July 05, 2004
Never use Veet!
The new hair removal cream with the razorless razor? Crap!

I put the evil stuff on my legs the other day. It started to burn. No worries, I thought. That's probably what it's supposed to do. Then after about 90 seconds, I look down to shockingly realize my legs were covered in blood. Chemical burns, baby!

Queue jumping in the shower, hosing myself off. Of course, now I have red swollen rashy legs, still hairy and now I can't use a razor either because of this mess.

Nice! 15 days until Hawaii, hope I get out of quarantine before then!
Do you ever feel like just not picking up the phone?
These last two months or so, it seems every time I pick up the phone there's more bad news waiting on the other end. I swear if my head wasn't screwed on straight, I'd be in the looney bin.

In May alone, I lost 4 friends/family through cancer and other things. Now THAT was a bad month!

I made a promise to myself to use this blog as a bit of an offloading point so I can let these tidbits of news float off me so I can let the emotion go and be positive and rational. I find that you can't really offload everything to friends as no matter how positive you are, you still end up depressing the other person and after a while they self destruct. Or you get the 'Ohh, gee, sorry to hear your bad news' tripe so often you just know it's not genuine.

Anyway...today's news. My cousin Sandi is losing her battle with cancer. She has been amazingly valiant in her fight. 5 years of chemo, but on Friday the doctor advised her that things are not going well. She now has large tumours all over her back and it's in the bone. 5 years ago, she was given 6 months to live. Her type of cancer is in the lining of the organs. Never been able to figure out exactly what that means, but it ain't good anyway. She's only 54. To top things off, her eldest son just lost his girlfriend in a freak tiki-torch accident in May. He's a mess and has had to move back home to recover. And her husband has ALS and is no longer able to walk. That family has had more bad luck that I can even begin to describe. Sandi is such a fantastic and courageous person. She is still working! While I would have left years ago, she works in a hospital and has only taken the 3 days after chemo off and continued as best she could. She has taken a few leaves of absences here and there - when her husband was diagnosed, and recently to be with her son and his girlfriend in her last hours. But now to hear that the cancer has taken such a serious hold just makes me want to cry. Yes, she's had 5 years she wouldn't normally have had, but cancer is just so insidious.

The other news involved my ex's family whom I'm still close with. Lorraine (my ex ma-in-law and the sweetest yet spinniest lady you'll ever meet) has been in the hospital all day with her mom, who's 91. Sometime during the night, Nana fell and broke her pelvis. She somehow had birdseed imbedded in her face and arm as well. God knows how that happened, but it seems like she was trying to clean up the laundry room in the middle of the night and lost her balance. The hospital can't/won't operate due to her age. This story is still brewing though...lots to deal with there. Whether or not she should go into a home, etc. Parental mortality is so tough!

Oh, and while we're on the subject of crappy news....my best friend's sister. Long story there and too tired to go into, but her house burned down a couple weekends ago. Pranksters, molotov cocktail. Never a good mix. So they're staying in a hotel. Tonight they went out to the van in the parking lot to find...wait, what van? Some a-hole stole it. Like losing their house and all their worldly possessions wasn't enough? There were some heirlooms in there too, that they had salvaged from the house and hadn't taken out yet. Her mom's wedding ring, her grandmother's brooch. Sure, easy to say, they should have taken it out, but they didn't.

But you know as much as life deals some rotten blows, there is still such amazing beauty in this world. I looked into my grandniece's eyes tonight and saw such raw innocence and good that I just know that tomorrow will be a better day.

July 04, 2004
You know, why am I here? the meaning of life questions...

I'm 34 and 10 months. In another way, I'm really just a year old. I had one of those life changing experiences last year. Something that most people really don't understand. I nearly died. I've never been what you'd call vibrantly healthy but it works. Some people are good at sports, some at crafts. I'm good at getting sick. It used to bother me but since last year's little incident, I'm just thankful for the good things.

I'm the kind of person that weird things happen to. That 'wow, this only happens in 1 out of every 1000'. Too bad that's not money (oh well, not anymore anyway but that's another day).

For today, I'll tell last year's story. Putting a bit of background on it...I am single. For the longest time, it was by choice. I saw a lot of bad relationships and have had more than a few myself. I enjoy my own company, have great friends, have my own house so for the most part, I don't want for much. Life definitely isn't what I expected but sometimes the paths have given me much more of an enjoyable life experience than if I'd done what was expected of me after High School. The whole married, kids and white picket fence which I'd dreamt of all my early years was entirely what would have killed my spirit. So I'm glad I've had a different life. 'course, there are some lonely days though.

