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.

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

The Butterfly Effect

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. 

Basically, your future is dependent on all the actions you take and choosing one action over another action determines your future as one path over another.

-I know, I know, in my last blog post I wrote about how my decisions would impact my future and how scary that was- and still is. Over the past week, however, my focus has shifted from worrying about how my decisions will affect my future, to stepping back and being astounded at where my pivotal decisions have actually led me.

I can’t believe my life is what it is today.

This past week I was in New York City to help run an industry event that I had been planning with my boss at Group Commerce for the past 4 months. The Think Commerce Summit  was an event focused on content and commerce in the tech space and had amazing speakers from companies like CBS, NBC, Forbes, Bloomberg, and even the founder of MTV. The event went off without a hitch and everyone had a great time. It was absolutely surreal to be apart of it all.

A year or so ago, I didn’t even think to get a job as I was too focused on school. A little over a year and a half ago, I wasn’t even sure I would be getting into graduate school because I had made a last minute decision to go. A little over 2 years ago, the thought of being in New York City had never crossed my mind.

And, somehow, here I am with a Masters degree and a job that has linked me to New York City. It has opened my eyes up to industries I never thought I’d be in such as the tech space, the Ecommerce space, and the Startup space. I have been inspired me to work with other organizations that I had never thought would interest me and has motivated me to meet people and make connections that I never thought were necessary, and better yet, never dreamt were possible.

Where I thought I’d be a year ago is not where I am today.

It wasn’t until the closing networking cocktail hour of the Think Commerce Summit that I had a chance to sit down and relax. It wasn’t until then that I actually had a moment to think about where I was.

Within a few seconds of being able to form thoughts in my head, I thought:

Holy shit- I’m in New York City running a huge event for an amazing company, shaking hands with industry leaders, and getting paid to do it. How in the hell did I get here?

Seriously. What the hell.

Looking back on it all, I pinpointed the small – some almost insignificant at the time- decisions that had placed me in my current life situation.Why was I in NYC working at this company and running this event?

I was there because I had been given a free ticket to some other industry event last February and, for some reason, I decided to attend to practice my networking skills. This is where I happened to make a fool out of myself in front of my current boss who decided that despite my ridiculousness, was qualified to work for him and insisted that I did.

I only got the free ticket to that event because I was living in NYC for school. I was living in NYC for school because I chose NYU over BostonU and SyracuseU.

I was only going to the US for school, however, because a week before I started my last year of undergrad, I realized that I needed more education beyond my undergraduate degree that I could not get in Canada. I decided to write my GRE entrance exam with only a little bit of time to study and had to rush through applications to ensure I applied on time.

I had realized I needed more education because of many conversations I had with my, then boyfriend who himself spoke of wanting higher education. For some reason, one day, it inspired me to look into school for myself.

I was, however, only with that particular boyfriend because, after we had been friends for two years as he had persistently tried to date me, I finally agreed.

I had only finally agreed because…

….Ok, it goes on and on and on.

But can you imagine where I’d be if I had decided not to date this guy? Would I have ever thought to go to graduate school? Or where would I be if I had dated someone else entirely? Or what if I had decided to go to SyracuseU? Or what if I not even gone to that event that day in February and decide to “practice” networking to my, now, boss?

Or what if..

What if I was still sick.

Or, really… what if I had died.

I don’t think about it often -what’s the point? – but when I do, it still kind of frightens me that I survived near death at 13 years old simply because I made the decision to have 6 feet of my intestine removed for ostomy surgery.

That one decision to change my body, changed my future.

It still upsets me when I think about all those people out there who suffer from diseases like I did, yet fight against having ostomy surgery. These people believe it is better to be sick than to have some bag hanging off their body. What they don’t realize, however, is that making this one decision has the ability to change their life forever- for the better.

