Still abnormal = More cervix talk, this time with a "LEEP"

I didn't expect that I'd be writing about my cervix this week, yet here we go.

I managed to miss the follow up to my colposcopy back in April, and finally was able to reschedule my appointment for yesterday. I figured I would go in, we'd chat about the results, do another pap and be done with it. I was sitting in the little room waiting for my doctor when I overheard them discussing me outside the door, saying something about a "leap" and that the nurse was going to have to change the instruments and my doctor was going to have to discuss something with me. Super.

The results of my colposcopy came back confirming high grade dysplasia. Because of this, I was about to undergo a "leep" (loop electrical excision procedure). My doctor told me that he was going to inject some anesthetic into my cervix and then remove the abnormal tissue from my cervix and then cauterize the blood vessels. I was assured that only the injection of the anesthetic would hurt and that the rest would be essentially painless.

Not going to lie, I started to panic a little bit. While it was great that everything was going to be taken care of, there was a lot going on in my head:

a) I wasn't too happy about these cells being more abnormal than I originally thought
b) I was not prepared for this news and procedure mentally or emotionally
c) I was pretty sure this meant that my IUD was going to have to come out

Because oh yes, a few weeks after the colposcopy, I had a non-hormonal IUD put in. While it felt horrific for about 10 seconds didn't feel good going in and definitely caused my periods to be a bit heavier in the beginning, I loved that it was a non-hormonal form of birth control that was working quite effectively. I had even just seen my gynecologist who told me I was good to go with it for the next five years. The doctor confirmed that yes, it was going to have to come out before an electric current was sent through a wire loop to scrape cells out of my cervix. There's nothing quite like lying in a hospital with your legs spread open, about to have anesthetic injected into your cervix while you're worrying about cervical cancer, having your IUD ripped out and feeling sad and alone and sorry for yourself. 


And that's about the time that I started crying. 

The IUD coming out felt like a menstrual cramp. The injection of the anesthetic was pretty painful, but thankfully only lasted less than a minute. The rest was invasive, but didn't really feel like anything. I felt shaky afterwards and the nurse was really sweet about getting me some tissues to wipe away my tears and giving me some time to calm down before I had to get dressed again.

The doctor told me that I might experience some bleeding and cramping for the next two weeks and that I was to avoid using tampons or having sex. I have a follow up appointment in November for another pap smear and colposcopy to determine if the dysplasia still exists. Apparently 90% of non-smoking patients are cured following one treatment, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Assuming everything is okay after that, I'll continue to have paps every 6 months until I'm in the clear.

I'm a sensitive gal, and I left the hospital crying. I calmed down a bit after having lunch with my sweet friend Becki, but then spent the afternoon feeling sad and sorry for myself. I wasn't in pain (until later), but the whole thing had happened so quickly and suddenly and it definitely wasn't how I expected my day to go. 


It was all just a lot to process, and while I reassured myself that it's great that this is all being looked after so efficiently, it's really scary to think about the idea that it might be something more serious. The comments and emails and texts I received after my last post reminded me that so many people I know have gone through similar roads and treatments and I feel incredibly supported by the awesome people around me. I'm just a little startled, scared and sensitive after an unexpected series of events on what started off as a really great Wednesday. 

I'm beginning my Thursday with some little sister time and a yoga class... here's to a better day and positive test results to come... 


Just Magic - More NYC tales

All three of my trips to NYC in the last year have felt pretty magical. The first was special because it was the first and a boy who I was dating at the time took me. The second was so incredible because I was there on my own, doing whatever I wanted, in the middle of a Hurricane. This last trip was totally what I needed at that exact moment.

I found myself at the very beginning of summer without a job and questioning what I wanted to do with my days, summer and well, life. The decision to go on a whim was perfect and as I closed my eyes on my first night in New York I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. I had a day and a half in the city to do whatever I wanted before heading to my first class on Friday night. I had a few objectives: see friends, eat good food, visit old favourites, make new favourites and see a show. Somehow on a random May Thursday in New York, I managed to do all of that.


I started with lunch at Quintessence. Quintessence has been on my NYC eats spreadsheet for awhile, but for  whatever reason, I hadn't gone there in the two previous trips. One of my tips for eating a little more inexpensively in New York is to check out restaurants at lunch, as it's usually less expensive and many restaurants have lunch specials. Quintessence is no exception. I had an Indian influenced lunch combo with squash noodles, a curry sauce and mango chutney. It was a pretty delicious combination of flavors, although surprisingly I wasn't super impressed with the mango chutney. It was almost too sweet and the texture was confusing. I was glad I went at lunch as the restaurant was small and I managed to score a sweet seat by the window for some high quality people watching.

My next stop was all my favourite places in and around Soho. Babycakes was a must and I treated myself to a kick ass donut and sandwich cookie.



Both were out of this world divine. While I love the gluten free and vegan bakeries that we have in Toronto, nothing compares to Babycakes.


