The long awaited blog from my trip of a life-time to Canada from October last year, which I started writing in Nov'10. I have been so busy since returning and finally...here it is..happy reading :)
Well this is it!! YippY!! The day I will be flying to Canada :) Last night, was almost impossible to sleep and maybe got a couple hours if that. It was hard saying goodbye to my parents and didn't want to cry, guess they also felt the same. Something, I have yearned to do and concerned about the long flight and how my lungs would cope for this duration. My fear of my lungs collapsing or picking up infection in the plane and getting sick again. However, as my taxi waited - I just hugged my Mum & Dad goodbye and said "behave" to lighten the atmosphere. So, in the taxi and away I go...
I arrived at Heathrow airport with all mixture of emotions, like 'OMG......reality says later today I will be in Toronto, gulp'. But, nothing runs smoothly in reality. My flight was delayed and I was finding it hard to stay awake and relying on coffee's to keep me going. Coffee literally to keep me upright! I was at the airport for 7 hours before we were told, time to board.
However, for the first time in 12 years the pilot informed all of us, that the front tug to remove the wheel on the airplane wasn't able to be released!!?? So, manually a handful of men were trying to elevate this away and another hour I spent cooped up inside the plane!
Argghhhhhhhhh!!! My nerves at this point were all over the place, I just wanted the plane to go and feel that finally I'm on my way to Canada. Waiting for hours and feeling like a zombie and anxious as ever.
"We are ready for take off"...................................... !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (pilot announces)
Up up and away...WOW...in the clouds and here I go, gobsmocked, speechless, emotionally overwhelmed, excited.......it's going to happen.....please lungs keep me going until I get there. I was going to arrive early evening, but, now it will be about 11pm and I knew when meeting Sandra, instead of being bubbly I would be a ball of exhaustion. Sandra is a lovely lady, that I have been speaking with over the years via an USA Website-click here for link . The website was set up by, Nelson Freytes for transplantees all over the world and has been a great source of support/networking for me across the globe.
Finally, the plane landed and I met Sandra, and as I expected I could barely string 2 words together..but was greeted with 'Tim Hortons' doughnuts and crashed out at a hotel that night in Toronto.
Goodnight Canada....I'm so excited, but, will look forward to greeting you properly and speaking to my friend properly when I awake...watch out!!!! xx
Is this really happening? I am awake in Canada...WOW....early morning and on form to finally have a proper chat with Sandra over breakfast. Today, we discussed plans for the day & night and all systems were a go - go!! First stop going to the CN Tower and taking a lift to the top. However, probably wasn't a good idea going into a lift facing the outside all glass surrounds...saying "I'm scared of heights" think I went blue..hahaha..but was amazing once there. Beautiful views of Toronto city and I even tried walking on the glass floor - where you can look down thousands of feet through your feet!!
It's quite bizarre how media follows me or I get into the media...by which I mean after reaching the bottom of the CN Tower..upon leaving Sandra saw a film crew and a famous TV Breakfast Presenter was there called, Frank Ferragine. So....Jussie did her magic too and got talking to Frank and the camera man, and here is the proof :)
I was informed before leaving the UK, that Sandra had a suprise for me......what!!??? It was driving me crazy,hahahahaa.......and that night we arrived outside a theatre, to which my suprise, was to see a show called, 'Wicked'. A truly fantastic show and a great way to end day one :)
After the show, it was time to get back to Muskoka for a couple nights, and experiencing my first snowfall in Canada - a snow blizzard that Sandra unfortunatley had to drive through. But once in Muskoka no snow whatsoever! We arrived at Sandra and Al's home 1.30am and definitely ready to flake.
Good morning! I'm ready for more adventures and us girlies went into Gravesend, a lovely scenic part for lunch and lots of photograph opportunities.
What I have noticed is that shopping is nothing like in the UK, whereby our shops are next to each other and for many streets. Here, shops seem to be in a block of maybe 5 shops (always very large stores), then you need drive another long distance to get to another block of for example 5 stores. It is not possible to walk and a car is definitely needed!
Once inside, I decided to have a wonder in a gift shop, and Sandra met her other friends joining us for the night and telling them about my ID incident. No sooner was Sandra informing them, I came back and got stopped by another security asking for ID! What!! I couldn't believe it, staff there thinking I was like 18 or 21...but I'm like late 30's..LOL. Drama over, and time to watch the performance of a French Canadian singer from Montreal called, Roch Voisine.Roch Voisine ..... hello handsome...drool, oh, yes - good music too!!
