The "Whiz-ard" That Is Dr. Oz

And Other Stories


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Not By The Zit on My Chinny Chin Chin

 

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I used to suffer from adult acne.  That’s right – used to suffer.  Tired of the constant up and downs that the skin condition was causing, I finally decided to do something about it.  I spent years on Minocin to no avail.  I tried topical acne products like salicylic acids and benzoyl peroxide.  I tried supplements.  I went for regular facials.  I changed what I ate.  No matter what I did, it didn’t seem to help, and once a month (yes that time of the month), like clock-work, my chin exploded.  Some months it wasn’t as bad, and most people politely told be that they didn’t notice it until I pointed it out.  I noticed it, and it really bothered me…a lot.  Sigh, like every former Winter Carnival Queen contestant (I was Princess of the Debating Club, thank you very much), I couldn’t stand to have my perfection marred (SNORT) by this annoying condition.  Seriously though, like many women, when I had a break out, I didn’t want to leave the house.

The other thing that you may not be aware of, is that even if you only have one spot, when it’s cystic acne, it’s quite painful.  It felt like I had a hot bruise on my chin.  The nodules could get sickeningly big, and I could often feel them before I could see them.  They also can cause scarring and like most people, I couldn’t help but want to squeeze them.  So satisfying, but terrible for your skin.    You can get also a cortisone injection, which I often did, to help the blemish disappear in a day or two, but to say the shot is painful is an understatement.  It’s like someone is injecting you with fire – however, the good news is, that the pain only lasts for about 3 seconds.  Let’s just say there is nothing good about adult acne and leave it at that.

Some years ago, my former skin care doctor (he wasn’t a dermatologist, but ran an acne clinic) told me to go on Accutane.  I went to get my blood tests done, picked up my prescription and was ready for better skin.  Then, I read the side effects and got completely freaked out by one in particular.  Can you guess?  No, it wasn’t liver and kidney damage.  It also wasn’t suicidal thoughts.  Was it the nausea?  No siree Bob.  I got freaked out by “thinning of hair (may continue after treatment is stopped).”  I lasted for 4 whole days as my skin was drying and my face was exploding even more.  One of the other nasty side effects is that your skin gets worse before it gets better.  I fixated on thinning hair checking the mirror every time I’d walk by one and I knew it was thinning by the second.  It wasn’t, but that’s what I thought.  I took myself off of the drug and vowed never to go on it again until….

My acne doctor retired and I thought it was time to go to a proper dermatologist.  I ended up going to one that I just didn’t click with.  I never saw him and all I got out of it was very expensive chemical peels that did nothing to solve my skin condition.  Then I went to my mother’s dermatologist who ended up being a better fit for me.  He recommended Epuris, an Isotretinoin.  I’m no dummy – I knew that this was a nice name for Accutane, and of course my very first question was, “Isn’t it going to thin out my hair?”  He almost rolled his eyes, but kindly refrained and told me that it is an extremely rare side effect and that we can stop the treatment if it happens.  He also told me that it wasn’t the same course of treatment that it used to be.  It is a much lower dose and it’s based on weight (yours more specifically, so be honest and tell the pharmacist).

What happened to my skin?  I started it in April of 2017.  Within 3 days, my skin started drying, and I once again got the worse before it gets better blemishes.  As even more time went on, my skin got even dryer.  My lips dried out too, but luckily, my eyes did not.  I read up on what other people used to keep their skin hydrated and I also figured out through trial and error what worked best for me.  Here is my list:

