20 Years

IMG_2176gWith Mom – 1984

On September 25 my mom and I celebrated our 20th Anniversary. Let me elaborate.

I had a Renal Transplant aka Kidney Transplant 20 years ago. My amazing, generous, gracious, selfless, beautiful and loving mom ended up being a match and donated one of her kidneys.

So technically she has given life to me twice. Now we celebrate our Transplant Anniversary aka My Additional Birthday, every year on September 25th. It’s kind of a big deal for us. A huge deal for me obviously. Without her I literally would not be here. Not a day goes by (not a 1) that I don’t think about the major sacrifice she made to save my life.

Twenty years ago I became extremely ill and was diagnosed with a very rare disease called Goodpasture Syndrome. Ironic name considering there’s actually nothing good about it. It is so rare that literally 1 in a million are diagnosed each year. I wish I could be so lucky with those odds in a lottery!

Doctors aren’t totally sure how I got it. Since it is so rare they’ve narrowed the cause of this disease down somewhat to, smoking (I don’t smoke) or 2nd hand smoke, hydrocarbon solvents, glues, diesel and Inflenza A, to name a few. It is an autoimmune disorder which damages the kidneys (and often lungs as well) with the worst case scenario obviously being death or you lose both kidneys. Which is what happened to me. You need at least 1 kidney to survive. Both of my kidneys failed. 

As with any disease, early detection is paramount in being able to save your kidneys &/or life. But it’s not always easy to detect Kidney Disease early as it progresses silently and is less obvious then some other critical diseases. Sometimes Doctors can ‘re-boot’ kidney function if there is some percentage of the kidneys still working. The prognosis is much worse if the kidneys are already badly damaged by the time of diagnoses. The kidneys most likely will not be able to be ‘re-booted’/ saved at that point. Again, this is what happened to me.

Ironically I had also been seeing an Nephrologist (Kidney Specialist) for a couple of years regularly prior to kidney failure because I was constantly passing kidney stones. And I mean a lot of kidney stones. I was like a kidney stone making machine. Weird. I lost count after a couple dozen visits to the hospital in excruciating pain from a kidney stone. Yet, the Nephrologist assured me these stones were not hurting or jeopardizing my kidney function in the slightest. I believed him. After all, he is the Kidney Specialist. To this day Doctors still have not confirmed if the kidney stones had any influence in my kidneys failing. 

Still not diagnosed, I had started to take a turn for the worse but I was convinced that I only had a very bad flu. I had all of the typical flu like symptoms, along with some not so typical symptoms.  I was exhausted constantly, fevered yet freezing, muscles aching, vomiting blood, sweating profusely to the point my body would be soaked, weak beyond belief and so insanely tired ALL OF THE TIME. My Family Doctor told me 3 separate times during this 2 week period of feeling the worst I’ve ever felt, that I had nothing to worry about. She said I just had a Flu mixed with the fact that I was anemic and needed more iron.

My intuition told me otherwise. Something was terribly wrong. Both of my Doctors were wrong as well. Very, very wrong. I knew I needed medical help and I needed it fast.

It was a rough road for many years dealing with my health issues. You can read a bit more about that part of my health journey here.

I wanted to write about this milestone in my life for many reasons. The 20 year mark has made me more emotional and feel blessed beyond belief. It reminds me to appreciate the little things in life, so cliche but so true. And also, to go after your dreams, live the life you desire, while we can. Every single year since I’ve had this kidney transplant is a gift of another year of life. There is no greater gift that one can give. Really. Think about it. My mom gave me the gift of life. Again. I would’ve been dead 20 years already if I didn’t get a transplant in time. I wouldn’t have been able to watch my kids grow up which was my greatest fear when I was ill. During the couple of years that I was on dialysis I had seen several people of various ages die while waiting for a kidney match. It happens everyday because there are not enough organ donations available and that doesn’t have to be the case.

When I first got sick I was 25 years old, I didn’t know a thing about transplants. Even the word scared me because I didn’t understand it. At that time there wasn’t a lot of awareness about it. I actually thought the whole thing was a little a lot weird. Awareness seems to be better now then it was, but I find some people still have no clue. 

Some facts: 

*Anyone can get Kidney Disease, but people with high blood pressure, diabetes, and family history are more at risk and should be checked by a Doctor regularly. I did not have any of these.

