Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Two Natalie Cherryholme(s)

When you're a genealogical researcher, you sometimes stumble onto some very curious finds.
To be sure, I've come across many in the years of my digging into my family tree.
But a few weeks ago, I was searching a new resource and was stunned when a 1978 birth appeared in response to my query for Cherryholme birth records.
What was so surprising about the entry?
Well, the birth had occurred in Portsmouth, England, in the 2nd Quarter of 1978, and the child -- who was born a Cherryholme -- was named Natalie Cheryl.  The indexed record indicated that the mother's maiden name was Cannon.
Now, this fact in and of itself is not so shocking.
Except that my little chickadee -- born in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in 1975 -- is named Natalie Cheryl Joanne Cherryholme.
Imagine the odds of having someone in the world share your first and second name?
And your last name?
When that family name is rare indeed?
Well, I had to find out who this other Natalie was and how she fit into my family tree (just how close a relation is she, anyway?)
It didn't take me long to track her.
A simple request for the Cherryholme/Cannon marriage indicated that her father's name was Gary -- and I already had him on my tree (remember, I had extracted every instance of the name Cherryholme that I had found when, many years earlier, I had trolled the records at the Family History Centre).
So I knew the other Natalie's lineage.
My little chickadee, Natalie Cheryl Joanne Cherryholme (she was, after all, the original one) and the other Natalie Cheryl were born three years apart, one in Canada, the other in England.  And they share more than three names.
They are seventh cousins!
Their common ancestors were their 6th great grandparents, John Cherryholme and Jane Hill.
Now I have no idea why Gary and Linda (nee Cannon) named their daughter Natalie Cheryl, but it just blows my mind that they did.
Naturally, I know full well why my little chickadee has the names that she carries:
  • Natalie because she was a child of Christmas (she was born in August but had been conceived in the month of the Yuletide).
  • Cheryl because her father wanted me to name her after me, but  I refused to put Bonnie in her name.  Cheryl was a pet name he called me (I soooo hated my given names, I used to pretend that my name was Cheryl).  So to appease my child's father, I inserted Cheryl in her name.
  • Joanne because it means "God's gracious gift," which she truly was (and continues to be).
Discoveries like this continue to intrigue me as I plough through the many records still to explore that contain the secrets of my family tree.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I can hear again ... sort of

I saw the ENT specialist at 1:15pm today.
And by 1:30pm I was hearing just fine, thank you very much.
Seems my problem had nothing to do with allergies.
My ear was clogged with "dead skin," as he put it.
He suggested that I must have had a mild ear infection at some point, and the debris had collected and festered (gross!).
Anyway, he vacuumed it all out.
And, man did that hurt.  It felt like he was sucking my throat out through my ear canal!
Didn't take long, but it seemed like forever.
I'm not to wear my hearing aid for the next "day or two" to let the ear heal.
Great -- that's my "hearing" ear; I rely on it for the majority of my hearing.
Life is not going to be fun for the next few days because everything sounds really muffled without my left hearing aid.
But, on the upside, the tinnitus has reduced considerably.  And that's a good thing because it was getting unbearably loud.
Anyway, a woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do.
So, no hearing aid in my left ear for the next couple of days.
And if my ear fills up again, I'm to go back so he can clear it again.  At which point we discuss how I prevent the recurrence.
Otherwise, I'll see him at my regularly-scheduled visit in October when he will check it again to see how it's doing.

Oh, and I discussed my leg cramps with my physiotherapist.
Her first question was, "Have you done a lot of walking lately?"
Seems my having embarked on that walking program on Sunday was a little too ambitious for me.
So she mapped out a program for me -- ten minutes to start, increase by two minutes each day until I reach no more than 20 minutes max.
She explained that my body has to be extremely conservative with these programs because of the way it reacts (and history has shown that I always pay dearly).
But she was delighted to hear that I'm now able to start a walking program at all -- that is significant progress for me.
I've come a long way baby!

Holy Leg Cramps!

Last week when I saw my medic, we discussed my on-going problem with leg cramps.
They really are bothersome.
So he gave me a 30-day prescription for yet another med to try.
Should help with the leg cramps he says.
And will help me sleep.
I should stop using my other sleep aid, and use this instead.
So I filled the prescription and have been using it since Thursday of last week.
And WOW!  What a difference it has made to my sleeping.
I've never slept better or felt more rested since I don't know when.
In fact, on Saturday morning when my little chickadee called, she commented on how "chipper" I sounded.
I told her I could only attribute that to how rested I felt after two good nights sleep.
On Sunday, I went for a 20-minute walk with John.
On Monday, we went on a small grocery shopping errand; nothing too onerous.
And last night -- well, this morning, really -- I was wakened at 4:00am with a leg cramp to beat all leg cramps.  You would think I was eight months pregnant!
The cramp threw me out of bed in agony.
Woke John up in worry.
It was baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad!
I did manage to go back to sleep but by 5:30am I was awake again because the cramping just wouldn't let up.
So by 6:00am, I was in the tub, trying to massage away the pain (oops, I'm inside that six-week window since my steroid injection; wonder what price I'll pay for having taken that bath!).
As I sit here, three hours later, my calves feel like cement blocks.
And I have to drive into the big city for my physio appointment -- that might be a good thing but I'm guessing she might have a little difficulty getting those needles into my calves today.
Following my physio, I have an appointment with my ENT specialist to see if he can offer any suggestions as to what we might do about the problem that persists with my left ear.  My canal is unnaturally narrow and since my allergies have flared up, it seems to keep collapsing (it's probably swollen) -- causing the sensation of talking into myself.  It's driving me crazy (not to mention the increased tinnitis)!
I enjoyed temporary relief as a result of the systemic benefit from the steroid injection, but that only lasted a short while.  An antihistimine seemed to have opened the canal for about a half hour!
Here's hoping the doctor can offer something a little more permanent (25 years ago, the suggestion was surgery -- sure hope by now there's other options).
If it's not one thing, it's another.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My Most Rewarding Genealogical "Find"

