Western education 2013

Friday, January 31, 2014

...... its been a challenging week.....

... Wednesday 29th of January...

I started my day early, up around 6 am.  I am feeling good and looking forward to the day.  I have 3 labs today and a break somewhere in between where I host a number of students to catch-up on their work.  At 2:20 in the third lab of the day, I am leaning over a student and adjusting the scope controls when the world suddenly took a spin.  I stood, excused myself and entered Sara's office in the adjacent room just as the floor felt like it was giving way.  The sweat started and I slumped into her chair gripping the apple I had removed from my lunch bag.  Was my blood sugar low.... did the metformin tablet I took the half hour previous cause this?  Two bites and the vomit started.... and wouldn't start.  A student popped their head in the door... I managed to look above the desk and ask him to get Sara.  I could hear him disappear as I continued to throw up... even moving my head caused another sharp wave of nausea.  Sara appeared and asked what I needed - just my phone so I can call my husband.  

Fortunately Max was teaching and was able to leave his classroom early to come and attend to me.  With no way of getting vertical without more violent spasms, I asked them to call for medical help and then an ambulance.  Sara took over the class while student paramedics from the college stood by and assisted until the ambulance showed up.  The two paramedics immediately asked my medical history while one of them adhered sensor tabs to strategic locations to monitor my heart.  They were able to get me on the stretcher and wrapped up to go.  

The paramedic with me in the back of the ambulance was in his mid 40's and was the sweetest guy.  He was telling me that it was amazing that I had cancer and was still trying to live my life to the fullest.  He made sure that I was taken care of and made the transition to the hospital gurney by asking me how i wanted to be transferred.  He obliged the request to have me pulled using the sheet..... as he walked away, the heaving began again.

Five hours later, with a bag of gravol and saline solution and I was finally upright and shuffling through the emergency department.  The nausea was finally over.  The doctor came out to see me and explain that I likely had BPV.... basically a vertigo that is benign.  It likely has nothing to do with my cancer and I find this to be a relief.... I am tired but feeling better

30th January 

I have a CT scan booked today... I am booked into the emergency CT scan on the main floor at University Hospital.  I have to drink a contrast over a period of an hour and then have another one intraveniously.  There are a few people sitting in the small cramped waiting room as I approach the kiosk where a receptionist is sitting.  She slides the window open and I notice she is wearing a pink lanyard with pink ribbons on it.  She prepares my cocktail and sets it beside me.... in a few minutes she will walk by and stop in front of me.  She points to her lanyard, smiles then lifts her pink runners....."we're bossom buddies"... I stand and offer her a hug.  She returns the smile and says "I'll see you back here in 20 years"  I told her that I would hold her to that.  She smiles and turns to walk away.  I return to my seat and the gentleman next to me speaks to me.  He asks me if I have ever done this before..."oh yes..... a few times and this cocktail does not taste better no matter how many times" Most of the patients including the woman who arrived a few minutes after me have cancer or are in the process of being diagnosed.  

I have to have an IV inserted.  The vein is getting difficult to insert a needle into and needs a saline syringe to push it through the valve in order to be properly seated.  The new receptionist notices my tattoo and offers to put some lotion on it when I am done with the scan.  Evi calls me into the suite and talks me through the procedures.  I am to blow out my cheeks in order for the scan to see around the base of the tongue.  The scan will focus on head, chest and abdomen.  It will be compared to the previous scan done on the 17th of October.

31st January

Terrible sinus headache this much as I do not want to, I take some advil cold and sinus to help to reduce the pain so I can teach.  Not sure why I am under the weather today but the crazy cold and pressure changes has not helped.  Today will be the warmest day in weeks.

I am dedicating this blog to Melina who is in the hospital being treated for lesions that have appeared in her brain.  She is keeping the faith and all her friends and family are keeping her in their prayers as am I.  I love you Melina.... there is not a day that goes by that I do not think of you.  Blesses.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

...... I have a new tattoo

..... On my right forearm.

