Spirit Day

October 20th is Spirit Day. I wore purple all day. This year there is even more urgency given the suicide of James Hubley. I could go into the details of why James felt he needed to commit suicide but they are all too familiar to a queer person. Suffering under the pressure of knowing you are despised for something you cannot control or change is unbearable for most of us. Somehow most of us get through it.

Growing up queer in a Christian-centered county like Canada can be difficult. When I was a teen you didn’t talk about being gay. You didn’t your parents, your friends, your teachers or your counselor. It just wasn’t done. You live in fear that someone is going to figure it out. So you learn how to live a lie. Even though I had some gay male friends in high school, I still didn’t feel like I could come out. Hell, half the time you can be so pressured to conform to the hegemony of heterosexuality that you are even confused about your own feelings. Kids like James who come out in high school have a very lonely road to walk. If they don’t have adequate support from the school and their peers the consequences can be dire.

Hurbley’s suicide caused me to reflect on what my path had been. I can remember coming out to my Honours professor at the University of Calgary. I don’t remembrer why I needed to do it, likely it had a lot to do with being authentic. He didn’t blink. It was no big deal and we went right back to discussing whatever book I had just read for my independent study class. I was out on campus. I volunteered for the LGTB organization; I was there when the right-wing nut jobs posted death threats on the door of our office.  We reported it but the university administration did not take it seriously. It scared us to say the least.

In my thirties, we had moved to Vancouver. It felt like we had gone from a lesbian desert to the Promised Land. We could walk down Commercial drive and see lesbians everywhere. We held hands for the first time in public in the Davie Village. We had community everywhere. Meeting other queer women was as easy as hanging out with our neighbours or co-workers. We felt free to just be.

In 2003 we got married. Married for real. We didn’t expect a change in the quality of our relationship but there was. It was good. We were family now. We had the same last name and we had the acceptance of my family. But it seemed that while there had been great changes for us, there was more bullying of youth everywhere for being queer. The more society moves towards acceptance it doesn’t make sense that things should be worse for the youth. I don’t understand it.

Here is the thing about being different. You are never really safe. I repeat, you are never really safe. While life can and does get better for queer people as we move through adulthood, we are never, ever truly safe. People can talk a good game and can act properly and say all the right things but still act upon homophobia. I know because at 45-years old I became the target of bullying. A great deal of this bullying was simply because I was a lesbian. It took all of my strength to get through it.

I don’t have an answer. I wish I did. I feel very bad for the Hubley family as they grieve the loss of their son. I want the world to be different. I want it to be a safe place for queer people, all of us.


I am extremely tired after the last couple of days. I was in an all day training session, which was fabulous. I have had 3 full and busy days. I am going to relax tonight and not blog tonight. Catch you all tomorrow.

Our little Vancouver Adventure & Anniversary Celebrations

We have been in Vancouver since Monday when I had my marathon 3.5-hour specialist appointment. Given that today is our 8th wedding anniversary[1] and that I have to be at an early training session tomorrow morning. We found a reasonably priced hotel[2]. We are staying at the Sheraton Wall Centre. Here is what we have done in some particular order:

  • Got lost trying to find the ‘Rapid Access Clinic’[3] in St. Paul’s hospital. WE went to the Thurlow building when we needed to be in the Burrard building. For those of you who have ever spent time at St. Paul’s what is it about the elevators? Some of them only seem to run every 10-15 minutes. It was bizarre. Also everyone seems to be running there plus there were tons of people.
  • We had dinner at the hotel restaurant. It was very good. I had the ever-reliable tenderloin steak, which was outstanding. Deb had a salad and a vegetarian panini. There were zero vegetarian options on the menu and she had to ask what they could do for her. It seems strange in a city like Vancouver that there would such a dearth of vegetarian options.
  • We went swimming last night at the hotel. It was great. I swam several lengths[4] and then chilled in the hot tub. I was trying to teach Deb how to sit and balance on a flutter board under water. I am nowhere near as graceful doing that as I once was. It was very relaxing. We were starving when we came back to the room and ordered nachos.
  • I got up early and went to work early. I had a lot to do and I was able to get it done today. Work is feeling really good these days so I am a happy camper.
  • Deb sent me a huge bouquet of flowers today at work. It is so nice to get flowers at work!
  • Deb picked me at work and we went out for dinner. We had Japanese food!! It has been years, literally, since I have eaten Japanese. We had tempura vegetables and prawns. I had agedashi tofu[5], and miso soup. It was divine.
  • Now we are back at the hotel watching Dancing with the Stars.
  • Don’t forget to check out Derek Miller’s blog excerpts in this month’s Reader’s Digest.

