Courage Surrounds Us

This has been a really exciting week, for me. So exciting, that every time my phone buzzed, I jumped to answer it because I was eager to see what posts had been shared on the Uncover Ostomy Facebook Page.

Last week, as I celebrated my 11th “Bagaversary,” I asked you all to get on social media and post pictures that represented your story of survival, using the #UncoverOstomy hashtag – and I’ve seen an amazing response.

There were not only some great pictures, but amazing stories to go along with them. From model photoshoots, to artistic impressions – the courage that was portrayed in these photos was unreal! I want to say thank you to every single one of you who participated.

Now, as promised, here is one of the pictures that I thought deserved some attention. This is Krystal Weir’s story:

Ostomy Story of Courage

This picture is who I am now and what I have accomplished! I gave birth naturally with an Ileostomy when they said I couldn’t! I got pregnant when they said I couldn’t, I found a man that loves all of my “baggage!” When they said I couldn’t! My name is krystal and I’ve had some tough times! Diagnosed at 14 and had my 1st surgery in 2006. I was healthy until this precious boy while growing inside of me stretched my Stoma too big and tore a tiny hole in my bowel. When he was 6 months old I had to have another resection which has left me with 1.75m of bowel. It’s been a long journey but I have my baby boy and soon to be husband! I can’t say I love my new Stoma yet but the first surgery saved my life and gave me life! His name is Lukas!”

Not only did this post get 103 likes, and 18 comments, but her story touches on all of the elements of great courage and survival – an illness, surgery, finding love, creating a family, and being grateful for the ostomy that saved her life.

Krystal, thank you so much for sharing your story and this wonderful picture with us all.

Now, for those of you who didn’t notice, I had a bit of an underlying goal.  The goal of this little contest was to encourage self-advocacy. As you all know, Uncover Ostomy works to not only break the stigma surrounding ostomy surgery, but works to encourage ostomates to open up and show others how wonderful life can be, after surgery. We believe that, in doing so, each individual ostomate can contribute to removing the stigma. This was a great effort!

However, while I saw some amazing stories, I also came across something I wasn’t expecting.

A few days after announcing this little contest, I received a message on the Facebook page. An Uncover Ostomy fan reached out to me and said that they had decided to take down their picture after they had posted their wonderful story. The reason, they said, was that they hadn’t realized that everyone could see their picture – not just the people who liked the page. This person told me that they didn’t yet feel comfortable letting their social circle know about the surgery because of issues in the past, and fear of the future. I acknowledged the message and thanked them for their honesty.

I didn’t expect it.

I was reminded why I do this.

It’s been a long four years since Uncover Ostomy was born and I’ve seen such an amazing turn around, not only in the public perception, but the patient perspective of how the ostomy is perceived. However, I sometimes forget that there were people still not comfortable with their bag.

While I do not judge anyone for how they feel, or their decision to remain silent, this situation gave me a renewed sense of urgency to spread positive ostomy awareness.

However, as I’ve said over and over again - I can’t do it alone.

So while this particular contest may be over, it doesn’t mean the advocacy is.

It will never be over.

Not if I can help it.

So, friends – please. Please keep sharing your story. Please continue to post pictures. And please keep helping me remove the ostomy stigma.

<3

11.

I have been alive for 11 years.

For 11 years, I’ve been able to think.

For 11 years, I’ve been able to grow.

For 11 years, I’ve been able to learn.

For 11 years, I’ve been able to eat.

For 11 years, I’ve been able to live.

11 years ago, today, my life was reborn, because 11 years ago today, I had ostomy surgery. 

Jessica Grossman - Ostomy surgery 11 years

For those of you who do not know my story – I became very sick at the age of 8, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 9, had an enormous flare-up when I was 11, and remained in the hospital until I was 13, where I was told that if I did not have surgery, I would die.

This very day, 11 years ago, I had to choose between giving up, or fighting back.

Today is my 11 year bag-aversary.

I don’t want to use this post to go on and on about how thankful I am for my ostomy, because every post I write has that as its main theme. I write about making it through the professional world, relationship highs and lows, friendships, shopping, vacationing, and everything that comes with living life that, really, without surgery, I would never be able to experience.