*15 people are diagnosed with Kidney Failure in Canada daily.

*1 in 10 people in Canada are living with Kidney Disease.

*Average wait time for a kidney in BC is 5.4 years. Many will die waiting.

*Up to 40% of people who are desperately waiting for an organ will not get one in time.

*People think that being on dialysis is a cure. It is not a cure. It is just a means to keep you alive (barely) until a transplant is available.  50% of these people on dialysis will not live past 5 years.

*Kidney Failure is chronic and there is no cure. Dialysis is temporary and short term. Transplant is also temporary but allows the patient to live a more normal life while taking anti-rejection meds daily. Transplants do not last ‘forever’. However, with continuous research and updated meds, transplants can last 20+ years. (I’m hoping and prayin’ I break all kinds of records and it lasts 20 more!)

It is so important for you to have conversations with your families and loved ones about organ donation. If you do wish to be an organ donor if something should happen, then it is critical to let your family members know this. And equally important to actually have it registered on your Driver’s License, Health card or the Donor Registry in your city. 

I know that no one really wants to talk about death and what happens afterwards. It’s a difficult conversation for sure. It’s also reality. But the way I look at it is, organ donations save lives. Lots of lives. If one of your loved ones was critically ill and going to die, wouldn’t you want to know there’s a good chance of them being saved because someone else had generously requested to be a donor themselves? 

I was blessed that my kidney donation was from a living related donor, my mother. Anyone that is healthy and wishing to donate a kidney to a loved one is certainly encouraged to do so. My mom is a trooper so if you ask her, she’d say the surgery ‘wasn’t so bad’. It isn’t exactly a walk in the park for the donor. I’m not going to lie. However, our transplant surgery was 20 years ago. From what I’ve read and heard the surgery has changed and is much less invasive now. I’d be willing to bet that she’d say it was worth it. Right mommy? 😉  

You can find out much more information online to answer any questions you may have.

Be a Kidney Donor: Canadian Blood Services
Kidney Foundation Of Canada
British Columbia Transplant

Here’s to us Mom! And to another 20!! Love you! <3 
Laura xo

Love Is Just A Fantasy

I haven’t written anything about dating lately have I? Well, there’s a very good reason for that. I haven’t been on any dates to talk about. Seriously.
If you’ve been reading our blog then you know the whole back story of my life. Kinda. In a nut shell, I’m a single, divorced, 40 something, career woman now back in the dating scene. Real horror story. 

Dating isn’t the easiest thing is it? I mean, it’s all about putting yourself out there. Getting out and involved in things. I just seem to never be in the right place or at the right time. Nor do I have the energy, to tell you the truth. It takes soooo much energy to date. Honestly.

Natasha and I love music and go to as many live shows as possible. A couple of years ago we bought tickets to see a local up and coming Vancouver Indie band (very popular in Canada) that we both love. After the show I ended up liking them on Facebook. At some point later in time I had a friend request sent to me by a couple of the said band members. One of them was particularly interesting to me. You know, in that talented artistic, musician kind of way. (Hmm-hmmm.)

Then through out the next couple of years I’d get invites to various music events via Facebook from said cute band guy-let’s call him, K.

Granted these invitations were sent out mass.  Not just to me. To everyone. Whatever.
So everyone on K’s friends list got an invite. But you know how in your mind you kinda blow it up just ever so slightly and over time you’ve adjusted facts and altered your sensibility to suit your own l’il dreamland.

Then the shit you’ve made up almost seems real. In your own little brain.

I would tell Natasha that I got invited to yet another show from K. She would laugh and say, “Mom… everyone on his friends list gets the invite. Not just you!” She’s a real drag like that.

Anyways, this went on. I would get an invite, get all giddy and be like, “Natasha we should actually go to one of his shows downtown sometime for real.” Then we would laugh about it, talk about how crazy that would be. We’d discuss in great detail how we’d go to the show, he would already be playing on stage, he would notice me walking in, our eyes would lock, he smiles at me with a sweet wink…

Then I snap back to reality.

Nat and I laugh and laugh about it. We funny like that.

It became a thing between Natasha and I. We eventually started to refer to K as ‘my boyfriend’. I’d be like, ‘Oh, my boyfriend wants me to come to his show this Saturday.’

Honest to God, if someone were to ever listen to us talking they would think we actually knew K personally and that him and I were an item. We joke, but no one else would know that! So we would continue to play this fun little game each and every single time I would get another invite. Over and over. That shit just never gets old with us.

So last summer Natasha and I had an Event downtown Vancouver for our blog. Earlier that same day I had coincidentally received another show invite from K, my boyfriend, who was playing a show that night downtown. I don’t know if it was something in the air that night that made me suddenly bold, but whatever it was, as we were leaving the Blogging Event I said to Natasha, ‘Tonight’s the night. We still have time to make it to K’s show! And we’re going right now.

She initially thought I was joking until I had her looking up the venue’s address on map quest. We were giggling like 2 school girls. “Are we really going to do this?” Ohhh, yeah we are.

It’s a venue we have never even heard of before. Ever. So we make our way over. It’s already dark, but not too late. Natasha reads all of the deets on her cell about the club and bands performing tonight. The information says that tonight is a very special ‘Galaxy Night’.

Galaxy music?  We’re 2 huge music lovers but we don’t have a clue what Galaxy music is. What we do know is that K and his musician buddy he’s playing with tonight are amazing artists and I’m still game to go. Bring on the Galaxy!

We’re totally psyching ourselves up for this. Each taking turns giving the other incredible words of encouragement as to all of the fabulous reasons why this is going to be amazing. This must be a sign that we’re downtown for an event and the exact same day he sends an invite to a show. Like what are the chances? It’s completely meant to happen tonight. Right? I mean, it’s blatantly obvious. The stars must be aligned with the universe for this to happen. I’m sure of it. You only live once, so we gotta live it up, take risks… yadda yadda. All of those motivational Deepak Chopra books are coming in especially handy tonight. Really mustering up the courage to be super spontaneous. I prefer to plan to be spontaneous if you know what I mean.

Natasha and I drive up and down the now very dark, light-less street searching for the venue. The GPS is saying it is right here. We pull up to the curb and strain to see any numbers on doors and anything remotely resembling a club/venue. Natasha is back searching online on her cell for more info about this club. It says the Club has a specific symbol on the door, that’s how you’ll know it’s the right door to enter. What the…? 

We found the door with the symbol on it. It definitely doesn’t look like a club is behind that door. I put the car in park and we sit there in silence scoping out the area like 2 undercover detectives on a case. Carefully examining who’s coming in or out. Not alot of people around. A couple cars pull up in front and looks like some musicians hopping out of the car. They enter the symbolled door. Natasha and I look at each other. It’s like a secret club. Underground. We’re intrigued.

A few more people arrive and enter the door. We finally decided we came this far, K is going to be playing, there’s no turning back now, what’s the point if we don’t follow through. You always gotta follow through right? We’re no quitters.

Lets. Do. This.

We get out of the car and head for the door. This whole area is a little un-nerving and mysterious. But now we’re too far gone and curiosity has got the best of us at this point. And of course the main motivation pushing us forward is to finally see K play again. That and the probability that he’ll recognize me from the show 2 years ago (fat chance) and we’ll live happily ever after. Obvs.

I open the door and immediately there is a long narrow flight of stairs going up. We can hear people talking. Natasha and I are looking at each other as we proceed to climb the stairway up. We reach the top and it looks like someone’s apartment that has been semi transformed into a mini band rehearsal space with couches and some chairs spread around. There’s a girl waiting there. She gives us half a smile and tells us the ‘club’ fee is by donation which she says is typically $10.

She points us in the direction of where the entertainment area seems to be set up. We quickly choose a couple chairs in the middle of the room amongst a few cozy over sized couches along the sides of the room and a small apartment style bar in the left corner. It’s definitely not like any club I’ve ever seen, but I’m always up for living on the edge. That’s how I roll. (In my mind).
I tell myself that it’s gonna be awesome to see K perform again. We’re completely stoked.

There is literally a hand full of people in the room and it seems all eyes are on us. We get the feeling we were slightly out of place with this crowd. We started to think there was a high chance we’ve crashed someone’s private apartment party but they decided to let us stay and hang out cuz they felt bad for us. Not sure.