Ok, last year...I had bad teeth. Tetracycline as a child. It only affected the front teeth but they were awful looking, so I never really smiled. The dentists patched them up the best they could, but it was a temporary fix. I really needed veneers. Of course, those are expensive and out of my price range. I was lucky though. My medical plan covered 50% because my particular case was not entirely cosmetic, but a requirement. That left me with the other half. In November 2002, I was quoted a price of $1200. Still out of my league. So you can imagine my surprise when my parents gave me the money for Christmas. This was completely out of character. While we've never been 'poor', we were raised not to depend on our parents for money. My Mom had been severely injured in a car crash, and had recently been awarded a settlement. Nothing huge by American standards or anything, and considering she lost her vision, not much at all, but every bit helps, right?

So I booked my appointments. Starting off in late-February '03, it would take over two months to get everything taken care of. The first appointment involved them filing my teeth down to points to be covered with veneer. One front tooth completely broke off during the filing. Watching those "Extreme Makeover" shows, I wish they would mention more of how much pain is involved and how nasty the procedure is in general. I had no idea but it was up there with one of the most painful experiences of my life, and believe me, I know pain. I once heard the comedienne, Kathy Griffin saying she left after having veneer prep looking like an 18th century English prostitute. She was right. Leaving the office, I looked entirely beat up. My gums and top lip, without a word of exaggeration, were black with blood. They had put on a temporary set of teeth over the front 4, but eating was anything but possible. While I healed, I was on nothing but mush for a good 4 weeks. I lost weight, I had no energy and it was rough. As luck would have it, as I continued through appointments on various other teeth maladies, around the same time, I broke a back molar and required a root canal.

The dentist put me on amoxycillin, but the swelling and pain was persistent. On my final appointment for the veneers, (around the 2nd to last week of April) she decided to change my antibiotics to something called Clindamycin, I think.

I took two pills but couldn't shake the feeling that it was weird to be on an antibiotic I'd never heard of. Like I said, I get sick a lot. I've had pneumonia more times than I could count as a child, I get migraines on a regular basis, and I have a persistent digestive disorder that no one to that point had pinpointed. I may have a laundry list of maladies, but some people are just lucky that way. =) So I know my pharmaceuticals. I looked it up and it said in big warnings not to take the medication if you have colitis. Well, I didn't know exactly what I had but I knew it was something of that nature. I called the dentist and told her I was unsure. She thought I was being overly cautious but agreed that maybe I should stop. I'd taken four pills at that point.

Over the weekend, I felt a little under the weather but otherwise ok. On April 30, I went to work feeling really weird. I couldn't explain it but I hurt everywhere. It was like my skin was crawling and tingling all at the same time. I figured maybe shingles? I'd had that once before some years before. My boss, I should note, is not an entirely sympathetic guy. And at that time (we've since come to a competely amicable understanding of my health now), he was not impressed with the idea of me being under the weather. After all, I'd been off quite a bit over the month with my teeth. I phoned a friend who thought maybe I was having neuralgia and suggested I take a valium. Note to self: in future, do not ask friends for medical advice. ask doctors for medical advice. A coworker had some valium so I took a pill. My skin felt crazy. I felt very weird. It was like every nerve ending in my entire body was dancing. I somehow made it through work that day and on the way home, I was almost hallucinating. I was starting to realize I was in trouble.

My parents, who live about 5 minutes away, were out of the city on vacation but expected that night. My best friend lived about 10 minutes away. I called her and said I think I need the hospital. For me to admit I need the hospital is not at all in character. I may get sick, but I get through it myself. I pride myself on not bugging doctors all the time, and dealing with things on my own. But I knew this was somehow different. I got home, put on the biggest dress I could find so it wouldn't touch my skin and took my temperature. 104.6 degrees. That's not good. By this time, my parents had called and said they were on their way home. I told them to meet me at the hospital.

My best friend arrived. I apparently was making no sense at this point, and for some reason, also called my cousin to tell her too. Not sure why I did that, but I did. I got to the hospital. The admitting nurse took me in to the room, took my temperature and put me in a bed. I live in Canada. It's not unusual to wait 4-5 hours in the waiting room, but I was admitted pretty much within 5 minutes. That's when I guess I started to realize something wasn't right.

