Tag Archives: life

Where do you draw the line?

I was happy when I woke up, only to become very sad very soon.  I heard that a colleague of my sister died suddenly yesterday of a ruptured aorta,  that a friend of my other sister was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and that a dog of an author friend had to be put down today because of deteriorating health issues. Such sad stories!

Feeling sad
Feeling sad

It made me realize, again, how lucky I am. I have a loving husband, two beautiful children who do very well at school, and two yappers of dogs. We all are happy and in good health (apart from some hayfever now and again, and a lump on one of the dogs).  I had a discussion with my mother about how stress and genes influences health, agreeing in the end that so much is to be said for living a stress-free life.

When I was diagnosed with an arterial growth underneath my brain in 2009, I decided that I didn’t want any stress anymore in my life. I quit my job and did the things I wanted to do. Of course, I was only able to do this because my husband could support our family. Since the oil crisis, his work has become more and more stressful, partly because he wants to keep his job to continue to support us and be able to pay the mortgage (the other part because he has to do the work that was done by multiple people before). But is it worth it? I do want to grow old with this man, in a big house or a little one. As long as we’re both healthy.

Growing old together
Growing old together

I’m not saying that only stress causes disease. What I do think is that stress lowers our immune system, letting our bodies get out of tune and opening the door for diseases. They say there is no link to a person’s happiness and the appearance of a disease. But how to you measure a state of mind? Would people know they are in a situation that isn’t good for them? So many people stay in jobs that are too stressful. So many people stay in relationships that are going nowhere. So many people find themselves in situations they say they can’t get out of. But can you really not get out? Is it never possible to choose for your self-preservation? Does society have such a hold on us that it takes us under, and we let it?

Where do you draw the line? When do you decide that enough is enough? Is it only when your body tells you it’s had enough? Or should we be more sensible and quit the stress before it’s too late?

Tell me, where do you draw the line?

Where do you draw the line?
Where do you draw the line?

Images by:

Header image from SCAN website, first and last photos by Asdrubal luna and Thought Catalog on Unsplash,  elderly couple from Depositphotos

Back again…

Last week I was out of the country, and I didn’t post a ‘What to Watch’ or ‘Meet the Author.’ I’d like to tell you what I’ve been up to. I turned fifty not so long ago, so I spent two days with my twin sister on Texel in the Netherlands before meeting up with some other family I hadn’t seen in years, next to spending some time with my Mom of course. Fifty is quite an age. I wondered if I was halfway or whether most of my time was up already.

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Then I witnessed a horrible accident last Monday. I was walking with my Mom and a friend through The Hague. We came to a crossing with trams going both ways. Not at that moment, but it was a busy street with cars in the outside lanes and trams and cars on the inside lanes. There were two elderly people crossing the road on the zebra path. The man was using a walking stick, the woman was carrying shopping bags. I recall the man sticking his hand up toward an approaching car. The car didn’t stop. Next thing I saw was the two pensioners being thrown into the air, over the car like they were doing cartwheels, their bodies skidding over the tarmac for several meters before finally coming to a halt more than ten meters from where they were scooped up.

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I can’t tell you what went through my mind right then. You just can’t believe that what you saw really happened. You can’t believe someone could survive such a hit. There were croissants strewn over the road as well as oranges and bananas. There were also the walking stick of the man, both shoes of the woman, and her sock. Her sock. How fast must she have been flung through the air if even her sock came off? The woman was as white as a ghost, and we feared she was dead on impact. The man was heavier and had come to a halt about two meters earlier than the woman. We had seen his head bouncing off the edge of the pavement. Both of them didn’t move at all once the kinetic force of the hit was gone. It appeared later that they were both still alive, but the woman died before she could be taken to a hospital. The man died after being taken away.

