Two women led us through the oldest residential school in Canada this afternoon. One was a survivor. People who spent part of their childhood in a residential school are known as survivors. The other had a grandfather who lived in this residential school in and around 1899. They both generously took us - seven Canadian family medicine residents - through one of this country's darkest legacies....Read More
I think about the years and years of play I sacrificed for my education and my career. And finding space for play - to enjoy my life - is now a spiritual imperative. If I was to die of a rare cancer next year, like Dr. Kalanithi or my friend Jen Young, it would all feel so profoundly unfinished. And it would feel like that because I have a lot of banked play time that remains unused in my esoteric life account.
Over the last several years, I've had a voyeur's view into the lives of people confronting terminal illness. The hoops of medical training dropped me squarely into the existential sorrows of perfect strangers as they realize that these days or months are their last. It feels great to help where you can, and utterly, outrageously sad when there is nothing to do.
But just before Christmas, I found out a truly adored member of my family has two large tumours, likely representing an aggressive cancer.Read More
I began my recovery from anorexia nervosa in July of 2008. I had just returned home from Vienna, where I was a UN intern for 6 months. I was sitting with my parents in their backyard. I had a jar on my lap of green sludge. It was a concoction of spinach and water and a few berries which, with the correct blender and a healthy mindset, would be a perfectly fine snack. In that setting, however, it was a bitter metaphor for deprivation and rammed home an awareness that my life was shrinking.
That jar of spinach water was the only thing I had eaten all day. I ate the stringy, leafy mess with a spoon because the blender was a dud. It was not even close to the grossest thing I had ever eaten in the name of calorie restriction.
I told my parents that afternoon that I thought I needed some help. I needed some help because I was passing out all the time. I was growing hair all over my body and losing it on my head. I was freezing cold all of the time, even in the hot summer sun. I was also struggling to control my bladder. I could feel my body falling away.
But the scariest thing was the thought tumor.
This is the name I use to describe the cloudy, racing, repetitive thoughts that characterize the most treatment-resistant part of an eating disorder. The thought tumor - the compulsion to restrict, in my case - is a most dangerous invisible ailment.
I owe my life to the books. This is not an exaggeration.
We went to the internet. Was there anything available for a 24 year-old with a first time eating disorder presentation, with no co-morbid mental illness? Nothing free, that's for sure. There was a private place in BC - where I was supposed to be going back to graduate school in the fall to finish up my Master's degree - but it was so expensive. It would require a re-mortgaging of my childhood home. The psychiatrist I spoke with during the telephone assessment was pretty insistent that I agree to inpatient therapy. I could tell I was getting close to needing medical attention.Read More
I belong to two internet body-related Facebook groups. My membership reflects my ongoing need for inspiration around healthy change and my interest in the saga of how women relate to their bodies, and how society relates to women and their bodies.
A new member recently introduced herself with a paragraph like this, "My name is Sally. I weighed 120lbs in 1995, then 145lb in 1998 after my baby, then 195 in 2003 after my second baby, then 140lb when I did Atkins and then now I am feeling gross at 175lb. And that's my story! Thanks for adding me!" Hold your roll, Sally. That's NOT your story. Why do you think that's your story? Sally, there's more, so much more.
But if we only share, and we only live by, our dieting CVs, then are we actually living?
I call this Concrete Diet Thinking where the attention is purely on the physical world, the material understanding of losing weight. It is embodied by "Calories In, Calories Out."Read More
A little over three weeks ago, a friend died of a rare form of cervical cancer at the age of 31. I wrote about her briefly here and her own blog, Potato 2 Paleo, is an archive of beautiful and inspirational writing on health and death.
If you're sitting in worry right at this moment, right now, just hold on a gosh darn second and notice the sunshine.Read More
There are days when my brain is a saboteur desiring only the most instant of stimuli from the world or, more often, the internet. "But I have work to do," I plead.
The following is a First Aid Kit for Getting Started.Read More
"I just want someone to say, 'that's so shitty' and be beside me and that's all," said my cousin, in a big globby, snotty tear session, a few months after her father died of cancer.
She taught me, in that moment, how to be around pain. Just give all your comfort, put your own business aside, and call a spade a spade: losing your father to alcohol-related cancer in your mid-20s is spectacularly shitty.Read More
Happiness comes to those who hobby. I just made this up, but I am sure someone famous has previously recorded the same thought. They probably had hobbies.
I learned to sew in late 2012. I took some classes at a local shop called Needlework in Hamilton. It started with a pillowcase and I've since made dresses, shirts, blankets, aprons, bowties and quilts. I cannot believe I made a quilt.Read More