I spread positive ostomy awareness through this campaign because I still see such negativity around ostomies and that it affects those people who actually need them. These people see the negative stigma around the ostomy in the public so they decide they’d rather be sick instead of, as they assume will happen, get made fun of or shunned. I try and spread positive ostomy awareness to not only stop the negative stigma, but to encourage individuals who need surgery to ignore the negativity and to focus on their future. For many, the decision to have a better life is right in front of them; they just need to get past the negative obstacles in their way.

Without my ostomy surgery, I never would have been running this industry event with my company. Without ostomy surgery I never would have gone to that other random event where I met my boss. I never would have gone to graduate school, or dated that guy who inspired me to go, and I would never have even gotten into university in the first place.

I would be dead.

As I said in my last blogpost, and as I’m saying now: decision making is scary. Every decision you make determines the path you will follow.  One decision can even lead your life path in a completely different direction then you had imagined it to be.

But, sometimes, it’s better than you ever could have dreamed.

Ostomy Supply Donations

Wind, rain, flooding… Hello Sandy, it’s unpleasant to meet you.

For those of you unaware of the what’s going on in the East Coast of the US and making it’s way up to Canada, we are in the midst of Hurricane Sandy, the worst hurricane in recorded history.

I’ve been staying up to date with the news through articles, videos, pictures, and tweets, and also seeing status updates from my friends in NYC about the happenings of the storm – it doesn’t look good. There’s already flooding, power outages, and tons of destruction still on the way. The storm is supposed to continue through tonight and tomorrow.

Disasters such as these often bring about the need for relief and I wouldn’t doubt that after Sandy makes it’s way through the East Coast, help will be needed. I’m writing this blog post because I want to help.

I’ve already tweeted and posted this on my Facebook timeline, but I’m asking for information on any organizations who collect extra ostomy supplies for relief in these circumstances. I have tons to donate and it looks like this is the time.

So friends, I am asking you 3 things:

  1. If you know any organizations who collect ostomy supplies for donation, please post the information in the comments below or on the FB page.
  2. Share this post with your ostomy networks to find out the needed information and find those willing to donate.
  3. Donate supplies!

I really hope there is no need for disaster relief after this storm is over, but there will always be those in need. Now is as good a time as any to donate!

Keep an eye on this post as I will be compiling organization information as I get it.

Thanks guys!

———————-

Friends of Ostomates Worldwide [Canada]

OstomyAid [UK]

365 Days Later…

…and I am still completely in love with my boyfriend. (And he’s in love with me too!)

Yesterday, Rob and I celebrated our one year anniversary- something I could never have imagined happening!

I am not saying that I couldn’t have imagined it because we aren’t compatible (because we totally are), but simply because we had to deal with a lot this past year. We only dated for 2 months before I moved to NYC, where we began 8 months of a long distance relationship. It was extremely hard to maintain our feelings for each other through hour long phone calls, Skype sessions, and short visits home, but somehow we made it.

I am honestly so happy to have him in my life. He makes me feel so special, so loved, and so safe. He makes me laugh, he listens to me, and he takes care of me when I’m sick. We can play video games together, stuff our faces with all-you-can-eat sushi, or simply sit around all day and do nothing together. I enjoy every minute I spend with him- even a year later.

Even more honestly- I’ve never even been in a relationship for an entire year. I didn’t know anyone could stand me for that long!

Apparently, he can.

And I couldn’t be happier about it.

 

A Bad Case of the Crazies

Phew.

That is all I could think the morning of Tuesday, May 1st, the day my mother and I hit the road in a 10 foot Uhaul, en-route to Toronto. After living on a couch in a studio apartment with a wonderful friend who graciously took me in for 3 weeks, it was finally time to move myself back to good old Canada land.

I had moved out of my apartment 3 weeks earlier than I was supposed to. 3 weeks earlier than I had paid for. Unfortunately, I had no choice- my apartment wasn’t safe.