Granted our attire choices didn’t exactly blend well into the apparent hipster vibe. We did dress up really quite pretty… remember, for the Blogging Event we had attended earlier. Not quite what we would’ve chosen if we had planned in advance.

Looks something like this… Natasha had her beautiful, typically long flowing hair back in a tight-ish bun/braid (think school teacher vibe) and was sporting a pretty, light & bright elegant purple sweater with sparkles all over it no less. And of course to go right along with that I went all out and chose an awesome retro Le Chateau deep purple blazer (with an added sheen) anndddd shoulder pads. Yes. They’re making a comeback. Trust me. I read it in a magazine. So… yeah, definitely not club attire. We’re out of place.

We didn’t get a drink and no one offered. We didn’t move. We sat almost frozen, like the movie, and waited for K to perform. And we waited, and waited and waited some more. Finally it’s way past 11pm and a guy finally speaks into the mic and introduces a band. But it’s not K’s band.

What. The. Hell.

The opening band before K’s performance finally start playing their instruments. I’m relieved, at least to begin with. Let’s get this show on the road already. It’s difficult to describe to you with any amount of real accuracy the kind of music this assemble of musicians were attempting to play. There was lots of instruments playing at different times, in no particular rhythm or melody.

There was the drummer who basically was using any type of prop he could get his hands on whilst attempting to play the drums with the prop. He rubbed a chain like thingy across the tops of the drums over and over and played a violin rod up and down the side of the drum symbols producing the most incredibly awful sound possible. It was cray. Nothing was played in sync or together to form any acceptable sound. None of it made any sense in the slightest. It just kept going on and on and on. Like it was never going to end. We were confused.

This is what they meant by ‘Galaxy Music’.  Ahhhh… Note to self…
No More Gallaxy Music! Ever. Please Make It Stop! 

The entire friggin time Natasha was struggling to refrain from bursting out loud in laughter as the whole thing struck her something real funny. 

Me on the other hand found myself extremely bored and becoming increasingly agitated. I needed it to end already. Natasha and I are huge music lovers but I was silently losing my damn mind.

They were playing like forever.  I was continually checking my cell for the time, yawning uncontrollably, squirming in my seat trying to stay awake, realizing it was now 1AM! Wtf?! I was so flippin’ tired and getting to the point where I felt I just couldn’t take it one more minute. I had to work at 8 in the morning and the reality of what the hell am I actually doing here was kicking into high gear!

Finally that music stops. It seems its much too late, my nerves are already shot. I’m annoyed. I’m tired. I’m uncomfortable. I’m dreaming of getting home to bed to try and get what’s left of a good night sleep before work.

What seems like forever went by then K and his band start to play. He’s brilliant and amazing just how I remembered… however after only a couple of songs I was totally spent. I needed sleep and like now. But this party didn’t look like it would be ending anytime soon.

Natasha and I decided we had to quietly figure out a plan for our quick getaway. It was going to be tricky, there is no possible way to escape this club un-noticed. Obviously no matter how we do it, K and everyone else for that matter will see us leaving-mid set. Rude much?!

We basically listened to one more song and agreed to make a run fast walk for it immediately afterwards. I counted to 3 and we got our asses up and out the door. 

We could feel all eyes on us whilst walking out. Like how totally rude did we look leaving? I would’ve been staring too! People muttering under their breath as we’re walking by… ‘The nerve leaving when they were just getting started. Can you believe that?’

If K only knew how many times we’ve mentioned his damn name since seeing his band perform a couple of years ago. Or how many times we joked about his Facebook invites to his gigs. That the only reason we were even at this ‘underground’ club in the first place was to see him play. Instead he now thinks we disliked their music and walked out. We sat numb in our seats for hours watching this Galaxy music. Then we get up and leave when the musicians we really had interest in watching finally start playing.

The story of my life. Always at the wrong place or at the wrong time. Sometimes both. Make myself look very uncool and completely uninterested. Totally opposite of my intention.

If K ever reads this (highly F-ing unlikely), Sorry for walking out in the beginning of your show. I’m an idiot. You’re really talented.

So the other day I came out to the kitchen where Nat was and said to her, ‘Hey, just got a Facebook invite from K to his gig next Saturday. We should totally go. I think he definitely still loves me!’

