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That Magic Number #FlashbackFriday #JusJoJan

I have written every day (excluding Wednesday’s and Saturday’s) for
Just Jot It January #JusJoJan
2020 and now I come to it:

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I write to start my year off because I don’t have a clue what else I’m doing really.

I wonder what’s next for me, what sorts of
change
might be in my future, these next eleven or twelve months, but do I really want to know?

They say it’s inevitable anyway. Still, I am scared. Not of life in general. No, I’ve learned to be open to it all.

It’s when I’m going along and I get a call. Was I too cocky?

A sudden rising in my blood levels, the kind the nephrologists test for, the kind I’ve learned to watch too, as well as my family members do.

I’ve been at 70-80 or somewhere there about, for over twenty years now. I’ve been stable, no matter whether or not the rest of my life has felt that way.

Now I fear the kind of changes that could come, if that number were to keep rising, rising up above 100 and counting.

It’s an alteration within my blood that the doctors look at. I sit here, listening to a poet reading her poems to me, writing down words and phrases that strike me especially and I think, as she describes her medical history using words: muscles, veins, blood

She refers to her body being explored by Miss Frizzle and her school bus full of curious children and I think of my creatinine.

I can’t touch it, leaving the blood safe inside me, in my veins, but I don’t wish to explore it further. I want to leave it to a twice-a-year thing, no closer than that.

I don’t write poetry like Alana, but I think in terms of it.

I scare myself, hopefully, for no reason. A recheck and it will all be good again, go back down to the level I brag on.

My weekend is slightly ruined though, as I weight. Nothing I can do. Don’t worry too much, I tell myself, others might say. No point anyway.

I think of that girl I was, once so sick, my brain unable to do math. A zero on the test. It was time for dialysis to remove all that toxic sludge from my body.

I am not that girl now, a woman approaching middle age. I want to go out now and experience it all. So grateful for the fact of dialysis, but I run from any thoughts of being stuck to machines multiple times every week.

I want to walk along the Thames, to go back out west, to tackle my
bucket list
without restraints.

Of course, money is my biggest, but those machines threaten to hold me down.

I feel the mark on my chest where the tube once hung, connecting to tubes that carried my blood to be cleansed. Family stayed by my side, friends sat and we talked. I dreamed of one day visiting Ireland and Prince Edward Island and more with my grandparents, my family, a partner maybe.

Now I want to run from that little girl, into my future, but I know it will all come full circle.

I hear/read about the future of organ donation, of artificial kidneys, but I don’t hold my breath.

I think of lists with my name on them and rising blood levels and I want to sleep.

It’s in the waking that the thoughts come rushing back.

So many changes lately: people in my life leaving, missteps and moves questioned, and now…here I sit and I wonder over that magic number over the weekend.

It will all be okay. It will all be okay. It will, it will.

I don’t tell my brother, one who can best understand the fear that comes creeping back in. He’s on the west coast right now and I don’t want to bother him or disturb the freedom and lack of worries while he’s out there. And so I burden you, blog, with this one, for now.

Breathe Kerry, just breathe.

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Silence Is Acceptance, #MeToo #HolocaustMemorialDay #JusJoJan

There are many things I would like to speak about, on an ongoing basis. Listening to stories of survivors of the Holocaust, their strength and bravery in speaking on such horrid things, makes me feel like not enough is said as of yet, from all of us and that we all must say something.

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There are a lot of things going on, past and present, that I’d like to
address
and then something stops me from saying anything at all. Fear, but of what?

Just Jot It January, #JusJoJan

I am stuck on the Holocaust and I have been for a long long time. I take breaks from thinking about it, to preserve my sanity, but ultimately this historical event creeps back into my thoughts. I am lucky I can take those breaks. I didn’t experience it, though I know many who did have gone on to live perfectly wonderful lives. It feels haunting, even if I often wonder how I’d have moved on if it had happened to me.

I want to speak on things, to write about them, to make sure people don’t forget. Mistakes are repeated. Humans are doomed to repeat what once was. We can’t seem to help ourselves.

If I speak up on such things, I am told I worry too much, as if I am supposed to forget that if I had lived during the time of World War II I would be considered a waste, as one of the disabled.

Yes, if I’d lived in Europe during that time, if I lived anywhere back then, and even if I lived here, years ago, kidney disease would have killed me.

