Friday, November 30, 2007

Confessions of a Shopaholic Relapse

I suppose it's quite understandable. In a life where so much is out of my control, I found comfort in an addiction--shopping! It began at age 6 when I broke my leg learning how to ski. I was in terrible pain and my father brought me a stuffed egg guy from the hospital gift shop. The stuffed animal soothed me and was the first object in a long journey of self-medication with material things.

In the early years, toys and, later, clothes were things I turned to when I was sick and sad. They brightened my day and provided a much-needed distraction from the realities of my illness. My dependency grew and eventually, I was shopping for all emotional occasions--I shopped to celebrate, soothe anxiety, comfort sadness and remedy boredom. There was nothing in life that didn't warrant a shopping trip!

In the times I was seriously ill and immobile, my physical limitations helped to temper my shopping desires. There was only so long I could shop before I was too exhausted to continue. In the very sick days, my Mom wheeled me through the mall in a wheelchair as I piled clothes on my lap. (She was also a inexperienced driver who banged me into many poles and clothing racks! We laughed so hard!) Shopping wasn't something I did by myself, it was a bonding time for me and my mom or friends. There were so many advantages!!

Things got really out of control when my health was no longer a limiting factor. After both transplants, armed with new lungs and a prednisone high, my love of shopping consumed me. After transplant #2 it only took a few months until my credit card was maxed out at a whopping $10,000. Gulp. That is when I realized this wasn't a joke anymore. Shopaholic was a funny word I tossed around but, looking at the damage I was doing to my life, it began to ring very true. I took it seriously and decided I needed help.

I went to my therapist and we hashed out a plan. First thing was to call the credit card company and work out a payment plan that I could actually do. Second, was to get myself into a 12 step program (for real). Third, and simultaneously, was to process my need to shop and find its roots so I could spray some weed killer on them and be done with it.

Luckily for me, my credit card company worked with me and I got a payment plan that I could handle. I went into Debtor's Anonymous. I began to explore the depths of this addiction and found out it was deeper than I ever expected.

Debtor's Anonymous was quite an experience! I had never done a 12 step before but certainly knew about them from TV, movies etc. Just like in AA, you begin each meeting with the "check-in." We all sat in a circle and went around the room and, when it got to be your turn, you were supposed to say "My name is so-and-so and I am an over spender, under earner." You then give a very brief explanation of how well, or not well, you have done with spending since the last meeting. Just to make sure it was brief, we were always being timed. It felt like Pictionary, I was always hurrying because I didn't want to get caught by the buzzer. It was so nerve wracking for me and I found it very restrictive and annoying. (The most we ever got to talk was one minute.)

I was a rebel in the group because I refused to say I was an "over spender, under earner." That makes me sound like a victim. If I just earned more, this wouldn't be a problem? No. So, I said "My name is Tiffany and I self-medicate with material objects." Some people in the circle admired my new saying and others gave me dirty looks for going outside of tradition. The dirty lookers were mostly the people who had been going to these meetings for 900 years.

There were some really good tips that I learned from this group. I learned about "book-ending." This is where, when you have to go shopping for something, you call someone first, tell them where you are going, what you are there to buy and how much you can spend. After the purchase, or lack of purchase, you then call the person back and tell them what you did. Did you spend more than you said? Did buy something other than what you set out to buy? Did you go to another store? Did you not buy anything at all? This sets up accountability and really worked for me.

The other tip was the 24 hour rule. One day, I book-ended with my mother and told her I needed running shoes for work. When I went to the store, I was overwhelmed by at least 3 other pairs of shoes that "I had to have." I honored the 24 hour rule because these were not the shoes I went in to get. I called my Mom and told her that I was going to go back the next day and decide which of the 3 pairs I would get. The next day, I went back and guess what? All of those shoes were soooo ugly!! I couldn't believe how excited about them I had been the day before. At that moment, I really understood that my perception was blinded by the chemical reaction I had when I was in Shopaholic Mode. I began to understand that it really is an addiction.

