Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Getting Ready for Christmas

Such a busy season.

The Advent Calendar is filled and counting down the days. (Drawers 1 - 7 have already been emptied and reversed.)

My Village is assembled and bringing me much pleasure each morning and afternoon.  This photo was taken a couple of years ago and as usual, it's never the same two years in a row so it looks different again this year.  There's been a few additions, one highlight being a marching band.   

And of course, the Creche is awaiting the arrival of its special guests.  It actually sits empty now, since the guests don't arrive until the 24th.

 Christmas is such a busy, blessed season.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Yet another surgery coming up

Here I go again.
On Thursday, October 8th, I will undergo yet another hip surgery.
Yep.  I know.
I've already had two replacements.  The left in January 2012, and the right just a year ago.
So where does a third one happen, you ask.
Well, the right hip has to be redone -- it's called revision surgery.  
You will recall that I did really well with the right hip arthroplasty.  My recovery was without incident and I sailed through the rehab physio sessions.
All was right with the world.
Until it wasn't.
I enjoyed the benefits of the replacement until about March of this year, when I started to experience difficulty in my groin.  I put it down to fatigue and figured it would pass.
Well, it didn't pass.  It worsened.
And it worsened until I had to seek medical advice.
My physiotherapist advised me to see my surgeon.  That appointment was still months away.
My massage therapist had the same advice.
My family doctor encouraged me to try to get an appointment with the surgeon sooner rather than later.
No can do.  I would simply have to wait my turn.
When my turn finally came in June, he wanted to rule out infection so he ordered blood work and a hip aspiration, during which he also allowed a cortisone injection to help alleviate the pain.  I had three days of blissful pain-free activity.
And it's been downhill since then.
My next visit with the surgeon, during which he told me there was no infection, he suggested that the prosthetic could be loose but the only way to tell is to go back in.  He wanted to take a wait and see approach, to perhaps allow the cortisone shot more time to work.
At the next follow-up visit it was clear that I was declining and his examination told him that in all likelihood the ball had not adhered properly to the muscle.  He would have to revisit it.  But this time he can't go in "on the dotted line."  He has to make a new incision, this time towards my backside, to allow him to have full access to the unit.
I'm told that revision surgery is a more involved, longer surgery than a straight replacement.  It's also a longer recovery, and takes longer to rehab.  And I will have significantly different restrictions for a longer period of time.
Oh, I am so not looking forward to this.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

My failed experiment

So, a couple of weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to show my support for my beloved Toronto Blue Jays.
And how would I do that, you ask?
Well, obviously, I'd dye my hair Blue Jays blue.
So plans were made with my hairdresser to ensure that she would have the appropriate colour in stock and an appointment was secured for Friday morning.
"You know it's going to be, ummm, vibrant?" she asked.
"Yes," said I.  "I want to make a statement."
"As long as you know that it can't be dyed out once you do it.  It has to be grown out and cut off to get rid of it," she cautioned me.
"That's fine," I answered.  "The way my hair grows, I'm not at all concerned.  Push comes to shove, I'll shave my head again."
Finally, the day arrived and I was oh soooo excited.
I sat in the chair and she applied the dye to my hair and we watched as the colour looked very much like what we both expected.
We sat and chatted while we waited out the clock.
And then she washed the dye out, and sat me back in the chair in front of the mirror.
"Oh my God!  That's not Blue Jays blue,"  I exclaimed.  "My hair's purple!"
I don't know who was more disappointed.  Me for not having what I expected.  Or my hairdresser for not coming through as promised.  She was clearly not happy with her supplier, who had assured her that she had been sold what she needed to get the job done.
Suffice to say, in time, my head will likely be shaved.  Again.  Like I said, fortunately, my hair grows fast.
Not quite the statement I had wanted to make.
But a statement nevertheless.
And it is only hair!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

My baby is 40 !

Today marks my little chickadee's 40th birthday.   (Yes, I can admit to having a 40 year old daughter, although I myself am still only 29!)
My daughter entered the world at 1:16 pm on this date back in 1975, and what a terrific addition to this world she has proven to be.
She has become a truly marvelous young woman of whom I am extremely proud.
She is a terrific daughter and a fabulous mother.
But most of all, my daughter has become a wonderful friend.
She was an early talker, and has been bending my ear non-stop ever since.  In her early years, I can remember wishing she had never learned to talk, she did so much of it!  Now, I look forward to her telephone calls, and miss the days that we can't fit one in. (The calls don't happen nearly often enough now, what with texting being such a popular mode of correspondence.)  One would think we'd run out of things to talk about but somehow, that never seems to happen.
She was an adorable toddler ...