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Foundations of a 5000-year-old farm

I thought again about my lifespan. The average age doesn’t mean anything. It’s a statistic and has absolutely no meaning to an individual. You could live twenty years longer than the average age or get hit by a car before you get home from doing your shopping. What the experience did stress was that life is too short to be unhappy. I had brain surgery in 2009 and had realized this there and then already. I was able to quit my job and do the things I like. It took me another six years to find out I really enjoy writing. I have tried to make the most of my life ever since. I make an effort to spend as much time with my children as possible, before they leave the parental nest. I moved from Australia back to Europe to be able to spend more time with the rest of my family. The accident made me realize I need to take even more time to love my loved ones. Life is short. Make the most of it. No regrets!

 

 

My Weight Loss Journey

As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted an update on my weight loss journey this week. I recently sent my readers a questionnaire about what they wanted to read via my newsletter, and the overall response to my weight loss journey was that they weren’t interested. Obviously, this was to be expected. This website is about writing and it doesn’t really fit here. I just wanted to make sure.

I’m also extremely busy working on new covers for my Suckers Trilogy. They’re going to be awesome but need me to concentrate as I’m doing most of the work (on Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign) myself. It’s a steep learning curve. In the meantime, I’m also working on ideas for my next novel which I hope to begin writing as soon as the covers are done. A writer’s job is never finished!

So, I’m no longer going to post about my weight loss journey. I’ll keep trying to lose weight and may give a quarterly update, just no longer every week. My sincere apologies to those who were following my journey. I hope that my meal photos inspired you to make scrumptious, healthy meals 😀

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Meet the Author… Sandra Bass Joines

Sandra Bass Joines is a sweet lady I met through One Stop Fiction. Sandra has written a book on spine surgery recovery and a romantic suspense novel called Tears of Sand. Most recently, i.e. last weekend, she has published her second romantic suspense novel called Shoe in the Road. It’s a story about a woman finding a shoe in the road. Oh, and about finding true love after leaving a cheating husband and a suspenseful road trip. Let’s talk to Sandra to find out more about this strangely titled novel!

Sandra Bass Joines

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Hi Sandra 🙂

Thank you so much for affording me the opportunity to share a little about my latest novel SHOE IN THE ROAD and how it came about.

It’s a strange title. Can you tell us how you got it?

Titles come to my mind before stories do. The title for this last novel, for instance, popped into my mind one day when I saw a shoe in the middle of the road. I thought that would be an interesting name for a book – shoe in the road. I had no idea what it would be about or anything regarding characters. I sat at my computer one day and typed Shoe in the Road on the first page. I then closed my eyes and listened (I try to listen, not think). At this point, the idea presented itself to have a shoe influence the lives of the heroine and hero.

So, after you had the title, how did you come up with the story?

The story pretty much wrote itself. Well, I have to give some credit to the heroine’s conversations with her deceased grandmother’s ashes (don’t worry, they were in an urn) and an ornery cat who invited himself into the story. I’m a southern girl who can spin quite a yarn. Therefore, it seemed logical that a girl running from a controlling, cheating husband would certainly be more interesting escaping in a 1960 Coupe de Ville convertible named Gussie than in a traditional vehicle.

Why did you use this setting for your novel?

A showdown between Boston Calbreth, the heroine, and her husband made sense to happen in a place I have heard scary stories about all my life. Tales of people going into Tate’s Hell Swamp and never coming out have been passed down from one generation to the next.

How long did you take to write the story?

It took six weeks to write the novel and a year for revising and editing. I have more stories in my head than I have time to write. I plan to put as many as possible on paper.

How did you experience the launch of your book?

I am in the middle of a launch using a four-day free promotion and a four-day ninety-nine cent promotion before raising the book to full price. So far, everything has been running smoothly. Each time I make a scheduled change, I am afraid of doing it incorrectly or concerned that Amazon or one of the promotion companies will not come through. I am enjoying the ride, and am grateful to all the wonderful people who are supporting me.

Sorry everybody, but the four-day free promotion has passed. The book is still in the £0.99 promotion (US$1.38) period for a few days, though. I have read the book and it is a lovely story. I liked the way Sandra writes, as if talking to a friend (which Boston’s Grams is, of course). Don’t miss this opportunity to grab it while it’s on sale!

