A Toronto Transformation

Health

Living in the Lazy Moment

Bananagram tiles spell out the word "lazy"

I don’t remember the last time I had a day with nothing to do.

Lately, when someone asks me what I got up to this past week, this past weekend, it takes a weird amount of concentration to sort through the blur and actually name a few of them.

Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe it means I’m living in the moment.

Still, it occurred to me last week that it’s probably wise to make some of those moments I’m living in be about sitting quietly and reflecting on whether this busy ship and all its momentum are actually carrying me somewhere I want to go.

So this weekend, I can tell you what I did.

I said no.

No to what I’m sure would have been a fabulously fun Halloween party with some of my favourite humans on this earth, no to a Sunday morning workout and no to even leaving my apartment other than to do laundry on Sunday.

I felt a bit squirrely, a bit strange and had the uneasy sensation that I was being lazy.

But what I reminded myself, and what I will remind you, in case you are spinning along and heading for a burnout the way I’ve felt I might be lately and need to hear it too is that it’s not lazy to not do every single thing you’re invited to do. It’s not even lazy to not do everything you’re capable of all the time.

It’s not just ok to say no to the things others want you to do, the things you feel you ought to do in favour of something that seems as dull and unproductive as catching up on sleep, putting your social skills and maybe even your brain in a drawer for a day and surrendering to your couch.

It is wise. It’s important and it should be a priority to take time when you can (and even if it seems like you can’t, you can) to recharge. Even that obnoxious pink rabbit had to run out of batteries sometime. And then how will you do all the things you love to run around saying yes to?

So give yourself permission and sloth it up.

Barreworks Birthday Giveaway

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Hey pals, guess what? Today is my birthday!

It’s been a crazy year, with some pretty extreme highs and lows, but one thing that has been a consistent high for me has been writing this blog. I’m so proud of how it’s growing and so grateful for you, the lovely, supportive, interesting and hilarious people I’ve gotten to know through blogging.

So, I have a present for you!

As you may recall from the scrillion times I’ve mentioned them on this blog, I am a huge fan of the delightfully kick-ass workouts offered at the fantastic Barreworks studios here in Toronto. Their unique combination of cardio, core conditioning, motivating tunes and actual fun has been tricking me into becoming fitter, stronger and calmer for over a year now, and I’m still not sick of them!

Just when I thought I couldn’t love the studio, its staff or owner any more, they generously agreed to sponsor my very first blog giveaway.

Up for grabs are eight (my lucky number) free class cards, which can be used at either of their beautiful Toronto locations (sorry, out-of-town friends, I promise I love you just as much as my locals and I’ll come up with another giveaway for you to participate in soon!)

To enter, just pop over to their website, check out their class offerings and leave a comment below telling me which of their classes you would like to try out (or which is your favourite if you’ve already been).

Alternatively, or for an extra entry, Tweet: Hey, @metamorphocity, I want to sweat it out at the barre for free with your @barreworksTO birthday #giveaway#Toronto #workout

I’ll draw 8 lucky winners on August 27th and send them their free class cards via old fashioned mail. And who doesn’t love mail!?

Happy commenting!

What Dreams May Come

Dreams are funny things.

The first dream I remember having as a tiny girl was that I climbed a ladder to a star that was covered in every toy a tiny girl could wish for.

I swear I still remember this dream, although my mom did helpfully record what I told her about my nighttime adventure in my baby book, lest I forget.

My first nightmare was that I had accidentally turned my favourite cousin into a dog and couldn’t change her back. I was pretty inconsolable upon waking up from that one.

Last night I dreamed about walking into a parking lot full of rats, and having to hold myself up on a wall (in a physically impossible manner) to keep them from scurrying over my feet when some cats came and started an epic rat-cat battle.

While I often ponder the symbolism of my dreams, I think this one was pretty straightforward: I’m a little stressed these days and also, I saw some rats in a parking lot on my way home from work on Monday. Dream solved.

