The "Whiz-ard" That Is Dr. Oz

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The Bravery Bell

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“Promise me you’ll remember, you’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” – A. A. Milne, Christopher Robin.

In many hospitals that have chemotherapy wards, you’ll find a Bravery Bell.  The idea is that any cancer patient that finishes their last chemo session gets to ring it, much like the bells that end a round of boxing.  I’ve had the opportunity on several occasions to hear the bell ring, and each time, it brings a smile to my face and wish that I could join the systemic care team in applauding the latest patient that completed their treatment.  The last time that I heard it ring though, it also made me think about so many things.

Many patients with cancer face a different type of battle – their chemo never ends.  Are they any less brave than the ones who get to complete their treatment?  Shouldn’t they get to ring the bell too?  Others are treated with radiation – when their treatments end, they don’t have a bell to ring.  How about the family members that accompany the patients to their treatments, trying not to show any outward signs of fear, even though inside they are terrified of what their loved one will go through.  Trying every day to lift their spirits, trying to feel hope even when there may not be any.  Aren’t they brave too?

How about the wonderful nurses that provide such diligent care to each and every patient in the Chemotherapy Centres.  The nurses that quietly make sure that each and every patient is comfortable and warm and that their families are clear on what will happen.  The nurses who care about patients when they are at their sickest and most vulnerable.  If I could, I’d ring the Bravery Bell for them.  How about the doctors, no matter what the discipline, that contact patients and family members to reassure them and answer each and every one of their questions.  They too should get to ring that bell.

Cancer is the great equalizer.  Whether you are rich or poor, black or white, straight or gay, male, female or transgender, it doesn’t discriminate – anyone can get it.  It is unique in that the cure or the life prolonger often makes you sicker than the disease.  It makes patients, families, health care providers and care givers braver than they ever thought possible.

To learn more about the Bravery Bell and the nurse who brought it to Princess Margaret Hospital, click here https://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/2015/09/19/for-donna-the-bravery-bell-tolls.html


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The Serenity of Unemployment

Serenity

Image courtesy of me and a trip to Norway

Last May, I had a conversation with a now former colleague that I’ve known for many years.  She put a bug in my ear about how much I would love a contract job, or just some needed time off.  We talked about it for quite awhile, and she made me think of the excitement of possibility.  I know that not having a job isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and it wasn’t something that I was sure about either, but as time went on, I became more emboldened and couldn’t get the idea out of my little head.  I’m not alone, but I worked very hard for so many years, the thought of taking some time away really sounded like a dream.  Some health issues with someone that I’m very close to also helped me see things  very differently.

You are not going to get any employer bashing here.  If you are reading this in your twenties or even early thirties, please take some very valuable advice from me,  every job has it’s ups and downs, but you should never be open about the downs or reveal anything confidential about the ups in social media or the blogosphere.  It’s not professional and it’s really not ethical unless you are a female Fox employee or work for United Airlines. For a very long time, I got to work with an amazing bunch of people, and for that, I will always be grateful.   There just comes a time in your life when you need a massive change and this is my time.  I need to find my next decade job, meaning that it will be long term in a company that I can grow with.  I’ve reached a place where I need to be a student rather than a teacher.  Learning is growing, and that can only come when you shake yourself out of your comfort zone.

In the last 6 weeks, I haven’t had a single moment of boredom.  Granted, I’ve been busy helping with a sick family member, which has taken up quite a bit of time, but I also made a conscious decision to say yes to everything, even if I wasn’t sure about it and to do things to better myself.  I’ve signed up for a digital marketing course to brush up on my skill set, agreed to volunteer for a marketing association and signed up for unlimited belly dance lessons and dance workshops so that I could get back to where I was eight years ago when I was part of a professional dance company.  I agreed to give a talk on social media and blogging at a local college’s marketing class.  I’ve met up with former colleagues and friends that I haven’t had the chance to spend anytime with over the past year.  I’ve said yes to every invitation that has come my way – there really is no excuse now for me to say no.  I’ve done some jobs around the house that I’ve been putting off – who really wants to clean venetian blinds slat by slat?  I’ve done stupid things that people have suggested so if you need someone to do that Flight Simulator or Edgewalk with, I’m your girl.  I’ve come up with theme days that I want to do once a week while I’m off that include but aren’t limited to:

  • Gift Card Day –  what better way to go on a shopping spree than to use up all of the gift cards that I haven’t touched!  My Master Card has points for a department store gift card in Canada, so I’ll cash those points in too.
  • Free Day – look up fun things to do that cost absolutely nothing.
  • TV Day –  a day to binge watch one show.
  • Magazine Day – you guessed it – read a bunch of magazines, all in one day.
  • Book Day – I signed up for a fifty book pledge this year, so I need to finish one book in a day.
  • Decluttering Day(s)- do I really need to explain this?
  • Kijiji Day – a day to photograph and post some of the things that I want to see if I can sell on Kijiji and other similar sites.
  • Neighbourhood Day(s) – every week, pick a neighbourhood in my city, either on my own or with friends and fall in love with Toronto all over again.
  • Culture Days – I’ll fall asleep if I go to multiple museums in one day, so I’ll spread this one out.  I went to see Strictly Ballroom this weekend with my sister and some friends – I’m counting that.  I’m going to see if I can convince someone to go to an art exhibit that’s in Toronto too.
  • Movie Day – I’ve never been to a movie by myself before, and I think it will be a good experience.  Once I’ve gone, I’ll come back and binge watch movies on Netflix or TMN.
  • Bad Job Day – doing all the ugly jobs and tedious errands that I need to do.
  • Spa Day – to recover from all of these brainiac ideas.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve felt more like myself than I have in a very long time.  I’ve started paying attention to my surroundings because I no longer have to have my face buried in my cell phone while I’m walking so that I can get one more email off of my plate.  I actually listen to the people that I’m with when I’m out instead of doing a mental to do list.  I’ve talked to strangers, got to pat some cute dogs on the subway and don’t fret while waiting in line, because I know that my turn will come.

I know that soon, I’ll have a new job  because that’s the way that life goes, but retirement practice has been fulfilling.  People may not be in the same headspace about this as me, and I totally respect that, but if you find yourself unemployed, whether it’s your choice or not, try to make the most out of the time.

 


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Happy Birthday to You…

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(Photo courtesy of Michele’s birthday in 2015)

…Mummy!  I know that it may be awhile before you read this, but the sentiment will keep.  If I ever had any doubt about the type of person that you are (which I never have), the outpouring of love and affection from your family, friends, doctors (who else can charm the uncharmable into loading them up with pastries) and even the people who work in your building are a lesson to me on how to live a good life.  Whenever people talk about you to me, it’s always about how wonderful you are, what an inspiration you are, how sweet, and how you never complain.  It’s all true (except you, sweet?  Please.).

I’ve seen first hand your triumphs and your challenges.  Your triumphs are usually winning a bet with me like our Super Bowl bet.  In my defence, I know nothing about football, but at least I never welch when it’s time to pay up like some people that I know.   Nothing makes you happier than beating me – luckily for me, I don’t lose often.  Although you may lose the odd bet, you are one of the sharpest people that I know.  You are also quite a little socialite.  Your phone never stops ringing – another testament to how much you are loved by your family and friends.

I admire you for so many reasons, too numerous to count really, but watching you face adversity this last while has really shown me what you are made of.  You never quit, you never give up, and I’ve never been prouder of you.  Whenever I was sick as a child, you would come into my room as I lay in bed, checking on me, taking my temperature, or just trying to comfort me.  You looked down at me, and I looked up at you, reassured that I would feel better soon because you were there to take care of me.  I know that it’s frustrating to now be in a position where the roles are reversed, but I still look up to you.  That won’t change.

You are still the strongest, smartest, funniest woman that I know.  You have a curiosity and interest in so many different things.  You have the best sense of humour.  I’m glad that we still have moments where we can laugh.  I’m grateful to be your daughter, and I’m so grateful to get to celebrate another birthday with you.

 


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When A Goose Attacks

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Image courtesy of Buzzfeed

“I was attacked by a Canada Goose” said a text from my middle sister.  “The coat or the animal?” I quickly wrote, eager to find out if my sister was strong-armed by a sales person trying to pawn one of the  jackets before the season ended.  Most people can’t even afford the “down” payment on those coats.  “The animal” she replied with tears in her eyes (I’m guessing).  I proceeded to laugh for at least ten minutes, somewhat hysterically, before picking up the phone and pleading with her, in between giggle fits, to give me the complete honk by honk, oops, I mean blow by blow.  The more she spoke, the more I howled with laughter.  Cheer up Eeyore, it was bound to happen to one of us.

