In case you didn’t know, I have a rare disease called Myasthenia gravis and I also work for RDSA as my full-time job. However, I have other rare talents that you may not know about – my husband and I have mad dance skills (mad being the operative word); I am double-jointed and flat-footed; and I can give a mean massage. I can also dislocate my jaw and hip on command.
After all the negativity associated with the past year, RDSA has decided to flip the switch on their awareness campaign and get everyday South Africans to #ShareYourRare whilst encouraging others to do the same.
Can you spin on your head, or do the worm, or even do chubby bunny with 20 marshmallows? Is singing opera your hidden talent, or can you bounce a coin into a glass every time? This is YOUR rare, and this deserves to be celebrated.
Being RARE, by definition, infers being unique, highly valuable and possessing admirable or exemplary qualities.
A rare blue diamond 💎… Worth millions. A rare species 🦄… Highly sought after. A rare discovery 🍾… Highly newsworthy.
Except for Rare Diseases which are considered a financial burden, are overlooked by society and forgotten by the media.
The truth is that we are all RARE to some degree. We all have unique qualities, talents, features and abilities that make us different, and yet similar for that exact reason. This is something that deserves to be celebrated!
So how can you get involved?
This is super easy…
Share your rare on your social media platforms and tag Rare Diseases South Africa; challenge your friends or followers to do the same; and check out www.rareaware.africa for more details. You can also follow the Instagram page which has been set up especially for this campaign here.
Please also change your profile picture on your social media platforms to the “R” above, and include the caption “Join the tribe… Visit www.rareaware.africa#ShareYourRare“
With your support we can build a movement of Rare stories and get South Africa to share amazing positive stories building up to International Rare Disease Day on the 28th February 2021.
Founded in 2013 by Kelly du Plessis, Rare Diseases South Africa is a nonprofit organisation that has been successfully working to ensure that people living with a rare diseases and congenital disorders experience better recognition and support, improved health service and a better life overall.
Rare Diseases SA has 100% B-BBEE Social Development Recognition and is Section 18A certified with SARS making your donation tax deductible.
You can make a donation in many ways by visiting here.
Please help to create #RarenessAwareness and #ShareYourRare across social media. Let’s remind people about just how beautiful being rare is. Lets change our feeds to be filled with positivity and laughter through this difficult period. Let’s spread kindness and good by allowing our rareness to shine!
Some rare disease facts:
In South Africa rare diseases are defined as a dsease affecting less than I in 2000 people in the population
As a combined grouping, rare diseases affect 7% of the population, which is:
1 in every 15 people
4.1 million South Africans
70-80% of rare diseases are genetic. Some may be inherited in families while others only affect the individual
Other rare diseases may be acquired during life due to trauma, environmental effects etc.
For many rare diseases the cause is still unknown.
***WARNING – this post may be triggering to some***
I never thought this would be my life.
I never thought words like infertile, barren, sterile, IVF or failure would form part of my vocabulary when describing myself.
I have been wanting to write this blog for the longest time, but have never had the courage to put into words the journey that we have been on. And then another Mother’s Day passes us by, and I lie crumpled on the floor as I hide away from social media and all the messages. I try to put a smile on my face as yet another person asks if we have kids, and try not to fall into despair as yet another Facebook invite comes through for a baby shop. I slowly inch my toe out to test the waters with regard to opening up about infertility, and the flood of messages from other women who are going through similar grievances causes my phone to “ping” for hours.
“The English language lacks the words to mourn an absence. For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend, we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful some not. Still we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only “I’m sorry for your loss.” But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?”
― Laura Bush, Spoken from the Heart
In 2004 I was diagnosed with a rare disease called Myasthenia Gravis. This disrupts the message between my nerves and muscles, causing extreme weakness and exhaustion. I have been on chronic medication since day one of my diagnosis, and the side effects of these years of medication caused havoc with my fertility.
I married my wonderful husband in October 2012. From the moment we met, we both said just how much we wanted children. We are both very family orientated & knew we wanted mini-me‘s as soon as we were married.
I went off the pill as soon as we said “I do”, & we gave ourselves 6 months to try. Nothing happened, but we weren’t too concerned as we weren’t tracking my ovulation or anything – we were just enjoying being married & doing the baby-dance.
