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!

Fibromyalga…

A few years ago I went down to southern Ontario to see a specialist about my Osteogenesis imperfecta. Whilst agreeing that I am atypical for my OI, in that I’m tall and most people with OI are short he also added a new diagnosis to my collection: fibromyalgia.

The new diagnosis answered a lot of questions for me as it explains a great number of my symptoms as depicted in the graphic for this Blog. However, treatment for fibromyalgia remains conflicted. Over the counter painkillers, antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs have all been shown to benefit some patients; especially, when combined with physical therapy, occupational therapy and/or counselling.

Unfortunately the weather seems to really affect fibromyalgia symptoms. Cold, damp days and drops in barometric pressure are widely associated with flare-ups in symptoms of the condition, which affects mostly women. Rapid changes in temperature can be problematic too.

On my worst days I feel as so I’m a hundred years old and every bone, joint and muscle hurts. On good days the pain is just there, underlying everything else going on with my health but not front and centre for a change.

So I wish our current weather would make up its mind. We’ve had some really hot days, too hot for me to even go outside as I burn so easily. Then we’ve had the cold, damp days as well. My body can’t seem to decide how to cope with this so my fibromyalgia flares despite the warmth due to the rapid changes in temperature.

Fibromyalgia is much more common than you might think. Recent studies suggest that it affects between 3-6% of the world’s population with 75-90% of those people being women.

To date, the cause of fibromyalgia remains unknown. Genetic studies are being conducted to see if genetics has a part to play. In many cases fibromyalgia is triggered by an accident or trauma of some sort. In other cases there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why one person gets it and others don’t. It will be interesting to see the results of the ongoing research in this area over the coming years.

In the meantime, I apologise to those of you that I have had to cancel plans with due to a flare, or lack of spoons, and very much appreciate your understanding. With luck, we’ll see effective treatment within my lifetime!

Making tough decisions…

So last week I had to make a tough decision. I had intended to drive to Sudbury on Friday morning to attend Northern Constellations. This is a 2 day conference for faculty and staff who work at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM).

I have two stipendiary positions with NOSM. The first of which I have held for a number of years now which is as a committee member of the Theme 2 Committee which ensures that professionalism is integrated throughout the NOSM curriculum and education. This committee usually meets in person during the conference whereas we use video conference to facilitate our meetings for the rest of the year.

My second appointment is new this year as the Family Medicine Research Tutor for Sault Ste Marie.

So as NOSM faculty I was really looking forward to the event and meeting my colleagues in person. However, the closer the event came the more my anxiety increased. Finally, after not feeling well for a couple of days I checked my blood pressure and found it to be very high. So I started to consider not going.

Unfortunately I was then booked to stay in a different hotel to the one that the conference was in. So this meant that I’d have two hotels to manage my allergies in. Two lots of open areas and two bars and restaurants. That was the final straw. With much regret I cancelled my attendance in person and set up to join the Theme 2 meeting by video conference instead.

Within a couple of days my blood pressure dropped back down to normal and the general sense of illness went away. So I knew it was the right decision.

However, it was a really tough decision to make. Not so much missing the specific event but rather having to accept the restriction on my life. However, given that my citrus allergy appears to still be extremely sensitive it was the safe decision.

Will I ever be able to stay in a hotel again? Maybe. But I need to break it down into smaller pieces rather than trying to attempt a full conference. Perhaps a night in a local hotel using room service rather than eating in the restaurant and checking that they don’t provide a breakfast buffet, with fresh oranges, in their lobby area.

It might be possible. Maybe by next year’s conference, which will be in Thunder Bay, I’ll feel that the risk is out weighed by the benefits. Though having to fly up there adds another environment to manage.

Some days are tougher than others. Some decisions are extremely tough to make but all I can do is the best that I can and look out for my own safety. It would be a lot easier if all my health issues would just get in line rather than my having to work them all out together!