Besides those 2 things, I found Debtor's Anonymous to be ridiculous. Everyone was so victimized by themselves. One guy had a thing about not opening his mail. To him, if he didn't open his mail, the bills didn't exist. Talk about classic denial! Every week he came in and said the same thing--"I planned on opening my mail this week but I didn't. I'll open it next week, bla bla bla." This had been going on for months, maybe even years. The group's response was "Thank you so-and-so!" Why are you coming to this group if nothing ever changes? Is it helping you or only serving to "normalize" your denial so you don't have to be brave and move past it? There were many people in the group with similar patterns.

The breaking point for me was this woman I will call Sally. One night, during one debtor's 1-timed-minute story, Sally got up and left the group and didn't come back for the rest of the night. No big deal, we all figured she had a meeting or a date or something. The next week, during "check-in" Sally revealed that when she had left, she had actually driven to a local hotel and bought thousands of dollars worth of art. How did she pay? With a bad check. This was her "thing." What was the group's response? "Thank you, Sally!" Are you kidding me? This woman leaves in the middle of a meeting, a place where she is supposed to find help and support, to go indulge in her addiction and all we say is "thank you"? No way dude! I don't think we should have shot her or anything but how about simply asking, "Sally, why didn't you say something at the time you were having those feelings so we could help you through them?" It became clear to me that this group was not effective and it actually helped people stay stuck in their addictions. That was the last night I attended.

So, for a few months, I tried to get off of my "drugs" and it was hard. The reason I say it is truly an addiction is because, during this time of cold-turkey, difficult emotions were popping up left and right. Feelings I had glossed over with a new sweater came up to bite me in the butt. I sat outside of stores talking to myself, only to drive off and speed away from my temptations. I was jonesing for a fix. I went into a hardware store to get a key made and you would have thought I had landed in the middle of Saks Fifth Avenue! My hands danced across the shiny tools and my eyes twinkled as they scanned the room filled with things like thermoses, plants and keychains. I got that familiar high and was shaky. I wanted to buy, buy, buy. Instead, I left the store without getting my key made and knew I had a long way to go.

Eventually, the emotions stabilized and I no longer want to buy stuff at the hardware store. I can shop like a normal person and, in fact, I am so picky now I often have trouble finding anything I want! I am very proud that I have kicked the habit!

Like any other addiction, however, a person can have a relapse. I had one this week. I was cranky and agitated again (see post about PMS) and I could barely stand to be in my own skin. My solution was to go shopping. Unfortunately, it helped because I bought way more than I could afford. I know I'm in trouble when I get light-headed and I make impulse buys. I bought a pair of $60 earrings that I don't even like that much! I bought a $40 hair bobble that I can't return! I bought a cute black dress, though. Score on that one.

So now begins the part that is all too familiar. 1. Take back the stupid earrings. 2. Shuffle my finances so I can afford what I bought. 3. Center myself again in That Which Is Important 4. Start book-ending again until I get myself under control

Like a smoker who has one cigarette after 5 years of not smoking, now that I've started, I feel hooked again. All I want to do is shop more. Christmas is around the corner and it will be a challenge to keep my shopping impulses under control as I look for gifts for other people. Unlike drugs or drinking, shopping is a part of life you can't just cut out completely. This makes it uniquely challenging.

My name is Tiffany and I self-medicate with material objects!

Wish me luck this holiday season!

Saturday, November 24, 2007


I hope everyone had a yummy and peaceful Thanksgiving.

Our dinner was awesome and I have much to be thankful for!

I have a wonderful family and friends. That includes my silly dogs and mean bird.

I love my new "job" and I continue to get more speaking engagements/workshops--yea!

I am so thankful for both of my donors and their families. It's 2007 and I am still here--how amazing!! It's all because of them and my transplant team.

I am also very thankful I have struck up a cyber-friendship with Ana and Isa Stenzel. They are two amazing women with an outstanding and inspiring book. I don't know who's book I want you to read more--mine or theirs!! :) Check out "The Power of Two" on Amazon.