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You can buy Sandra Bass Joines’s books on Amazon.

 

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My Weightloss Journey – Week 4

Week 4

Summary

This week has been a step backward. I was doing pretty good, sticking to my diet, even got under 76kg (11.9 stone) just before the weekend. Unfortunately, we went to Holland to celebrate my father-in-law’s eightiest birthday. This, as you can imagine, the party included lots of food and drink.

Needless to say, I didn’t lose any weight this week. Even though I have moderated myself, I actually gained weight again. I suppose it could have been worse if I had let myself go completely, but it is still depressing. But, I’m not going to quit my diet completely now. I felt like it yesterday when I had a vanilla slice for dessert, but I keep that lean body image in front of me and want to get there. It’s a shame I didn’t see that image when I held that vanilla slice in my hand, but oh well. Two steps forward, one step back! 🙂

Results

My scales went up to 77.5kg  (12.2 stone) this morning. My belt is still closing in the third hole, so not too bad. I’m feeling very full still, so I think the coming week will be a good week for weight loss.

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If anything, I look wider around the hips.

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As you can see, no improvement at all. I even have a tiny bit of that bottom lump back 🙂 I think it’s also visible I feel full (my abdomen is slightly more extended than in Week 0).

Diet

I drank four glasses of wine. Two red ones that were so tiny, you could count it as one big one. And two dry white wines. I chose dry as I don’t like this at all and hoped it would take me longer to finish them. It didn’t work. I’m very proud I kept to two alcoholic beverages over the five-hour party, though (the red ones I drank the evening before while catching up with my sister-in-law).

The food was plentiful, with four entrees, a huge banquet, and multiple desserts to choose from. The scrumptious desserts were plentiful and spectacularly revealed.

Next to the party, I had to deal with the Dutch cuisine. Fries drowned in mayonnaise, so much licorice to cover a wall, bitterballen and kroketten, enormous pancakes… Too much to resist!

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Here are the healthier things I ate this past week:

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This coming week, I’m going to be a good girl again. Fingers crossed I will not be tempted by my family’s desserts.

My Weight Loss Journey

Week 1

History

I decided on many New Year resolutions for 2018. Weight loss is one of them. Have I tried this before? Yes. Many, many times. I’ve done the lemon and maple syrup diet and the Cambridge diet. I tried boot camp (twice), swimming, boxercize, fencing, Zumba, Jazzercize, hitting the gym. You name it, I’ve tried it.

Did it work? Yes, most of them. Until mother nature decided that losing weight was not what she had in mind for me and threw a spanner in the works. I got shin splints, calcified tendons, torn tendons, and even a diagnosis of being ‘exercise intolerant’ (i.e. slightly asthmatic). I’ve tried going to the gym multiple times, but after a month I just get bored with it. Likewise with the diets. After three months of starving myself, I’m just dying for a snack and go overboard.

Do I really need to lose weight? Yes, I do. My BMI (body mass index) is 32, so just into the obese range. I nearly faint due to lack of oxygen when tying my shoelaces, and my clothes are screaming at me to buy a bigger size. Most of all, I didn’t look good in any dress I wanted to wear over Christmas, so something had to be done!

My Way

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This time, I’m going to do it differently. I’m doing yoga, to warm up my body for some exercise in the future, probably karate (as half of my family is doing it). Not only is yoga good for your body, but looking at Finlay Wilson’s nicely shaped body is also good for the mind 🙂 (don’t worry, the book was a Christmas present from my husband, so he’s okay with the eye candy).

I’m not doing a particular diet nor counting calories nor measuring amounts of food. I’m just going to eat less. Cutting out a lot of carbs in particular. This means not eating the potatoes/rice/noodles that go with our dinners and not having any biscuits with my tea in the afternoon. It also means I can’t have sandwiches for breakfast or lunch and have to be more creative. Variety is the spice of life, n’est-ce pas?

