welcome

Hello & Welcome ;

After many failed ideas and attempts at starting a blog, I recently have been re-inspired (with a touch of anger-fueled motivation) to put myself out into the blog-o-sphere. I’m centering my blog around my life as a university student, a feminist, a chronically ill individual, a lesbian, and ultimately, a writer.

Previously, I had thought I had to have a very narrow focus on my blog to write it. Maybe, this is the case, if I were creating this blog as a business endeavor. I am not. I am here to share my life and its complexities; my failures, my successes, my insights and to connect with others sharing similar experiences. I decided a strict theme blog isn’t for me. I want to share what I am passionate about, and I want to write about my life, with an emphasis on intersectionality and my personal experience as a person with many faces to their identity.

If you care to follow along, expect posts related to everything previously mentioned (feminism, academics, writing, disability, LGBTQIA+ issues etc) and what makes my life uniquely my own.

New posts once a week, every Monday!

To learn more about me, please visit my about page.

Best,

JC

Diabetes Awareness Month: Part 2

The great debate: Is diabetes a disability?

Every document, or theory about disability, that I’ve ever read mentions diabetes as a disability, as kind of a “hey, bet you didn’t know this is a disability too!” way, after listing what our common perception of disabilities are. However, in reality, it apparently isn’t so straightforward.

At my last endo appointment, I brought paperwork to apply for both for the disability tax credit and a grant for students with permanent disabilities. My doctor said she would willingly sign the tax credit application, but not the grant application, because “diabetes isn’t a disability”. Not sure exactly where the logic is in that, since apparently it is enough of a disability for me to apply for the tax credit…but not qualify for a grant?

However – the catch with the tax credit is that type one diabetics have been turned down in great numbers for it within the last couple years. To be eligible, you have to have a disability that demands at least fourteen hours of life-sustaining therapy per week. Technically, my disease requires life-sustaining therapy 24/7, but the interpretation of what constitutes said therapy has changed. They allow you to count time that consists of switching out pump supplies, or pens, taking your blood sugar, logging your blood sugar, but don’t allow you to count some of the things that take the most time and energy, such as counting carbohydrates, calculating insulin dosages, travelling to medical appointments, treating and recovering from high and low blood sugars and picking up medication, among many others. I can’t remember all the specific details, but it is ridiculous. Diabetes is a disease that requires constant, attentive management, but the requirements for the tax credit do not take this into account.

I still sent in my application, even though my doctor said it takes “creativity” to come up with a care log that meets their standards to even be considered, and then often, they reject the applications because “diabetics shouldn’t need to spend fourteen hours a week managing their diabetes”. I’m calling bullshit on that!

Thankfully, representatives from Diabetes Canada and other organizations are working hard on our behalf by lobbying for more inclusive and fair consideration for diabetics regarding eligibility. I have done my part by sending a letter to my MP, and I hope other diabetics are doing the same!

I also hope, that by the time my application is processed,  maybe the government will have re-evaluated their standards. Or at least, that they will compensate all of the rejected applicants that so deserve this tax credit.

Diabetes is a permanent, exhausting and demanding disease. Not to mention, extremely costly if you don’t have full coverage for prescriptions. It takes a lot of time, effort and careful management to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and even then, this disease is so complex that half the time your best efforts don’t play out the way you hope. It’s frustrating, and sometimes feels quite futile. Diabetes is finicky, inconvenient at best and relentless. And diabetics have to be relentless to stay on top of it.

To me, the tax credit isn’t even about the money (though, as a university student, a few extra dollars is always appreciated!), but about the recognition of all the time and effort that goes into my healthcare on a daily basis. The current system really makes me feel as though everything I do to manage this disease isn’t legitimate, or appreciated in the slightest.

Something needs to change and soon!!

As for the grant for students with disabilities, and my doctor’s refusal to sign for it – well, that’s a whole other rant I don’t have the energy for right now. But in the end, my GP signed it because I do have other disabilities. It still shouldn’t be a question though. Diabetes impacts my functioning and ability as a student on a regular basis, so why is it not considered a permanent disability in relation to my studies? I know plenty of other diabetics apply successfully for this grant, so maybe (and I do, and I will) need to see a new endo. (this situation only fuels my “I’m too sick to be considered healthy but too healthy to be considered sick” internal conflict that I struggle with. but that’s another post in itself!)

anyway.

end rant.

and oh yeah! tomorrow is World Diabetes Day so wear blue to show your support!!

best,

jc.

 

 

 

 

 

DIABETES AWARENESS MONTH: Part 1

Coincidentally enough, November is both Diabetes Awareness Month and Epilepsy Awareness Month – and I happen to have both conditions!
So I’m going to dedicate two posts this month to Diabetes Awareness Month, and two to Epilepsy Awareness Month.