3 weeks prior to Tuesday, May 1st, I had solidified the fact that I could complete my Masters at NYU from Toronto by taking 2 online classes and writing my thesis at home. Knowing it would save me upwards of tens of thousands of dollars, I decided it only made sense to move back home. I made all the arrangements I needed to make, including confirming my plan with my program director, finding a place to live in Toronto, and securing a sublet for my room to fill in for me. I hadn’t actually signed a lease for my place in NYC, but it didn’t feel right putting my roommate out like that. The sublet I had found actually happened to be a girl who went to the same university as us for undergrad, was an absolute sweetheart, and extremely trustworthy- I couldn’t have found a better match to take my place.

Well, apparently I could have.

I informed my roommate of my plans and about the girl I had found to take my place in the apartment, knowing that this was a win-win situation for both of us. She, however, did not see it that way. Instead, she told me that I was not allowed to sublet my room and demanded that I had to continue to pay rent. Shocked, I simply said ok and walked out of the room.

Little did I know that this was the beginning of one of the most surreal events of my life.

The next day my roommate began to harass me by texting me and calling me constantly, insisting that I call her parents, yelling at me, and slamming doors. I was in utter dismay with her attitude as I had simply said “ok” to her demands and nothing about not paying.

The next day, she served me with a letter (that made little sense) from a lawyer that told me she was going to sue me if I moved out, stating that I had said I was going to move out without paying, which I had not. I had expected this letter, but I didn’t expect what followed…

That night, after my roommate had served me the letter from her lawyer, I realized that she had made passive aggression actions towards my things. She had thrown my shoes in a pile, taken a Christmas card of mine off the fridge, took my shower products and put them in the middle of the tub in standing water, and… well… to spare you the gross details… she had “tampered” with my toothbrush in one of the most disturbing ways possible. This action was so disgusting that I questioned whether it was safe to eat the food I had left in the fridge, as I was unsure of what she could have done to it.

It was then that I realized I couldn’t live there anymore, so I moved out for those 3 weeks. The problem was, I had to leave most of my stuff back in the apartment. It was 3 weeks later that I was able to retrieve my belongings, with the help of my mother. But not, of course, without hassle from my roommate.

The weekend my mother came into to town to help me collect my things also happened to be the weekend my roommate felt the need to recruit both of her parents to keep watch on us. And by watch, I actually mean stalk. The entire weekend, while the 5 of us were living in the tiny NYC apartment, my roommate’s parents not only went out of their way to make living arrangements unbelievably difficult, but went out of their wait to literally stalk my mother and I. They waited in the building foyer for us to show up for the first night, and then waited outside of the building for us when we would leave the apartment. While my mother and I enjoyed our time in NYC by shopping, going out for dinner, and seeing a show, they were stalking us-waiting for me to move out.

My mother and I let it slide as we were having a really great weekend together. We were able to pack my things quite quickly, which is why we could enjoy the things we did in the city before we had to leave. It wasn’t until the last day that things really got messy.

I had sent my roommate a letter (from the lawyer I had to acquire) a few days after her letter, stating not only the harassment she had inflicted on me, but that I would be moving out May 1st, as I had a presentation the night of April 30th. Apparently, her parents were never informed of the letter and they were under the assumption I would be moving out on the 30th. When they realized I was not ready to move out by 5pm that day, they.. well.. kind of went nuts.

After much discussion, my mom and I had decided earlier that day that it may be a better idea to move out that evening, just to get out of their harrassing ways. So, by 5pm on April 30th, my mother left the apartment to pick up the Uhaul…Unfortunately, at the same time my roommates parents came back into the apartment. They wasted no time to come into my room, where I was alone and cornered, to begin to verbally attacking me. Hearing this from down the hall, my mother came back into the apartment to save me. It then turned into a battlefield, as my roommates mom began yelling at us that we needed to “get the f*** out” of her apartment or she was going to call the police and physically move my stuff onto the street. My mother responded by informing my roommate’s mother that she could not do that, which we knew, because we had done our research.