After a year of still no sign of falling pregnant, we decided to visit my gynae. She did scans & a few tests but still wasn’t overly concerned as we were both relatively young & still had time on our side. She did do some blood tests that showed I had very few eggs left, that are of a very poor quality. This was probably due to the fact that I was on chemotherapy -like tablets for 8 years for my disease, but we can’t be sure. It could also be from my septicemia I developed after a botched up operation in 2011.
***Note: fertility treatments are not covered by medical aid***
Before deciding to visit a fertility specialist, I decided to try the natural route. Once a week I would go for acupuncture & got given Chinese & homeopathic medicine to take on a daily basis. This made me feel a lot better & regulated my periods, but still didn’t help me fall pregnant.
We went back to my gynae for another full check-up. I had bad ovarian cysts (I have had about 8 operations now to remove cysts – one of which was 10cm big), as well as endometriosis which had taken over. My blood tests showed further deterioration of my eggs & she advised our best option was to go to a fertility specialist & see if we need to try IUI or go straight for IVF. I had to have an operation to remove endometriosis & ovarian cysts, & while she was in there she discovered my right ovary & tube were completely destroyed & these had to be removed as well.
We decided to be open with the journey that we were on, as it was always so difficult when people asked us when we were going to have kids, or why we didn’t have kids yet. It certainly helped to have everyone’s support throughout everything, & it also stopped all the unnecessary questions at braai’s or family gatherings. However, I also understand why people choose to keep this part of their lives quiet as it can be so difficult to openly discuss your latest hoo-hah appointment, or when your next period will start – and even more difficult to let everyone know when it didn’t work.
When we went to see the fertility specialist, he told us pretty much exactly what my gynae had said. Our only option was IVF & we didn’t have time to play around. The quality & quantity of my eggs was very concerning to him, as well as the rate at which I seemed to get ovarian cysts & endometriosis. He said if we waited for a couple of years I may not be able to have children, unless we got a donor egg (and maybe even a surrogate). I immediately went off a certain medication for my chronic illness that would make me a lot stronger, but causes major birth defects. He advised IVF would cost upwards of R65,000 due to the high doses of hormones I would need to be on, & they may need to do ICSI (where they inject the sperm directly into the egg) as well which would be an additional cost – even though there is nothing wrong with my husband’s sperm! (Note here: they were called Olympic Swimmers! In the infertility world, this is a HUGE win.)
We weren’t overly impressed with the bedside manner of this fertility specialist, & although I was getting sick of all the different people having to scan & test me, we decided to take one more chance with a new specialist. A family member had told us about Universitas Hospital in Bloemfontein where they had managed to fall pregnant & we decided to make the 12-hour round trip to Bloem to see if they had any further answers for us.
What a worthwhile journey! The doctors & nurses welcomed us with open arms, listened to us carefully & answered all our questions honestly. They held a conference amongst the doctors at the hospital to discuss our options with my Myasthenia Gravis & infertility issues, & then called us back in to discuss everything with us.
IVF was our only option due to time constraints & my health. We were very blessed as friends & family really rallied around us & helped with donations & fund-raising to help us reach our target to have IVF done; & we began the whole process in October 2015 (after having a HyCoSy to see if my remaining tube was open, or if another operation was needed – this was possibly the worst pain I had experienced up until this time, and Warren actually fainted seeing me in that much pain).
What followed was weeks of daily injections (up to 4 a day), tablet swallowing, more trips to Bloem, scans & emotional stress. Eventually we got to the point where the doctors were happy with the size & number of my eggs on my ovary (we had 7!) & the following day I had my trigger shot. We then went back to Bloem to have the egg retrieval done. This wasn’t as bad as what I thought, although I saw the size of the needle before closing my eyes & that freaked me out a little!
3 days later we were told to go back to the hospital to have the embryo transfer done. Depending on the growth of the embryos, they will do this transfer between day 3 & day 5. It is preferable to do it on day 5 as then they are healthier & stronger, but mine weren’t growing quite as they hoped & they thought it better to transfer them into the safety of my womb sooner rather than later.
We had 3 little embybabies & we decided to have all 3 transferred as they weren’t particularly strong & we didn’t want to lose a chance of falling pregnant this time.
