Updated Bucket List – Items #1-18

Last time I reviewed my new Bucket List I had 17 items and little progress towards any of them. However, I’m now delighted to report that I can cross off one item and have made significant progress towards three others:

  1. Coffee with a friend in our local Starbucks
  2. To be a bridesmaid
  3. To visit New Zealand
  4. To live on the ocean
  5. To own a Class B motor-home (Roadtrek ideally)
  6. Waist length hair
  7. Day-trip to Frankenmuth & Bronners
  8. Reschedule & enjoy my belated 45th birthday vacation
  9. Acceptance of RADS diagnosis and limitations that places on my life
  10. Despite RADS diagnosis, work on improving the quality of my life and work at getting back to work.
  11. year long road trip following 70 degree (21 C) weather throughout the contiguous United States.
  12. Lose steroid weight and return to a healthy weight
  13. Get out walking, locally and a little further afield on walking trails and then snowshoeing as determined by the weather
  14. Visit Harrison Hot Springs in BC
  15. Go indoor skydiving
  16. Attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival
  17. Go on a picnic

Yesterday, with a great deal of help from my friend I was able to cross off #1. In fact we went a step further and didn’t just meet for coffee in Starbucks but we actually met for coffee in a small local mall. Thankfully, it doesn’t have a juice/smoothie vendor and the food court is small enough that between us we could keep an eye out for potential concerns.

On arriving at the Mall we had a quick review of how to give me an Epi Pen (just in case) and then had a small wander around the mall. My first time doing so in about 6 months. Unfortunately, the cleaning machine was out, and in use, for part of the mall and that scent was too strong for me to manage so I didn’t make it to the book store. However, we did have coffee! The cleaner in the food court very kindly agreed to clean the bathrooms while we did, rather than washing the floors and tables down, at that time. It seems that the cleaning services in the Mall all use a citrus/strong scented solution for washing the floors.

Kai alerted a couple of times that I needed to use my inhalers and ultimately that we needed to leave, due to scents and my reactions. I’m so proud of him.

Funnily enough having decided to make this alert extremely obvious while we were in the hospital (jumping on, & pawing at, my head literally) he remembered how to do it more subtly, but still insistently, yesterday. If I didn’t know better I’d think it was deliberate on his part as a few patients had commented on not seeing him working, not realising that his usual alerts are very subtle and not obvious unless you’re looking for them. He can’t really have decided to show off, can he?

I am so thankful to have a friend who was willing to ensure that she was completely safe (unscented) to be with me, and to then look out and advocate for me. Unfortunately I can’t often advocate for myself as I can’t get close enough to the scent to ask the person concerned if they’d help me out.

So #1 is completed! Though it will definitely stay as a goal to meet on a regular basis.

I’ve also made good progress towards items 9 & 10 (Acceptance of RADS diagnosis and limitations that places on my life & Despite RADS diagnosis, work on improving the quality of my life and work at getting back to work.)

It’s a fine balance. Much as it was great to get out of the house, and meet for coffee yesterday it took a lot of courage to do so and I needed a lot of help to make it safe enough.

It’s all about living in this moment.

In this moment there isn’t a citrus fruit or product in my vicinity so I enjoy it. I need to be cautious and take appropriate precautions but I’m not going to give up on life just because I know what could kill me & how likely that is. I could still get hit by that proverbial meteor!!

Oddly enough I’ve also made some progress towards items 6 & 12 (Waist length hair & Lose steroid weight and return to a healthy weight).  I realised how much longer my hair has grown over the past year when I braided it for the first time in a while during my hospital stay and the braid came quite a lot further down my back. My hair is still very fine and my entire braid thinner than most people’s bangs…. but it’s growing!

Also, despite eating hospital food I actually lost some weight in the hospital. I’ve still got a long way to go to get back to a healthy weight , after the impact of the steroids, but I’m finally not going up every day!

So given my recent success in meeting item 1 I’m going to replace it with a new item. At least once a month, taking appropriate precautions, get out and do something social.

I’m also adding a new item to my list. At least once a day, do something creative. That could be as simple as writing this Blog or colouring. Alternatively it could enable my trying out a new craft, or one that I haven’t done in a while, or can’t do as well as I used to so rarely do anymore. It could be writing a poem, a story or exercising my somewhat limited artistic talents. It could also be cooking a meal or baking something that’s a little more complicated than taking it out of the box! Just because I’m only cooking for me it doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve to cook an interesting meal for myself.

