Archive for the ‘Happy Birthday’ Category







365 days ago, I made the commitment to myself, and to whomever wanted to take this journey with me that I would share my life openly, honestly, and completely, in hopes that I could somehow make my ‘Chronic’ life purposeful.

I nervously wrote my first post, and published it… and waited… I didn’t know if my words would be heard by ANYONE…

I wrote my second post… and my third… and the craziest thing happened!  PEOPLE FOUND MY BLOG!!  People were actually reading my words!!!

I very quickly realized I wasn’t the only one sitting ‘alone’ with my pain… There were so MANY people feeling the things I felt, experiencing the things I did, and crying the same frustrated tears I cried.

I FINALLY found a place where I was completely understood.  And it was the most overwhelming feeling I have ever had.  I cry at this moment as I look back upon this past year and reflect on how quickly my ‘heart’ changed, how my perception of my pain has gone through a metamorphosis,  and how the courage of others inspired me to find my own strength….

Shortly after starting this blog, I also started a facebook-based support group… and I don’t honestly know HOW, but people started to join… 15 members… 20 members… 30 members… People started to open up and share openly about their OWN lives with Chronic Illness and pain… And I made heart-to-heart connections with strangers from across the world who were suffering the same way I had been for years.  Who KNEW that these ‘strangers’ would end up being my dearest friends, and an integral part of my every day life. You all know who you are, and my heartfelt appreciation, and my utmost respect goes out to all of you… Thank you for making our family what it has become this past year… it is ALL because of you!!

Much “LIFE” happened in between writing posts, making friends, and sharing experiences this past year….

Some of us experienced great loss and began personal journey’s of grief…

Some of us found love…

Some of us lost it…

Some of us found hope,

and others needed the hope and strength that only OUR friendship could bring…

But through all of it, the one thing I know for sure is that we all got to ‘know’ ourselves in a way we hadn’t, all of us played a ‘role’ in our own as well as some one else’s healing.. and we all made a difference in the lives of the people we love.  WE BECAME SISTERS… united in something much stronger than illness and pain.

365 days ago I started writing as a way to reach out to others, and the most miraculous thing happened…. I ended up reaching out to myself…. I started a journey of my own healing, found strength I never knew I had, and found happiness in a way I never knew was possible while living in agony.

Because, in sharing my life with others, I found love, hope, forgiveness, patience, and tolerance for so many other people, and those people mirrored myself… By seeing my reflection in all of you, I found me….

It has been one crazy ride, hasn’t it?

290 posts

21,600+ hits

210 support group members

Invaluable lessons,

and forever friends….

THAT is how I measure this past year…..

Take a minute to reflect on the last year for YOU… and all the blessings, wonders, lessons, and love it has brought into your life… THAT my friends, is THE REASON…

Thank you so very much for following my journey this past year…

Thank you for reaching out and becoming a part of my life…

Thank you for your friendship,

Your support,

Your encouragement,

Your tears,

And your love.



I hope the year ahead brings peace, healing, hope, and above all, a lot more love and friendship across the web, and in our homes and hearts.








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Méga vessie chez un embryon porteur d'une tris...

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Just days after I conceived I knew I was pregnant…. and I just KNEW I was having a boy.  I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.  Don’t ask me how I knew, because I am not really quite sure… but I knew… When God closes one door he opens another, and after grieving over the loss of my brother so hard – I knew the moment I found out I was pregnant that this was  the circle of life continuing… I was having a boy, and I would name him after my brother…. I took a test, told EVERYONE I knew, and named this little peanut all within 2 days of seeing those two beautiful lines on the ‘stick’.  I was having a baby!!!!

