hello, there. again.

It’s been months, literally months since I’ve written here. Probably because I’m writing other places on the internet. So here I am, wrapping up May after I haven’t written since January 30th. I have half written posts around on adventures since then, and words that have been published elsewhere (aka asthma.net). And some things that’ll never see the internet, shitty circumstances where I was somewhat stabbed in the back where I’d trusted someone and then had to clean up a mess they made–which was even more mentally time consuming than physically time consuming (if that’s even a way to explain time, in a physical sense). 

March, April, May even have involved airplanes and time invested and spent and wasted and given. 

I’ve gotten really sucked into podcasts which take more time than I realize–and I am smarter if not necessarily better for it. I’m thinking of going back to school and taking, no word of a lie, political science, even though prior to six or so months ago I had no interest in politics although I’ve been strong on voting since I could vote. At the start of May I was in Ottawa for World Asthma Day, in April, I was in Palo Alto to present at Stanford Medicine X | ED, and in March, I was in St Louis, Chicago, Washington DC, Philadelphia and Toronto on a whirlwind adventure that happened t settle around two conferences.  

Here are some (a lot, but only a sample) pictures.

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[Also I can’t figure out what I’m doing so to see the flickr album if it doesn’t load, click here.]

Not to say there wasn’t more.

There surely was.

But without writing everything down–whether here or in a journal–I’m living through Facebook and instagram and Twitter and a camera, and being in the moment, but maybe not translating that into reconstructable memories as readily. And maybe that’s okay but I think maybe I want that to change too. 

So here I am again.
Back.
Hopefully more intentionally. (Therapy.)

Because I’m getting closer–checking my Fitbit, logging nutrition with myfitnesspal (for five days now), and I actually rode the stationary bike the other day.
Now I’m writing.
Next is meditation.

Getting back to who I really am. And some (small bit of) routine.

hello, 2017.

Hello, 2017. Hello, blog. 

I want to blog more this year. And read 50 books and watch 17 movies and write more things and learn Braille and also find more work (yay!). So I don’t know where the time for the blogging will come, but I’d like to post weekly. We’ll see how that goes.

http://i0.wp.com/farm1.staticflickr.com/418/32177559155_8c2c527c4f.jpg?resize=400%2C500&ssl=1January 1. As usual (except because I was sick last year and we delayed New Years Eve partying) I started 2017 at the Epp’s. Trish gave us pie before they went out, which we ate after midnight. We played Say Anything and Cards Against Humanity and Tom and I read parts of books that he got for Christmas. Because we are nerds?
As usual we also went to Jack Pott’s on New Year’s Day. Sadly, Dean won the annual air hockey game.

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January 2. My mom and I went to bingo but apparently Share the Wealth bingo is weird. Anyways, we played penny slots after so of course I spent some quality time with Groovy Louie. I only ended up spending $19 of the $25 I put in so I consider that a win for like an hour and a half of entertainment.

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January 3. Well, that’s a good mail day (after a fun day with Dean and Jackie at Kawaii Crepe and wandering the Village.)

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I got a 3Doodler for Christmas but it jammed and was super terrible to get the maintenance cover back on so I took it back and got a Scribbler.

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So I made Dean and Jackie things. Yay!

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I also got a package from the National Foundation for Transplant regarding Steve’s lung transplant fundraising. (More to come!)

January 4. Dean and Jackie and I went for lunch with my mom, aunt and cousin Alyssa. Dean and Jackie and I went to visit my grandma. Here are pretty trees down her street that Jackie and I stopped to take a picture of.

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Then that evening I used my new donut pans from Lindee to make chai donuts. They were delicious.

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January 5. I did some work (what is work?!) and then went to get Dean’s oil changed with him and Jackie (exciting details, I know). Lindee made dinner including some of the best mac and cheese ever. EVAH.

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These darn kids are going back to Minneapolis and I think they should just stay here.

January 6.

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After a bunch of really cold days, -16 feels like a heatwave where I just about like, melted in the mall en route to work. I was tempted to take my jacket off but I settled for unzipping it and my hoodie. After work, we went to the light show which, like last year, was rad. 

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 January 7.

 

First cupcake of 2017 only took 7 days. And it’s basically the prettiest damn cupcake I’ve ever had. And, it was from Save On Foods at that. 
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Miguel also threw a surprise party for my cousin Jenn’s birthday tonight, and while I was too busy eating that cake (Jeanne cake = best), but the cupcake really symbolizes that pretty well, too.