And last, but not least, I am thankful for my little blogging community. You guys are the best!

I wish you nothing but the best.
Happy Holidays!

Post-Thanksgiving Ramblings

A few weeks ago I went in for a routine visit at my transplant clinic. Sitting in on my appointment was a doctor from another hospital who was being represented as the "Nissen Expert".

For those of you who don't know, a Nissen Fundoplication is a stomach surgery done to prevent any stomach acid from coming into the esophagus. This is a laproscopic procedure that is often done for people with debilitating acid reflux. In my case, and the case of many other lung transplant patients, this procedure is being performed as a possible way to stop stomach acid from going into the lungs and, thereby, hopefully reducing the chances of getting chronic rejection. Some docs swear by it and some docs think it's a gimmick--the opinions range on if it has been proven effective for delaying or preventing chronic rejection.

I was hesitant to get this procedure done, partly because it was experimental and partly because I already had a crummy stomach to begin with. As it turns out, my instincts were right, unfortunately, and I have many regrets about getting this surgery. I have many more stomach problems, some of them really impacting my daily life.

OK. Now back to the "Nissen Expert" sitting in on my clinic visit. I told the docs about my various complaints and we talked about how my symptoms were not getting much better, even now that I was 7 months post surgery.

The Nissen Expert chimed in and told me that what I was experiencing was better than possibly getting chronic rejection. Period. End. Statement.

Here is where doctors can miss the mark. No. That is not a statement of fact. In truth, it should have been a question, ie. "Does the fact that this might prevent chronic rejection outweigh the problems you are having?" I would have welcomed and appreciated this question but, instead, I tossed and turned that night (and other following nights) reliving that moment and getting more irritated the more I thought it over. I wish I had given him a much longer answer than my curt "no." The answer is a complicated one, and not the point of this post.

The point is, quality of life is a huge factor many professionals seem to discard. As long as the stats look good, as long as I can move around, as long as I don't seems that this is all that they feel the need to consider. The reality is, there are many things I would rather die from instead of undergo the treatment. To live for the sake of living may not be worth it if the rest of the days are spent in pain or battling side-effects of the meds or procedures.

Don't get me wrong. I don't want chronic rejection. I've been there and it's no fun. That is the reason I ultimately chose to move forward--in the name of doing everything I could to preserve these lungs. That said, my side-effects really cramp my style.

Is it worth it if this procedure really does delay or prevent chronic rejection?
Is it worth it if this was an experimental surgery that turns out to not really make a difference in the onset of chronic rejection?
No way.

I think doctors need to understand that the nuances of living with illness are more subtle than they, as presumably healthy people, can understand. To the "Nissen Expert" I say; it may or may not be worth it--the jury is still out. Next time, please ask me the question instead of telling me how I should feel about my own sufferings.

As I write this, I feel what a tight line I am walking. On one hand, I am a patient who has benefited from some of the most extensive modern treatments known to man. On the other hand, I am a person who has faced death and understands that there are worse things.

I don't want to come across as ungrateful. I do want to assert my rights as a person, a person who is more than a patient.

In many ways, it feels as though I owe my team my life. Shouldn't I do whatever they want--they've gotten me this far? At the same time, I didn't live through transplant to suffer with unnecessary problems!

It's all a delicate balance. One I struggle with whenever things like this arise.

I guess the bottom line is what I always come back to: I have to educate and advocate for myself. Simultaneously, I will continue to ask docs to consider my perspective more closely before making assumptions or characterizations.

Is that fair?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

An Evening of Miracles!

This past weekend, my mother, myself and my two sisters loaded our stuff and ourselves into the car and drove down to Columbia, South Carolina. We were traveling 3.5 hours to participate in "An Evening of Miracles"--a CF Fundraiser that was being put together by a childhood buddy/CF Sister and her husband. I was excited mostly to see Jen but was also anticipating selling some books. I had been asked to read a passage from Sick Girl Speaks! and this seemed like a great crowd to receive my message.

