on her own just by going on the internet, found this doctor down in LA who specialized in digestive issues. And she said mom goes I think I found a doctor that might be able to help me. And at that point, I’m like, Sure. What’s what’s another doctor? I mean, we we’ve been, you know, striking out with all of our local doctors and everybody at this point, just that she and I both were crazy, right? Because they would run tests and they couldn’t find anything wrong with her. So we got in the car went down to LA. And within a half hour of talking with this doctor, he asked me Mrs. Hudson, has anybody test tested Alex for Lyme disease. And I innocently said, What is Lyme disease. And then he told me what it was and this was in 2017. And I’d really had never heard about it. And here I am from Michigan, you know, thinking that maybe I would have heard about it growing up. But we consented to her getting tested for Lyme disease and a couple of weeks later, sure enough, came back with a diagnosis that she she had Lyme disease. So now test, what’s the test the test. If you go to a regular doctor, most of them are still testing with an outdated western blot test, which will give you false reads on it. This doctor was smart enough to have outs tested through iGenex and iGenex is out San Jose area. And they are very detailed. I mean, it’s everyone sends people to iGenex just to because they know that testing that’s part of the problem with Lyme disease. testing can be so. So what’s the word I’m looking for? Not not reliable, inaccurate, inaccurate? Yeah. So tested her with the iGenex. And that’s what it came back with. So in that moment, you know, I had to first of all, as a parent, figure out what this diagnosis was. And then second of all, how do I treat it, because I’m disease, you just can’t go to any doctors, so many of them don’t know about Lyme disease and how to treat it. And therein lies the problem trying to find proper doctors that know about this disease. And also, you know, the the treatment, because it’s not like cancer, where there’s a tried and true path. With Lyme disease. It’s almost like, here’s your buffet, you can do antibiotics, you can do this, you can do that. Or maybe you can do a combination. And it’s a trial and error. But Alex didn’t have have time to go through a trial and error. You know, she was at 80 pounds and 2017, down to a handful of foods that she could eat without reacting. And I had to get her better quick, like,
Michael Hingson 36:17
do you before going on? Do you have any sense of how she got Lyme disease?
Jody Hudson 36:25
No. And that’s the thing. 35% of people that get Lyme disease will have what’s called the classic bullseye rash, where it’s a circular little red ring on your body of the point of impact where people are a bit, the majority of people don’t know they have Lyme disease, until maybe they’ve been sick for a while. And by then it’s hard to treat, because it’s you know, once it gets into your bloodstream, and in your system, it can wreak havoc on every part of your organ. I mean, people have died from Lyme disease, because of, of, you know, getting into their heart, people have died from it from, you know, getting into their brain. It’s, it’s really quite horrific. And I mean, that can be adopted at this point from everything that I had to get schooled on real quick like in 2017. Till she passed away in 2018. But yeah, the majority of people when when you first have Lyme symptoms, it’s like a summer flu. So you, you know, might have just being you know, feeling lethargic, joint pain, inflammation. And it’s not until other symptoms appear when it can really become quite critical, like an Alex’s case where it affected her whole digestive system.
Michael Hingson 37:53
You How did you how did you end up handling it? What did you do, because you certainly had to do something in a hurry.
Jody Hudson 38:01
So what I did was, you know, social media can work for you or against you. And in this situation, it definitely worked for me two things happen once I got Alex’s diagnosis. Interestingly enough, she was diagnosed in May, which may is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, and our local TV station, KC 24 had just done a episode a segment on Lyme disease. And I knew these people very well through all of my fundraising efforts at Catholic Charities. So I called them up and said, Hey, you guys just did a episode. You guys just did an episode on on Lyme disease. My daughter has just been diagnosed with Lyme disease. I need to know these three women that you spoke with because I need to find out how to treat my daughter. So that was number one. Number two, was I took to Facebook with Alex’s consent. And I basically made a play saying, you know, my daughter has just been diagnosed with Lyme disease. I’m still trying to figure out what Lyme disease is. If anybody has any resources, know of any doctors locally, can put me in touch with people, please, you know, DM me, and you’d be surprised at how many people that I didn’t realize had Lyme disease in the central valley that reached out to me. And Jessica Devine was one of them that lived right in Clovis, a couple of you know, Fresno, who had been diagnosed with Lyme disease had been battling it for a couple years. And she gave us the name of her doctor in Pismo Beach, and that’s where we started. So it definitely helped by, you know, getting the message out there. And when you’re a parent, parent and your child is struggling and you need answers, you do what it takes. aches. Right?
