Bucket List Revisited…

It’s been a long time since I revisited my bucket list and so I thought that I’d do so today.

The last time I updated it, I had 15 entries:

  1. To be a bridesmaid
  2. To visit New Zealand
  3. To live on the ocean
  4. To own a Class B motor-home (Roadtrek ideally)
  5. Day-trip to Frankenmuth & Bronners
  6. Reschedule & enjoy my belated 45th birthday vacation
  7. year-long road trip following 70 degree (21 C) weather throughout the contiguous United States.
  8. Get out walking, locally and a little further afield on walking trails and then snowshoeing as determined by the weather
  9. Visit Harrison Hot Springs in BC
  10. Go indoor skydiving
  11. Attend the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival
  12. Train Kai in Rally Obedience
  13. Stay at the North Beach Cabins
  14. Swim with dolphins, in the wild
  15. Attend a regular competition rodeo

Unfortunately I’ve only been able to cross one of these off of my list: #5

#1 – #4, #7, #11, #13 & #14 are long term aspirations, probably more likely to be achieved in retirement. #6 I’ve decided to reschedule for my 50th birthday.

#8 I’ve managed a little of, but my lungs still don’t last very long so I’m still pretty restricted in where I can walk safely. I didn’t snowshoe at all last winter. Hopefully, that will change this coming winter.

#9 I’d hoped to achieve this summer but instead chose to place my little travel trailer on a seasonal site at the Busy Beaver Campground on St Joseph’s Island.

#10 is looking pretty unlikely as the nearest indoor skydiving centre seems to be Toronto and my health isn’t good enough to fly down and I’m not sure how well I’d do staying in hotels if I drove down.

#12 While I haven’t trained Kai in Rally Obedience we have been working on some new tasks for him. After I remembered to break down the task into smaller steps and backwards chain the command Kai will now go around my leg and come to a sit between my legs. Unfortunately I had to teach him it twice as I naturally taught him to do it on my dominant side (right) whereas he heels on my left. As I use a hands-free leash with him we’d get in a real mess if he did this to the right while working. I haven’t had to use this new command in public yet but it’s ready for when we need it.

#15 is like #10 and looking unlikely. My health is much better than it was but my sensitivity to my allergens and scents generally remains really high so flying is impossible and to date, I’m not convinced that staying in hotels (assuming I drove) would be any safer.

So it looks like I need a new bucket list, or at least some items on it that I can actually achieve in the next few years. I’m going to have to think about this so watch this space… I’ll be back!

It’s a hard life…

So I just got back from my second camp at my seasonal site. I feel as so I now have pretty much everything there that I could need and will now only need to take food, clothes, charger for my hearing aids and my knitting!

As you can see from the picture – it’s a hard life for Molly & Kai when we’re camping! They both love it. We go for a walk every 2-4 hours. Not too far as my lungs aren’t up to that yet but there is a small hill to climb which is stretching my limitations in a good way.

Apparently the site is much busier on the weekends. The owners told me that there had been over 15 children there on the previous weekend. Much as I love kids, I think I’ll stick to going mid week where I can.

I still have 8 days of vacation to take before the end of June!

Anyway, this seasonal camping malarky is fun!

Sometimes being stubborn is what’s needed…

Sometimes it’s hard not to think that life is out to get me. On Monday, I posted about finally feeling like myself again having had a day out in the form of a road trip on Sunday.

On Monday I had some follow-up tests due to one of those rabbit holes we dropped down when trying to find the cause of my breathing issues, just as a precaution, and the results came in yesterday and they’re not good. So I’m back to that specialist next week.  First appointment after the holiday weekend.

It just seems that for the last year, or two, that every time I start to feel as so I’m getting a handle on life again that something else comes to try to knock me flat.

Well this weeble may have been slow in recovering her equilibrium over the past two years and it might be taking me longer to get back up; but I’m getting back up and will deal with this issue as it comes. I’ll also work hard at not worrying about the unknown and the suspected in the interim.

In reality nothing has changed since Sunday. I had the same issue then, I just didn’t know it. So I’m going to hold on to the good feeling from Sunday and use that to help me through the next few weeks.

I’m on the path to health and while it seems to be an especially twisty path I will get there!