My pregnancy didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked…. at 17 weeks I had my first ultrasound, and a few days later I received a phone call from my Doctor at 7pm one night.  “We found an irregularity in the ultra sound.  Your baby has hydronephrosis, which means he has an enlarged kidney, which can be a marker for Down’s Syndrome.  You need to be referred to the high-risk clinic, and I will arrange you to meet with genetic specialists…. You should get a phone call in the next few weeks”….. I was dumbfounded, devastated, confused…. This was NOT the way I had dreamed my first pregnancy would go…. What if he did have Down’s Syndrome?  Would I be a strong enough Mother to be able to take care of a special needs child?  Would my baby be okay?  The weeks to come were a bit of a blur.  I remember crying a lot….

At 24 weeks I went to the hospital and sat beside 2 genetic specialists as they fully explained the process – they used pie charts, and scribbled on a piece of paper before pushing it in my direction… there was no guarantees they said… It was my choice whether I wanted to take the chance or end the pregnancy.  For the most part it all sounded like “Wha wha wha wha wha” to me… It made me red in the face, it made me hold me breath… Were they saying what I thought they were saying?  T-E-R-M-I-N-A-T-E the pregnancy?  Try again?  In that moment I KNEW that this was MY child, and he would always be my child, no matter what struggles he may go through… God gave me to my parents for a reason, and this baby was given to me for a reason also… “I have made up my mind, this is my child, and I am not terminating the pregnancy.  I will deal with what comes.”.  And that was that.  I went home felling like the weight of the world was off my shoulders.  I was going to enjoy this pregnancy as much as I could, and I would deal with what was to come when I crossed that bridge.

I went for many ultrasounds after that, each one to measure my peanuts kidneys… and each time they were measured they shrunk a little more… even .01 of a mm was cause for celebration.  I was my boys cheering squad long before he ever made his entrance into the world….

October 3rd was my due date… and the day was really unremarkable… nothing happened…

October 4th,

October 5th,

October 6th….

What is going on??  How come this little one isn’t wanting to come out?

I was getting SO uncomfortable….

I tried walking up and down my street in slippers at 4am,

I tried acupuncture and herbs…

This baby wasn’t wanting to come out…

October 6th, 7th, 8th… The phone calls and emails increased… Have you had that baby yet??? Um… No….

On October 10th I went back to my Doctor, and he booked me for induction on the 12th, and told me to go home and to stop worrying.  He said this baby is not going to come before the 12th, and he’d meet me at the hospital then…

And half an hour after I left his office my back started to hurt… REALLY HURT… I wanted to go for lunch, so we headed downtown to my favorite pub, but when we got there I had lost my appetite.  Why is my back hurting so much?  It seems to come and go in waves….

All that day I felt cranky, and felt a lot of pressure in my back… but I was in complete denial that I could be in labor.

I went home, paced for a while, realized I didn’t feel like doing anything, or being around anyone, and I went to bed… and slept until 4:15am…

I woke up with the most horrible pain in my back, and tried to get to the bathroom… it went away as soon as I hit the bathroom door, and then started again 15 seconds later… oh my god… I am in labor!

My contractions were 2 minutes long, and less than a minute apart… As my ex-husband followed me around the apartment, I tried to do my hair and makeup (sorry I know that’s the last thing I should have been doing, but I was in autopilot).  I called my Mom, and she was on her way – there was NO way I was having this baby without her!!  By the time she got to the apartment I was on the toilet wanting to push….  Against my better judgment they both took an arm and carried me off the toilet and out the door……

I don’t remember much of the car ride, but I do know that by the time I got to the hospital I would have taken an epidural in my big toe if it would have helped… I was in so much pain… There was a reason for that.  I was  8-9 cm dilated…. this baby was coming quickly…

No time for any medication of any sort, no time for the massage with lavender oil, or the CD I had made… Enya wasn’t making an appearance at this event…. I was put into a delivery room as quickly as they could get me down the hallway, and I was told before I made it on the bed that I could start pushing…. Oh my god, I am not ready for this….  It was all happening so fast!!  I felt so lost… I felt a panic attack rising from my chest…. “Look at me” my wonderful nurse said.. “I am going to help you through this”…  My Mom took my hand, and my nurse planted herself right in front of me, so I could see her… These strong women gave me courage… I started to push…

My beautiful baby boy was born a short time later, but he was born way too quickly.  I knew in a heartbeat there was something really wrong.  He didn’t let out a cry… it was more like a pathetic gurgle… Why is he not crying??!!??  He was very quickly ushered out of the room, and I was left helpless on the bed… alone….