  • Simple Cleansing Wipes – I used these before washing my face to remove all of my make up – these have been my go-to for years.  If you live in Canada, but them at Winners if you can find them – they are $5.99 compared to $10.99 at Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Life Brand Gentle Skin Cleanser – don’t use a harsh cleanser on your face.  This is very much like Cetaphil, but much less expensive
  • Germaine De Capuccini Intense Renewal Exfoliating Mask – I actually didn’t use this as a mask, I used it as a scrub once a week.  Don’t leave it on your face if you are taking Isotretinoins.  You need to exfoliate your dry skin, but gently and this works.  The best tip that I can give you for exfoliation is to avoid natural products like walnut shells – you’ll injure your poor skin.  This is one time when you need to use an artificial skin scrub.  They are far gentler on your delicate dermis.  This product is only available at spas
  • La Roche-Posay Toleriane Riche Soothing Protective Cream OR Avène Tolerance Extreme Cream – I used these interchangeably.  They are both just really good moisturizers for when your skin is at it’s driest and most dehydrated.  They didn’t irritate my skin or give me a rash.  My skin is sensitive already, so I have to be really careful.  You really will need to slather this on
  • La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Eyes – for the poor fragile skin under my eyes
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen Face SPF 60 – don’t even try to go without sunscreen – you will pay for it and it’s not worth the burn
  • Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream Formula – this was a tough purchase at $100, but I wanted to try it.  It is fragrance-free and beauty bloggers rave about it.  The good new is that it works even better than skin lotions that I had been using, and because I need less product and it comes in a pump, it actually ends up being more economical then my drug store purchases.  I was going through one tube of skin cream a month, and I’ve had this one since January.  Sometimes you pay more to get more
  • Eucerin Intensive Lip Balm – I’ve tried every lip balm on the market and when you are on an Isotretinoin, nothing worked better than this.  Avoid things that make your lips tingle – they will end up drying out your parched puckers.  You don’t need anything fancy, you just need a good basic lip balm that works, and this worked the best for me
  • One last tip – don’t wash your hair everyday.  I went down to only having to wash it twice a week.  I would also avoid heat styling your hair where possible and limit the use of hair sprays and other fixatives.  Your hair gets very dry too

What would I say about my experience?  It ended up working for me.  In one year, I’ve had one tiny blemish that went away in 24 hours.  It is not for everyone.  Let your doctor be the one to tell you to go on it.  The only side effect that was kind of bad for me were the nose bleeds.  It wasn’t constant, but a few times a month, I would get one.   Some of you may experience worse than this, so it’s important to think about how you are feeling and whether you can put up with your skin issues.  Everyone’s results are also different.  I noticed that my skin got much better within one month, but I had very localized acne.  I’m thrilled with the results and glad that I stuck with it.

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The First Birthday Without You

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“Was Zaydie as good of a person as you remember him to be?” I asked my mother about my grandfather one day.  Everyone just thought he was a wonderful, kind gentleman, and my mother was the original Daddy’s Girl, but I was still curious.  “Oh no, Jill, he wasn’t.  He was better.”  Even though it’s only been 6 weeks, I can already tell you the same thing about my mother, she was better than I remember.   We had our first holiday without her two weeks ago.  Now, it’s her birthday and we are trying to figure out what to do.  I did a little self-torture, looking at birthday cards that I wouldn’t be able to give her.  That was the day that I got a little sign from her.  Last night, I read cards and poems online that people wrote to their dead mothers just to make sure that I could cry, although, there hasn’t been a shortness of tears on my part.  She really was special.

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Nobody loved a birthday more than my mother, especially the cake.  Every year, we had buy her the same cake – the repulsive store bought chocolate cake with the GIGANTIC pink roses.  She loved it, and every year for my birthday, when I was growing up, I got that very cake even though I hated it.  She’d always say “Tough luck.  I love it, and that’s what your getting.”  That was my mother – every inch a brat.  But before you write her off, that was only one part of my mother, she was so much more than that.  I could gush about how brave she was, but here is a quote from my cousin, a very religious and learned Rabbi, when I ask him for a quote for a treasured book in our family:

Judith Schneiderman returned her heroic,courageous and dearly beloved soul to her Maker on March 3, 2018. May She find comfort forever in the everlasting world. Rest peacefully. Never to be forgotten.

You see, my mother was heroic, not because she had cancer, but because of who she was.  You don’t become a hero because of a disease or because you die, you become one because of how you live you life and my mother lived her life with honour.  She was honest and giving and made decisions that were right, even when they weren’t right for her.

