Project Red Fashion Show Talk (Heart & Stroke) . . .

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 4.49.31 PM

Short video recorded for Queen’s University‘s Project Red Charity Fashion Show few weeks ago.

Here is the link to watch the video: (just over 3 minutes)

https://youtu.be/SdCfGi_XtGs

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to share my experience to help raise awareness for the Heart & Stroke Foundation – specifically targeting the university audience at Queen’s University. (My alma mater).

I am living proof. My life has been improved through cardiac research. From my surgically implanted defibrillator to completing Cardiac Rehabilitation to the cardiac medications I take daily. (The defibrillator used by the paramedics and fire fighters who got my heart going again on March 15th 2011 is definitely further proof.)

My day-to-day quality of life is better because of cardiac research dollars.

I can’t state it more plainly than that.

Queen’s University Project Red:

https://www.facebook.com/projectred

134055646_640

Heart and Stroke Foundation:

http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.2796497/k.F922/Heart_Disease_Stroke_and_Healthy_Living.htm

Posted in Message, The Bigger Picture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

4 Year Cardiac Arrest Anniversary . . .

Yesterday was the four year anniversary of my near fatal cardiac arrest.

I took a day to reflect on all the good that’s happened since then.

I reached out to friends and family who were there for me during that difficult time. Especially those who participated in saving my life. I thanked them for being there and for loving me.

I reached out to people who mean a lot to me in general. (Including wonderful people that I’ve met since my cardiac arrest).  And thanked them for their presence.

I did my usual Sunday routine. Positive reading. Yoga. Meditation. Reflection on things I am thankful for.

Later in the day, I ate pizza and wings with one of my aunts. Coincidentally, in the house with the cardiac arrest happened. She chastised me for giving her the scare of her life. We watch movies and laughed together. (Of course, I fell asleep during one of the movies and missed the middle!)

Overall, I am feeling  very thankful. A real sense that I have A LOT to be thankful for.

Although I am still on dialysis and waiting for a call for a kidney, I still have a really wonderful life. And the energy and enthusiasm to work at making my life even better. With amazing things to look forward to. (With or without a new kidney).

blessed1

That’s all . . .

Posted in Message, Musings, Progress, The Bigger Picture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Contributing to the Celebration of WORLD KIDNEY DAY!!!!

A few things to be thrilled about today . . .

1. It’s WORLD KIDNEY DAY!!! For me it’s an opportunity to reflect of the amazing progress that’s been made (and that is being made) to improve the lives of people living with kidney disease. Wonderful . . . I have benefited directly from this amazing work. I am sooooooo thankful.

2. My story was featured on a Canadian physiotherapy blog, written by none other than Dr. Trisha Parsons. I am so honoured and touched that she believes my message can change the way people think about the place of physiotherapy (and exercise) in the treatment of kidney disease.

Here is a link to the blog post:

http://shoptalk.physiotherapy.ca/rep-11-the-whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts/#more-558

Here is a link to a photo-documentary video I did with Dr. Parsons that discusses my Sick to Fit Journey:

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 12.15.03 PM

https://www.dropbox.com/s/qqud7ahmstnwvyd/Sick%20to%20Fit%20Journey%202%20Med%20Res.mp4?dl=0

I am very proud that my experiences and messages can contribute to the improvement of medicine in a few different areas. My work with Kidney Disease is closest to my heart but contributing to other organizations like the work of the Heart and Stroke Association or to the mission of complimentary areas like Physiotherapy or Cardiac Rehabilitation, means a lot to me too.

Please read about Dr. Trisha Parsons and her mission to improve the lives of people with chronic illnesses (especially Chronic Kidney Disease) through physiotherapy:

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 12.33.44 PM

Dr. Parson is the Chair of the Canadian Renal Rehabilitation Network (http://www.crrn.ca) . . . another cause very, very close to my heart.

Here is a link to the physiotherapy blog, called “ShoPTalk”, (http://shoptalk.physiotherapy.ca).

Posted in Amazing People, Message, Progress, The Bigger Picture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Approaching the Next Stage: Living with Kidney Failure and Dialysis . . .

Changes Exit Sign

Right now I’m at home on my dialysis machine. This is pretty typical for me, as I have done home hemodialysis for the last few years, but . . . this may be my last time on this particular machine.

I am finally beginning a trial with the NxStage machine at my hospital. My first training day is March 5th.

It’s a little surreal.

For years I have been hearing about NxStage and imagining my life on this new machine and now the time has finally come.

I know this analogy is over the top but it feels like I’m moving to a different country or getting married.

I am excited about the transition and the chance to learn and experience something new.

I would also be lying if I didn’t also mention my slight apprehension. All change is a tiny bit scary . . . no matter how exciting the change.

Yesterday I made arrangements with the hospital to have movers come and remove my current dialysis machine and my water filtration system. (It’s really happening, y’all)

I have a relationship with my machine though. In all honesty I harbour no ill will towards it. (One of my cousins calls this machine, “your husband”.)

To me this transition is like trying out a new model of car. I am curious to see if the qualities that I like about this new model will improve my life the way I hope and expect them too.

I am hoping to have more time for myself.

There should be less time setting the machine up every time – and doing rinses and maintenance.