Before I knew what was happening he was already in the NICU, sedated, breathing tubes down his throat, IV’s in his head and belly button… He was a ‘wet baby’, amniotic fluid had filled his lungs… I didn’t know then that almost all babies who are born this way simply don’t make it.  The baby I had carried for over 9 months, fought for, cheered for, prayed for…. he was fighting for his life, and there was absolutely nothing I could do.  I have never felt so helpless in my entire life, and I hope not to feel that helpless again.

The days that followed were a frenetic blur of neonatologists, nurses, tubes, and a lot of tears…. I was placed in a private room because it was so hard being with the general public of the postpartum ward.  All of these women were soothing and cooing at their new babies, and I was without mine.  He was across the hallway fighting for every breath….

My Mom held me up, and was my strength… My Dad was my comic relief, and his hugs said more than his words every could… My sister was the one who brought me food and made me eat…. They all stepped in and took care of me as I was on autopilot… all I could think about was my baby boy….

He fought, and he fought hard… and on the 5th day he was taken off the respirator and put on oxygen… and he took a breath, and then another… and the nurses all hugged me and celebrated as I cried…

He breastfed, and then he pooped, and then his oxygen saturation levels went up… and each time one of these things happened they celebrated with me, and I cried…

10 days after that my precious baby boy came home on oxygen.  He was finally coming home… Our lives still full of tubes, and tape, O sat levels, and jaundice… but he was finally home.

And he was perfect.

And just like a puppy who grows into his big floppy ears – he grew into his kidneys… they completely healed on their own… Those geneticists were wrong…

This weekend marks the 9th year anniversary of that frantically wonderful  day…. The day my baby boy was born… The day I found my greatest love.

It all seems like just yesterday….

Happy birthday my little dude…  I cannot begin to tell you how much I love you…

You are my reason,

My love, My life.

And I love you more than every grain of rice, every planet in the solar system, AND every piece of lego in the world…

I know when  we play that game I always let you win…

But you will realize one day when you have a family of your own,

There is no greater love than the love I have for you.

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In a few short hours I will be saying goodbye to my 35th year on this earth and saying hello to the big 3-6… thirty-six… I guess it is time for me to grow up for real this year ( 😉 Isn’t this what we say to ourselves EVERY YEAR?!?).

I don’t know if you all know this about me yet, but I am a tad bit sentimental… okay so I am a LOT sentimental.. I admit it.. I still have clothes from grade 9.. still have ticket stubs from my first Bon Jovi concert in ’89… I even have paper napkins from some restaurant that meant something to me at one time or another.. but for the life of me I cannot remember what now.  I am sentimental – and I am okay with that… So the day or two leading up to every birthday I start to reflect on the year, and how far I have come, how many steps back I have taken, the people who have touched my life, left my life, changed my life…  I stop to feel blessed that I have another year ahead of me, AND another year that has passed…

In many ways this past year has been more eventful, more challenging, and more fulfilling that any I have had so far.  I have lost people in my life.. found others… and tried to leave my ‘heartprint’ each and every day…

I have created a beautiful home with the love of my life and found a stability that I never knew existed…

I have seen my little dude absolutely flourish and become one of the coolest people I know, regardless of his age…

I saw my Dad ‘pass’ his cancer check again, and the magnitude of the miracle that has happened in his life, and subsequently in ours…  YAY DAD!!!

I shook my head with shock and dismay when I found out I lost someone I loved dearly to cancer… and realized just how precarious and vulnerable our lives can be…

I saw some friends walk out of my life.. reconnected with old friends, and made completely new and wonderful friends…

I got off one medication…

and got put on six more…

I began to ‘deal’ with the pain I’ve been feeling  for years…

and then I started to develop ‘new’ pain in different areas…

I started to accept that I won’t have another child grow inside my body…

I cried with the love of my life… and he loves me more now because of my tears…

And together we adopted the cutest puppy in the entire world… and yes I am completely biased!!