Michael Hingson 40:00
Right. So you reached out to that doctor.
Jody Hudson 40:04
So we reached out to that doctor. And then at the same time, we googled best Lyme facilities, best line treatment, because, you know, I’m a mama bear. I single mom at that time, Alex’s dad wasn’t in the picture at all, financially, emotionally, any of that. And I was working parents. And I thought, Okay, I need to tackle this, right. I’m going to roll up my sleeves, we’ve got a diagnosis, we’re gonna get the doctor treatment, she’s going to be better in a couple of months time, I was so naive. I had no idea what I was facing. And so we had this appointment with, you know, this doctor in Pismo in June. So Alex had been diagnosed in May that this appointment for June. But then I started researching best Lyme clinics. Sofia Health Institute was one, there was a couple others and I basically got on the phone. And I begged and pleaded to get into these facilities. And insurance doesn’t cover a lot of this. In fact, it didn’t cover most of it. In a year’s time, I spent over $100,000 Trying to get Alex better, I sold cars. I had people give me money. I mean, it was crazy what I did. But again, any of us would do that in our situation with a sick child. So we went to the doctor in Pismo, we also went to Sofia Health Institute. And with every doctor that we saw, it was a whole new protocol. Everybody, you know, had their own opinions. And it was just, it was just really tough. Like I said, you know, with cancer, it’s tried and true. These are the treatments that you go through. But with Lyme disease, because there’s so many different co infections. You have to figure out who you know what symptoms are the most troublesome, you start there, and it’s like, okay, eliminate that. So that symptom, and then let’s move on to the next. And that’s what we were trying to do with Alice. But at the same time, she kept losing weight, and she couldn’t be strong and healthy enough with her treatments. Because she was so malnourished, so it was just, it was a mess.
Michael Hingson 42:35
And no matter what happened, nobody was able to come up with any solution that seemed to help.
Jody Hudson 42:41
We had a team of about 12 doctors we had, because as I said, once Lyme disease is in your blood system, which for Alex, it had been since. You know, if you go back when her symptoms first started, which we thought was just that overworked athletic body. It was in fifth grade. Now here she is in college, right? So I mean, it’d been 10 years that this had been living in her her system. So she had cardiologists she had a gastro doctor. She had, you know, a doctor, the doctor in Pismo that was kind of like the the lead on this. But we had so many other people that we had to bring onto the team. And then not to mention, just she was in and out of hospitals, just trying to get IVs and other stuff in her system to keep her healthy.
Michael Hingson 43:42
When did you get to the point where you realize that you weren’t going to be able to fix her and how did you reconcile that?
Jody Hudson 43:52
So May of 2017 She got the diagnosis by December after going through a whirlwind of in and out of hospitals, different doctors. I knew in December that I was losing her she was we just we couldn’t get a leg up. And from June until December, we literally had gone cross country Now mind you, I was still trying to hold down a job at this time, right? So I was just going back and forth and people were giving me their their sick time and vacation time. And I was just trying to uncover anything that I could to get her her better. But we realized that not only did she have Lyme disease, she had something else called mast cell activation syndrome, which she basically was allergic to almost every type of food she was down to like four or five safe foods. She could eat. And I detail all this in my book because I mean, it could take hours and days to go into all of this because it’s just such a crazy, crazy disease. But
Michael Hingson 45:12
was that caused by the limes? Disease?
Jody Hudson 45:15
Correct? Yeah. When your immune system is compromised, it creates havoc in your in your system. And so everything gets Miss wired. And her histamine levels, everything we’re, we’re off. So you know, her treatments, she would try and have different types of treatments. And her supplements things that normally she could take before now, it was as if it was an enemy entering, you know, a danger zone here, she would try and swallow these supplements and take her, you know, treatment. And her histamine levels would just start attacking, thinking that was, you know, something bad that was coming into her system. Just horrific the pain that she was going through, but it was December. And I remember, you asked me, How did I reconcile with this, I remember getting in my car, and just driving. And I pulled over and I found it on the dashboard. And I had the serious conversation with God. And I was in tears. And I basically said, listen, here’s the deal. Like I’m telling God what to do, right? I said, here’s the deal. I go, you either take her right now, because I can’t deal with this anymore, or you heal her. But this purgatory is not working for me, I cannot do this any longer. And that says, you know, and so that’s what he did a couple of months later.