I am born in the year of the Dragon....a strong force of nature with a Dragonfly hitching a ride on its tail. It has FAITH that the Dragon will look over her.  The dragonfly is a lucky symbol to me....a delicate but resilient winged insect choosing carefully where it lands.  In the summer when I float on my back in the pool and look to the sky, I can see them skirt around avoiding the predators that fly overhead as they make their way to our pond.  Their mysterious segmented wings in the delicate shades that help hide their transit from place to place starkly contrasts in the dull of an overhead sky.  

In the late summer, I reached into a potted plant and a small winged inhabitant landed on my hand from under a leaf and stayed for a split second before winging off to the garden and out of reach.  How lucky for me that this beautiful creature would land on a Dragon.....and grace me with luck. It shows the delicate balance of strength and fragility.....  Thanks to Anthony at True Love Tattoo in London for tweaking the artwork and for finding a great spot for FAITH.  I love this magical piece that will remind me to stay balanced and be grateful for all that comes my way.  Thank you to my loving husband for the gift certificate!!  Xo

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

....... I sold my Dragon boat Gear.....

..... and had no idea how emotional it would be.  I carefully packed up my kayak vest, racing paddle, gloves and racing jersey.  I then headed out to the local gym where I trained with my first team. Carolyn was waiting in the foyer for me when I arrived.  She is such a sweetheart and I am happy that she will have a great racing paddle to use on the water.  I show her the stickers on the paddle.... the ones that Max designed especially for me.  I look up and let her know that she would probably like to take them off.  Wether she does or not, I know the paddle will be used instead of spending another year in my basement.  Last summer I could barely breathe and was unable to compete with the Waves.  We chat for a bit and the tears come.  I didn't want to be emotional.  We hug and I walk away.... the end of one chapter on the same day another one opened...

..... I received a call by Wellspring (cancer support through yoga, reiki, drumming, art therapy etc) to thank me for my recent donation.  I indicated that I am a member but had not attended any classes in a few years.  I want to do yoga again and asked what days.  I am now signed up to start this Thursday morning with Valerie!!!  I will be excited to see her again.  I will just be happy being with a small group and stretching out the muscles on a cold winter morning and then meeting for a hot cup of tea after.  

This morning I went to my fave chiropractor Dr. Laura Gravelle to continue to work at my neck which is still causing some pain and of the right clavicle that is sore.  I would love to get together with her Mom and soon to discuss the Barley Life.  She would be please to note that after almost 10 days I am registering 7.0 on the PH scale.  I am almost there!!!  I am gradually upping the portion I am taking without suffering from the cramping that happens when you make dramatic changes to your diet all of a sudden.  My energy level is going up but I have to be mindful to not wear myself down by using it all up running around doing errands and cleaning house.  Last night I was so exhausted by 8 pm that I drifted off to sleep and then got up at 9 am.  I succumbed to taking Melatonin to get me there. 

My sister is halfway across the world scuba diving off the Australian Barrier Reef!!!!  What a great adventure they are on.... it was on their bucket list of things to do before they were too old to do it and as empty nesters in their forties (Al, is now officially 50) it is a dream come true.  The time will go by fast but for now, they will tour around for 2 months enjoying each other and the reason why they both work so hard.  I think Max and I will head out for a little mini trip soon now that I feel more energetic than I have in months... we're thinking Vegas since I have never been there and want to experience what so many of our friends talk about.  We have a little money which I am sure we can stretch to make it happen.  I wish my lovely, wonderful, fantastic and gorgeous sister and brother in-law the most amazing trip ever!!!!  So far the pictures are fantastic and we don't have to wait until the summer to see them!!!!  I love you both, stay safe and live large!!! xoxoxoxo

...... taking melatonin to get sleep....

..... in order to keep my energy up during the day.  There are a number of issues about sleeping in my bedroom that wake me up......