Today was a day I was very much looking forward to, to meet a few people I have been chatting with via the internet/emails. A lovely lady, called Bree who also had a double-lung transplant, and a couple of ladies with LAM disease, Kelly and Beryl. A lot of work has gone into getting all of us to meet and where, time etc and fabulous that reality was about to happen later today.We all met at a very quaint little restaurant for yummy foods, chat, laughter, and talking heaps. truly wonderful that this happened. After, the meal there was another event to celebrate 'Thanks Giving' with other Canadian transplantees. More food and laughter, chats, and making new friends. Many people have been an inspiration for me - for being years post transplant, and it turned out I was an inspiration for these people, so relatively new with their transplants. I am only 4 years in, but I remember when I had my transplant I met someone also 4 years post, and was like 'wow'. At one point we all sat down in a circle and went round saying a little bit about us/our journeys. Everyone has a different story to tell and it is amazing and truly wonderful to hear how organ donation DOES change lives!
Here we all are - all alive thanks to the gift of life!
That evening, Beryl offered to let Sandra and I stay over at her house, what lovely hospitality and very much appreciated too! Then to wake up to breakfast cereal, followed by tasty scrambled eggs. Then back onto the road for my next pit-stop.....
Got to get in a Tim Hortons photo, their equilavent of our Starbucks!
Time to change over and meet Sharon (and her husband Steve) to go onto Niagara Falls - Yippy!!!!! Sharon and I used to run at a weekly ladies running group in the UK, then Sharon imigrated back to Canada. Such a shame to say goodbye to Sandra ,but, we had already discussed perhaps meeting up again before I return to the UK.
So..part 2 of my journey begins and a drive to one of the wonders of the world! Everywhere is a long drive, so sit back and lets go adventure trailing.
Great chat and giggles getting there catching up on all our news, and finally arriving at the most highlighted part of my trip. I first went up into the Skydome to overlook Niagara Falls and yes, take lots of photos. Simply amazing and awe inspiring, words perhaps won't do this feature any justice and photos merely demonstrate the beauty being here. Next, we all walked along the Falls and took a boat ride called, Maid of the Mist. Then we were told, it was the last boat trip into the Falls of the season and the last but one going out!! Wow, how lucky were we all, going and seeing this and dressing up in sexy blue raincoats ;)
I must admit I wasnt sure whether I wanted to go on the boat, and Sharon convinced me that it would be a great experience. I am so grateful I listened, as I was blown away not only from getting soaked, but, by actually going under the Falls. WOWie!!! Again words/photos could never really explain how emotionally amazing and breathtaking it was. At times, I was overwhelmed and delighted that my donor was allowing me to breathe and happy to be here.
How could I not get a photo of me with the Hershey's Choccie feature.Here are some more photos, which I hope you all enjoy and try to imagine how incredable Niagara Falls really was.
The evening, was a trip to cross the border, with a stop at customs, then into the USA to eat/shop that night, and stay at a hotel. It was a very late night by the time we all had eaten and shopped at Wallmart's.
The next day we shopped at the Niagara Falls Outlet...a girl needs and must shop!! It was quite nice to be in USA for the day before crossing back again into Canada. I had fun looking at all the designer stores at a ridiculous reduced price compared to Canada and the UK. After a few hours checking out the stores I ended up treating myself to the latest running NIKE trainers, a jumper and one of those stylish 101 ways to wear a garment from DKNY. Yum Yum clothes and shoes = one happy Jussie :)
Now back across the border to Stirling to Sharon and Steve's home out in the lovely piece and quiet. Goodnight world xx
Feeling refreshed for a new day filled with horseriding and badminton ...oh what fun fun!
Here we all are ready to go horseriding with Sharon, Steve, Lisa and I. Then I played some locals at their weekly badminton doubles games in the evening, and won 2 games out of 4. I couldnt carry on after that as was simply exhausted and a lil breathless after all that competing.
Quad biking four wheeling few a few hours of fun today , thru paddles, rocks, woods, hills, bumps
Woohoooooooo!!!! There was no stopping me - I totally loved this, and if I the had opportunity to do this here in the UK...I would be first in line! Adrenalin driving fast (but still had to stick within speed zones) and racing through massive muddy puddles - such a wild kid at heart.
Then back in the evening for Sharon's casserole - yum! Then over to Lisa to meet her hubby, Phillip + kids. The evening was rounded up with an evening walk with Sharon with such wonderful views and memories hard to forget.
Question: How much shopping can a girl do in one day? Answer: When her feet hurt from walking ;) and you thought I was going to say, when the money runs out (and that too).
