Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘crap, summer seems to have arrived’ edition

  • We said goodbye to Tru on Monday. She was ready to go. We thought she might have passed on her own over the weekend. She went very peacefully. I am pretty sure she lived for an extra 3 months because she liked it here. Rest in peace Tru, you were a very good dog.
  • The last 2 days have been so warm! Uggh. I dread the annual arrival of summer. I just don’t cope in the heat. We are mostly ready though. We need to buy a new air conditioner for the kitchen. I also think the house may be warmer now that the big tree is gone out front.
  • Given that summer appears to have arrived, I am trying to break my feet in to where my Birkenstocks this year. I have spoiled by the plush Naots with orthotics. I really missed wearing the Birks last year so they are on my feet today.
  • Deb and I went to a fundraiser last night. It was a dance and the music was bluegrass and swing. I thought my ears were going to bleed. We lasted a grand total of 2 hours. I donated the dragon I made in filet crochet but it didn’t even get one bid! Deb thinks it was just the wrong crowd. However, the pug umbrella we donated sparked a bidding war. Who knew?
  • All of the dogs are doing really well. We have such a nice group right now. They all get along very well. We are taking Ruby and Zoe to the vet on Monday. Ruby has a heart condition and needs a refill on meds. Zoe seems to cough a couple of times a day. It is not getting worse and it does not happen when she is active. I am thinking collapsing trachea but just want to be sure. We have had her for almost 3 years now, which means she is likely 12. Other than that she is totally fine being her princess, entitled little self.
  • I am in my new office!!! This makes me very happy. We have tons of storage space in here. I have room for all my craft stuff and furniture. Plus it is purple!!!!

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 ‘summer has arrived’ edition

  • We are finally home. Thankfully we had a ferry reservation because the sailing was full an hour before we even got there. Piper got overheated while we were waiting to get on the boat. It was so freaking hot there. I walked across to the Market to get lunch and papers Deb. It was almost sick. Once we got on the ferry there was a great breeze. I went up and got the soft-serve ice cream and it was very good! We got off the ferry at 4:54pm and we were home in an hour with a stop at Hopcott’s for steak.
  • OMG! The stereo/GPS unit I got Deb for her birthday is amazing. It tells you when the traffic is backing up!?! Could there be anything better! It also navigates much better. It gives you information ongoing about the road you are on and what roads are coming up. I can’t stand it so I am getting my own.
  • It is nice to be home after spending several days in a small room with Deb and 2 dogs. She makes me crazy! I would put something down and she would ‘put it away.’ I really struggled with food. It was very hard for me to find stuff I could eat. The food from the Kingfisher restaurant (what made it worse was that the baked brie dish they had on the menu they were no longer serving!) was far too gourmet and rich for me. There was very little that appealed to either Deb or me. The best meal we had was at Boston Pizza. We did have some food with us like cheese and crackers. I also had my yogurt and cereal as well. Grilled eggplant and steak was very welcome tonight for dinner.
  • The dogs were so good – especially Sawyer. He is still quite a young dog yet he is so well socialized. He is pretty much bomb proof as he can adapt to any situation. He loves all people and dogs. Piper was a little stressed in the beginning in the truck but she did eventually calm down. She is getting really overheated so we are off to the vet to get her looked at. Piper and Sawyer get along so well. They don’t scrap over food or toys and they like to cuddle together.
  • It seems the heat has arrived now. I am going to try not to complain as we have pretty much had a month of no heat. I will be trying to hide in the house with the until the heat wave is over. Thankfully we have air conditioners!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘keeping cool’ edition

  • I know summer has not really arrived yet for those of you who love the heat but here at the Swamp, yesterday was almost more than we could take. We have been using a small, 5,000 BTU air conditioner in our room since last fall when the last portable died. We have a large bedroom and even with the ceiling fan and a turbo fan going it has not been enough to really keep us cool. Yesterday, when the temperatures reached 30 degrees, it definitely overwhelmed the little unit. So Deb was off in search of a new one today with more POWER!
  • Still on the keeping cool part – the new unit for upstairs means we get the other one back for the dining room. We have not needed it yet this year but it could still happen. We use the kitchen one all the time. I have noted though that we have yet to run the portable in the living room. Our living room faces north and does not get a lot of direct sun. This is a very, very good thing!
  • We have noticed that in the heat some of the dogs are having problems. Piper for sure is getting overheated at the slightest bit of exercise. Zoe, Kiefer and Molly are also prone to overheating. So it is diet time for some of the dogs here at the Swamp. We suck at not giving them treats so their daily ration of food will be cut back and exercise increased. Our soon to be new housemate has said she loves to walk dogs!!! So look out you lazy canines of the Swamp!
  • One more note about summer. We are so grateful that the temperatures have been so reasonable. Heat is really hard on both Deb and me due to autoimmune disease. We just do not tolerate it at all. Even today, when it was 19 outside, Deb was hot. So while we have some sympathy for all you heat lovers we are happy it is cool.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘I think there may be a revolution’ edition