I’m too stubborn not to!

 

 

Just for one day I started to feel like myself again….

Yesterday I felt like myself again, just for a day. It was wonderful. I packed up snacks and emergency survival equipment, loaded up the dogs and hit the road. It was wonderful to feel well enough to just drive….

So Molly, Kai and I went to visit the home of Winnie-the-Pooh, White River, Ontario.

The day was mostly spent driving as it’s a good 4 1/2 hours from Sault Ste. Marie. However, it was a nice sunny day for the most part. Though I drove through two storms on the way home just in time to beat the massive thunderstorm that hit last night.

Some gorgeous views and amazing sights. I saw moose and birds of prey. The lakes were starting to unfreeze so the edges were mixed between waves and open water and icebergs. Some of the waterfalls were just flourishing with the snowmelt.

I loved the sense of humour of whoever was naming some of the lakes. At one point there was ‘Mom Lake’ and ‘Dad Lake’ just next to it. Just as I was wondering what you’d call a third lake I came upon ‘Orphan Lake’ just far enough from Mom and Dad to be orphaned!

It was a lovely day out and the dogs loved the ride and the walk by the Winnie-the-Pooh memorial. Next time we’ll have to go when the museum is actually open and see if I can handle the scents.

However, for right now just getting out for the day was such a huge step for me after almost a year of being mostly housebound. I’m only extending my limits to my vehicle but now that I’m well enough to drive like that again…. it’s wonderful!!

Even with the thunderstorm last night all three of us slept well last night!!

Healing is not linear

I’ve had a few more down days recently which reminded me of something I knew, but had forgotten: healing isn’t linear. It’s not like once you’ve turned a corner it’s a straight line to full recovery. In fact, in this case I’m not likely to ever attain the same level of health that I had before. Anaphylaxis is a life threatening condition that has always been a component of my life but is now a cornerstone of every thought and action.

Whereas before I was sometimes a little careless about my allergies I now know I can’t afford to be, even once. In the past I was able to be present if an orange was peeled as long as I got out fast and self-medicated with additional anti-histamines. I don’t have that luxury any more. Just being in the presence of a citrus scented body wash for less than a minute was enough to trigger a severe asthma attack.

My only solution is avoidance. Unfortunately it’s not that easy to totally avoid citrus as it’s prevalent everywhere. So I also take huge doses of antihistamines carefully timed throughout a day to give me as close to 24 hours cover as we can. This doesn’t stop the reaction but it allows me to get out of my own home occasionally, under careful precautions.

As for my environmental sensitivities, reactions to scents generally… I have a new best friend: a personal air purifier. The one I”m using is the FreshAir Personal Air Purifier by Aerus. I wear this round my neck for my lung rehab and either it’s a very expensive placebo or it’s effective. I’ve been able to be in the same elevator as another lady who I can tell is wearing a heavy scent as I can smell it as she moves past me but stood a few feet apart I’m not being triggered into asthma or reactions. I wouldn’t like to chance it for more than a minute or so but it allows me a little bit more of a normal life.

Though between Kai (my service dog), my Epi pens, inhalers and now this purifier as well as all the medication I’m taking daily it does seem a little insane at times.

Talking of Kai – his natural alerts to my inhaler use is continuing. This isn’t a trained task and I don’t know what he picks up on though he seems to be paying specific attention to my breath. However, I forgot to take my inhaler before rehab. on Tuesday. It’s one that I need to take before exercise. I didn’t make even half a lap before he did a full alert having tried to get my attention more subtly he escalated his alerts to full paws up. At which point I knew I needed to do something but wasn’t quite sure what so I headed back to the rehab. office as I’d been feeling dizzy that day already. As soon as we were there he alerted to my bag. As my other inhaler was in my pocket I now knew what I needed. Took my inhaler and Kai settled just fine.

He really enjoys my off-balance days because he gets to work counter-balance where he pulls a little against a harness in the opposite direction to that which I’m off-balance in. Like most dogs he loves to pull so it’s a fun task for him though apparently its fascinating for others to watch him constantly adjusting his pull to keep me balanced.

Kai is a real superstar! He’s saved my life now more times than I care to imagine.