I’ve had seriously spooky dream occurrences, like having my grandfather, whom I don’t think I’d ever dreamed about before, show up in my dreams the night before he died. I actually get a bit nervous whenever a close friend or family member shows up in a dream now.

Oh, and of course, if I sleep during the day, or when I’m under too much stress, I get sleep paralysis and weird dream-like hallucinations that go along with it.

As well as fairly common stress dreams that pop up occasionally, (teeth falling out, going blind, being unable to move, or realizing I’ve forgotten to wear clothes to a public event), I go through phases of having recurring dreams or nightmares.

As a kid, I had one where a terrifying troll-like creature guarded the hallway between my family, who were all downstairs having a party, and tiny Sarah, upstairs, and I had to figure out some way to get past  it.

Before I was old enough to drive, I had a recurring nightmare where I was riding in the backseat of a car only to suddenly realize that no one was driving.

And, always, I’ve dreamed about tornadoes. Maybe it was because of the tornado drills we had to practise in elementary school, because I’ve never actually encountered a tornado, but I’ve had that dream so many times it feels like I’ve lived through one.

What’s interesting about these dreams, is that while they start out as nightmares, with the scary troll, the out of control car and the tornado, once I’ve had them a few times, some part of my brain recognizes that “Oh, we’ve been here before” and it starts to problem solve. To the point that now, when the dream begins, I’m only frightened for a moment before I hop into the driver’s seat and steer myself to safety or I lead everyone into the basement to weather the storm.

I don’t know how this happens, or how some part of my brain can be so alert and aware, while still not being aware or alert enough to just wake me up and remove myself from the perceived danger entirely.

Have any of you guys experienced this? Do you have recurring nightmares or dreams and do you put any stock in analyzing them for meaning or symbols?

Stylish Medic Alert Bracelets

Medic Alert Bracelet

It occurred to me recently that a woman with chronic DVT, a previous pulmonary embolism and a clotting disorder should probably be wearing a medic alert bracelet.

I wore one when I was still on blood thinners, but for some reason, once I went off them, I never bothered to update  my jewelry.

The bracelet I had before was fine. It did the job, the words all fit on it. But it was not particularly cute. And one of the links was a bit jagged and kept scraping my wrist. And, call me ridiculously vain, but I’d really like my next one to be cute. And not scrapey.

So far, my dear friend Etsy has yeilded the following prospects (as well as the one above):

medicalert2

medicalert3

medicalert4

I’m not sold on any of them yet. What do you guys think? Have any of you come across any simple, elegant stylish medic alert bracelets?

Also, for the record, I realize there’s probably nothing more dull than hearing about my medical issues, but guys, this is a style issue. Which is totally more interesting…right?

Ten Ways to Boost Your Body Confidence

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It seems to be such a rare thing to find a woman who is comfortable in her own skin.

And with good reason, I think.

There are far too many people who stand to profit from keeping women insecure, preoccupied and dissatisfied with how they look, to extremely detrimental effect to women, girls and society overall.

So when I encounter one of these unicorn women, I am fascinated.

There are days when I am one myself, days when I live somewhere between “I am stunningly, sparklingly gorgeous!” and “Who cares? I have more important things to think about!”

But there are definitely days when I am not.

So, with the help of my beautifully confident cronies, I’ve come up with a list of body confidence-boosters in the hopes that I (and you, if you need it!) can have more of those radiantly self-assured days, unplagued by concerns about just how many dimples have taken up residence in my butt fat.

Be busy: Finding other things to focus on is a huge help for me. It’s usually when I’m bored or unemployed that I start fixating on my appearance. Volunteer! Work with kids, pet cats, anything that makes you more gorgeous on the inside.