First of all- shout out to JDRF and Diabetes Canada for being awesome organizations that do amazing and important advocacy work, educate, fund-raise, and provide me and my fellow T1Ds opportunities to connect  (T-ONE-D program) while learning super helpful info for managing this disease.

T1D Q & A:

Also shout out to my friend Lily who came up with some questions she thought people might have about diabetes, so I could do this style of blog post!

       1. What is the difference between the two types?

I’m going to link to Diabetes Canada’s page on this, so click here for more info! However, I’ll do my best to answer this as well.

There are actually several types of diabetes, but the most common are Type 1 Diabetes and Type 2. Basically, type 1 occurs when your immune cells mistakenly identify the cells that produce insulin as “bad” cells and thus, destroy them, leaving type 1 diabetics completely unable to produce insulin. The trigger that causes this auto-immune reaction is still unidentified, and therefore, there is no cure! Type 1 diabetics are completely dependent on insulin injections to keep themselves healthy and well.

Type 2 Diabetes, I do not know as much about, as I do not live with it, however it differs from Type 1 in that the body still produces insulin, but it is sluggish to metabolize it or does not use it as effectively as it should. Type 2 Diabetics closely watch their diet, take oral medication, and sometimes, insulin, to manage their disease.  There a lot of factors regarding the cause of type two, such as genetics, lifestyle factors and more! Neither disease simply results from eating too much sugar, as many are led to believe.

Please follow the link I provided if you want more info!

     2. How do you treat type one?

Mainly, insulin therapy. But there is a lot to it, and many options when it comes to insulin regimes. I personally use an insulin pump (and no, it doesn’t “do all the work for me”), others use pens to inject their insulin, or the classic syringe. But insulin therapy consists of a lot more than just injections.

Treating type one consists of counting and calculating the number of carbs in everything you eat, giving insulin accordingly for everything, calculating dosages for your “background insulin” or the little spurts of insulin (or long acting doses in larger quantities) you take to mimic your pancreas, taking your blood sugar (at least 5 times a day), recording it, and evaluating patterns and trends and adjusting insulin dosages accordingly, accounting for activity level, sickness, stress, emotions, hormones, and so much more! It consists of treating low blood sugars, high blood sugars (both of which are awful and annoying and ultimately frustrating), visiting an endocrinologist about every three months, and basically, factoring your diabetes and blood sugar level into everything you do!

      3. How do you handle a chronic illness on top of being in uni?

Ah man. Honestly, half the time I don’t know myself. Somehow I make it work. When it really comes down to it, it is all about prioritization. Using the days where I am feeling well to be productive, resting when I need to, putting my health above everything else, being honest with my professors and classmates about my conditions and utilizing any accommodations available are all things I do to make sure I can keep up to school. Usually, when things get chaotic, it’s often a game of figuring out which classes I can afford to miss to both get my upcoming assignments done while still maintaining enough energy to attend those that I need to. It’s a balancing act, and a tough one at that. There’s always a point where it gets to be too much, and usually, after a bit of a breakdown, (haha), I re-evaluate this balancing act and figure out which activities I can afford to cut, or need to, to maintain both my physical and mental health!

      4. Does it affect your relationships in ways you didn’t think it would?

Not really, I guess? Like, maybe the start of relationships and stuff – I’m always worried about how people might react to finding out that I have diabetes, and what sort of questions or misconceptions they will throw at me. But everyone in my life has been extremely supportive and understanding, and for the most part, it hasn’t been as issue.

I do feel, sometimes though, feel like a burden, or feel guilty, for say, cancelling plans, or being extra exhausted because of my illnesses, or for complaining too much when I’m burnt-out…and this sometimes does affect my relationships negatively, because I feel like there’s just a bit of a divide between me and my “healthy” friends and family, based on the differences of our lived experiences and what it is actually like to be chronically ill. So yeah, I mean, sometimes it means I miss out on things, or disappoint people, or myself, but overall, everyone has been great, and I really am so unbelievably fortunate to be surrounded by such awesome people.

       5. What do you wish the world understood about type one diabetes and the people who live with it? 

Oh man! There is so much I could say to this. But to sum it up rather quickly, I wish that people understood that diabetes is a) not caused by eating too much sugar, b) a really complex disease to manage and deal with, both psychologically and physically, and because of this, is extremely tiresome, c) (in the case of type 1) has no cure, and d) affects every aspect of our lives in someway! it is overwhelming at the best of times.