... who blossomed into a truly stunning young lady ...

... and matured into a beautiful woman, inside and out.

She fills my heart with love and pride.
Happy 40th birthday Natalie, my beauty queen daughter!


Sunday, August 9, 2015

I'm 65!

Yes I am.
And I embraced my new age.
Now, I qualify for O(ld) A(ge) S(ecurity) payments from the government.
We had a fabulous party to celebrate my joining the OAS Club.

Family and friends joined us in the dining room of our favourite local pizza haunt to mark the occasion.    


And on this special occasion, we seized the opportunity to "recreate" a favourite photo of me and my little chickadee.  We felt it was time it should be updated.

As MLC summed it up in a Facebook posting to her cousin, "Well neither of us had the right outfit, mom's glasses are significantly smaller, I have way better hair...and we were laughing far too much. So, there's a picture, I just don't think it would be immediately obvious that it was meant to be a re-creation."
Nevertheless, it is our recreated photo.  And one I will treasure.
Tomorrow, I go back to being 29!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Yikes, it's been a long time

Have I really not posted here since mid-February?
I have an excuse.
Sort of.
You see, our lives were turned upside down last fall when John was diagnosed with what was believed to be liver cancer.
It took months of back-and-forth medical appointments to nail down the diagnosis.
It was liver cancer.
But it was totally treatable.
His surgery happened on February 25th.
We were told it was a four hour surgery, with a five day hospital stay.
Turned out to be an eight hour surgery, with a 17 day hospital stay.
I'll post more about the long, tiring ordeal later but suffice to say that he is now home and recovering quite nicely, albeit too slowly for his liking.  (The good news is they got it all, there's no sign of any further cancer, and he requires no other treatments!)
The wound re-opened at each end so we've had to be going to the local clinic for dressing changes every second day.  He's just graduated to every three days because, finally, they are starting to close.
The nurse predicts it will be another month before they are fully healed.
In the meantime, John still fatigues easily.  I've explained to him that as long as he is still having to heal that wound, his body is using all its defenses toward that healing.
In time, his energy will come back.
The other good news is we celebrated his birthday on Monday -- his 83rd.
For some reason, dyslexia sets in every April around this household!
This year, instead of a birthday pizza outing, he chose a breakfast outing.  Putting candles in his eggs was a challenge but I managed to turn his plate into a celebration anyway.  (The blue thingy plays "Happy Birthday" as lights dance along the letters.)
And of course, that day was also opening day of baseball season so we spent the afternoon watching our Blue Jays ball club beat dem damn Yanks on their own turf!
What more could a birthday boy ask?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

February 15th - A special day in our history

Today is the 50th anniversary of the day Canada's national flag was first raised on Parliament Hill.
It has served us well these 50 years, and will continue to do so for many more, I'm sure, given the international respect it garners.
For many years Canadians tried to convince the federal government to declare February 15th a national holiday, to mark that momentous day in our history.  But the feds just won't budge on that.
Several provinces have since acknowledged that the day is worthy of recognition and have their own version of holiday to commemorate the event.  In Ontario, we have "Family Day" -- the Monday nearest February 15th -- a day for families to spend together.  It's the best they could come up with.  So those who work for provincially-regulated employers have the day off to spend with their families.  Those who are employed in federally-regulated workplaces must take a vacation day to do the same.  Keep in mind, day care providers and teachers all have the day off, being provincially employed.  So all the children are home that day, many of whose parents are employed in the federal government.
But I digress.
Back in 1965, when that flag was first raised, my best friend sister was celebrating her 16th birthday. We decided then and there that the day should be an annual national holiday.  After all, if the country could party this hardy on her 16th, why not every year?
Wendy and Bonnie 1951
(with their Mother)

Wendy and Bonnie, Aug 1999

For the record, we still think February 15th should be a national holiday.