Results

Every week I’ll embarrass myself and show you photos so you can see the difference. I’ll show you the first photos taken and then what I look like that week. You won’t be going ‘oh wow!’ if I show you the photos from the previous week (except for this week of course) as I’m expecting my weight loss to be a slow process. My GP once said to me, ‘It didn’t get there overnight, so don’t expect it to come off overnight.’ Wise words. So here are my results for Week 1.

I’m (still) 1.58m tall (5’2″), and at the beginning of the year, I weighted exactly 80kg (12.6 stone). I’ve never been this heavy in my life! This morning, I weighed… (drumroll): 77kg (12.1 stone)! I only began my diet last week, so I must have lost some weight in the first week of January. We were home again from our overeating expedition in Holland (visiting the family), so my diet was a lot healthier when I got back although not optimal.

W1F

 

Note the lesser amount of shadow on my belly. I’m trying to ‘keep my stomach in’ about the same on all the photos, so I’m not cheating. I’ll try in the future to keep my hands on my hips so you can see the ‘saddlebag’ I’ve got on my right hip. I suppose everybody is, but I hate being asymmetrical.

W1S

 

As you can see in the W0 photo (when you take a loupe 🙂 ), I have an indent mid-belly that is almost gone in the W1 photo. Woohoo! My belly is still sticking out way beyond my boobs, so we have a long way to go still, but we’re working on it.

Did I notice losing the weight? Yes, I did. I was able to move up to the next hole of my belt, going from a waistline of 88cm (34.6inch) to 85.5cm (33.7inch). Also, my pants are feeling slightly loser around my belly.

Diet

As mentioned, I cut out a lot of carbs from my diet. No potatoes, rice or noodles. Did I cheat? Yes, I did. I had a small handful of french fries with my dinner one day, and I did have some licorice lollies when I had a sore throat. I managed to stay away from any biscuits with my tea, though. I didn’t cut sugar out as I can’t drink my coffee without it, but that’s the only added form of sugar I’ve head. Oh, and no desserts of course. I once had some yoghurt with raspberries, but that’s it.

Here are some images of the breakfast and lunches I’ve had this week.

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My breakfast for the last two days has been a berry smoothie: yoghurt, milk, rolled oats, raspberries, and blueberries. Very nice. I don’t measure or weigh anything, I just add them so I have about 250ml (8.8oz) in total. I try to fill my stomach with an amount of about the size of my fist (usually slightly more for dinner). One of the lunches with sushimi (love that stuff!) has a dollop of garlic and herb sauce on it (the light version). I’m not going fat-free. You need fats to be able to absorb certain vitamins (A, D, E, K), so I eat fat, but in the amount of a teaspoon per meal.

Have I been hungry? Yes, I have. But as my Mom always says, ‘when your tummy rumbles, it doesn’t mean you have to put something in it every time.’

Are you on a weight loss journey? Why not do it together? Let me know how you’re going and we can help each other staying strong!

 

Header Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Meet The Author…

I thought it might be a fun idea to introduce you to some other authors. Once a week I will pick out an author for you and direct you to their page.

Meet Gregg Savage

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This week, I felt the twang of nostalgia when I read Gregg Savage’s guest post on The Story Reading Ape’s blog. He tells his tale of how he became a writer after telling his (step)daughter Ruby a story every night. My mind was taken back to when I was prompted by my children to write. It is funny how life can take you in directions you never thought were possible 🙂

Click on the link below to read his journey to become an author.

Meet Guest Author, Gregg Savage…

You can find Gregg’s website full of children’s stories here.

Header Photo by Juja Han on Unsplash

Happy New Year!

It’s 2018… and I’m back!

It’s been a while, over a month I’d say, and I’ve missed blogging. Did you miss me? I bet you’ve had many things to keep you busy over the festive season. I have so many things to tell you and I hardly know where to start. 2018 is going to be such an active year for me.