Let me share with you the story of what I consider to be my most successful genealogical find ever (certainly the most rewarding one).
Way back when I was still a working stiff, I used to bore my employer silly with stories of my successes with my genealogical finds.
So one day, he decided to present me with a challenge.
One that, to his mind, I would never conquer.
He shared with me the fact that he had been adopted as a baby and he was really curious about the details of his birth.
Would I undertake the search for his birth parents?
"Sure," said I.  "What details can you give me?"
Besides his date of birth (which I already knew), he was able to provide me with his birth name and the locality in which he was born.
Armed with only that information, I embarked on a journey like no other.
My first step was to register his search with the Ontario Adoption Disclosure Agency and their response provided me with his birth mother's name, her age, her occupation, and her address at the time of his birth.
Turns out that was all the information I needed to get me started.
But that letter languished in my briefcase for two years while work got in the way (and I continued to pursue my own family tree research in my limited spare time).
Then, on a particularly slow February day in 2005 when I was having no luck "finding my dead people," I decided to turn my attention back to the search for my employer's birth mother.
I did a google search of the birth name that had been given to us two years earlier and up popped an Ontario marriage record for a bride of the same name, of an appropriate age, two years after the birth date in question.  (My employer had told me that while he had been "given" to his adoptive parents as an infant, his adoption was not finalized until he was about two years old.)
The Toronto Star had at the time recently put their entire publication from the late 1800s through to 2002 on-line.  It was an easily searchable archive so I bought a short term subscription to the resource.  I pulled every reference I could find to the family name (which, fortunately, was not all that common) and found numerous obituary and memoriam notices, as well as occasional marriage and/or birth announcements.  There were also some interesting articles referencing various family members, all of which I collected and built a profile of the family that I hoped to eventually prove was my employer's "birth family."  One of the obituary notices confirmed what would have been the married name that the earlier google search had surfaced.
My next move was to head off to the National Archives of Canada to look up the City Directory entries for the years in question.
Pay Dirt!
I tracked the family right on up to the 1980s, which told me that my employer's possible birth mother had at least three children and had been divorced (or widowed) and remarried in the intervening years (the obituary notices I had found in the Toronto Star archives had also suggested two marriages).
Just because I could, I tracked her family backwards and was able to piece together her complete Canadian family tree by way of the City Directories and census returns. (I later researched her family further still, and compiled her UK ancestry).
By the time I was finished, I knew that her mother had died when she was a young girl, that her father had remarried, that she had a sister, who also had two marriages, and I had identified her sister's children and the marriages of several of her family members.
In short order, I had compiled a very impressive file on the woman who had probably given birth to my employer.
But I was missing concrete evidence to say absolutely that I had the right person.
In early June, a letter was sent to that "last known address" that we had received from the Adoption Disclosure Agency (which just happened to be a home for unwed mothers -- then and still).  Their reply indicated that they were unable to divulge anything without a release from the specific Adopting Agency and advised us how to go about securing that release.  (While my employer had authorized me as his agent for his search, authorities would deal only with him so I prepared all correspondence to be sent from him, under his signature.)  We quickly faxed the request for a release of any and all information relevant to his adoption and eventually an envelope arrived in the mail.
Oh, what a bittersweet but exciting day that was. 
The file confirmed for me that I had absolutely documented the right person's family.
And it provided my employer with information about him that he hadn't previously known (even as an infant, the only time he was 'difficult' was when he wanted food -- still true 59 years later!).
And the information in the file broke my heart.
Because the evidence was there, loud and clear, that this woman had never wanted to give her baby away.
Circumstances beyond her control required that she do what no mother ever really wants to do.
She named him; she fed him at her breast.
And then she gave him to a family who loved him dearly.
The file included a letter from the adoptive family expressing how delighted they were with their son, whom they had renamed.
And now that I had the proof I needed that I had in fact tracked the correct woman, I had to find her!
We had no idea whether she was still alive although there was no reason to assume she would not be.
To preserve her privacy and that of her family, we decided to cast the net as wide as we could in looking for a contact number for her.
So we started with cousins (remember, I had tracked her Canadian family tree so I knew all the players).
Nope, the first one we called couldn't help.  But he was really intrigued by the contact.  Perhaps his brother could help.
Nope, he couldn't help either, but if we do locate her, he'd love to reconnect.
Well, when push comes to shove you just have to move in.
On the evening of  June 22nd, a call was placed to her niece (remember that sister I knew she had?), who fortunately had also married into an uncommon family name and had stayed in the same area.  There was only one telephone listing for the family name.
Yes, she receives a Christmas card from her aunt every year.  She lives with her daughter now.  She couldn't remember her cousin's married name, but she was able to give us the address of where she lived because she still had her aunt's most recent Christmas card.
Lack of name or telephone number is no deterrent for me.
Computers are wonderful.  A quick plug-in of the address gave me the family name and the phone number I needed.
On the morning of June 23rd, another phone call was made.
"Hello," said my employer, "my name is Jxxxx Gxxxxx and I'm looking for Lxxxx Rxxxx."
"That's my mother," said the voice on the other end, "but she isn't well just now.  Can I help you?"
It was rather awkward as he explained the circumstances of his birth to his new-found sister.  There was a little uncertaintly on her part, since her mother had never even hinted at the existence of another child.  But she was extremely gracious, under the circumstances.
My employer was delighted at the prospect of having a "little sister" (who actually shares his birth date -- but 14 years his junior) and four brothers.
Information was exchanged; e-mails went back and forth; telephone lines were burning.  He invited his new sister to check out his website, which she did without hesitation.  Her immediate reaction was, “You look just like your mother.”
Today marks the fifth anniversary of the day Jxxxx met his birth mother, and he has since met the rest of his newly-expanded family.  After what became a very joyful reunion for them, Lxxxx and her daughter continue to hold a very special place in my heart.
Once the dust settled from having finally found his birth mother, my employer said to me, "I knew you were tenacious, but I really never thought you'd do it.  Thank you so much."
At Christmas 2005, I received a lovely gift from his "baby sister," along with a card which reads, "Thank you for bringing Jxxx into our lives."
Frankly, I don't think I'll ever be able to top that find!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tummy Tuck Update

Yeh, that tummy tuck that I wanted?
Well, looks like it might not happen.
At least, it's not gonna happen for my 60th birthday, that's for sure.
The surgeon called me the other day after he had spoken with the anaesthetist.
Seems that anaesthesiology has concerns about my asthma and the use of cortisone injections -- obviously.
At first, apparently the surgeon had thought that I had taken the injection in April to control my asthma (it had been taken to control my allergic response to the trees budding, as you might recall -- my asthma is well controlled by all the meds I take for it).  I clarified that matter for him so initially, he was prepared to go ahead with booking the surgery.
Until I updated him on the fact that I had just received a second steroid injection on June 18th in my hip joint.
And that I had remembered, since visiting him, that I had also had injections in each bursa a year earlier from my rheumatologist.
That means that in the past year, I've had four steroid injections.
And given my history of having experienced suppressed adrenals as a result of steriod treatments, we can't risk that my body has again been put in that state.
We decided that since tummy tuck surgery is not a life-saving necessity type of surgery, wherein I absolutely have no choice but to allow them to operate on me, I should opt not to let them put me at risk.
So, he will wait until I call him -- perhaps in six or eight months down the road when I have not had any further steroid treatments -- before we proceed with this plan.
I am a bit saddened that I can't have the tummy tuck -- it's something I've wanted for over thirty years.
But I'm not interested in having the surgery at the risk of my life, or his reputation.
I've had a few days to come to terms with the loss of my dream.
And it's not the end of the world, really. (Think about it, $7,000.00 can buy a lot of Body Wrap undergarments to help hide the offending parts.)
Now, if this latest steroid injection that I received in my hip joint continues to give me the wonderful relief that I'm enjoying (it's only been a week so far), the recommendation will be that I continue the injections on a regular basis to give me pain-free mobility.
Should that be the course of treatment that we end up taking, the tummy tuck will never again be an option for me.
And frankly, I'll choose mobility over tummy tuck any day.  I mean really, that's a no-brainer!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

This will be really quick ...

Quick is an understatement.
Just wanted to touch base and switch topics around here for a couple of days.
Yesterday we went to my Angel's place so John could take pictures of a particular plant that grows on their property.
I got to visit with my Angel while he worked.
Except the battery for the his camera was at home on the charger!
So we had a nice visit.
And today, we're going back, with the charged battery, so he can take the pictures he so wants to have in his gallery.
And I get to visit again with my Angel.
Whose birthday it happens to be on this coming Monday.
And her family is getting together at her daughter's place this afternoon -- just gathering around the pool to celebrate her birthday.
Since we'll be there, we're crashing the birthday party.
Such fun!
I'm even gonna dress up in one of the dresses I bought earlier this Spring.
Just because I have the dresses.
And I have to wear them somewhere.
A party is the perfect place to wear a new dress, isn't it?
At least when we arrive at the crash site, I'll be dressed appropriately for the event!
Gotta go.
Have to get beautiful for the party.
Tempus fugit.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Another Genealogical Breakthrough

The following story was published in 2004 by Family Chronicle Magazine in their book, "More Brickwall Solutions to Genealogy Problems."  The photos were not part of the originally published article.

My maternal grandfather, Samuel Sharpe, came to Canada as a Home Child in 1911. I grew up knowing virtually nothing about him other than he had come from England as a young boy. In fact, I didn’t even know he had been a home child until several years after his death. Once I developed an interest in genealogy, I discovered that three of my four grandparents had been home children. Imagine the number of brick walls I’ve come up against with those kinds of odds!
My grandfather was born in Liverpool in 1896. His Canadian military record showed his parents names to be William and Kate and his 1964 death certificate identified his parents as William and Catherine (nee McEwan). Once I received his birth certificate, I learned that his parents’ names were William and Catherine (nee McKeowan). I eventually found their 1887 marriage and it seemed to me that there probably would have been other children born to the couple. The surname Sharpe is quite prevalent in Liverpool, so I didn’t dare order birth certificates of every child born with that surname from 1887 on. I had no way of knowing if my grandfather had any siblings.
My search of the 1891 Census eventually turned up my great grandparents, William and Catherine Sharpe with a two year old son named William T. It was easy enough then to find the birth reference and order the certificate – William Thomas Sharpe, born 1889, was definitely my grandfather’s brother.

