West Nile Virus is Alive & Well in Toronto.

Posted by on Sep 29, 2017

This is a portion of the one-page fact sheet that Toronto Public Health sends you on WNV, written in 2013. That’s it.

This is what I received when I was diagnosed with West Nile Virus on September 1st, 2017! The Public Health Nurse told me I was the second known case in the City of Toronto. I asked her if that meant I won a prize. She laughed and said no, but the upside is that once you have had it, you’re immune to getting it again.

I realized going through this experience that it is such a “new” virus they really don’t know that much about it. It affects everyone differently and depends on a lot of factors – how old you are, what shape you’re in, how strong your immune system is, etc.

I had been feeling lousy since early August and then, really lousy when I woke up on August 17th when the room wouldn’t stop spinning. Really lousy was accompanied by a fever of 101.7 Fahrenheit (38.7 Celsius for the younger readers out there). I have to say it was a relief finding out officially what my problem was; but, it sure came as a shock. I mean I hadn’t been anywhere. I had been living a very “local life” within a ten block radius from my home. No camping, no cottaging, no nothing like that. The business of jewellery kept me so busy in July, I had no time to do anything but work, eat, sleep, go the post office and grocery store.  

So how in heck and where in heck did I contract West Nile Virus? Having dinner with my family! In my backyard! In downtown Toronto!! Unbelievable!!

Going from your “normal” everyday life to being bedridden for almost three weeks takes its toll on you: mentally, physically and emotionally. You have to believe that whatever is happening will pass. But that’s a really hard thing to do when you’re sick for that long before you actually find out what the problem is. So it’s a real test. Period.  

I remember looking out my bedroom window and seeing people in my neighbourhood, walking, running, cycling, pushing strollers, talking on their phones, cars whipping past, and I would think, “Gee, I used to do that. But now it seems too busy and fast, and it’s wearing me out just watching it.” And I would suddenly feel very weak and have to go back to bed and rest.

As you can imagine, for any self-employed solopreneur craftsperson like me, getting sidelined with a nasty long-lasting illness can also have major repercussions for your business. If you are the only one who handles all aspects of your business, there is no one there to sub in while you are down and out. Paying your bills, shipping out orders, building jewellery, keeping up with your bookkeeping, going to the bank and post office – it all has to be taken care of daily. And for it to just STOP for a prolonged period of time makes for a lot of stress. You just want to feel better, so you can get back to what you do: and when you don’t, you begin to think that it might be something really bad. So I tried my hardest to think only positive things and shoo away the negative thoughts.

Incredible Carved Nephrite Jade Donut. 45.0 mm (1 ¾”) Outside Diameter.

Here’s one of the positive things I focused on. Just before I got sick, I visited the Toronto Jewellery Trade Show. It’s not open to the public. You have to make, distribute, and/or sell jewellery in order to gain entrance to the show. It was there that I met Paul, who works for a company in Surrey, B.C. that specializes in mining and cutting Nephrite Jade. I fell in love with the quality and excellent dark green colour of the Jade. Paul had an excellent assortment of sizes and shapes to choose from. I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out what I wanted to buy. I was inspired to make some unique jewellery pieces for the upcoming One of a Kind Christmas Show.

14.0 mm Diameter (Almost ¾” diameter) Round Nephrite Jade Beads.

Good quality stones always get my attention. You can’t be a Goldsmith and make jewellery by hand and not get excited by unusual and unique stones to incorporate into your designs. The fact that this excellent jade is mined and cut in Canada was another attraction for me. Most people don’t know that Canada is well known for its wonderful Nephrite Jade, coveted worldwide. British Columbia’s Jade is world renowned for being the brightest, hardest, greenest Nephrite Jade ever found. For grading purposes, the richer the colour and depth of translucency, the finer the jade.

Nephrite Jade has an 8,000-year history since its first use in ancient China. The Chinese centred their culture on Nephrite Jade and it was their most highly prized and revered possession. For the Chinese, Jade is the “stone of heaven” and bridged the gap between the divine and the earthly. This strong spiritual connection was also shared by the Maoris of New Zealand. The Inuit and other Northern Nations also value Nephrite Jade.

What I like to call a “Worry Stone Bead”, 50 mm L x 25 mm W (2.0” L x 1.0” W). The carving has a shallow depression on both sides, so when you pick it up, you naturally want to rub the pad of your thumb in the depression.

I bought three distinctly different pieces that I have featured above. While bedridden, I imagined what I would do with them once I was feeling better. I would turn the pieces around in my mind and design different things with each of them. It was a great way to rest (while not actually sleeping) and keep myself entertained. And it kept the other stresses of being ill at bay.

Today, I’m almost feeling well enough to tackle designing these three special pieces. It will be interesting for me to see what I actually do in the end. In the design process, for me anyway, some things come off exactly as you imagine them, while others take a “left turn” when something better presents itself, and you run with it. So exciting!

I truly love to design and build jewellery. It gets me out of bed everyday. And it got me back to my studio as soon as I was feeling well enough to endure the 10 minute walk from my house. In the beginning, I could only work for about three hours a day. But it WAS progress, and I knew I would recover. And soon I would be well enough to design something new with my recently purchased exquisite Nephrite Jade pieces.  

I look forward to sharing with you what I come up with!

Until then, remember, “your health is your wealth”. Now, more than ever before, I completely understand the sentiment of that statement.