Perry parry

[1] Squee!!! I cannot believe we have been married that long! It seems like just last year we achieved marriage equality. Although same-sex marriage has only been in legislation since 2005 (thank you Paul Martin and the Liberal Party of Canada) it seems much more recent. We did marry in the period between the court decision and the approval of the legislation.

[2] Not a boutique hotel.

[3] Considering I waited more than 6 months for my appointment I would challenge the ‘rapid’ part of that name!

[4] Go me!

[5] Deb even tried some!

Endocrinology Update

So I finally had my appointment with the endocrinologist my GP referred me to about 6 months ago. We got some answers, an admission of confusion, and 2 referrals. I was seen by a resident first who took a complete history. We were there for more than 3 hours.

Let’s talk about the answers. Apparently my non-existant hormone levels are because I am on morphine. We discussed that I am tapering down, of my own choice, and I asked if it would help the situation if I went off more quickly. Basically she said no. The only time risking my quality of life with severe pain is not important unless I am trying to get pregnant, which at 46, I am not.

We then talked about my weight. They wanted to see my lipids, triglycerides, fasting blood sugar, hemoglobin A1C and cholesterol. They said that they could see by my blood work that I ate a healthy diet. The doctor said that there is a segment of the morbidly obese population to whom the adage of ‘calories in, calories out’ does not apply. She said they have some ideas but nothing concrete. Even if they could diagnose it they don’t have anything for it anyway at this point. Maybe in 10 years she conceded. She is going to refer me to a doctor who is doing research in this area. I all likelihood whatever is wrong with me is genetic.

She is also going to refer to the metabolic clinic. Apparently they have physiotherapists, kinesiologists and exercise professionals who can help design a plan that will work for me. I told her I will happily go and see what they have to offer. I have serious problems when it comes to exercising due to roving joint pain, ulcerative colitis induced arthritis in my back. The exercise program also has to be very mindful of the reality that I have auto-immune disease.

Deb has said for a very long time that someday they will figure out what is wrong with me and probably name it after me.

Bad Day

I am having a bad, bad ulcerative colitis. Today was rife with bowel spasms and cramps. It was like the days I used to have 6 months ago where I ran all day to the bathroom; days that would take me more days to recover. I have not missed this pain. It is unrelenting and I feel like my bowel and intestines have been turned in to hamburger, which is probably an apt comparison.

Other than that my ulcerative colitis has been really good over the last couple of months. I think today was an aberration. At least I hope it was an aberration.

Things I love about Autumn

It is no secret that autumn is the favourite season for most of us here at the Swamp – both human and canine. So here in no particular order is my list of things I love about autumn:

  1. It is no longer hot nor is it cold yet. The temperature is usually just right that you can wear a light jacket.
  2. It is cool enough to wear scarves and hats – my new found fashion accessories.
  3. Our bed is hard when I get into it. We have a memory foam bed that gets very soft in the summer. When we have the door open in our bedroom the bed is actually so cold it is hard. I like this feeling.
  4. The pillows are colder when I flip them over.
  5. The dogs can go out and run and not get overheated and pant for hours.
  6. We can turn off the A/C and rely on cold air from outside to sleep comfortably.
  7. Having our outside bedroom door open all night means I get to see the mountains in the morning. This makes me very happy.
  8. I can use a heating pad all night without getting over heated.
  9. I adore Thanksgiving. I love making the turkey. It is my favourite statutory holiday. It is about celebrating things that are important to us without the baggage of the holiday season.

10. I love snuggling down into the bed with all the blankets pull tight around me.

11. I love the feeling of warm socks and shoes.

12. I love looking at the hordes of birds that land on the fences and telephone wires.

13. I love the hunkering down feeling I get as we move away from light foods to more comfort foods like homemade soup.

14. I love the colours. The trees here turn such lovely, brilliant colours. Every piece of vegetation is beautiful as it dies.

