On January 18th, I flew off to Toronto to serve my 2nd term as a Community Representative for the Canadian MS Society. This year, I was assigned to the Clinical and Population Health (CPH) Committee, which deals with research related to mental health/quality of life research in relation to MS patients. It was really encouraging to know that researchers and clinicians are invested in finding ways of treating the whole patient and helping to address the unique mental and emotional challenges MS patients face living with this life-altering disease.
Working with the CPH committee was a different experience than the one I had last year with the Personnel grants committee. The focus is different, but the work is equally important. I liked both but for entirely different reasons.
It was wicked cold in Toronto-the day I arrived, it was -14C but I believe the wind chill factor made it even colder than that. Walking to the team dinner that night, my legs were totally numb from the cold within seconds. It was a sharp contrast to the +10C (spring-like temps) I’d left back at home in BC. BRRR!! I’ve lived on the west coast so long now that it seems odd to see people as bundled up as they were. I forget that that’s a part of everyday life in other parts of Canada in the winter. Most of the time at home, I’m wandering around in a light polar fleece. It was a bit of a rude awakening to step out of the airport and get a blast of icy wind in the face!
The committee dinner was at this wonderful French restaurant called Bodega (Yes, it’s a French restaurant with a Spanish name) about a 10 minute walk from our hotel. It was nestled in this funky little neighbourhood in a converted Victorian home.
Let’s just say I had the best steak I’ve ever had in my life there and I will be thinking about it for years to come! I also had a delicious Tiramisu for dessert. YUM!! I felt properly spoiled.
Tuesday morning, I was up bright and early (5 am Toronto time, 2 am my time!) to get ready for a full day of great reviews. We were treated to a waffle and fruit brekki before digging into our work and we had a catered lunch (chicken & rice) later on. Thanks Anindita for making sure we were well fed! WE managed to finish up around 4:30 pm. Grant reviews always require intense concentration, so I think we were all tired, but satisfied with what we’d accomplished by the end of the day.
The MS Society gave each of us a beautiful Italian leather journal as a thank you gift. I love mine! Before I left, I had the opportunity to meet a few of the national office staff and have a chat. It was nice reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.
After my committee duties were done, I was able to meet up with Jenna, my NMO sister whom I blog with over at NMO Diaries for dinner and to catch up. She took me to this fabulous Mexican restaurant called Caballitos, which not only had amazing food but also a live Mariachi band. I can now say I’ve had an up close and person rendition of “Tequila” played right in my ear!
Wednesday I “slept in” till 8:30 am (5:30 am my time) and then went off in search of brekki. After breakfast, I had a few hours to myself, so I wandered the streets for 3 hours, taking photos and checking out the city. There’s something really lovely about being anonymous in a strange city and exploring it alone. As an artist, the thing I love best is finding all the graffiti and street art. These elements give texture to a city.
I also really love architecture and Toronto has some beautiful buildings.
My next trip will be to LA in March for NMO Patient Day. I had better get my flight booked! I am looking forward to hearing about what’s new in the world of NMO! If you’d like more information about LA NMO Patient Day, you can find it here.Tags: advocacy, community representative, grant reviews, NMO, research, Toronto, travel