To this, my roommates mom responded, “of course you did your research- you’re Jewish.”

Thankfully, we packed up and moved out of the apartment by 10pm that evening and drove to a hotel for the night. I couldn’t spend anymore time in that apartment, especially with people so vile… so anti-Semitic. My mother and I had a wonderful night’s sleep that night and were well rested for our long 10 hour drive back to Toronto the next day.

I am now home in my new apartment, still unpacking and finishing up an assignment for my spring semester before my summer semester begins. I am looking forward to all the wonderful things ahead of me and hoping that I never have to experience what I had experienced again. While I always look for the good in people, I guess there are always some people who just have a bad case of the crazies.

————————————————–

Have you ever experienced a ridiculous roommate situation? What did you do and how did you survive?

Sometimes You Just Can’t Avoid The Good People

When I originally moved to NYC, I had decided to keep to myself.

I would arrive to my class, sit down for the lesson, and leave as soon as it was over. I would then go home after class, do homework and go to sleep until I woke up the next morning to do my work for the remote internship I was doing from my couch until it was time for class once more.

I had made the decision to keep to myself because I knew that I wasn’t going to be in the city for long. After the craziness that was my undergrad university career with so many different types of classes, being a part of tons of organizations, attending a lot of parties, I had met so many people that I knew it was going to be hard to stay in touch with all of them. They were great people, but, unfortunately, studies show that you can really only stay in touch with a select few.

My goal in NYC was really just to get done what I had come here to do. Sure, I was going to be polite to my peers, but I had no intention of making good friends with them. Why? I thought. I was just going to have to leave soon anyways.

As the first semester went on, I began to interact with my peers more and more because of the mutual need to discuss exam questions and the group projects we were assigned for our finals. The Why? soon became the Why Not? and I made a few friends in the program. I didn’t hang out with them much, but it was nice to have someone to sit next to in a class. It was even nicer when I would get invited out for a drink after class. These few friends slowly became a little bit more. It wasn’t in my original plan, but these people were just so great to be around, I couldn’t refuse.

Boy, am I glad I didn’t stick to my plan.

When I realized that I was not able to live in my apartment for the remainder of my time in NYC, I had two of these amazing individuals come to my rescue. As soon as they had heard about my situation my new friends Natalie and Sarah both jumped at the chance to help me sort out my situation. Sarah, who I had only really hung out with a few times before took no hesitation to share her studio apartment with me. I had hardly known her, but she was willing to do that for me.

 

Not only had those two individuals come to my rescue and find me a roof over my head, but they, and a few other friends I had made put their extremely busy lives to aside last night to take me out for a celebratory farewell evening.  I have only known these people for a few short months, but they came together just to say goodbye to me, and I couldn’t be more grateful for knowing them.

I had a similar plan in terms of my working situation.

I had originally decided that once my remote internship ended, back in December, I was going to take a break so I could focus on my overload of courses. I knew I was completing the program in one calendar year instead of two years, so I had to take as many credits as possible at once. Then, when I was offered an internship at Group Commerce, I reconsidered, knowing it was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. Again, I had another Why Not? moment.

I’m usually not one to second guess myself, but I am glad, once again, that I didn’t listen to my silly plan.  My time at GC, which sadly, ended today was not only one of the most fun I have ever had at a job, but it was an amazing learning experience. A day would never pass without my boss. Josh, teaching me something new (and something I could never learn in school.) He would also constantly task me with projects I had never done before without worrying about my capability because he believed that I could do it, and do it well.

(That image is of Josh at the GC table at the Daily Deal Summit. He put me in charge of it’s setup! Something I had never done before. Apparently, we had the best table there…)

Josh really instilled a sense of self worth for my future career and I know it is an invaluable lesson that I will take with me for the rest of my life. I am actually devastated that I had to leave GC and all the amazing people whom I worked with. They all made me feel so at home and so valuable; more so than I bet any unpaid intern has ever felt before. It was an amazing experience that I am glad I did not pass up.

I had originally planned to keep to myself because I knew that if I met new people or got involved in something new, it would be a difficult to say goodbye. I have been a part of so many organizations, had so many jobs, and met so many people that I had learned to dread the parting of ways. Once again, I am getting ready to leave a group of amazing people that I have met and I am crushed to have to do it. I had hoped to leave NYC without any sadness, but unfortunately, that will not happen.

As hard as I tried to keep to myself during my time in NYC the good people still managed to force their way into my life.

And, man, I am happy they did.

Human Stuffed Animal

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed me mention that today was another battle between me and the scalpel. Surprise surprise- I had to have yet one more surgery done today for the same issues I’ve been having for months.

Luckily, this time was the most minor of all the surgeries I have had done and there doesn’t seem to be any residual side effects.

Since it was so minor, I was only given a local anesthetic in the area. I was nervous because I hate the feeling of those numbing needles. They sting much stronger than a regular needle, and the area was already sensitive. With the doctor’s gentle touch, thankfully, I hardly felt a thing.

That’s the beauty of a local anesthetic; you know the doctor is doing his thing because of the pressure you feel on the area, but it doesn’t hurt. I was pretty calm throughout the whole process because I couldn’t feel it, and I expected not to feel anything at all. I was relaxed. It was nice.

That was until I felt a strange tugging sensation. Not that it hurt, but it felt like my skin was being moved in a weird motion.. almost like… I was being sewn up.

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever had stitches done (or stitches done while you were awake) but this was the first time I’ve had them done (awake). It was, by far, the most awkward and strange feeling I’ve ever felt. Not only did I feel uncomfortable, but mentally, I felt a little violated. There I was, just lying on the table, like a human stuffed animal being sewn back together after a bratty two-year old has ripped my arm off. I could feel myself being repaired.

Now, that is a very strange feeling.

Currently, I am in no pain. Am I still numb? Probably. I don’t anticipate it being that bad later tonight.

I just can’t shake  the feeling of me lying on the table like a broken object being sewn back together. It’s weird.

Right?

Is it crazy?

Am I crazy?

Probably.

I don’t like stitches.

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Got any crazy stories about that one time you had to get stitches? How did you get them? What did it feel like to be stitched up? Did you feel like me? (Or am I really, actually crazy?)

10 Things I Couldn’t Live Without

So remember when I said I was going to try to challenge myself at this whole WEGO Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge thing? And remember when I said I was really going to try to keep up with it? Well, besides the fact that I realized you would all be very annoyed with a blog everyday (let’s face it, you like to see them here and there, not all the time), but my life, over the past week has been thrown for a little bit of a loop.

I am not going to get into any details except to say that I am living out of a suitcase in NYC for the next 3 weeks before I move back to Toronto. I’m basically counting down the days until I move back for a number of reasons that I will share in a more exciting post.

In the meantime, this post is actually to get myself back into this WEGO HAWMC challenge. Yes, I’ve clearly already failed at it-horribly-but I’d like to at least give it another go. It’s only been 13 days into the month, after all..

Well, really, the reason I wanted to post another one of these blogs is because today’s topic is actually currently relevant to my life. As I said, I’m living out of a suitcase and have realized how necessary certain items can be. Well, today’s topic is about the 10 things you couldn’t live without, and within the past week, I have become extremely aware of what those things are. So, to take another stab at this blogging challenge, here are the 10 things I couldn’t live without:

  1. Ostomy Supplies. Duh. But like-really. If I didn’t have ostomy supplies with me, I basically would not be able to function/leave the house. My fellow ostomates out there know EXACTLY what I mean.
  2. Cell Phone. I know this is a very #firstworldproblems kind of necessity, but honestly, I couldn’t live without it. Between connecting with my groups for school projects, to emails about work, to simply feeling safe on a walk home late at night in NYC- I need my cell phone. Of course, I also need it to talk to the people I care about most, and without my cellphone, it would be quite difficult to do so. [Pay phones, you say? If you can find me one within 2 miles of where I am right now, I will give up my cell phone for a week.]
  3. Clean Water. Is this too obvious? Or not obvious enough? Again, another #firstworldproblem thing… But seriously, I am blessed to live in a part of the world where clean water can be accessed everywhere, yet it is still a necessity to me. Not only is water essential to life, it is even more essential to those without colons who can’t absorb it from food. Water=life.
  4. Cereal. Of course, if you need water, you need some sort of food. If I had to live off one food forever, it would definitely be a cereal; a good cereal too, like Kashi cereal or something with protein. Not only is it easy to digest, but it can fill you up. Pair a bowl of dry Kashi Go LEAN cereal with a nice tall glass of water and I have everything I need to stay alive. I could do it.
  5. A Sweater. For some reason, I am perpetually cold. Maybe it’s the ice that runs through my veins, or maybe it’s the fact that I don’t have enough internal organs to keep me insulated. No matter what, I am always cold at one point of the day. A sweater is a necessity.
  6. Shoes. Well, if we’re getting technical,  you always need a pair of shoes.
  7. Sunlight. Sun makes me unbelievably happy. Put me in that ray of vitamin D at least once a week and I’m good to go. I never appreciated how much I needed the sun until that one summer where I worked at Hollister in the mornings and a restaurant, that was dimly lit without windows, at night. Sun is essential.
  8. My Brain. This too may seem a little strange, but to me, it makes perfect sense. If I did not have the capacity to make decisions, make conversation, take in knowledge, or teach knowledge, there would be no reason for me to be alive.
  9. Passport. Just in case.
  10. And last but not least: The Ones I Love. In my short 22 years of life, I have experienced enough hardship and tragedy to realize that the only things that really matter are thepeople who you care about and who care about you. I could do without the sweater because I would have someone to hold me. I could do without the sunlight because I could have someone to make me smile. I could do without the passport because there would be no need leave the person I care about. Loved ones are the most important part of life, and I couldn’t live without them.
The next little while will be difficult here in NYC, but not impossible. I have cereal, I have water, I have ostomy supplies, I have a sweater and my  cell phone- I have the things I need to function. At the moment, I am not in the ideal situation, and I am definitely not happy about it. However, what is keeping me going through all of this is knowing that, once this ordeal is over, I will get to be with the people who love me and whom I love back.
In the meantime, at least I have a pair of shoes.
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What are the 10 things you couldn’t live without?

This Would Happen..

This time, the surgery wont hurt. I’m so positive! It was so easy last time, this will be nothing! 

Next time,  someone needs to remind me not to be so flippant about surgery.

Turns out, this time around, it wasn’t so easy.

This past Friday, I walked into the surgeon’s office to have a smaller, yet similar, surgery than I had done a few weeks prior. This time, the surgery was simply to fix up a few little issues that had occurred since the last one so it wasn’t supposed to be such a big deal. I was confident that I would be fine. I get put under the anesthetic without a single worry in my mind.

A little while later, I awoke from surgery for the first time and ask the surgeon to explain what had happened. I immediately forgot as I passed out again from the general anesthetic that was still in my system. I woke again, and asked him to explain it to me once more. Of course, I forgot again, as I pass out for the second time. As I finally awoke the third time, I asked him (sheepishly and apologetically, since I was aware that he had answered me twice already). He explained to me that he had to do a little bit more than anticipated because the issues were a little more serious than he had thought.

Alright, well, as long as everything’s cool than, whatever, he did what he had to do.