Now before you have a “bird” on me, I did make sure that she was alright in between my laughing fits.  When I spoke to her this morning, she told me to have a “gander” at videos of goose attacks.  The attack happened to her when she was innocently trying to use an ATM in downtown Oakville.  That’s what you get for “nesting” in the suburbs.  She turned her back, and her “goose was cooked”.  The bird bit her back with it’s toothless beak, twisting, but causing no damage.  It attacked again, flapping it’s wings at her head, causing a migraine, but luckily no “goose egg” on her noggin.  Surprisingly, even though it was a Canada Goose, it wasn’t polite enough to give her a sorry.  I wonder if the “Portugeese” are the nicer ones?

I’m not sure if there was a gosling close by, but my sister is an animal lover, even feeling sorry enough for the birds to eschew down products.  Now, it’s a different story – she thinks that those “birdbrains” belong in a coat, pillow or duvet.  The attack really came out of nowhere.  The only advice that I could give her for next time was to “duck” or blow her nose at the bird.  I always did say that it sounded like a mating call for a goose when she blows her nose.  If you are chased by a goose, you can always “wing it” depending on the direction of the attack “beak-cause” it can be difficult to judge what’s going to make them “fly off the handle”.  Maybe just tell it to “flock off”?

My sister really isn’t a “chicken” and so maybe I should give it a nest, I mean rest already. I apologize to you all, my faithful readers, if you found this post a little “fowl”.  Maybe I’ll get my sister a little gift for letting me write about her ordeal – nah, I’m too “cheep”.  I’m off for some bedtime reading, “Mother Goose” anyone?

 

 


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Don’t Be a Boob, Get a Mammogram…and an Ultra Sound…

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Image courtesy of http://www.torontosun.com & the Ontario Health Ministry

Some years ago, just about three to be somewhat exact, I had and wrote about my very first mammogram https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/dont-be-a-boob-get-a-mammogram-if-your-doctor-tells-you/ I was a newbie back then to the process and didn’t really go back for my annual imaging like I was supposed to.  After a recent physical and scolding from my family doctor, I’m not only doing annual mammograms, I’m also getting an ultrasound to go along with it.  She is extra cautious, not a bad thing at all, but this isn’t necessary for everyone.   Just a reminder, in case you don’t want to re-read my older post, I have a very strong history of breast cancer in my family, including a primary relative.  I’m also at a high risk because I’m an Ashkenazi Jewess – just a fancy way of saying that I’m Jewish and of Eastern European descent.  Lucky me!

Just in case there are any people avoiding mammograms due to the unknown, I’m going to give you the D.L. (that down-low to all of you people who aren’t as cool as me).  After I changed into my elegant (she says with a sneer) smock, I had to sit braless in a waiting room filled with men.  Yup, my lucky day.  When they called my name, I tried not to jump up – I didn’t want to get two black eyes and was paranoid that my robe would pop open.  I forgot and put my Secret on in the morning.  My friends thanked me, but the technician didn’t.  I had to clean my armpits with cold water and icky hand soap and to make matters worse, I had to dry off with those industrial paper towel which crumbled into little pieces.  Note to self, don’t use deodorant on mammogram day.

I heaved one side of my bosoms onto a small ledge and looked at the “tray” that presses down on girl #1.  I swear, it really does look like an in-tray, except they don’t put any papers in it.  Remember, when they do the imaging, they do two per boob, breast, bosom or whatever you feel comfortable calling the girls.  She helped me position myself (AKA I totally got felt up, but I already complained about not even getting dinner first in my previous post, so I won’t use that joke again).  She was actually really great about everything and made me feel as comfortable as I could standing there topless in front of a complete stranger.  The press down didn’t hurt one little bit, not even any discomfort.  An ad came out in Canada using a panini press to remind women that even if they are pressed for time, there is always room to schedule a mammogram.  A lot of people found it tasteless, but it sort of does represent that downward press that I was talking about.  I made the mistake of looking down during the press and it really looked like one of those white Chinese buns that you can get with Dim Sum.  Just being observational.

The side squish was definitely the more uncomfortable of the two, but it also doesn’t really hurt.  If you are a guy reading this, skip over this part….don’t peak….Ladies, if you are going for a mammogram, schedule it after PMS time (if you aren’t menopausal) I guarantee you will thank me for this bit of advice.  The whole process took under 5 minutes and that included washing my deodorant off.

