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.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘it is not good enough’ edition

  • I had today off. Yay! I was clearly tired as I slept from midnight until 12:30 pm. I was up at 2:30 to use the washroom and then I slept straight through without waking up or moving for 10 more hours! I am clearly still having fatigue issues. I have been ok at work as long as I got to bed around 10 or 10:30 but maybe it is not enough. I am hoping it is just still the adjustment period and that my stamina will improve.
  • In other related news, all the weird pains have stopped. As of today, I am doing really well – no arm pain, no shoulder pain, and no wrist pain. My knee has a little pain but nothing major. I really hope this episode of my life is over. I have a theory about the arm pain but I am not sure if I am right.
  • The plea by Carrie Gelson, a teacher in Vancouver’s inner city, yesterday has resulted in some much-needed donations going to her children. However, this is not the solution. When you systematically defund social service programs like income assistance you have children in poverty. The average parent on welfare gets $84 a year for young children and $116 for children over 12 to start school. Most schools require at least $200 just for school supplies. There is no way they can afford to buy new clothes, boots, and shoes for the $100 a year clothing allowance per person. Even children who are in low-income working families, the problems are similar. There is just no way that everything can be covered when you are making minimum wage in this province. There is also no reason why kids should be going to school hungry, without appropriate clothing and school supplies. How are children supposed to learn when their needs are not being met? How can they participate in class when they are so hungry they cannot think? Or so tired they can barely stay awake? It is unbelievable that in a country as rich as Canada there is no reason we should have systemic poverty. We must pressure our politician to do better. Where is Christy Clark and her families first agenda? We must do better.
  • I have come to the conclusion that Piper is an orangutan. We took her in the car today and she was pulling like a freaking tank! We went into Bosley’s and she was pulling so hard that I couldn’t even gather up cans of cat food. I think she is even more bratty now than before her surgery!

Nine Hours

I can’t help but reflect of how much better I am doing since I have been off work:

  • When I first went off, I was sleeping 14 hours a day. I felt guilty and literally felt like I had no life. I would wake up, take a shower and be exhausted. Now, I sleep just 9 hours. I wake up and I feel good. This is such a positive change.
  • In July my pain levels were through the roof. I was having many ulcerative colitis symptoms like (TMI warning) diarrhea, blood and mucous. I also had very irregular movements. Now, I am taking a smaller amount of pain medication and I am having virtually no breakthrough pain. This is very good!
  • My appetite is somewhat better. I am usually eating 2 meals a day, which is up from one. I am still not sure what the appetite thing is about. I suspect it is a ulcerative colitis side effect. I am not eating a big variety of foods, which may make transitioning back to work difficult. I don’t want to eat junk or processed foods so I will need to find some healthy things. Deb is going to make me some mini muffins with lots of good things in them.
  • I also have enough energy to start crocheting again. I have ordered an afghan kit from Mary Maxim and in the meantime I am working on this masterpiece!
My newest project!

Never again!

Well it seems I doom myself if I make bold statements on my blog about how I am doing health-wise. After my positive statements yesterday, I went on to have a huge anxiety attack and I slept until 2 pm today. Plus, just to add insult to injury, I have been running to the bathroom all day today.

Since I developed a Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)[1] a couple of years ago, I had already had a taste of not having control over my body. Six years of the ravages of ulcerative colitis the anxiety disorder arrived. Once might wonder what it is specifically about ulcerative colitis that would cause one’s anxiety to run out of control.

The obvious first thing is the unknowing of when you will be hit with the need for a bathroom. In the early days this would come on all of a sudden. I would be literally sweating and crying as I drove to try to get to a bathroom. At its worst, ulcerative colitis had me going to the bathroom upward of 20 times per day with great urgency. The place I worked at the time was laid out in a circle. The place I sat was all the way at the back. When the urge struck I did not have much time to make it there. It was incredibly stressful. My hour-long commute was something I constantly dreaded, as I never knew if I would make it to the office. I had to stop eating breakfast because any food in my system would stimulate my colon. Even though I would be going to the bathroom many times a day I was completely constipated.[2] Instead of passing stool, I was passing large amounts of blood and mucous. Every day, I grew weaker as I lost more and more blood. This constant blood loss landed me in the hospital in January 2008.

After being hospitalized, I then had the anxiety of not ever wanting to be that sick again. Once the bleeding was under control, I would move between constipation and diarrhea. Mostly constipation though was the order of the day. I also began to develop severe pain. The debilitating, chronic pain put me very much on edge and contributed to the anxiety. My doctor then put me on an anti-depressant to help with the anxiety. Once the pain was being treated with morphine on a daily basis things did get a little better on the anxiety front – enough so that I could go off the anti-depressant. Sadly that did not last long and I have been on another one for over a year. My doctor keeps hoping my pain levels will go down, as do I. However, I have yet to see that happen. There are days I require less morphine and I take less. It is a funny thing; I never think to take it unless I am an agony. Even then sometimes I will try to wait it out. It is probably not a good thing for my GAD.

The heat of summer also makes things worse. I am not sure why but it seems to be a feature for most people who have an autoimmune disease. When it is hot outside and I am overheated I really suffer. This year seems to have been particularly bad. I was hot even in the winter. I also lose one of my very effective pain relieving treatments – my heating pad. Since I started using a heating pad a couple of years ago, I have noticed that I have far less pain in my back. I sleep with a heating pad at night on my both my stomach and back and it does help to relieve a lot of pain. With the really good air conditioner we now have, I can sleep with the heating pad all night.