See ya next week! (Maybe even tomorrow, but… maybe.)

2016: a recap thing.

I’ve had so many adventures this year which didn’t all get captured on the blog. I’ll try to do that better next year, I guess. While I’m trying to watch 17 movies (it is a stretch, okay?) and whatnot. Now that I’ve finished reading 40 books this year (goal = crushed two days early!), here’s a bit of a recap of shenanigans and adventures of 2016.

January.
Dean and I finally wen to the Royal Canadian Mint. It’s odd that you can live a place that makes the country’s money your whole life and have it take until your mid-twenties to actually go visit the Mint. I was getting over a bug on New Years Eve so I stayed home, and thus my friends and I had Fake New Years Eve the next week.  At the end of the month, we headed to Montreal for the Montreal Invitational Goalball Tournament. It was a great learning experience—the “Goalball family” is truly a thing, and we were fortunate to have some excellent teams and players who stayed on court after the game and gave us some pointers! 
Oh right, I also sliced my middle finger open with scissors while trying to cut a cardboard box three days before going to Montreal, so I had to go to the ER for stitches. Unlike my other ER visits of the past, three stitches are a Normal People Reason to go to the ER. Then I traveled with stitches in my finger for 6 days, it was great. (Not. Although it was funny because my signature always looked worse than normal on score sheets and I determined I could not decline any penalties because it would look like i was giving the official the finger…)

February.
From Montreal, Steve, Guide Dog Murray I jumped on a train to Ottawa, opting to postpone our return flight a few days and instead fly home from Ottawa—why not? It was actually cheaper! We booked into the Residence & Conference Centre at St. Paul’s University and had a two-bedroom apartment for the couple of nights we spent in Ottawa. My friend Sara picked us up from the train and showed us MLTDWN, a grilled cheese place in Rideau Centre we ate at at least two more times while we were there. We toured Parliament (Murray was sad that he didn’t see Justin Trudeau), ate far too many Beaver Tails (for non-Canadians, those are pastry with delicious things on them), and tried to go to the Supreme Court but a guy opened the door and told us that Court was closed for a party. Apparently, and sadly, we were not allowed to join the party at the Supreme Court. On our last morning there, we went for yet another Beaver Tail after all of Ottawa had become a skating rink due to ice storms or some such, and then we visited my friend Jason before Ubering to the hotel and then to the airport.

Somehow Steve and I then ended up in Toronto at the end of February for the Canadian Blind Sports Goalball Coaching Clinic (thanks, Manitoba Blind Sports and Coaching Manitoba!). We were among the first group of trained goalball competition coaches in the country, which is pretty cool. Of course, upon arriving in Toronto, we headed down to Yonge/College to meet my friend Jamie for lunch. Also we stayed at the Urban Oasis, the Don Valley Hotel (for my first but not last time this year!), and discovered that the only thing there was nearby to eat that we didn’t need to drive to was a Tim Hortons. So our food expenses were quite low. After the clinic, Kyle from Ontario Blind Sport drove us back to the hotel, and we took an Uber to the nearest(-ish?) subway station, then headed across the city to the airport. We dumped our stuff, and grabbed an (expensive, thanks airport fee!) uber to a restaurant 5 minutes away to meet Dia for dinner at Jack Astor’s (also the first but not last time I’d go to Jack Astor’s this year!)

March.
March brought us back to Minneapolis for a long weekend away and to visit Dean. I think I made two trips to Punch, one with my mom, aunt, and Dean (and Derek?) and one with Heather and Scott (and service dog Becca!). We also went to Cossetta market and I ate desserts for breakfast and made a couple trips to Caribou Coffee. On Easter morning we had to go water the concrete canoe that Dean was helping build (yes, water the canoe. You read that right.), and I found this free book shelf (like shelf of free books) in the Civil Engineering building so I took one about earthquake simulation which I should probably read. We went to Eli’s for breakfast where I had the greatest parfait of ever. After that, we headed to Annandale, to have Easter lunch (dinner? something.) with Dean’s girlfriend Jackie’s family. Either before or after lunch we made a stop in Albertville to shop, and then returned home via Fargo.