The machine itself and its supplies should take up less space in my home.

The particular machine, on wheels, may even enable me to do dialysis in the living room.

Quick aside . . . how many times have I sat in the dialysis room while friends or family were in the living room having fun. Feeling like I was missing the action. Now I will have the opportunity to wheel myself into the living room and be part of the fun too.

And of course, the biggest advantage of this machine, I will be able to travel again. (With a bit of coordination). I am looking forward some US trips to see family . . . and who knows what else is possible????

Dialyzing right now (even as I write this), there is a little bit of reverence and respect given to a machine that has kept me well and provided me years of good service. I am mindful of the science and research and medicine that went into the machine I’m currently using. I am very thankful for that.

It is very fitting that this is Kidney Month and that there are scientists and doctors who have very graciously dedicated their lives to improving the lives of people like me who live with Chronic Kidney Disease.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to experience this next stage of my life (with kidney failure and dialysis) with the NxStage machine.

Wish me luck.

I am also open to NxStage not being the ideal treatment for me but I am very curious and excited to find out.

Please join the Kidney Foundation of Canada in celebrating Kidney Month – March. Support Kidney Month no matter where you are in the world. I think Kidney Month is being celebrated internationally.

www.kidney.ca

Unknown

P.S. I KNOW I just asked you to support Heart Month and the Heart and Stroke Foundation but I’m a person with a very complicated health history – spanning quite a few diseases. I have lots to support!!! LOL.

Posted in Progress, The Bigger Picture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sharing for a CAUSE . . .

Very honoured to be asked to be the local spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation  – in Heart Month. This Heart Month the emphasis is on RESEARCH. 

Of course I had to support them.

My quality of life is great because of cardiac research and that’s reflected in my medications, my surgically implanted defibrillator, my participation in the Cardiac Rehabilitation Centre at Hotel Dieu, the protocol and tools used to save my life after my cardiac arrest in 2011 (March 15th).

I have a lot to be thankful for.

Here are two links to features.

CKWS News . . .

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.50.11 PM

http://www.ckwstv.com/2015/02/23/heart-stroke-month-a-cardiac-survivors-story/

Station 14 News . . . 

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 8.44.54 PM

http://www.station14.ca/video.html?id=1794

PLEASE support the Heart and Stroke Foundation. 

http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.2796497/k.F922/Heart_Disease_Stroke_and_Healthy_Living.htm

Follow the link to learn more about Cardiac Rehabilitation:

http://www.hoteldieu.com/programs-and-departments/cardiac-rehabilitation-centre

The research improves the day-to-day lives of people like me.

Posted in Message, The Bigger Picture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

READING A Transplant Surgeon’s Journal . . .

It’s not often that you read or learn something that brings you a completely new perspective.

I am reading a book called, “Breathless: A Transplant Surgeon’s Journal – A Tribute to the World’s First Successful Lung Transplants” by physician, Thomas R.J. Todd.

IMG_1779FullSizeRender

A colleague lent it to me a while ago, insisting that I would enjoy it. I let it sit for a LONG time and finally one day I was ready. (My boyfriend was apprehensive that the book was positive for me but . . .)

The first day I read it, I was in tears. Not “misty-eyed” either . . . sobbing.

I had thought it would be full of medical jargon and self-congratulatory “doctor business”.

Instead I found a humble and candid “journal” from the doctor’s perspective in a surprisingly human tone. The tribulations and cautious triumphs of the early days of lung transplants at the Toronto General Hospital.

The co-stars of the show, so to speak, are the patients.

Dr. Todd described each patient with obvious love and admiration. Through this book, solidifying their place in the history of lung transplants, for the sacrifice they made so the medical team could learn and build in confidence and success with their program.

I cried because this book showed me that many patients died in early attempts at transplants before things began to go well – protocol and practice-wise. Patients just like me – hoping for a better life.

I am not finished reading yet. I am only able to read a little bit each day – in the morning before I start my day. (As part of my daily positivity ritual.)

From the first day I began reading, I considered that there is someone who could (or perhaps who has) written the same book but from the Kidney Transplant Surgeon’s perspective.

Someone who like, Dr. Todd, cared about people living with disease. Wanted to figure out how to give people the precious hope that more time (and more life) gives. And therein a chronicle of the patients whose lives were sacrificed in order that kidney transplants improve and progress as a treatment for saving the lives of people with Chronic Kidney Disease.

I am moving forward with a different appreciation of the history of organ transplants. From the lung transplant perspective but also from the perspective of kidney transplantation and beyond.

I am so thankful for the doctors and researchers who care so much about the possibility of improving patients lives.

Physicians who dream of solutions.

Who challenge ideas of what’s possible.

Whose bravery improve lives.

Thank you to Dr. Todd for helping me see and understand this perspective. To consider whose broad, brave shoulders I stand on as an organ transplant recipient.

** Remember I had my first kidney transplant in the 90’s and it lasted me 13 years. :)

I am especially moved to tears with the reminder that many of these “shoulders” are fellow patients who were brave to take chances with early transplant technology but ultimately whose sacrifice taught medicine so much through their experience.

Thank you. Sending out a seriously heartfelt thank you.

Posted in Amazing People, Message, Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment