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My hysterectomy story — Part 2 in a 4 part blog series

Surgery was a success. Dr. Grace Liu performed a laparoscopic partial hysterectomy at Sunnybrook last Tuesday.

I remember being in the operating room and Dr. Liu chatting with me as she held something over my mouth and nose. Then I vaguely remember waking up and asking, “Did she do it laparoscopically?” and touching my belly. The answer given from who I suspect was a nurse, was “Yes.”

The next memory was of being in bed with a nurse asking me a ton of questions and I finally got annoyed and gave up answering. I remember thinking, Why is she asking me so many questions? I can’t even speak…

Five residents came to visit me and asked me the same question asked by the nurses who looked after me for the 30 hours I was in the hospital. “How is your pain?” I was confused. “I have no pain,” I kept answering.

Truthfully, there was no pain. Discomfort in my stomach area when I moved and some cramping, but nothing I would call pain. Perhaps the years of dealing with extreme cramps that would be considered pain to the average person without my condition had made me immune.

When Dr. Liu came to see me the day after surgery, she looked stunned. “Look at you!” she said. “You have colour in your face!”

I thanked her and she shrugged it off. And I thought to myself – such a skilled surgeon who took out an enormous growth of fibroids from my uterus without having to cut me open. It was a procedure I was told was impossible from other medical sources. Her modesty and wonderful bedside manner made the entire experience almost welcoming – as much as surgery can be.

My recovery was not about physical pain but emotional pain. That’s my next blog.

 

My hysterectomy story

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

 

My hysterectomy story — Part 1 in a 4 part blog series

It’s been a while since I posted. I spent a year and a half working on myself and my career and then I was in a place where I could make a long awaited decision. I have decided to have a partial hysterectomy.

I’m blogging about it because it’s a women’s issue and I wanted to share my experiences with other women who may be in a similar situation.

Fifteen years ago, irregular periods, hot flashes (yes, at 30!) and unbearable cramps led me to a specialist where it was determined that I had fibroids. They’re common, I was told. Just leave them alone and if they grow too large, then I’d eventually have to remove the uterus.

I was young and decided I could live with the symptoms because I wanted to keep the chance of having a child.

But the years passed, and the fibroids grew. I dreaded the week every month. The cramps lessened but the flow increased and for three of the days, I was incoherent. I was exhausted and even the simplest tasks took longer than usual. Last year, I knew it was time to make the decision.

Although I don’t have children and after next week, the option to give birth will be gone forever, I haven’t given up the privilege of becoming a mother.

All of my lives I have believed that being a mother to a child doesn’t necessarily mean giving birth. It means loving and caring and mentoring, helping one to grow. There are many children without a home in this world, and if I’m meant to be a mother, I will adopt.

So next week, I will be in the hands of a skilled surgeon who specializes in non-evasive operations. She will go into my uterus through three tiny incisions in my abdomen where a morcellator will dice up the fibroids so they can be removed through the incisions. There is a 30% chance that this procedure may not work, and only then will she opt for a bikini cut.

Am I scared? Yes.

In about nine days I may be able to blog again and let you know how it goes.

Keep reading….

 

 

My hysterectomy story

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Serenity now

This past week has been one of the hardest Boyfriend and I have ever had. On Sunday we were having dinner and joking around, ready to watch the third episode of Breaking Bad, everything was good and then the phone rang. Boyfriend’s grandfather had taken a turn for the worse and he had to leave for the hospital right away.

We’ve spent the past week communicating through Facebook, text and the occasional phone call. Unsure of what to say or do I tried to be the bright spot in all the badness. I cracked jokes, sent pictures of puppies and GIFs of playful corgis because that’s what he needed. Inside, however, I was dying. He was in so much pain and all I could do was send memes to make him feel better? I felt weak and powerless.

I know everyone grieves in their own way but it hurt me that I couldn’t be there for him, physically. He didn’t want me at the hospital and yesterday after his grandfather finally peacefully slipped away he told me he didn’t want me at the funeral. I want so badly to be there for him and planning to bring him ice cream and pizza after a funeral feels like something a roommate would do, not a girlfriend. He says that he doesn’t want the rest of his family to meet me at a funeral, he wants me to meet them when they are smiling and acting goofy, but I can’t stop this helpless feeling. Shouldn’t I be there to hold his hand? Isn’t that what having a partner is all about? A partner is supposed to be someone who is there to hold you in the cold, in the dark and when you feel like the world is falling apart.