Now I was on a mission. Maybe there were living relatives in Liverpool who didn’t even know about their Canadian branch of the family! Find them, and perhaps I might find out about my grandfather’s past.
In 1910 a William Thomas Sharpe married Maria Whitby – and the certificate showed that it was my William Thomas! Then I searched the Sharpe births, starting at 1910, and found two children born with a mother’s maiden name of Whitby: William Thomas, b1912 and Samuel, b1915. Their birth certificates were quickly added to my growing file. Then I turned my attention to marriage entries to see if either of those boys had married. I didn’t find another entry for a William Thomas but a Samuel Sharpe married Esther Rawley in Liverpool in 1938. Going back to the birth indexes, I recorded five Sharpe references with mother’s maiden name Rawley. -- the last being in 1951. Now surely I would find living relatives in Liverpool. But I still had to prove it.
I ordered the 1938 marriage certificate for Samuel Sharpe, stipulating the condition of groom’s father’s name William. It was rejected, with the explanation that the father’s name was Samuel Thomas. But what if that was an error and the registry clerk had entered the groom’s first name rather than the father’s? My Samuel’s father’s name was William Thomas, a rice mill worker.
Some months later, a routine visit to the site on the Internet turned up references to the UK death registers beyond 1983. I plugged in the surname Sharpe and up came several deaths in Liverpool – but the one that intrigued me was the death of Samuel Sharpe in 1989, showing a birth date of 8 February 1915, the very date of birth for my Samuel. That death certificate was ordered and when it arrived it proved that the 1938 marriage was probably mine. The informant was Samuel’s son – with the same name as one of the children my notes showed had been born to Samuel and Esther Rawley.
The previously rejected 1938 marriage certificate was quickly ordered and it convinced me that I had the right couple.
Although the groom’s father’s name was shown as Samuel Thomas, the occupation was rice mill worker – the first given name had to be a mistake!
Back to the Internet search engines to pull Sharpe references in Liverpool from the UK Telephone Directory. Letters were sent to several Sharpe listings but the one I expected would be most promising was the letter addressed to a Sharpe family at the very address shown as the residence of the son who registered Samuel’s death. What a coup!
It didn’t take long for me to start receiving e-mails from various Sharpe families living in Liverpool. Their parents were Samuel and Esther (nee Rawley). Their grandfather was William Thomas Sharpe, the son of William and Catherine (nee McKeowan)! The letters from Canada had started a flurry of telephone calls in England amongst the five siblings – they had no idea that they had family in Canada! Their grandfather, William Thomas, had two sons, William Thomas (b1912 d 1913) and Samuel (b 1915 d 1989). He had served in World War I in Germany. On January 1, 1919, as he boarded the ship to bring him home to England, the plank collapsed and he drowned. He is buried in Germany. His widow, Maria (nee Whitby) subsequently remarried and had several more children.

William Thomas did not live long enough to share his family’s stories with his only surviving son. Samuel was just shy of four years old when he lost his father; he died in 1989 in Liverpool and his children and grandchildren are just as delighted as I am that I found them.

I still have not found any death records for my great grandparents, William and Catherine (nee McKeowan). But by looking forward, I finally found out a little about my grandfather’s family and have expanded my Christmas card list with names of several very-welcome new-found cousins!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Happy Birthday to my "Other Daughter"

Yes, now the secret can be told.
Besides my little chickadee, there is an "other daughter" in my life.
And today, she is celebrating her 26th birthday.
My other daughter is the youngest of three children who were actually born to my good friend, LC (good way to "have your children" don't you think?).
From the time this child was born, she didn't much differentiate between her mother and me when it came to her care, so close were our families.
We lived just a few doors down from each other in the years leading up to her birth.  Her older brothers and my little chickadee conspired to bring their mothers together in friendship.
And it worked -- a little too well for their liking, as it turns out.
So by the time her only daughter was born, LC and I were already tight (the two older boys were in my care the night their baby sister was born).
And that baby was having "sleep-overs" at my home well before her first birthday.
In fact, often she would fall asleep with her Mom, and wake up with me.
And it didn't faze her one bit.
Hence, I became known as her "other Mother" and she my "other daughter."
Suffice to say, she holds a very special place in my heart.
So, other daughter, enjoy your day today.
Love you lots.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

My First Big Genealogical Breakthrough

The following story of my first great genealogical breakthrough was published in "500 Brickwall Solutions to Genealogy Problems" by Moorshead Magazines Ltd. in 2003.  (The photos included here were not part of the published version.)

Growing up in Canada, I heard that my paternal grandfather, Thomas Cherryholme, had family in England, particularly a brother John William and a sister Eleanor. It was thought that Eleanor had married someone named Britt. My father and twin uncles often spoke of their "Uncle John Willie" with great sadness -- they longed to know the family they had never met.

In the late 1980s, I started compiling family tree information to attempt to provide my daughter with a sense of her roots. Genealogy has since become a passion and by the late 1990s, I was pursuing the search for my grandfather's family with vigour.

My uncle Victor (one of the twins) had traveled to England on at least three occasions, returning each time without having found any trace of his father's family. My parents had gone to England in the early 1970s and also came back not having found any trace of relatives. They weren’t looking in the right place though, insisting that Thomas had been from Sheffield. 
On the 1881 British Census, every instance of the family name Cherryholme occurs in Barnsley, Yorkshire. There are still several Cherryholme families living in Barnsley and Liversedge – the actual area from which Thomas truly hailed. It is now known that John William had already died by the time Victor made his first trip to England.
Initial research ascertained that Thomas had come to Canada as a Home Child in 1912, a ward of the Dewsbury Union Workhouse following his mother’s death at the Workhouse in 1908. I received a copy of my grandfather’s emigration record from England and his military record from the Canadian Archives. Both records helped to provide a lot of previously unknown details about Thomas.
With the arrival of the Internet, some research has become much easier than it had been in earlier times. International telephone directories can now be consulted from home. The Internet provided the link that closed the ocean between the families of John William and Thomas Cherryholme.
In early 1997, letters outlining what little I knew were sent to selected Cherryholme entries in Yorkshire. Those letters were able by then to include the surname Tolan as Thomas’ mother’s maiden name and that the family had been from Heckmondwike. No replies were received.
Recording every Cherryholme entry in the St. Catherine’s birth/marriage/death index back to 1837, and tracking families through census returns allowed me to compile detailed family unit records of my grandfather’s ancestry.
In early 1999, I again wrote to Cherryholme entries in Yorkshire – but this time I sent a letter to every entry shown and enclosed copies of family group records.  In July 1999, a letter arrived from Tom Cherryholme of Cleckheaton:

"My father was called John William ... I was called Tom after Dad's brother who went to Canada. ... This brother had three sons, two of them were twins. Dad said he worked for the Government in Canada. Dad had a sister Eleanor. She was married to a man called Pat Brett. ... Dad had some cousins who lived in Batley name of Tolan."

Eighty-seven years after they were separated, and 40 years after their deaths, their descendants made contact. By naming his youngest son in his memory, John William had ensured that his youngest brother would not be forgotten. My grandfather had become a hero to the nephew who was named in his memory -- a nephew he never knew he had.
John William's son, Tom, and I, Thomas' granddaughter, have now shared a couple of telephone conversations and have exchanged photos, letters and cards. The ocean between the two families now seems much narrower indeed.   Sadly, Tom died in Cleckheaton in June of 2001 – not quite two years after I found him.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I guess it's working ....

