Sunday, 29 September 2013


We made it to the big city! We don't have internet yet (Im using a hotspot that Isaiah's brother has created with his 3G) so I won't be updating until we get connected but thought I would let everyone know we made it safely.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Lets review what is about to happen.

We leave tomorrow! Gah!

I thought I would review what is going to happen once I actually get to Toronto.

  • We move into our new apartment.
  • We find a delicious restaurant to celebrate successfully driving through the city.
  • Hopefully our Internet will be connected in the next week. 
  • October 8th I have my 'listing' appointment where I will be 'listed' (they call it 'listed' when you are officially on the transplant list). Isaiah and I will meet with the surgeon, transplant coordinator, insurance people, and social worker that day where:
              - I give all my life information to the insurance people 
              - I will be terrified by the surgeon when he tells me intricate surgery details of how he will
                 be slicing me open
              - The transplant coordinator will tell me more about the weird side-effects of the
                 post-transplant meds.
              - The social worker will tell Isaiah to go to the group counseling sessions ( I can't go as
                they don't want people with CF to be in the same area together).
              - The social worker will try to get me to go on anti-anxiety meds.
  • I start physiotherapy 3x/week at the hospital after being officially listed.
  • We will then spend all our money at food festivals and concerts.
  • I can not go further than 2 1/2 hours from the Toronto General Hospital.
  • I wait for the call which could take a month or a year or two years (harass everyone you know to sign their donor cards!!!)

That's it!  I'm sure I will learn more about it the actual process on October 8th.

Have a good weekend everyone!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013


I posted about a month ago about how I was going to be doing these awesome courses from Coursera. Yeahhh...about that....I don't know why I thought I would have the time or motivation to do a course right now while I am trying to move. The course is finished and I am still on week 3.

The social psychology course ended up having way more content than I was prepared to watch. The instructor was super interesting to watch but after 40 minutes, I was ready to move onto something else. I think my problem was also that I started 2 weeks late due to my vacationing so I felt like I was never able to catch up.

The good thing about Coursera is that it is all free (that may also be the downside as I feel no financial obligation to finish the course). The course content did look intriguing so hopefully I will be in a more stable situation next time it is offered.

In the mean time, I have started to do a '8 week yoga challenge' with my sister.  It involves doing short (20ish minutes) yoga videos during the week. I think it is a good enough reason to go shopping for yoga clothes once I get to Toronto :)

Monday, 23 September 2013

Bird on a branch.

I realized while I was packing up today that I hadn't yet shown this canvas that I did awhile ago. It was while I was experimenting with the tape and pastels. It is suppose to be a little bird on a branch. I had to explain it to my family so obviously it is not as obvious as I would have liked it to be. Oops!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Another post about emotions.

I don't know if anyone has seen the Louis C.K. rant on Conen (just so you know it is kind of crude in a Louis C.K. kind of way) last week about cell phones and technology but it really resonated with me as I have spent the last few weeks using technology as a way to avoid all emotions. His rant was basically that we all use technology now as a way to avoid emotions and that we don't let ourselves feel truly sad anymore as we always have a distraction.

That is basically what I have been doing for the past month. I always have the radio or a TV show on during the day and then listen to a podcast as I fall asleep (they usually help, except one CBC one about talking to families when a loved one dies). Technology helps me block out over thinking everything in my mind but it has also reached the point where it has blocked out dealing with my emotions. The only times my emotions become overwhelming is usually in the shower because I have time to think and overthink.

So with that in mind, I spent last night sitting outside watching the sunset and had a good cry about everything that is happening.

Honestly, I am freaked out about moving. Let me clarify, it is not the actual moving part that freaks me out, I can handle living in a large city without any close friends as I have been doing that for the last year and half (the friends thing, not the big city bit). Sure, it will be hard not to be able to go visit my friends on weekends when I am feeling lonely but that is why I have unlimited texting.

The part about moving that freaks me out is what it represents. It means that the lung transplant is becoming less of an abstract idea and more of an actual reality. It means that I am going to be living in Toronto just waiting for the call which could happen at any moment. It also means that I am that much closer to having a surgery where 2 in 10 people die within the first year.

I am not even necessarily freaked out about the actual surgery. Sure, having tubes down my throat, being hopped up on morphine, and having a catheter doesn't sound particularly enjoyable. However, I am incredibly confident about my ability to work my ass off in recovery. My struggle comes with the fact that not everyone gets the chance to recover. Or just because you are determined as hell to do everything the physiotherapist wants, doesn't mean that your body is going to let you. Determination doesn't matter if your body is rejecting your lungs. That helplessness and it being out of my control is what scares me the most. I don't want to die from lung failure. I want more time.