Happy 66th Wendy, with love from Canada!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Fun with my FitBit

Santa brought me a FitBit for Christmas.
I love it!
I'm having so much fun with it.
One thing it's doing for me is making me ever so conscious of my steps, and the effect that those steps have on my body.
For instance, I actually managed -- one Sunday -- to get up to 10,000 steps in.  And the next day my muscles were taking me nowhere!
Scratch that idea.  When you have fibro, you have to pace yourself and 10,000 steps in a day is way too much.  I don't care what the experts say!
I've since learned that if I limit my steps to between 5,000 - 6,000 steps a day, I'm OK -- for the most part.
Anything over 6,000 steps in one day and I have terrible leg cramps during the night.  I've seen the pattern.  
So now I try to make at minimum 5,000 steps each day.  Anything over that is a bonus.
The price I pay for going over that 6,000 step threshold in a day?  Besides the leg cramps that night, I can't make even 2,500 steps the next day.  Simply not worth it in my books.
But the feature I most enjoy with this FitBit is the sleep monitoring report.
I indicate when I'm going to sleep and when I wake up.  And it monitors me while I'm "asleep."
I've learned that on average it takes me six minutes to actually fall asleep.  (I've always felt that it took me "forever."  Apparently, that's not true.)
I've also learned that when I'm "sick" (which I have been for most of the month of January), I waken anywhere from 11 to 17 times a night.  Not a very restful sleep.  But when I've not been sick, I waken perhaps two times.  A much more normal pattern, methinks.
Sleep data has always been of interest to me and I love getting this information every morning.  I know it's not the most accurate of data in a scientific sense, but it is reporting something.  And I'm enjoying it.
Oh, I also like learning that during my sleeping period, I'm taking steps too.  Yep.  Some nights I'm walking nine to twelve steps at a time, without getting out of bed.  Neat trick that, don't you think?
Have I mentioned that I'm having fun with my FitBit?

Friday, January 30, 2015

My "Hot Chocolate" date

On Monday, my neighbour brought over some zucchini cake to have with hot chocolate.
Have I mentioned that she has the cutest daughter ever?
My soon-to-be-ten-months-old buddy sat with me while I had my hot chocolate.
Her Mom gave me permission to share.

"What did you think of that?"

"Let's try that again, just to be sure."

"Oh yeh, I think she likes it!"

"More, please!"

"Why did you stop?"
"Well, Mom said that's enough."

"Really Mom?  But it's soooooo good!"

That was a very fun day indeed.
She is such a sweetheart, and a delight to have for a neighbour!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

John's "new" dog

My neighbour has become a very good friend.  We regularly visit back and forth and very much enjoy each other's company.
Toop, John's dog, has been living in the house for the winter.  She's getting on in years and John feels that she doesn't cope with the cold quite as well as she used to, although her kennel is heated.  He always did bring her in when the temperature dipped below -20 but this year he decided she should stay in regardless.
She is restricted to the downstairs level -- John's studio, his workshop (where her sleeping quarters are).  She is NOT allowed upstairs in our living quarters.  She stinks like a dog big time, and I'll not have that odour permeating my living area.  Not to mention the dog hair that she sheds all over the place.  Bad enough the downstairs now stinks like dog and is covered with her hair!
Anyway, last Friday, my neighbour came over to give Toop a bath.  She was soooo co-operative it was amazing.  For a dog to be experiencing such a thing for the first time in her life (she's seven years old) and not panic was truly something to witness.  She allowed herself to be shampoo'd twice, conditioned and rinsed.  Then she was blow dried and brushed and had tufts of hair cut off.  She no longer "stinks like a dog."
She will be given a bath once a month.  Crazy neighbour lady!
Neighbour is on a campaign to convince me that I should put a doggie bed on the floor by the chimney, right beside the dining table, and let Toop live there.
Not gonna happen! 
On Saturday, my little chickadee and family came for a visit.  Toop decided that Natalie was her new best friend.  (Especially since Natalie brought her upstairs to visit with the visitors -- that was a special treat indeed.)
Natalie agrees with neighbour that a doggie bed for Toop would be nice, right in the spot suggested.
Not gonna happen!
Suddenly I got an e-mail from a very good friend who was "voting" with neighbour.
My response: "What part of 'not gonna happen' do you girls not understand?"
Her reply?  "What part of 'majority rules' do you not understand?
Fortunately, John still understands that if dog moves upstairs, Bonnie moves out.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

My two anniversaries

This is my anniversary sandwich day.
Yesterday, the 23rd, was the 9th anniversary of Stephen Harper's government.
That means it was the 9th anniversary of my having officially retired.
Tomorrow, the 25th, will be our 18th wedding anniversary (John's and mine, not Harper's and mine).
That makes today the sandwich day.
The day between my two anniversaries.
And I have now been retired for half as many years as I will be married (tomorrow).