Next up – I was called by a very unfriendly former Eastern Bloch honey to get my ultrasounds.  She wasn’t a people person.  All she said to me was move closer to the edge and put your arm up over your head.  She kept making me move to the edge of the table.  I had to stop myself from reminding her that it wasn’t a king size bed.  It was actually more uncomfortable holding that position on each side than getting the mammogram – seriously.  They do warm up the gel, so it’s not freezing, which was my biggest worry.  It takes about 5 minutes per side.  I had to bite my tongue and not ask her “is it a boy or girl?” when I saw the image come up on the screen.  I could tell she would not have been amused.  I just took myself to my happy place – Nordstrom’s – and it was all over in ten minutes.  It’s quite a sticky mess after (no comments please) and I kind of wished that I could shower, but it was a small price to pay for piece of mind.

Breast cancer isn’t a joke, but if I can make this less scary for even one of you by communicating my experience, that’s all I really want to do.  Remember, a doctor doesn’t want you to have unnecessary tests, but early detection with breast cancer is key, so like the title says, don’t be a boob and put it off.

 

 


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In the Slower Lane

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I was reading 24 Hours – a free subway newspaper on Thursday.  I’m not cheap – really!  I just refuse to pay for a newspaper because there is so much fake news out there.  DONALD TRUMP just hacked my account!  Just kidding.  News is everywhere now, and I really get mine online.  I read 24 Hours to pass the time on the subway and I like the crossword puzzle.  I wrote quite awhile ago about how they improve your memory – remember?  Anyway, there is a writer, Shaun Proulx, who has a column called “Spirit and the City” that I like to read each week.  This week, he focused on “The Spirit and Scheduling – Learn to Live Life in the Slower Lane” where he discussed how great it was that a trip to NYC that he and his partner were planning was cancelled and it left them with a weekend completely free to not worry about commitments of any kind.

He pointed out that being busy has become a point of honour today, along with being “exhausted” and “having no time”.  That’s how we define our success and even our worthiness today.  Think about how many times you’ve said how busy you are, or rolled your eyes when you talked about having a “family obligation” on the weekend, or “I have plans that I’m trying to get out of”, or “I have to see my friend(s)…INSERT BIG SIGH…I’d much rather stay home….”  I’m guilty of all of these things – I’m sure most of you are too.  Reading it in black and white (as I’m proofreading) makes it all the more insufferable in a Gwyneth Paltrow kind of way.  When did we become so important, that our family and friends have become obligations that we have to fulfill rather than people who we should appreciate?  I play the busy card, but I no longer find the exhaustion that comes from work stress or home stress rewarding…I just find it…tiring.

When I was in New Orleans in November, for fun, I went to a psychic in Jackson Square, after all, it is the thing to do.  She told me that 2017 was going to be a year of great change for me.  She said that some of it won’t be good, but it will all get me to where I need to be.  Since the start of 2017, there has been, let’s just say, a lot of upheaval that has made me rethink things.  Proulx had some great tips in his article (24 Hours, Thursday, February 16, 2017, Vol. 14, No. 68) that were dead on:

  1. “Redefine what success means to you…when you die no one will talk about how much money you made, how many hours you worked, or how packed your calendar was.  They’ll only remember how you made them feel.”  This is probably the smartest thing that I’ve ever read.  For the longest time, I had certain career goals.  I wanted to make a certain amount of money before I turned 40 and I did, I wanted to reach a certain level and I did, I wanted to win awards and I did…but after the initial joy of each of these wears off, in 24 hours, if truth be told, I’m left with the fact that for too long I lived to work.  I’m never going to do a crappy job, it’s not in my nature, by I’ve learned, especially with where I am in life now, that I’m not saving lives, not even close.
  2. Work harder is no longer a modern concept.  Most times doing so only leads to burnout, from which you need to work harder?…to recover from.  Ask yourself how much hard work is enough and start calling it a day before dark.”  Let’s be realistic, before dark is 4:00 – and very few people leave work at that time.  I have though, started scheduled things on certain days so that I can leave work at a more reasonable time.
  3. “More me time….whatever it takes to put yourself first so you feel joy, relaxed….”  He goes on to provide a list of me time hobbies.  There are things that I love, like dance class that totally de-stresses me so I’ve made it a priority again.  Reading de-stresses me – except last year, when I didn’t read the 35 books that I told you all about.  This year, I signed up for a 50 book challenge as punishment : )  I love travel (which I’ll get back to writing about, promise), writing, finding ways to love my city, art, concerts, calculated risks, movies and really bad TV shows, but if you can watch “Revenge Body by Khloe Kardashian” or “Mob Wives” and not feel like it was good use of an hour of your time, then you need to get your priorities straight.  They are as golden to me as “Jersey Shore”.  I can feel you silently judging me, and that’s ok.
  4. “Digital detox…Challenge your loved ones to turn their phones off when you are together.  And you too.  Be 100% engaged with whomever you are with”.  I’m so guilty of being on my cell all the time.  I’m guilty of having it on the table when I’m out with friends.  I’m guilty of playing Soda Crush or Crossy Road when I’m on the phone with family and friends (some of us still talk on the phone…weird huh?).  I’m guilty of answering work emails regardless of where I am including walking on the side walk to the subway on my way home.  I know it’s wrong and I also know that I need to be more present.  Shame on me.  I’m going to try to take one day a month and not even look at my phone.  Not even once.  I’ll let you know how that goes.
  5. Be a kid….Start a snowball fight, get your hands dirty with a DIY project, turn on some music and dance, break a rule, crank call your mother.  Whatever makes you ugly snort from laughing so hard, do.”  Snowball fights are a nightmare for me, the only thing I DIY is changing a light bulb, if I even call my mother before 10am, I’m in trouble.  I’m game to break a rule though, I’m going to call her at 9:55!  I ugly snort, a lot more than I like to admit to, it’s actually called my hyena laugh thank you very much, and everything from Helen Keller jokes (I deserve to be judged for this), Mindy Kaling and any kind of ridiculousness can inspire this.

