Angry Birds

Ok, I have to say, Angry Birds is completely addictive. I am playing it every time I have a spare moment. We are also watching So, I do not have much to blog about. Check back tomorrow.

“Back off the mic for once and give it to a woman …”[1]

So Christy Clark did the unthinkable and unseated the old boys network of the BC Liberal Party. I am pleased. I still dislike the BC Liberals intently and would never vote them. Hopefully Christy Clark will be able to make some meaningful change. I am so glad Kevin Falcon did not win!

[1] From the Indigo Girls song “Pendulum Swinger”

Feeling Crappy Again…

This might be one of those TMI posts. So read at your own peril…


Life with a chronic illness is up and down, day by day. I am spiraling down right now. My colon is very swollen making it difficult to move around without lots of pain. It also presses on my bladder making it difficult to urinate. I’m also having bleeding issues again, which explains where all of my hemoglobins are going!

I am not sure what is going on but I have to say that it creates a vicious circle. I want to try to exercise a little bit to strengthen my hip muscles but because of the inflammation it really hurts. Plus any more than 2-3 minutes of walking makes my legs scream because they don’t get enough oxygen because my hemoglobin is too low. I am also feeling fatigued again.

I am hoping it is just all the stress I have been under. However, I fear that I am slipping down into ulcerative colitis hell again. God, I hope I am wrong.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘we ought to be ashamed’ edition

  • It is February and it is winter in Vancouver. Apparently, with the wind-chill tonight it is going down to -17 degrees Celsius. Now, you would think that city planners know the weather is going to cold and there will be a need to help people keep warm on the streets. When the temperature dips below zero here it is a brutal because it is so damp. Factor in the wind that has been ravaging us and this is literally killing weather for people on our streets. The police have said they are not going to force people into shelters – that is big of them. So as the CBC was announcing that authorities were asking for people to donate warm clothing and blankets for the homeless. Perhaps we should read that again: The City of Vancouver wants donations of warm clothing for people living on the streets. What is wrong with this situation? Where to begin? It begins with the off-loading of responsibilities by the federal government to the provinces. The provinces, in turn, have off-loaded on to the municipalities. Now the municipalities are off-loading on to us – the lowly tax payer, who, ironically funds all the levels of government. What exactly is it that our taxes pay for if not to ensure there are adequate supplies for the homeless? All of the shelters should be stocked with these items. Police cruisers should have emergency supplies like blankets, hats, scarves etc. Why can we not do this as a country? I am so ashamed.
  • Today I decided to try to manage my anxiety without medication. I was successful. I did not have a full on attack as I used some cognitive management skills. However, as soon as I got home my right shoulder muscle went into spasm and is killing me. So, while I can manage in this situation without help, the bottom line is my anxiety is rooted in reality and I need the assistance medication offers – at least in the short-term. I am hopeful this stress level will reduce.
  • Today my defensive and slightly paranoid driving style paid off. I am almost always aware of who is where around me. So today when a Sutton real estate sign became airborne as a result of the winds we are having, I was able to maneuver out of its path. It most definitely would have taken out my windshield.

Good Day

I had planned to work from home today so already the day started off great. I got to sleep a little later and didn’t have to face the commute. Sawyer and Piper were playing hard and it was really funny. Sawyer was running so fast that when he rounded the corner his back legs went out from underneath him. The dogs always make me smile the first thing in the morning. Zoe is also very happy in the morning. She likes to greet me with a toy which I throw for her a few times and then she is done.

I love it when I have days when I have met my goals. Today my goal was to finish a report. I am happy to report that I met my goal. I actually used MS Word’s feature that blocks everything else out. I really liked it. The only thing I missed was a clock. I found it frustrating that I did not know what time it was. Otherwise I think I am going to be using this feature way more often. I used to think I was the ultimate multitasker and I can be for sure. However, I am finding now there are times I really need to focus in order to get something done.

I am also happy to report that it is 7:30 pm and I have not had an anxiety attack today. It has been months since I have had a full day without an attack. This makes me so happy. I actually did some time on the treadmill again today. I am having a lot of issues with lower back pain again. I think my colon is swollen again, which causes a lot of pinched nerves in my lower back. I am hoping that by getting on the treadmill occasionally I can build up some strength. We shall see. I also have oral thrush again. The thrush is probably a direct result of ulcerative colitis and stress. At least I have the medication on hand for it.

It has been a good day, one of the best in a very long time. I am off to play Angry Birds.

The Perils of Living with an Anxiety Disorder

As everyone knows my world has been stressful on many fronts for quite some time. To compound things, I also have an anxiety disorder. The symptoms of anxiety are very debilitating. I have trouble breathing, my heart races, I feel shaky and my bowel starts to quiver. Some other symptoms I get include not being able to swallow and intrusive thoughts about scary or stressful situations. Some anxiety attacks take me by surprise. Others, there is definitely a connection to something going on or thoughts I am having.

