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Sunday, 18 February 2018

History

I'm typing this not even sure if it will be published or not. Maybe I just need to type it and it can sit in my posts which are only saved. In 1997 I had a wee girl who was one year and four months old, a husband of six years, I was working professionally, and my husband and I owned a gift and home d├ęcor store in a small town. We had moved locations of the store and spent a lot of time fixing up the building so it would be just right for our style.

We attended the wedding of the man who was our best man in our wedding. The wedding was at the end of August. I began to get ill about the second week of September. By ill, I mean I had uncontrollable diarrhea, at times bloody, was so weak I had trouble standing, felt nauseous... was just a mess. I stopped work because I was put into a small town hospital, put on IV fluids for dehydration and my own doctor was in the process of moving her practice, so I was left in the hands of whoever happened to be on call. Trust me when I say you do not want to be extremely ill on a weekend as it never seemed that doctors could be reached, or decisions could be made.

I won't go into all the sordid details, but all told, I was in three different hospitals, was told I  had ulcerative colitis, or Crohn's disease. A nasty little piece of work doctor stood at my bedside and told me I would be looking at a colostomy bag for the rest of my life. At the same time, I was put on a variety of medications, including a central line being attached into the side of my chest while a sweet young nurse held my hand because I was terrified of having a tube inserted into me while I was still awake. One of the medications was called prednisone. It is used for severe inflammation. One of the rare side effects of prednisone is a form of psychosis. I developed that rare side effect. Slowly but surely I lost myself, unable to explain to anyone what was happening. I didn't want to see anyone, I sunk into a horrible depression, I had no muscle strength and couldn't even get myself out of a bathtub or walk down the hall. My eyesight became effected and I had difficulty seeing. All this time, I was in hospital, having clear fluids, graduating to semi-solid food. Two of the hospitals were quite a distance from our home. My husband came when he was able, but he also had work, as well as run our store, as well as our little girl to take care of. His parents came to help out for a little while, when they could. My own parents, especially my mother, were not strong enough or capable of helping.

Finally, after two months, and another colonoscopy (my first one was an emergency one), a doctor informed me that I had an ameobic infection. Entomeoba histolitica . I never had any of the terrible diseases they said I had. I was sent home, still suffering the effects of the prednisone, and given a horse dose of antibiotics which would clear up the dysentery. Unfortunately, with being bed bound in hospital for so long, and apparently another possible side effect of the prednisone, I developed a DVT in my right leg (blood clot). I was so messed up on the mind altering drugs, I just assumed I'd pulled a muscle somehow. When I did end up going to the hospital, I was told to go directly to a bigger hospital in a town farther away (husband was with me - I was incapable of driving or making decisions). Through ultrasound, they determined I had a bad blood clot and was immediately given a blood thinner which would "keep me alive" (direct quote from a hospital staff member).

So now I'm still mentally very messed up, can't sleep at all, or so it seemed to me, was in horrible pain and swelling with the blood clot, now had to have injections of blood thinner in my abdomen from a nurse who just wanted me to learn to do it myself, and my mind won't allow me to believe that I don't still have Crohn's disease. My husband called the doctor himself, so I could hear it again and the doctor seemed utterly bewildered that I didn't believe it.

In the end, a nurse pulled my husband aside, outside of the hospital and told him that "mistakes were made" on me, which we believe was about lab tests not being done properly, or results not being communicated. I also ended up going to a hospital and was seen by a psychiatrist who admitted that prednisone was likely the problem and prescribed anti-psychotics which I took while I slowly decreased the dosage of the prednisone.

I ended up being off work for about seven months, had long lasting repercussions with the leg that had the blood clot, developed a solid mistrust of people in medicine, and was quite damaged psychologically. There are many other things that happened while in hospital that don't need to be written about, but it was the hardest thing in my life that I've ever been a part of.