15. I no longer feel oppressed by the weather.

What about all of you? What are your favourite things about the changing of the season?

The ‘Big’ News of the Day

As I toiled away in relative obscurity today on yet another repetitive grant application, I was regaled with the same news story over and over. It was about cell phones. No it was not the usual yourbrainisgoingtorotandyou’regoingtogetcancer story. As the day went on the story became more sensationalized. It was quite apparent why they chose today after all it was the launch of the iPhone 4s which meant the media had captive lines of smartphone wielding consumers with whom they could shock.

So what is this big revelation you ask? Some researchers in Britain swabbed some smartphones and found out there were reams of bacteria on them. Including, wait for it, fecal matter! Oh my god! We should all throw our smartphones in the nearest river lest we get infested with some rogue bacteria.

I have news for everyone. There are bacteria on EVERYTHING! The fecal matter is no big surprise either. I suspect that almost every smartphone user has been guilty of using their phone in the bathroom. And, of course, where there is fecal matter there must be e. coli. Just like the salmonellas[1], the e. colis are to be feared.

So what does all this mean? Nothing is the short answer. There are bacteria everywhere and surprisingly none of us are dead from the proliferation of the bacteria. In fact, bacteria are good for us. Exposure to germs, bacteria and viruses challenges our immune systems. There are more bacteria on your average office desk than on a toilet seat. The last time I checked no one has died from eating their lunch at their desk.

The researchers explained why smartphones were ideal surfaces for bacteria. Mostly because the phones became warm with use and we create moisture when we talk into them. The solution suggested by the researchers was for smartphone users to sanitize their phones with wipes on a regular basis. I have a better suggestion. Don’t worry about it. Seriously, it is not going to radically change your life unless you are in the habit of licking and sucking on your smartphone. </sarcasm>

[1] Oh no not the Salmonellas?!?

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘mish-mash’ edition

  • I heard a great podcast the other day called ‘Taking Crazy Back.’ It is by Tod Maffin who has done stints on CBC radio. I highly recommend it! We need to bring awareness to the fact that mental illness is just that an illness. It is not a moral failing.
  • I have decided to try and reduce my dose of pain medication over the next couple of weeks. My ulcerative colitis is in a good place right now so it is a good time. I have not had much breakthrough pain for the most part since I was off work in the summer. Reducing my pain medication may help with my fatigue issues, which will make everything so much better. I think this will go well, as I have weaned off before without any issue.
  • One more traffic rant! Today when I was driving in some asshole in a pickup truck just blew through a stop sign at one of the 3-way stops. What a jerk!

Rant of the Day

I haven’t ranted for a while so here goes! I apologize in advance that most of it is traffic related. I will say that on days I am stressed

  • Truckers are assholes. Seriously. It is a nightmare on the MaryHill Bypass. They take up both lanes and drive in tandem. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there are 50 cars behind them with drivers becoming increasingly frustrated. Seriously there should be a law against this as this is what causes some of the infamous backups on our roads.
  • My next thing is about people who pull out in front of you without gauging how fast traffic is going. I was on 128th ave, which is on the back way out of Maple Ridge, and a car just turned left right in front of me. I had to whale on the brakes so that I didn’t hit him and when I honked he gave me the finger. I don’t understand how or why some people are allowed to drive.
  • The other thing I must rant about is about Harper’s plan to spend lots of money on the war of 1812. Why on fucking earth we need to rub it in to the Americans that we won is unclear. What is even more unclear is why we need to spend millions of dollars doing it when we have a budget deficit. It makes absolutely no sense. What is interesting is that while Conservatives preach fiscal restraint, historically it is Conservative governments that ring up the biggest deficits. In this case, Harper is following Mulroney in fine form. Harper needs to give his head his shake and stop the waste.


I cannot think of a thing to blog about today. Well, ok, I do have a topic but it is not appropriate for my blog. Le sigh. Maybe I need an even more private blog than this one. And because I can’t blog about what I need to I have writer’s blog. Oh and the other reason I can’t think of anything? Zoe is barking and growling at me trying to get my chicken tacos!!

She is not as innocent as she seems!