Morbid, perhaps. Speaking up, or addressing the things that haunt my mind, this unsticks those cobwebs from the furthest corners of my brain.

I am lucky to have an address and a roof over my head, even if my heat does keep crapping out on me. I am lucky to be living in 2018 and celebrating that I was born after the inventions of dialysis and organ transplantation.

I saw Nazis marching in North America, I hear that Poland just made it illegal to mention Poland’s involvement during the Holocaust, and I wonder what to say, what I can say about these furious subjects.

I see people are saying things aren’t so bad, and they aren’t really, but they are for some people and they could be, any day, for more of us. We need to stay vigilant and on guard to halt dangers from reoccurring.

Sexual misconduct and resignations as a result are happening in Canada, in Ontario politics now too. Forget presidents and porn stars. This is not so hard to get, is it?

The men who complain this is going too far, that they can’t even talk to women now, make me want to bang my own head against the wall repeatedly.

Pop culture. Politics. Personal space. Is it really so hard for men to not act inappropriately with women and young girls? Really? Reeeeeeally?

It is maddening. I want to keep addressing all these things, to make people get along, and to practice tolerance and compassion. What is it going to take?

TELL ME!!!

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TToT: If You Don’t Control The Narrative, The Narrative Controls You – The Summer Day, #10Thankful

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver “The Summer Day”

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for new pillows.

I’ve been using flat, old, barely there pillows for a long while. It was time for something new.

I decided to go with two different levels of firmness and they look the same. This way, I can switch it up and I learned which one I preferred.

Never underestimate the luxury of a decent pillow.

I am thankful for the laughs we have at my writing group.

We do write, but it was another fun time with the gang. I don’t know if a story is destined to come from this one, not from me this time anyway, but other stories were shared and good times all around.

I am thankful for a surprise gift from my neighbour.

I heard a ticking sound as I sat out on my neighbour’s deck last week. I asked her if it was a clock and she showed me her little sun dial.

Well, she got me one with a sunflower on it. If you put it in the light it moves back and forth. She wanted to congratulate me on getting my writing accepted. It’s nice when someone does something like that, totally unexpectedly.

I am thankful the deal with my essay for Catapult was made official, with contracts and a likely date of publication and everything.

This made my day mid week. The editor wasn’t certain when it would get published, until she suddenly emailed me and said she’d had an opening. I try to stay patient these next four weeks or so and keep in mind that things could change, but this will be exciting when it does happen.

She worked, as my editor, and the final piece that came back had a few changes to the final product, but kept my overall message and voice.

And now there comes my least favourite part: the contracts and paperwork.

I am not complaining, really, but I am no good at all that. Has to be done though. Luckily I have a sister who is better at such things. I will definitely be including her here on the TToT when she helps me with all that here soon.

I am thankful I heard back from Hippocampus and may be getting a short piece published with them soon.

They are on my list of spots where I want to see my writing placed. This one is a small foot in the door, but it’s a step in the right direction at least.

I am thankful for a new yoga teacher who wants to learn from me as much as I learn from her.

She says she is very interested in learning, from me, about the best ways to teach visually impaired and blind students who want to take yoga like me.

There are so many ways to do yoga. I never could have imagined. Of course, like anything, you must be cautious that you don’t push things and cause more pain than that which you were working to help relieve in the first place.

I am highly conscious of this fact. I am taking it slow, but my back has a metal rod in it and might not be able to bend the same way as other people. I don’t want to be careless and make things worse, obviously, but this teacher seems open to suggestion and to not pushing me too hard.

It’s just a different situation for her, to try her best to describe the positions for my arms, legs, and whatever else, by being as specific as possible. Watching her simply isn’t an option for me. This is new to her just as to me.

I am thankful for more and more representation of visually impaired characters on television.

I caught the final episode of the second season of a show, filmed here, near to me, in Toronto:
Private Eyes

What first drew me to checking it out was the fact that it was filmed in such a familiar place and then there was the reappearance of my favourite 90s television star: Jason Priestley

Then I discovered that Priestley’s teenage daughter on the show is visually impaired. She reads braille books, uses a computer that talks, and a white cane to get around. I try to watch her character, to follow how the creators write her visual impairment into the show. I am so glad there was a second season and that she was featured so often.

But I will be keeping a close “EYE” on how she is portrayed. It’s important blind people are shown in reality, even on screen and in fictional environments, because people have enough stereotypes and don’t need any more.