Why do I write about this now? It was twenty some years ago. Well, I've been dealing with some bowel issues for the past two weeks. Not nearly as horrible as the first time this happened to me, but enough that it wasn't going away, so I tried to see my doctor. Yes, in Canada, we have free health care (to a certain extent), but I can NEVER see my own doctor right away . Often it is a two week wait. There is a nurse practitioner who you can also see, but she was sick! So I went to emerg. and told my symptoms. I was asked, in triage,  if I had been out of the country in the past 21 days. I said no. Then when I was seen by the doctor on call, she enquired further and I said that we had gone away for a week at Christmas (that was more than 21 days ago) Where, she asked. Mexico. Did you leave the resort, she continued. Yes, we did. So she sent me away with a recommendation of the BRATY died (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, yogurt) and a lab requisition and many little bottles in which to put "samples". You may not be aware, but this is a holiday weekend for us, with Monday being "Family Day". I delivered my samples on the Friday and Saturday, cringing at the thought of anything being done on a holiday weekend. I will only be told if something is found. I will hear nothing if the tests are negative. However, I am aware that these tests aren't foolproof and sometimes it takes many samples to find the needle in the haystack. I will need to see a doctor again to ask for more lab requisitions if I don't hear anything.

There has been a lot of gastro-intestinal illness and bad cold and flu viruses as well. I am around the public constantly. Could this be something that just isn't working its way out of my system? Perhaps. Could I be harboring some kind of parasite in my intestines? Perhaps. Do I have Crohn's disease. Not very likely, but my brain still goes there. My brain still fears the tests, the mistakes, the drugs, the screw ups...

I don't know why I'm sharing. This isn't my usual blog post. In fact I rarely, if ever, share private information. It's about a health topic that isn't generally discussed, people tending not to talk about their bathroom activities. My logical brain tells me I'll be fine. My scared, wounded brain continues to mess with me. Have you ever had a misdiagnosis? Have you ever suffered ill effects of a prescription medication? Thank you for reading and understanding that certain things can take you right back, even though you've grown up and lived a lifetime of wonderful things since then.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Pancake Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday, Mardis Gras (literally translates as fat Tuesday)... Thank goodness tonight's supper was a no-brainer. I've been reading other bloggers' ways of eating and preparing pancakes, and many of these people live in England, or Wales. Some of them wrote about eating pancakes with lemon and sugar, or even orange juice and sugar. This is a completely foreign (literally) concept to me. Here's how this Canadian does a pancake supper (or breakfast for supper). Please understand this is NOT a typical breakfast. It might be a weekend brunch, but nobody I know eats this much for breakfast.

First, the best way to make bacon is not on the stove, where grease spits and flies around and makes a ridiculous mess of your stove top. Instead, cook it in the oven. Line a big cookie sheet with foil and create little walls around the edges.
My cookie sheets are old and ugly. I have not attempted any of the Pinterest methods of using hydrogen peroxide and Dawn dish soap, or whatever the concoction is.(And why does it always have to be Dawn?)  My cookie sheets have the patina of love and overuse.

Next, get the bacon. Bacon that is cut in strips. Let's clear up this whole Canadian bacon thing. In Canada, nobody calls it Canadian bacon. And what other countries refer to as Canadian bacon, is, I think what we would call back bacon, or peameal bacon which is more like ham. This particular bacon that I bought is "thick cut". I prefer the regular kind, but there seems to be some sort of scammy thing going on with bacon (oh the horror!) where we pay just as much, but the slices are much thinner, to the point of ripping them to shreds when you try to separate them. So, I went for the thick slices this time.
Lay the bacon on the tinfoil trying not to overlap. Put it in the oven and turn the oven to 400 degrees, or 375, or 425, it doesn't really matter because you are going to be watching it carefully anyway. Soon your kitchen will smell like bacon heaven.


At this time, I also opened up a can of beans. I'm not a huge fan of beans, but the husband likes them with "breakfast for supper."

This was from the CASE of beans he bought when we went to Costco. Who needs a case of beans?? We'll be eating them throughout 2018!

Yes, yes, I have made pancakes from scratch. But it's Tuesday and I work and all I had to do was "just add water" to this!