I stayed completely awake after he explained the situation to me for the last time because I suddenly started to notice how much pain I was in. I asked the surgeon’s assistant why, this time, I was in so much more pain than the last. She explains to me that they didn’t think they needed to put any pain medication in my IV since they didn’t think this particular one worked for me. Apparently, it did, because this time I was in an insane amount of pain. I was given an oral version to quell the pain as I left the office for home.

As like last time, I had to make a pit stop at the drug store to pick up some post-op medication and supplies. It is as soon as I get out of the cab and walk into the drug store that I really realize how much pain I’m in. I’m in so much pain that I can barely stand and I am literally shaking. I was wearing a big dress so I can only imagine that must have looked as if I was going into labor or something (aka- ridiculous). I go up to the pharmacy counter and ask them to fill my prescription ASAP. 10 excruciating minutes later, they call my name. Thankfully, one of my prescriptions was for Tylenol 3′s (one of the very few narcotics that actually work for me since my Crohn’s hospital days) so I pleaded with the pharmacist to grab me a drink so I could take a pill right then and there. (Not sketchy at all…)

I make my way home in another cab, which cost about a total of $3, so you can tell how close I was to my home. However, I was in so much pain that there was no way I could walk. I get to my apartment and crawl to my couch, shaking, and in tears.

This was much different than it was the last time, so I figured it best to call the surgeon. Eventually, I’m told to make my way back to the office because something may be wrong. Within 30 minutes of speaking to him, I made it back to the office, barely able to walk through the door. Sure enough, something had happened and he needed to give me a local anesthetic and get back in there.

I was sent home, once more, and plant myself on the couch in front of the TV. As the hours go by, it really doesn’t feel like the surgical area is getting any better- in fact, it feels worse.I emailed him again and he told me to meet him at the office early Saturday morning.

7:30am, bright and early, I meet him at his office and he opens me up once more, again, with the local anesthetic. He takes a look and informs me that  there didn’t seem to be much of anything wrong with the incision areas, so he sent me home to go back to sleep. It was a wonderful sleep. I slept until about 3pm and then planted myself in front of the TV, once more, for the rest of the day. I wasn’t really able to move, so I didn’t. I also wasn’t able to get very much done while my head was fuzzy from t3′s, so, you guessed it- I didn’t.

Sunday morning, I woke up hoping to feel better and be able to be more productive. Of course, knowing me, I wasn’t. I woke up to a fever, chills, nausea, and more. Every Crohn’s patient knows that fevers mean infections, so of course I was extremely worried. I emailed the surgeon once more, and he called me right away. After speaking on the phone, he said it didn’t sound like anything was related to the surgery and that he would see me the next day anyways. I trusted his opinion and spent the rest of the day in and out of consciousness (in front of the TV of course) and still not getting anything done. If you know me, you know how much I hate not getting anything done.

Today, I made the trek back to the office for the 4th time in 4 days. I walked in and the first thing his assistant said to me was, “Well, you don’t look good.”

No, I definitely did not look good. After a weekend of pain and sickness and, essentially, immobility, I definitely did not look my usual self.

I get into the office and once more the surgeon decided to get back in there to take a look. He wanted to be certain that there really wasn’t anything going on. After a good 40 minutes on the table, he confirmed that there wasn’t anything to worry about and that from here on out, I should just be able to heal.

After a long, longgggg weekend, I finally feel better. Well.. better-ish. Not like I’m dying anymore. I feel like I felt after the surgery the last time. So, essentially, I feel like I’m ready to heal.

I guess I may have gotten a bit ahead of myself with the whole “surgery is nothing” mantra in my previous post. I was so happy with how easily the surgery had gone the last time, that I really did not see this coming. If I had, I may have stocked up on a few more groceries… I do want to say though, that I’m not knocking the positive attitude. It definitely helped me the day of because I wasn’t nervous! Now that I feel better, and I think all the issues that could happen, have happened, I know that the rest of the healing process wont be a big deal. Right? Right.

….

This would happen to me.

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Readers: what are some of your ridiculous “this would happen to me” post-op stories?