In Pillness and in Health
My memoir, In Pillness and in Health, reveals with radical honesty how my 16-year old marriage imploded after my husband donated his kidney to me, and pill addiction consumed my soul. It’s a redemptive tale of a loving marriage cuckolded by the love of my life—Pills.
I married Kevin at 26, just seven years after my first kidney transplant at the age of 19. As we lay in each other’s arms on our wedding night, my unsuspecting groom knew nothing of the Codeine and Fiorinal swirling through my veins. Successful Canadian actors, we moved to LA in 1996 to claim the Hollywood Dream, but my big break never came.
By 2008, I turned increasingly to my narcotic lovers for escape. After a sudden chronic rejection diagnosis, I spiraled into desperation and my first overdose, on over 100 pills. Kevin sacrificed his ethics for me, from talking an ER psychiatrist out of a 5150, to convincing the transplant team’s psychiatrist to amend a Cedars-Sinai abstinence form so I could use on dialysis.
Despite my husband’s unconditional love, in 2011, I stole, lied, and abused on the gift of his kidney. Sent to rehab after a second overdose, we did not speak for the first time in 18 years, and he left for Canada.
Separated, overwhelmed by a new transplant and my deceptions brought to light, I wondered if I could live life as a sober woman. Now that I had realized who the true love of my life was, was it too late?
In Pillness and in Health is a medical memoir masquerading as a Jennifer Weiner beach read. Fans of Bill Clegg’s visceral prose, Carrie Fisher’s wry commentary, and Paul Kalanithi’s graceful medical writing will appreciate this against-all-odds journey, as I break up with Pills and learn how to love again.
In Pillness and in Health won the Allegra Johnson Prize in Memoir Writing through UCLA Writers' Extension in 2015.
I was born in Toronto, Canada to a Latvian father, Peter Ivanans, and Danish mother, Birgitte Kristensen. At 13, my first short story entitled, Why Me? won the Marjorie Pickthall Award at the Bishop Strachan School.
Also at 13, I was diagnosed with Glomerulonephritis (chronic inflammation of the kidneys), and was told one day I would need a kidney transplant.
At 19, my mother saved my life with her kidney.
I studied for three years at Ryerson Theatre School in Toronto, and two years at The University of Toronto. Highlights of my acting career include the role of Annie Hamer on the CBC series Liberty Street, a season at The Shaw Festival, many MOWs and commercials, Jag, Strong Medicine and the role of Maggie O' Halloran on Star Trek:Voyager.
At 42, my husband, Kevin saved my life with his kidney.
At 44, I got sober.
At 46, I won the Allegra Johnson Award in Memoir Writing through UCLA Writers' Extension.
At 48, I completed my first book, In Pillness and in Health.
Today, I am a relieved ex-actress, sober wife, dog-mom, and born-again writer living in Southern California.