The 2ww was dreadful! Every day I wondered if my sore boobs were as a result of actually being pregnant, or the progesterone supplements I was having to use. Eventually we got to D-day & I did a pregnancy test at home before going in for my blood test. It was positive! I tried not to get my hopes up too high, as we had been told the medication could give a false positive on a urine test.
Luckily for us the blood test showed elevated Hcg levels – I was actually pregnant! We were completely over-the-moon & couldn’t resist telling everyone we knew that the IVF had worked & that I was pregnant. Maybe we were a little premature with telling people this, but everyone knew the journey we were on & had been such a support system for us from day one.
Our first scan showed the sac with a little yolk – one little embryo had stuck around & taken up residence in my womb. We started buying baby things & my mum blessed us with a cot. We were actually going to be parents & we couldn’t feel more lucky! I bought all the pregnancy & baby magazines possible & read up every day to check the growth of our baby. We chose names we both liked & started choosing ideas on how we would decorate the nursery.
At our next scan (on my husband’s birthday), we were given some devastating news. The sac was empty. Our baby hadn’t grown & was no longer visible. He did both an internal & external scan; & unfortunately there was nothing there. He told us to go home & wait for a while to see if I miscarried naturally, or would need to go for a d&c in a week or so. Telling our friends & family was terrible. I still cry just thinking about it. Some people had no idea what to say, & have avoided us completely since then. Others sent messages almost every day asking how we are & just letting us know they are here for us & are praying.
The first Wednesday, 06 January, of 2016 I woke up to go get something to drink, & as I got to the kitchen, I could feel blood pouring down my legs. I had miscarried. I had lost our little bean that we had been wishing & praying for. I screamed for my husband who put me into the shower & cleaned everything up. We phoned my gynae who advised us to go to the hospital. I was admitted straight away & tests etc were done to confirm there was no more baby. I was taken into theatre at midday to have a d&c, whereafter I was admitted into High Care due to excessive blood loss & my Myasthenia Gravis. My gynae was amazing & so comforting throughout this experience. She cried with us, loved us & told us to never lose hope.
I know this has been long, but I ask you to stay with me for a little while more…
“I became the person people don’t want to tell they’re pregnant. I hate that. A friend told me her happy, fantastic news, and just a second later she burst out crying, afraid for how this would make me feel. I hate that. I work really hard to arrange my face in such a way that approximates uncomplicated glee. And I am happy for them, or course. But sometimes just after the happiness is the desperation. Some days are easier than others.”
― Shauna Niequist, Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes
We tried one more round of IVF.
I had to have more medication, and we became pro’s at injecting my stomach wherever we were – in fact we sometimes had to pull over on the side of the road for husband to inject me. Those suckers burnt, but they had to be done at precise times of the day. We took every precaution possible, and decided to keep this round quiet – except for telling our immediate family.
The retrieval went well, and the transfer even better. The doctors were feeling positive about the quality of my eggs, and we were sure this was it.
The eggs didn’t implant.
I wasn’t pregnant.
I was broken, and this nearly destroyed our marriage due to all the stress and emotions we were trying to work through as individuals, never mind as a couple.
We didn’t lose hope, and still thought that one day we would get our miracle.
And then, my stem cell transplant happened. We were warned that the drugs would do crazy things to my body, and we weren’t really sure of what exactly could happen besides the loss of hair.
And then, we had to wrap our heads around the reality that I was now in early menopause. There would be no more chances at having children. My body had officially given up. Guys, I was just over 30 and I was in the thick of menopause – the sweats, the emotional rollercoaster, the lack of periods, the feeling of officially being a failure.
So, now you may be asking what this all means for us.
South Africa has made their adoption laws super strict, and the use of a surrogate requires a High Court interdict to prove that the mother cannot carry the baby herself. There is no easy way through this.
We are forever grateful for our friends and family who have granted us the honour of being godparents and adoptive aunty/uncle, and we love our fur-children with all our hearts. But deep down I will always feel like I have failed as a woman; failed as a wife; failed as a mother; simply FAILED.
Infertility is awful.
“On a planet where for thousands of years, even today, a woman’s worth has been judged exclusively by the productivity of her womb, what the hell is the point of a barren woman?”
