Quit smoking, now it's time to be serious

A couple months back I saw a commercial for the birth control I take - Don't be surprised everyone I'm not saving myself for marriage. The commercial warned that there are some serious risks when taking the birth control, Yasmin. It was all the usual stuff, like women shouldn't smoke because of the risk of stroke. But it wasn't so much the risks as the fact that lots of women have been affect by the side effects after using this pill.

So, of course when I was at my Dr. I asked her about it. She said, "I wouldn't be worried about it, if you haven't had any problems at this point everything should be fine." Should be fine, what does that even mean? I expected her to tell me to quit right away, or what was I thinking smoking? But she didn't. So out of mind the worrying went, because why would I want to worry too much about something like that? After all, I'm young I'll be fine.

After a few months, the warnings came back to haunt me. While re-filling my prescription I noticed that right on the packing on a bright yellow sticker was the warning once again right in my face. It said, " Smoking while taking this pill can cause circulation and heart problems." Yikes, that scared the shit out of me especially after my mom had told me the day before that stroke and heart problems are prevalent on both sides of my family - good to know. I started worrying, I'm cold all the time especially in my fingers and toes, clear signals that my circulation isn't the greatest.

Needless to say this worries me a little bit. This brings me to two choices:
1. Stop taking the birth control, or
2. Quit smoking.
I choose option 2, quit smoking. This is a lot easier said then done. As some of you may remember I tried to quit smoking at the end of last term, so why not try again as this term and this year officially come to an end. Follow me as I try to quit smoking during the most toughest season to quit smoking - summer, patios and drinks.


Magazine writing isn't as easy as it seems

Since it's the end of the year, I thought I'd stop nagging everyone about health and wellness and instead share with you some of the things I've done this semester. One thing I'm particularly proud of is my magazine article, "A Place to Call His Own". Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed, after some difficultly, writing it.

After losing his job two-years ago, Sean Keenahan felt lost. He copes with an intellectual disability and without the stability of his job he was struggling to see where he fit in. He knew he needed something to call his own, somewhere he could feel like he belonged.

So Keenahan decided to renew his lifelong love of sport by joining the Uptown Rollers, a Special Olympics 5-pin bowling team that practices at Academy Lanes

. Now two years later, he’s got a spot on this year’s provincial team and the excitement of an upcoming wedding to a teammate.

Growing up the friendly 43-year-old lived and breathed sports. From baseball to bowling, Keenahan enjoyed being part of a team and building friendships with his teammates.

“I like to play as much sports as possible,” said Keenahan, who reaches six feet tall and is built like a solid athlete. “I like the team atmosphere and the way we cheer on each other.”

The Special Olympics have been helping Manitobans with a wide range of intellectual disabilities for 30 years. It reaches across the province from border to border and goes as far north as Thompson. The goal is to create a community where its athletes feel a sense of belonging and build confidence so they can reach their personal potential through sport.

After only 2 years bowling at Academy Lanes, Keenahan made his way onto the provincial 5-pin bowling team for the 2010 Manitoba Winter Games in Portage la Prairie.

In order for athletes to participate in this year’s winter games they must compete in a regional tournament. Keenahan didn’t expect to compete and was caught off guard when his head coach, Yiu Lee, entered him in the event. Unlike previous regionals where any athlete over the age of 18 who met the competition criteria could sign up, they are now chosen and mentored by their head coach.

“Sean is a natural athlete,” said Lee, who’s been the Uptown Roller’s head coach since 2007. “He’s a excellent bowler with quite a high average.”

Going into regionals, Keenahan’s bowling average was 179, but he knew it wasn’t going to be easy. He had to compete against athletes from Winnipeg’s seven other Special Olympics bowling teams and place in the top three in order to make the team.

At regionals, Keenahan didn’t think he was doing very well. After checking the scoreboard near the end of his second frame he saw that he was behind many of the other players. He resigned himself to the fact he wouldn’t get to this year’s winter games, but was happy he made it to regionals. But another athlete came up to him and said he had made the team. Still Keenahan was doubtful when he heard the news.

“Really? Uptown made it second? Really?” he reminisced.

But it didn’t take long for his shock to pass and the good news to sink in.

“I’m like, ‘oh my gosh, we’re one of the top teams.’ I was really thrilled about that,” he said.

While Keenahan was surprised how well he did, his teammate, Nancy Hamilton, back at Academy Lanes had no doubt his talent and perseverance would pay off.

“I’m really happy for Sean, because he’s been working really hard,” said Hamilton, a long-time Special Olympics bowler. “I’m going to cheer for Sean because I know he can do it.”

Another person he can count to cheer him on is teammate and finance Annette Cresswell. She and Keenahan met in 2008 at a Valentine’s Day function at Coronation Lanes just after he joined the program.

“I have a disability and I wanted to meet people like me,” said 46-year-old Cresswell, lightly squeezing Keenahan as she looks up at him with wide eyes.

After dating a year, Keenahan popped the question and the pair will tie the knot in 2011. While it may be hard for them to articulate their feelings for one another Keenahan gazing at Cresswell taking her turn to bowl says it all.

Two yeas ago it may have hard for Keenahan to see how much he had to look forward to, but now he’s got a team and a fiancé who are behind him every step of the way.

“Going into provincials,” he said, “I’m hoping to do my best and do what I can for this team and for the bowling alley.”