Chronic pain… bring on the warmer weather please!

For the past few weeks our weather can’t seem to decide which season it is. Just as we thought spring was really here we got more snow again. Thankfully, it didn’t hit us as hard here in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario as it did in other parts of Canada.

Regardless, for those of us who suffer chronic pain it was a bitter setback. Many people with chronic pain are adversely impacted by the cold and damp. So having had a few days of warn sunshine our bodies were starting to feel a little less painful. Just a touch, but enough to really relish it.

Today the sun is shining, and the sky is blue. The temperature is 5C and a light jacket or heavy sweater is all that’s necessary. (Even if Kevin is wearing the heavy winter jacket he bought here in Canada, back home in Australia where it’s the same temperature but Winter for them!)

Unfortunately the warmer weather doesn’t completely take away the chronic pain, it just alleviates it. It maybe gives us an extra spoon or two to work with. So please remember to be understanding of your friends and family members who suffer with it.

They would love to wake up one morning and no longer be in pain. As that’s extremely unlikely to happen we carry on the best that we can. But oh so thankful that the warmer weather may finally be here to stay for a while!

Velvet boy is home….

Kai went to the groomers today. He usually goes about every 6 weeks. However, for a number of reasons it was closer to 2 months between clips this time. I dropped off a scruffy, dirty dog and got back a velvet boy very happy to be home.

I keep Kai in what’s called a ‘kennel’ or ‘puppy’ clip. It’s very short and as a result when he’s first clipped he feels like crushed velvet. When his coat is longer it’s more like the curly wool of a sheep as he has hair rather than fur. That’s why standard poodles are considered hypoallergenic by many.

He has his face and paws clipped even tighter which helps keep him clean and also helps me with his working gear. He wears a halti when he’s working and often has to wear boots either because of the hot sidewalks in summer, or the snow, ice and salt in winter.

While he was being groomed I took the opportunity to take Molly for a walk on her own. We met up with a friend and had a short walk in the drizzle along the boardwalk. Molly enjoyed the morning without Kai.

Right now she’s been pushed down the couch so that Kai can get back in next to me. She’s very tolerant of him as he’s very insistent on being next to me. She loved bedtime though when there’s space for both of them to be next to me! It’s a good job I’m single as I’m not quite sure where we’d fit another person in with the three of us and I have a king-size bed!!

<

p style=”text-align: justify;”>Thankfully it was a quiet day for me. I try to plan Kai’s grooming days for such time as I find it very hard to manage without him. I forget how much I rely on him, until days like today when he’s just not there. I even had to pick my own cell phone up when I dropped it this morning!

Welcome home, Kai!

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 šŸ™

 

Mothering Sunday

Some of you are probably wondering why I’m writing about Mothering Sunday in March. Well, simply I was born and raised in England where Mothering Sunday is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Although it’s often called Mothers’ Day it has no connection with the American/Canadian festival of that name. Traditionally, it was a day when children, mainly daughters, who had gone to work as domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother and family.

Being English, when I adopted my daughter at nearly 8 years of age we opted to celebrate the English Mothering Sunday for me and keep the Canadian Mother’s Day in May for her birth mom. However, it has been a few years since my daughter has celebrated either date with me.

Likewise, I am now estranged from my own mother and this will be the first Mothering Sunday since that happened.

So today in a moment of reflection I wanted to recognise all those other women out there who are not with their children today, whatever the reason.

Sometimes you know why, and the situation is irrevocable, like it is between me and my mother. For those of you for whom that applies I hope that today brings you peace.

For others, the situation is confusing and doesn’t make any sense. For those of you for whom that appliesĀ  I hope that you remember that you did the absolute best that you could, that nobody is perfect and that not being with your child on this day doesn’t take away all the good mothering that you did do when you were able to.

Take a moment in either, or both situation(s) and simply choose today to remember the good moments.

May this Mothering Sunday be the best it can be for you!