Not to be too quick to judge, but I guess that steroid shot is working.
For now.
I've had three good nights of sleep.
And two very comfortable days of activity since receiving the injection.
That's encouraging.
On Saturday, my little chickadee and my beautiful boy visited for the afternoon and I had no difficulty keeping up with him.  Of course, he's older now so our shenanigans aren't what they used to be.  But I do still try to bug him, and we do still wrestle a lot.  And I didn't pay any consequence for having done so.
We had a nice feed (brats, salads) before they headed home.
Yesterday being Fathers' Day, we went to my step-son's place for dinner.  And again, I was in no pain after enduring an hour's drive there, sitting around for several hours, and then the hour's drive back home.
That is quite a difference from what I would have had to endure under the same circumstances just a week ago.
So I have to attribute the difference to having had that injection.
Last night, it was 3:30am before I woke the first time.
Again I was on my back (obviously, I'm having no difficulty changing position, but it also suggests that my hip had been hurting).
John was already up and about.
Had been for an hour, he said.
Said my snoring woke him.
Said I sounded like a convoy of trucks roaring through town.
He didn't want to disturb me because he realized that if I was on my back, it probably meant that my hip had been hurting.  So he left me to continue snoring.
Since I was up, I put a load of laundry in the washing machine before I went back to bed.
Next time I woke it was 6:00am.
John was asleep on the sofa, having gone for the newspapers, read one of them and dozed off.
I started my coffee, went down and put a second load of laundry in the washing machine, then came upstairs and went back to bed to read my newspaper while I iced my hips (normal routine).
When John got up again, we started our day.
And I haven't felt this rested since I don't know when.
Let's hope this continues!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Wow, what a difference a shot makes!

I think I'm in love with steroids!
I had the best sleep EVER last night.
And I slept on my left side.
All night long.
For four hours straight through!
Four hours, I tell you.
I went to bed just before 10:00pm (OK, I know I said I was going to hit the sack right after dinner last night, but things happened to delay me).
Read for awhile, and turned off the light at 10:15pm, positioned in my preferred sleeping arrangement, on my left side, and it didn't hurt!
I woke at 12:30am but not from pain -- I had to mop myself up because I was sweating profusely (a phenomenon that seems to occur most nights, at about the two hour mark after I've gone to sleep).
I was acutely aware of the fact that I was still on my left side -- without discomfort.
And I drifted back to sleep.  (Note:  I did not get up to pee!)
When I woke again, I was on my back (remember I've not been able to roll over without waking up to affect the repositioning for many years because of the pain in my hips).
But the last time I had looked at the clock was 12:45am and it was now 5:00am!
That means I slept continuously for just over four hours -- and I woke feeling quite rested.
More rested than I've felt in forever.
And my hips weren't sore.
And my legs weren't sore.
And my left ear, which has been plugged because of allergies for the past week, was open and working again (that had actually happened within an hour of getting the shot yesterday).
Steriods have a systemic effect on the body so I will gain allergic relief again as a result of having taken this shot.  Bonus!
Now I can't say how long I will have this pain-free benefit from this shot (last year, when the rheumatolist gave me injections in my bursa in both hips, I enjoyed a mere ten days' worth of relief).
The plan is, IF I get the desired results (three to six months relief -- it varies for everyone), I will take a shot at that interval to keep me pain free.  (The minimum interval for steroid injections is three months.)  But naturally, if it only lasts ten days, there is no point using steroids on me.
This will be the final test of steroids as a treatment plan for my disability.
I have no idea where we go next if this fails to give me long-term benefit.

Now I have to go because my little chickadee and my beautiful boy should be arriving on my doorstep any moment.  We're going to have brats on the bar-b-cue, potato salad, green salad, and just hang out together.
Just because we can.
Love them to pieces, I do!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Is my hip fixed?

OK, so I have no idea where yesterday went so I can't fill you in on what I did with the day (that was too long ago now).
I know I had my last massage with the therapist I've been going to for I-don't-know how long.  She has decided to retire from massage therapy and concentrate on her nursing career alone (she is a registered nurse at the Critical Care Unit of the Ottawa Heart Institute).  I will miss her terribly.
I've also been very busy working on special posts for this site (they will go up at appropriate times -- they simply take advance planning and lots of special attention).
But I do know where today went.
I had to be at the hospital for 12:30pm to get my steroid injection in my left hip joint at 1:00pm.
We arrived at 12:20pm, parked the car and made our way to the X-ray department, where I checked in.
And there we sat -- until 12:45pm (why on earth I was told to be there by 12:30pm I'll never know!).
Once the intern confirmed that I was the right patient (what's your date of birth? and you're here for an injection in your ????), I was ushered into the change room and told to remove everything from the waste down (obviously).
From there I was seated in the room where the procedure would actually be done but I first had to sign the all encompassing consent form.
Which form is obviously a generic one, used for every procedure they might be undertaking, but I was questioned as to which box I had checked "no" against.
"Oh, that would be the consent to administer anaesthesia," I responded, "because to my knowledge the procedure I'm having does not require anaesthetic and if it does, I don't consent."
"Interesting," he replied, "no one has ever taken that approach before."
Duuuuhhhhhhh, was I all I could think.
I also found it interesting that I was being asked to sign a consent form which included reference to the fact that I had been fully briefed by the doctor as to the procedure about to be undertaken, and its risks --- and I hadn't even met the doctor yet!
When I called that to the intern's attention he again commented that he's never had a patient make those kinds of observations (but he granted that I was perfectly correct and he proceeded to explain the procedure and its risks, yada yada yada).
I signed the form.
They really know how to cover their asses in the event of something going wrong.  "But we have her signed consent right here."
When the doctor arrived, he introduced himself and asked me a bunch of questions and again went through the drill of what was going to happen (so now I had been fully informed so the consent form became valid).  The doctor looked almost like Jerry Kellerman (Mark Paul Gosselaar) from Raising the Bar (at least the way the character looked in last year's shows) but claims to have been doing this for many years so what the hell do I know for guessing ages?  He was very personable and we had a few giggles when we were discussing the use of steroids and their frequency.  He mentioned that the one he was going to use on me today (which differs only slightly from the one I received in April) is the one he uses on himself.  So I asked him if it allows him to get back on the field to play ball, and does he hit home runs?  Even the nurse laughed at that one!
He then prepped my groin area, being guided by the X-ray machine which the nurse had lined up before he had arrived in the room (normally, this would be done using contrast dye but I'm allergic so ...).
He drew lines and dots to mark the right spot.
Then he froze me in several spots.
And before he attempted to inject the joint, he explained that if it was painful while he was doing it, I was to tell him and he would give me more freezing.
I kind of laughed at that and explained that it had been uncomfortable getting the freezing because of the pressure he had put on the area but I could tolerate an awful lot of pain, simply because I lived with so much pain every day of my life.
He commented that most people who land on his table are usually very stoic for that very reason:  they live with so much pain they can tolerate the discomfort of the shots remarkably well.
As he administered the shot, he would stop, step back, look up at the X-ray machine, make sure he was on target, ask me if I was doing OK, and then proceed until he declared that he was done.
"Really? That's it?  I was waiting for it to get painful."
He just looked at me in amazement and shook his head.
Then he told me to watch the area for signs of infection and/or heavy bleeding and get back to the hospital if either occurs.
And don't get the area wet for a couple of days (oops, I guess I should have showered this morning ...)
And while I'm not "limited" per se for the rest of the day, I should take it easy; my body will let me know.
We left the hospital and I told John I was fine to drive.
Yeh, sure.
Got in the car, all settled to pull out of the parking spot (after springing to the tune of $14.00 for a mere 90-minute stay -- highway robbery I tell you!).
And pulled right back into the parking spot, telling John that he'd better do the driving.
My left leg was beyond sore -- every movement of my right leg caused excruciating pain in my left groin.
So we switched positions, and as I tried to get myself back in the car on the passenger side, it was all I could do to get my left leg in that damned car!
We went about our business, stopped for lunch, made a couple of quick pit stops and then came directly home.
Now we're going to have supper and I'm hitting the sack immediately afterwards.
Wonder how much difficulty (or ease) I'll have sleeping tonight.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Genealogical Research -- My True Passion