Husband was in charge of eggs while I took care of pancakes and watching the bacon in the oven so it was cooked to perfection (i.e. nothing too wobbly). You would think pancakes would be the easiest thing in the world, but I'm often not great at them. I either flip them too soon, or they're too flat, or not fluffy enough or the pan isn't hot enough. The first couple are always worthy of throwing away.

Not even round, and I'm pretty sure I can see the face of Christ in one of them!

Ahhh, but you can forgive me my pancake sins, because here is the bacon, resting on its blanket of paper towel to soak up the grease thus making it even crispier.

This is some super hefty bacon. Again, it would have been crispier if it was the "regular" slice and not the "thick" slice. But it tasted fine.

And there you have it. Egg with ketchup, pancakes with butter and maple syrup, bacon, and orange juice. I'll pass on the beans, thank you. Fat Tuesday.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

A Different Supper

I tend to get bored with the same meals. I need to change things up fairly often, whereas my husband would be content to have a "Monday meal", "Tuesday meal", etc. But I knew I'd be making supper tonight, so I searched through ideas that I had pinned from Pinterest in my "food" file and found something that looked good and was different than what I have usually been making. I figured out what ingredients I already had, then made sure to pick up the rest when I went grocery shopping today, because it's Saturday, and that's grocery shopping day!

This is teriyaki chicken and rice in the making. It was pretty easy to make and ended up being a big casserole, perfect for leftovers later in the week.


You make a teriyaki sauce with soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, ginger, minced garlic and a bit of olive oil, thickened with cornstarch. Then you cook four boneless, skinless chicken breasts in some of the sauce. Once the chicken is cooked, you shred it (I use two forks to do this) and add cooked rice, cooked Asian vegetables (the packaged, frozen kind), pineapple tidbits and more of the sauce. Then this mixture gets put back in the oven for another 20 minutes or so.

Once it comes out, you drizzle the remainder of the sauce on top. It was excellent!! If I make it again, I will add more than the cup of pineapple recommended. I think the pineapple helps to balance out the saltiness of the sauce.


That's the finished product with a couple of helpings already gone. My son will enjoy this when he gets home from work because he loves anything involving soy sauce.

My daughter, meanwhile, texted and sent a picture of a place that she and her boyfriend ate at tonight. It was an all you can eat Indian buffet. It looked wonderful. We have no Indian food restaurants around here at all, and it's a pity!

What about you, do you get bored with the same old reliable meals you tend to make over and over?

Friday, 2 February 2018

February 2nd


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Well, duh!!!!
Six more weeks of winter as predicted by our resident albino rodent. When has it not been six more weeks of winter?



Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Asking for an Opinion

I was wondering if any of you use Spotify. It's an app that lets you download music. I use the free basic level of Spotify, but because it's free, I only get some of the features. For example, I am only allowed to listen to playlists that I have made on "shuffle", I don't get to choose what I listen to first, and next, and so on. If a song comes on that I don't want at that time, I can skip it, but I'm only allowed to skip ahead about four times, then a message comes up asking if I want to buy the Premium level. Also, I always have to be online to listen to the music.

So... Premium costs a bit of money and apparently you can listen to what you want in the order you want and there are no advertisements that come on and interrupt the music.

I NEVER EVER pay for apps. If it isn't free, I don't want it. Mind you, I'm not a big techy person, so I likely don't even know what I'm missing.

I'm asking because I need something I can listen to in different settings, not just in my own home. I've started (to prove it to myself that I can) to run on the treadmill. I began with walking and running, alternating by looking at the minutes that go by and using those to gauge when I walk and when I run. I hated it until I started to listen to music when I ran/walked and then it was so much "more fun" (it's not really fun at all, but it's tolerable with music) Now I make little bargains with myself that I'll run for three songs, or whatever. When I listen to music from my phone on Spotify, I am stuck listening to whatever song comes up, and it's pretty limiting.

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So... any opinions about Spotify premium? Do you have it? Is it worth it? Do you have the family plan? Thanks all.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

So We Thought a Cat Door Would Be a Good Idea...

