Tuesday, August 13, 2013


I packed four boxes this afternoon to ship our belongings back home to British Columbia. There will definitely be another three to four boxes to pack. We have managed to accumulate a lot in this last year. We had twenty-four hours to pack and get on a flight to Toronto. We arrived with a single suitcase, large backpack, and a miserable feline (with few thoughts for household necessities, or winter preparations). Our comforts from home were shipped in the following months, along with a lot of thoughtful gifts of support and encouragement from family and friends in different parts of the world. We managed to create a reasonable home environment in Toronto, but James was rarely outside the confines of Toronto General Hospital, (spare a few weeks here or there).

I am proud to report that I am leaving with a single box of books. That has been a serious act of self-control. Of course, I was rarely able to focus enough to read during those long months, and I am starting to embrace the convenience of e-books. On the other hand, I cannot make the same claim for my accumulation of knitting projects. We are thoroughly prepared for a rare winter storm on the West Coast. The rest of these boxes are complete with miscellaneous art supplies, board and card games, and gifts from the last year of holidays and celebrations. 

A large majority of household items and furniture will return to the street. Toronto has been very generous with curbside furniture in reasonable condition. Spread the world in the transplant community: James and I have a lot of household basics to spare and share. We bought everything from garbage cans, to a broom and mop, baking utensils, and a cutlery drawer organizer. We discovered the need for a can opener after a long day at the hospital. A corkscew was also a necessity for survival. We would love to find these items a home rather than send them to a landfill.

This is the first major step in preparation (and acknowledgement) of our move. I feel the excitement starting to build, but I also feel very disconnected and almost mechanical in preparation for our move. We are still in shock. There is a lot of disbelief. We are only beginning to surface from the painful experiences of this last year in Toronto. We want to be able to completely embrace James' health, but I am waiting for the fear to subside. 

We move with cautious optimism for the future. James has only been well for a relatively short period of time in comparison to the last year of living on the edge of survival. We are confident that James will continue to heal, but it is exceptionally hard to let go of the past. I suppose that James and I also need to pack away these memories. They should only serve as precious reminders of the precarious nature of our lives. This is an essential perspective to continue to live with gratitude for each and every moment together.

I cannot end this post without a word to James' health. There have been few changes. James' immune status is a lot better in regards to the dangers of low white cell counts. We are also seeing improvements in James' blood glucose levels with on-going Diabetes Education at the CF Clinic. He is a lot more stable with the addition of a second type of insulin. His physiotherapy regime includes regular increases to frequency, duration, and intensity of exercise. His lung status remains the same with a slight increase in capacity for exhalation. 

The largest concern is James' nutritional status and weight loss. He continues to face daily episodes of nausea and vomiting, and has to force every bite due to a complete lack of appetite. This should not come at a surprise. James has long-standing gastrointestinal issues. He also has to re-learn the use of his digestive system after nearly seven months on Total Parenteral Nutrition (a nutrition delivery system directly into his veins). He has been doing well the last few days with high calories smoothies and milkshakes. It seems to be a lot easier to manage liquids.

Finally, a word from James: 

Hi everybody, 
Thank you so much for all your support. I can't wait to be back in Victoria and to see all my friends again.
Love, love, love!


  1. i am so incredibly thrilled to have followed part of your journey thanks to my friends Keith and Sarah...wishing you the best of health James, and many loving years together...you are an inspiration...
    Deb Jackson

  2. Adena, what an exciting and encouraging post to those of us pre-transplant. Is James still at TGH or SMH? I know there is some poor gentleman here on 6 Bond vomiting and dry heaving multiple times daily and my heart just breaks for him.

    There is a new Cyster here on the floor named Karen also. She is from Halifax and on transplant list; and her husband and daughter have just arrived. Perhaps you could find out through the nursing station if they could use any of the household items you no longer need to set up where ever they are staying? Just a thought. Paying it forward. I am so thankful we live an hour east of Toronto!

    Wishing you both a smooth move back home and a healthy life of love ahead. You both have shown my husband and I that you can get through ANYTHING as a team. God bless you both!

    Karen Martin

  3. I have been incredibly moved by your blog and continue to wish you and James all the best. I hope Adena, that you will consider writing for a career. You have an amazing gift. My youngest son moved to Victoria from the Toronto area 12 years ago so I know you are returning to paradise. Enjoy your life together. You deserve the best to reward your amazing courage and commitment.

  4. Hi Adena,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, its very touching! I was wondering if I could ask you a quick question. Do you think you could send me an email when you get this? Thanks so much.

    All the best to you and James,

    cameronvsj@gmail. com

  5. James - hello right back at you and thank you for letting us share your journey - the good, the bad and the even worse, right on to the better and best to come! Here's hoping your beloved coast embraces you with warm and gentle breezes, UV weak sunshine and fresh salt air to heal you up 'real good'.

    Adena - packing is a bittersweet chore marking the end of what seemed an impossible journey, but more importantly, the beginning of an exciting new adventure. Some would think it strange but I was sad much of the time I was packing too. I know in part, it was because of the friends I was leaving behind, many still living with uncertainty about the future. In part, it was also about the future and what it would bring for Carman's health. We do live in a cocoon while in the program and then we must take the new lungs home and live! Alas, we cannot tell what the future will bring until it is here, so we place one foot in front of the other; we square our shoulders (you know the drill - lift them up, pull them back and push them down) we lift our chin up and we start to move...before we know it, we've arrived at a new destination to face its challenges (without which we would not grow) and seize new opportunities (without which our dreams would wither). We look forward to bi-coastal visits during which we can share our post-transplant tales of growth, health, happiness and outrageously big dreams coming true!

    love, love, love and hugs

  6. I hope this moving experience didn't ruin your optimism for the future at all and that you came back safe, the same with all your stuff. Shipping more or less 10 boxes of belongings was not a piece of cake. A lot of things can happen during transit. The more cargo you have, the more you'd worry for damages.

  7. Hi, Adena! I hope everything’s going great, particularly James’ health. It seems to me in your latest posts that this move has made positive changes to your lives. It’s good to hear that! Never mind the box of books you left behind. No material things are more valuable than the life you two are enjoying now. :)) Clay@World Packaging Inc.