I started Graceful Agony…

and I have met some amazing people who have become my second family and my life-long friends… You know who you are, and I love all of you!!

I was published for the first time…

I found my passion in writing again…

I got to love fiercely, and be loved fiercely…

I woke up in pain every single day…

I went to bed in pain every single night…

and through it all something really tangible happened….

I found purpose, and hope… love and friendship…. acceptance and a fighting spirit…

I found my voice… and began to love ME for the first time in my life.

I will be sad to see 35 go… it has been one hell of a ride


I am SO looking forward to see where this journey takes me through my 36th year….

and I am looking forward to sharing my journey with all of you.

Thank you for making the past year one of the best ever… it wouldn’t have been the same without you.

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If you live your live with Chronic Pain, you KNOW that it can be SO much harder to do just about everything.. You have to PLAN the simplest tasks… and some things just fall by the wayside… this is one of the most frustrating things I have had to deal with since being ill… I have an easier time accepting my pain than I do facing my limitations.

Ya, sure I have been in bed all week, but it frustrates me to NO end that I cannot do the laundry….

Um, ya, my back is really sore today, but I really WANT to go for coffee with my girlfriend… and I get SO angry when I have to say NO…

Am I alone in this?  Are YOU finding it hard to accept your limitations too?

I do NOT believe that we have to “give up” our lives because of our pain…  I think that sometimes we simply do not have a choice, BUT when the choice is ours – being a little crafty and a little creative can really make a difference!  Let me explain to you what I mean.

This  Sunday is my honey’s birthday… 🙂  and it is also my Mom’s birthday as well!  What a GREAT day!  Last year we didn’t really get to celebrate either birthday because my Pappy passed away, and we had to travel out-of-town to attend the funeral… I felt bad that I didn’t get to do what I had wanted for either of them – they are both such AMAZING people, and they deserve all the love and spoiling I can muster 😉

Fast forward to this year…  I have known for a while that I wanted to do something special for my honey this year, but I couldn’t figure out how to do it.  I have been in a nasty flare the past few weeks, and because of my medication I am not able to drive… SO here is a limpy sore girl, stuck in her home, and not knowing how she is even going to get to the store to pick out a birthday card, let alone do something memorable… grrr… frustrating… I didn’t want to have another birthday come and go without doing SOMETHING – and then having to feel guilty about it… Let’s be honest, us Chronics have enough to feel guilty over 😉 and if we don’t we make up things.. Guilt and pain go hand in hand… Don’t they?

I had to figure out a way that I could get past my limitations… enter Creativity 🙂

On Wednesday I told my honey to NOT make any plans…. and he proceeded to ask me a million questions as to why.. LOL!  He isn’t good at surrendering control at the best of times! I made sure to take all my meds, and ice my neck before we left the house, took some extra things with me in my purse (just in case I had a hard time pacing myself through the afternoon and evening), and at 3:00pm we were on our way!!

We picked up our little dude from school, but my honey had NO idea what to do, or where to go after that… that is when he got his first “clue”, a hand-written letter explaining the process!  We took my honey on a treasure hunt of sorts… Think “The Amazing Race”… We picked out 5 destinations that he had to find (thank God for GPS ;)), and at each of the destinations he had to pick out something before that leg of the journey was complete, and then he would be given his next “clue”.   IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!!!

The first leg of the trip was to 7-11 for a refreshment of his choice (We got slurpees, he got an iced coffee)

The second leg of the trip was to a designer cupcake store to pick out his favorite cakey treat for dessert!  Hello!  Red Velvet anyone?!?

Then on to a specialty wine and spirits store – He chose a 16-year-old sipping Whiskey (Yuck… but he thinks it is DIVINE!), something that he has wanted to try for a LONG time, but WOULD NEVER  go get for himself.