Stay away from reflective surfaces: My friend Emma says she makes a conscious effort to not constantly check her reflection as she goes about her day. I like this idea a lot. I think it’s a really good idea to check in with how you feel in place of how you look, and to try not to get into the habit of obsessing. I say give yourself one sexy grin before you leave the house, in part to start the day on a positive, friendly-type note, and then also to check that you don’t have blueberries in your teeth and then let it go. Win-win!

Focus on what your body can do, rather than what it looks like: Emma says on days when she’s walking down the street and feeling a twinge of dissatisfaction with her appearance, she tries to switch her focus on what her body is capable of, and the fact that she’s able to walk at all.

As someone who has gone through walking being an excruciating ordeal where a walker assisted limp down a ten foot hallway left me ready to collapse, this little shift in perspective is really effective for me, especially when I’m feeling self-conscious about my compression stocking.

Exercise: There’s nothing like feeling healthy and energetic to improve your outlook on everything, including your body. While I typically face the un-mirrored wall at Barreworks, at some point the whole class faces the mirror and it’s often watching my beautiful muscles work while I do bicep curls that I feel just damned great about my body. I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that I’m all high on endorphins either.

Get thee to yoga: Not for the meditation and mindfulness, though I’m sure that is helpful too, but to be surrounded by scantily clad real-life people with a diverse range of body types not seen in our popular media. I find Bikram is especially good for this.

Bypass magazines featuring models airbrushed and photoshopped beyond belief(they exist, I swear! Check out Worn): Even if you’re extremely hip to the fact that what you’re looking at has often been drastically altered, there is still a sense that this is what you are meant to strive for.

Resist joining in group body lamentations: Remember that scene from Mean Girls where Lindsay Lohan is baffled by the rest of the girls’ tearing a strip off their own bodies and faces? It’s so easy to say “That’s crazy, you’re lovely… I know what you mean though, I hate my thighs” We do so love to commiserate, but is it really all that helpful in the long run?

Get rid of your ugly clothes: No matter how much you love that little dress on its hanger, if it makes you tug, cringe and just feel generally self-conscious, donate that thing immediately. Wear clothing that lets you feel comfortable and beautiful. Same goes for the “skinny jeans” you’ve been waiting to fit back into since you were 15. If you happen to lose some weight, just buy new jeans. Those old ones are just undermining the way you feel about your current size.

Get enough sleep: Sparkling eyes and a winning smile are so much harder to summon if you’re exhausted.

Extend the same kindness you would to others towards yourself and your appearance: Don’t be your own bully. When you look in the mirror and think “Stupid giant pores” tell that voice to go straight to hell. It would never occur to you to say that to someone else, so don’t be vicious to yourself.

If all else fails and you find yourself frowning unkindly at your reflection, exaggerate it, make your meanest face and then dance around like a lunatic. I have no idea if anyone else does this, but it always helps me lighten up when I’m about to give myself a hard time.

What kind of body confidence do you guys have? Do you have any other tips or tricks you use to boost yours?

 

How I Learned to Love My Menstrual Cup (with minimal fainting)

Diva

As some of you may recall, I’m doing some work with Mother Nature Partnership, a fabulous organization providing women in rural Cameroon with reproductive health education and hygienic, reusable menstrual cups to replace the dangerous, unhygienic, and just all around uncomfortable and inconvenient methods of managing their periods.

Obviously I think this project is brilliant and am a big fan of menstrual cups (fewer chemicals in my body, fewer tampons in the landfill, etc.)

At least, I was a big fan of them in theory.

Despite talking them up all over the internet and to anyone who didn’t look ready to keel over from squeamishness in person for the past couple of months, I had yet to actually use one myself.

Not wanting to be a hypocrite, and still unsure which cup manufacturer MNP would be partnering with, I finally decided to bite the bullet and buy one. I popped into Noah’s and, after determining my size (one for women under 30 who have not had children, and one for women over 30 or who have had children – which, by the way, alarmed me a little about what might happen to my vagina once I turn 30!) picked up my very own shiny new silicone Diva Cup, as it happened to be the brand they carried.