This was such a great article – read it yourself: http://eedition.toronto.24hrs.ca/epaper/viewer.aspx

 

 

 

 


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Things That Make Me Go HMMM…2017

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image courtesy of manbunhaorstyle.net (yes this is for real)

In 2016, I shared a post of things that keep me up at night, if you haven’t read it, it’s completely fascinating if I do say so myself (Trumpian modesty or an alternative fact?).  Here is a link Things That Make Me Go HMMMMMMM – 2016.  This year, I have many more deep thoughts that I ponder on my what will become of me couch including:

  • Last year, I wondered why man buns were a thing?  This year, I’m wondering if the hipster who invented the semi-bun or top-knot is laughing that so many men think that this is actually a thing.  It’s really not, it’s a cruel joke that you should cut off now.  Go on, take that elastic out, run your fingers through your two inches of hair and snip it off.  It’s a look that’s wrong on every level, trust me.  Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind
  • Speaking of which, if you notice food in a hipster’s bushy beard do you 1) tell him, 2) assume he’ll shampoo it out later, 3) think he’s saving it for a snack?
  • Do you shampoo a beard?
  • My knee hurts – do I need a knee replacement?  Has the warrantee on my part run out?
  • Why did those scientists need to do a study to figure out if dogs love their owners?  Doesn’t the fact that a dog goes nuts when you get home, looks at you with absolute adoration, stays with you when you are sick, sighs sadly when you are unhappy and needs to sit as close to you or on you as possible give you a clue?  Thanks Rocket Scientists for answering a question as burning as the Caramilk Secret or which came first, the chicken or the egg.  Maybe the funds from the next experiment should go towards curing cancer
  • How is it that some people hate cilantro?  It’s totally amazing!
  • Why can’t we have a soundtrack playing when we are walking along the street like they do in movies?
  • Is Mariah Carey that much of a diva or is she just putting on an act?  It’s got to be an act, forget this one
  • What do the words to “New Moon on Monday” by Duran Duran really mean?  It’s been bothering me for years (obviously).  Simon LeBon never made sense when he explained it.  It’s very catchy but makes zero sense
  • Why did they name New York City after the state?  Did they just get lazy?  New York, New York?  Next time I go to Buffalo, should I just say that I’m going to New York, that way people won’t judge me?
  • Why couldn’t I find Swiss Cheese in Switzerland?  Was that a foodie ploy to boost tourism?
  • How many times have the following words/sayings turned up on The Bachelor: 1) Journey, 2) Right Reasons, 3) Winning, 4) Your Tribe Has Spoken (oops that’s Survivor – sorry!)
  • Why of all of the things that I’ve written does “Ode to Probiotics” seem to be the most popular?
  • If my plane crashes over the Atlantic Ocean (or any body of water), is that little life jacket/flotation device really going to keep me alive?
  • Is my plane going to crash??????
  • How did Jack on “This is Us” die?
  • Is bigly a word?
  • Why do people always call Us Weekly a gossip rag when it’s 100% accurate?
  • When am I going to be able to go to a yoga class and not get a huge case of the giggles?
  • Scratch that one – I gave up yoga
  • Do people really like sushi or only think they should because it’s so pretty?

Sooo much to think about…no wonder I have insomnia.  Tune in next year for my latest update on things that make me go hmmmm.