As much as I love my cat and two dogs, there is nothing worse than being woken up by a wet nose nuzzling you to see how you are doing numerous times in the night.  Since just before my second diagnosis in July, the dogs follow me everywhere and want to be with me non-stop.... only this is now becoming a claustrophobic experience!!!  We are often awoken by the cat scratching at the door to either come in or to go out.  He will meow if we don't respond quick enough.  I ignore it but Max will always get up to let him in or out.  I will often trip over the dog when trying to get to the bathroom at 2 in the morning.

No matter how many times I close the curtains...the dog will find a way to push them aside to check out what is going on outside just before nuzzling me with her now very cold nose.  The streetlight across the street is strategically in line with the small partition made by the dog.  Our modern clock radio has enough light to read by on the lowest setting.  We have filters over it but it still reflects up into the lamp shade next to my husband and we both get a glow.... note: must fix that issue.  

Our bed is located above the garage and the beer fridge that kicks on and off throughout the night.  The last one used to rattle when it came on and shudder when it shut off.  Thankfully that one died.  The fan in our furnace sings.... glad it doesn't hum like it's predecessor before it died last year.  I am learning to unplug the items under our headboard and charging them up in other locations.

There are lots of unknown factors that will awaken me in the middle of the night.... from passing plows, garbage trucks, teenagers arriving after I have fallen asleep... the neighbor's muffler, music from open windows in the summer, the gas powered sump pump in the neighborhood, dogs barking etc and of course Max removing the covers by trying to cover himself up....he denies this of course until he realizes his side is anchored down on the floor by his best friend Thelma.

The non-stop thinking as the wheels in my brain refuse to slow down.  This above all else happens with regularity in our busy modern world.  

So with all this going on.... what is the answer??
Short of moving to the country.... there are a few things that can be altered to suit our sleeping needs.  1.  move the refrigerator in the garage to a spot that does not have anyone's bed near it.  Note to self: Get a pony panel installed in the far wall of the garage to service the garage properly.

2.  Purchase Black-out curtain material or blinds under the curtains.

3.  Move all light producing items and charging stations to the far corner of the bedroom.

4.  Have a proper bedtime ritual that includes gentle stretching and no mental stimulants such as iPad and TV at least an hour before bedtime.  Read from a book.

5.  Go to bed at the same time every night.

6.  Purchase separate blankets and a good mattress.

7.  Run the pets around outside and get them worn out so they sleep during the same time frame and make sure you keep them out of the bedroom.  A baby gate at the bottom of the stairs outa work.

8.  Finally, if all else fails and your brain cannot shut down.... take a few sublingual melatonin tablets under the tongue and read from a book until you cannot keep the peepers awake. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

...... eating right and feeling better.....

....... since I started eating a better, fresher, healthier diet after finishing the cleanse.  I am now 1 week into taking the Barly Plus.  I have gradually brought myself up to 1 tablespoon per day and taking two fiber gel caps in the evening.  My skin is smooth and well hydrated ... surprising for January.  The skin is the largest organ and probably one of the best indicators visually as to what is going on from the inside.

This morning I took a PH reading.  In one week, I have managed to go from 6.0 to 6.5.  I am on my way to reaching my goal of 7.0 and then trying to maintain that goal for life.  Its all about balance.  My choice to go with Barley Plus has a lot to do with my initial purchase of Greens + from a local healthcare store and the Visalus I got involved with the year before.  Both of these products contain mostly soy and soy is one of those ingredients I have been continuously warned by my Oncologist and physicians to not use.  Primarily because most soy is genetically modified.  The back of the Greens + label specifically indicated that those with chronic illness including cancer should not use their product. Soy lecithin to be more specific.  It is found in numerous products as an emulsifier and 90% of this product is a manufacturing by-product which is separated from the soybean processing using chemicals . 
So, why would I purchase a product that uses Lecithin as their number one ingredient when it is so abundant in so many of our processed foods?  Good question......