Instead, I want to make this about you. 

I want to make this about you and your story of fighting back. I want to make this about the struggles that you have triumphed over, or the battle you are raging through right now, whatever it may be that allows you to simply wake up and celebrate the day.

Any day.

All days.

(Contest Time!) So this is what I’m asking of you: 

Get out your cameras. Get out your smartphones. Get out your mirrors or your friends. And start taking pictures.

I want you to take a picture that represents your struggle and how you made it here, today.

Whether it be, like mine seen above, of showing how long you’ve had your ostomy, or a picture holding up your favourite food that you can finally eat again, or maybe just a picture showing how you’re spreading ostomy awareness, whether you have an ostomy or not, I want to see it!

This is your chance to tell others about what you have gone through and how you were able to fight back. Show us how you can proudly say that “I am here today.”

So, get out your camera and start posting pictures to the Uncover Ostomy Facebook Page, now! Make sure to tell us how that picture represents your battle.

You can also post it on Twitter or Instagram by using the hashtag #UncoverOstomy

Then, on February 10th, I will pick the best story/picture to feature on the blog and the FB page. Pictures with lots of “likes” and shares will have a better chance of winning, so make sure to let your friends and family know you’ve submitted it.

These past 11 years have given me a second chance to live life and tell my story.

What’s yours?

Who Needs Sleep When You Have Netflix?

I’ve recently discovered that the best time to have a Netflix marathon is at 1am in the morning.

I’ve discovered that instead of rolling around in bed, twiddling my thumbs, and thinking about how stressed I am, I can just watch countless episodes of TV shows on Netflix until I literally fall asleep on my computer.

Otherwise, I won’t fall asleep.

I think, if I didn’t have Netflix, or similar forms of entertainment at my fingertips, I could go more than 2 days without sleeping a wink.(If I really tried, I could probably go 3, but I’ve heard people start hallucinating at that point…)

I’ve been having a really hard time sleeping lately.

And it’s not because I’m sitting in the living room and too lazy to get up to go to bed (which, used to be my excuse for staying up all hours of the night…), because I get into bed, every night, as a reasonable time, thanks to my boyfriend. We’re usually all tucked in and ready to count Z’s at around 11pm. He has a full-time job, so he has a reason to get to bed before dawn.

Night after night, we turn out the lights, say “I love you,” and then in about 15 minutes, he’s snoring away while I’m lying there, staring at the ceiling, literally feeling the cogs spinning in my head.

Sometimes, I get up to go to the bathroom.

Other times, I try and close my eyes to meditate.

I even try to count sheep.

Unfortunately, neither the quick trip to the bathroom, the meditation, nor the counting sheep can stop my brain from thinking about what’s got me extremely stressed.

My job hunt. I’m looking for a new job.

If you haven’t seen my endless tweets about how ridiculous the job market is, how annoying job hunting can be, or how I’m just ready to be hired, you may not have known. But, if you have seen them – I’m sorry.

Job hunting is hard. Between working at my current job, writing constant cover letter drafts, filling out applications, doing phone interviews, and showing up for in-person interviews… it’s crazy.

And I don’t know when this started to be a thing, but I have job, after job, after job asking me to do assignments for them! Like, they’re asking me to do work that they would be hiring someone to do.. but getting myself, and others, to do it for free. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I get the concept of it, where they want to see if I’m competent and what-not, but the type of work I’m being asked to do, and how much of it, is a little ridiculous. And, from what I’ve heard recently from a friend who just hired someone, the assignments are misleading – she hired someone who cannot do shit, despite completing the interview assignment properly.

It’s also insanely hard to get people to even take me seriously because of how young I am. If I’ve learned anything from my current job, it’s that it doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s all about what you know – and I know quite a lot, apparently. However, getting someone to take the time to even give me a chance to prove this, is turning out to be a difficult task.

Another huge concern of mine is the fact that stress contributes to Crohn’ disease flare-up… Well, stress contributes to a lot of health related issues, but in my case, Crohn’s is a huge concern. I haven’t had too much “tummy trouble” just yet, but if this continues, I may not remain as lucky.

Sigh.