Fatigue is also a huge contributor to my anxiety levels. If I have to get up early and be somewhere at a normal morning time[3] I have a really hard time. Even if I get 9 hours sleep I still suffer. Last month I had to attend an all day training session in Vancouver that started at 9am. I was completely exhausted. I had to drink tea all day to stay awake. It took me about a week to recover. The stress of having to be places when I am extremely fatigued causes me a great deal of anxiety.

A byproduct of being an anxious person is loud noises and beeping. I have a visceral reaction to loud noises. I find them extremely jarring. Beeping is the same thing. I fit goes on for any length of time it really stresses me out. It seems to that the list of noises that bother me is getting very long. Yesterday, the movement of dishes in the dishwasher was too much.

I try really hard to identify the cause of my anxiety and deal with it. If I am not, I sit by the air conditioner; if I am in pain, I take something; if there are loud noises, I move away. Sometimes these methods don’t work so then I add in deep breathing and trying to focus my mind on something else. Last night all of my tricks did not work. I could not breathe and was bordering on tears. I took a clonazepam. I really don’t like to take them and my doctor won’t give me that many so I save them for the really bad days. Interestingly, it seems to take me 2 days to get over an anxiety attack. Today with all the pain I had to medicate again.

Not having control over some of the functions of my body is very disconcerting. It really doesn’t matter if it is the ulcerative colitis or the GAD. Having your body do or not do things that you need it to do causes all sorts of problems. The stress of not knowing when I might have a ulcerative colitis attack or an anxiety attack makes things very difficult and stressful. All of this becomes a feedback loop and the more stressed I am the more I have problems with the ulcerative colitis and the GAD.


[1] I am just reading the definition in Wikipedia and it says things like numbness in the hands, sweating and hot flashes. I seem to have even more symptoms.

[2] This is a factor of my Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This is different from Inflammatory Bowel Disease of which ulcerative colitis and Crhon’s Disease are the primary manifestations.

[3] Like 9 am.


It has been a very long day. We got my mother a new tv, set it up, then I installed the Apple TV. When I realized she was then going to have 3 remotes, we went and got Logitech harmony remote for her. Setting those things up is a real bitch to say the least. We went to Red Lobster and I had a great dinner of shrimp and crab legs – which was fabulous. There was really nothing for Deb except soup and mozzarella sticks. Anyway, we be home early tomorrow evening.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘my poor mother edition’

  • Yesterday morning Deb woke me up because my mother was on the phone in a panic. Apparently, some company in India had been calling her and telling her that her AVG free virus protection was not working. They were telling her that her computer was infected with a virus and it had ‘filled’ her hard drive. They told her that her computer would stop working imminently. The caller had her on the phone for over an hour and a half. They wanted her bank account information so they could take $200 to ‘fix’ her computer. When she told me all of this, I told her to turn off her computer and not to answer the phone. Today, I managed to connect to her computer through remote assistance and there was nothing wrong. I felt so bad for her. She was quite scared and upset. She said she didn’t give them her banking information, which is good. Unlike a lot of seniors, she at least has someone to call and get some help. I encouraged her to call the police but she said she was not up to it.
  • Today is day 3 of antibiotics and I am starting to feel a little better. Getting pneumonia is quite indicative of the state of my health. I am so fatigued, I feel as though I could sleep for a month. I have made some decisions, however, I can’t really say what those decisions are at this time.




Another day

I have been convinced by Deb to take the antibiotics so I have started. I think it was the right decision. I am still having trouble breathing and can feel that my lungs are congested. I have 5 days to get feeling better before I am back to work. This illness is really colouring my view of the world. I just feel so crappy.

In other news – all the dogs are doing well. Our dogs are so well behaved it astounds me at times. This afternoon (I didn’t wake up until 1:30 pm) Kiefer, Sienna, Piper, Sawyer and Zoe all wanted outside. As soon as I opened the door, Diesel[1], started to bark scream. Piper ran the fence and barked for about 45 seconds then she stopped. Diesel continued until one of his people started to scream at him to stop. Zoe started and I asked her to stop, which she did immediately. Meanwhile the rest of the dogs were just frolicking and running and not barking. It must make the neighbours crazy how well behaved our crew is outside. Our saving grace over the years of having many dogs at a time is that we have never allowed txhem to bark outside. We try to be as considerate as possible when it comes to the neighbours.

She just ate something good!

Right now Zoe[2] is harassing me for my dinner. She is absolutely relentless. This is a daily ritual. First she starts by pawing at my leg. When that is ineffectual she does it harder while growling and barking at me. If I recline my chair then she jumps up and starts climbing up on me. We have learned that we can never win with her. I am guessing she needed all this tenacity to survive her previous life where she was made to produce puppies. Now, she is queen of the Swamp and couldn’t be happier!

The 'eye'


She is so cute!

[1] The barking machine who lives next door.

[2] Whose nickname right now is ‘Cindy Lou Who’ because of how her hair is cut. She is actually answering to Cindy right now.


After my big rant yesterday I am tired. I spent the day in meetings – like a full 6 hours and I am fatigued. I am going to be taking a training course and part of it is going to be journaling. They have actually sent me a journal. I hope they don’t think I am actually going to write in it because I don’t do that. I really need to be in front of a screen and a keyboard in order to write. I will sit there with a pen forever and nothing will come out. Plus if I write it, no one will be able to read it except me. Maybe.


I have had a rough couple of days battling fatigue and increased pain levels. I have been having bouts of fever in the morning and ongoing, bone-crushing, unyielding fatigue. Of all the ulcerative colitis symptoms I have, the fatigue is the worst. The increased symptoms may have been due to the antibiotics I was taking for H. Pylori. I am hoping to have a relaxing weekend if at all possible.