Today’s musings

I’ve been away for a while.

May came and went in a blur. I had so much to blog about but I just never got around doing it.

We did go to the Canadian Swing Championships and we did win a bunch of stuff, as usual.

At CSC 2013

At CSC 2013

We (my daughter, her boyfriend and I) did go to California. It was my daughter’s Mother’s Day/Birthday gift to me!

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I had a nice little break.

It felt good.

But now, it’s back to the daily grind.

The anxiety bouts that started about a year ago are now reaching alarming levels.

I recently wrote a post on Canvas about it: Is this what getting better mean?

Unfortunately, I am facing a few challenges right now. Both life and work related.

The old monster is awake and threatening to break free. My last two therapy sessions were rather painful and I am really not looking forward to the next one.

There are some good news. Like my trip to California in two weeks. My daughter and her boyfriend are going to a wedding in Sacramento and it just so happened that they got hired to be part of a commercial being shot that week in San Francisco. So, as a mother’s day present, she’s bringing me with her! We’re spending the week in San Francisco and the weekend in Sacramento, where I’ll get to go to the famous Sacramento Music Festival.

I am very much looking forward to it. I keep reminding myself of this. I keep telling myself it’s going to be great. San Francisco is in my Bucket List and I still can’t believe I’m going.

But I feel myself losing my footing. Slowly slipping.

The sadness. The pain in my stomach.

The darkness that lurks just around the corner.

The bad dreams.

I haven’t lost hope just yet.

But I am terrified.

Uncharted Territory

This is a very interesting period of my life.

OK, perhaps interesting is not the right word but the scientist in me can’t help but be intrigued by the in-congruence of it all.

So many difficult things happening, you’d think I would panic and freeze. And yet I am not doing that.

They say hope comes when least expected.

And what do you know, hope has come to knock on my door.

Since I am a sensible person, I have decided to let hope in and make herself at home.

But wait, it gets better: Hope, the dear heart that she is, invited a friend along. And now, not only I have hope but also a desire to live.

Nothing short of a miracle, if you ask me.

I’m going into uncharted territory.

Wish me luck.


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Swing Dancing saves lives (or at least mine, anyway)

You may or may not know that I have an MD degree.  You may or may not know that I also suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  I am not gonna lie to you, going through med school was painful – literally and figuratively. And it took me 8 years instead of the usual 6 because some semesters I’d have to take less courses.  I also fought a few good fights against the system but that’s material for another post.  All I am saying for now is that I’ve been called a shit disturber.  I am proud of it :)

In the end, against all odds, I graduated.  Then I came to Canada only to discover my degree was not valid here.  Since I wasn’t that interested in practicing medicine I didn’t care that much.

Let me give you some background here. Even before I applied to med school, I knew that what I really wanted to do was research so since my first year I started volunteering at the immunology lab.  Some “summers” (There are no seasons in Colombia, so I am talking about the vacations between school years) I would go and do some sort of internship at some of the best institutes in the country. I did my internship in Molecular Biology, Genetics and Biotechnology.

So, naturally, when I came here I figured the best way to get into the system was to do a PhD.  I applied and was accepted into the Cellular and Molecular Medicine program at the University of Ottawa.  I got a super awesome project and a really cool lab.  I won’t go into details here but it was on Cancer research and it was pretty cool.  My life was perfect!  I was truly happy.  My dreams were finally coming through.

And then I got sick

I started having these weird neurological symptoms like breaking things and stuff.  I’ve always been rather clumsy but this was more serious.  And lab equipment, in case you didn’t know is fracking expensive.  Screwing up micropipettes that cost a grand to re-calibrate is generally frown upon.  Or breaking electrophoresis chambers, for that matter.  You get the drill.

At some point, MS was even being considered.  Thank god the MRI came back normal. In the mean time I had a nervous breakdown and became very depressed.  Eventually, I had to take a medical leave.  Since I was an A+ student, my academic advisor told me I could come back whenever I wanted, even if it took me 5 years. But my world was shattered.  My dream of becoming a professor, having my own lab and grad students became just that again, nothing more than a dream.  And I LOVE teaching.

But! Fortunately for me, I had already had that magical adventure that was my Trip to the Bookstore. Swing Dancing gave me a reason to keep going.  I was given another chance to grow, to learn, to meet wonderful people and to teach.  Sure it’s not the high thrill of the academia (I pretty much said good-bye to my aspirations to win a Nobel prize *wink* ) but it is very rewarding nonetheless.

Yeah, it’s been quite the trip. In 2007 I went on to win Silver medal with the Dynamite Girls at the Canadian Swing Championships.  And I have a few other titles under my belt.

I can’t imagine my life without dancing.  And I am sure the best is yet to come! :)