I know I shouldn’t complain. I’m in a much better position than others that I know. I have good work experience, a great education, and lots of networking connections who are helping me out. Despite all this, I’m still extremely overwhelmed and severely lacking sleep.

While the boyfriend snores away, I find myself lying awake, wondering whether or not I’ll get a job I enjoy and whether I’ll get one that pays me enough to cover my bills.

And then I start to wonder if I’ll even get a job at all.

I wonder if I might become destitute.

Then I start picturing where I’ll have to live.

And then, I start wondering where I can find cardboard boxes big enough to use as a shelter for under the bridge I’ll inevitably end up calling home.

Without being able to stop, I begin to imagine my new friend Bob who used to be a successful investment banker who lost millions of dollars, was fired, and ended up under the same bridge, to which he now helps the other bums under the bridge with their investments of old beer bottles and pop can tabs to pay for the swimming lessons for his imaginary pet Lobster, Al.

And then somehow, I wake up the next morning.

Body half off the bed, drool coming down my mouth, and the blankets on the floor, I look up to see my boyfriend telling me it’s time to start the day.

Wearing his nicely fitted dress pants and his perfectly pressed button down shirt, he kisses me, still in my pjs and hair in a messy bun, goodbye, while he goes off to work hard at his great job.

I, on the other hand, move myself to the couch to continue my job hunt so that I won’t end up trading bottles to pay for those swimming lessons for Al.

A New Year’s Post.

It’s been a good year.

I secured a new home, found an amazing new boyfriend, “officially” graduated from NYU, did a lot of traveling, got some great work experience, and finally became a real adult.

(Sure, I did have my Crohn’s come back after 10 years, but who hasn’t? Am I right??)

But seriously, despite that little blip in the year, it’s all around been pretty great.

Especially for Uncover Ostomy. Seriously. And here are the numbers to prove it!

Since January 1st, 2013:

We’ve had exactly 44,247 new people visit the Uncover Ostomy website.

We’ve had 118,433 website page views.

We’ve reached 148 countries, including Sweden, the Philippines, Turkey, the Bahamas, Malaysia, Taiwan, Bangladesh, Cyprus, and even Uzbekistan (to just name a few…)

We’ve gotten over 1,400 new fans on the Facebook Page.

Posts on the Facebook page have accumulated a total of over 1.2 million impressions.

And the Facebook page has seen over 11,200 user interactions (that’s you guys!)

…And this is just some of the stats. Seriously. Amazing!

I know I say this all the time, but I sincerely attribute all of these stats to you. You guys are the ones who support the campaign, who share the campaign, and who live and breathe the values the campaign works to spread! Without you, this wouldn’t be possible.

So what would be a new year without a New Year’s resolution, or two?

Personally, my NY’s Resolutions are pretty simple. They include finding a new job (I’m currently on the hunt), exercising more, paying more attention to my health, and being happy. Nothing too crazy, but will make a huge impact on my life in 2014.

But how can we make a huge impact on ostomy stigma in 2014? I have a few ideas, and I hope you can help:

    1. Sharing more blog posts: Let’s keep on doing what we’ve been doing since Oct 2009! Like something I’ve written, send it out to your friends and family!
    2. Sharing more Facebook posts: Facebook has tweaked their background settings so that Page posts don’t show up as often as they used to. The more fans who share the Page’s posts, the more likely other users who don’t follow the Page will see them!
    3. Use Twitter more: I recently started up the #UncoverOstomy hashtag on Twitter. Everytime you tweet something that has to do with your ostomy, or about the campaign, include that hashtag in the tweet. It will be added to this list: Tweets about “#UncoverOstomy” that I can track and respond to, and will allows others to engage with you as well.
    4. Take more pictures in UO tshirts: I will be doing this, and I hope you’ll join me, in taking more pictures wearing the UO tshirts in public. Once you do, post them to your Facebook profile, Twitter, and the Uncover Ostomy page so we can create more positive content to share. Sharing these pictures on social media will continue to spread positive ostomy awareness! (There will be more tshirt sales, just hang tight!)
    5. Speaking: If you’re part of a community or organization that you believe would benefit from having me speak about Uncover Ostomy, send me a message and let’s set it up!
    6. Hangouts: Since Uncover Ostomy is a worldwide campaign, it’s hard for us to all get together. I’m hoping that by running Google Hangouts (video conferences), we can have a chance to get together, chat, and support. (Please let me know if this is something you would be interested in!)
    7. Contests: What fun is an online community without contests? There will be more…

Think we can handle these? I do.