As I've mentioned on more than one occasion, I love researching family trees.
One might say it is a passion with me (I call the hobby "looking for dead people").
I subscribe to several genealogy magazines and still find them interesting to read, even after more than twenty years!
One might think that after this many years of digging, I might have located all the dead people there are to be found in my ancestry.
But not so.
Years ago, I used to spend nearly every Saturday at the Family History Centre and would painstakingly churn away at the microfiche reader, hoping to find my family members. 
And oh the excitement when I got a hit!
I've amassed an incredible amount of documentation in my years of research (and spent a king's ransom doing it too!).  Most people research one line or another when they start this hobby.
Not I.  In spite of all the advice to the contrary, I jumped in with both feet, researching both my mother's line and my father's line simultaneously.
Every so often, I take a side-trip and research someone else's family (very good friends only need apply).  When I do that, I put my tree aside and concentrate totally on the task at hand.  Over the past couple of years, I've taken on three such projects, so my own tree has fallen by the wayside.
But last week, I received a photo fom England depicting six men, apparently gathered for a family function of some sort.  The person who sent me the photo (a new-found second cousin once removed) doesn't know who all the men are, but he does know that one of the men (and, thankfully, which one) is his maternal great grandfather.  I suspect that the grouping is three men with three sons. They are all clearly related:  same receding hairline; same high cheekbones; same large noses.
So I now have a photo of my grandmother's uncle, accompanied by, presumably, other men in his family (and, by extension, other men in my grandmother's family).
Naturally, the photo has reignited my interest in my own family tree (which has been woefully neglected for far too long now).
Anyway, the arrival of that photo prompted me to pay attention to the myriad of documentation I've amassed about my lineage.  The projects I've undertaken for others over the past years had helped me to develop a particularly efficient way to organize the material, and I've kept promising to put mine in that more workable arrangement.
So, I finally got to it.
And I now have five binders full of documents, entitled "Catherine Bonnie Cherryholme's Ancestry Volumes I - V ."  The books contain the supporting documentation I have gathered, mostly birth (or baptism), marriage and death (or burial) certificates of my ancestors.
Genealogical research always starts with the "primary individual," and that would be me.  Therefore, "Volume I -- Parents" covers me and my descendants (that would be my little chickadee and my beautiful boy) and includes my parents and all my siblings.  It is chock-a-block full of documents, photos, and clippings, etc that I have collected over the years.
"Volume II -- Grandparents" (all four of them).  It was particularly difficult to gather material from this point back because three of my grandparents were British Home Children.  But I persevered and have managed to compile a fairly impressive collection of material.  Of course, I've included a listing of the children born to each of my grandparents (my aunts and uncles) and all my cousins, etc, where I've been able to get the information.  Unfortunately, not many of my cousins have been very co-operative with me on this project so I've not been able to include their descendants in this volume.
"Volume III -- Great Grandparents"   I have complete birth, marriage and death certification for all but one couple.  My mother's paternal grandparents are one of my brick walls. I have limited information on her paternal grandmother and have yet to prove that the couple even died, only being able to claim so because they were born in 1868 so logic tells me that they must be dead by now!
"Volume IV -- 2x Great Grandparents" -- "My Sixteen" as this group has come to be known to genealogists (I believe the phrase was first coined by Alex Hailey, whose book Roots seems to have kick-started the public's interest in genealogical research). This is the generation that most people will strive to identify when first they embark on a family history quest.  I've managed to identify and fully document My Sixteen, but again, my mother's line eludes me.  Naturally, if you hit a brick wall at one generation, you can't get any further back until you climb over that wall.  I do, however, at least have first names for all My Sixteen and one of these days, I'll find out what Ellen's maiden name was and I'll be off to the races again!
"Volume V -- 3x and 4x and 5x Great Grandparents" --   I have documented proof of my relationship to a great many of "My 32" (3x Great Grandparents) and  yes, I can actually prove my ancestry back to a few of "My 64" (4x great Grandparents) and 'My 128" (5x Great Grandparents)! (With each generation, the number of couples being researched doubles since each person in the previous generation has two parents.)
The framed picture is actually a jigsaw puzzle that I first had to assemble before I could affix labels with the  names of my ancestors on the appropriate branches of the tree.  It was great fun (since I love solving puzzles). 
Once the puzzle was completed, I got creative and added photos.  The upper left corner depicts my father as a young man along with his parents; the upper right corner is my mother along with her parents.  The photo to the left of the tree trunk is my parents with all their children on the occasion of my youngest sister's wedding (one of the few times we were all gathered together).  The smaller photo at the base of the tree is my little chickadee with my beautiful boy when he was two years old (the year I put the puzzle together).  The ribbon extending across the bottom of the image reads "Catherine Bonnie Cherryholme." 
We were able to recycle a frame I had to fit the finished product and we ended up with quite a nice presentation which now hangs over my desk.
In spite of the volume of information I have collected in my more than 25 years of pursuing this hobby, there are still several holes that I need to fill and a few brick walls that I would love to break down.
And every time I dig, I seem to find something new. In fact, I just the other day had the pleasure of adding a few new names to the tree (I actually broke through one of my smaller brick walls)!
Genealogical research truly never ends.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Still Tired ... after all this sleep

Yes I am.
One would think that anyone who spent as much time "sleeping" as I would be well rested, wouldn't one?
But that simply isn't the case for me.
And the reason is easily explained.
I wake too frequently!
My difficulty certainly is not one of getting to sleep.
And there is no problem going back to sleep once I waken.
But I waken, without fail, every two, two and half hours.
Sometimes I have to pee.
Sometimes I'm dreaming horrid dreams (one of these days, I'll discuss here about some of my vivid dreams and why they disturb so much).
Most of the time, I'm waking because I have to turn over.
That's right -- turn over!
My natural sleeping position is on my left side; that is how I am most comfortable so that is where I start the night, at whatever time I turn in.
Then, approximately two hours later, I wake up because I can no longer endure the discomfort of the pressure on my left hip.
And because I can't just "roll over" like most people do quite naturally in their sleep, I have to wake up to accomplish the task.
The pain in both hips prevents me from rolling over easily so I have to brace myself against the sideboard of the bed to help me get into an almost sitting position, switch sides, lie down again, and then get myself organized with my pillows.  The entire operation doesn't really take long, but it does require my being awake.
And of course, once I'm awake, I usually need to go pee. So, I have to get up.
As I said, I don't usually have much difficulty going back to sleep after one of these interruptions, but by the third time, I have to resort to floppong onto my back, which is not a comfortable sleeping position for me.  My left hip hasn't had sufficient time to recover from it's earlier shift so that's no longer an option.  And by this point, I've grown tired of the shenanigans and my mind starts going into gear.
Hence, my days often start sometime between 3:00am and 4:00am.
Which makes for a very long day indeed.
Science dictates that one needs seven hours of sleep to maintain good health.  That sleep is best if it is uninterrupted.  Occasional interrupted sleep won't do too much harm to one's health.  But I can assure you, long-term lack of restorative sleep absolutely affects one's health, totally.
I really have to learn the art of daytime napping.
Obviously, that is the only solution because my need to switch sides is not going to change any time soon.  I have to live with the fact that I am not ever going to get restorative sleep.
So I'd better get whatever sleep I can, whenever I can.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Oh So Tired ...

