Sunday, January 25, 2015


A year after a serious fracture I am still not able to exercise as I would like. The end result? Fifteen pounds overweight and a totally different perception of my own body. Clothes that used to fit me perfectly now hang in my closet unworn as I struggle to find my new self-image in a mirror that tells me over and over again that there are too many lumps and bumps visible, especially in light coloured clothing.

The answer, I thought, might lie in something Oprah apparently swears by; a pair of Spanx.

The saleslady at the store where I bought a pair a few days ago, was not terribly helpful. She showed me her limited collection and then, looking me up and down, said: "What are you, a Large?" I would hardly have needed reinforced underwear had I been a Small....

I admit fully that I bought my Spanx with great misgivings, not knowing what else to do given that we are about to head south to our winter home where linens and cottons are the cool but unforgiving fabrics of choice. I ignored that little voice inside my head that was saying....are you nuts?...
Instead, I paid a hefty $50 and took my secret purchase home, momentary lulled into thinking that I would now feel better about myself.

Once home, I removed the Spanx from the package in the privacy of my bathroom. I hoisted one leg into the flesh-coloured leg opening, then the other. I tried valiantly to pull the Spanx up towards my waist but nothing moved. The fit around the thighs was so tight, the scene reminded me of an episode of "Friends", the one where Ross gets stuck in a pair of leather pants. I started to laugh at the memory and then at myself, as I continued to try to bring the Spanx up from my thighs to my waist. It took me several minutes and required incredible force!

I eventually got things where they needed to be but by then I was so hot and uncomfortable, and the look of these skin-coloured panels holding me in around the middle while above and below, my flesh was being squeezed out, made me aware of how ridiculous I was behaving towards myself and gave me new insight into how far we women will go to try to look perfect.

So I had a bit of a talk with myself. I reminded myself that I am now of a certain age and that I am lucky that my fracture has healed so well. In any case, this look would require getting undressed in the dark, since it would have scared my poor hubby to see me in this type of sausage casing. Furthermore, I could honestly say that I was not willing to spend even five more minutes feeling this uncomfortable. With all due respect to women who enjoy their Spanx, this product is clearly not for me.

I ripped those Spanx off my body, enjoying the rush of feeling free once more. Yes, I am still lumpy and bumpy but at least I can breathe! And if truth be told, I was a little bit ashamed of having bought into the whole idea that you can cheat your way to a smoother figure. From now on, people will have to accept me for who I am, not for the way I look. And that includes me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


There is a man in Winnipeg who has recently been arrested for not having provided minimal care for his aged mother after she suffered a fall in the home that they shared. She had apparently pleaded not to be taken to hospital as she feared being put into a care facility. Instead, she asked for a blanket so she could remain on the floor. Her son, perhaps understanding her fear, complied.

It took five days for his mother to die.

I have always believed that my body and my life belong to me, Nobody but me has the right to decide what I do with my life except in the case where my actions might inadvertently injure someone else. Should I decide that I do not want to die in a hospital but rather on a mountain top, a beach, or even a bathroom floor, I feel that I have the absolute right to make that choice. Not only that, I believe that my family and my doctor must support me at that point, not fight my decision.

In the case of someone who has dementia, as the woman in question, it gets a little trickier. Does someone with a failing memory lose the right to decide what to do with his or her life? What if the disease is at the early stages when periods of clarity are still possible? Is a person with a brain tumour automatically deemed incapable of choosing his or her end?

I am  not talking about assisted suicide or euthanasia. I refer simply to the fact my life is mine, to do with what I feel is right for me at any given time. I am an adult. I have raised my family and paid my taxes, I am in debt to no one. Why should I not be able to choose where and how I will die?

Statistically, most of us will end up in a hospital or institution. It is simply easier to hook someone up with a catheter and ply them with morphine injections than it is to try to keep them clean and comfortable at home. It also transfers the onus of responsibility onto the medical profession and relieves the legal complications a doting son might have to endure if he were to honour his mother's last wishes.

That doesn't mean it is the right choice for everyone. I, for one, would be horrified to die in a hospital and would do everything in my power to avoid that scenario. I would much rather lie on the floor of my home and wait for Nature to do what it eventually must. The only way to ensure that my choice about my life can be met and respected, is to state very clearly what I want and then back it up with a legal document that would protect my loved ones.

Sadly, the woman in Winnipeg seems to not have left a Living Will behind. Her son, will, therefore, likely pay a hefty price for what I believe was her rightful choice; to determine where and how she wanted to die.