 

If you made it through this all, thank you.

go hug a diabetic and spread some awareness for this deeply misunderstood disease!!

peace out

xoxo jc.

 

I’m a research assistant!

I just returned from a meeting with one of my professors which left me beaming the whole walk home. This is because I have been approved for a position working with her as a research assistant. I am super excited and grateful for the opportunity! Basically, she will be mentoring me to write, or possibly co-write, a paper about fairy tales and media, with the goal of having it published or presenting it at a conference. There are a couple other classes I am in where we are encouraged to submit our work to journals or for conferences, so we will see what happens in the end!

Considering we are rooting the research in women & gender studies, and that I am planning on studying disability in grad school, we narrowed down my topic to be disability representation in fairy tales. She said that not a lot of work has been done on this topic, so it’s exciting that I might get to be at the forefront of academic study on the subject!

She armed me with a list of books, articles and scholars to check out for background research and to familiarize myself with what has already been done. I immediately picked up all the books from the library and am so eager to start reading that I can barely focus on all the other assignments I have due this upcoming week! But yeah, hopefully after some reading, I’ll have a better idea of what specifically I’d like to study and write about.

It’s also really wild to me that I’m only in my third year of university and I have opportunities like this! I think a large part of this is thanks to being at a relatively small university. I’m not certain something like this would have been so easy to come by were I still at U of M.

And did I mention this a paid position? That’s pretty cool too.

Honestly, I am so excited! I feel like I can’t express it enough. I’m heading down a path that I’m super passionate about and it’s so cool to be starting my journey to becoming a published academic, and to be working with a professor that has such extensive knowledge on fairy tales and is fun to work with too. I mean, her office is full of books about women & gender studies, fairy tales, and pictures of cats, so I think we will get along pretty well. She also teaches two of the classes I am in right now, so it’s nice that we are already familiar with each other.

I will definitely post some more updates once I’m a little further along on this project and kind of know where I’m headed!

I’m also writing a paper for one of her classes on the tv show Once Upon a Time (which I’ve def been obsessed with for the last few years), where I am going to do a character study of Emma Swan, and explore whether she really is a feminist figure or if she falls somewhere along the lines of conventional Disney princess/strong-independent-female-cliché. Also very excited about this!

yeah, so, as I said to my mom when this position first came to my attention: this is what dreams are made of. (hahaaha).

 

anyways, back to studying I guess!!

thanks for enduring my overly enthusiastic rambling

& all the best,

JC. ♥

 

 

 

social media + “authenticity”

Maybe this topic is past its prime. But it’s something I think about a lot, and I still find it is relevant, as long as we are using social media, so I am going to write about it.

I find the idea of authenticity, in the sort of buzzword way, very intriguing. What do we even mean when we say “authentic”? At this point, I’m not entirely sure.

It seems that most of us are striving for some sort of authenticity in our lives, especially in our online presence, yet we are flooded with posed, over-edited and carefully cultivated representations of our lives on social media. Is this really genuine? Is it real?

I don’t mean to say that it’s wrong to post a picture just for its aesthetic value or for validation or to post a smiling selfie when you’re feeling sad. Social media is just as much for self-expression and creativity as it is anything else. Make it your own and do whatever you want with it.

I just question the narrative we create with a stream of idealized photos, often literally cropping out any less than perfect elements to frame the perfect moment, even if the moment we are capturing is far from perfect. What parts of the story are being left out?

I know that there definitely is a movement, a push, for honesty in what we post online, and I appreciate this. It is so hard to move against the grain, to be vulnerable. I value all of the hard work people do to create a presence that is real, that is truthful, that highlights the lows of life as much as it does the highs. I think it’s so important to have this, to remind people that social media is often framed in terms of what people think the world expects of them, not a reflection of reality. We are all far from perfect but we often like to pretend otherwise.

And no, I don’t have a problem if you only want to post pictures that are of those perfect moments. There’s nothing wrong with sharing happiness, or photos just for the sake of sharing photos. We do, however, need to remember not to compare ourselves to what we see online – and I know this is underlined over and over again – but it’s true. It’s too easy to take photos at face value and accept them as truth. This is rarely the case. Social media should come with a disclaimer, but it doesn’t. So it’s up to us to be honest with what we post, or to be critical about what we see when we are tempted to measure ourselves against the photos saturating our feeds.