  • As my regular 17 readers would know, I am not a fan of summer. I hate the heat; it makes me sicker than I already am. I get heat stroke in like 5 minutes. Just going to the car and doing errands makes me want to lose my cookies. I am also not a big fan of the rain. It seems like it started to rain last November and has not stopped yet for any length of time. We had a long, wet winter. A cold, wet spring. Now, it seems like autumn has arrived without a spring or a summer. This weather is similar to late September early October. Even though I hate the heat and the sun I am starting to feel bad for my friends who adore the heat. I hope you at least get the month of August!
  • I am really getting impatient for Lion to drop. It is supposed to come in July and there are only 13 days left of July. I get it free for my Mac Pro, which means I should get it for my other computers. I love how Lion is going to bring more of the iOS system to the Mac. I suspect Mac purists may not like this evolution but it is the direction computer operation systems are heading. One of the things I like best about Mac OS X is that it is intuitive and easy to use. iOS is even easier to use so any integration will only make Macs easier to use.
Clio a week ago
  • Clio is starting to fade. She has been on Lasix and cardiac meds for almost a year now. She is at the highest dose of both. She is not coughing so that part is good. Lasix is hard on a dog’s kidneys but it is a necessary drug to keep the water moving out of her lungs so she can breathe. She is still eating although not as much which is causing her to lose weight. She is not in any pain, nor is she vomiting or having diarrhea. Vomiting and diarrhea are signs of kidney failure. The other thing that the vet told me could happen is that her heart would basically explode which would be a catastrophic death. So, as long as she is not any crisis we don’t need to make a decision. If/when she starts to cough we will immediately let her go.
  • We have decided that Deb’s birthday present is going to be a trip away for both of us. I score too!! We are trying to find a place that will take dogs, has luxury, maybe a dog sitting service etc. I think we are willing to go to Vancouver Island but not the Gulf Islands. Anyone have any ideas?

Summer Weather

It is no secret that I hate summer. I can’t stand the heat and it makes me sicker than I already am. There is something that happens to those of us with autoimmune diseases that does not allow us to tolerate the heat. I can overheat in about 5 minutes. Other times, the heat makes me nauseous.

Here at the Swamp we have multiple air conditioners so, for the most part, suffering is optional. Most years, by the middle of July we are running all the air conditioners just trying to keep somewhat cool. In our bedroom we have an air conditioner, a ceiling fan and a turbo fan all going to keep us cool while we sleep. I use earplugs at night but Deb assures me that it sounds like a wind tunnel once my CPAP machine is added to the mix.

This summer, so far, has been a treat for me. We have only had 1 or 2 days that went above 25 degrees. It has been mostly overcast and rainy. It looks like it will continue for the next several days. Summer is something I have to endure, so the longer we go without the baking heat the closer to Autumn we get!


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.

Dispatches from the Swamp – the taming summer edition

It really isn’t very swampy here in the summer, which is a very nice thing to say the least!

– Hopefully the swamp will be no more. We are going to get some drainage work done to try to move the water from under the house and the yard to the back of the property. If this works it will seriously help our septic system in the winter as it fills with water to the point where we have to have it pumped out more often than we should. Plus it should help reduce the pools of standing water we end up with all winter. One of the neighbours is an engineer who drained his own, similar property. He needs work so it should be good!

– We have almost fully air-conditioned our house. We have window air conditioners in the kitchen and dining room. Portables in the living room and our bedroom. Now I have a small portable in my office which works very well. At least we can be comfortable in the house now even though it is hotter than the hubs of hell outside.

– The dogs are definitely appreciating the cooler air. Kiefer really suffers in the heat. It is especially hard on Madison as she has a very heavy coat meant for cold prairie weather. Sawyer probably isn’t as happy as the others but we still have a towel to cover him up with at night.

– In spite of the fact that covered our yard with hog fuel we still have grass growing. Apparently the grass has rooted on the hog fuel! I never would have guessed that could happen.

– Finally, you know it’s summer because Big Brother has started. I am always up for a lot of backstabbing and bad strategy.

Rules for Summer

I wish I could write my blog in my car. I have such great ideas when I am commuting! Sadly I think there is a law against it.

I don’t have much to write about today except the over-arching melting that is occurring in the Swamp today. Everyone is melting. Kiefer lost his dinner. The pug can’t keep her tail up. Sawyer doesn’t have the energy to unravel any more of the Berber carpet.* At least the temperatures are going down tomorrow.

As much as I hate summer I know that it comes every year. I would just like there to be a few rules:
1. Summer should come in slowly. It should start off in the low 20s and slowly move up.
2. There should be no heat waves allowed until the 2nd or 3rd week of July after we have had a chance to get used to it.
3. Extreme temperatures should not be allowed to last for more than 2 days. They should happen on the weekend when going out is optional.
4. Cool breezes are mandatory on every day when the temperature is more than 24 degrees.
5. Any temperature over 24 degrees must be over by the end of August.

If summer can follow the above rules then I believe we can peacefully co-exist.

*That could be a post on its own! Does anyone know how to stop Berber carpet from unravelling?

Hell has arrived

To say that I hate summer would be an understatement. I have always hated summer. I believe the reason is due to auto-immune disease. For some reason, people with auto-immune disease have trouble with over-heating. This has been true for me since I was a child. I have been through a string of auto-immune diseases in my life, culminating with ulcerative colitis now.

I have my coping strategies. I try to wear a hat to stay out of the direct heat. We have an air conditioner in our bedroom so that we can sleep at night. We also have a ceiling fan and another fan to keep the room cool. We also have a portable air conditioner in the living room which stay much cooler as it faces north.

I just need to get through it now that it is here. Even the pug is melting.