*sigh* Emotions are the worst.

I know I need to take it one day at a time and try not to worry about the future and cross the bridges as they appear. That is so much easier said than done.  So until I figure how not to think about the future, I will continue to let Bob McDonald lull me asleep discussing about the latest dinosaur discovery but I will try to let myself have a break from distraction every once in awhile and let myself cry at a few more sunsets. Because it really is better to truly feel and acknowledge the emotions rather than try to continue to push them aside.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

I almost burned down the apartment so I wouldn't have to pack.

Last night I made a brilliant fish chowder using various food from the freezer. I used up the last of the onions, corn, the frozen fish mixture, and one bag of potatoes. It was annoying to chop up everything as I could only find our tiny cutting board that is incredibly unpractical. I cursed having to cook with stuff already packed away.

I made biscuits to go with the chowder to use up some of the baking supplies and because fresh biscuits are delicious. So I was cooking along and as my last biscuits turned out kind of flat, I thought maybe it was because I didn't fully pre-heat the oven (I usually get impatient and just put the baking in whenever it is ready). This time, I decided, I was going to fully pre-heat it and the biscuits would be even that much better.

I was cooking with my oxygen on which still makes me a bit nervous. I know rationally that it would take a spark close to the oxygen line for it to become a super oxygen bomb. I turned on the oven to pre-heat and was working on mixing up the biscuits while waiting for the sauce to thicken up a bit. There was a weird smell coming from the oven but I figured that some sauce must have spilled over and was burning off or maybe the chard bits under the element were smoldering some more (I am not the neatest chef).

I finished up the biscuits, put them on the cookie sheet,  and went to put them in the oven when I opened the door only to find the source of the weird smell.

The two large wooden cutting boards that I thought Isaiah had packed away were sitting in the oven with smoke oozing out of them. My immediate thought was that it was somehow going to kill me so I completely panicked. With very little rational thought I threw the cookie sheet on the counter, shut off the oven, and ran out of the kitchen.  I thought for sure the boards were going to suddenly catch on fire which would, of course, result in me becoming an exploding ball of fire.

After a few deep breaths, I somewhat (but not completely) more rationally, shut off my oxygen, grabbed a dishcloth and opened up the oven door long enough to throw the smoking cutting boards on the floor. I furiously called Isaiah (he is visiting his dad for the weekend) to see why he was trying to kill me. Apparently he had put the boards in the oven to dry them out a little bit. Mission accomplished.

I lite some candles (somewhat panicked that the extra oxygen in the air would cause the flames to become super flames...I obviously still have no idea how oxygen works) and turned on all the fans to air out the kitchen a bit. In the end, my chowder turned out deliciously. I made way too much so someone needs to come help me eat it all.
Yum!! Too bad I almost died for it.

Friday, 20 September 2013

One week!

One week until we move. Gahhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A lot of people keep asking me how I am feeling about the move and honestly, at this point, I am just ready to have it done. Now that it is just one week away and the packing has seriously begun, I know I will feel better once I am actually in Toronto and everything is settled down. I think I have completed everything I need to logistically from my end. I have called the oxygen people about getting it set up in Toronto, I have 3 months worth of medication stockpiled (apparently pharmacies in Toronto don't have meds?? I'm still not sure why I had to do that), and I have all the paperwork ready to get reimbursed for my travel expenses.

Now I just have to get everything that is going to storage (basically everything) packed up for my parents arrival tomorrow. Good thing I spent the last two days marathon watching Orange is the New Black so I won't have any distractions today.

Seven days left! Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!

Christmas presents! I refuse to move something that I would have to mail home later.
Wrapping presents is a great way to procrastinate from packing.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Come visit for a meal of random food!

Isaiah and I are trying to eat everything in the freezer and cupboards so we don't have to get rid of or move as much food. Anyone have any great recipe ideas?

Here is our list of food minus all the standard baking supplies:

Freezer food: Hamburger, hamburger buns (that one is obvious), rhubarb, chowder mix, hot peppers, tomatoes, pizza dough, tofu, clams, turnip, pork bacon (it is incredibly fatty and essentially just fat), baked beans, tomatoes, broccoli

Cupboard food: Potatoes, kidney beans, lentils, pasta sauce, all kinds of pasta (we will be eating a lot of pasta for the next two weeks), pancake mix, peaches and cream corn, sweetened condensed milk, chick peas

Anyone is welcome for a supper of pasta and tomatoes!  (However, we no longer have a table so we will all have to squat on the couch)

Tomatoes need to ripen. They will be turned into tomato sauce for all our pasta.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Lessons from a Python

Sorry about the delay in posting! I've been (and still am) hanging out in Halifax. I feel like I have spent the entire weekend on one long 'coffee date' at various restaurants eating delicious food. It has been a pretty good weekend except for the fact that after every meal, I have to say 'bye' to another one of my friends. But then I get a text from them 5 minutes later and I don't feel as sad.