I will miss the show over the next year or so and cross my fingers a third season happens.

I am thankful to have family who can replace a roof now and again.

The rain has been finding ways in. It was in pretty good shape when I moved in, ten or eleven years ago. Now, however, the need is growing.

First step, install new water heater. Next my uncle and cousin will replace it, both house and garage. Apparently the second one badly needs it. Funny, I have no idea what everyone’s getting so bothered by. Though, I won’t even go inside that garage at all. Not my scene.

My neighbour asked if she could paint something on the side she has to look at from her deck, to help cover up the ugly. I had no problem with that.

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Can you guess what this is?

I am thankful for my parents and neighbour and their kind willingness to help me out with my dog who likes to bark.

He is also terribly attached to me.

My parents watch him when my head is particularly bad. They wouldn’t have to do this, to put up with it, but I hear he’s rather calm and good when he’s with them.

Also, my neighbour opens my door and brings him out when I am away, if she is at home, and ties him up on her deck. He usually is happy to sit quietly while she goes about her day.

Although, this last time, something odd occurred. She just happened to stop by (to give me her gift) right as I was leaving. So we thought she could get Dobby on his leash and just take him with her. Big mistake.

I followed them out the door and left a minute later. As I sat in the car, as we pulled out of the driveway, I could hear him still barking.

It turns out that when he sees me and she physically takes him from me (in his mind), he won’t settle down for her. She soon had to put him back inside my house and then come and get him like she usually does. And that time he settled down on her deck once more and laid quiet.

Huh … hmm. What a dog.

I am thankful for songs like this one, songs that have helped me through difficult times.

“One thing: I don’t know why…it doesn’t even matter how hard you try. Keep that in mind, I designed this rhyme, to explain in due time.”

In The End – Linkin Park

“Time is a valuable thing. Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings. Watch it count down to the end of the day; The clock ticks life away.”

Back around the year 2000 I was in high school and struggling just to keep up. Finally, I couldn’t do it anymore. Daily headaches were making concentrating to do well in my classes supremely hard and nearing impossible. In the end, I took fewer and fewer classes and finally had to quit all together, without graduating. This is not an easy thing for me to speak about, but it’s nagged at me for years ever since and I do plan to finish sometime in my current decade of my thirties.

These lyrics are about getting so far (years and years of school, including missing over 100 days in seventh grade for dialysis and a kidney transplant, almost being held back), but then I ended up catching up in the eighth and graduating, starting high school with my friends and peers, before falling behind all over again. It was a year or so later that things grew worse once more.

“I tried so hard, and got so far. But in the end, it doesn’t even matter. I had to fall, to lose it all. But in the end, it doesn’t even matter.

It felt for years like no matter how hard I tried, it didn’t matter. I was still behind and stuck and lost. This song brings a tear to my eye, even today, even as I am working to jump start my life and writing and things.

RIP Chester Bennington

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TToT: Hum Bucker Splitting Push Pull Pots – Go Pretenders and Sluggers, GO! #Baseball #ChrisCornell #RIP #10Thankful

Most recently, on The Handmaid’s Tale, a line is spoken that captures how it is:

“We only wanted to make things better. Better never means better for everyone.”

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So true.

Oblivion – Grimes

It’s a two-in-one edition of the TToT this week, as last week I allowed my mood and a bad sun burn on both arms to dictate my lack of a post.

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Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for an unexpected email.

The anthology I was published in two years ago is being rereleased this summer. I received the surprise email to confirm I still wanted to be a part of the project.

I’m thankful for a successful first violin lesson in weeks.

Other than writing, I have never felt so frustrated one minute and wanting to give up and then so determined the next minute as I feel with the violin. It’s my roller coaster.

I’m thankful for an anniversary celebrated with my friends at “The Elsewhere Region”.

We celebrated the existence of writing group, two years on, with blueberry cheesecake and, you guessed it, writing.

I have written more fiction, more stories, starting during those nights in the group than I’ve done on my own time in a while. The short story I submitted to the Alice Munro Short Story Contest, for instance, was begun there. Though I found out this week that I did not qualify with it (bummer), I am still glad it came out of that place.

I hope there are many more still to come.

I’m thankful for the chance to see my sister included in a team of dedicated women.