Fabulous.

Of course, now I had to actually use it.

I should note at this point, that while I am quite comfortable with my body and most of its crazy functions, and while period blood doesn’t freak me out as much as it does some people, I am extremely squeamish about certain things. Sometimes I don’t know what things will freak me out until I am close to unconscious. In fact, the first time I ever fainted was in grade five health class. One minute I was watching a video about ovaries, the next, I had gracefully smashed into some desks and was waking up on the floor.

Talking too much about needles, pap smears or IUDs will achieve the same results even now if I’m not careful. It’s highly embarrassing.

One of the things that is almost always a trigger is the idea of having a foreign object stuck inside me. Oh, and as it turns out, also the words “elastic muscular tube,” which kept coming up in my menstrual cup research.

At this point you might be questioning why on earth I would ever subject myself to a menstrual cup, which essentially works by creating a seal inside your vagina so that it stays stuck in there until you’re ready to remove it.

What can I say? I’m really excited about MNP! Plus, I had the same misgivings about tampons before I’d used them and that turned out just fine. And hey, if this thing worked, I’d never have to buy tampons and worry about toxic shock syndrome again!

So.

I remembered reading somewhere that it was a good idea to try inserting and removing the cup before actually menstruating just to get the hang of it without stressing about making a bloody mess (heh).

So, one evening after work, I popped the little sucker out of its box, cleaned it, and got down to business. I folded the silicone cup in half lengthwise, into the “C-fold”, as it seemed the simplest way to insert it, took a deep breath and pushed it in.

Unfortunately, I lost my grip before I could get it in as far as it needed to go and so it sproinged open, punching the walls of my vagina like a tiny, very out of place umbrella.

It was not even a little bit comfortable.

After a couple of failed attempts to push it further into place, I thought, “OK, clearly I need to start again.”

So I reached in with my index finger and thumb, trying to gently squeeze the slightly ribbed bottom of the cup to break the seal and pull the cup out and…nothing.

I pulled with more force.

Nothing.

Well, nothing but a sickening tugging feeling on what felt like all of my internal organs.

The damned demon cup was stuck.

I started laugh-crying as panic set in.

“Oh god!” haha. “I’m going to faint, hit my head and die and no one will know because I live alone and one day my landlord will find me, dead in my apartment and inexplicably naked from the waist down!” haha. Sob. Ha.

At this point I decided the best coping mechanism was denial. So I laid down on the couch and threw on an episode of friends to watch, just as if I wasn’t being held hostage by the iron grip of a terrifying vagina octopus.

While I was prone, I started considering who I might call if after a valiant effort I still couldn’t remove the thing. An ex-boyfriend or two came to mind (I mean, at  least they’d be familiar with the area, right?), but then I remembered that all the ones I’m in touch with have current girlfriends who might not appreciate an explanation of “Be right back hon, just need to help Sarah with her vagina!” as they dashed out the door to my rescue. And while I’m pretty close with my girlfriends, this particular favour would definitely redefine “close” in a less than fun way.

Finally, when I had run out of potential gynaecologists in shining armour and determined that there was no way in hell I was going to my actual gyno with this problem, I took one more deep breath, reached down and yanked the thing clean out, suction be damned.

Youch.

It felt like I had repositioned my uterus and possibly managed to suck my eyeballs a little further back in my head at the same time.

Now for some, this would have been the end of the story. Not so, our crazy heroine.

It turns out, this whole Diva Cup thing is where the intersection of my squeamishness and determination resides.

So the next night I tried again, with strikingly similar results.

I headed back to the internet for some tips where I read about a different method of folding one side of the cup down into itself, making for a less bulky initial insertion and a more gentle unfolding than the umbrella sproinging I initially experienced.

Lo and behold, this worked much better. And once it was in and opened, I was able to maneuver it farther in by putting some pressure on the cup’s stem and doing kegels.