Killing A Vampire

My biggest accomplishment in 2017 was finishing Book 3 of the Suckers Trilogy. I was able to send it to the beta readers before Christmas, and I’m receiving their responses back now. The few grammatical errors (tenses keep being my bane), the odd remark on character statements, but overall a positive reaction. I even received a pat on the back for two suspenseful chapters by Kathy Lance, an ex-director of an international school of linguists and now book reviewer for One Stop Fiction. She’s a tough one, writing very honest reviews, and her comment made me very proud.

I must admit I was a bit wary of this book when I began writing it. I have planned this story for a long time, and writing it according to ‘plan’ felt different than writing the first two books, which were written ‘from the wrist.’ Writing the interactions between the characters still felt exciting as they were new on the page, but I worried about the storyline once I finished it.  I wanted a grand finale and felt my story lacking. I discussed the issue with my family and they helped me improve it. Now I have revised the ending, got rid of the grammatical errors, and changed the wording here and there, I feel this story is a great ending to the trilogy and am ready to promote it.

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Christmas Celebration

Over Christmas, we flew to Holland to spend time with the family. We visited almost all of our dearest family and slept in four different beds in the seven days we were there. The weather was great, we only had rain the last day. We were very lucky to get a Maastricht city tour from my uncle, who has been a tour guide in one of Holland’s oldest cities. We visited the tunnels as well, which was very different from what I expected. We spent two days in the Efteling, a fairytale theme park, which is always a big hit with the kids. It was great to see everyone again and we were sad to leave.  I was glad to sleep in my own bed again though 🙂

What is 2018 going to bring?

Promoting

First of all, the promotion of my trilogy. I never thought I would ever write a book, so finishing three has been a major accomplishment in my life. It gives me a real boost and I’m looking forward to promoting them. I love writing and will continue. There are so many new ideas already flying around in my head.

Improving health

The new year also brings a new year’s resolution for me as I have never been this unhealthy and overweight in my life. Writing has been my passion and I have put all things aside for it. This year, I need to take more care of my body, my family, and my house. I have started doing yoga exercises and will begin doing some physical exercises as well. I’ll have to take it slow, as I’m as flexible as a door. Next to this, I fell on my wrist during ice skating on our holiday and it is still painful. Fingers crossed it won’t be a chronic issue.

 

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Family time

I also need to take out more time for my family as I feel like I have neglected them badly and want to spend more time with them. I’m going to cut our TV-watching dinners and eat at the dining table so we can have actual conversations. Cooking more interesting dinners and resolving the draft issues in the dining room will probably help promote this.

Renovations

2018 is also the year that we are going to have major renovations done to the house. We have decided that it takes too long to do everything ourselves. Sometimes you need to put a little water to your wine. The work doesn’t have to be perfect, as long as it functions and you can enjoy life instead of worrying about not having enough time. So, the kitchen and family bathroom are going to be done by someone else than ourselves. The kitchen project will cause some problems as last year, my husband decided to rip out the little kitchen in the basement ‘because it was ugly.’ We will now have to organize a makeshift kitchen in the dining room when we rip out the old kitchen. This will mean my previous resolution of having meals in the dining room will have to be postponed, but hopefully it won’t take a whole year (famous last words).

Reading

As I won’t be writing 24/7 anymore, I also hope to have more time to read so watch this space for some awesome book reviews!

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Do you have any new year’s resolutions or major plans for 2018? I’d love to hear what’s written down on your calendar 🙂

It’s the Season of the Witch

Yesterday, I had to play the Wicked Witch of the West, a mother’s prerogative. We booked tickets to see the second Kingsmen movie. As they’re working on the freeway to go around Aberdeen, we were guided along a detour that almost got us to Aberdeen via Inverness, but we managed to get there just in time. I got my phone out and showed the lady the Q-code. “Okay,” she says after scanning it, “Can I see some IDs please.”

Now you must know that we are regular visitors at the cinema. Not that I’ve seen this particular lady before, but we are visiting this place about twice a month.  Never before have we been asked for IDs. I have, however, since my kids turned fifteen, told them to bring IDs to the cinema. We buy them student tickets and to see a 15-rated movie they need proof of studentship and being older than fifteen.