Well, today was a busy day shopping and visiting The Mohawk Territory (The Indian Reserve), Belleville and also designing T-shirts (never any rest for an artist). A real mixed bag type of day too - experiencing another culture in The Indian Reserve and trying on some traditional clothing whilst there. I was also amazed by their drive through 'smoke' shops and like driving through to get a MacDonald's burger. Not that I eat MacD's, but so you get jist - I couldn't get my head around this concept, very bizarre!
Next stop to Belleville, for shops and yummy food pit stop, whereby I indulged in a peanut butter stack cake. WoW...sugar levels through the roof, even for sweet tooth me, I just couldn't handle it!! Haha officially a cake drop-out...after a few more mouthsfuls - I called it quits! Nice, but just way too rich for me.
Whilst out, Lisa bought some blank orange T-shirts for her children for Halloween and asked me if I could design a logo/design on them. How could I say no :)
So with a felt tip marker I drew on some jack-o-lanterns and "BOO" on both backs of the t-shirts. Naturally, I signed my name at the bottom of the orange fabric..hahaha...and I was happy to do so and enjoyed doing this.
So...now for the evening and onto meet a lovely lady named, Micky a cancer survivor. So, inspiring for me to meet and hear other people's journey with health issues. But, I felt so tired and sleepy, maybe even exhausted too from such a busy day. So, the normally bouncy, chatty Jussie turned into a little quiet curled up ball.
During my time in Canada, I have met many wonderful people and sorry if I'm not mentioning everyone, as names may seem meanliness to you. But, for me an important part of my memory, and guess its plenty enough to know I met great lovlies during my vacation.
Goodnight time ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz
BANG! BANG! Jussie's shooting!!! But, first another trip to Belleville and shops...hold up, thats no longer interesting....lets get firing Miss Jussie.
Amazing experience and not something I would be able to do in the UK or even have contemplated of even doing. Steve organised this for me and a variety of guns were brought out, bullets, target point, ear-protectors.
The guns were - .357 ruger magnum revolver, shot gun, .22 semi automatic gun and a .22 rifle
Lara Croft and any kind of superhero/women - watch out Jussie the Terminator is on the war path!!!! I was actually scared to use one of the guns due the large force of the pull back and let the experts do this part whilst I watched. The smoke as you can see after the bullet is quite intense and yes...its a loud Bang! This was quite an exhilerating experience - and added to all the rollercoaster of a ride whilst staying in Stirling (Ontario).
In the evening was Phillip's Birthday and we were all invited around for cake :) Another top day and with that time to sleep.
Busy day - off to check out Pickering market - to say it was massive, would be an understatement! An indoor market in large warehouses joined together. I have been searching for a Canadian sports top, as I like the style/logos and finally got a great bargain on a bright blue and white T-shirt (for the Maple Leaf Team).
Back at the house and time to get all spooked up, and with a quick turnaround to get ready. Hey check me and the ghouls out ;)
Time to celebrate Halloweeeennnnnnnn!!!!!! The Canadians love their Halloween and it was great to enjoy in the festivities here.
What an amazing house party and fab fancy dress outfits by all who attended. Great Halloween foods - and spooky games played. Even an outdoor quiz and clue games rewarded with chocolate at the end. Over and out for now.......to be continued....
A day to chill before going to dinner for a roast meal and all the trimmings, quite yummy indeed. Then for me to house sit giving out candy and crisps to Canadian kids - whilst everyone else went out trick or treating. It was too cold for me, hence happy to give treats out, so many kids approached the door...I daren't say trick...lol. I wasn't guna allow any tricks, and judging by the kids goody bags full to brim - not many neighbours must have done either ;)
Short and sweet entry and a nice breather to carry on into the new next day. What will it bring......
All packed up, and time to say farewell to Sharon and Steve, an amazing time and great hospitality for full action packed, fun and chilling out time in their area. Going back to Toronto today for my last few days - to see more of the city before back to home sweet home. I was meeting up with Sandra again for more adventures and last minute eats, and more tours of Toronto.
And, here we go - first stop to catch a ferry to Ward Island - and WOW - amazing views as the ferry left Toronto and all the high rise buildings could be viewed from a distance. Like a postcard snap shot. Quite a blissful day too - slight chill, but the sun shone for me to get some awesome photos! Happy days :)
Then back off the ferry, and time to check out 'The Eaton Centre' a huge shopping complex on many levels. Great architecture on the inside too...I surely could get lost here - shopping and indulging on apples coated in choc,candy,toffee and anything and eveything and sprinkled with all sort of heavenly toppings...MMMmmmm....drool factor!