April.
In April, Assistant Coach Jessica, Steve, Gerry, TJ and I headed to Quebec City for Goalball Nationals. We picked up our fourth player, Clement, from BC (I mean, he flew in with his other team and then hung with us and played for Team Toba). We had a tiny plane with no in-seat power on the way from Ottawa to Quebec City and also row 13 was at the front so we assumed there was no in-seat power because we didn’t want to drain the battery, per Steve. From Winnipeg to Ottawa, TJ got moved to first class and did not like it since he was far away form everyone. 

Quebec City was interesting, as I do not speak any French and we were outside downtown/The Old City where people are more tolerant of non-French-speakers. Thankfully, Jessica speaks French, so does Clem (on top of like 3+ other languages aside from English) and was able to do things like assist us ordering McDonalds and such. Also I’m a jerk coach and in both Montreal and Quebec City would not let anybody get poutine until we were done playing because that is not fuelling for performance. We played some hard games, and got ourselves 3 points on the scoreboard against Quebec in one game which is excellent for us—we are working on it! Sadly, the tournament ends our playing season for the year, so we go home and don’t get to play goalball again for nearly 6 months.

May.
I was home for like a week, and then jumped back on a plane and headed back to Toronto for the Asthma Society of Canada’s National Asthma Patient Alliance meeting and the ASC’s annual conference, this year on severe asthma. I went in a day early and met up with Annette and Alies at Women’s College Hospital where we chatted patient advocacy for awhile, and then Annette and her husband drove me up to my Airbnb on Avenue Road. My host was super freaking cool, a music teacher who uses the apartment as her teaching studio on weekdays and rents from Thursday through Monday—her own apartment is two floors up. While I had some snafus with Uber trying to get back over to Yonge and College during morning rush hour (oops), I managed to make my Monday morning coffee date with Michal Kapral. You may know Michal from such commercials as The guy who juggles and runs (called joggling) in that Fairfield by Marriott commercial).
At the meetings, conference and gala dinner, I reconnected with a lot of fellow patient advocates, as well as Dr. Vethanayagam from University of Alberta (whom I’ve been assisting with a research study on impact of primary care access on asthma control in Canada – have asthma? Let’s get you hooked up with the study).

Because I can’t do anything normal, I stayed an extra couple nights in Toronto, visited Humbercrest United Church and my friend Jess on Sunday, we went for pizza and wandered Bloor Street, and then went to another hotel for the night. I grabbed a shuttle to Pearson in the morning, and flew off to Minneapolis, otherwise I’d just have been driving there with my aunt and grandma 2 days later anyways (like Ottawa, it was cheaper to fly there actually). I spent a night at a hotel by Mall of America, and wandered the Mall by myself for like four hours, which was the only real way of amusing myself. I headed over to the UMN campus for the next few days, where I crashed on an air mattress at Dean’s apartment (I had my own room, AKA the study, while the boys that live there have to share, ha ha). Since it was end of term and all, they were busy with projects and stuff, except for Derek basically so he and I watched some show with conservation officers arresting people for fishing without licenses or whatnot (I don’t recall the name, of course), and I wandered campus and ate at Mesa Pizza by myself and ordered a $4 Chipotle kids meal online which was pretty sweet for $4, and spent too much money at CVS. My aunt and grandma drove down for Dean’s grad on Friday, and the grad party at Jackie’s apartment on Saturday (and dinner with Jackie’s family on Thursday, and other shenanigans). Honestly, I contemplated tacking a trip onto California here, too, but instead I drove back from Minneapolis with Dean. Seemed less expensive ;).

June.
June and July sadly did not involve any airplanes, but I did spend a fair bit of time out at the cabin so not all was lost. 😉 We got some kayaks in June, fulfilling a long-term goal. Hooray kayaks!

July.
While also no airplanes, I spent a week out at the cabin in July, and did a ton of writing (mostly work, evidently from this blog).