Michael Hingson 46:47
So you had so hard and I have some associations with Lyme disease in a different way. First of all, when I was living in New Jersey and the selling some products, I knew a couple guys who had accompany the turns out they they did have Lyme disease, it was apparently somewhat controlled, but they did have it. And I only know that because they told me but my fourth guide dog was bit by a tick relatively soon after we moved to New Jersey and we knew she was bitten we, we got the tick and we got it out of her and and the vet said there’s nothing you know, we can do to analyze it or anything. And you know, as long as she’s okay, she’s okay. Well. One of the things I’ve learned about guide dogs is that they are and a lot of dogs, especially when there’s a lot of love, and they want to please, they’re incredibly stoic. We never detected any illness in her until May 1 of 1999 When I called her to dinner, and she didn’t come and we found her on her bed, almost unresponsive. And through getting her to an emergency vet and then going elsewhere and so on. And finally meeting a woman who we regard as a very dear friend, although I haven’t talked with her for a while Tracy Gillespie, who is in the University of Penn system. And working for emergency vet in Toms River, New Jersey, as I recall. She said Lynnae has glomerular nephritis. And it is morphed from Lyme disease. So she wouldn’t keep the good stuff in her system, the kidneys would pass it out along with the bad stuff because the Lumeria went bad. So she had to retire. And we were able to keep her for three more years. But still, we we knew that there was was something there but it was just one of those things. So I appreciate all you are saying that’s my closest brush, fortunately, or whatever with Lyme disease, but it’s it is a very insidious thing.
Jody Hudson 49:04
It really is and you know, that’s can be carriers of Lyme disease and, you know, with with the ticks and that’s why I always when I’m you know talking make make sure that I recognize that it’s not just humans. I’m glad that you shared that story. I mean, it is, you know, as we do tick checks from head to toe on our body, we need to do that as our animals come in from the outside because they are just as susceptible to it as as we are.
Michael Hingson 49:38
Well I’m being a guide dog. We kept a close eye on her so we found it right. Still it occurred. Well so. So Alex past, God listened to you and and did take her then what did you do?
Jody Hudson 49:57
So, what I did was yes, she she passed on March 24. In fact, tomorrow’s her five year anniversary, I cannot believe. Yeah, I can’t believe it’s been five years and some aspects of it, I feel like it was just five, five minutes, five days and other times. So I feel like maybe it’s been longer. But she and I were very close, we were just with everything that I’d gone through being divorced. And being a single mom, I mean, the mother daughter bond is very strong. To begin with, and ours was especially strong just with our our life experiences and challenges. And when Alex was, I mean, she was bedridden for for several months before she passed away. And she was always so positive. And she kept, you know, thinking that she was going to be this Lyme warrior, she was going to, you know, get to UCLA, finish that degree and start her own nine nonprofit. And when we knew that, God, you know, had other plans for her, I made a pact with her and said that I was going to basically carry her torch for her. And so after she passed, money started just flooding in. There was a GoFundMe account that someone had set up for me and I started receiving quite a bit of money. And I knew that was going to be my my seed money to start the outsets in line Foundation. And here again, I was working for a nonprofit, I was still working at Catholic Charities. And I thought, Okay, I’m gonna, you know, petition, I’ll get someone to help me to, you know, see what that looks like. And, you know, people have told me, it’s going to take about a year to get a nonprofit up and running. So that okay, good, that will give me time to adjust and make the transition. Well, I received status that I had been awarded 501, C, three for the outsets, in line foundation in 30 days. And in my classic CPA, comment, my CPA when I got the letter, I said, Okay, roll in, tell me that this is like a joke. Like, this isn’t true, right? Like, I really didn’t get this approved so quickly. And he said, God, sometimes the good Lord does things that there are no explanations for Congratulations. You have a 501 C three. Yeah. And so yeah, we were up and running in June, we started our first fundraiser, we were able to work with global Lyme Alliance and do a research grant with them, we were able to award some financial grants to lyme patients. So we, you know, we’re doing everything according to Alex’s wishes, and five years later, we’re still doing that. So it definitely, like I said, before this mother daughter bond, I know I’m not doing it alone, I know that she, you know, is helping me every step of the way. And you wrote a book. And I wrote a book. And that was something that I did not expect at all, like I am a business woman, I write reports. I don’t journal I don’t write for fun. But this was something that was just laid on my heart. And I was a member of the Fresno State book club. And there was a gallon there who had just written a book, and I started talking to her. And I said, you know, I feel like I need to get this stuff out of my head and onto print. Because just as I’m chatting with you, there’s so much that people didn’t realize of the journey that Alex and I went on, especially that last year, even my closest group of friends, you know, when they read my book, they’re like, God, God, we just didn’t realize everything that you had gone through, we thought we did. And I said, No, I, I feel bad. I wasn’t able to catch everybody up on this, I said that I was running so fast to get my daughter better, that I didn’t have time to bring my team along with me. So this book was written for so many different reasons. Just to let people know how amazing my daughter was and what she went through, also to, you know, give people hope, inspiration. And also just to, you know, give validity to this horrible disease that so many people’s still in the medical community don’t recognize, or, you know, give it such a stigma. So the book came out. Last February, I self published it and Uh, you know, it’s, it’s done pretty well, I mean, I’ve received over 100 plus five star reviews on Amazon, which, to me, if I just, you know, was able to impact one or two people at that, wow, that would be great, you know, people would really understand what I’m trying to convey. But you know, just the, the impact, and what I’m getting back from it that people, you know, write to me or call me. It’s just so overwhelming, you know, and for them to appreciate my daughter and love my daughter, with what she went through, it’s pretty, pretty touching.