Upon arrival, I was astounded to see Jen. She looks great! She will hate me for saying this, but you would never know she has CF. At 36, she was running circles around me and my borrowed, healthy lungs! She is a testimony to how hard work and diligence around therapies and medications can increase a person's quality of life.

Because she was running the show, we didn't get much time for one on one. When we did, however, I was taken aback by the similar roads we have traveled in our lifetimes of dealing with CF, life philosophies and relationships. We knew each other only as children and hadn't seen each other in over 20 years. Despite this fact, I felt as though I could tell her everything and she would understand. When she spoke to me, I felt I could spend months listening and responding. This connection was only one of the many miracles I discovered at "An Evening of Miracles"!

**To see some pics of Jen and I, please visit the "Photos" page of my website!

There were two other families at the event that touched me deeply. One was a man (I did not get the honor of meeting his wife) who had lost his son in February. His son had CF, had a double lung transplant, later a kidney transplant and was waiting on a donor liver! Amazing. I hope this is okay to say, but something about this man reminded me of my beloved grandfather. I felt an immediate warmness towards him for this reason and because of the similar paths we have traveled. He was sponsoring this night in honor of his son and it was often difficult for him, actually impossible, to hold back the tears. Even still, one of my most favorite parts of the night was when I asked him to dance with me! We went out on the dance floor and CUT A RUG! It was so much fun!! This was a moment I will never forget--two strangers connected by difficulty and loss finding a way to celebrate and feel joy. Yet another miracle.

The second family was a wonderful couple who have a 7 year old daughter with CF. You'd never know it--she looks so healthy! This family started "An Evening of Miracles" 4 years ago. They were overwhelmed by the response and that this event had grown so large--400 people attended this year! I had the opportunity to speak with the mother and father of this family. I knew that there was worry inside them--worry for the future of their daughter. I wanted so badly to be able to take that worry away! I know in my heart, it will be okay. No matter what happens, it will be okay. Look at all they have accomplished for this cause--this event alone raised nearly $100,000 for CF Research! Now that too is a miracle--what one family can do!

The CF world is not one I travel in much these days. It was almost a feeling of "getting back to my roots." I was touched and moved by the advancements that have been made in just my lifetime. There is so much more hope for those born with CF today than there was only 30 years ago. I was proud to be a part of such a meaningful fundraiser. I was so impressed by Jen and her husband, Pete, and all of the committee members who made this night a raging success.

I may not have sold many books, but that's okay. Instead, I met up with an old friend who I hope will now be a new friend, bonded with my sweet Mom and sisters, met a man who touched my heart and flung me around the dance floor and hugged a woman who's girl has CF and, partly because of her parents, will live a longer and healthier life than I ever imagined at that age. I went to see Jen and sell some books. I got so much more. I got An Evening of Miracles.

Check out the Evening of Miracles website.
If you would like to make a donation to help with CF Research, visit the CF Foundation website to find out how.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Car Psychology

For years, I have held the philosophy that life in a car is a microcosm of society. The way people behave behind the wheel seems to reflect the way they live their life.

There are those drivers that maneuver aggressively and take every opportunity to drive as fast as possible--even in between traffic lights. I always theorized that these people craved power and hoped others would see them as powerful, thus driving in this overpowering style.

There are those that drive well below the speed limit and look at you like you are a raving lunatic when you pass them. I theorize that this type of person is afraid of life and does not trust their own abilities but justifies their conservative style by accusing every one else of being irresponsible crazies. (This diagnosis does not apply to older people or people with physical issues that require them to exercise more caution.)

Then there are those drivers who push their way to the front of the line in a traffic jam, put on make-up while they drive or fail to even glance to the side when the turn into traffic or merge onto the highway. I imagine these people to be quite self-absorbed in their lives, moving through with little regard for the feelings or needs of others. They expect those around them to bend or move aside to accommodate their presence.

These are all, of course, gross generalizations based on pure fantasy and assumption! Nonetheless, I believe there to be a grain of truth in this philosophy and, at the very least, it makes driving more interesting for me!!