I know it’s selfish to question his grieving process, I know it’s irrational and he needs me to be there for him in the way that works for him, but I hate feeling useless. I’m a fixer, it’s what I do and I want to fix this situation however impossible that sounds.

I know that we’ll get through this, I know that the bad is almost over and even if it isn’t, bad is part of life and I didn’t sign up for a fair weather relationship; I’m here for the long haul.

I just don’t understand why he doesn’t want me there. If I lost a family member or a friend I don’t know that I could do it without him, I would need him by my side. The fact that he doesn’t need me now breaks my heart.

I’m trying to put my hurt feelings aside and just be there for him in the way that he wants and needs but it’s a lot more difficult than it sounds. So I’m choosing to focus on the future. I’m choosing to plan our anniversary, trips out of the city and a visit to my family, which hopefully will help me shake this nagging feeling that we might be coming to an end.

 

 

It’s getting old

Aches and pains. People get them. I train an older demographic: ladies of “a certain age,” as I like to say. When first starting out in the gym, I often hear things like, “Well, I have back pain. But that’s to be expected. It’s just old age.” Is it?

Many seem to think that putting up with a growing assortment of aches and pains is part and parcel of getting older. But other cultures throughout the world demonstrate better aging than in North America. (I’m thinking of Japanese centenarians who can still pop a squat, for example.) I won’t presume that these folks feel just as sprightly as they ever did but it’s fair to say that they feel good enough to keep (surprisingly) active.

There are a couple of problems with using “getting older” to account for feeling crummy. The first is that it can obscure the real reason why people feel that way. If I’ve got one bad hip, let’s say, then why doesn’t the other one feel just as bad? If it’s all about aging then both hips should have gone bust because they’ve got the same number of miles on them. It’s quite possible that there’s a specific mechanical issue that can be addressed with proper exercise (and as a matter of fact, a good trainer *ahem* should make it her business to look out for those issues).

The second problem I see is that this kind of thinking winds up stopping older folks from doing stuff that will keep them healthy and well. If you think “getting older” is the only explanation for your aches and pains then you’re much less inclined to do anything about it. You do less. And the less you do, the less you can do. I’m not suggesting that age isn’t a factor in how our bodies feel and function but I do think that using it as a catch-all is getting old. (See what I did there?)

Life’s Lessons from a Septuagenarian

It is often at the dusk of our life that we seem to value the life we had and live. I turned to the elderly to sail through seemingly tough times. Here is what I have learned so far…

 

1. Trust only a person’s actions, not their words. Much can be promised; little of it gets done.

 

2. Surround yourself with people who will either help you grow as an individual or who keep you happy. You are better off alone than with false friends.

 

3. Always have a plan. Time passes swiftly and one day you will not realize when you turned 60. Set New Year resolutions; you may not follow them but you will at least know where you want to be.

 

4. Be happy or learn to be happy. Create your pockets of happy moments, like adventurous travels, risqué affairs, insurmountable challenges, etc. These will be the memories you will return to when in distress.

 

5. Don’t fight to change people or things. Change your perspective and everything around you will change itself. If there are people bothering you, discard them from your life and stay out of theirs.

 

6. Gain control over anger and emotions. Maintain silence and refrain from making any decisions when too excited, depressed or upset.

 

7. Do not envy or compare yourself with anyone else. Know that everyone has their own set of miseries to deal with.

 

8. Be good to your spouse, friends and children. Your treatment of them will decide how your old age is going to be.

 

9. Learn your finances well. Money has more value than everyone else advocates. Use it wisely.

 

10. Remember to never lose faith and instill ample patience. Everything has a way of working out in the end.

Things get worse before they get better

I’ve heard that things always get worse before they get better, but really? Just when things were starting to get better we found out that Boyfriend and I both have close family members who have been diagnosed with cancer. You’d think that after all we’ve been through the universe would give us a break, but as it turns out that isn’t in the cards yet.

So we hold each other, we love each other and we try to support our families as they deal with what comes next. But despite all the pain this summer has brought with it Boyfriend still manages to make me smile, he still manages to make time for me and he still makes me laugh in that totally embarrassing out loud knee slapping kind of way.