My dad and I walked to see her game the one night. We stood there and I listened as best I could. It was the sound of the coaches leading their players, encouraging them by shouting positive reinforcement and the other teammates cheering them on that was so nice to see.

My sister hasn’t played in over ten years, since before motherhood and time gone by, which makes it all the much harder to jump back into a game like baseball. I admire that.

Hearing a group of women encouraging each other to do their best. I wish I could be a part of something like that.

I’m thankful that my nephew is getting more comfortable with his baseball.

He is still so little, but he will get there. Maybe he will play for many years and maybe he’ll ultimately decide baseball isn’t for him. Either way, he gets to learn about being on a team, just like his mom.

I’m thankful for my sister, two years older.

Our two-year age gap feels like nothing really. She will always be my big sister though. She is one of my biggest influences, an example I follow, two years behind and I like celebrating her every May that comes around with the loveliness of spring.

I’m thankful for a Friday morning surprise phone call.

I’ve volunteered with the Kidney Foundation of Canada for years, since soon after my transplant, and now I was contacted about getting involved more so, possibly with public speaking opportunities about diagnosis, dialysis, living donation, organ transplant, and hopefully to offer some hope that life can be good for twenty years with care and a little bit of luck.

I’m thankful for an enlightening and enjoyable conversation with my new neighbour.

She showed me around her home and we sat at her kitchen table for over two hours, talking about writing, the town we live in, family, and she wanted to meet the rest of mine.

She came by two days later, for a drink, to meet my brothers and my sister-in-law and the kids.

I’m thankful for a family day.

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We were celebrating my sister’s birthday when we could all be together.

It was Victoria Day long weekend here in Canada. This means the carnival comes close to my house and we all walked down there together.

My nephews went on the cars and my niece went on a few rides all by herself. She is braver than I ever was when I was her age.

We went on the gravity ride with her (my brothers and I) and it felt both good and bad.

It was a glimpse of what going on a ride like that was like as a kid, moments of pure pleasure, and then I’d return to being thirty-three and I’d feel a little ill and I was off balance for a long time after the ride ended.

We passed games with those people yelling and bells ringing and buzzers buzzing. It was loud and a little went a long way, but I remember what it was like to find such a thrill from a place like that.

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The child roller coaster was loudest of all. Every click/thud of the cars as they went around the bends and up and down, up and down. Life is loud and uncomfortable a lot of times.

I’m thankful for extended family that are cool and care about what’s most important.

whole front porch
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We had a lovely afternoon sitting on my front porch and talking about everything under the sun. My aunt and uncle spoke about my cousins and we discussed movies and animals and family.

As for roller coasters…
Buckle up because we’re only about ten feet up the clicky part.

—The Daily Show

Whether it’s 45, a sicko who attacks a concert full of young girls, an attack on a bus in Egypt, a knife attack by a white supremacist on a train, I can’t seem to get off the roller coaster, but gratitude for family and fun and flowers takes the edge off the nausea a little bit.

But check this out.

Roller Coaster Story

Grandma is always the wise one.

Into You – Ariana Grande

RIP to all who have been lost in the last few weeks.

I’m always thankful for life.

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All Around Us and Everything Essential #EarthDay #ScienceMarch #AtoZChallenge

Give me an S…give me a C…give me an I…give me an E…give me an N…give me a C…give me an E!!!

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What does that spell?

The A to Z Challenge – S is for Science

That is how you spell science, (yes I know…cheesy, but I am certainly no cheerleader) and yet I am dedicating today’s letter to a march, the Science March.

It’s happening, not only in the U.S. on this day, but in countries all around the world.

It’s turned political, but it shouldn’t be about some 45 foolishness, nor any other so-called public servant’s opinion or word as supreme law of any land. We all share this planet. None of us are totally immune. History has shown that eventually, even the very rich can fall from some unseen organism and that extreme weather is more powerful than any of us.

It’s all around us, every minute of the day, and people don’t even realize it. Everything is scientific. Religion is not, should not be the opposite of science. Today’s march shouldn’t be one or the other. You can have faith and believe in science.

Science is not all knowing. Scientists don’t know everything, but I leave so much of it to those a lot smarter than I’ll ever claim to be.

I am here because of science. I feel strongly about the march and wish I had the opportunity and energy to be in it, but I speak up here, even if I won’t make the news with a sign in my hand.