I’m definitely not exempt from this falsified story-telling. A few weeks ago, I posted a colorful, inviting shot of the city and the river (it’s the feature photo of this post!). What the people looking at the photo couldn’t see, however, was the tears on my face as I took it, or the hour leading up to that, which consisted of a disheartening doctor’s appointment, some serious self-doubt and questioning of myself in almost every aspect imaginable, and the resulting flood of tears I couldn’t seem to stop or hide, as I walked down Main Street, trying to force a smile and hide my tear-streaked cheeks and puffy, red eyes. Honestly, I think I posted the picture as a way to make myself feel better. I don’t know if it worked, but I know I am prone to posting a photo on social media that represents the complete opposite of what I’m feeling, and I don’t know, maybe it’s a way to cope sometimes. But I’m not sure that’s the best solution.

I have been trying, lately, to be more honest with what I share. It’s so hard to do, but I’m going to keep trying. That’s part of why I started this blog – to narrate my life in a way that is honest and real.

Keep posting whatever you want, of course. I’m not trying to criticize anyone, I just think we need to take the time to question both what we post, and what we see.

 

Ultimately, what story are you telling?

And is it the story you want to tell?

 

& with that, have a great week friends,

jc. ♥

when a sick day is not just a sick day

 

With reading week now over and deadlines piling up, my hours at both of my jobs picking up and the end of the fall semester looming, things are getting a bit chaotic. And some times my body just can’t handle it. When the stress becomes too much, my body is sure to remind me of the fact that I am chronically ill. Cue chronic migraines, wildly fluctuating blood sugars and seizure auras.

I try so very hard to push through it as best I can, but often, the inevitable happens – I physically cannot get out of bed.

Sick days, are a funny thing, when your body is permanently sick.

You would think, that after years of being chronically ill, one would come to accept the idea that yeah, sometimes, they have to be realistic about their limitations – they have to take a break more often than most, they have to sacrifice many things to achieve the balancing act required when living with chronic illnesses. You would think. But this is not an easy realization to come to terms with, nevermind implement into your life.

And somehow,  despite knowing this all at our core, we still feel guilty. I use the term “we”, because I know this is a common phenomenon among people with disabilities and chronic illnesses, but I do not mean to speak for anyone but myself.

Calling in sick is an extremely hard thing for me to do. It feels a lot like defeat. I can’t help but feel guilty, and as though I’m to blame. The thought spiral then starts, like so: What did I do to trigger a migraine today? Maybe I’ve been pushing myself too hard. Can I even handle what I have on my plate right now? These quickly to turn to questions of my self-worth, questions about my future, my ability, my aspirations – ultimately, am I enough? What if my illness takes priority and I have to give up my goals for the sake of my health?

This inescapable thought process is the reality of a sick day – of my mind, when I have to call in sick. I don’t just question whether I’m making a mistake about calling in, whether I can push through it, whether my employers and coworkers will think less of me (I know the answers to all of these, but I still doubt everything), I question whether this one sick day will eventually become my life. That is the fear, the uncertainty, that is chronic illness. You never know which day will be your best and which might be the start of your worst.

I know this post is not bright and happy, but it’s honest. Sick days are not just a day in bed for me. They are a day trapped in the anxieties, the uncertainties, the grief, and the guilt, of being chronically ill.

But I am so, so thankful, that more and more, I am having fewer sick days. My health over the past few years has improved as I’ve learned more about my conditions, more about how to manage my health, both mentally and physically, and as I’ve learned to accept and adapt to life with chronic illnesses. I am so fortunate to have the people around me that I do, the people who understand and care so deeply about me, and I am so fortunate that my “good” days outnumber my bad ones by a long shot. And after many of the flare-ups I’ve had, especially upon starting university, I know not to take this for granted.

love and spoons,

JC.

 

 

 

a reflection inspired by National Coming Out Day

*Photo by Ten Thousand Hours Photo 

October 11th was National Coming Out Day. I’ve never really shared “my story” publicly, and seeing all the honest and vulnerable posts of others inspired me to write my own. It may be several days late, and an extremely simplified summary of a very complex experience, but here it is.

We live in a world that values heteronormative relationships above all others. This is true. It is especially true, or obvious, if you do not identify as heterosexual, cisgender, or anything else that blurs the lines of the gender/sex/attraction binaries our society so desperately clings to. In the same vein, many people who deviate from the “norm” feel trapped, in what they may not realize is compulsory heterosexuality.

That’s all the jargon I’m going to include in this – it is only a blog post! I want to reflect on these ideas and how I’ve experienced them and subsequently dealt with them in my life, as I can’t speak for others, but I am sure some can relate. So get ready for a personal post.

It’s funny what you realize when you look back on your life.