― Elissa Stein and Susan Kim
If you are going through this currently – I am so f*cking sorry. It sucks balls. There is no pleasant/lady-like way to say it. Cry, scream, laugh, celebrate, mourn – every day is an unknown. And every emotion will be experienced – raw.
And if you have made it all the way to the end of this blog, thank you for taking the time to read my story. Thank you for learning about our baby bean, and for allowing me to remember him/her with all the love in the world.
We miss you. We mourn you. We will never forget you,
This has been extremely difficult to write. I have had to relive the most trying time of my life. I have cried, laughed, & tried very hard to forget certain aspects of my stem cell transplant. Going into it we knew there was a 55% chance that I wouldn’t make it – I would either be cured, or I would die. Flip. Seeing that in writing in front of me right now gives me goosebumps. I don’t think you can ever explain that kind of fear to someone unless they experience it themselves. We knew we had to do it, & I have always been so open about my journey to get to this point. Looking back, I don’t think I would have the strength to go through this process again. There were times during it that I was wishing I could rather be taken than have to endure more pain, exhaustion & the nausea. I had no idea just how difficult it would be, & I would never advice that someone go into an experience like this willy-nilly. I am forever grateful for my doctor, family & friends who sent me messages of encouragement throughout & wouldn’t let me simply give up.
I went to see my doctor at the beginning of the year & we discussed all the nitty gritty. She made it clear about the high risk we were taking. & everything that could happen. She made sure that this is what we wanted to do, & that she would do her absolute best to manage everything as best she could. She was positive about this, but knew that we had to know all the potential positives & negatives. I was sent home to make an appointment with a dentist to ensure that I had no infection of any kind, as this would hinder my progress with my transplant & could spread throughout my body. I was also started on Neupogen injections twice daily, which husband had to give me. Luckily all my tests came back clear & I could then be admitted into hospital to begin the journey to my new life…
I was admitted into Olivedale Hospital & we managed to access my port for the very first time. My veins are TERRIBLE & this is a source of great anxiety for me, as they often have to poke me several times in order to get a line up or even draw blood. I know that I often psych myself up about this, so I was so grateful when the pushed the needle into my port & all was good.
I then began the process of having my stem cells retrieved. This was really not painful, & was simply like giving blood. The idea of it was a whole lot worse than the actual fact. I had the friendliest man from SANBS with me & performing the retrieval. We were hoping to get enough cells after only one day, but unfortunately only ended up with 1,7 million & we needed double that. So I had this over 2 days, & this magic unicorn blood was then packaged safely & sent off to be stored for the transplant.
I then had only 2 days of plasmapheresis (my usual treatment that I have been going for on a monthly basis for the past almost 3 years) & got to go home before chemo started. Unfortunately the constant blood tests also showed that I am anaemic, so this meant an iron drip & becoming more aware of the stress that was being put on my body from the external factors. However, I was so excited to get back to my babies & have some quality time with them before all the real trials started. I decided to take this weekend to spend outside, appreciate my life & just meditate on what was going to happen. I needed the time & space to just breathe…
And then began the chemo…
I was admitted back into hospital where I would be on continuous chemotherapy for 5 days. They had to do a test patch of the one medication (ATGAM) that they would be using alongside the chemo, & I reacted to it. This delayed everything, but I convinced them it was largely due to my extremely pale; never-see-the-sun skin. They gave me phenergan to help with the reaction & it pretty much knocked me out!
On Tuesday 22 January 2019 I began my very first infusion of chemotherapy & ATGAM. I had bruises on my tummy from the test patches, but seemed to cope with the actual medication being infused through my port. The first side effect we did see was extreme swelling of my face & I felt like I had been sleeping on a feather pillow for days so I was all puffy. It was dreadful at the time, but I can definitely look back & laugh at this now!
By the following day my swelling had gone down (they gave me medication to make me wee lots so I was running to the loo all day!) but the nausea & vomiting had already begun… I was trying to sleep as much as possible in between all of this & still get some nutrition in. I was sucking on ice cubes, & then my husband came to visit me (he had been away for work up until now) so that made my heart a whole lot happier.
I got moved into a room on my own at this point as my blood cell count was dropping, & I had to receive 2 bags of blood. I actually managed to eat something & it stayed down which was a huge relief – they increased my anti-nausea & really were trying everything to help improve my state of mind. I began to have terrible nightmares & oftentimes woke myself up screaming – the nurses also came in & woke me up as they could hear me shouting for help. This is apparently a common side effect of chemotherapy & one I never wish to relive.
