I have been spending my TV time in the evenings crocheting instead of being on the intertubes or playing some mindless iPad game. I have to say that it has reduced my stress levels quite a bit. Crocheting can be quite repetitive but also requires a modicum of attention. The other bonus is that I produce at the same time. It kind of means my TV time is not completely wasted!

A day in the life

I am feeling like crap today. We have been quite busy the last two days and apparently, stressed. Deb has been feeling nauseous all day and I have had intensive cramping and pain. I really want to know what I ever did to my colon for it to torment me so.

Piper continues to do well. Given her reaction to the first anesthetic we thought keeping her quiet was going to be easy. We were wrong. She must have been feeling really bad after they look down her throat. Perhaps her soft palate was more swollen. She has been great since the surgery. She is sleeping a little more, probably because of the tramadol. She wants to go though! She is confined to leash walks for a while which, in her case, is counter-productive. She gets more excited when she sees a leash than when she is going into the back yard. I fear we are going to have the punk squared when she is completely recovered!

I just heard that there are major cougar problems in Edgewater, BC, which is very close to Radium, BC – where we are going in 5 days. Apparently, people are taking their evening walks with shotguns! We are going to have to really keep a close eye on the dogs while we are there. Apparently, cougar ranges are very large so 13 kms is not all that far! They think the cougars are juveniles just put out by their mother. Hopefully they pull it together and get into the backcountry.

Oh and another foot has washed up in the Lower Mainland. What is that about? Why do we continue to have feet wash up here yet no other coastal city seems to have this problem? I wonder if we have a serial killer somewhere like Dexter Morgan?

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.

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?

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.

This and that and maybe some of this…

I continue to feel better. It has been very strange to adjust to this new normal. I am feeling better than I have since I was diagnosed in 2005. After years of continuing decline and two hospitalizations, I actually have hope for the future. Who knows if it will hold? There have been times when my colitis has taken a back seat when I have had other issues going on. While I certainly have had a lot of stress, I think (hope) this is different. I have needed a little more sleep than I did a couple of weeks ago. Mostly likely, the extra sleep is because by my hemoglobin dropping from 125 to 119. I have been taking iron everyday so I don’t know why it is dropping. If it is down again next week it means that I am not in remission and that I am bleeding somewhere.


I find this time of the year to be extremely stressful. As my regular readers know I find summer unbearable. The heat adds an extra level of distress to my otherwise complicated and difficult life. The heat makes everyday activities that much more difficult. Even though we have air conditioning in the house and at work the heat is still an issue. Errands and other activities don’t stop just because it is hot.

Living with a chronic disease accompanied by chronic, unrelenting pain is very difficult at the best of times. Ulcerative colitis makes life unpredictable at the best of times. I won’t go into details but suffice it to say I need to be in close proximity to a bathroom at all times. Then there is the embarrassment of the entire situation, running to the bathroom plus the amount of time I spend there. I remember one time, it was my birthday and it was a really bad day. I was in the bathroom for about ½ an hour as I was really, really sick that day. When I came out there were about 20 people waiting with a cake and waiting to sing happy birthday to me. I was completely humiliated.

Then there is the unrelenting, unremitting pain. It is there all the time, in different degrees but there nonetheless. I take long-acting morphine everyday. I also have short-acting morphine for when the pain breaks through. I have emtec (basically tylenol 3 minus the caffeine) too which helps some of the time. All of the pain and uncertainty contributes to anxiety to the point where I have developed a generalized anxiety disorder.

Of course I also have the normal stresses of life. I have a very busy and demanding job. I love my job and I get a lot of satisfaction from it. I commute a minimum of one and a half hours per day in a construction zone. I have many of the common stresses that go with an aging and sick parent and a crazy-ass sister. They both rely heavily on me but then get mad if I don’t say or do what they want.

With all of this going on I need to have lots of strategies to cope. I am seeing a counselor to try to find more productive ways to deal with my anxiety. My doctor believes (as do I) that the main key to reducing my stress and anxiety level is to make sure that I have enough pain medication. However, there comes a point where I can’t take enough medication to make the pain go away some days. I have to function, I have to drive and I have to make decisions. Obviously if I am home I can take more medication. On the days I cannot I need to use other strategy like breathing and using heating pads. I pretty much live on a heating pad.

Music always helps me to cope as well. I need to listen to music in my car more often. I see my massage therapist every other week which, really helps. We have been working together for a long time and she knows me and all my knots. There was a point where she kept me at work by freeing my tendons from my knotted shoulders. Sometimes I augment that with a trip to the spa to see Quang who works magic too!

Finally, going away for a little get away is important to my mental health. By about this time of year I get pretty desperate to escape the heat and get room service. We went away last year in August as well. We have booked it for next weekend. I can’t wait and I know Deb can’t either.