August.
August is more of a What I Did On My Summer Vacation type month. Steve managed to get tickets to the last Tragically Hip show in Winnipeg, which was killer and amazing and sad all at the same time, but mostly amazing. A week and a half later friend Jess (the same one who is the minister at the church in Toronto and the one who is not Assistant Coach Jessica. Life is confusing, I know, I have accidentally texted things relating to ministry to the wrong Jessica.) and I went on an adventure to Alberta to see dinosaurs and eat pizza. We took cardboard Jesus with us, and He seems to have led us into adventures including being invited to and attending a corporate party we were probably not actually supposed to be at in Lethbridge, finding this town that evidently revolves around its Bible College and has a lot of… um… interesting bible-related items in its dollar store, which was raved about to us by the lady at the front desk at our hotel—which was the Best Western Diamond Inn—and we maybe could not actually stop giggling the whole time we were in that dollar store (which repeated the next day when we got invited to the corporate party and then saw the guy in the cowboy hat who invited us AS THE ELEVATOR DOOR WAS CLOSING so we had to restrain ourselves for a moment). The Bible College Town, AKA Three Hills, did indeed have Three Hills (“It’s down the street where I live,” were the directions given to us by the lady in the grocery store… Which was beside the Dollar Store and across the street from the Restaurant With The Funny Tasting Water which we determined from Google and the Alberta Health Service got its funny taste from uranium… Yes… and was still safe?). Other proper gems in Three Hills were the IDA store (it was fascinating and had literally everything and I bought a pizza box there), and this gift store book store thing where I bought a copy of On The Road by Jack Kerouac which we assume was taken away from Bible School kids because it was the racy version or something. I got it for $4. I’ve still yet to read it.

I really have to do a proper blog post about Alberta because we had so many weird stories, and I haven’t even mentioned any of the pizza we ate or the dinosaurs or whatever. Jess and I are going to do a podcast about that but we’re kind of bad at coordination. I’ll tell you all more about Alberta one day, because it was epic. We also saw my friend Danielle, and watched the last Tragically Hip show live at Olympic Plaza in Calgary, where we bounced from the outdoor showing to to the Hyatt we were staying in (thanks, Hotels.com rewards!) and such, and sat on the grass with a bunch of Albertans and celebrated The Hip—our country’s band, with the rest of our country.
Yeah, that’s right America and everywhere else: our country basically shut down for a concert. This is why Canada is friggen amazing. <3

September.
In September, I started the month puppy-sitting my bud Guide Dog Murray while Steve went to the reserve for a sweat. We went out to the lake for the day, and then he just mostly sat around at my feet and/or on my feet for the rest of the weekend and we went for random wanders.
Steve was also accepted as an ePatient Scholar to the MedicineX conference at Stanford. By some miracle, and thanks to Swan Lake First Nation and MedX, I was able to attend with him as his guide. I mean, of course Murray came, too. While MedX was very different from previous years, we met a lot of amazing people, reconnected with Dia (and in my case, Bill—both were ePatient Scholars), as well as several other ePatient scholars I’d met before or knew online that it felt like it wasn’t our first time meeting. On the first day of the conference, Steve had been selected to attend the IDEO Design Challenge—we spent the morning touring the IDEO design firm building in Palo Alto, and the late morning and afternoon creating and prototyping our designs and then presenting them—you can watch our group’s video here (by the way, that is the most high pressure editing I’ve EVER done).
We also met up with asthma app developer Yang, who is working on OurBreeze, a really cool asthma tracking app that is actually integrating really useful features. On our last night, Bill, Steve and I pulled an all nighter because who wants to sleep when you have to leave at 4 AM for your flight? Nooope! 
Both on the way there and back, Steve and I flew through Minneapolis, so we got to meet up with Heather a couple times who works at MSP. Murray got to meet service dog Becca, but they were both well behaved and didn’t really react to one another too much. 

September wrapped up with the Manitoba Blind Sport demo day, where I helped lead a session on goalball (and probably recruited a new player, hopefully!) and did some fundamental movement skills activities with kids, and the help of some students from the University of Winnipeg. You know, another one of those days where I take a stack of hula hoops on the bus—that’s my life alright.

October.
I think I spent all of October blogging for ADHD/LD awareness month, as well as planking and meditating. And probably working. I also got my flu shot at Special O practice, and helped with a wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis demo for rehab medicine residents, which was super fun.