Anyway, today was a good day on that non-linear progress. The thing to remember of course, that even though there will be bad days I am finally recovering from the depths of where I was and that is something to be thankful for.

Some days recovery is so much slower than I’d like…

So today I decided to start clearing up some of that dog poop. I got myself well prepared with rain boots, heavy-duty plastic waste bags and dozens on bags for picking it up.

It was gross!!

However, the weather was probably perfect for it as I could dig my fingers in the snow around the poop and pick it up often in one slushy piece.

I got all of the side area to the deck done and started on the garden itself.

However, what I didn’t take into account was how hard all that bending down would be physically. I managed about 10 minutes before I was too out of breath to ignore it any more. So I packed up for the day and came in.

Flashback to a repeat of what my life was like for months last year…. It took a good hour for me to recover my breath again. Even after that I couldn’t eat and breath at the same time for a few more hours.

I’m sure it was a combination of the type of exercise, the scents from being outside (though the poop itself hasn’t got to the point of smelling yet – it’s still too frozen) and just doing too much.

It was scary though!

So now,  I’m inside resting and working out how long it will take me to finish off the yard if I just do 5 minutes a day. At least my dogs don’t walk it in. Somehow they pick their way round it!

I’m also looking up different poop scoop devices to see if there’s something that might be easier for me to manage once I’m finished with what’s left in the snow and I’m dealing with the bog that is the majority of my yard currently. If anybody has any recommendations, please let me know!

My apologies for the gross subject matter but hey, this blog is about my life and this was my life today! Dog poop and extreme shortness of breath once more.

The good news is that I did recover and I can breathe again and eat, and talk (to my dogs anyway!). So I am improving but the space between how sick I was and how well I am is much closer than I thought 🙁

 

Accept what is…

It’s amazing how quickly we forget just how bad something was and get frustrated with not improving as quickly as we’d like.

A number of people have asked me recently about my progress at respiratory rehab. and with my transitional return to work. Instead of focusing on how much I have improved and the positive aspects of being back at work I have found myself expressing my frustration instead.

How quickly I forget that just a few months ago I couldn’t breathe moment by moment. I couldn’t walk to my own bathroom without getting totally out of breath. I fought for every breath day after day.

Yet, just three weeks into a ten week rehab program I’m frustrated that I still can’t walk on an incline at all. I don’t really account for the fact that I was able to go for a walk outside to begin with which is how I found out that while I’m doing pretty well on the flat, an incline is still too much for me.

I’m actually now able to walk for 20 minutes at a time, on an indoor track slowly, without getting totally out of breath and my recovery time is night and day to when I first started.

Likewise, rather than focusing on what I have achieved in my one day a week, working from home, I found myself thinking of what I hadn’t been able to do.

It’s time for some radical acceptance. For those of you have taken Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) the concept will be familiar. Radical acceptance is about not judging, accepting what is without necessarily supporting or condoning it and just enjoy the moment for what it is.

So I am accepting the facts that:

  • I can’t do as much as I want to be able to, but I’m doing far more than I could have even imagined not too long ago
  • I have achieved an enormous amount, both in rehab and in work, very quickly
  • It will take time to recover, and I may never make it back to where I was, and that’s OK

I can’t say that accepting what is and letting go of what was is easy. I do know that my life is easier when I do it though.

As for believing in what will be; there I still struggle. Some days I feel pretty hopeless when I’m ‘grounded’ by something as simple as walking past somebody wearing perfume on my way back to my car from rehab. Or when a late night wipes me out for days and days.

Then I have the moments where I do walk for 20 minutes at rehab. and can see a future where I’ll be able to get out and walk again for an hour or more. Those are the moments that I need to hold on to more often. The positive and the hopeful.

To believe in what will be is to accept that what will be is unlikely to be what was and that’s OK. The future is unknown and for somebody who likes control and structure that’s pretty terrifying.

The answer is to really practice mindfulness, and to live in this moment. In this moment I’m doing OK. I’m breathing, I’m able to walk, I’m able to rest, I’m able to work even in a limited fashion. Life is a lot better than it was a few short months ago and it will get better still.

I’m not quite at the point of saying that life is good but it is OK, and there are definitely good moments. That in itself is a huge step forwards and one I need to remind myself of!