We had become slaves in our own home. There are three possible doors out of which our "beloved" cats depart to go outside. They are very much indoor / outdoor beasts, even on the coldest winter day. Sampson, the eldest, has always let us know that he wants out by lifting and dropping the edge of the doormat with his claws. Sometimes he does the mat trick in front of the closest door to get our attention (i.e. to get us up off the couch) and then quickly moves toward the actual door from which he wishes to go out. He's actually pretty smart. Scooter, much younger and somewhat less intelligent, or so we thought, has learned the door mat flicking technique. We do a lot of letting out.

Sampson, the more refined, enjoying sleeping on unfilled Christmas stockings

Scooter, the cat with no tail, who is more laid back, not quite fitting on a chair


In order to ask to be let back in, our cats jump up on an outdoor window sill, close to one of the exterior doors, and "ping" (i.e. pull with claws) the screen on the window. In the winter time, there are much shorter durations between letting out and letting back in because, well, it's cold. But they really do want to go out, but then they really do want to come back in, and on and on it goes.

Not only were we tired of the constant doorman routine, but we were also anticipating an upcoming trip we were going on. We do not have family living any where close to us, so when we go away, we leave the looking after of cats to our reliable teenage son. This time around, however, we were going to go on vacation and take both of our children with us, so no teenage son in residence to let cats in and out. We have, in the past, asked our neighbour across the road to look in on our animals for us. He kindly agrees, but he works full time and he is not a "pet person". He agrees because it is the neighbourly thing to do. Also, it would be ridiculous to expect him to come back and forth to our house in the cold and snow to constantly let our cats in and out. That's asking too much of anyone! We had been contemplating a cat door for a while, so we decided now was the good time, well ahead of the trip so that our cats would learn the whole cat door process before we left.

Husband, who has no fear of tackling any home project, quite adeptly cut through a wall and installed the cat door in our mudroom, a perfect place because the access is well back in our car port where snow will not gather (defeats the purpose if you are shovelling snow away from the cat door) and the mudroom can be a self-contained large area where the cats can have their food, enough space to get away from each other (Sampson barely tolerates Scooter), and a litter box if necessary. As well, doors can be closed from the mudroom to the rest of the house so that the cats can go no further.

It was a "simple" cat door with a frame around the outside and a sturdy plastic flap with a magnetic closure.

We then began the process of teaching the cats how to use it. We moved their food and water to the mudroom, from the kitchen where it had been since we got Scooter. They had to know it was the new location so we were picking them up and carrying them out there quite a few times. As well, every time they wanted to go out and started lifting and dropping a mat in front of a door, we would pick them up, take them out to the mudroom and lift the flap of the cat door, gently urging them to go out that way. And yes, they continued to jump on the outdoor windowsills and wreak havoc with the screens. We would go outside (yes, it's winter) and literally walk around the house, cat in arms, to get to the car port and lift the flap to gently urge them to go in the cat door. This went on for many many days until Scooter (who knew??) figured it out on his own. We praised him every time he showed up in the house after using the cat door (do cats even care about praise?) and eventually Sampson also got the idea.

You know there's going to be a glitch, don't you? So, here's the glitch. I don't know if there's some kind of a cat telegraph line, or that our cats are just really friendly, social beings, or the neighbourhood cats look at our cats and think, "Gee, you're looking well fed!" and our cats are communicating back, "There's lots of food, come on over!", but we had a total of THREE other cats easily and gleefully using our cat door. In fact, they didn't just use it, but they went from the mudroom into the rest of our house! We spent a lot of time chasing cats away from our home, from our porch, from our mudroom, from our den, from underneath our cars (not in a bad way)... One of these delightful stray (but well fed) cats was also an unneutered male who felt the need to establish his territory all over my front porch and back porch and car port... Blehhhh!!!

Time marched on and it came time for us to leave for our vacation. We bought lots of cat food and large bottles of water which we kept in the mudroom. We propped the door from the mudroom to our den open and draped the couches and chair with sheets and blankets to protect them because I am a softie and thought our cats would like the comfort of lying on a couch for a week while we were gone. That was going to be their world, when they wanted to be inside: the mudroom and the den. We gave our key to our neighbour and asked him to just pop in every once in a while to check on the food and water levels, topping them up as necessary. We did tell him that there have been a couple of stray cats around and for him not to worry about it. The day before we left, I also watched a raccoon climb up the big blue spruce just off of our back porch. A raccoon which could likely have squeezed itself into our cat door along with the other animals. At that point, all we could do was put the luggage in the car and lock the door behind us.

