In Pillness and in Health

 
 I wrote  In Pillness and in Health  because Alcoholism took my father at age 38 when I was 10. I never understood why he died. Then I landed in rehab at age 42, and my entire life changed.

I wrote In Pillness and in Health because Alcoholism took my father at age 38 when I was 10. I never understood why he died. Then I landed in rehab at age 42, and my entire life changed.

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.

 

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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.

 
 
  Learn more about addiction!   According to the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , in 2009, more than seven percent of Americans aged 18 and up have a drinking problem. That is nearly 13.8 million Americans. 8.1 million of them are alcoholic.  So, what IS alcoholism / addiction?  It is not a moral failing. It is a DISEASE as listed in the American Medical Association (AMA).  In 1956, the AMA declared alcoholism / addiction an illness. Then in 1966, proclaimed it a disease. In 1991, the AMA further endorsed the classification of alcoholism by the International Classification of Diseases under both  psychiatric  and  medical  sections.  As defined by the AMA, alcoholism meets the three standard criteria for being declared a disease:  1) It has an identifiable set of symptoms.  2) It follows a predictable and malignant progression if not treated.  3) It responds to treatment.

Learn more about addiction!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009, more than seven percent of Americans aged 18 and up have a drinking problem. That is nearly 13.8 million Americans. 8.1 million of them are alcoholic.

So, what IS alcoholism / addiction?

It is not a moral failing. It is a DISEASE as listed in the American Medical Association (AMA).

In 1956, the AMA declared alcoholism / addiction an illness. Then in 1966, proclaimed it a disease. In 1991, the AMA further endorsed the classification of alcoholism by the International Classification of Diseases under both psychiatric and medical sections.

As defined by the AMA, alcoholism meets the three standard criteria for being declared a disease:

1) It has an identifiable set of symptoms.

2) It follows a predictable and malignant progression if not treated.

3) It responds to treatment.

 Sept. 2011 vs. Sept. 2016.  How do you know if someone is alcoholic?   The light in their eyes has gone out.   There are different ways to achieve sobriety, but Alcoholics Anonymous saved my life.

Sept. 2011 vs. Sept. 2016.

How do you know if someone is alcoholic?

The light in their eyes has gone out.

There are different ways to achieve sobriety, but Alcoholics Anonymous saved my life.

AA

For more information on Alcoholics Anonymous in the San Fernando Valley, Ca. click here

www.sfvaa.org

Or for the General Office in NYC call 212-870-3400 or www.aa.org

NEW! (10/4/17) My KidneyTalk podcast interview with Lori Hartwell from Renal Support Network. Click here: An open and honest discussion about addiction!

  Learn more about kidney transplantation!   A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure that places a healthy kidney from a live or deceased donor into a person whose kidneys no longer function properly.  The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located on either side of the spine just below the rib cage. Each one is about the size of a fist. Their main function is to filter and remove excess waste, minerals and fluid from the blood by producing urine.  When your kidneys lose this filtering ability, harmful levels of fluid and waste accumulate in your body, which can raise your blood pressure and result in kidney failure (End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or End-Stage Kidney Disease). ESRD occurs when the kidneys have lost about 90 percent of their ability to function normally.  Common causes of ESRD include:  -Diabetes.  -Chronic, uncontrolled high blood pressure.  -Chronic Glomerulonephritis—inflammation and eventual scarring of the tiny filters (glomeruli) within your kidneys.  (MINE.)   -Polycystic Kidney Disease.  *People with ESRD need to have waste removed from their bloodstream via a machine (dialysis) or a kidney transplant to stay alive.*

Learn more about kidney transplantation!

A kidney transplant is a surgical procedure that places a healthy kidney from a live or deceased donor into a person whose kidneys no longer function properly.

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located on either side of the spine just below the rib cage. Each one is about the size of a fist. Their main function is to filter and remove excess waste, minerals and fluid from the blood by producing urine.

When your kidneys lose this filtering ability, harmful levels of fluid and waste accumulate in your body, which can raise your blood pressure and result in kidney failure (End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or End-Stage Kidney Disease). ESRD occurs when the kidneys have lost about 90 percent of their ability to function normally.

Common causes of ESRD include:

-Diabetes.

-Chronic, uncontrolled high blood pressure.

-Chronic Glomerulonephritis—inflammation and eventual scarring of the tiny filters (glomeruli) within your kidneys. (MINE.)

-Polycystic Kidney Disease.

*People with ESRD need to have waste removed from their bloodstream via a machine (dialysis) or a kidney transplant to stay alive.*

 March 8th, 2011 vs. April 11th, 2011.  7% kidney function vs. Three days after transplant.

March 8th, 2011 vs. April 11th, 2011.

7% kidney function vs. Three days after transplant.

Be an Organ Donor!

Paired Donation: https://paireddonation.org

Organ donation: https://organdonor.gov/index.html