I wouldn’t have made it through the summer of 2013 without him; I couldn’t have picked a better partner to stand by my side and I only hope that I give the same thing to him. If I can give him half the strength he gives me we’ll be in a good place because he needs me now and I want to be the one to support him.

I know that we’ll make it through all of this drama a better couple; we’ll make it through stronger and more together than we’ve ever been. But you get to a point where you start to wonder how much more you have to deal with before life gets easy again. At least I wondered that before I remembered that life isn’t easy and that the ‘easy’ relationships I’ve been have never been good; easy isn’t good it’s just easy.

Being with Boyfriend isn’t hard, but life is. When you’re really with someone, I mean committed we’re in this for the long haul with someone, you will inevitably deal with drama, heartache and loss, but you’ll deal with it beside someone you love and that is what makes the bad nights tolerable. I’d really like it if we had a couple of weeks where all we got was good news but life doesn’t often work like that.

Even if things do continue to get worse I’m going to focus on the positive. In the words of a great friend, I’m going to choose love, because I do love him and no matter how hard things are for either of us we make each other better, happier, more sunshine-y people.

I chose Boyfriend almost a year ago. I chose to let go of my fears and commit myself to someone who was worth committing to and I’m lucky that I did because without him this summer would have been nearly impossible to get through. So life, give me whatever you’ve got because I’m walking through life hand-in-hand with my favourite person, because I’m strong and he makes me stronger but mostly because when you choose love you can do anything.

Women of the week: Susan Jamieson

Sometimes a personal crisis can give you the needed perspective to change your life.

In 1995, Susan Jamieson’s daughter was diagnosed with A-plastic Anemia. Doctors prescribed a treatment of blood transfusions, a treatment neither her daughter nor Jamieson supported.

“We are grateful to live in a country that respects religious freedoms and our family supported our daughter’s constitutional right to ask that hers be respected. Now 31, Tarin still remains the youngest child in Canada to have gone to court and ask for the right to have a say in her medical management,” says Jamieson.

Prior to her daughter’s illness, Jamieson had overseen marketing and sales programs for numerous high profile companies such as Sheraton Hotels, American Express, Budweiser and Pepsi. She took a leave of absence to focus on this medical battle but in 2001, with the disease in remission, Jamieson returned to the work world with a new, more refined focus.

She now serves as a managing partner in JoSuTa Group, a company whose directive is “A desire to help people be healthy.” With clients such as Greenzone, Food Diva and Score-Up, JoSuTa is helping people make informed decisions and working to make the world a better place.

A fine example of her impact: In 2007, she travelled to Dubai to be a guest on a radio show and discuss organic fertilizer. Her segment would prove to be incredibly popular, bringing in a floodgate of callers. The show quickly made the decision to cancel the other scheduled guests and Jamieson was the featured guest for the full hour.

In 2012, Jamieson learned about First Do No Harm. Produced by Asia Geographic Entertainment, this documentary, according to its website, details the “controversial and paternalistic” history of blood transfusions and “the knee-jerk rejection of new knowledge because it contradicts entrenched norms.”

Very excited by the concept of the film, Jamieson sought out the producer and asked for Canadian distribution rights.

“You might say I came to the table a little more motivated than most,” she says.

A key source for her pitch: “She Decides: How to Reach the Most Important Audience for Your Health Campaign,” a report published by Fenton Communications which details the critical role women play in making health decisions for their families.

Once she successfully secured the rights, Jamieson began reaching out to Canadian and U.S. companies, using both her personal story and statistics on targeting the women’s segment of the market. Her goal, she says, is to get these companies to support a potential paradigm shift on the subject of blood transfusion use.

“I am not interested in starting a discussion about individual choice – the question I am asking all women to think about and answer for themselves is have you made an informed choice about the use of blood in your medical management?”

“Yes, I recommend all women make the time to watch the film, educate themselves and then consider, with the assistance of your family doctor, what your stand on blood transfusion use is for your family,” concludes Susan.

 

 

 

When the going gets tough

This summer has been a tough one: I got my dream job, I lost my dream job; I spent a month jobless; my mum was in the hospital for a month and I didn’t know if my mum would make it; I went six weeks without getting paid; I developed an allergy to gluten, which I figured out after a lot of vomiting; and my bio-dad threatened to sue me for the second time. All of these things made for a tough month and a half. Now I’m at a new job that I love, working on brands and clients that really excite me, my mum is on the mend and finally home, I’ve got a handle on my allergy, I got my first pay cheque from my shiny new job this week and bio-dad is ignoring me again. So things are on the upswing and I made it out alive and smiling.

The reason I managed to keep smiling was Boyfriend: he declared depression, “not an option.” He told me that I was smart and a new job was just about the corner, he sat with me as I cried about my mother and my fear of losing her, he insisted we only eat at places that were accommodating to my allergies and he applauded my response to my father’s email. When I thought that my life was falling apart he reminded me that things get tough sometimes but that doesn’t mean that we have to wallow in a pile of sadness until it leaks out of our eyes. I’m paraphrasing, but in all honesty he was my rock.

This kind of support is something I’ve never experienced in a relationship. When I didn’t want to talk about my feelings he just sat there until I let it out. Sometimes that meant tears, sometimes that meant grunts and half sentences flowing out of the mouth of a terrified girl. Not once did he turn me away when I needed him.

The day I signed the contract for my new job Boyfriend and I had plans for dinner, which we were going to do at my house, but after hearing my news that immediately changed to, “We’re going to celebrate Wild Shannons.” Because it had probably been four weeks since I had any good news to share with him and good news is always worth celebrating.

Today is the first day of August and summer may be winding down for most people, but for us this month is summer. We’re planning road trips, BBQs, jet-ski races and anything else we can think of. I don’t care what we do though; we could spend the day on the beach or watching Orange is the New Black on Netflix and it wouldn’t matter to me because I’ll be with my best friend.

I can’t find a word that covers all the feelings I have for Boyfriend so I will use the only one I have, the hopeless inept, grateful. I am so incredibly, wildly, amazingly grateful for everything he’s done for me and I hope that we’ve built up enough karma that the rest of this year will only be filled with wonderful things.

Date night

I’ve been on a lot of dates: with boys I liked; with boys I hoped would call and never did; with boys I was serious with; but I’ve never been on a double date, not really. The Big Ex didn’t want me around his friends because his relationship with me was somehow different from his relationship with his friends. In the end I realized that he was just never sure about ‘us’ and we stayed together for as long as we did because I was filler, I was the girl he dated before he met the girl he loved and he was the man I needed to be with so that I could appreciate what was coming.

So on Saturday night Boyfriend and I went for drinks and a movie with two of my friends, a lovely couple who glow with happiness in love in a way that probably would have made me a little sick when I was younger. No one can be that in love right? That’s movie love, heartbreaking, crazy, sick to your stomach, put a radio over your head in the middle of the night in love. But my friends have that and I look up to them because I hope that after a couple of years Boyfriend and I will be like that, crazy-happy and living in sin. My Catholic upbringing leads me to believe that living in sin would be awesome, like when you first move out on your own and realize that there are no rules and you can go to the store and buy candy at midnight, just because. I assume that is what living with your partner is like, please don’t correct me if I’m wrong.

I was a little nervous to try this double dating thing, being new to healthy and happy dating. I was worried that Boyfriend wouldn’t get along with my friends and I really wanted them to like him and like us together. I shouldn’t have been worried, they loved him. The best thing about being with Boyfriend is that when my friends see how happy we are together they immediately like him.

The only hiccup to an otherwise perfect evening was that when I was being fake angry with Boyfriend my friend pointed out that, “It’s not going to work. No one believes that you’re actually mad when you’re so clearly in love with each other.”  Since Boyfriend and I still haven’t said that very terrifying four-letter word, I was afraid that he would freak out, I was nervous that my feelings had been outed and he would start acting weird. He didn’t. Nothing changed, except that he knew he’d won this particular battle.

So we haven’t said the words yet. I’m pretty sure they are going to burst out of my mouth any day now, and it’s nice to know that everyone can see how in love we are. It’s a win for me at least… now I know I’m not crazy. Not completely anyway.

Win the Wrap Your Body Slim experience

This is your chance to win a great package from the fantastic health and wellness company Wrap Your Body Slim. One lucky winner will receive a basket filled with goodies such as a detox body wrap, facial wrap, a Vemma (vitamins, essential minerals, mangosteen & aloe) sample bottle, a Verve sugar free energy can, a Bod-e Burn can and a Thirst packette. Enter today for your chance to win the Wrap Your Body Slim experience.

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Tuesday, August 13th, at 2 p.m.

 

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