The next leg of the journey was for the title of  “The Amazing Birthday Race Winner”, and the grand prize… We went to pick out a brand new barbeque!

And then FINALLY off to dinner to celebrate!! And I can tell you we ALL had worked up an appetite by then!  We had a wonderful dinner, full of conversation about the day, how excited we were to have a barbecue, but most importantly it was a time we could just dedicate to each other without interruption… We finished the evening off with flying paper airplanes in the restaurant’s parking lot before going home to enjoy those wonderful cupcakes!!  FANTASTIC!!

What a AMAZING day!  I honestly don’t know who enjoyed it more.. My little dude was SO excited, making sure the addresses were put into the GPS correctly, asking my honey a million times – “Do you know where we are going?  Do you know where we are going?”.. It was a laugh to see where the GPS was taking us… Some of the routes were definitely.. um… interesting! 😉  And it didn’t feel like we were asking my honey to drive himself to the store to pick out his own present… even though he had to be the chauffeur, it was really fun for him too!

See – a LITTLE bit of creativity…. that’s all you need!! 😉

If funds are tight (which they normally are in situations like ours, especially when we cannot work so a family is living off of one income) the same thing can be achieved but without all the $$.  I planned our ‘race’ this way because  we had planned on getting a barbecue grill for a long time, and I had it worked into the budget, but it doesn’t have to be expensive!  Father’s Day is coming soon, and you could do the same thing, but include a picnic lunch, a trip to a beautiful park, and finish the day off with an ice cream cone from that cute little place just outside the city… or whatever would work for you!  Can you think of the possibilities?  You can find just about ANY address on the internet, you can write beautiful handwritten notes on some plain paper (and decorate to your heart’s content), and if you don’t have a GPS in your vehicle you can print out maps from Mapquest.com.  You can plan a very FULL and wonderful day from the comforts of your own home!!

I must admit, I was really sore by the end of the night – but I had prepared myself for that.  And really, it didn’t matter… I am STILL smiling from the experience – and THAT is worth a little bit of pain 😉

I’d love to hear YOUR stories and ideas on how creativity could help you plan for your family!  So please share in the comments section!!

One thing is for sure, it is a birthday we won’t soon forget…  And the gift wasn’t the “grand prize” – it was the time and laughter we shared with each other, and seeing my honey’s face light up with the simple notion that we had planned this adventure for him… because HE deserves it!!  NOW THAT is good medicine!!


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April 11th is a loaded day for me….  It is the anniversary of my ex father-in-laws passing, it is the birthday of my ex-husband, AND  it is my brother’s birthday… He would have been 45 years old today… We lost him on July 14th, 1999.  Whew… isn’t that something?  All of those ‘anniversaries’ on the same day?  As the years have gone by anxiety over today has lessened…. I used to want to remove April from the calendar all together… Now I stop to acknowledge the day  and then move forward… One thing is for sure though, I still miss my brother more than words can begin to express….

There was over 9 years difference between me and my Big brother… I was his “baby sister” through and through… He was my protector, my safe place to fall – and although at times we didn’t see eye to eye because of our age difference, I always knew that my brother loved me…  Looking back, I don’t know how he put up with me at times… I was his shadow, and always wanted to be a part of whatever he was doing… If he went out into the street to play hockey with his friends, I wanted to play hockey too… If he was in his bedroom listening to music, I would sit outside his door trying to listen also….  I am sure when he was 15 and wanting his own independence the last thing he wanted was his 6 year-old sister tagging along… The age difference seemed HUGE then… but as we got we got older, we became a lot closer…. I think he always knew I looked up to him, but it went from being his burden to being his honor as we got older.