On the 25 January I really began to question whether I was doing the right thing. I was miserable, exhausted, nauseous & they had to replace the port needle as the one I had in since my admission had blocked. I had both vomiting & diarrhea & just didn’t know what to do with myself. I was exhausted, tearful & didn’t even have the energy to read messages on my phone, let alone reply to anyone. I had no idea the emotional strain this would have on me & I begged my doctor to just let me go home. I didn’t think I could carry on. My doctor said this would probably be my lowest day, but she gave me more anti-nausea & all sorts of other medication, as well as went to buy me some ginger biscuits to try get some food into me so I could take my meds. I couldn’t even keep water down, & it took almost 2 hours to finish 1 biscuit, but it was a step in the right direction. Plus husband came to see me again so…
28 January 2019 – as well as being my sister’s birthday (sorry for trying to steal the attention again!); this is now my second birthday! The transplant was a simple affair. I was moved to the brand new transplant ward & received the first ever stem cell transplant for Myasthenia Gravis in South Africa! All the anticipation & concern, & it turned out to be such a simple procedure. The nurses were lovely & so patient with me. I chuckled when all 3 doctors arrived in full gown, mask, & isolation set-up. They said they felt like they were from Star Wars, & would NOT allow me to take a picture of them. The giggles helped me a lot though & we all celebrated as the magical unicorn blood aka my stem cells began to drip into my body. This was real. This was actually happening!
And then, I could go HOME! Home to my husband, my fur-babies & I knew my mum would be arriving soon to help take care of me whilst my husband went away for work. I had been warned that I had to be very careful around people, & my husband had to sleep in the spare room to ensure I didn’t get sick. My dogs were not allowed to lick me & I carried hand sanitizer with me everywhere I went – there was a bottle in the kitchen, next to my bed, in the lounge, in my handbag & medical grade handwash in the bathroom. I was determined I was going to make it through this time with no complications.
Being a #RareWarrior means that today is one of the most important days of the year. As you can tell by the title, it is International Rare Disease Awareness Day. Being part of Rare Diseases SA means that I get to see behind-the-scenes & I am constantly in awe of just how much this organisation does. When you mention that you have a particular rare disease, or are trying to raise awareness for one, people often look at you with total confusion & have no idea what you are talking about. We need to work together to raise awareness & show that we are #AwareAboutRare & #Care4Rare.
According to the Rare Disease Day website, Rare Disease Day takes place on the last day of February each year. The main objective of Rare Disease Day is to raise awareness amongst the general public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives. The campaign targets primarily the general public and also seeks to raise awareness amongst policy makers, public authorities, industry representatives, researchers, health professionals and anyone who has a genuine interest in rare diseases.
Building awareness of rare diseases is so important because 1 in 20 people will live with a rare disease at some poinRare Disease Dayt in their life. Despite this, there is no cure for the majority of rare diseases and many go undiagnosed. Rare Disease Day improves knowledge amongst the general public of rare diseases while encouraging researchers and decision makers to address the needs of those living with rare diseases.
I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis when I was 15. Before this I was a perfectly healthy child, & never even had flu, chicken pox or any of the other ‘normal’ childhood ailments. I had never been in hospital besides the day I was born & didn’t truly understand what it was like to be sick or to have to fight every day. I didn’t know anyone with a rare disease & I was stuck inside my happy little bubble. I will be the first to admit that I was self-absorbed & didn’t understand people who were ‘sick’.
Why should I try create awareness for something that doesn’t affect me directly? Because if we don’t all work together to create awareness, then we will forever be stuck in a rut & people with a rare condition will be continue to feel alone & unsupported. It is so difficult trying to explain to people that you have a Rare Disease & they either just don’t care, or don’t seem to want to know more or show their support.
So please, rock your #Jeans4Genes, buy a sticker, & talk to others about what Rare Diseases are. Like the RDSA Facebook page & share their posts. When you read an article or post about a rare condition; read up more & share this on your page so you are teaching more people. I can’t tell you how much we appreciate this. It makes us feel like we aren’t alone, & like we are loved.