Yes, that's what I am this evening ... oh so tired.
Today was "physio day," as it's come to be known.  That means I had to make the round trip to the big city.
It was a rather quick trip today too.
I went directly to my physio appointment, during which my physiotherapist expressed her absolute delight with my findings about the compression garments.  She is so pleased to have the information so that she can confidently make recommendations to other clients. (I told her I'd send her a bill. I am, after all, a researcher!)
When I finished there, I picked up my little chickadee at work since I was going to her place anyway to borrow my sewing machine (I prefer to leave it at her place -- if it lives here, John keeps finding "projects" for me to do).  En route to her place, we made a stop to pick up a prescription (my beautiful boy is sick with strep throat -- poor baby!).
Then I came home.
So I really didn't linger at all.
But once I got home, I was finished.
Done like dinner!
Just sooooooooooooo tired.
All I wanted to do was go to bed.
Which, since we have now had our dinner, I think I will do.
It's early, I know, but that's never stopped me before.
So I see no reason for it to stop me now.
Tomorrow is a day of rest (sort of).
Good night everyone.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Jury is "IN"

I'm ready to give a decision on my research into compression garments.
As I posted here, last Saturday I purchased a pair of Body Wrap long-leg panty shapewear.  I wore them for the rest of that day and all day Sunday.
Then on Monday, I bought a pair of Spanx Power Panties (that's what they call their long-leg panty) performance underwear.  I wore them for the rest of that day and all the next day.
Since Wednesday, I have been switching between the two to test each in various of my day-to-day situations.
And now, I'm ready to give my verdict.
While I can't say that one gives any more compression than the other (and each gives equally beneficial compression), I can absolutely say that the Body Wrap panty is superior to the Spanx in several ways.
The Spanx power panty provides the compression I need/want, but there is a sense of restriction while I'm wearing it -- I don't have that sense when I'm wearing the Body Wrap panty.  The Spanx panty also presents more of struggle to put on, but doesn't provide more compression once it is on -- just more of a restrictive sensation (my body weight/height put me smack dab in the middle of the Spanx size range so it's not like I should go to the next size up).
For me, the Body Wrap panty is more comfortable (my weight put me at the upper end of the size chart so I was risking the item being too small) -- no sense of restriction, easier to put on, and the fabric is lightyears ahead of Spanx.   Body Wrap provides just the amount of compression I need without restricting me in any way (one does not want to risk any cut-off of circulation if wearing these garments for long periods). And it is $10.00 cheaper than Spanx.
So, Body Wrap it is.
I will be buying several pair of the Body Wrap long-leg shapewear and will check out their high-waisted version to see if it will help with my mid-back pain.
Who knows, I may have found the answer to a question I wasn't even asking.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Exiting the fog (again)

Well, I'm starting to feel a wee bit better (emphasis on "wee" please).
Last night was the second night on which I resorted to taking that damned sleep aid.
Yesterday was a lost day because the sleep aid hadn't done much for me the night before.
And if I don't sleep it off, I end up just dragging bottom all day -- which is precisely what I did.
However, I know from past experience that with continued use, I will get some benefit from using the sleep aid.
So, last night I took it again.  As I will do tonight and tomorrow night.
But having taken it didn't prevent me from waking repeatedly -- right on cue, every two, two and a half hours all night long.  At the 2:00am wake-up, I even toyed with staying up for a while.  Normally, when I've taken the sleep aid, I'm really groggy and only want to go right back to sleep, but this time it doesn't seem to be having that effect on me (my body needs more of it for the same effect?).
I didn't stay up though and woke an hour and a quarter later -- I had to roll over again!  The pain in my hips is becoming excruciating.
Then I managed to go back to sleep until just before 6:00am.
While I feel slightly more rested than I did yesterday, I'm still not "recovered" -- but at least I'm not dragging bottom today.
I'm scheduled to go for a cortisone injection in my left hip joint next Friday (June 18th).  My doctor seems to think that I should get considerable relief from this attempt.  It's being done with imaging at the hospital.  The MRI that was done back in February indicated that my left hip joint could benefit from this approach, so we'll try it.
Many years ago, after two failed attempts by my doctor to give me injections in the bursa of my right hip, we tried injection with imaging, in the bursa (because my right hip's problem was/is bursitis).  It didn't work!
Last year, the rheumatologist gave me an injection in the bursa of each hip (at that time, the diagnosis for both hips was bursitis).  The injections didn't work!
Now, we'll try injection with imaging in the left hip, but in the hip joint (because while I do have bursitis in my left hip, there is now diagnostic evidence of arthritis in that joint -- hence, go for the joint).  If it works, I should at least be able to sleep on my left side again, and that should help me get some restful sleep.  If it works.
When I reminded my doctor that cortisone injections have not worked for me in the past, he commented that we've always injected the bursa in the past.  This time we're going for the joint.  I hope he's right.
I do know that the one and only time I had to take a cortisone injection directly in a joint (my wrist), it did work.  Perhaps this will too.
(As an aside, it's interesting that cortisone has worked when injected into my wrist joint, and it is effective to control my allergies, but it clearly does not work when injected into the bursa.  Curious that!)
The other day, my dentist inquired about my hips and how we're progressing with my treatment.  When I told him of the appointment for this cortisone shot, he winced at the thought, saying that he's always heard that they are really painful (they are).
As I recall my experience with the wrist injection, I enjoyed immediate absolute relief after getting the shot because the pain had been so disabling (and I've never had a recurrence of the problem).
And as I explained to my dentist, while the shot itself might be painful to endure (it is, but the area is frozen), the pain of getting the shot is nothing compared to the pain I endure every day, with every step I take.
So if I get relief from the shot,  it's worth it!  And if I come out of it being able to sleep at night, it's even more than worth it.
What's the saying?  Short term pain, for long term gain.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It happened again ...

Yup, it did.
I pushed myself too far, and the inevitable happened.
I hit the wall.
And when I hit the wall, I have a meltdown.
This one wasn't (isn't) quite as dramatic as past ones have been, or were while I was coming out of that horrid withdrawal episode.
But it is nevertheless hard for me to deal with, on a mental level.
Naturally, when I got home from the dentist yesterday, I was tired.
That had been my second consecutive day of making the round trip into Ottawa.
I can't do that at the best of times.
And this isn't yet the best of times for me because my body is still struggling to get back on track with all it has been through in the past six months.
Anyway, I probably should have resorted to taking a sleep aid last night.
But I didn't do that.
I just went to bed, dog tired.
Even my eyelids hurt!  (John laughed at me when I complained about that as I drifted off to sleep.)
Of course, I had to endure my usual wake-up calls throughout the night -- every two/two and a half hours, right on cue.
When I woke this morning, I was having a fight in my head -- with my doctor.
Everything is his fault, you know.  (It isn't really, but when I'm heading into a meltdown, there's no accounting for what my psyche can dream up.)
Before "officially" starting my day, I approached my morning with my usual routine:  get coffee; read the newspaper (whilst icing my hips); have breakfast.
While we were having breakfast, I tried to tell John that a meltdown was coming.
And it happened.
The meltdown.
The tears started as I tried to explain to him how frustrating it is for me NOT to be able to physically handle what would seem to be a relatively light life's schedule.  (The prospect of our planning even a three-day trip this summer is evidently out of the question, so my disability is negatively affecting John's enjoyment of life too.)
I mean really.  What did I do?
  • I ran some errands on Sunday and felt really good about the fact that I was able to do so without incurring agonizing pain.
  • I went into Ottawa on Monday for my physiotherapy appointment and combined some social visits around the outing (something that makes the trip "worth while" I think).
  • I went into Ottawa on Tuesday for that dental appointment, something that was unexpected but necessary (hell, shit happens and sometimes you just have to go that extra mile).
And today, Wednesday, I have a meltdown.
Obviously, because I'm fatigued.
It's fairly evident I'm not yet ready for prime time.
Now intellectually, I know that one of the reasons I'm so fatigued -- other than that extra trip into Ottawa -- is because I don't get restful sleep.
And my lack of restful sleep has been a problem for many years.  It's not a new issue.
The question becomes:  How long can I function on a continuing sleep deficit before these meltdowns become disabling?
The meltdowns are making me crazy.  I don't like what goes on in my head each time I experience one.
Frankly, I've had enough of this nonsense.
I want a life.  Just like I used to have (although the memory of that is beginning to fade).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Quick Update ...