Sunday night Isaiah and I went to a comedy show (John Cleese to be exact), it was fantastic but the most exciting part for me was that I was actually able to go. I bought the tickets back in February and at the time, I had no idea if I would still be in the area in September. I was in the hospital at the time and there was a huge push to get all transplant stuff arranged. I figured that I would for sure be in Toronto by September but bought the tickets anyway as I didn't want to miss the opportunity on the off chance I would still be in the Maritimes. I am very glad that I did because even with their being four shows in Halifax this weekend, they were all sold out quite quickly.

So the big lesson from last night (besides the fact that John Cleese is still quite funny) was that it pays to still plan for the future even though it might be uncertain. I need to keep going and keep on living as I have no idea when the transplant is actually going to happen. It could be in a month, it could be in a year, it could be in 2 years. I can't plan for it so I think the best thing to do is to keep booking shows and making plans because otherwise I would completely lost my mind sitting around waiting for the call. Thank you Monty Python for the reminder.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The 9 Myths of Organ Donation that You may Believe.

Today I am going to debunk some organ donation myths.

Myth: It is really hard to be an organ donor.
Fact: Actually, it is really easy. Most provinces just have you check a box when you renew your driver's license or health card and presto, you are an organ donor.            Click on your province for more detailed information:
Nfld and Lab NSPEI; NB (Of course NB has no official lung transplant website but the NB Lung Association can offer some more information);  QuebecOnt; ManSask;  Alb;  BC

Myth: If I sign the donor card that is all I have to do to be a donor.

Fact: You still need to talk to your family about your wishes as they can override your decision when the time comes. Go talk to them now. Seriously, right now. If you get hit by a bus tomorrow, die in hospital, and and haven't yet talked to them, I will be pissed (I will also be sad that you are dead).

Myth: My body will be used for organ donation no matter how I die.
Fact: Actually no, while it is great you want to donate your body, you have to die in hospital for most organs to be viable for transfer. Blood needs to be kept pumping through the organs even after you die and that doesn't happen if you get mauled by a bear (unless the bear is in the hospital). Your eyes, bones and skin, however, will still be fine when they find you in the woods (providing the bear doesn't run away with you). 

Myth: I am too old to donate anything.
Fact: Nope! Sure, not all of your body parts will be viable but as long as you die in hospital, you will most likely have some working body parts that other people need to live. ie - the cornea in your eye, tissues, or skin.
 Myth: If I become a donor, my body will later be used for medical research and in student labs.
Fact: Not even a little bit. Organ donation means any organs that are donated will be removed and everything else will be given to your family for burial (or cremation, or liquidation, or Tibetan sky burial, or whatever else you are doing). You can still have an open casket if you want so everyone to gaze upon your glory while they think how awesome it was that you donated your organs.
If you do want your body donated for medical research, I believe you have to fill out a slew of forms from that facility. Here are Dalhousie's forms if you want to donate your body to Dalhousie's Faculty of Medicine. 
Myth: Doctors won't try to save my life if they know I'm an organ donor.
Fact: Umm no. ER doctors will do everything they can to save you. Trust me, they do not want you to die from the bear attack anymore than you do. The organ donation conversation only happens after everything possible has been done and you are actually declared dead.

Myth: My family will have to pay if I am an organ donor.
Fact: Nope! Hurray for the Canadian health-care system! Your family will still have to pay for your fancy casket and manicure and whatnot (but they would have had to do that anyway).

Myth: Transplants don't work so there is no point in signing anything.
Fact: Actually, transplant success rates are pretty good. Kidney and liver transplants especially.
Myth: Everyone else signs their donor card so I don't have to.
Fact: No. Thousands of Canadians are waiting for some type of transplant (4,000 to be exact). 1,803 transplant operations were done last year in Canada while 195 people died while on a waiting list.                                                                                          
Canada has a low rate of organ donation, even though we have a similar percentage of willing donors compared to other developed countries. The low number of organ donors is attributed to our lower rates of death from car accidents or gunshot wounds compared to other countries. While it is awesome that more people survive from their car accidents and aren't getting shot as often, it does mean that the possible donor pool is smaller than other countries and each potential donor matters that much more.