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I was told by many people how special my mother was to them.  One of her pottery teachers wrote this to me “I often told her that when I “grow up” I want to be just like her. “  Me too.  My mother loved life.  Even when she was at her sickest, she still lived it.  She managed her pain from cancer with nothing more than Tylenol until 6 days before her death when she couldn’t handle it anymore.  Even though she was bed-ridden the last year of her life, we still laughed, and she still loved having visitors.  She was still herself.  She was curious about everything and she never felt sorry for herself, not even once.  I wish that I could be as brave as she was.

To be a Motherless Daughter is a very sad thing.  My sister wrote these beautiful words:

“The end is the beginning

Bright lights…I cover my eyes

A slap, a cry, the journey of life begins

Daughter to wife, wife to mother

Motherless daughter, child no more

Full circle, light in my eyes and I cry.”

When my mother died, my sisters and I lost our last parent (and really, our only one).  My aunt lost her sister and became the last of the first generation of N’s (we all refer to ourselves as N’s, D’s or M’s in our family meaning the Zelikovitz brother that we belonged to, Nathan, David or Max) – a very difficult place to be.  My cousins lost their aunt and beloved cousin.  Her friends lost the joy of having my mother around.  It’s so hard on everyone.  Her friends and family called me today, thinking about her, and crying too.

“You can never count your mother out – she’s hard to predict because she’s so tough.”

“If you had told me a year ago, I’d still be standing here talking to you about your mother, I would have told you that we were both crazy.”

“Your mother was an absolutely lovely woman…She had a wonderful outlook/attitude that I admired deeply.”

Those are all direct quotes from her doctors.  Even they recognized the type of person that she was.  The week before she died, her palliative doctor told me that though she wasn’t conscious, she could still hear.  She said that it was important to keep talking to her.  With at least a dozen people in and out all day, every day, we never had to worry about her not having something to listen to.  Even then, everyone wanted to be around her.  My sisters and I talked to her all day, every day, no matter how hard it was on us, we told her that if she needed to go, that it was ok.  The doctor gave me one last piece of advice, because my mother was so strong, she had to know that she wasn’t dying because she wasn’t fighting hard enough, it was just that she was too sick from all of her illnesses to go on.  Everyday, I told her that she fought so hard, but she could stop fighting and rest.  And eventually, she did, in her own time, in her own way.

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I’m often told by people what a wonderful relationship that I had with my mother, and some even said that they wished that they could have had the same kind of bond with theirs.  My favourite photo is the black and white picture above you – even though it’s not perfect, it perfectly illustrates us.  No one ever has made me laugh harder than she did, and no one ever had a better mother.  I spent a lot of time with her the last year, and many times, before I’d leave she’d say thank you to me for something that I did for her.  I’d always tell her that you never have to thank me, I wish I could do more.  I should have said, “No Mummy, thank you.  Just thank you.”  Wherever she is, I hope that she knows that on her birthday, and every single day, how much she is loved and missed.

 

 

 


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Plop – Revisiting My Take on Goop

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The people who know me best know how much Gwyneth Paltrow and I have in common.       I’ve written about my respect for her several times before, indeed citing some of our greatest similarities, minus the size of my wallet of course.  Check these out if you know not of what I speak – https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2014/03/29/plop/https://jillschnei.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/plop-part-deux-dos-due-zwei-twee/  Gwynnie does have it tough, don’t get me wrong.  Just recently, Goop was called out by NASA for spreading misinformation about using NASA technology in healing stickers sold on her site.  She also enraged GOOPIES (get it, like Groupies, only snobbier) at a recent Summit for the brand in NYC.  Not only did many get upset and leave the meeting of the fabulous minds due to lack of Gwynnie time and ill treatment if they only spent $500 on their ticket, there were ridiculous line ups for treatments promised when they booked their day of grace with the chosen Hollywood Health Nut.  Lastly, some of her adoring public is thinking about consciously uncoupling with Gwyneth when she admitted on Jimmy Kimmel’s show that she really has no idea about what is being sold on her site.