So while I continue to look for a job after having just come back from the gym I can only hope that 2014 brings only good things.

The other day, a friend of mine said she could feel that this would be the best year yet. Let’s make it so.

Frequent Flyer Disease

Ahh Saturday. A day to sleep in, relax, and not do a damn thing. My favourite day.

A day I’ve hardly seen in the past few weeks.

And holy hell am I tired.

——–

I remember the days when I couldn’t wait for the weekends to hang out with friends, party, and stay up really late, and  travel – basically a few days without sleep. It was great.

Now, I can’t wait for Saturday so that I can stay in my pj’s till 1 in the afternoon.

For me, the past month and a bit has been full of traveling and very little sleep. From Chicago, to London, ON, to Ottawa, and NYC, I feel as if I haven’t stopped moving. I had a bit of time in between each of those trips which were mostly spent to go grocery shopping and clean (you know, adult things.)

Don’t get me wrong – I love traveling. I love going to new places and seeing new things and meeting new people.

Like, Chicago. I had never been before, and neither had my boyfriend, so we decided to make a trip there for a few days. We stayed with some friends, who graciously offered their place, and we had a great time. We did a lot of touring and I saw things I had never seen before (like the Bean!), went to a really fun museum (ugh, yes, I’, a nerd) and ate very, very well.

Only a few days after that trip, we went to London, ON so that I could speak on behalf of Uncover Ostomy at the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of Canada’s Education Symposium. Since my boyfriend had just moved to Toronto from London, we took the opportunity to spend the night before with a bunch of his friends before waking up early the next day for the event. Despite the lack of sleep, it was fun to hang out with his friends, and a pleasure to speak to such a great group of attendees. My brother even stopped by to support (since he lives there.)

Shortly after that trip, I headed to Ottawa, ON – another place I had never been – to speak about Uncover Ostomy at another CCFC Symposium. While I was only there for about 24 hours, I got a glimpse of the downtown nightlife and went out with a few volunteers from the event. Waking up early, once again, I made my way to the event and spoke to another amazing group of people.

Then, for what seemed like only a few days later, I headed off to NYC for a few days. It was great to visit the place I once lived to see some of my friends and even more exciting to meet one of my idols, Morgan Spurlock.

Unfortunately, my NYC trip wasn’t as fun as it could have been because I had come down with an infection. This was not surprising, as on my immediate return from Ottawa a few days before, I had been struck with a stomach virus. I clearly hadn’t recovered enough from that virus, as my body wasn’t able to fight off coming down with another sickness.

I think they call this Frequent Flyer Disease.

It’s known that when you have Crohn’s disease, and that when you’re missing a colon, your immune system is severely decreased. This is something I’ve been used to for most of my life and haven’t really had to deal with. I’ve been able to travel around the world, party, and barely sleep without any problems.

However, it’s becoming more and more apparent to me that as I get older, so is my body. And I guess I’m getting more and more susceptible to this “disease.”

Maybe it’s just being 24. Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m not the spry 19 year old like I used to be. I mean, do other 24 year-olds get sick from lack of sleep? Anyone? Beuller?

Ugh, I doubt it.

Fortunately, as I notice the decreasing ability for me to fly somewhere new every weekend, I’m actually happy to not do it as much. I like waking up late, bumming around, and relaxing after a long week of work. I mean, it’s Saturday, at 1:30pm, and I’m still in my pj’s hanging out with my boyfriend – and I couldn’t be happier. 

I guess this is what maturing is all about.

While I’m still recovering from the infection I got in NYC, I am still very happy with the past few weeks. Sure, being sick sucks, but experiencing all the things I’ve been able to experience from traveling definitely outweighs the sick, and I’m not going to stop.

Crohn’s hasn’t stopped me before and it is certainly not going to stop me now.

I just need to figure out how to, you know, not die, in the process ;)

Happy weekend, everyone. Enjoy it.