So here’s my updated list. The items in italics are those that I’ve made good progress towards!

  1. At least once a month, taking appropriate precautions, get out and do something social
  2. To be a bridesmaid
  3. To visit New Zealand
  4. To live on the ocean
  5. To own a Class B motor-home (Roadtrek ideally)
  6. Waist length hair
  7. Day-trip to Frankenmuth & Bronners
  8. Reschedule & enjoy my belated 45th birthday vacation
  9. Acceptance of RADS diagnosis and limitations that places on my life
  10. Despite RADS diagnosis, work on improving the quality of my life and work at getting back to work
  11. year long road trip following 70 degree (21 C) weather throughout the contiguous United States.
  12. Lose steroid weight and return to a healthy weight
  13. Get out walking, locally and a little further afield on walking trails and then snowshoeing as determined by the weather
  14. Visit Harrison Hot Springs in BC
  15. Go indoor skydiving
  16. Attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival
  17. Go on a picnic
  18. At least once a day, do something creative

How’s your Bucket List coming on?

NB. Please note that Epi Pen’s come in cases. So to use one you need to take it out of the case first. Then it’s…

Blue to the Sky, Orange to the thigh

Which means take the blue cap off and make sure that end is towards the sky, swing the pen and ‘stab’ the person with the orange end on the outside, fleshly part of their thigh (through their clothes) and count for 3 seconds. Call for an ambulance and paramedic service.

If there is a delay in getting emergency services you may need to give a second pen. Most people with severe allergies, and known anaphylaxis reactions, will carry several of them on them. I also carry inhalers and liquid Benadryl which can also help buy me some time.

The Epi Pen needle is on a spring within the orange section and the blue cap releases the safety catch for it. You are never exposed to the needle. So it’s completely safe for you to give to somebody else if they need you to.

Great customer service still exists. Thanks Fido!

On the 23rd August 2016, I had an anaphylactic reaction during a biopsy. Being in my local hospital at the time I was treated very promptly and discharged a few hours later with the normal warnings about watching out for a biphasic (secondary) reaction later. In my current condition, and given that I only live a few minutes from the hospital, I’m safer at home than in the hospital. As demonstrated by the anaphylaxis being triggered while I was in the hospital, to begin with.

Unfortunately a few hours later and I needed to return to the hospital – fast. Being deaf, and with breathing issues which make speaking extremely difficult, I am registered with the Text 911 service as well as with our local Vulnerable Persons Registry.

On this day I experienced an epic fail. Neither of these systems worked.

The Text 911 service didn’t work and I had to spend several valuable minutes trying to get my location and issues across to the paramedic dispatcher. This was terrifying. It was already an extremely scary situation in that I knew from experience that I only had a few minutes if I was truly going into full anaphylaxis once more. The dispatcher worked very hard with me to understand me and it must have been extremely difficult for her, as I couldn’t hear most of what she was saying so had to simply keep trying to repeat myself until I thought she had the address right.

Now because I was expecting the Text 911 system to work I had called from my cell phone. This meant that my address wasn’t automatically provided to the dispatcher.

Except that, it should have been. I’m also registered with the VPR. This registry is meant to provide a limited profile, that I confirm the details of at least every 3 months, to emergency services. This includes my address linked to both my home number and my cell number as well as the fact that I’m deaf, have breathing issues, and other such essential emergency information.

After the event, I contacted both services and asked them to investigate what happened. The VPR is still investigating though I expect to hear back soon.

Text 911 confirmed that I live in an area where the service is active and working and escalated the issue to my service provider – Fido.

At Fido, my concern was investigated by the President’s office. From the beginning, they have kept me fully informed of the steps that they have taken as their investigation progressed.

Today, they reported the outcome to me.

Unfortunately, it was human error.

The system all worked properly.

I was fully registered.

The system alerted the dispatch that I was a T911 user and for some reason, they didn’t follow the protocol.

The person concerned has been identified and retrained. In fact, the local response unit staff are all being retrained and reminders of the T911 protocol are being sent out to all areas that use the T911 service.

I’m sure that my case will be used as an anonymous example as to why it is so important that they use this system when prompted.

I was lucky.

I was actually still experiencing the first anaphylaxis and hadn’t entered a second. My emergency medications had worn off and the increased steroids hadn’t kicked in yet.