The attacks that take me by surprise are the most frustrating. There are times I will be sitting and relaxing and all of a sudden I can’t breathe. I start trying to breathe deeply but I really can’t get my breath. I feel my heart race and then my jaw starts to ache because I am gritting my teeth and jaw. These attacks are the most frustrating because there is literally nothing I can do about them. Sometimes I can get it under control.

Another kind of anxiety attack happens when I am thinking about stressful things or issues. In these cases if I am not too far gone, I can get control of it by stopping the thoughts. I find that listening to music in these situations. It allows me to focus my thoughts on something else and to sing along to the music, which gives me a stress outlet. Music has always been very important to me. There is something about the sounds and the timbre of some voices that really speaks to me. Even as a child, my favourite times were when we listened to music. My mother would play Jim Croce, the Lettermen and Three Dog Night. As a teenager I moved on to Queen, Supertramp and Fleetwood Mac.

The other kind of anxiety attacks I get are in direct response to something that happens. Today, I read an email and something in it set me off. I probably over-reacted but that is the problem with anxiety. Before I know it I can’t breathe, I’m shaking and I start to cry. This makes me crazy because it happens at the most inopportune moments.

I have always had issues with anxiety. However, a full-blown disorder is something new. I developed this as a result of my colitis. The combination of being sick, living in chronic pain and the unpredictability of my ulcerative colitis along with my underlying issues conspired to give me a generalized anxiety disorder. I am grateful that it does not debilitate me completely. Although, given a choice there are times I would not leave the house for long periods of time. In some cases, anxiety can prevent people from meeting their potential.

In taking a cue from Airdrie from Talking to Air, I think it is critically important that we talk openly about how mental illness affects our lives. We must remove the stigma if we are to deal more effectively with mental illness.

So, my faithful readers, what do you think? Do you personally deal with anxiety? Do you know someone who does? Do you need help with your anxiety?

Odds and Ends

  • The great bra experiment of 2011 is working. I have become accustomed to the new one and I now prefer it to the ones I was using before. I think the new bra is actually helping my back and shoulder pain. I like the way my clothes look with the new bras too. The only downside is that it looks like something Marg Delahunty would wear!
  • My best friend Joe and his partner picked up a heated throw for my mother’s cold feet. They took it over to her along with homemade soup and bread. What an amazing friend!
  • I am finding that some of my fatigue is coming back. I sure hope that it is not permanent. I was really enjoying not having to sleep as much.
  • I did get on the treadmill today! Yah for me! I have not been on since October of 2009 when I had pancytopenia[1].  I didn’t last very long as my legs started to burn. Hopefully, I will continue to have the energy to get on the treadmill more often now.

[1] Basically pancytopenia is a condition where in your white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets are low.

My Week in Review

Well, it has been a somewhat better week. Things have calmed down a bit and I was able to complete some tasks that have been on my plate. I feel like my best strategy has been to break things down so that I can feel like I accomplish things. Emotionally, this was also a better week. There was only one new revelation that made me lose it. I am still heavily engaging in self-care: music, massage and counseling.

Health-wise I seem to be holding my own. My hemoglobin went up by 10 points to 124. I am not really sure why I am getting all of those wild fluctuations in my hemoglobin count. I need to talk to my doctor about it. It does not seem to matter whether I take iron or not. I have been a little bit more tired, however that may be simply because I have not been getting enough sleep. I had to get up early this morning and it nearly killed me. Otherwise my ulcerative colitis has been fairly stable again for the last couple of weeks. It is so nice that it is not such a defining thing in my life right now.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘shit show’ edition

  • Traffic has been horrific the last 2 mornings. The only words to describe are shit and show. On Thursday it was a combination of snow[1] and a huge mother accident going eastbound. There were 3 fire trucks and assorted other police and ambulance vehicles. Once we got past the accident, which, was on the other side of the highway, traffic started moving again for about a minute. Then it was back to bumper-to-bumper. I ended up being ½ an hour late for my doctor’s appointment. This morning there was a truck being towed and it was slow to get by. Once I got past, the road opened up, oh, for about 5 minutes. I ended up being 15 minutes late for my massage. I am not used to sitting in traffic anymore. Going in after 10 am usually means I miss it. These last 2 days have been a grim reminder of what I used to go through when I worked different jobs and had to commute in rush hour.
  • We have doggie visitors. Sawyer is in heaven having someone his own size to play with. The two have a really good time again. Jessie, who is an old pittie, is happy under her blanket in a quiet area. Luckily we can offer that!
  • As a response to some things going on in my life, I have started to read Shakespeare’s Sister again. The main blogger, Melissa McEwen, does a fabulous job of keeping up the anti-oppression analysis on the major discourse. Personally, I find this to be invaluable when it comes to identifying issues I need to handle. I also find her posts on various topics like the rape culture, victim blame, fat oppression, misogyny, and feminism. If you have never read this blog I suggest you take a look. If you are a progressive person you will find a home. I find that reading this blog regularly helps me to self-assess any oppressive views I may have and learn how to be a great ally. It is very important work.

[1] The damn media didn’t do their job this time and convince all the idiots to stay off the roads. Instead they all got on to Highway 1 and freaked at the snow and slush. I am guessing they just all panicked at the sight of it.