I think what amazes me so much is how ignorant I am when it comes to our food, where it comes from and why there do not seem to be stricter laws.  This week, I decided to take a few vegetables from my fridge and cupboards to see what would happen after watching a grade 2 student on YouTube show the lack of progress of sprouting Yams her family purchased at the local grocery store.  Well I was completely blown away when she mentioned a chemical called Bud Nip that the potatoes are doused in to prevent the growth of potato eyes in order to extend shelf life.  Apparently it causes tumours in mice... I think most of our packaged food would fall in to that category but our fresh produce????  Really?  So I took a few potatoes from each package and lo and behold.... nothing happened.  I cut the potatoes open and left them on the counter and they didn't even change colour???!!!!!!  After being left out beside a window for days, they did not even green up.  So what was I eating?  Dead potatoes... nothing there to even sustain its own life, let alone mine.  Max had picked up another bag of potatos at the local grocer and this one showed much promise when we saw a bunch of eyes staring back at us.  One of the potatos even had green marks on it!!!!  Before I eat one more potato, I will be making sure it can grow and feed its next generation.  

It didn't stop there.  I took a bunch of green pepper seeds from a pepper and germinated 3 out of the 300 in the glass.  Those took about 2 weeks to finally germinate.  They have since been repotted.  The onion had already begun to sprout in the cupboard - actually excited about this and I popped its bottom in water.  Within 24 hours, we had root buds.... so I put a little bit of barley greens into the water to see how our onion would fare.  So far so good, the sprouts are a brilliant green and the roots are growing nicely.  So I thought perhaps I could re-awaken the potatoe and promptly gave it a little taste of Barley in its water..... might be too late for the potato grown a few hours drive from here.  I now have 4 cloves of garlic growing in another pot after its roots sprouted quickly - that was an organic one my brother picked up for us in the Niagara region before Christmas.

All in all, it has been an eye opening experience for all of us at home and really makes us question what more we actually don't know??  Our choice to go hunting for Organic became a very simple one and one in which all consumers should choose.... we are the ones demanding perfect fruit and inexpensive food sources.  What we really should want are foods we feel would benefit our children and ourselves. Just like the lifeless potatoes sitting on the window sill collecting dust.... what can we expect our bodies to produce with something that can't survive given all the requirements to thrive?   Within 1 week of my drive to really educate myself and to feed my body to help it to help itself.... has had a huge impact on my own family.  My daughter loves the apple chips and is eating fresh fruit every day a few times a day.  We had an organic yummy chicken and I made soup with it for our meal the next day.  No additives, no preserves.... just good home cooking.  Tonight, the counter is hosting the yogurt machine we pulled out of storage.  I am getting back to my roots.  If it was one thing that I was taught - respect good food, keep it simple and enjoy what you are eating.  I have lost 10 pounds, gave away my sugary treats from Christmas and have more energy than I have had in a really long time.  Now... I need to start doing an exercise program.... preferably yoga.

My heart and thoughts go out to my friend Melina.... who is in hospital after two surgeries to keep her lungs clear.  I am praying and ask that you all help to send her energy she really needs right now. xoxo

Have your own experiments in your kitchens and get your children inspired to want a better future knowing you love them enough to make a difference by teaching them.  My cancer journey has taught me many things and continues to challenge me to live a better life and create that for my children. 

Check out the pics of our experiment.... more pics will be posted on their progress....  The first pic has the garlic in the top pot and green peppers in the two lower ones.  The middle pic is the onion, and two inert potatoes... the third pic is of the garlic on day 2 before planting.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

....... the big purge....

...... to kickstart the next step in my New Year promises to myself.  I promptly began to de-clutter and organize my craft/workshop area in the basement.  It took a few days but the results were just short of amazing.  The room looks great and now I can sit downstairs when the mood hits me and start doing the projects I have wanted to finish or start for a while.  The past few weeks have been all about making beaded jewlery and the pieces look great.  It is theraputic, listening to music or tv in the background while being completely absorbed in a hobby you enjoy.  I am now wearing not only the bracelets I made but the ones Lydia created on her Rainbow Loom. 