November.
November was Nanowrimo, and also it basically just happened. I unexpectedly, on about 5 days notice, ended up in Toronto again for a conference thing, and Bill and Dia were there. It’s wild that I not only saw Dia four times this year, but that I also saw Bill three times! On World Diabetes Day, I flew into Toronto and had lunch with my friend Jamie, who has type 1 diabetes, which was purely coincidence but we did have matchy blue on! From there, I took my stuff to the Indigo Starbucks where I did not even need to use my iPhone to navigate thank you very much, and camped out and did work until Dia popped up to hang out and have coffee and then we went to have delicious vegetarian things at a cute little restaurant that we managed to get seated at right away. Then Dia ensured Bill and I found each other in a subway station (which was apparently confusing and good that Dia was there for directions). Bill and I found a greek restaurant (where I ate baclava still full from the veggie burger I’d had earlier) in Greektown, and then a Shoppers Drug Mart so he could buy soda water (I tried to buy snacks and then didn’t buy snacks) and then Ubered it over to… The Don Valley Hotel (!!) which was apparently very confusing for our Uber driver. The next day we attended the event and tweeted up a storm, and then Bill took his tweeting up a notch, and did his first twitter chat, the #hcldr chat on Pharmacare, in Jack Astor’s (!!). I had this delicious brownie stuffed in a cookie thing as well as fries and I cheese pan bread because we were there forever commandeering a booth for like 8 for 3 people because we were hopeful people would join us for a tweetup. (Spoiler alert: They didn’t, except Dia.) 
Jenna from the ASC was also at the event, and I will confess that we started making buzzword bingo cards and playing during sessions since they weren’t exactly patient focused… Fortunately, I had the giant Lucky Charms Sandwich Cookie that Dia brought me from cake & loaf bakery to keep me full of deliciousness and sugar. (Seriously it took me three sittings to eat that thing, so friggen good.)
After the event, I trekked friggen across Toronto in rush hour to a hotel by the airport (I’ve stayed in too many hotels, I can’t remember which). A least this time, unlike in May, the subway was not out for maintenance requiring use of shuttle buses, because that was terrible. I paid $16 or something to get mozza sticks on Skip the Dishes (which by the way I did not expense, because I recognize that ridiculousness) and bought stuff from the vending machines and then the next day discovered that the donut shop I’d seen on Google Maps was literally behind my hotel, but it was dark when I arrived so yeeeah. Dia and I did late breakfast, and then she dropped me at Kipling Station where I got on a train and realized I didn’t have a transfer so I got off of it before it moved and managed to get back on. Then I made my way from Jane to Humbercrest to meet Jess. We went to some adorable shops on Jane Street and then headed to Queen Margherita Pizza for lunch and it was lovely. She also gave me gifts from Korea which were super fun and adorable! <3 (I took her a chip dip donut which seems questionable but I just wanted SOMEONE to try one and she was my lady! So um yeah she wins in the gift giving department :).)

While I got kind of lost when I got to Pearson (heyyo getting off the bus at the wrong terminal!) there was all of one person ahead of me in the NEXUS line so I got through that bit super quick. Then it took me approximately a year to find my gate because I honestly thought it was just down a flight of stairs but it was down a flight then down a hall and up and down and up and down and etc and then I finally found it by a Booster Juice which I HAD BEEN LOOKING FOR.

  Trying to find gate B3. Still don’t know if B6 even exists. B3 was down many escalators and moving walkways and up many escalators. Pearson is weird. (November 17)

So hooray! Otherwise I just wrote all month basically. 

December.
I’ve done not a lot of note in December, I think. There’s been a lot of snow so it makes the outdoors unattractive (actually, it’s been fairly nice, so it just makes walking to the bus stop REALLY hard, especially as my bus stop is like ten minutes away). I’ve gone to our two proper non-chain donut shops in the city, had work scaled back a bit, signed a new contract (yay and also hit me up if you are looking for a writer for anything!). Steve, Gerry and I did a goalball demo for the Sport Manitoba staff which was super fun. I finished my work for the month early because who wants to work at Christmastime?
I got a 3Doodler 3D Pen for Christmas but it kept jamming so we took it back and I ordered a Scribbler on Amazon, which should be here next week. When it worked, the 3Doodler was lots of fun, so hopefully the Scribbler is equally fun (and with cheaper plastic and less jamming FTW). Dean got Settlers of Catan for Christmas so I got to play Catan for the first time and it is quite fun. 

And while I probably missed a few things, that’s been the year mostly. At least the good of it—which there was a lot of. I mean, I’m happiest when I’m flying, and 2016 had me chalk up 18 flights (I couldn’t figure out how to get it up to 20, well without doing something stupid like flying to Toronto via Calgary or some nonsense.)

Of course, I did not expect much of this out of 2016… Curious to see what 2017 brings!