Suddenly, I could no longer feel it. I squinted suspiciously while dancing around a little to be sure, and miracle of miracles, it was finally in the right spot, and I was totally comfortable!

Being comfortable with it in made it much easier to take out. I sort of pulse-pinched the base and wiggled it oh so slightly back and forth, and presto! Successful escape!

The next day I got my period, and the real test began. I wore the cup on a train ride home, and aside from my usual horrendous cramps, I was totally comfortable and had no leaks or spills. While you can leave them in for 12 hours, I took mine out at bedtime as I usually don’t need any overnight protection. I was stunned at how little blood there actually was to dump out of the cup (the Diva Cup has handy little measuring lines so you can be aware of exactly how heavy/light your flow is – like a gross, yet fascinating science project!). Tampons have always made it look like so much more! I was also happily amazed at how little mess there actually was in the removal/dumping/cleaning process.

By day two I felt like a pro, and unfortunately for my dad and my brother, felt the need to tell the entire family of my victory. They were impressed by the money-saving, environmental impact, and self-preservation may have made them stop listening after that.

Et voila. A menstrual cup convert was born!

So, for those of you who made it to the end of the longest post ever, would/do you guys ever use menstrual cups or do you think I’m totally insane for ever trying one?

 

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Bitter Pill – When Birth Control Kills

Last week, there was much discussion on Canadian news outlets following a report from Health Canada linking the Yaz and Yasmin birth control pills to 23 deaths, and numerous other instances of DVT in Canada. A chill settled over me as I stood beside the radio and listened to the mother of 18-year-old Katelynne Fisher, an otherwise healthy young woman who collapsed and died at the gym after suffering a massive stroke. She had been on the pill for a month.

Last week, I also received my final call from the department of Haematology which followed up with me every few months for the past 8 years to see if I’d had more clotting or new symptoms of pulmonary embolism (the worst of which is death, by the way) as part of a study I’ve participated in in the hopes of helping the medical community learn more about DVT and PE.

Obviously I survived my experience with PE (I was an otherwise healthy teenager on Marvelon28) but it was a near thing and it could so easily have gone a different way. What if I hadn’t been home with my parents, who insisted on taking me to emerge? What if we’d arrived at the hospital a little later?

I try not to trifle with what-ifs too often. That way lies madness, I think.

But, man.

“There but for the grace of God go I” never felt so apt.

I was 19 and lived. Katelynne Fisher was 18 and tragically did not.

Comment sections following the news of these 23 deaths are full of people saying that women know the risks of taking the pill, so it’s essentially on them if they are unlucky enough to experience the side effects.

Yes, the possible side-effects are usually listed, (though not always, and certainly not with context) but what 14 year old, desperate to end the fainting, vomiting, and excrutiating pain of a messed up menstrual cycle, is going to think that those risks apply to her? What teenage girl, or grown woman thinks her doctor would prescribe something that really might kill her?

Common lore has it that if you’re an otherwise healthy, young, non-smoker, the warnings on the package must be meant for someone else.

Meanwhile, we don’t test girls for underlying conditions like Factor V Leiden, the genetic mutation I have, which increases the likelihood of developing DVT and pulmonary embolisms. I realize it’s a relatively rare mutation, but with it, I should probably never have taken anything with estrogen, and have been advised never to in the future.  That would have been great information to have prior to nearly losing my life. For most girls and women, it would just be a blood test, and maybe it would feel like a waste, but for some of us it could be life-saving. If testing 100 women, means saving even 1 life, wouldn’t it be worthwhile?

We also tell women what the side-effects could be, but not what symptoms to watch out for. For more than a week before I was rushed to hospital, I thought I had pulled a muscle in my left leg. I thought it was a little odd that it didn’t seem to be improving, and that whenever I took a step, I had pain in my left glute. I also thought I might have a mild urinary tract infection or something, because I was peeing a lot, and feeling weird pressure in my bladder. It wouldn’t have occurred to me in a million years that those were symptoms of a far more serious clot, reaching from my left calf up to my groin. I assumed if it was something really serious, it would hurt more. Of course, with DVT and PE, by the time you have chest pain severe enough to take you to the hospital it might be too late.

