I’m Jay Armstrong. Husband, father, dog owner, retired high school English teacher, and an award-winning author who mostly wears sweatpants and sneakers.
The creation of this website has been a strange and winding one. To keep things short I have two rare diseases. In 2013, I was diagnosed with Cerebellar Degeneration, an unpredictable, untreatable condition with no known cure. Then in 2015, tested positive for a treatable but chronic auto-immune disorder that causes bodily inflammation known as Sarcoidosis. By all accounts the two disorders are not related. I’m just lucky.
When I was diagnosed with Cerebellar Degeneration, the doctors scratched their heads and suggested I get my affairs in order. I was 33 years old.
Scared out of my skull I thought a lot about not just the prospect of death but dying without ever doing the thing I really loved…writing. The thought of dying with so many untold stories nestled inside me was– well– killing me.
So at some point I decided that if I was going out, I would make sure my stories weren’t going with me.
Then something funny happened… after all the blood tests, CAT scans, MRI’s, DaT Scans, muscle biopsies and ultrasounds, after all the neurologists, pulmonologists, rheumatologists and physical therapists, after all the quiet waiting rooms with out- dated magazines, after the online support groups, after all the nervous hours scouring WebMD.com and even after a visit to the nexus of the medical universe- The National Institute of Health… I didn’t die.
In fact, after two years of physical and emotional beatings, I began treatment for the Sarcoidosis, read, then watched Silver Linings Playbook and am unashamed to announce I’m doing well.
Ironically, it was those beatings that brought me back to life. Those beatings reinforced things I knew all along… I belong reading good books, attempting to write good stories and teaching others about writing.
Having a rare disease is lonely business. Writing is lonely business. Hell, living is lonely business.
I want you to know that you are not alone. I want you to know that your story doesn’t just exist…your story matters. And I hope this site gives you the courage to tell your story, to preserve your story.
I want to offer you my stories , my perspective on writing and life and a place to embrace the power of the human story.
So Jay, do I need to have endured or be enduring some medical tribulation in order to enjoy this site?
God I hope not.
If you’re a student struggling through “school writing”, an aspiring author, a lover of literature, lost in life’s wilderness or just looking for a little inspiration with the prospect of a little humor I hope you will frequent WoFo.
I have learned that stories have the power to change lives, to save lives.
I believe we all have stories inside us just aching to be heard. I hope this site offers you the support, inspiration and courage to tell your story.