This will be quick because I've got to run again.
Had a long day in the city yesterday.
Left home at 9:30am for my 11:15am physio appointment.
En route, I made two stops:  one at The Bay to purchase a pair of Spanx long leg "power panties" so I can compare them to the Body Wrap version (more on that research later); then I stopped at my favourite computer shop to deliver a gift to my techie friend (not giving details of that here).  I ended up having a long chat with the founder's son (now the former owner -- he was all of about two years old when I started doing business with the shop).
After my physiotherapy session, I met my sister-in-law for lunch to collect the next version of my MedicAlert bracelets that we've been "designing" -- I think we've finally got it right now.  So I am now the proud owner of three interchangeable, very fashionable bracelets for my medallion.  We are too clever!
By the time I got home at 2:30pm, I was properly pooped.
And my dentist's office called.
I had had to cancel my scheduled visit back in March when I was going through my withdrawal crisis.
We've been trying ever since to reschedule but every time they called, they were offering me a day that was consecutive to a day on which I had just been into the big city.
So I declined.
This time, would I be able to come in on Tuesday -- that would be today -- at 1:15pm??
I hemmed and hawed about it for a while and then decided -- what the heck.
Go for broke.
My teeth have been screaming for attention for quite some time now.
I really should go.
So, I accepted.
Now I'm committed to making a trip into the big city again today -- after doing the round trip yesterday.
And wouldn't you know it?
I woke up this morning feeling like my body was swollen to twice its size again.
What's up with that?
Gonna have to talk with my physiotherapist about this phenomenon because this is the second time it's happened following a treatment with her.
The sensation clears once I'm up and about, but it's really quite painful initially.
I wonder if perhaps the Lyrica dosage that I'm taking is no longer sufficient for my body's needs?  Unfortunately, if that is the problem, too bad -- so sad.  Because I cannot tolerate a higher dosage:  my leg cramps worsen!  Been there; done that.
Anyway, I'm up now and I'm dressed and I'm ready to head into the big city to have my teeth cleaned and checked.
Not looking forward to the pain of it either.
While I was taking Cesamet, it didn't hurt to have my teeth cleaned.
But I'm not taking Cesamet any more.
So this is going to hurt again.
Just like it used to.
Oh the joys of being a sensitive-toothed fibromyalgic.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My Search is Over

My search for a compression garment is over.
I haven't yet actually checked out the Spanx garment (I'll do that tomorrow en route to Ottawa) but I've managed to find what I'm told is very comparable.
Remember a while back I posted here about my adventure in Carleton Place when I "needed" that dress in the window of a particular dress shop?
Well, I called that same dress shop on Friday and asked if they carried the Spanx line of women's undergarments.  They don't, but they carry a very similar product, made in Canada, called Body Wrap.
Yesterday, John took me into Carleton Place so I could visit the store and check out the product.
I left the store with one pair of their long-leg panty shapewear.
Once we got home, I of course had to put them on immediately and I wore them for the rest of the day.
Very promising indeed!
They provide exactly the level of compression I need, precisely where I need it.
It didn't take me long to notice that I was able to walk upright without pain, immediately that I got up from a sitting position (that's an even better result than I had enjoyed with the athletic taping!).
And today, I've been putting them to the test, big time!
We again went into Carleton Place this morning, but this time we visited numerous shops, and there was much walking involved at each stop.
Normally, if I do any shopping, I wear my back brace around my hips because it provides the extra compression I need for even the briefest jaunt.
Not this time.
I wore no back brace.
I used no cane.
I limped not.
I walked around like any other normal person.
And I walked quickly, just as I like to walk.
It was fabulous!
And here I sit, after having shopped and walked for nigh onto two hours, and then having been on my feet for almost another hour once we got home as I put stuff away ...
... and I have no pain.  You'd almost think I was a normal human being -- it is truly remarkable.
I'm still going to stop at The Bay tomorrow on my way to my physiotherapy appointment and will probably buy a pair of Spanx so that I can fully test a pair.  Then I will be able to give my therapist the results of my findings, which thus far are:
a)  Flexees won't do because of the leg band issue.
b)  Spanx will probably do (to be confirmed tomorrow).
c)  Body Wrap absolutely does the job, and brilliantly.
Admittedly, I'm not now going to buy a pair of the athletic compression shorts so I won't actually be testing them against the Spanx and the Body Wrap.  Someone else will have to undertake that study.
But I will recommend that my physiotherapist might want to offer the Spanx / Body Wrap solution to her clients rather than the athletic compression shorts because they are made of a fabric that, in my humble opinion, is sooooooo much more comfortable than the athletic shorts.
As for my search, I will certainly be buying more Body Wrap shapewear.  But first, assuming they fit me, I'll try the Spanx to see if one works better than the other in certain conditions (i.e. daytime vs sleeping).

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Damn those mack trucks!

The mack trucks have been roaring through my bedroom again.
In good style.
Obviously, there is a correlation between my taking sleep aids and the presence (or absence) of mack trucks.
Wonder if I'll make that connection any time soon and just stay on the damned sleep aid in order to keep the trucks out of the bedroom.
Seems to me like the logical thing to do.
But oh, I don't like the idea of having to rely on a sleep aid every night for the rest of my life (which is what I was told I would have to do by the pain management specialist several years ago).
And, given that the dose I've been using was beginning to show signs of being not quite enough for my needs (suggesting a physical dependence), I really don't like where I was headed.
I've been a week without it, and the mack trucks have been back with a vengeance for the each of the past three nights.
The toll is rising.
Perhaps I'll try one week on, one week off.
That might be enough to prevent the sleep deprivation, and keep the mack trucks out of the bedroom.
And by interrupting the dosage each week, I will be letting my body know that I am in control rather than the other way round.
Yet another item for my discussion list when next I see my doctor (sure glad he doesn't keep me to that two-issue limit!)
By the way, I have now been off the blood pressure med for two full weeks and my blood pressure remains at normal levels (actually, at remarkably good levels -- if I relax any more, I'll be stopped!).  It would seem to me that I clearly don't have hypertension, but I will continue to monitor it closely.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Major Learning Curve ...