Bayer (the company behind Yaz) is certainly not the only culprit here. It’s just the latest.

Years ago, I was shocked and dismayed to learn that the birth control patch some of my friends were crazy about, while being touted as having the same amount of estrogen as the combined birth control pill, was actually releasing way more estrogen into women and girls’ bloodstreams as it was absorbed directly without being digested like the pill, meaning again there was a far higher risk of clotting than most women using the patch realized.

Why would Bayer, or any other company in their position not work to make a pill with a LOWER risk than other pills, rather than just deciding that even though their pill is more hazardous to women’s health than others, the benefits still outweigh the risks? They didn’t for at least 23 women in Canada so far. I’m sure those women would have preferred acne or painful periods or pregnancy over death. Why not work to make progesterone-only birth control pills, which have no increased risk of clotting, more reliable instead of paying billions of dollars in settlements to women and the families of women whose lives have been irreversibly damaged or even lost because they took medication as prescribed by their doctors?

To me, it’s just another example of drug companies being all too willing to play fast and loose with women’s health, in the name of greed and the medical community being far too lax when it comes to making sure that what’s prescribed to young women doesn’t pose a significant threat to their health. And it’s totally unacceptable. We are not guinnea pigs and we deserve better.

Mother Nature Partnership

You know how you have that friend who makes you feel like a total underachiever? They’re not only constantly doing a million cool things, but they’re excelling at them. They’re world-changers, go-getters, creative geniuses, and probably just plain old regular geniuses too. They’d be completely insufferable if they weren’t also damned hilarious and kind.

My friend Alice Irene is one such annoying genius. Just hearing about the things she has on the go at any given time makes me want to take a nap.

A couple of years ago after meeting Veronica Kettle of the African Women Education and Development Forum, Irene came up with an idea to address the challenges many women around the world face due to harmful taboos attached to menstruation in their communities.

For many women around the world, menstruation is considered an actual curse, to the point where, in some cultures, they may be banished to a tiny isolation shed, offering inadequate shelter from the elements for the duration of their periods so that they will not contaminate their own homes with their “impurity.”

Even when not taken to such extremes, the taboo, shame and mystery around menstruation, combined with the prohibitive cost of feminine hygiene products, often means that women are forced to use ineffective methods to manage their periods, which can in turn endanger their health.

It’s not difficult to see how women in developing countries being prevented from working for several days every month, all while feeling ashamed and confused about their own bodies could have a hugely negative impact not only on their physical and mental well-being, but on their economic security and that of their families as well.

So how do you go about empowering women living in a culture with such stigma?

Well, if you’re my amazing friend, you start a partnership with the African Women Education and Development Forum, send 350 reusable menstrual cups to women in rural Cameroon and invite them to take part in workshops where information about menstruation and female reproductive health is distributed and discussed by/with health professionals. For many of them, it was the first time they had access to this vital information about their own bodies.

The response from every woman who took part was so overwhelmingly positive.  Reading their feedback and realizing what a huge impact something as simple as a small, sustainable tool and a little bit of knowledge would have on their lives got me more than a little choked up. I immediately volunteered to help with whatever needed doing for the next phase of the project.

The next phase, as it turns out, will be taking the project to 5000 more women in Cameroon, a  number we will be able to reach in part because Mother Nature Partnership, it was announced this week, will be one of the (over-the-moon thrilled and grateful!) recipients of the Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations grants!

We still have lots of work and fundraising ahead of us to make this happen, and I’ve taken on the task of trying to drum up some interest through social media, which is where you, my internet savvy friends come in.