(Also, pictures to come when I can actually get Facebook to connect to a collage maker thing. AKA when I have patience.)

people + things: processing MedicineX 2016

I always set alarms. Even if I go to bed with no need to get up and an alarm set for 11 am, I always set alarms so SleepCycle does its magic. Last night, I fell asleep amidst the beginning #MedXHangover, without setting an alarm. Ten hours later (I woke up a few times, briefly), Fitbit informed me I went to bed at 11:13 pm, and slept for exactly ten hours. That’s what happens when on the last night of Stanford MedicineX, fellow Canadian, Bill Swan, has a brilliant idea and we stayed awake all night mind mapping while waiting for our 3:55 AM shuttle to the airport, along with Steve—the reason I was at MedicineX in the first place, to be his guide—and Guide Dog Murray (who did not stay up all night because that dog does not even stay up all day.)

I got out of bed, to finish watching my friend Ryan’s documentary about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Forgotten Plague, with my MedX mug beside me, in use for the first time.

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Ryan and I met in 2014 at MedX, and I had the privilege of watching an unfinished cut of the film back then—it’s amazing, and even more so to see the transformation within the documentary. Go watch it.

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Ryan and I on Sunday night by the pool.

I then tried to put my jeans on inside out and was almost successful, and then emptied my pockets of the dollar bills that accumulated there (like pennies, this Canadian can’t stand dollar bills).

 

“We probably look like hobos.” –Bill. #medx #brainstorming #allnighter

A photo posted by kerri (@kerriontheprairies) onSep 19, 2016 at 1:32am PDT

I’ve failed in the past at adequately summarizing MedicineX on my blog: it is too big for the words that I have, as I said in this video. So instead, this time, I will attempt with a bullet point list, in no particular order. I don’t have a good track record over the last 4 years and 2 MedicineX conferences I’ve attended of expanding on the stories much, but maybe this way I can have some hope.

  • Canadians.
    Back in 2014, Rachel and I started up the #MedXEh hashtag for our fellow Canadians to share in the story with us, from the Canadian perspective. This year, I met so many more Canadians in the past, and not just patients. I am looking forward to grabbing coffee with Dr. Greg Schmidt from here in Winnipeg (represent!), and connecting again with Bill and Amos from MemoText next time I am in Toronto, after learning about the technology they are working on for asthma management. Canadian Mental Health advocate Mark Freeman and I will, I am sure, have some good chats in the future. I am happy to have found so many people from this country, this healthcare system, engaging in this discussion.

    http://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8155/29736868321_e67c586326.jpg?resize=500%2C375&ssl=1Thanks to Uber Driver Sean for pulling over to snap this shot of Dia, Bill and I!
     
    http://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8233/29193203673_3d68ec2651.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1 

  • Connections. 
    It’s so cool when someone you only know on Twitter walks up to you and exclaims your name, and you greet one another with a hug. It’s even better when you can exchange stories with patients you’ve just met and know nothing about—your quick, 30-second elevator pitch of yourself, if you will. MedicineX is amazing for bringing patients into the conversation, but also for letting us have those conversations amongst ourselves with the ample networking time. Sometimes, you walk into a room for a presentation, and the speaker greets you by name because they’ve been seeing your tweets flying by on the hashtag, or IDEO p. Patients are not just patients, and students are not just students, to most of the attendees—whether healthcare administrators, doctors—we are there to share our expertise, too. If you are willing to share your story, and be bold, your story is valued.

    http://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8598/29193262803_15a5de60e6.jpg?resize=500%2C375&ssl=1Healthcare Engineer Yang Fang and I, on a non-MedX meetup this weekend. He’s been working on a predictive asthma tracking app/site for several years now, keeping patients—like me—at the centre of his work!
    http://i2.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8546/29819898005_e047b8459a.jpg?resize=500%2C375&ssl=1http://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8228/29192176734_4262e0fed6.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1Thanks to Random Guy Who Borrowed Bill’s Phone Cord at the Sheraton Lounge for his photography work! 
     

  • Conversation.
    If you don’t know someone at MedX and find yourself sitting beside them, it’s not uncommon to hear “Hey, what’s your story?” I found that this year more than in 2014, I spoke with a lot more different people than in the past—like caregivers, doctors, designers—and not just patients.
    Story is important at MedicineX. And then story, becomes solution: how might we is one theme that is commonly used when someone illustrates a problem they have encountered, and then the community dreams big with the realization this is not right, let’s fix it. (See also: stories, below.)
  • http://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8016/29736914531_f1c4e463b7.jpg?resize=500%2C375&ssl=1Design.
    As Nick Dawson (one of my favourite ever presenters, and people, who told several of us “Come to DC and work in the design lab!”), lead the closing exercise, he said “How might we make research more delightful?” This is a common thread: how might we take something that’s okay, or good, and make it into something ridiculously great? No holds are barred, and this is a theme that IDEO has made an Integral part of MedicineX. How might we.
    http://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8465/29193310403_bdd2e8ab80.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1Nick, for some reason behind the couches.