Well Would Ya Look at That…

Last night I stumbled across an episode of Tosh.0

For those who have never seen the show, Daniel Tosh selects videos off YouTube and cracks jokes about them to an audience. As my boyfriend put it, it’s an updated version of America’s Funniest Home Videos… Well, it is if you add in 50% more inanppropriateness.

Anyway, as my boyfriend and I flipped to his show, I noticed that the topic of the current segment was on ostomies. Daniel had found a YouTube video of a girl explaining how to change her bag.

Oh god.

As I always do when I hear the word “ostomy” on TV, I cringed, not knowing what would be said. I mean, the media has never been nice when it comes to the concept of an ostomy, and Daniel Tosh is widely known for not being nice to anyone. This could be a disaster.

It turns out, I was wrong. And I have never been happier to be wrong.

Daniel began the segment by showing Laura’s video to the audience. As she demonstrated how to change her bag, the audience made some expected “grossed out” noises. Instead of giving into the audience, however, Daniel Tosh immediately started cracking jokes, not only about poop, but how much he wished he had an ostomy.

..so having a portable toilet attached to my belly button would be great. I’d rather BM in a bag than a gas station any day.”

Daniel – I couldn’t agree more.

Tosh made a few more poop jokes before he began on to interview Laura. In the interview, she explained what an ileostomy is (the same thing I have) and Daniel, obviously, made more jokes. Laura then proceeded shows her stoma to the audience, and Daniel… he touched it. Then, in normal Tosh.0 fashion, Daniel reenacted  a Magic School Bus episode and went through Laura’s digestive track, cracking more jokes along the way.

All in all, Daniel Tosh put a very positive spin on the ostomy through his intuitive questions, his jokes, and his willingness to.. well.. put his finger on it.

While I was happy to see this incredibly positive segment about the ostomy, I did want to clarify a few things. Just from my point of view:

  1. For one, in reaction to Laura’s videos, it really only takes me under 30 seconds to change a bag. I stand, I don’t use a towel, and it’s never that messy. I get she was trying to explain how to do it, but I don’t think I’ve ever done it like that in my life. To each their own, I suppose. 
  2. I don’t wear a see-through bag like Laura did in her video because, well… I don’t think anyone needs to see it.
  3. There were a lot of poop jokes made. While this, again, is obviously in Tosh.0 fashion, I’ve never really been huge on too many poop jokes. I’m not even talking about ostomy jokes- I’m talking about straight up poop jokes. There were definitely not enough ostomy jokes. Maybe that’s just me.
  4. Laura let him touch her stoma, and when she did, it was, well… messy. I’m not sure, exactly, if the writers had asked her to make it that way, but if it had been me, it would have been clean as a whistle. I did, however, agree that it was like touching someone’s butthole. (And no one gets to touch mine. Stoma, I mean. Well, maybe both.)
  5. At the end of the Magic School Bus reenactment, Laura emptied her bag in the sink. Again, not sure if the writers asked her to do that, but I would never empty mine in the sink. It’s too close to where I was my face and brush my teeth..

I wanted to clarify these few things because, well, as an ostomate who was watching the show, was a little grossed out at how it kind of went. I mean, I literally said “Oh My God” out loud when she emptied her bag in the sink, to which my boyfriend laughed at me. (I guess boys enjoy poop humour a lot more than girls do. At least more than I do… haha). I worried that if I found it a little gross, others would too – hence my  personal clarifications. I had to keep reminding myself, however, that this being Tosh.0, it made perfect sense for it to be a little bit gross. I just never found that kind of humour funny. Again, that’s just me.

Nevertheless, as I said, overall this was a great first step for ostomy awareness in the media. Daniel Tosh put an extremely positive and humorous spin to something seen so negatively. Daniel encouraged Laura to talk about it, he joked about it, and he let the audience know he wished he had one too.

Great job Laura, and thank you, thank you, thank you to Daniel Tosh.

Feel free to model an ostomy bag for me, any day.

————————

Please, please, please, feel free to comment on this post here, on the Facebook page, or on Twitter using the hashtag #UncoverOstomy ! Let’s get some discussion going on what you thought about the segment, my comments, and how it’s finally making it’s way into the media!