You guys have any crazy crush/dating stories you want to share? Please please share them with us! Everyone has a story and we’d so love to hear them!

Til next time Lovelies,
Laura xo

Secret To Success

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We are well into the New Year and it’s time to get down to business. A New Year which means new opportunities, aspirations and goals. I’m definitely not into making any of those ‘doomed to fail’ resolutions that so many naively commit to. Year after year. Dreadful. I’m happy to say I have learnt my lesson years ago. One of the few great benefits of aging is wisdom. I’m not suggesting we should never set goals and have dreams. Of course we should! That’s the beauty of life, the reason we are here. To set goals for ourselves to learn, grow and succeed. It’s the pressure of making New Year resolutions I prefer to stay away from. Why set yourself up for failure of achieving grand unrealistic promises made to oneself? I mean, we have enough life stresses thrown upon us daily to deal with as it is! Why voluntarily add to those just because it’s a New Year? Quit smoking, lose weight, start yoga, go to the gym, write that book (this year for sure), marry Mr. Wonderful, yadda yadda. On and on. Puh-lease.

I’m more interested in making constant growth changes in life which are attainable and realistic. Baby steps. Let’s not place the weight of the world upon our shoulders and then feel like complete sh*t when we can’t achieve the goal. Instead begin with genuine intent for long term goals and work on them in short term intervals. For instance, your overall intent could be, ‘I’m going to lose 50 pounds!’  You start out extremely motivated and ready to kick ass then it all seems to fall apart. Right off the bat you could find yourself getting overwhelmed and feeling like you’ll never accomplish that. The goal seems so far away.

The key is to narrow down your goals and be very specific. So that ultimate goal of losing 50 pounds begins as a 5-10 pound goal. Suddenly your intent goal becomes more reachable and realistic with each successful interval. It’s easier to envision the steps needed to get there and it’s not so daunting. After you reach each 5 pound goal you celebrate your victory. The best reward you are recieving during the journey to your goal is really a secret reward.

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This ‘secret‘ is the power you are subconsciously gaining with every success. The power of CONFIDENCE and the proof that you can do it. Essentially we are programming our brain to succeed and to consciously be aware of how amazing it feels when we do. Celebrating your small victories gives you the strength and determination you’ll need to continue and conquer on. You begin to feel like you can achieve whatever it is you truly desire. And guess what? You can. Mind power is just that… powerful stuff. That’s where all of the actual will power and strength begins, in our minds. It’s incredible just how powerful our mind is. That saying, ‘You can do anything you put your mind to’ is so true. Most of us don’t use this power to it’s full advantage. 

I’m not exactly a pro at this whole positive mind power thing quite yet. It’s hard to constantly stay in a positive mind space when the universe is continually throwing curve balls at you. I totally get that, trust me. But I am here to say I have been giving it a real honest to goodness go the past couple of years and it does work. It takes mental effort but I think I may be onto something here! I’m living proof it’s never too late and you’re never too old to learn how to re-program your mind. To live positively and to actually achieve our goals. However small or large they are, we can do it.

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My beloved Oprah (Omg how I admire her!) and motivational guru, Deepak Chopra (whom I recently started paying attention to) have become incredible influences in my life. Like can we be best friends Oprah? They definitely have things figured out and know what they’re talking about. Real talk. I have taken their advice and applied it to many situations. I was super excited to have the opportunity to attend Oprah’s motivational speech tour here in Vancouver a couple of years ago. I can’t even tell you how intently I listened to every single word she said. I felt as though she was speaking just to me!  She said numerous brilliant things but what struck me most was when she talked about living your true life. Whatever your true goals in life are, you can accomplish them. Basically if you believe you can achieve. Again, mind power. I could listen to her talk all day long. 

So people, to sum this up, I want you to screw those lame New Year’s resolutions once and for all. Instead trade them in for some real goals with true intent. However big or small those goals are, just believe you can do it! Remember, baby steps, small victories while working towards your ultimate goal. There’s no reason in the whole wide world why you can’t replace self doubt thoughts with ‘why the hell can’t I’ thoughts. 

It’s time to get real and I am totally on board as well. This is the year for accomplishments, no more self doubt and giving up before even beginning. No more allowing your brain to fall back into negative thought patterns. It’s going to take some serious mental work and facing your fears head on. 