    Steve participated in the IDEO Design Challenge (video to come), as did Dia, where Bill participated in the Entrepreneurship track—all based on how better solutions can, and should, be created to solve problems caused by poor or unimaginative design. 

    http://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8071/29736913531_8637a8b808.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1
    Technology is a huge player in MedicineX, but as both seen in the IDEO design challenge and throughout the conference, sometimes it’s not about tech at all, it’s about innovation, and it’s about “co-creation” with everybody involved (as much of a buzzword as that may have been). People need to play with design.

    http://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8207/29706489392_ee3a8c4eb4.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1 

  • Stories.
    Every story someone at MedicineX brings to the table is important—even if you are not a presenter, you will at some point be asked “What’s your story?” (unless you are like, chilling in the wellness room being quiet the whole time). While I used to feel like it was mostly patients being asked their stories, I often heard patients turning to a doctor or a designer, or another attendee to ask “So, what’s your story?”

    Everybody has a reason for doing what they do—from Yoko of Sen Sound sharing and gathering stories about the last sounds attendees wished to hear, to the folks at IDEO, to every app developer or hospital administrator or insurance provider who realized “This isn’t right, let’s do better,” and went with their heart and gut feeling, even if it wasn’t the status quo. Everybody has a story—and the MedX community embraces them.

This is what MedX 2016 came down to for me: Canadians, connections, conversation, design and stories. It’s left me exhausted (that might be the all-nighter) and energized to do more, create more, be better, be more bold and transparent, and explore more areas I haven’t even begun to consider. 

There are more stories left to be told—if I’m not too wrapped up immersing myself in making things happen :).

that time we got chased by a peacock at the zoo

Today is the last day of school, so Steve and I thought it would be a good day to check out the dinosaur exhibit at the zoo, without a lot of kids running around (just the under 5 types that happened to be there). So, off we went to the zoo with Guide Dog Murray to visit the dinosaurs, because we thought Murray would probably enjoy that (okay not really, but we wanted to go and it’s always cute taking pictures of adorable puppies with things).

http://i0.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7547/28007443725_395e2b6f77.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

As we walked down the path to the dinosaur exhibit, there were some peacocks ahead, which was cool until the peacocks caught sight of us and our black, four legged friend named Murray.

And they started running.
Towards us.
AT US.

I’m not sure if I swore in front of all the children, and I’m sure Steve doesn’t remember either because we ran.

I didn’t actually realize until I looked back after we’d started booking it back to the entrance that there were not one, but two peacocks chasing us and squawking at us. Somewhere in there I finally thought to scream which freaked them out a bit and they stopped charging towards us. We kept running until they were out of sight.

Of course, Murray got all excited that we were running and he was just bouncing around as we ran. Silly dog, had zero clue that peacocks wanted to eat him. Which is probably for the better. Look, despite how adorable tall Steve finds my short legs running, I only ever run for legitimate reasons—also I learned how to run in university. #kinwin.

After about 200 metres of running (I don’t know how far it was, I think that was Steve’s guess), I could no longer see the terrifying peacocks. We stopped and slightly more calmly made it back inside the entrance area where we paid, and walked up to the ticket lady that had processed our admission and informed all the zoo staff that a service dog was coming in by radio.

“Hi, so we just got chased by a peacock out there…” I told her “Can we get a refund and we’ll come back one day without the dog?”
“…Oh wow. Uh yeah let me just go talk to my boss.”
“I know, things you never thought you’d hear when you came into work today, right?”

We got our refund after our five minute zoo trip and went to the gift shop.

Murray still got to see some dinosaurs, but they were tinier than anticipated.

http://i0.wp.com/farm8.staticflickr.com/7386/27393532213_23636b1b9d.jpg?resize=500%2C375&ssl=1

And there’s the story of the shortest zoo trip in history, probably.

And the story of that time I got chased by a peacock with a dude who never saw it coming and a puppy who probably thought we were playing. 😉