I would never abandon my Gwynnie though, and decided to take some of her advice (even if she doesn’t take it herself) and live the Goop-ie life for one week.  Here are some of the things that I tried…

  • Earthing – Gwynnie said she didn’t know what this was really, maybe some electromagnetic energy force field that’s only available in the ground.  I knew she was just kidding, after all, she was on Jimmy Kimmel and we all know what a joke-ster she is, so I decided to try Earthing for myself.  I pondered the name first, that’s just how deep I am, and thought, well, this is something that I can only do on Earth – not Venus, Mars or Jupiter, just Earth – coolio.  Immediately, I felt a connection to the land.  It can also cure a multitude of maladies like insomnia, arthritis, inflammation and depression.  According to Clint Ober, simply put, “Earthing therapy rests on the intuitive assumption that connecting to the energy of the planet is healthy for our souls and bodies.”  I decided to walk bare-foot through the park, or tip-toe through the tulips, if you will.  I kicked off my Naot sandals (not on Goop’s list of must have, I must invest in one of their choices) and plunged forward into the grass.  Immediately, I jumped back after stepping into a big pile of doggie doo – GROSS!!!! I found a bird bath and joined my fine feathered friends for a quick rinse before I tried again.  I got squeamish thinking I saw a worm and a deer tick.  Earthing isn’t for the faint of heart, so I gave up, running like a girl back to the safety of the pavement and my sandals.  Verdict – caused more stress then it cured.
  • Jade Egg Practice – wanting a deeper sense of connection to myself and all of the other side benefits of the Jade Egg suggested on Goop including some kegel help, I decided to try it.  When I saw the $66 price tag, I immediately thought, I can’t spend that much money on my hoo-hah why not try a regular hen’s egg?  Same shape – right?  Except every time I did it, the egg kept cracking – what a mess!  People on the subway also looked at me strangely because every time I tried to shove my way into the doors, another egg yolk appeared at my feet.  Verdict – don’t use regular eggs, and skip this whole thing. 
  • IV Drip  (available at the Goop Wellness Summit) – I wasn’t able to charter a private jet to fly down to LA to partake in a weekend of wellness and GP disciples, so I thought about just getting an IV drip which they promise will rehydrate you!  Then I thought about it and went with nature’s hydration, scientifically proven to help you bring more water to your little cells – good old water.  Verdict – OH PLEASE!
  • Meaningful small talk – My Gwynnie has meaning behind all of her conversations, so delving deeper into Goop, I found an article on how to have meaningful small talk.  All 8 steps would be overwhelming for a mere mortal like me, so I decided to start with one small tip – ask for advice, because it makes people feel good about themselves.  I’ve started at a new work place, so I thought this would be a great way to get to know people.  I went to the Executive VP’s office and asked him if he knew the best place to find a gun-metal coloured purse would be.  I’ve been looking everywhere for one!  Instead of feeling like an expert, he ordered me to leave his office.  I then walked into the Sales VP’s office and asked him if he thought I should go with Mac Lipglass for a tried and true colour (my fave is Love Child) or go with Charlotte Tilbury?  He never heard of either but I’m sure it made him feel important to be included in such a riveting conversation.  Verdict – mixed.
  • Spirituality (Understanding How to Move and Manipulate Energy) – GP is a spiritual goddess, really!  It pours out of her pores.  The first thing that I think of when I see her, aside from the awful hunchback she will have later in life if she keeps slouching, is how she is a child of the Earth – so in touch with herself.  I read this article and felt overwhelmed by the ten steps, so I focused on one for more energy: “Make a list of different feelings. Free associate with each feeling. What is your relationship to that feeling? What are your beliefs or images about those feelings? Where do you tend to feel those feelings, if at all, in your body?”  When I wrote down my feelings, particularly about Goop, the first was bored.  I saw myself yawn as I was thinking about my feelings.  I felt my arms stretch back and my mouth open wide enough to catch flies.  My relationship with boredom – too boring to think about.  My beliefs are???? Not sure, can’t answer that one.  I think it’s find something less boring to do.  Verdict – MEH!

So, after basking in Goopie brilliance for one week, I learned several valuable lessons – never go to someone who is not a health care practitioner for advice or someone who has no clue what she is talking about for that matter for mental advice.  Stars like Gwynnie and Cameron Diaz, will never be my go to girls when I need treatment for something.  Remember Goop isn’t a lifestyle, it’s a business.