I also made a stop at Harney & Sons where I caught up with Emeric Harney and scored some awesome tea. The fact that Emeric remembers me each time I go makes me really happy and he's gotten to know my tea preferences (or he's just a wizard) and I always leave with some amazing new things to steep. This time it was Blood Orange, Love Life and a Chamomile Lavender blend.


I also got to have a quicky catch up with my awesome friend Sheryl in Bryant Park.


Our time together is always hilarious and I was so glad we were both able to squeeze in a visit! 




I had to see a show while I was in town and I really wanted that show to be Once. It is one of my very favourite movies and the music makes my heart really happy. I had gone down to TKTS in the afternoon only to be told that there was obstructed view. I froze and didn't really know what to do. I only had time to see one show, but didn't want to be disappointed if I couldn't see half the show, but I also knew that it had been nominated for a whole whack of Tonys and it was likely that it would be even harder to get tickets down the road. I decided to take a chance on it and was so happy that I did.


The show was unbelievable. It was everything I had hoped for and more. The story and the music were brought to life in the theatrical setting. The story was distilled to make it more palatable to be onstage. All of the actors played instruments which added an incredible element to the show. The performances of the ensemble and especially Steve Kazee and Cristin Milioti were nothing short of magical and brought the story to life in ways I couldn't have even imagined. And I got to tell them that after the show at the stage door. 




The cast signed my program and I got to tell them how much I loved it. I told Cristin about my favourite moment in the show (a really beautiful acting moment at the very end) and chatted with Steve a bit too. They're both incredible performers and seem like really lovely people. Nothing like meeting people who inspire you creatively at the beginning of a really epic weekend of performing! It was the perfect end to seeing the show and made the experience that much more awesome. I was over the moon thrilled when they won 8 Tonys the following week, and Steve's acceptance speech had me bawling my eyes out. 


As I write this, I can't believe how much I managed to squeeze into just a day in the city. I think if this had been my only day in NYC I would have gone home a happy gal, but there was so much more than this in the weekend that followed. More to come!! 


And if you haven't already, go see Once. And if you can't get to New York, at least see the movie... 

Popsicles for Ashley

Ashley was coming over for a lunch date yesterday and I promised her popsicles. 

I posted the link to my Summer of Popsicles Pinterest board and asked her to weigh in on which she preferred. She gave me a few options and I decided on the mango-kiwi-raspberry ones. We had a super yummy lunch, and amid our epic chat enjoyed some delicious popsicles for dessert. We also discovered that popsicles make great fuel for cabaret discussions. Oh yes, the next one is coming. 


They were awesome. Ashley even quipped that they were like "an f-ing orgasm in [her] mouth" - I don't disagree. I tweaked the recipe a bit, subbing agave for the simple syrup and only using it in the kiwi and raspberry segments and didn't really wait as long as the recipe called for before pouring in the next fruit puree. Yes, I'm getting cocky with my popsicle making, but if these guys are any indication, I'm getting pretty freakin' good at it. 

We've both been busy and haven't had a lot of time to recharge together, so yesterday was really important to both of us. She's such a big part of my life, and when we don't see one another for a little while I feel a bit incomplete and off. She's someone I bounce ideas off of, a person who makes me laugh about the most ridiculous things, someone I can count on when I'm down and the person who goes off on tangents even worse than my own. (Yesterday it had to do with sperm whales and then sperm and whales). When she's not around I just feel disconnected and I really don't like that. 

We talked a bit about an article I had tweeted yesterday that discussed why it's harder to make friends as we grow older and it reinforced why I feel so lucky to have such an amazing group of friends like Ash, my Jessie and my Melly in my life. They've been with me through a lot, and know the back story to the back story and sometimes I feel like they know me better than I do myself. I feel so blessed to have them as a part of my life. This does not discredit the relationships that I've built and established more recently, as I am incredibly thankful for them as well (and they are awesome!), but there is something truly unique and special about those friends who have known you the longest. 

Sometimes life just calls for simple things - amazing friends (who sometimes share your name), popsicles and epic conversations in the sunroom. 

Thoughts on making friends as you grow older? What do you think the difference is (if any)? Do you feel differently about the friends that have known you for ages or the ones you've made more recently?

UberSwap = All kinds of awesome

Nathalie-Roze and Co. is definitely one of my favourite shops to visit in Leslieville. Nathalie-Roze has created an amazing mix of old and new fashion with stellar accessories and gift items. We chat regularly on the Twitter and a few months ago I was excited that I was finally able to attend my first über-SWAP on a rainy Saturday morning. 

The premise of über-swap is simple. It's a clothing swap, where participants drop off clothes they no longer want/need/wear. The gals of NR&co organize them and for $6 (in advance) or $10 (at the door) you're able to leave with a bag of goodies. It's like getting together with a group of friends for a clothing swap, except on a much larger scale (75+ participants?) with everything that is left over being donated. It's a great way to clean out your closet and find some awesome new pieces, while being eco-friendly and hanging with other awesome gals in the heart of Leslieville. 