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Oops, sorry.

Please, please, please forgive me.
I'm not doing a very good job of keeping my resolution to post more frequently.
Both John and I have been quite ill with this bronchitis infection.  We've just come off the antibiotics and we are, admittedly, feeling much better.
The coughing has let up considerably.  Not gone altogether but it is much better than it was.
I'm still struggling with the asthma, which I guess will take a while longer to resolve itself.  That's just the nature of the beast.
John is quite depleted from the experience.  He's never been as sick with anything as he was with this.  His energy level is still quite low so he's still sleeping a lot.
But we'll get there -- eventually.
On a brighter note, since we are now off the antibiotic ...
Finally, I can have a glass of wine this evening.  Hallelujah!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My true ailment

It might be asthma, but it's also bronchitis.
After seeing that nurse practitioner last Friday, I didn't improve any over the weekend.
On Monday, I had my routine appointment with my ENT specialist to "vacuum" my ears.  Of course, the treatment sent me into spasms of coughing.  Soon as he heard me, he commented about my bronchitis not helping with my ear issue (he found fluid buildup behind the eardrum).
I told him about the earlier diagnosis of asthma and he urged me to see my family doctor because my cough was bronchial, if not pneumonia.  He's not a "lung guy," but he knows coughs.  Asthma produces a dry cough and dry mine was not.
Yesterday, I saw my family doctor.
Explained the past week of medical back and forthing that I've been though. On Friday I was diagnosed with asthma. On Monday I'm told it's bronchitis. Same cough.  Two different health care providers.
She examined me and said, "Both are right.  It's asthma and bronchitis.  One can't get better until we treat the other."
A week of antibiotics (and continued increased use of my puffers) should do the trick.
We hope.
In the meantime, I can't have any wine for seven days.
Woe is me!!!!!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

My illness identified

Well, turns out that I've been suffering with asthma all this time.  Actually, I'm still suffering with it.
Broke down and sought medical treatment again yesterday because I was clearly getting worse.  It being Friday, my family physician is not in but I saw a Nurse Practitioner who was both personable and knowledgeable.
She thoroughly examined me and ruled out pneumonia or any presence of infection at this point.
Then the discussion turned to asthma.
She asked how often I have to use my rescue inhaler and I explained that I don't often use it.  My asthma is cold-air induced.  And as I said that, a little light bulb went on.  This whole mess started last Sunday -- the day I cleared a path in the snow on the deck so I could get to the bird feeders to fill them.
Hmmmmmmmm.  You think?  (The last time I cleared snow to get to the bird feeders -- several years ago now -- I ended up at emergency, so serious was the asthma attack!)
So we talked about that for a while.
But I was there because it had gotten so much worse on Tuesday night.  The coughing just became so severe that I was up most of that night and the next.
As she was telling me what she wanted me to do to manage the symptoms, one of her suggestions was to apply Vicks to my chest at bedtime.  Might help give me some relief.
That's when the next light bulb went on.  John had convinced me to use Vicks on Tuesday night and I had suggested to him the next morning that I was sure it made me worse because I hadn't been coughing that badly before I used it.
"Stay away from the Vicks then," she said.  "It can cause an asthmatic response in some people."
Who knew?
So, my instructions, for the next two weeks at least, are:
  • use my sinus rinse three times a day
  • increase my puffer from two times a day to three times a day
  • use a nasal spray twice a day (new prescription)
  • use a humidifier in the bedroom (I was already doing that)
  • sleep in an upright position (such a comfortable way to sleep!)
If I'm not seeing an improvement by Monday, I'm to go back to see her.