I have mentioned to Max about who should get what.... just in case.  He looks at me and says OK but his face says something else.  Heck, its something we should all be, get things organized and let people know or ask family and friends what they would like to have.  Some might say that this kind of planning was morbid....I am an organized person and this to me makes sense.  Note:  I have no intention of leaving any time soon.  I just want to feel comfortable that all my wishes will be understood and respected.  I should also get down to writing a Will.

This week, I ordered a number of products through AIM.  It is a company that produces Barley Plus and an Herbal cleanse along with a number of other items.  It is my next step in my healthy life habits.  I will be documenting my progress with this new approach on my business blog:

Saturday 11January 2014

I am up early this morning.  It is 4 am as I pull the sweatshirt over my head and put on my glasses....I am thinking how I now need to wear them every day.  I am surprised when I look into the mirror and see the person staring back looks older somehow than she did months ago.  I step onto the scale quietly and note the 10 pound loss since before Christmas and how I feel a hundred times better these days.  My skin has colour now before applying foundation.  This morning is not about looking presentable... the tears will just wash it away anyway.  I tell myself that I won't tear up when Will disappears past the security gate to board his plane for 6 am....  

I find both my boys still on the couch where I left them at midnight with a final reminder to please head up to bed.  I can see from the empty bottle on the counter and the cans of coke that they likely fell asleep a mere hour before I got up.  The TV was still on but the Rogers Box had gone to sleep so I picked up the remote to shut things down.  A poke to Will to wake him up and send him upstairs was followed by yet another one when I located him a few minutes later sleeping face down in his bed.  A gentle persistence had him downstairs and pulling on his outdoor gear with his bags at his feet.  Its been a month....where did all that time go?  I get this flash back of a little boy with baby curls waiting at the door to have me help him get his boots on after struggling to convince him into his snowsuit.  He is now over 6 feet and doing fine on his own.  I ask myself if I did everything I could to be the best Mom I could be and then shake it off... I loved him enough to do everything I could in my power to grow him up and now I have to trust that I did a good job.... he has grown up and is now off to training.  

The car ride is quiet and he is sitting beside me munching on a McDonald's breakfast.  I have settled with just a coffee since I decided to only feed my body with food that will nourish it.... coffee is a treat and an exception...its a big day.  I drop him off with his gear at the front under the protective overhang from the rain.  Tuesday it was -27 and this morning it is +3.  The puddle we had to wade through to get to the car this morning was already finding its overflow into the garage.  I promised myself to sort it out when I returned home.  I park the car on a snowy slushy spot and dodge puddles as I make my way into the quiet airport.  I watch as a family marches by on their way to a southern climate judging by the 'bahama mama' hat the mother is wearing.  An Asian couple strolls past on the way to the Tim Hortons line-up sporting a neck pillow cantered to the side of their neck....I am imagining that these are seasoned globe trotters prepared for anything in their early 20's.  An airport employee hobbles to the center of the aisle, chugs back his timmies and tosses the cup into the trash.  He looks tired already and the day has just begun.  The headset planted across his forehead tells me that he will be helping to direct the luggage or the airplane on its way to the correct runway.  A mother and father are standing at the window to catch a last glimpse of their daughter and granddaughter as they snake their way through the security line-up.  Will is ready to go and we hug.  I can see over his shoulder the mother begin to tear up and now I see her, all bets are off.  I look into my son's eyes and tell him I love him.  I will miss you buddy....always.  I am proud of my son... and then remind him not to sit too close to anyone because he smells like a distillery.  I love you Will.... and stinky or not, I will miss you.  I hope I did you proud as a Mom.

