Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘heat is killing me’ edition

  • It is no secret that I hate the summer. And make no mistake that summer has arrived at the swamp. It is always hotter in the valley than it is in Vancouver. The dogs don’t do well in the heat either. Kiefer has been laying in the living room panting for most of the day. Sienna has been laying on her back on the couch trying to cool off.
  • Today I was finally able to hand everything off to an interim ED at work. I can finally now stop checking email. Now, on to the work of getting better so I can go back stronger and better.
  • Speaking of health today was a bad, bad, day. The heat exacerbates my ulcerative colitis. I am not really sure why this happens. I have never tolerated the heat well. I can remember the numerous hiking and backpacking trips as a kid and I would be sick in the sun. Now as an adult, I can opt to mostly stay out of the heat. Fatigue is something else that adversely affects my disease. Not having to get up and commute into Vancouver everyday has made a big difference. I am already experiencing less fatigue. Being able to continue to get the rest I need will help me to improve. I really hope my pain levels will decrease over the rest of the summer as some days it is really high. Today has been really painful. I have had to run to the bathroom about 4 times with incredibly painful spasms and cramps.
  • Our pond is doing far more than providing much needed drainage in the Swamp. We are hosting at least one bullfrog and, if reported sightings are correct, a snake. All spring our pond was a landing zone for ducks but no one ever took up residence. It is nice to know that solving our problem has contributed to the local ecosystem!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘get your food issues off of me’ edition

  • I read an amazing blog entry by Margaret Cho. She completely summed up many of the feelings I have been having lately. When people feel they have a right to make an assumption about you and then pass it, it is so very hurtful. It is not something that you can shake off and, in fact, may scar someone for life. This was her reaction after her friend’s mother said Margaret had an eating disorder:

“I felt sick immediately, the fat in the food coagulating in my blood and stopping it. It felt like a heart attack, or a tranquilizer dart right in the chest, felling me in my tracks. Like when you take your battery out of your phone – just blank screen. Blank. Mother and daughter were full on fighting now but I had checked out and gone somewhere else. We were all still sitting there but I don’t really know what happened after that. Perhaps we went to my friend’s room and drowned out her neurotic mother’s musings with Duran Duran, but whatever happened I know that I was permanently changed. I had been marked with a big scarlet letter “E” on my chest for “eating disorder.” That was when I was tagged in the wild and categorized forever, and even though I was put back into the general population, I carry the mark to this day.”

  • Why do people buy bottled water? I had a conversation with a woman the other day about bringing in our reusable bags. I had remembered because Safeway had a reminder on the door. Anyway, she was going on about remembering her bags and she had a case of bottled water in her cart. Talk about a disconnect! Today I was at Save-on and I saw a line up for people to fill their big water bottles. Now, where do they think the water comes from? Do they think Save-on has some big tank of bottled water somewhere in the store? No, I am sure it is tap water that may be run through the industrial equivalent of a Britta filter. Not only do they have to bring these huge bottles to the store then they get to fill them, drive them home and get them into the house. Instead they could just turn on the tap. No bottles involved.
  • It might be too soon to speak but it looks like the drainage has solved the problems with the septic system. Moving the water out seems to have fixed the problem with water filling the tank when it rains heavily. We have not had it pumped since the end of September. Since we moved in we have had to pump it out in either December or January and sometimes both.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘stinky septic’ edition

  • I had hoped that the drainage work would help with our stinky septic in the winter. My theory was that the water would move on out to the back of the property. It doesn’t seem to have worked that way. At least I have figured out why the entire house stinks. The furnace is in the laundry room which is very close to the septic. Air fresheners in the laundry room seemed to have solved the problem. Now, if anyone has any idea what to do with a stinky septic I would love to know!
  • Since Madison’s passing everyone has been doing really well. I have to say that having the dogs there when she died has meant that no one is wandering around, lost. We certainly saw this when Kirby passed away. The dogs are ok, the humans not so much.
  • My mother is making me mental already and we are not even there yet. She seems to think that us wrapping our Christmas presents there is going to cause us to not be with her for a lengthy period of time. Today she sent me the following in an email: “I understand you can put wrapped packages in the suitcases that go in the hold.  Do you agree?  I don’t have any wrapping paper but lots of the other stuff – bows, etc. Well of course, it turns out, that CATSA recommends that presents not be wrapped. I am sure the next volley will be interesting!
  • Since my last visit my gastroenterologist I am doing a bit better. Not great, but better. I would be able to handle all of this if it were not for the fatigue. The pain and everything else would be tolerable if I just wasn’t so freaking tired. I literally need to sleep 12 hours a night. It really gets in the way of what I want to do in life. Part of it is low hemoglobin and the other part is just the fatigue that goes with the disease.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘Danny Williams for Prime Minister’ edition