One of my favorite “birthday” memories I have of Dave is when I took him to see Phantom of the Opera for his 28th Birthday.  Keep in mind my big bro was a man’s man… he was burly, and gruff on the outside to anyone who didn’t know him – but truly he had one of the softest hearts there could ever be.  My Mom had arranged for us to get tickets when the Phantom production made its way through our city… I couldn’t have been more excited!  I spent the whole afternoon getting ready, making sure my make-up and hair was perfect… wearing my new high-heel patent leather pumps (don’t tease, it was the 90’s! LOL!), making dinner reservations for after the play… It meant so much to me to be going on a ‘date’ with the guy I had looked up to all my life…

The first half of the play was SENSATIONAL… and I remember the absolute feeling of awe as if it were only yesterday…. We sat in the first balcony of the theatre, and if I close my eyes I can still feel the heat from the Chandelier that hung above us.  I remember the scent of the artificial fog that was blown onto the stage…. And I recall the cologne my brother was wearing, and the feeling of his silk shirt against my arm…I think I spent just as much time looking at my brother’s face and searching for a reaction as I did watching the play….

At intermission, my brother bought me a glass of champagne… It is funny the small details that you remember…. I felt SO grown-up… I felt as if for the first time in my life I was actually my brother’s contemporary…. I had gone from being that bratty little sister to being a woman in my brother’s eyes… or at least that is how it felt to me.  As I tried to play it cool, holding my champagne flute just so – and taking small sips as the bubbles tickled my nose, I felt a visceral change… It felt as if the cacoon had finally broken open, and a butterfly emerged… I went from being “sister” to “friend”, from being a little girl who never felt she measured up, to being a woman my brother respected.

The last half of the play was even more amazing than the first… and as the curtain closed my brother was the first one in the whole auditorium on his feet.  If you knew Dave, you’d know that this was out of character for him.  I rose out of my chair to join him in the standing ovation, and then noticed that my brother had tears rolling down his cheeks…. and I started to cry too…. We both wiped away our tears before the house lights came on, as if they never fell.  But I know the truth.

We went for dinner at The Keg afterwards, and he was HUGELY EMBARRASSED when the waiters came over to sing him Happy Birthday!  He faked being REALLY irritated that I had made those arrangements beforehand, but secretly I think he appreciated the effort.  We laughed and talked about many things, and HE didn’t want the night to come to an end.  I thought he would drop me off at my apartment right after dinner, but instead he asked if I wanted to go for a drink… GLADLY I said yes, and we made our way to a pub.  We ended the night with a long personal conversation about where I was at in my life at that point, and the potential he saw in me.  When we finally said goodnight, he gave me a big bear hug and said “I love you Joey”, and drove away…

I didn’t know then that I would only get to see 6 more of his birthdays…  each of them were celebrated, but NONE of them ever compared to that night… It is something that I will never forget.  Dave never stopped being the “big brother”, but after that day we began a beautiful friendship with one another.

We lost Dave just weeks before my wedding…. And so many things have happened in my life since then… He never got to see me walk down the aisle, he never got to meet my son… My Dad’s battle with cancer, the loss of my health, the end of my marriage… all of these things he has missed…. And I have often wondered what he would have thought about all of that… I wonder if he would be proud of the way our family has dealt with the hand life has given us…. I wonder what role he would have played in all of it.

But the one thing that I know for sure is that he loved me… and it was my honor to be loved by him.

Mostly I remember him with a smile in my heart when I look back at all the memories.  There are times still that I cry, but I am not scared of those tears anymore… it is also my honor to shed those tears for him, because he is worth every one of them…

Dave was my protector, my big brother, and also my friend.  Today I stop to remember, and to celebrate the life that ultimately changed my own.

Happy Birthday Dave!  I love you.

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Happy Birthday Nichola!!

We are celebrating another birthday

in the Graceful Agony Family


Nichola has been one of my biggest supporters,

she has an amazing  heart,

a glowing spirit,

and the world is a

better place because she’s in it!!




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Happy Birthday Meg!

Happy Birthday Meg!


Please joining me in wishing a very special gal a Happy birthday today!

Her birthday is Valentines Day, and perfectly so…..

Because she epitomizes love

each and every day!!

Happy Birthday Meg, and thank you for all of your support and friendship.

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