If I had been in full anaphylaxis I probably would not have survived the delay.

I don’t bear any resentment against the dispatch operator.

She made a mistake.

She also had to deal with hearing me fighting for every single breath, knowing that she could be hearing my last at any moment while also helping calm me down and get information from me.

I’m quite sure that once she learned that she’d missed the T911 protocol that she will never, ever make that mistake again.

The T911 service is also very new. I doubt that there have been many uses of it in my area, if any, before mine.

I hope to not need it again any time soon. However, given that I’ve had several severe asthma attacks and borderline anaphylaxis since then it’s likely that I will.

I am hopeful that next time it will work as it should.

In the meantime, I want to raise my hat to Fido.

They put a lot of time and effort into finding out what went wrong and then correcting it.

They kept me fully informed every step of the way.

They also recognised that the situation was terrifying and extremely serious.

Not once, did they try to pass the blame.

In this day and age, it is rare to see such accountability from a corporate organisation.

I am impressed and will remain a loyal Fido customer as a result.

Even a dog can celebrate his birthday too hard!

Kai turned one today!

He is a standard poodle and like many poodles had a tendency to eat socks. Thankfully, I caught him the first couple of times and he brought them back up without the need for intervention. After that, I’ve been very careful to watch him and keep all socks well away from him.

This habit got him out of helping me with the laundry until he matures some more!

He also loves toys but destroys them in seconds, so other than very large antlers that he gets under supervision, and stuffed kongs (a black one which is the most indestructible that they have) as a special treat he rarely gets toys anymore other than as a reward in training.

However, it was his first birthday so I thought that I’d spoil him. I got him a squid! No stuffing to pull out. Nothing to detach. A squeaker in the head but those haven’t been a problem before. It was made by a company that stated that the toy would stand up to even the strongest of chewers!

Having spent the morning at the ‘spa’ he was looking stunning in his birthday bandana and newly washed and clipped coat!

So under close observation, Kai was given his birthday toy!

As you can see he loved it!

IMG_8820

Unfortunately, in the time that it took me to take this picture one of the legs disappeared. He managed to bite it off and swallow it whole!

So poor Kai got ice-cream for his birthday. He thought that it was his lucky day as it is exceptionally rare for my dogs to ever get ‘people food’.

Thankfully, after the sock episodes, I’d spoken with my vet and been instructed on the best way to get Kai to vomit if needed. So his ice-cream was laced with hydrogen peroxide. A small serving of dog food, as much water as I could get him to drink, a run on the treadmill and an hour later – one sick dog, one very happy handler!

The leg came back up in one piece as did the dog tag cover that I hadn’t known that he’d swallowed as well. I usually carry his tags on me but as a friend took him to the ‘spa’ for me, he’d been wearing them himself and must have pulled the cover off and swallowed it earlier.

So after clearing up his vomit, and then my own (I can’t stand the smell of vomit even when I’m not sick) we both rested for a while.

He’s just fine now and happily curled up with me as I write this.

The moral of the story though is that if you have a dog that likes to swallow things, it only takes a split second for them to do so. You must be extremely vigilant!

Also, please keep a dog first aid kit and know how to use it.

As poodles are prone to bloat mine also contains anti-gas medication as well as the standard styptic powder for nails, bandages, tape, antibiotic ointment, and a muzzle. I always have Benadryl on me. I also have Pet-B-Well wound and skin remedy in my kit which is fantastic and my go-to for any skin issues, cuts etc. with my dogs.

If you’re interested in what should be in such a kit, this is a pretty comprehensive list posted by a St Albert clinic.

While I have a muzzle in my kit I also know how to make one out of gauze or Kai’s leash. I believe that all dogs should be muzzle and crate trained for their own safety.

Regardless of how well-trained they are, any dog can be a risk if they’re in pain. Unlike humans who can shout and scream all that a dog can do is snap and bite.

Likewise, a sick dog needs to be kept calm and a crate is perfect for that especially if they are used to being created and it’s their safe place. Any time that you can’t supervise your dog is also a perfect time for them to be crated.

My home is as close to dog proof as it can be. My dogs are very well-trained. However, even Molly who never counter-surfs, never chews anything that she shouldn’t, and never swallows socks whole is crated when I’m not home to supervise her.

Please crate and muzzle train your dogs for their own safety.