This blog is my hand and Facebook will be my sign and I will hold them both high in all places I can, as I admit that people much smarter than me are scientists who have discovered some of what keeps me alive to this day.

And make no mistake, I am glad to be here…or anywhere for that matter.

One day, at some point in the hopefully distant future, for me to become one with this breathtaking earth (which is worth fighting to protect) and the soil and the trees, like one’s donated organ living on in another’s body, once the dead have passed on.

This one is a little longer, perhaps, than the other letters this month, but I am glad there are those marching for discovery and innovation and every conceivable contribution to humankind and our planet, plus all the rest that’s out there.

I am sure I am not the only one who has chosen Science or Spell as my S word, but my love for science is my own.

Without the invention that is the dialysis machine I would not have made it passed age eleven..

Without the advent of organ donation and transplant surgery I would not have the physical freedoms I’ve had.

Without the innovation of medications that lower the immune system and fight a body that would otherwise reject any organ the system found to be foreign I would not be celebrating my twentieth year with one of my father’s kidneys, one which kept him alive for the nearly forty years before that.

Thank you science and scientists. May God bless you (the God who would give some of us mortals the ability and intelligence to study science.)

***This is also my contribution to
Stream of Consciousness Saturday.

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***This is my first year of joining the A to Z Challenge and so I’ve decided to post randomly, as a way for new visitors to my blog to get to know me a little better. I look forward to discovering some interesting new blogs too.

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Here Comes the Diet Police #Nutrition #AtoZChallenge

Oh no. Here comes the dietician.

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So many doctors. So little time. It’s the dreaded diet doctor, who has come to lecture me on what to eat and what not to eat.

The A to Z Challenge – N is for Nutrition

From the moment I was diagnosed with kidney disease, I began to see doctor after doctor. One specialist I would see would be the one with all the expertise on nutrition.

I had low calcium. I had low iron, anaemia. I needed to take supplements. I was put on dialysis. I was under weight and malnourished. My body wasn’t getting any of the proper nutrients it needed. The kidney disease was preventing anything healthy from happening in my body.

From then on I saw the dietician, who told me what foods to stay away from. Then, once I’d had my kidney transplant, I saw one again, who told me I was to basically eat the opposite of all I was to stay away from while on dialysis.

It was confusing. It was confusing, going from fighting to keep any weight on to being on high doses of medications which put on weight.

Food has been a major factor for me, something I had to think about, since I was eleven years old. I fought like hell to be healthy, but I never dreamed that nutrition would be such a difficulty for me.

Now, I am on such low doses of those transplant medications, but the damage has been done. My body has been through a lot.

I try to find balance. I love salad and I love chocolate. I could live on fruit and vegetables, but I love my pizza. I love to drink water and still I drink Coke.

This nutrition thing is hard and I don’t see it getting any easier, the older I get.

***This is my first year of joining the A to Z Challenge and so I’ve decided to post randomly, as a way for new visitors to my blog to get to know me a little better. I look forward to discovering some interesting new blogs too.

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Fearing The Unknown, #AtoZChallenge

I didn’t do it when all the other girls were doing it.

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Was I afraid it would hurt?

The A to Z Challenge – E is for Earings

My sister wanted her ears pierced and our parents got them pierced for her, for her tenth birthday. I remember sitting beside her, in that chair, thinking there was no way.

I am two years younger. Two years later, I chose a McDonald’s birthday party instead.

I couldn’t possibly be afraid of the pain, or was I?

Just a few more years and I had to face any fear of pain, fear of needles, as I was required to have a lot of them. A diagnosis for how sick I felt was badly needed. Blood tests (needles) confirmed the suspected diagnosis of kidney failure.

I would soon have many scars, including the scar tissue in my arms, from the needles.

I had no choice but to face my fears. In my early twenties I finally decided I should get my ears pierced.

I’d been gifted a pair of heart earrings, one day, while I sat at dialysis, by a favourite nurse. I could not wear them.

For years I liked to play with those stick on earrings, but one day I decided it was time, far passed time, and off I went.

Did I need to enter a medical crisis, in order to be forced to face my fears, before I could risk the pain of having holes punched in my earlobes?

I love my pierced ears now. They allow me to walk around with a little bit of adornment and ornament, as I am not usually a jewelry and accessories kind of a girl.

***This is my first year of joining the A to Z Challenge and so I’ve decided to post randomly, as a way for new visitors to my blog to get to know me a little better.

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