Like the mother before me, I stand at the window and the tears start to run.... then Will pops around the glass partition to hug me again..."Just don't know when I will see you again", he says, the hugs me harder and longer.  I wait by that window until I can no longer see him.  I head out and text him a Safe Journey as I make my way back home in the quiet dark.  Best Wishes son, I hope to see you this summer.....

I shovel the water and snow away from the side door and re-direct the downspout to reduce the amount of water cascading onto the sidewalk when I get home.  It is now drizzling.  I love the quiet and the dark.  I will read the paper on my iPad then make my way upstairs.

Kelly M. calls me just as I am pulling my carcass out of bed at near noon.  Could she drop by?  Of course and I will make us brunch.  What a great time just catching up!!  It was a wonderful visit. xoxo

It has been a lucky week with Mauricia dropping in to have coffee with me the other day and bringing treats with her.  I am blessed!! xoxo

My tattoo is now booked for the middle of January thanks to a cancellation!!!!  I can't wait to get my artwork done before any more procedures.  My next CT SCAN is scheduled for 30 January and my follow-up appointments are 11 February. 

Keep well and be good to yourselves this year!!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

.......healthy start to the New Year.....

...... to the New Year began with a cleanse in December which lasted until Friday.  That's when my body decided to simply cramp up and cause way too much pain.... nothing left to purge, I am now drinking plenty of fluids to keep hydrated, salmon oil pills (which I can taste when I burp!!), and a fiber pill once a day.  I am still taking the Metformin at 2 x 500 mg per day.  After seeing Dr. Laura this morning to follow up on a correction for the pain in my neck and right scapula, I ordered 'Barley Greens' from AIM in Vancouver.... I am now a distributor so I can get the wholesale prices.  Along with that I will be taking fiber (pill form is easier) and a pre-enzyme to help utilize foods better.  I can honestly say that today, I am feeling better.

Later in the evening I received a call from Victoria.....I could tell by the tone in her voice that there was something wrong.  Earlier in the day I saw her from the upstairs window trying to clear out her driveway... even from this distance, I could see the slump in her shoulders and I immediately thought she had lost Walter.  The tremble in her voice announced her husband Walter's passing from a brain tumour Friday evening.  The sense of lonliness in her voice was echoed by her letting me know that she was putting her coat on and getting ready to go to the hospital when she realized that he would not be there. "Marita, my Walter, he is dead and I donna know how Ima gonna do this without him" she states in her thick Italian accent.  He promised her weeks before he passed that he would always be there for her, all she had to do was ask him for help and he would be there.  "but Walter, the snow, itsa coming and I donno how to a usa da snow blower thing?"  Walter told her that she would know.  Victoria explained to me that she had shovelled and then marched into the garage when she got up the nerve to look at the snow blower .  When she reached it, she  looked up and said "Walter, Ima gonna try dis now, you gonna help me, OK?"  Without hesitation, she found her fingers touching the power and a few touches later, the snowblower she had never used fired up.  She blew out the driveway with Walter looking over her.  I offered to have her over for dinner.  No.  I offered to bring her dinner. No.  I offered to help her any way I could.  No.  This is one stubborn lady and Ima gonna just hafta bring her sumthin anyway!!!!  She will lay vigil for her brother who is also dying.  When both have been cremated, she will travel back to her homeland to lay to rest the two people she loves.  She bids farewell and promises to talk when her week of planning slows down. I send her love over the wires....

Cancer you truly and unequivocally suck!!!  

I say a little prayer for Victoria and pull myself out of this ominous mood I have been feeling all week...Walter, please continue to watch over Victoria and I will keep an eye on her from here.  It's time for me to decide to just keep going no matter what.

We don't know what is to come and right now I can't think about what might happen, only try to live in the here and now and be all I can be for my family.  So what do you do when you live in the present....simple, call up your tattoo artist, send them your composite drawing and make a date to tattoo the only arm that you can. Yup, the right front forearm.... the one they keep trying to poke will hopefully soon showcase a piece of artwork in keeping with the strength and fragility of life....