I am certainly not a perfect driver. In fact, I have been known to get angry behind the wheel and to be unforgiving of the drivers around me. Yesterday, I found myself muttering "jack-***" under my breath at two different drivers at two different times. Road rage is something that I acquired during my time living in the Bay Area. Every once in awhile, it comes back with a vengence.

My first road rage episode this morning, happened at a major intersection near my house. I was taking a left and there was a woman in a huge Cadilac who was way over the white line and therefore causing everyone to slow down. It was a bit of a mess, a very small mess, but enough for me to accuse her of being a jack-***. When I looked at her I thought she looked oddly unconcerned with the problems she was causing and this made me feel more irritated. She should at least have the "I'm sorry" look on her face accompanied by the palms up hand gesture/shrug that indicates it was not intentional! This is standard protocol for traffic boo-boos.

After I was past the jam, I was reminded of all the times I had been in a similar situation. When you pass the line, for whatever reason, and there is another car or string of cars close behind, there's really nothing you can do but run the light or wait it out. In those times when I sat waiting for my release, I didn't have the "I'm sorry" face. I probably had the "Get over it" face. I was reminded in that moment of the many lessons in compassion I had attempted to integrate within myself during my years of illness. When I am able to remind myself that I have been that person, who is now my object of irritation, it is so easy to drop the feelings of frustration. By realizing my own resume of driving errors, I was embarrassed that I had allowed myself to get so pissy about the Cadillac crossing the white line. Those who live in glass houses, right?

Well, my compassion didn't last he whole day. Apparently, it wears off with time because, hours later on my drive home, I was right back in full road rage mode. Come to think of it, I was at the exact same intersection but this time I was turning right. So close to home! There was a green Honda in front of me and a green light in front of her. Instead of moving forward to make the light, this driver slowed and almost stopped many feet before the intersection. I had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting her--her reaction to a green light was quite unexpected. Once again, my face flushed and I called out a name. What the heck was she doing??

At a snail's pace, she took a right at the light and I followed her up the hill to my neighborhood. To my surprise, she turned onto my street. This is another aspect to road rage: it's easy to rant and rave to the anonymous driver behind the wheel but an entirely different story when the driver who steps out of the car happens to be a neighbor, a client or a friend!

At one point, I was released from following her timid pace because I went right and she continued forward. Rounding the hill to my house, I saw a girl standing on the curb. She was checking her watch, looking off to the horizon. It occurred to me that the woman in the green Honda was probably going to pick her up. The woman in the green Honda was lost.

Once again, I found myself drenched in road rage regret. How many times in my life have I been lost--in a car or just in my life in general? Many. And , at those times, what did I wish for the most? Patience and understanding from those around me. We all get lost, we all need space to find our way sometimes. My impatient face in the rear view mirror would only cause the driver more panic and slow her down even more. Counterproductive for all--very non-compassionate on my part!

There was a time, many years ago, when I was transporting a large dog who had recently passed away. I was taking her to the crematorium about an hour away. There were two things going on along that journey. The first being that the smell was beginning to be difficult to tolerate. The second being that I wanted to be respectful of this sweet dog's remains and so I was taking turns and curves at a very slow and gradual speed. Because of these things, I was driving very strangely that day--going as fast as I could, when I could, but also driving very cautiously when needed. I imagine my weird driving was the source of frustration for some people on that day.

I often think of that journey when I think about being compassionate. You never know who had a dead dog in the back of their car! Give people the benefit of the doubt that the way they are driving or the way they are living has a reason beyond your ability to see or understand.

The difficulty for me is remembering these lessons when I, once again, find myself behind a slow-poke or when my bumper is being ridden by a speed-demon. Driving might be representative of how we live our lives, I don't know. What I do know is that it is a perfect practice field for finding compassion for anonymous, sometimes frustrating, humans.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Updates and Stuff

Well, things continue to move along!
I am focusing a lot of my energy right now on getting some publicity for my little book. I'm self-published, so it's me or nobody!!