  • Things are quite snowy at the Swamp. The dogs don’t seem to mind. Madison has such a thick coat that she likes to lay down in it. I am sure she doesn’t even feel it.
  • Danny Williams has resigned as Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. I am extremely hopeful that he is going to enter federal politics. He definitely has the skills and the charisma to do a fabulous job for the country. He also seems to have compassion – something that is sorely lacking in the federal government. Danny Williams says he does not have federal aspirations, I hope he changes his mind.
  • After my visit with my GI doctor this week, we discussed the fact that my ulcerative colitis is not really responding to the various treatments. My symptoms have been much worse lately. We talked about doing Remicade but I am not sure about it. It has nasty, nasty side effects. Plus the province does not cover it for ulcerative colitis only for Crohn’s. Apparently, it costs thousands and thousands of dollars per year. I may get some coverage from Deb’s plan but I am not sure yet if they cover it at all. My mother did not offer to help us out with it either. The only other option, if medication is unsuccessful, is to have my colon removed, full stop. I would likely have to live with the ileostomy for the rest of my life. There is a surgery they can do called the J-pouch where they form a pouch with the small intestine and everything works normally. However, people with ulcerative colitis quite often develop pouchitis, which is just as bad as the ulcerative colitis they got rid of when the colon was removed. At this point, I don’t know what I am going to do. Lots of thought needs to go into this decision.
  • I am very pleased with the drainage work. The house is much less humid with the water drained from under the crawl space. I have also noticed that even though there is still some minor flooding in areas when we get a torrential downpour but it generally clears quickly now. The actual top layer dries out now. It should make the yard much, much better!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the hedonism edition

Dogs are hedonists in general. Pugs, as a breed, take this to new heights. I have never seen a dog sleep like she does. It does not matter how late either one of us sleeps she stays in bed. I have seen her sleep as late as 3 pm. All of this is fine because she has good bladder control. What I find really hilarious is that if I disturb her while I am getting dressed she will give me a ‘look’ and move to the other side of the bed. Oh and she snores.

Our drainage work has stalled because they needed to bore a hole for a drainage pipe through the foundation. Apparently we have an excellent foundation that goes quite deep. Our contractor thought that he would be able to dig under the foundation for the pipe but not so. At least we know we have a great foundation for sure. The house inspector had told us the foundation was fine. I can’t wait for next summer when our yard will be useable.

Hopefully we are going to pull the house back together after the painting. The downstairs looks great. We love the red in the living room. Once things are back together I will post pictures. The green in the dining room is also great. Thanks again to L for doing all the painting.

I am off now for 4 days. This makes me very happy!

It’s a Miracle

For the first time since we have lived here there is no water in the crawl space under our house. It was also quite easy to fix – if you are an engineer! Currently there is a trench dug to a pond. Then another trench goes to a pond in the back and a third trench goes to the very back of the property. The idea is that the water flows from the front to the back. When all is said and done there will only be water at the very back of our ½ acre property.

The next steps are to lay pipe and fill everything in with gravel. It is possible that we may not even have mud this winter but I am not sure of that yet. My hope is that the septic water will not stagnate and smell for the next 7 months. Plus the septic system was not able to adequately drain especially in the rain. The smell had come back with the recent rain and I am certainly not smelling it now.

Our contractor was also able to tell us that while there was a lot of water under the house it did not look like it was touching the wood. This, indeed, is very, very good news! This work will make our property so much more enjoyable for us and the dogs. We will try to get some pictures. Worth every penny!

On another note – I felt horrible today. I have been dizzy and I have the chills. I am sure it is colitis symptoms and I hope I will be better by tomorrow. I hate it when this freaking disease gets in the way of my life and responsibilities.

Update for the Swamp – the Pond Edition

Today our drainage work started. It has been a long time coming. When we bought the house we knew that there was water in the crawl space under the house. What we didn’t know was that the place was a swamp. We bought the house after about 3 months of sun. It had been very dry so what we saw was a lovely carpet of green grass and everything was nice. The crawl space was mostly dry but you could see that there was mud. The housing inspector told us that we would have to address the drainage issues. Our neighbour, two houses over, has a similar property to ours with large built up homes on either side and had similar drainage issues. He has effectively drained his yard. He is an engineer so he really had a good plan. Apparently as soon as they dug the pond for the front and dug a path for the water to flow the pond filled up completely. There is another pond in the backyard which will drain further to the back. So now we will have a property with 2 water features!

In other news, Wally Oppal has been appointed to head an inquiry into the Missing Women crimes. There have been many naysayers about his appointment but I could not be happier. I think Wally Oppal has distinguished himself as both a judge and a cabinet minister. I never get the sense that he is trying to feed people propaganda when he is interviewed. Perhaps if the provincial government had consulted Aboriginal and Womens’ groups there could have been a different choice or consensus on Oppal. I do think he will do an excellent job at getting to the core issues that led to so many women went missing on the Downtown East Side. Hopefully, this will lead to real and substantial change.

The dogs are good. I have been reveling in how cute they are. Sawyer with his big ears, Zoe getting the fuzzies, Piper’s big eyes and gorgeous face, and Madison’s beauty. Maddie is becoming more and more beautiful the older she gets. I love the feeling I get when we are all snuggled together in bed. Everyone is so quiet, peaceful and contented.

So far the new TV season has been a bust. Tonight we are watching ‘No Ordinary Family,’ wish us luck! Woo hoo! 10 minutes in and it doesn’t suck!!