Oh, and feel free to let Daniel Tosh know how much we appreciate his willingness to talk about ostomies by tweeting him here.

You can watch the segment from the show here. In Canada? Watch it here

They’re Back! …And Just in Time for the Holidays!

Get ‘em while you can!

Uncover Ostomy tshirts are back until December 16th! 

For $15, you can give the gift of ostomy awareness.

Get your “This is where my ostomy is,” “This is where my ostomy was,” and “This is where my ostomy would be” tshirts by clicking the links!

 

All proceeds go towards future awareness efforts.
<3

Ridiculous – The Jess Grossman Story

Whenever I talk about my life as a whole – you know, the general biography of me – I usually describe it with one word:

Ridiculous

All of us, at one point, especially those who have dealt with Crohn’s, Colitis, Cancer, or whatever other hardships we’ve faced, we feel that our lives don’t make sense. The pain we’ve dealt with, the uncomfortable treatments we’ve been exposed to, and the changes we’ve experienced – looking back, it all seems so.. ridiculous.

For me, the ridiculous started when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s at 9 years old. Most of you already know my story, but for those who don’t, my disease got really bad when I was 11, and I was taken to the emergency room with a hemaglobin of 55 (for a normal kid my age at the time, it’s 120) because I was close to death. I couldn’t move or open my eyes, and I almost couldn’t breathe. Luckily, after 2 years of being in and out of the hospital, hovering just over the line of life and death, as the story goes, I made it out alive, thanks to ostomy surgery.

Now, you’d think for only having lived to the age of 13 that this would have been enough ridiculousness for anyone in a lifetime.

But of course, not for me.

Besides being a sufficiently awkward child from years of isolation in the hospital and being overweight from steroids, high school was pretty difficult. I was lucky enough to make it out with a few great friends, and somehow, a personality. 

Thanks to my newfound personality, I was hired by Abercrombie & Fitch - the most prejudice company in existence. Oh, except, I wasn’t hired because of my bubbly attitude, but because they thought I was Asian. They had a “minority quota” they needed to fill and they thought I was half. (For the record, I am not)

That’s where I met my first first boyfriend. Turns out this guy had been dating his girlfriend for a year, while he was dating me.

I obviously didn’t learn much about men, because after joining my sorority in my first year of university, I surrounded myself with a ton of assholes. One of which, kept trying to convince me to date him. I didn’t – and good thing too - because he was actually in a relationship with another girl. And, his ex-girlfriend (now a prominent woman in tech in Toronto, haaaa) and her sorority sisters would call me and harass me because I was hanging out with him.

Oh yeah, that girl he was actually dating? She was the stewardess on my empty flight from Vancouver to Toronto a few years later. Sufficiently awkward – especially when she asked me how I had been. We had never met in person. But she knew who I was.

Then my grandmother died. Which I guess isn’t too ridiculous, because she was older, and an avid smoker. Still sucked, though.

Anyway, I had gotten fed up with men, and decided the next best option was to date my best guy friend – who had been chasing me for 2 years. The beginning of our relationship was pretty much out of an 80′s movie (Read: Pretty in Pink, Andie and Duckie.) He did everything for me, from letting me cry on his shoulder because of other guys, to dragging me to the hospital when I had a cold. 

Just as we started dating, my dad died. From a rare blood disease. Yeah, a rare blood disease.

That, somehow, triggered my best friend turned boyfriend to turn into an absolute nutcase. He’d break up with me every 2 weeks because he “loved me too much” or because he “didn’t love me anymore,” then he would come to my window in the middle of the night and throw rocks at it to get my attention…just to cry on my shoulder and tell me he didn’t deserve me. When he wasn’t breaking up with me?  He was proposing to me. He did 3 times. 2 years of breaking up, getting back together, and angry drunken emails and texts later, I eventually dumped his ass and told him never to speak to me again when I found out he was talking to other girls.  Apparently, dating your best friend doesn’t really mean anything.