Michael Hingson 55:42
What a blessing. Well, tell me, what would you like people to take away from listening to you today.
Jody Hudson 55:51
So what I want people to take away from listening to meet today is, no matter what challenges you have going on in life, it’s how you show up that people are going to remember. And for me, in that moment, when Alex passed away, it could have been so easy just to throw the covers over my head, and give up and be, you know, this grief girl, but I didn’t want to be defined by that I wanted to, you know, have people look at me, and be that example, for others be that example for my son, be that example for my friends, that no matter what I had gone through, that I can still show up every day, and that there’s still like to be lived. And to do that, also, you know, in honor of my daughter, right, with everything that she went through, how could I just lay it in bet. And I mean, she’s suffered far greater than, than I did, and, and I just, I couldn’t do that. So I needed to make some, you know, purpose out of what she went through. And that’s what I’m I’m trying to do and I’m trying to accomplish?
Michael Hingson 57:05
Well, how can people reach out to you and communicate, correspond or learn more? And
Jody Hudson 57:11
yeah, so we have a website alexhudsonlymefoundation, website, www dot alexhudsonlymefoundation.org, there’s ways that you can get a hold of me on the website, you can also go into Amazon, and look for my book, my promise to Alex written by me, Jody Hudson, I would love it if you know, people would, you know, by the, by the book, and, you know, support me through that, because all the proceeds from that book, go right back into the foundation. And, you know, if people are out there, struggling right now with, you know, medical mysteries, you know, check out Lyme disease, check out and see maybe if that’s something that you might have in the doctors just haven’t been able to diagnose. You know, be your own advocate, never, never give up. And that’s one of the things that Alex and I never did, no matter how many times that door was slammed in our faces from the medical community. We still kept opening it up and trying to get to answers.
Michael Hingson 58:22
Never giving up is extremely important. We do it all too quickly. And we, we don’t realize that we can do a lot more than we think we can.
Jody Hudson 58:33
Amen. Amen. You don’t know you know how strong you need to be until you are in those moments where strength is all you got?
Well, I want to thank you, Jody, for being with us today. And for telling your story and having the courage to do it and to continue doing, what you’re doing and anything that we can do to help through this podcast and so on, please let me know. And we met through accessibility, which I’m really happy about. And I appreciate your desire to help in dealing with inclusion and website accessibility but more important, anything that we can do to continue to promote what you’re doing. We’re in so I want to thank you for that. And I want to thank you for listening to us. We really appreciate it reach out to Alex through Jodi reach out to Jodi especially and Alex will know and we want to hear from you please email me at Michaelhi at accessibe.com. Accessibe is A C C E S S I B E.com. Or go to www dot Michael hingson h i n g s o n.com/podcast. Please give us a five star rating wherever you’re listening and like especially if you’re on iTunes, please give us a five star rating. Those tend to show up a lot and we appreciate it. But Jody most of all, once more. I want to thank you for being here and for not only inspiring us but I hope educating a lot of people about Lyme disease and just being stronger and more unstoppable than we think.
Jody Hudson 1:00:00
Thank you so much for having me and listening to my story and Alex’s story It really means a lot to me
Michael Hingson 1:00:11