Thank you everyone for being there for me through this journey & for loving all the Rare Warriors around the world. You are fabulous!
Today is the day! Let’s seize this opportunity to create as much awareness for #rarediseases as possible.
There are many ways you can make it count:
1. Wear your jeans and RDD2019 ribbon
2. Attend an event in your area
3. Post your face paint selfie on social media and hashtag #RDD2019 #ShowYourRare
4. Share your story with others
5. Know the facts…and share them! http://bit.ly/WatchTheRealityOfRareDiseases
It has been a while since I have written a blog. There seems to have been so much going on & at long last I am able to sit back on the couch & not immediately pass out from absolute exhaustion. I thought it was time to write a little catch up on everything that has happened…
We reached the target needed for the stem cell transplant! This still feels like an absolute dream & I have been blown away by everyone’s generosity. This is my last shot at “normality” & I didn’t know if I would ever get the opportunity. It seemed like such a far away dream & something that would remain that – simply a dream. My family, friends, & strangers that shared my pleas; organised fundraisers; sent messages of encouragement & helped financially – you have all contributed towards saving my life & for this I will always be grateful. How do I even begin to thank you for putting my Christmas Wish at the top of your list? My heart is so full & I can only pray that your kindness will be returned to you ten-fold.
We had a great fundraising event at Jynx Nightclub in Lonehill called The Snow Ball, & it was a great night filled with laughter until my cheeks hurt; dancing until we fell over our own feet; & many, many snowflakes. We were celebrating a life; we were celebrating a second chance; & we were celebrating the support that has been shown by a community of wonderful people.
Now, a bit more about my transplant. This is why I have been quiet & simply trying to process what is going to be happening. This transplant is my chance at “normality” once again, but it also comes with its risks. We went to see my doctor & she drilled this into us. We need to be aware of the complications & high chance of infection. Out of the 20 people that have had this worldwide, 9 have survived. This is 45%. The other 11 didn’t make it due to infection & their body simply not coping with what has happened. This absolutely terrifies me & is a reality that I may be facing.
I will be admitted early in January 2019 for plasmapheresis – we are thinking we will do about 5 rounds to try get me in fighting shape for what is to come. We are very lucky as I am having this in the hospital that is literally around the corner from me so I can see my family & friends during this hospital stay.
Once this is done, I will start on injections to help release my stem cells into my blood. These will then be taken out & put away safely for when they will be transplanted back in. This is not a painful process – much like giving blood – so I am not concerned about this!
Then begins the tough part. We need to do a hard reset of my body – press CTRL ALT & DELETE to restore the antibodies to factory settings & hopefully get my body to function as it should. This involves chemotherapy (yes, like what they use with cancer patients) & admission into isolation. This will destroy my immune system & means that there is a high chance of me picking up any goggas floating around. I need to be careful for 3 months following this & wear my mask if I leave the house – which I have been advised not to do for at least a month following my final chemo treatment.
Once the chemo is over, then the actual transplant happens. We use my own stem cells (that have been “cleaned”) & these are put back into my body just like they would when you are receiving blood. It sounds pretty simple doesn’t it?
Because this is the first time it is being done in SA for Myasthenia Gravis, there is a lot of research & back & forth to ensure that I will be getting the best possible care & medication. My team of doctors are one in a million & I know that this would not be possible without them.
So, this is what is happening. I have come to spend Christmas with my family so I can see them all & pour love out over all of them. I have accepted that this could be my last one, although am hoping against all hope that it isn’t. I have dreams, hopes & aspirations. I have so much to be grateful for & know that I could never ever ask for a better family – & extended family that I have simply forced my way into their lives. I live a life of happiness, acceptance & growth; & have truly realised that life is a gift that you need to appreciate every day.
Thank you for reading this, crying with me, & laughing with me. Thank you for encouraging me, supporting me & just being there for me & my family. Thank you for being part of the #SaveMegs movement & helping my Christmas Wish become a reality. 2019 is going to be a year of miracles & happiness!
If you would like to read more, my fundraiser is here. I won’t be able to work for up to 6 months following the treatment due to recovery, & thus financial stress is a definite reality.
Have a very Merry Christmas, appreciate the time with your loved ones & travel safely wherever you are. Sending so much love x