I will continue to share my journey to achieving my goals with you and I encourage you to share with us. It’s amazing how much easier it is when there is strength in numbers. Just knowing you’re not alone gives you encouragement to succeed. 

Stay tuned… I am working on my true intent goal list for this year. I’d love to hear what some of your goals are for 2015 and beyond!

Laura xo

Single At Christmas

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Well, I knew it would only be a matter of time before I started talkin’ about it again. Dating. Or in my case it would be ‘lack of dating‘.

If you’ve followed our blog you know that when we started this blog a year ago I shared a few ‘dating’ stories. Then I just kinda stopped. Here’s the thing, I stopped writing about it because I stopped dating. Completely. Initially I shared stories of dates I had experienced in the past years since my divorce. I exclaimed I had numerous tales of dating adventures left to share until new experiences should arise. Which I definitely do, and I will continue to share when the mood strikes my fancy again. But then I became bored of talking about these ‘old’ tales as well as trying to find my Mr. Right amongst endless Mr. Wrong’s. So I literally stopped dating all together. I mean, completely and totally stopped dating. Like, haven’t had a date in 2 years this month. What??!!! I know right! I’ll talk about that more in another post.

Now, I certainly didn’t plan to not date anyone for this length of time. It sorta just has happened that way. I had stopped all effort of putting myself out there, no more online dating sites (I can’t even express how over all of that sh*t I was!) no more being set up… nothing. Zero, nodda, zilcho. Funny thing is I never really even cared about dating or gave it a serious thought until recently. I’ve been busy and totally focused on changing my life. For real! And that’s a time consuming, damn big job! 

But here it is. That time of year is here… Christmas time. The time of year when you feel emotional, all reminiscent of time gone by. Then suddenly the realization that you’re completely partner-less slaps you right in the face. The time of year when you become blatantly more aware of couples seemingly everywhere holding hands and kissing under the mistletoe. Endlessly planning their holiday festivities. Where every song on the Christmas radio station is a sad, lonely, heart broken, won’t be home for the Holidays love song. What is up with sad Christmas songs anyway?
And yes, I do listen to Vancouver’s 24/7 Christmas music radio station at home! (Shout out to 103.5!) Perfect channel to put on when you’re doing your Christmas baking, wrapping or entertaining!  

Anyways, there’s no need to be sad during the Holidays. All of you single ladies, we will get through this Holiday season and prevail. Here, here!! 

So for all of my fellow solo sista’s out there I took it upon myself and made a list of things to be grateful for while being single during the holiday season. You’re welcome. 😉

1. You’ll save money $$$ by not having to buy him a gift. Go on. Buy yourself something extra pretty instead. You deserve it.

2. Avoid getting a migraine from racking your brain trying to think of the most perfect gift idea. The worst! Men are the hardest to buy for.

3. Merrily spend as much Holiday time with your own family. No dividing, arguing, guilt or splitting time between your family and his family. Truth be told, you’d rather be with your own friends and family. Honestly.

4. Watching all of your favourite Holiday movies with no opposition and complaints. Love Actually, Elf and Christmas Vacation over and over. With tree lights twinkling, sipping hot cocoa with double Bailey’s and being all cozy in your flannels. Blissful. Friggin’ blissful

5. Eat & drink as much as you want. Why not! You’re single remember? What’s a few extra pounds over the holidays gonna hurt?  Enjoy yourself. Eat, drink, and be merry! Worry about it in January. Mmmmm, shortbread.

6. More time to do the Holiday things you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time before. Like get together with girlfriends more often or donating your time to a worthwhile cause/charity. This is like a bonus, doing something for others while feeling better about yourself. Winning!

7. Not having to attend his work party. Hallelujah!

8. Playing Christmas music anytime you feel. All day, all night. Blue Christmas on repeat. Yes please. 

9. Splurging on and purchasing as much Holiday decor as humanly possible. And desired. That’s right. As much as our little hearts desire.

10. Doing what you want, when you want and how you want. Whatever makes you happy

What are some of the things you like to do during the Holidays? Or wish you didn’t have to do?! 🙂

(Currently listening to: Kelly Clarkson Christmas Album ‘Wrapped In Red’ – watch here!)

Laura xo