I had a radio and newspaper interview this past week. So strange! I thought I would be so cool with it but I got really nervous and felt so much pressure! I had to say something really interesting--I was being quoted or taped!! Well, I'll find out just how goofy I sounded tomorrow--the radio interview will air in the morning. I'll link the podcast so you too can hear my goofy answers.

Otherwise, I'm plugging along trying to convince people to crack the spine of Sick Girl Speaks! So far, once people start reading it the response is great--the trouble is convincing them to take it for a spin around the block.

Wanna try an experiment? There is a radio show here called "The State of Things." The basic idea is to have guests from North Carolina tell their story. I have a story to tell, right? Well, I have sent them my book and no response. I have emailed them and no response. A woman I know has emailed them and no response. What do you think would happen if my blogging buddies emailed them too? Would it make me look like a star or a real annoying jerk?

Email campaigns are all the rage! I'd like to see what happens. Here's the email address for the show:
If you feel so inclined, shoot them an email and tell them how utterly fascinating I am! :) Maybe it will get me on the show. Maybe I'll be blackballed. Either way, we'll know!

Also, check out my website--I'm on an uploading frenzy and have put up a new video, a few podcasts and will be putting up more podcasts this week.

Hope you are all having a lazy Sunday, just like me and my Whippet!! :)

Reminder: I'm Not That Special

Have any of you, my dear blogging buddies, heard about the Boston Molasses Disaster? In 1919, a massive tank of molasses collapsed releasing over 2 million gallons of the gooey stuff. It ran down the streets of Boston at 35 miles per hour. About 150 people were hurt, many animals were injured and 21 people were killed!

My husband was telling me this story last night and I sat in amazement. It makes me think about all the crazy, unexpected ways a person can leave this earth.

In many ways, I like to think I have an advantage. Because of my history, I have an acute awareness that it could be "any moment." Thanks to this, I live my life differently. When my day comes, I want to be proud of my choices and my willingness to take emotional risks.

In my life, I have often looked into the eyes of the person I'm speaking with and seen a well of pity. It's very uncomfortable! I have trouble staying focused on what I'm saying because I am so distracted by their deep feelings of grief and sympathy.

When I hear stories like the one about the Boston Molasses Tragedy, I am reminded that I don't have an advantage nor do I deserve any pity--the playing field is actually quite even. Any day, I could be walking down the road and be swept away by a river of North Carolina BBQ Sauce or, as the popular saying goes, simply get hit by a bus. The same goes for you!

There are times when I am frustrated by patients who constantly ask over and over "WHY ME?" I think this story is at the root of my frustration.

It is much easier to say "why not me?" when diagnosed with a serious illness--it certainly is a big club. At the very least, it is easier to comprehend that it would be for someone who dies from a river of sweet dessert food. We all have to go somehow. Someday. Let's not be so bold as to call ourselves special because we have an illness. Getting run over by molasses? Now, that's special.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Pet memorial

We had the community pet memorial service this past Sunday.
Is it wrong that I had fun?
It was just so wonderful to gather with fellow animal lovers and tell stories and cry about the ones we've loved and lost.
It was such a sweet day.
I'm so glad we did it and hope we can do it again.

I have uploaded my part of the service to my website: click here
Be warned, it's a little weird, I'm still trying to figure out my editing software...

Here's a link to the article about it: Chapel Hill News

Don't you just love your pets??
Don't you think all sick people should have a pet of some sort? Even if it's just a goldfish? (No offense to the "just" goldfish...)

Have a great Tuesday!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Goodbye Again

I was messing around with my cell phone yesterday and started editing my contacts list.

My friend Debbie was still in there even though she died about a month ago. I scroll past her name daily but, until yesterday, I couldn't stomach the thought of hitting "delete."

This is the second friend this year I have deleted from my contacts list. It's such a small detail but yet so profound. The permanency gives me great pause.

Somehow, hitting "delete" makes Debbie's death more real to me than attending her memorial service.