In conclusion, you can help save or enhance the life of 8 people through your organ donations.

8 people!!

Batman didn't even save that many people!*

You will be more awesome than Batman.

*Note: I know nothing about Batman. However, I do know about the need for organ donation so please sign your donor cards today and harass your family and friends until they do the same.  

For a less awesome version of the myths debunked and more information, visit the Canadian Society of Transplantation.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Good bye !

The good byes have begun.


I, like most people, hate good byes. Last weekend, I said goodbye to NB (even though I'll be driving through it in two weeks) and all a group of friends. Today was PEI and my brother (more my brother than PEI) and this weekend is going to be my last visit in Halifax before the move. I realize that most people, at some point, move away from their friends and family so it is not like I'm doing something that hasn't been experienced by everyone. I think it is worse this time compared to other times I have moved because I will be stuck in my 2 1/2 hour radius in Toronto and don't have the option of being able to travel home whenever I want (realistically, it is not like I would travel home a lot if I did have the option but knowing that I can't makes it feel more restricting).

Sorry if I don't get a chance to see everyone for 'one last time' before I leave! I am trying hard to fit everyone in but the month is getting kind of crazy (it is almost the middle of the month already!) and there is still a lot of packing to do (translation: nothing is packed). At least there is now fancy technology so we can all keep in touch!

Goodbye PEI! (Also, Goodbye summer!)

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Apartment hunt is over!

We found an apartment!!! Yay!! Or rather, my amazing cousin found us the apartment! He spent last Friday wandering all over Toronto to looking apartments for us from our 'best of' list that we formulated. After getting his feedback and opinion, I contacted the landlords from his top 3 choices that night and this one was the quickest to respond. The landlord sent me an application on Sat and today told me he was willing to rent me the apartment! I am just waiting for him to email me the lease so I can sign it and send it back to make everything is nice and official before I completely relax and feel comfortable deleting all the other apartment information.

The apartment is at 219 Fort York Blvd. It is 1700$/month (Welcome to the big city!) but thankfully the NS government will subsidize up to 1500$/month so it isn't as unaffordable as it sounds. It is furnished which is excellent so we don't need to move our forks and plates although I'm sure Isaiah will still want to take a lot of our kitchen appliances. Electricity is included and there is central air which means I will never go outside when it is humid. There is also a small balcony where I will probably try to grow a tomato or maybe just put a chair and sit and watch the traffic.

Parking is not included but can be purchased through other people in the building. The landlord said we could rent his spot for the first few weeks until we arrange something else. Parking spots can range from 100$-170$/month. If we find we aren't using the car, I'm sure we can park it at one of our many relatives outside of the city. There are also storage lockers for rent from people in the building which would be another 50$/month. Hopefully we won't have that much stuff that we need to rent more space.

The building has a great fitness facility, a pool, two hot tubs, and an outdoor space with two bbqs.  It is about 10 minute walk to groceries which isn't too bad (Isaiah can handle that).

All in all, it is a huge relief to have found a place and not have to worry about where we are going to live. Thank you cuz for all your hard work!!! You'll have to come and try out the hot tub some Sat night!

If you want a visual of the apartment, outdoor space, and fitness room, here are the videos that he made.
Outdoor space
Fitness facility

Meanwhile, I am relaxing in PEI with my brother for a few days.

Proof that it stopped raining!

*Edit note: Apparently I had the 'Apartment' link to the wrong video, it has been fixed so you can now see my soon-to-be new home! 

Friday, 6 September 2013

Baking with freezer food: Rhubarb-Sunberry Mascarpone Oversized Tart

The cooking with random food from the cupboard and freezer has begun! We don't really have room to move a bunch of food so we better get creative with our next month of meals. 

This dessert is for a get-together tonight. The initial inspiration recipe was a Blueberry Mascarpone Tart.

Sunberries from the garden (I didn't cook the leaf)

Frozen rhubarb. We have so much frozen rhubarb to use. Rhubarb flavoured everything!

Pie crust from the depths of the freezer. it slightly overcooked as it went from soggy to overcooked in the span of one minute.
Sunberry-Rhubarb sauce boiled down and thickened with a bit of cornstarch and sweetened with sugar. 
Whipped cream and Mascarpone Cheese sweetened with some icing sugar and 'tarted' (is that a word?) with some lemon juice. I had bought the mascarpone cheese thinking I would make Tiramisu but obviously I never got around to it as it was still in the freezer.
I layered it up once everything was cool.Can't wait to try it tonight!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

How to Die

Last night, when I woke up in the middle of the night with sharp pain in my left side (because it was 3am, I thought my left lung was collapsing but after some more sleep and putting Tiger Balm on the muscles this morning, I realize it is more realistically leftover pain from sleeping on a pull-out couch for the weekend), I turned on my podcasts hoping one would lull me back to sleep.

My 3 am choice was to listen to the CBC podcast "How to Die" as part of their "How To Do It" summer series. It was very interesting but definitely not the best 3 am choice and it did not help me to get back to sleep. The three main points of the podcast was to: Prepare for your death (as in living like you know you will die); Dress for the occasion (they talked to someone who made funeral clothing); and know your audience (that one was weird, they talked to a comedian about 'dying' onstage).

I though the most interesting part was when they went to a 'Death Cafe' in Toronto where people congregate every month to talk about death and death-related issues. An 80-year old man said he can't talk to his friends about dying as they laugh it off as a joke and change the subject. The majority of the people at the cafe who they interviewed had family or friends die and they needed a safe space to bring it up. They all commented that their friends thought they were morbid or weird if they brought up the topic of death.
The reporter then commented how morbid and weird he felt at the the cafe session. I think he may have missed the greater point.

I thought it was an incredibly interesting idea for a gathering as it is true that as a society we never talk about death. We rarely see dead bodies (and then they are made to look as 'life-like' as possible) and no one really wants to talk about dying. The podcast was quite similar to a website I have been visiting ever since I heard about it through an interview on CBC (It is pretty obvious that I <3 CBC).  The women, a trained mortician, has youtube videos where she answers questions about death, dying, and the death industry in a very factual, surprisingly funny way.

When I first got really sick, I went through her entire website and I found it helped a lot to read about death in a very honest way. That might seem morbid and dark but it really helped and I'm sure the 'death cafe' really helps people as they can talk about their fears and feelings without being dismissed as weird or morbid.

The last part of the podcast was an interview with a philosopher who talked about what makes a a 'good death' versus a 'tragic death'. He says a 90-year-old's death is less tragic than a 50-year-old's death which is seen as less tragic than a 30-year-olds and so on as people die younger. Until it is infants and then a 5-year-old's death is more tragic than a 2-month-old. It is strange what we have decided as a society to be tragic or less-tragic.

The philosophers main point was to recognize that you are going to die and live accordingly but maybe don't bring it up on a first date.  I know death makes people uncomfortable and no one likes to talk about it but the more it is talked about, the less uncomfortable it will be and the more we will appreciate life.

I will leave you with his last point: "If you had a sense that your days were coming to a close relatively soon...I would love to have one last time to tell people who have been important to me over the course of my life, tell them just what it is they did for me. If that is something you would want to do at the end of your life, if you knew your life was coming to an end, than I suppose one of the morals should be don't wait." 

Brilliant advice.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Garden Update - End of the Summer

This is my last garden update seeing as we are trying to get all the stuff we aren't keeping before Friday. I pulled up all the beans today as they stopped growing. I need everything to be done growing before Friday! (Also, my new phone takes fantastic pictures)

The peas are somehow still growing and still delicious!

Ground cherries galore! Half of them fell off before they were fully ripe. I think it was because of the week it never got watered.
How many hot peppers can you count?
Peanut plant ready for 'harvest'.
Isaiah hard at work

There was 1 peanut. Sigh. I don't think I'll be making peanut butter. I think the soil was too wet. I am still going to try and dry it out to see how it tastes.
I don't think I'm going to get a slice of melon.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Happy September!

Ahh, its September already! Where on earth did all my 'time to move' go? I am back from my weekend in Halifax that I spent hanging out with friends for my second last time before moving.  (*tear*) I am trying to cram in everything I enjoy about Halifax in my last two visits to the city. I have a lot of restaurants and good beer to sample (I know there are good restaurants and beer in Toronto, but it won't be the same).

Now that I am back in Springhill, I am once again stressed about moving. The October apartments are finally up on kijiji so we will start contacting people soon. There is lots of sorting and packing to be done that I am trying my best to ignore. I hate moving!!

It also felt incredibly weird to be in Halifax for Labour Day weekend to see all the moving vans and students in the city. I still find it strange to not be starting a new semester in the fall. I know I didn't last year either and it felt incredibly strange then too. I always loved September because it meant a new semester and sometimes a new apartment and a new atmosphere. I guess I will get that 'new' feeling in a month when I actually move but moving for health reasons is much less exciting than starting school.

Happy first week of classes everyone! And Happy September to everyone else!