I don’t know if this is going to be a coming out story, but maybe a coming to the realization, that I am in fact, not straight, and then, the process of sorting out my identity and labels from there. It is not easy. The default expected is heterosexual, so I found myself trying to justify how I felt about girls, to negate it, and to convince myself that a future in a relationship with a man was possible. I did this in several ways – firstly, by excusing my lack of interest in guys, think along the lines of “I’ll meet someone in college”, “I just have really high standards”, “I’m too busy for a relationship” etc etc… the crushes that I did have were more platonic than anything, I’ve since realized. I even went as far to research as many LGBTQ+ identities that explained a lack of attraction to men, and labelled myself as asexual briefly. But it didn’t sit right with me.

I played around with creating complicated labels to fit this “I’m definitely not gay but maybe not straight” box I was drawing for myself. I knew I wasn’t bisexual, or pansexual, or anything along those lines and I couldn’t picture myself in a relationship with a guy, but I couldn’t bring myself to admit that I was a lesbian. The word felt wrong, it felt like it carried weighty, negative connotations. Which, in some cases, it does, for some people. I still have trouble with it some days. I became obsessed with finding a label for myself that felt right, felt comfortable, and had no luck, really. Eventually I just accepted that I was gay – in the umbrella term sort of way, and left it at that.

I feel like this sounds cliche, but I feel leaving my tiny hometown and going to university on a huge campus was part of what led me to accept myself as I was. Or to even have the space to figure it out, instead of suppressing any less than heteronormative inclinations. I felt a freedom and a sense of anonymity, a sense of having no one to be accountable for except myself. I was surrounded by diverse, inspiring people, often being unapologetically themselves, and this atmosphere, combined with a very positive community of LGBTQ people in my life led me to let go a little, and just be me. To stop over-analyzing myself. To let life happen as it was meant to. And thank god I did.

Fast forward another two years -I’m engaged to a beautiful woman who I love more than anything in the world – and my life is completely different than how I would have ever imagined it, but also, completely better than I’d ever imagined it.

It takes time. It’s confusing, it’s frustrating, it’s scary, but coming out, or even coming to accept any part of yourself that you’d rather have hidden away, is an extremely liberating process. Through this experience, I have empowered myself to live how I want to, to escape my constant worries about what others may think of me (at least, to some extent), to live honestly, and to live, most of all, happily.

Be kind to yourself. Be patient with yourself. It takes time – no matter whether you are coming out to yourself, to others, or are trying to accept some other aspect of your life that challenges societal standards. Give yourself space, time, and love, and you will be grateful you did.

love,

JC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rings! photos! family!

So, since I didn’t manage to get a post published yesterday (busy Thanksgiving weekend!), here is my sort of catch-all update post before I go back to writing pre-scheduled posts on specific topics!

LIFE UPDATE: Most who know me personally will already know this – but within the past week, Sky and I got engaged! It was a mutual proposal, however we both proposed on different days (let’s be honest – it was as basically as soon as we had the ring), in the comfort of our own apartment and so many happy tears were shed. I am so excited to be on this journey with her and while we are currently just enjoying our engagement, I will be sure to share details as we decide on wedding related things as they come up! We have a late summer/fall wedding in mind, however not for a few years! I am so incredibly happy to have found Sky, and to get to spend my life with her. We are thinking of doing a winter engagement shoot, however, for now, enjoy a few pictures we took ourselves!

I’ve spent the last couple weeks brushing up on my photography skills, only a few months after seriously considering selling my camera. I didn’t, luckily, since I now I have caught quite the photography bug. I took pictures of Sky with her engagement ring, and then with my sister, Alexa, and am very happy with how they turned out! I have found myself itching to take more pictures, researching techniques, obsessing over established photographers, and wondering if this is something I could one day do professionally. For now, I am just going to enjoy taking pictures for myself, friends and family, build my portfolio, and maybe attend some workshops! I’m having a ton of fun with the whole process, and I’m looking forward to learning more and improving. I’m doing a shoot with my friend and her boyfriend in a week or two and hopefully that goes well too 🙂

 

Overall, this weekend was a very exciting one, a very happy one, and I am so thankful for the life I have and the beautiful people in it. It was amazing to feel so supported by our friends and family when Sky and I announced our engagement, and the mutual excitement was contagious. It was great to see my family this weekend, to return to my childhood home and to bask in the familiarity of the chaos that is our reunions, their witty jokes, sibling banter, to enjoy each other’s company, to capture candid moments; to laugh and smile and love and feel so loved in return.

Sky and I also hosted our first Thanksgiving dinner with her family, and it was so lovely to be able to have her family over at our place and to host our first dinner! Sky did an amazing job cooking and there were many laughs, memories, and wedding ideas shared.

 

Now to use reading week to my advantage and get ahead on my assignments! and to write a few more blog posts to be posted at later dates!

love,

JC.