I guess grief is like that--it's often the little things that awaken the most sadness.

So today, my phone no longer contains her name and I say "goodbye again" to my dear friend Debbie.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Inappropriate Familiarity?

So, thanks to a very nice and very dedicated social worker who I knew back when I was 12, I had a meeting with the head of the CF department at Duke Medical Center last week. Hopefully, I will be able to work with them in some way soon but that isn't the point of this post!

When I was leaving the room, saying my "thank you"s and "we'll be in touch"s, the last thing I proclaimed as I left the room was "Thanks, Guys!" They gave me funny look and I went on my way.

When I got to the parking deck, I thought back on that moment. That was inappropriate familiarity, wasn't it? They are DOCTORS and possible future employers--should I refrain from being so casual?

I know where it comes from. I have spent so much of my adult life feeling less-than because I don't have a degree, certainly don't have a PhD, and processing all of what that means in this society. During my last terminal illness, I came to understand my value and that it has nothing to do with a degree.

When I went back into "The Well World" the feelings of inferiority came rushing back--I was immersing my self in a world of high degrees; doctors, nurses, social workers, psychiatrists etc... Over time, I have gotten to know many of these people that I had once intimidated me and I no longer think they are superior. I think I am just as smart as them, usually less trained, but no less intelligent. So, now I am unsure of my boundaries.

If I see you as vastly "better" than me I will be awkward and shy. If I see you as equal to me, I will be casual and more relaxed. I suppose I need to find the middle ground between "I'm not worthy" and "See ya later, dudes!"

It's a weird world out there and, in many ways, I'm still feeling my way through the basics.

Friday, November 2, 2007


I feel like I haven't blogged in ages! I'm sorry I've been MIA. And when I say "A" I mean it! This week has been so busy and it's not over yet!

I've got a few things on my mind this morning.
I've been thinking about mystery and fact: two words that keep the balance in romantic love and medicine. (Yes, I have a strange mind.)
Without mystery, love would be dull and uninspiring. Without fact, like the fact that your partner really cares, love would be far too scary to pursue.
Without fact, medicine would be nothing but a bunch of guesses and speculations; hardly worth undergoing the pokes and prods. Without mystery, there would never be the moment when a patient overcomes an illness despite all of the predictions of the doctors.
Fact gives us comfort and mystery gives us inspiration to keep going.
Two great opposites that go great together!

Another thing I am thinking of this morning is the word "survivor." I was reading that on a few patient blogs--not quotes from the actual patients but from those in "The Well World." I really don't like that term. (Have I talked about this before?) To call someone who has survived an airplane crash a survivor that makes sense to me; that's just a fact. To call me, a patient, a survivor makes me sound like I had something to do with it. For many of us who are in "The Sick World," we have seen people who did everything right die despite all of their "compliance" and effort. Likewise, we have seen people who do only the minimum of self-care live long and healthy lives. My grandmother smoked from the time she was 13 until she was in her 90's. Was she a lung cancer survivor? I don't think so--I think she was lucky!
Like my grandmother was, I think I am lucky. There are plenty of people who would have liked another transplant, or even a first, but didn't get one. There are people who excercised more regularly and ate a better diet who got cancer after transplant and died.
When I hear the word "survivor" I think of the TV show. I am not the winner of a million dollars, nor did I do anything better than anyone else to secure my position here on this earth. To call me a survivor is to call me a winner. That makes my friends who have passed the losers. No, I will not accept that! Call me lucky, called me grateful but don't call me a survivor!

Finally, the thing on my mind this morning is an event I am helping organize and will be speaking at this weekend. We are having a community pet memorial service. I think it is going to be a very touching and healing gathering for those of us who have lost and miss our beloved animals. My job is to create the program and write my talk. I will need to give it much more thought but I will post my talk once it is written--probably tomorrow.

Just a friendly reminder that Sick Girl Speaks! is available and there is a discount for patients and professionals. Email me if you're interested.

Have a great Friday!