If, as your good deed for the day, you would be so kind as to show this fantastic project some love by following us on Twitter and/or by liking us on Facebook, well I’d be just tickled.

Or, if any of you bloggers are interested in the project, and feel like writing about it or how to go about taking something like this from an idea in the shower to an actual living, breathing organization, please-oh-please feel free to drop me a line!

A (mostly) Wonderful Weekend

tulips, hospital bracelets, Lady Gaga t-shirt

obligatory concert tee; Gaga earplugs; tulips from mom (who bought me so many I had to put these ones in my pasta jar); and two of the three hospital bracelets I sported this weekend.

Well. It was an eventful weekend in my little world.

As I may have mentioned here once or twice as well as to anyone in earshot for the past couple of weeks, I was scheduled to take my dad to see Lady Gaga and was just a little stoked about it.

Unfortunately my partial snow day Friday was wasted on a trip to the emergency room, because as I had not mentioned here or to almost anyone, over the past couple of weeks, I’d been having some unwelcome and familiar symptoms in my troublesome left leg, with a twinge or two of chest pain thrown in for good measure and my out-of-town hematologist recommended I get an ultrasound right away. I guess that’s what I get for bragging about my good fortune in the blood clot department. Heh.

The doctor I saw was concerned enough with the results to prescribe a type of blood thinner that has to be injected into my stomach once a day (not ideal for a fainting-prone needle-phobe, which I most definitely am) at least until he could have the hematologist there look at my results as it was not immediately clear whether I indeed have a new clot, or if the scans are just picking up the already diagnosed chronic DVT. He told me to return the next night at 8:00 for the next dose.

“OK, Will do,” I said automatically, always eager to be on good terms with anyone who might posess the power to keep me alive.

“Erm, only? Is there any way I could come in a little earlier? It’sjustI’msupposedtobegoingtoaLadyGagaconcertwithmydad” I squeaked like an over-caffeinated mouse, as my heart dropped at the thought of having to tell my dad I couldn’t go.

Fortunately the doctor (and in fact, everyone I encountered at Toronto General) was lovely and good-humoured and said he supposed since Lady Gaga hung in the balance, they could accommodate me a little earlier.

And so it was that we made a pit stop at emerg on the way to the concert. Me in the world’s shiniest superhero pants and jungle-print bustier and my dad, in jeans, a sharp blazer and, because he is the best, gold eyeliner.

I like to think that our somewhat outrageous appearance might have cheered up some of the people we passed in the hospital. Or at least distracted them from whatever they were there for.

We met Red and her dad at the concert and I honestly don’t know who had a better time, us or the dads. As the music started and Gaga took the stage (atop a unicorn, of course) I grabbed my dad’s arm and proclaimed my excitement for the scrillionth time that night. The music vibrated up through my feet and matched my pulse and I thought, well, whatever happens next, tonight, life is pretty damned good.

And now we wait.

Wish me luck!

A Different Kind of Anniversary

A couple of times a year, I get a call from my hematologist’s office. The friendly researcher asks the same set of questions:

Any new pain or swelling in either leg?

Any trouble with breathing or chest pain?

Have you had any testing done during the past six months to check for blood clots?

Yesterday, as I cheerfully answered every question in the negative, it dawned on me that it was eight years to the day since I was admitted to hospital with what turned out to be DVT and a pulmonary embolism.

While eight years of living with chronic pain/discomfort and the knowledge that there is this hostile thing in your body just lurking around, making it hard to walk and impossible to run while it apparently waits for another opportunity to try and kill you is not something I would wish on anyone else, it does give you a certain amount of perspective.

Because while it’s eight years since the most terrifying and painful experience of my life, it’s also eight years since I was really, really lucky.

Eight years, and (knock on wood) I get to answer no to all of the hematologist’s questions.

And maybe, most importantly, eight years of no matter what is going on in my life at the time, being able to look back at that day and say to myself:

You’ve survived worse. You’ll survive this too.

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