In the middle of those 2 years, I met another guy who, within the first few nights of knowing me, expressed his undying love. I was taken, so I couldn’t date him, but he was… well, let’s say, “on my hook.” Think, How I Met Your Mother:

Eventually, after I was done with my ex-boyfriend, we ended up dating, but only for 2 weeks. We stopped because a mutual friend of ours was extremely upset that we were, as she had always liked him. So we broke up. He was supposed to go to law school in Australia, anyway. However, a few months later, I ran into this guy at our mutual friend’s cottage. He expressed how he didn’t want to go to law school so he could be with me. And that was that.

We dated for an amazing few months before I moved to Manhattan for school. We stayed together long-distance and, somehow, made it through.

Surprise! While I was in Manhattan, I had to have 3 minor surgeries, you know, because of course my body needed to fail while in a country without universal healthcare.

I eventually made it back to Canada to move in with this boyfriend. It made sense at the time. Turns out, this boyfriend was not who I expected. In fact, he was a totally and completely different person (Read: an angry narcissist who treated me worse than the dirt under his feet.) I broke up with him 4 months later. 

To take my mind off of that whole situation, and to give me something else to do while living with my mother again, I started working on a startup business with a developer who was brilliantly talented. Unfortunately, after devoting all of my waking hours to the business, I found out that he was absolutely insane. He thought that me – a woman – was only meant to take his orders, be his puppet, and work as his servant. We had to end the working relationship and he wasn’t too happy about it… which, was clearly stated in the 2 weeks of  threatening and absolutely psychotic emails he sent that called me names and said that “the devil was going to get me.”

Eventually, life started to even itself out as I made my way to Jamaica for one of my best friends’ weddings, this past February.

And that’s where I met Jake Gyllenhaal.  

Kidding.

The lookalike’s name was Matt, and he was in the airport sitting a few rows down from my friends and I, while we all waited for our flight.

[Sidenote: I do this thing where I see if there are any interesting looking guys and see if they could possibly entertain me for the week of vacation. I wasn't sure if he was going to be staying at the same resort, but in the meantime, he was pretty to look at.]

Luckily, he was staying at the same resort. It turns out, as I learned when he approached me the first night there, that he was from London, ON (where I used to go to university, and where my brother and cousins still did.) Apparently, he also used to live with the older brother of a guy I went to high school with. I had a great time with him and his friends that week and was a little sad when the week came to a close. After all, what happens on vacation, stays on vacation, right?

Apparently, not. While we collected our luggage in the airport back in Canada, Matt asked for my number. Coincidentally, I had already planned to be in London that very weekend, to see my brother and cousins. And I thought he should know.

So I visited him that weekend.

And then I visited him again, shortly after.

And then he visited me.

And somehow, we ended up meeting up every weekend for 3 months. And it was wonderful.

But I knew, having done the long-distance thing before, it wasn’t something I wanted to do for very much longer. No matter how amazing Matt was – and amazing he really, really was.

But this was….Ridiculous. 

So one weekend, we’re at my friend’s cottage and he gets a call from an old roommate-friend of his.

He had bought a house. In Toronto. 2 blocks from me.

And he needed another roommate. 

Very long story, short…

This weekend, Matt moves to Toronto. 

—-

While most of what I call the “ridiculous” parts of my life have often made me sad, upset, lonely, and angry… this, by far, is making up for all of it.

The reason I went on this long-winded rant is to clearly illustrate that no matter how hopeless, how awful, how inconceivably ridiculous your life seems, it is important to remember that ridiculous has two sides. The really bad, and the really good.

You could be sitting in a hospital bed, staring at the ceiling, wondering if you are going to make it through the next day. You could be looking at your changed body in the mirror, wondering if you’ll ever feel normal again. Or you could be thinking of people past and wondering how they ever treated you in that way. I know I did.

But I also now know that you just have to make it through one side to get to the other.

—-

Oh, yeah, that award I was supposed to Skype in to accept in NYC this past weekend? It would so happen that the internet went out in the North East at the same time I was supposed to do it. 

Ridiculous.

I was not only sad that I couldn’t make it into the city to accept in person, but I was even more upset that I could barely be a part of the event because of the failure of technology.

Until I looked over at Matt, who made a stupid joke, just to make me smile.

And suddenly, all that seemed ridiculous to me, didn’t seem so ridiculous anymore.

Jess & Matt