Fast forward to returning from the vacation, luggage partially unpacked in the front hall, needing another vacation after the vacation... , our neighbour returns our key. We find out that one time, when he came to check on things, there was a totally different cat in our den. He had startled the cat and it shot around the room, leaping up in the air and actually knocking a painting off the wall! There had been copious amounts of cat hair all over the sheets and blankets draped on the furniture, and , I swear, there was a portion of cat poop on the baseboard in our den. Nowhere else, just clinging vertically to the baseboard!! How does that even happen?

Lord knows what else happened while we were away, what kinds of cat parties occurred, how many other species were in our home, but after we had been home for about a day, Scooter, who NEVER EVER EVER sits on anyone, jumped up on the couch on which I was relaxing with my feet up, and crawled on my lap and purred, for quite a while. Remorse? Forgiveness? Guilt?

Needless to say we had to close the cat door (there is a sliding closure that comes with it, we didn't actually diagonally nail a couple of boards over it) to prevent the onslaught of stray cats. We also spent a lot of time discouraging cats from showing up close to our home. In fact, I really don't even think they were strays. They looked cared for, fed, and they obviously knew how to use a cat door. I just wanted them to not come to MY home. If they go to someone else's home, that's fine with me.

Of course, closing up the cat door then led to more confusion and perhaps you could call it "untraining". Now our cats had to let us know they wanted out and in (and out, and in, and out...) the old fashioned way. Big sigh combined with an eye roll.

Okay, now it's your turn, do you have a pet door, and if you do, what, besides your pet, has come through it?

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Go For a Walk

For the past two weekends, my husband and I have decided to spend some time getting out in nature and moving purposefully, for the benefit of both of us. As mother nature is gracing us with tremendously mild weather for the beginning of December, it is still lovely to be out walking on trails.

Two weekends ago, we walked along a lovely set of trails with just regular footwear and our winter coats and gloves. It was windy, but we were quite protected in the woods.



The water is not yet frozen and there is no snow covering the leafy floor.


Bracket fungus always makes me think of my sister. Yes, this is an odd statement. My sister was always far more crafty and artistic than I. When we were young, she had painted a rather large bracket fungus (taken off the tree) by coating each layer with a different colour. That fungus sat in our shared bedroom for years.


Who do you suppose lives here?


I love the sound of water running in little streams.

A couple of days later, it was time to make some comfort food. On the menu that night was leek and potato soup. Here are the ingredients ready to be cooked to a soft consistency and then blended with my hand blender. I loved my previous hand blender so much and used it until it died a noble death. My new one is great, too.


It made tons and I froze half of it. My husband and I had leftovers today for lunch.

Today's hike was even lovelier than the previous weekend. It was much more hilly and part of the route was called "Hardwood Highlands". The weather was wonderful. It is astounding to be snowless and seeing still-green lawns on December 3rd and I am very grateful. The walk helped us both physically and mentally. It is so nice to have this time together now that our kids are older and very independent. It's a great time to talk and solve life's problems.


This is how the trail started, on this beautiful path. We watched red squirrels chase each other through the trees. Red squirrels have very different temperaments than other types of squirrels. They are very cheeky and feisty.


This stump was covered in fungus (?) lichen (?).


Although most of the trail led us through a hardwood forest, there was an area at the end where beautiful, old cedar trees grew and the ground was spongy with their needles.


I love the texture of old cedar bark.


Yours truly in my very old, but well loved L. L. Bean coat and my fetching new hat ala Giant Tiger (a Canadian store). (sounds Canadian doesn't it??)

The trails we walked were part of a conservation area that also has beautiful ponds and rivers with ducks and geese and swans. There are also enclosures featuring interesting birds like various types of pheasants.


I thought this one looked like Phyllis Diller.