No rest for the wicked, and now onto dinner 'Green Jeans' for a full on Canadian meal feeling full to the brim - now time to go to the cinema. Still with me? hahaha....
'Hereafter' movie with Matt Damon, which sadly I didnt rate at all and infact thought it was rubbish. A little cheeky episode happened after and somehow ended up watching another movie 'A Funny Story' but left 1/4 way through as quite late, and I was simply exhausted from a long day.
Today was a busy day visiting the 'Hockey Hall of Fame' followed by lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe for the ultimate burger :)
Here Sandra and I are wearing 'Donate Life' jumpers designed by Holly Werlein who is also actively promoting organ donation/awareness in her country. Holly has a facebook link to advertise the clothing range which is available to purchase click on this link Holdols Transplant Wear
The evening agenda was to devine a heavenly ultimate dessert to the Eaten Centre again at 'Green Jeans'
Calling out all fork lift trucks please - I can't move...require removing from the building - stomach overload!
Last day In Toronto before returning to the airport - for homeward bound. Aww, I feel quite sad but also I have a feeling of soon I will be home, back to reality and for life to resume where it left off.
Sandra made sure that it was still full on and spent my remaining hours meeting one of her friend's, Karyn who is waiting for a liver transplant. We spent a couple of hours at her home chatting and exchanging stories and I hope Karyn gets her life-saving gift soon.
Then final stop was to meet Sandra's parents and they were truly lovely people. And thats it! OMGosh........next stop the airport :(
When Sandra dropped me off I was actually quite emotional and didn't want to cry. A holiday of a lifetime about to finish. How my lungs were still breathing and no lung collapses, and I did it!!! I am still alive to tell the tale...just got to get home safely..lol
I knew for the return flight it may be worth to try and upgrade if seats available to the next level - not like business class/first as out of my league and had little funds left. I did try enquire on the phone system and it was too much money even for basic upgrade...but worth one more shot checking in. I was greeted by a lovely lady and I was the first to check in. I was still very emotional and the lady may have thought I was mad......as suddenly I got on one. For those who don't know me I just started babbling away and probably didnt stop talking. The helpless look on the lady's face - but nevertheless I just continued saying things like "Wow...love Canada..1st time here..amazing..nearly cried whilst at Niagara Falls..breathtaking.....then briefly said I thought I would never make it from having an illness/transplant......blah blah..back to Wow...Omg...sad to be going home" I'm sure you get the gist...hahaha.
Then the lady said what happened to you - do you mind I ask..so said all I've endured...15 lung collapses, surviving weeks in a coma, having a double-lung transplant..this being a dream trip that never knew if ever would become a reality and I was pretty teary eyed by this time. So emotional..such a mess...lol
I had already paid my last monies left for a mini upgrade - yay! and as I walked away with my new ticket, the lady said, "I have upgraded you again to business class...now go away before you make me cry" I was gobsmacked and thanked her profusely and walked away in shock and couple tears running down my face...... This happens in films - not real life!
I then proceeded to the business class lounge with free food, booze (shame not an alcholic..was help your self), fresh buffet foods, hot meals, snacks, cold foods, any soft drink, infact was like a mini supermarket - and all FREE!! Then free laptops to use with wi-fi, luxury armchairs, the most biggest blingest chandelier I've ever seen. Free newspapers/magazines....I was amazed at how fantastic this really was, and something I could never ever pay anyways in my lifetime. I wanted to ask a posh looking lady and some business man to pinch me (thankfully I didn't). I just ate, smiled, sat in awe until we were called down for boarding.
Boy oh boy.......here was me walking into business class with a bed and first class service WOW! What an amazing end to a simply breathtaking holiday........I could also have had a full cooked brekkie, shower, beauty treatments once landed in the UK...and hope my collection from the airport would be late. No chance...hahaha..I land...phone rings.."I'm here" typical!!
The flight also included a free Elemis overnight beauty kit - amazing choice of food with a menu, and also fed, taken my pills..recline time to sleep for the overnight flight.....
And now here I am dazed, tired, confused I'm back with my parents for an overnight pit-stop before I return to my base.
Back in my home....unpacking...washing...uploading photos...reminiscing..still in awe.....WoW WoW WoW and all thanks to my donor who lost his battle, but signed to be an Organ Donor. This wonderful act - saved my life and gave me this opportunity. I love my second chance to still be here, I loved my holiday! Thankyou to all who made it happen, my parents, friends and new friends made for life - your kindness and hospitality will remain close to my heart and I appreciate everything you've done for me.
Until the next blog installement..watch this space.... xx