Yesterday, my 60th birthday, began at 4:30 a.m. when the alarm went off. My husband, Marty, teaches miles away and I had an 8 a.m. appointment downtown at Toronto General Hospital for a bone density scan followed by my semi-annual kidney transplant clinic appointment at 8:15 a.m.
Except I am corresponding with a wise and enlightened psychiatrist named Dr. Ronald Pies and he sent me an amazing email. Marty was a little annoyed because I was late, but I felt Dr. Pies’ missive demanded an immediate response. (There will be more of this correspondence in future blogs, I promise.)
Back to yesterday.
In 1991, I lost the functioning of my only kidney after 16 years of badly monitored prescribed Lithium for severe mania. This “iatrogenic” or “treatment-caused” acute end-stage kidney failure nearly killed me.
Now, I’m fine, except I have a 20% higher chance of getting cancer because of all the immunosuppressant drugs I need. My health is a numbers game. Every six months I see my kidney transplant specialist who schedules regular tests and looks gravely at all my numbers on his computer screen.
Yesterday, my blood pressure was a high – common with kidney transplantation. Otherwise, things seemed reasonably “normal” for me. He told me to check my blood pressure more often and have blood work done every three months.
Then he said, “I’ll see you in nine months!”
This was a first. What a great birthday present.
I was thrilled as I waltzed across University Avenue to Mt. Sinai Hospital to meet my mother. She is having radiation at Princess Margaret Hospital, next door, for Basel cell carcinoma on her nose. She loves kibitizing about looking like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. I adore her.
We went back to her condo for lunch, where Marty was picking me up on his way home from the community college where he teaches film history. It was a great day.
While waiting for him I decided to check my email.
I couldn’t believe it.
Subject Line: “Congratulations from Psych Central on your blog!” from John Grohol PsychD.
As you know, my friend Susan Schecter of If you’re going through hell keep going sent a note around last week urging a bunch of us to “nominate our favourite bloggers” for one of Psych Central’s Top Ten Bipolar Blogs of 2008.
PsychCentral is "the Internet's largest and oldest independent mental health network created and run by mental health professionals to provide reliable, trusted information and self-help support communities, for over 16 years."
I nominated Susan because I love her writing. She’s gifted. Her struggles with her bipolar disorder and her frantic adjustments to her medication cocktail jump off the screen. She’s a generous, passionate and forthright writer. A good and gracious human being.
I nominated Philip Dawdy’s Furious Seasons. His penetrating investigative journalism and relentless research are always on top of the Machiavellian machinations of Big Pharma and the psychiatrists in bed with them.
Then, I nominated myself and Coming Out Crazy, figuring I didn’t have a chance because I’m so new to blogging, but if you don’t play, if you don’t win, right?
Wasn’t it the great Jewish rabbi Hillel who said, “If I am not be for myself, who will be for me?”
I made the list.
It’s an amazing list.
Congratulations to everyone on it. I look forward to reading all of you.
A special congrats to Philip at Furious Seasons who’s been struggling with a bad back lately. He deservedly topped the list. I hope this lifts your spirits, Philip!
And to Susan at If you're going through hell keep going, who received an honourable mention for her "sincerity and introspection."
Coming Out Crazy is Number 3.
Thank you, John M. Grohol and Sandra Kiume of PsychCentral. I am humbled and honoured by this award.
Here’s the citation:
“Sandy Naiman is a skillful storyteller and hers is a highly readable pro blog. She uses an intimate style to share anecdotes and opinions as well as current issues. It’s like chatting with your friendly next-door neighbor — who happens to be an award-winning career journalist and prominent mental health advocate. Her posts are engrossing, sometimes tragic, and quite inspiring.”
When I was 50, I met my husband, an exquisite man who has transformed my life.
Now this! On my 60th birthday.
You know what? Getting older is getting better! Celebrate every passing year.
And have a great weekend!