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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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Back to Oz-ish

Gail Blog

My brilliant Frousin + Kiwi

I’ve been a little obsessed with travel and other pursuits, but from time to time, I’m going to revisit why I started this blog – overall health, and Dr. Oz.  This was written months ago, but I couldn’t figure out when to post it.  Now seemed like as good a time as any before I start a slew of travel related posts.
Dr. Oz provides his viewers with a lot of advice on nutrition.  I have tested some of his advice from time to time, but have found a number of places where there are inconsistencies.  One day, he’ll recommend something as a super food and the next day, he’s moved on to something else.  There are a couple of times where I’ve just disagreed with him – like recommending coconut oil where there is no scientific evidence that it has any health benefits.  In fact, there are more studies that suggest it’s high levels of saturated fat can actually do you more harm than good.  Before I try any more of his recommendations, I thought I’d speak to a trained dietician – and why not go to one that I know, trust and love – my cousin Gail!  You may remember her from previous blogs since I’ve turned to her before.  We sat down over Italian so that I could get answers to my latest barrage of questions.
First off, I’ve noticed a lot of people giving advice on nutrition.  Can you tell me what the difference is between a dietician and a nutritionist?
Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, even you.  It’s not a protected title.  Dietitians have a license protected title.  In order to be a dietician, you need to have a degree and have completed an internship of one year including clinical, foodservice and community work.  We have to write a test (usually 6 hours) based on the standards of the province that we are practicing in.  Dietitians have to upkeep our knowledge and belong to the College of Dietitians which is there for the public’s protection.  We, as dietitians, have to stay on top of studies and understand the most up to date information in our field and it must be practice specific.
A nutritionist is someone that can, for example, read a food label, but they do not understand the science behind it.  In the USA, dietitians are called nutritionists so that’s also where some of the confusion lies.
So, I can be a nutritionist in Canada?
Yes!
When should you reach out to either?
A nutritionist is cheaper for a reason.  It’s like going to a holistic doctor versus a medical doctor.  The content of education is different.  A registered dietician bases opinion on scientific data driven by studies.  They are not trying to sell anything like supplements or cleanses.  A nutritionist isn’t covered by medical plans.  A dietitian can be covered by OHIP (or other provincial equivalents) for specific conditions or consultations but if you are consulting them privately, it can be expensive.
You can consult a dietitian when you want to make lifestyle adjustments with diet, and this isn’t just for weight loss.  Weight loss may be a by product of the plan, but medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer,  IBS, Crohn’s or any psychiatric conditions (eating disorders) can benefit from a dietitian.
Is there a danger or risk to seeing a nutritionist?
Yes, particularly if they are recommending fad diets, selling products, creating fear of certain foods or touting elimination diets that have no scientific validity.  They can sometimes offer poor advice that could cause long term problems.  Dietitians often have to deal with issues caused by unsound advice from people calling themselves nutritionists.
What are the ethical standards for a dietician?
There is a huge list of ethical standards.  In Ontario, we are governed by the College of Dietitians of Ontario.  We are covered under the Health Care Professionals Act (the same act that covers psychologists).
What is the worst piece of advice that you’ve seen a nutritionist provide?
Telling people to go on elimination diets is a huge issue.  There are no tested studies and there is no validity to them.  Once you end up eliminating foods that you may not be allergic too, people often get confused and no longer know what to eat.
So what do you think about Dr. Oz?  I know, we’ve talked about this before…
Don’t watch Dr. Oz!  He has a certain pressure to sell his show and it shows in his advice!
For more valuable advice, including Gail’s healthy take on body image, check out her blog on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/gailkardishRD/


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Fear of Ugly Photos

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My love of travel and need to try something I’ve never done before often leads me into situations where I look a little less than coiffed.  In fact, I may not even be wearing make up in some cases because it just wasn’t worth it.  As some of you who read my blog on a regular basis may be aware, this year, I’ve semi-devoted to facing my fears.  No one likes looking like they have a case of the uglies in a photo, but, if you are going to go on a RIB boat at 50-60 miles per hour, let’s face facts, it may not end up being your best hair day (see above for me with dark circles trying not to gag in this musty little number that you have to wear).  I have to prove that I did it – so see me getting ready above.