I turned to my children and they are both shaking their heads. They didn’t bring their IDs. The woman said we couldn’t go in without proof they were students and older than fifteen. I browsed my whole photo gallery on my phone, but she wouldn’t accept any photo of my kids in school uniform. Of course, I didn’t have any proof of their age either. My son looks like he could be eighteen and my daughter could pass for twelve (they are twins nevertheless).

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I ‘lost the plot’ and reacted very badly, cursing at anybody who tried to get my attention. We got a refund and drove back again. I didn’t speak a word the whole trip. I even refused a chocolate as a peace offer and the kids know it’s bad when their mother refuses to eat chocolate. My husband didn’t get it. He even tried to soothe me. I was laughing on the inside but put up a wicked face until the end. When we got home I gave everybody a hug and told them to never to forget their IDs again. We then watched the first Kingsmen movie from the comfort of our home instead.

Sometimes, you just have to let your kids know they screwed up big time for them to remember not to make that mistake twice 🙂 .

 

Images from NMgnCP.com

A life or death situation

About two weeks ago I read on Facebook that somebody’s friend had died of asthma. I remember thinking ‘do people still die of asthma?’ Apparently they do. My daughter has asthma. Not severely, thankfully, but when she gets a cold, she gets it extra bad and needs to use her inhaler. Again, she’s doesn’t get it as bad as some people do, but enough to worry you as a mother.

Last weekend I went back to Holland to visit my family as my sister turned fifty and her husband had a retirement party. My Mum and I met my sister for lunch and found out she just came from the breast clinic where they found suspicious lumps in her breast. She needs to have more tests done and will hear the results a week later. That means a whole week in anxiety for her (and us). Both my sister and Mum were coughing from the other side of the lunch table as they apparently had a ‘bad cold.’ As I was staying with my Mum for the weekend, I naturally picked up this ‘bad cold.’ It actually was a H1N1 flu strain and had me knocked down within a few days. A sore throat, headaches, snotty nose, muscle aches, vomiting, chills, and sweaty spells. I got the lot.

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I hadn’t had a cold in years and it knocked my off my socks, as a matter of speech next to literally, that I was so susceptible to it. I didn’t have any existing health issues, yet this tiny little thing had me crawling on hands and knees in no time. What would this bug do to people who do have health issues? People who’s immune system is compromised by an illness, elderly people, people with asthma? And then it hit me that it may kill my daughter.

I’m not so short sighted that I think that I can shield my daughter from any outside effects. But what if I’m the one that brings in the rot? What if I contaminate her with a bug that hospitalises her? As we will have no doctor close at hand over the Christmas holidays, I had another issue to deal with. Do I try my best not to contaminate her and keep my distance for a week until I’m no longer contagious or, suspecting that I can’t prevent contaminating her as we’re living in the same house, do I contaminate her asap in order to get it over and done with now we still have access to a healthcare professional? I felt I had become her judge, jury, and executioner. I had to decide whether I actively made her sick or not.

However, you don’t say to your child ‘come here because I want to cough in your face so you can get this horrible illness.’ There is always the chance that she doesn’t get ill at all. Maybe I was not as healthy as I thought. Maybe she had this flu strain before, when she had that awful asthma spell a few years ago in Australia (the strain did start in Australia in 2009). You try to think of all sorts of reasons not to make your child ill. You have got to keep weighing the pro’s against the con’s though. What if she finally picks this highly contagious bug up elsewhere and we haven’t got access to a doctor at short notice? Is it worth the risk? Of course not. So I try to cough as ‘accidentally’ as possible near her. Because I love her.

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Tomorrow is the day that my sister will hear her test results and the last day my daughter can safely show the signs of contamination. If my daughter has a sore throat, she will have a rough time ahead, but will be able to get the healthcare she’ll need. If not, I will have to keep my fingers crossed she won’t show any symptoms for another three weeks. For both a moment that could possibly decide their fate.