Not gonna lie, I was kinda overwhelmed at the event I attended. I love vintage and finding great pieces to add to my wardrobe, but tend to like smaller, more curated shops rather than trying to fight through the masses at Value Village. über-swap is not for the faint at heart, but I braved it. I wish I had photos of the event, but I was too busy sorting through piles upon piles of clothing to even try. I brought two large bags of clothes from my closet that I no longer wear and left with 4 dresses. Now, that might not seem like much, but part of the reason I attended über-swap was to get rid of clothes, not necessarily come home with just as much. I have a pretty large wardrobe (with a whole lot of dresses) so my haul was the right amount for me and I'm absolutely loving what I found, especially since it was all for just $10! 

 

I wore one of the dresses I got for the first time yesterday. I got rid of the straps, added a belt and it was the perfect summer outfit. Pretty sweet. 

Nathalie-Roze is hosting their next über-swap on Thursday July 19. Advance tickets are no longer on sale, but you're able to arrive at the event with your bag of castaways and pay $10 at the door. I've been told that the summer swap is a little less crazy since it is outdoors and they're also offering refreshments to those who attend. Who doesn't love an evening of awesome ladies, cleaning out your closet whilst scoring fab new clothes with some yummy treats? Nathalie-Roze has also been known to throw some great pieces from the shop into the mix, so keep your eyes peeled! Check out the event page for some rules, tips and details on the location and timing and be sure to let me know if you find anything awesome!

Nine reasons to see RARE at Toronto Fringe

Nicholas
Suzanne
Krystal
Sarah
Nada
James
Dylan
Andreas
and
Michael

These nine artists comprise the ensemble of RARE and along with Director Judith Thompson, have put together a beautiful show about their life experiences, loves, frustrations, thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams. The ensemble glows with glorious honesty and conviction as they give the audience a chance to see life from their perspective. Ms. Thompson has incorporated text from Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson and William Blake among their monologues and scenes and Victoria Carr provides sweet music to accompany the actors as they move through the piece. 

And yes, all nine actors happen to have Down Syndrome.

Nada speaks four languages. Suzanne loves to dance. Dylan wants to go to theatre school. Each of the nine actors are charming, genuine and compelling onstage and come together to support one another as a cohesive ensemble. Many of their stories ring familiar for the audience - dealing with roommates, looking for love, losing a parent, family dysfunction, working multiple jobs - and they do a wonderful job of keeping the audience right there with them. Krystal's plea to expectant mothers who find out that they are carrying a baby with Down Syndrome will definitely stay with me for a long time. (There are 500 babies born in Canada with Down Syndrome each year, but the abortion rates for babies identified with DS in prenatal testing are said to be at least 90%)

I'm so thankful that I got to see this show and have been raving about it to anyone who will listen. The sold out crowds at Fringe definitely seem to agree that it's a show worth seeing. It will move you from start to finish, thanks to nine compelling artists who are truly rare.

Remaining shows - Tarragon Mainspace

Tuesday July 10, 2012 @ 8:45pm
Friday July 13, 2012 @ 7:00pm
Saturday July 14, 2012 @ 2:15pm


Ashlicles filled with Lemongrass, Apricots, Ginger and Love

I'm terrible at making rice.

It seems like a really silly thing to be bad at, but I swear I'm awful. The last guy I dated was always in charge of making rice if we were having it with dinner. In spite of this, these apricot rice pudding popsicles sounded so delicious that I decided to try and get over my ridiculous rice cooking apprehensions. 


Apricot Rice Pudding Popsicles 
(inspired by bon appetit
gluten free & vegan

1 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
1 cup coconut milk
1 lemongrass stalk, outer layer removed, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (mine came from sweet Lisa's travels!)
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp short grain rice
1/3 cup 1/4" pieces dried organic apricots
1/8 cup agave

Instructions
Combine non-dairy milk, coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger, and water in a medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring to a boil; remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, place rice and 1/2 cup water in a small bowl; let stand for 10 minutes (to soften and release some starch). Drain.
Strain coconut-milk mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a saucepan. Add rice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer (try to keep the stirring to a minimum so things don't get too starchy) until rice is very tender, 30-35 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Stir in apricots and agave. Transfer mixture to a large glass measuring cup to divide mixture among popsicle molds. You will need to spoon the rice and apricots into the molds. Freeze until firm and then enjoy.


Yields 4-6 popsicles depending on the size of your molds


So much deliciousness! I swear, coconut milk in popsicles is making my whole summer infinitely better. And the lemongrass and coconut (and mango I was eating while I was making them) reminded me of St. Lucia

Coming next week - NYC post (I promise!) plus all sorts of Fringe fun!