Over the next few blogs, I’m going to regale you with tales of my most recent trip, where I conquered some more fears (the RIB boat included).  Even though this is supposed to be all about Oz, I’m sure travel is very healthy for your piece of mind, so I’ll also be sharing some of my other favourite places with you and maybe give you a couple of tips of where to go in some of my favourite new and old cities.  And yes, I’ll share even more FUGLY photos like the one below at sea on the RIB.    I was terrified, but it ended up being so much fun – I can’t wait to do it again.

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I wrote last year that I love travel because every day is different.  That hasn’t changed.  This time I realized, that outside of getting to the airport and packing, there really isn’t very much stress with travelling – very healthy and Oz approved, don’t you think?  Tune in this week to find out more…


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A Eulogy for My Father

Dr. John Lawrence Schneiderman

March 24, 1933-June 10, 2015

Dad…

I don’t think I’m going to get to speak at your funeral tomorrow, so I wanted to do a eulogy in my own way.  In many ways, you were a stranger to me.  You were one of the fears that I had to face this year.  Seeing you so ill in February was so hard, but letting you know that I forgave you is bringing me peace right now.  I know you didn’t agree that you needed forgiveness, you didn’t believe that you did anything wrong.  I still needed to say it though.  As with most things, we had to agree to disagree.

I am sorry Dad.  I always felt that I was a disappointment to you.  I was never Daddy’s little girl, but my Bobbie’s soul mate and my mother’s daughter.  I wanted to look at you the way Mummy looked at her Dad – as a hero.  I know that you looked at him the same way as well and I wish that your parents were as wonderful as Bobbie and Zaidie.  I wanted to respect you and put you on a pedestal and maybe, I failed you in that way, and for that I am sorry.  I did respect your intelligence and I did have compassion for your shortcomings.  I did try to be the best daughter that I could.

I will try to remember some of the good things, Dad.  Like the time when I was a little girl and I was afraid that Frankenstein was going to take me away.  You and Mummy sat on my bed and explained to me that we had two big wooden doors that he would never be able to break into.  I remember how we always had the most beautiful garden in Boulderwood because you had a green thumb.  I remember how you loved to tell a dirty joke and you did it well.  I’ll remember how you snuck surgical scrubs out of the hospital so that I’d have something to wear on career day.  I’ll remember that you and I were the only two people in the house who loved Shakespeare and we’d trade quotes.  I’ll remember how you taught me to play gin. I’ll remember how you took me to meet your 99 year old patient so that I could interview him for a school project and the pride that I felt when he told me about how you saved his life.  I’ll remember how you let me give the pre-op orders over the phone once or twice…”Chest…ECG…BUN…Creatinine…Electrolytes…CBC and Sed Rate…Mogadan 10 HS…SS Enema HS…prep mid chest…” I still remember that to this day.

I’ll also remember the bad.  I won’t dwell on it.  I won’t be bitter because of it, but I’ll remember.  Again, I’ll try to be compassionate.  When we came to see you in February, I made the decision not to bring up the past to you.  I knew that there was no point in arguing with a dying man.  It was so sad for me to see you barely able to hold a paper cup of juice.  Your once steady, surgeon’s hands shaking as you tried to sip it.  It broke my heart to see your body covered with bruises caused by the blood thinners.  You were defeated.  Where Mummy can be so strong and fearless, you were always more timid.  When Mummy gets sick, I look at her, and she still has a spark – you didn’t have that spark when I saw you.  When I went to leave the room for a minute, and you said “Jill…Jill where are you going?” I was shocked because it was one of the few times in my life where I saw you vulnerable and where I thought you actually wanted me to stay.

I wish that you had been able to go and die with dignity in your own home surrounded by your own things instead of in a hospital room.  I wish that you didn’t have to die alone without your children at your bedside.  Dad, I wish that wherever you are, that you finally have peace and that you were able to forgive yourself.  I hope that you know that I never hated you and that I’ll be OK Dad, we’ll all be OK.