Wow what a 24-hours I've just had!
I accompanied John to see his dietitian yesterday morning (as I have on each of his previous two visits) but this time I had a plan ...
Since John's diagnosis of pre-Type II Diabetes, and the resultant changes that have happened in this household, I have become very educated about diet and diabetes etc etc etc.  Thus far, John is doing very well in his efforts to avoid the actual diabetic status by closely following the diet that was developed for him and by incorporating exercise into his regime (hence, his weight loss). I, on the other hand, have been hanging on by my fingernails not to lose any more weight.
And to promote John's success in the program, I pushed for a blood glucose monitoring kit, which his doctor approved and we are now in possession of the necessary supplies for measuring blood sugar levels.
Education is a dangerous thing, as the saying goes ...
My eye doctor has been nagging for about two years now that diabetes could in fact explain the discrepancies she is finding in my vision.  My family doctor, however, has been insisting that because my blood sugar levels were always OK, there was no need to test further.
Now that we have the means to test, I undertook to do the "three day challenge" on me, (documentation explains that this is helpful, in the early days of one's diagnosis, to help the doctor determine how best to treat the patient).
The three day challenge involves taking your blood sugar at specific times of the day, for three consecutive days:  on waking (the "fasting" measurement); two hours after breakfast; just before lunch; two hours after lunch; just before dinner; two hours after dinner; and just before bedtime.
Armed with these numbers, the doctor is better able to understand what your body is doing and how best to treat the diabetes (as well as whether or not you are "pre" diabetic or already there).
The dietitian was delighted when she learned that we had a glucometer and had been monitoring John's numbers (and that we had brought them with us).  She was also some impressed with John's progress, even extending her hand in congratulations at the weight loss he had achieved in only three months (his girth reduction was even more impressive!).
Once she had assessed John's successful achievement and had told him to keep up the good work, I handed her the results of my three day challenge (without telling her that she was looking at my numbers) and asked her what the numbers told her.
She studied the card and was initially a little perplexed, then quickly realized that the numbers did not reflect John's pattern.
"Whose numbers are these?  Are these yours?" she asked.
"Yes," I said, "and without knowing anything else about me, how would you assess someone who presents with those numbers?"
"Well," she replied, "the fasting blood sugar is normal each day, but the spikes after your meals are quite dramatic.  These numbers are indicative of someone with Impaired Glucose Tolerance.  Which means that you too are pre-diabetic and you essentially need to do the same thing as John or you will become diabetic."
John's appointment with the dietitian then turned into my appointment with the dietitian.
And I have a follow-up appointment with her in early August (after I have seen my doctor, confirmed the findings, etc etc etc) so we can design a concrete diet plan specifically for me.
She explained that my pre-diabetes is different from John's in a significant way in that John's problem is one of his body's limited source of insulin (his pancreas do not produce sufficient insulin for his needs) but my body is insulin resistant (my pancreas produce sufficient insulin, I just don't utilize it properly).
John's fasting blood sugars will often be high (especially if he doesn't pay attention to his diet) and he is at risk of experiencing low blood sugar if he doesn't eat at prescribed intervals (and man, can he get ugly when that happens!).
My fasting blood sugars are almost always normal, but are often high two hours after eating.  I too am at risk of experiencing low blood sugar if I don't eat at prescribed intervals, but I can go without food longer than John can.
That's where the three-day challenge results are helpful; they provide the medical practitioner and the dietitian with the information they need to advise the patient how best to manage their type of diabetes.
While John's three day challenge results were quite different from mine, both our records indicate that we are pre-diabetic.  We just have to manage ourselves differently.
She also suggested that my numbers were probably much higher before I lost 40 pounds; my weight loss, although it happened as a result of a "crisis," has actually been a blessing in disguise.
As has John's Type-II Diabetes diagnosis proven to be a blessing in disguise -- for me.
For the past two years, my family doctor has resisted pursuing the possibility of diabetes contributing to my vision problems -- as suggested by my eye doctor -- because my "numbers were fine."
Now we know that my numbers were always going to be fine (until I eventually developed full-blown diabetes -- whenever that might have happened) because I have impaired glucose tolerance (IGT).  So he was being misled by my "good numbers."
At my last visit, he had finally ordered the required blood test to look for diabetes as an explanation for other complaints (my leg cramps being one of them).  And he had even told me to make sure I went for the test "two hours after having a good meal."  Now I know why he instructed me that way, and what he was suspecting.
My visit with him on June 24th will be most enlightening -- for him.
Because he should have the results of the bloodwork that was done at the end of May (two hours after lunch).  And I will have with me my three-day challenge numbers, which were also taken at the end of May and clearly show the IGT pattern.  I plan to repeat the challenge in the three days preceding my June visit.  By then, I will have been a month on the new diet I'm developing and I hope the numbers will reflect that I'm having some success in bringing down my blood sugar level at that two hour mark.
Oh the learning curve -- my brain hurts!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mack trucks are back ...

Woke this morning at 4:00am (and have been up since then!) in absolute agony.
My body felt like it was swollen to twice its size and had been run over by 20 mack trucks.
Has to be the humidity, which must be up to around 500% about now!
I put the usual ice packs on my hips whilst I read my morning newspaper and then got up slowly to join John for breakfast.
My shower helped me to work out a lot of the kinks and I was able to do most of my stretches (with pain, but I did them nevertheless).
We have a 9:00am appointment with John's dietitian this morning and she should be absolutely thrilled with his progress.  He has lost almost 25 pounds (and looks fabulous, I might add).  His blood sugar numbers aren't great but she will help him figure out how to improve them so he can, we hope, avoid going on medication.  He is within five pounds of the weight goal that he set for himself so she should be giving him a revised diet to follow. The one he's on now was designed to help him lose weight; he will need a maintenace diet once he reaches his goal.
This afternoon, I have a massage -- finally.  This will be my first in over a month.  Remember, my therapist refused to treat me for the month of May because of the way I responded to her light massages after that steroid injection.  So today, it will be interesting to see how bad my knots are.  She might have a quite a challenge in store!
Gotta run, tempus fugit!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Oh the pain ...

This new svelte body of mine is causing me trouble.
You see, now that I have it, I kind of like to show it off (wouldn't anyone?).
And certain outfits require certain shoes, otherwise the "look" would simply not be there.
Yesterday, I had to go into the big city for my physio session, and I am back to my old self of being able to handle many errands again.
And of course, because I "can," I "do."  That is my nature.
So, I planned a very full day of errands, leaving home at 10:30am.
First stop, the bank on my way out of Almonte to make a deposit.
En route to the big city is a major shopping venue which includes a sports shop, so I stopped in there to check out compression shorts.  Got the information I needed (they are essentially biker shorts without the padding) and went on my way.
Once I hit the big city, I stopped at my sister-in-law's workplace to pick up yet another MedicAlert bracelet that she had improvised for me (and to deliver the others to her for yet another fix -- we'll get them figured out eventually).
Then it was on to my favourite computer shop to pay the tab for the installation of John's new system (remember the techie came out to our place a couple of weeks ago and spent the day on that task?).  We could have called in the Visa number, but I like to visit them and get hugs and chat.  I spent about a half hour there, standing all the while (got extra hugs when the founder's son came down to say hi -- hadn't seen him in quite some time).
From there, I stopped at my little chickadee's workplace to pick up a cheque from her (long story, our business, won't go into detail here).
Then I finally got to my physiotherapist's office.
In our discussions about my search for the proper compression clothing, she was intrigued to learn that I was considering Spanx (and/or Flexees -- of which she was not previously aware).  She suggested that Spanx reportedly reduced a person by one full clothing size, so they might actually provide greater compression than biker shorts since as far as she knew, biker shorts didn't reduce a person's clothing size.  She encouraged me to check out the Flexees and the Spanx as possibilities and report back to her.  She had not previously thought of them as providing therapeutic benefit, so she was quite excited at the idea of having more ideas to offer to her clients.  She decided that she needs to think outside the box more often, like I do -- apparently I keep giving her ideas!
So when I left her office, I continued on may to Sears to check out the Flexees.  And that involved a lot of trying on of clothing (which I absolutely hate at the best of times!). 
By the time I finished there, it was 3:15pm and I was facing a 45 minute drive home.
And I still had one stop to make before I got home:  pick up a prescription refill at the pharmacy in Almonte as I went through town.
I arrived home at 4:30pm -- twelve hours after I had risen for the day (my lack of sleeping aid at night is taking its toll!).
That was a six-hour day and I was very tired, to say the least.
And I had been wearing a new pair of sandals that I bought to wear with one of my new dresses.  They just happened to set off my new capri outfit quite nicely so I wore them instead of my usual "therapeutic" sandals.
Big mistake.
Today, my feet are in agony, along with my legs.
And I woke with serious leg cramps again, almost like I was taking that damned blood pressure medication (not quite as bad but close).
Lesson learned:  Except for short, special outings, only wear my therapeutic shoes -- that's what they are for!  Most especially, don't try to be fashionable when going on one of my famous "many stops" outings.
Anyway, turns out that the Flexees won't suffice at all, for my purposes.  They might be perfectly adequate for short term use, but unfortunately they have a rubber-like band around the leg that would not lend itself to long-term wear.   Of course, the purpose of that band is to prevent riding-up of the legband and I understand that, but eventually I would react to the material.  So while they won't serve my purpose, they might very well be suitable for my physiotherapist to recommend to some of her clients, depending on their needs.
However, I need to find a garment that can be worn almost full time.
And I need to find a garment that can be worn overnight because I intend to wear one while I sleep. (My sleep was greatly enhanced whilst I was wearing the athletes' taping.)
I haven't yet seen an actual pair of Spanx so I don't know if they have the rubber-like band on the leg; hence I can't yet rule them out.
The compression shorts that I saw at the sports' shop will serve my purpose quite nicely.  Thus far, they are in the lead but until I check out Spanx, I'm not making a final decision on what to buy.  But once I do decide, I will be buying several pair.