The next few hours were a blur. I went into tacchycardia with an erratic heart rate, my fever spiked in the 105 degree range. There were a lot of nurses, a lot of doctors. One doctor yelling at an admitting clerk that she didn't care if there were no beds, I needed ICU. I remember some, but it's like it was happening to someone else. I remember the look of fear on my Mom's face. I remember my friend looking like someone had shot her. But mostly I remember that my chest really really hurt. And my head. I asked for some Tylenol with Codeine. The nurse would only give me motrin. Of course, soon after I was on Demerol anyway. I said to my Mom, I guess I'm not going to work tomorrow.

At some point in the night, I was put in ICU with sepsis. My family was told I had a 40% chance of survival although I wasn't told that until later. I also had a battery of tests, CAT scans, MRI's over the next two days. That whole time is very hazy. I think it was the 2nd day in the hospital when they diagnosed the cause of the sepsis. I had a perforated colon, likely caused by the rounds of antibiotics. A surgeon came and told me and my mother that I would have to lose my bowel, but would be fitted with an ileostomy bag. I said sure. I hurt, nothing made sense. My Mom said absolutely not. Find something to fix this without surgery. I will be forever thankful that she did that.

I was put on major doses of antibiotics and steroids. The doctor came to see me and explained that I had some sort of colitis and the CAT scan showed lots of scar tissue in my large bowel. It was a major vindication to me as I'd always had digestive problems but my doctor and a specialist had put it up to an irritable bowel and nothing more.

Long story condensed. I was in hospital 6 days and returned home on the 6th of May (my niece's birthday). I was off work for a month. I'll spare the details of how terribly ill I was for that month, but suffice to say I lost 25 lbs. in 4 weeks. I don't recommend it though. Oh, and to add insults to injury, I came home to a message from my dentist telling me they'd undercharged me and I still owed them $215. Last I recalled, a quote is a quote. Next time I get things in writing.

It changed my outlook on life. There was a moment in the hospital on the Saturday night, when my veins were collapsing and the ICU nurse had to call a supervisor. I just remember this deep deep feeling of 'This will NOT be the end of me'. And it was at that moment that I think life turned around. It was then I started the long road to improving and by Sunday was moved into a private ward on the step-down unit.

This last year has made me so much more appreciative of life. I know it sounds trite. But now I know how precious things are and why we need to be purposeful in our lives.

There are downfalls. I have a pretty restrictive diet. Last September, I had a colonscopy which confirmed diverticulosis. The perforation has healed, and for the most part, I feel fine. But my digestion is just weird, plain and simple. I still know there's more wrong, but I am a little distrustful of the doctors so I live as best I can. I try not to eat the wrong things. I take the bad nights in stride. Sometimes the pain is very severe, it takes my breath away. Those nights I take T3's and remind myself that it could be worse.

I think the worst part though, which I still struggle with, is the not knowing when the next attack will happen. I can be completely fine one minute, and doubled over the next. I have learned to take accidents in stride, though. I'm fortunate to have leather seats in my car. Well, most days I'm ok with it...sometimes I can't help but feel frustrated and angry. Who wouldn't?

I also found in the last year that my hair has turned from brown to grey almost overnight. It's something I work very hard to hide. I'm 34 not 54, right? Or am I? I'm not a vain person...I don't worry if I go out of the house without makeup, or anything. But Clairol definitely is my friend.

So now I realize while I've worked very hard to have a life on my own and be proud of who I am, I more and more feel like I'm missing something. That special someone. But how do you go about meeting someone when you have medical issues? Why would I want to burden someone like that? Then I see my niece and her husband of 2 years, or my brother and his wife of 30 years, or my parents who've been married 52 years. Even my best friend, single like me for a long time, met her equal at a New Year's Party 2002. I want it too. I want to argue with someone over bed hogging rights, or who left the remote control where? Look over and say something without words. Is that so wrong?

Well, I guess that's enough for tonight. I've got so many stories floating in my head...but this is a good start.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.

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Turning thirty and a half
  • July 2004
  • November 2004
  • December 2004
  • January 2005
  • February 2005
  • March 2005
  • April 2005
  • May 2005
  • June 2005
  • July 2005
  • August 2005
  • September 2005
  • October 2005
  • November 2005
  • December 2005
  • January 2006

  • The WeatherPixie