As an interesting aside here, I am now the proud owner of a Fitbit Flex.  It tracks my sleep pattern.
Prior to Sunday (when I moved that snow), I was waking up two-three times a night.
On Sunday night I was awake 11 times.
But then on Tuesday, the night I used the Vicks, I was awake 15 times.
On Wednesday and Thursday, 16 and 14 times respectively.
But last night, I broke the bank.  After using all the above methods of treatment (but not three times, mind you) to help get this under control, I awoke 24 times!  At one point, I was coughing so badly, John was pounding on my arm telling me to wake up and go rinse my sinuses or do something!  But please stop the coughing!  So the very uncomfortable upright sleeping position did little to alleviate the coughing.
Today is another day and I will be able to implement her suggestions to the full complement.
Let's hope tonight is a better night.  (Tonight, my rescue inhaler will be on the bedside table, at the ready.  Enough already!)
John needs his sleep.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I have a valid "excuse"

OK, so I haven't exactly been posting frequently yet, as I resolved to do.
But truth be known, I've been quite sick and haven't really been on the computer much this past week.
Not sure what's going on.
A cold?
A flu?
I saw a doctor on Monday because that was day three on which I had trouble putting on my hearing aid.  Whenever that's happened before, it was because I had an ear infection.  Not so this time.  She couldn't see any sign of infection.  And whatever was preventing the hearing aid from going in at that time, has not been a problem since.
Don't get me wrong.  My ears have continued to be sore.
As has my throat.
But I don't have fever.
The past couple of days I've developed a nasty cough but can't quite manage to bring the sputum up and out.  
Yesterday morning I was quite bad but seemed to clear as the day went on and then got worse at bedtime.
Last night I was coughing almost to the point of vomiting but just couldn't quite make it.  In fact, the coughing was so unrelenting that I slept very little.  At least it seemed like I slept very little.  Seemed like I was awake every 30 minutes or so, coughing violently.
Suffice to say today my chest wall is very sore from all the coughing.
All this to say that that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
I'll be back when I'm better -- much better.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Goodbye to Christmas 2014

Well, I have removed what little Christmas I had put up this year.
For reasons that I will not go into detail here I did not put up my village and Christmas 2014 was very different than most for us.
Was pleasant, but different.
So now, all signs of it having been Christmas are removed from my home, save for the Creche.  That, of course, must remain until January 6th -- Little Christmas.
There are many versions of the origination of the Feast of the Epiphany but put simply, it is the twelfth day of Christmas, marking the day that the Magi (the three wise men) arrived at the manger offering their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the new-born child.
As Catholics, we are quite attuned to this story and if the family displayed a creche as part of their Christmas tradition, it would be left up until January 6th to mark the Feast of the Epiphany.  A special mass would be said at the parish church and devout Catholics would be sure to attend.
Some families would find small gifts at the foot of the family creche, marking the gift-giving occasion.
Growing up, our family did not do the gift exchange on Little Christmas.
Once I was living on my own, and certainly once my little chickadee was on the scene, I added a creche to my Christmas display, buying the one I use today in 1978.
Sometime around the 10th of December, my daughter and I would carefully set up the creche once the tree was decorated.  We would also start reading her many books about the story of Christmas.
Since Mary and Joseph didn't arrive at the "Inn" until the 24th, they would be placed off in the distance, as though walking toward Bethlehem.  The shepherd would be set further off in the distance since he was "following the star of Bethlehem" and would arrive once the baby was there.  The three wise men were positioned really far away because they were not due to arrive until the 6th of January.
On the 24th of December, Mary and Joseph would arrive at the manger and would be placed inside, but the baby would be "hiding" behind the structure, to be added the following morning.  (The funniest story ever was the year my little chickadee, about an hour after she had been put to bed on Christmas Eve, came tearing downstairs to lie Mary down -- "she was going to have a baby" that night.)
At some point in her young life, my little chickadee convinced me that she should start getting a gift on January 6th.   "It was, after all, Little Christmas," she whined.  So, I would hold back one gift from what she would otherwise have received on Christmas Day and give it to her on January 6th.  Not sure how she figured she was ahead on that one but whatever.
In my current household, I continue to play out the story of Christmas, with the various players arriving at the appropriate times.  (John asked if the Wise Men were lost when he saw them off in the distance away from the display.  I had to again explain the process.)  The creche still remains on display until January 6th, (after all, the three wise men only just arrive on that date) but the "tradition" of offering a gift on January 6th has not prevailed.
On January 7th, with all original members present and accounted for (although the shepherd is a little worse for wear, having been dropped again this year), the creche will be dismantled, carefully wrapped (I only a few years ago threw away the original packing material) and put away for another year.
And thus will mark the official end of Christmas for another season.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A 2015 Resolution

I hereby resolve to post here more frequently than I have of late.
Sure hope I can maintain that resolve.
If nothing else, I resolve to try to keep that resolve.
(I don't normally make any new year's resolutions so we'll see how this one goes.)