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!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘feeling a bit better’

• I just started to watch SYTYCD Canada. We had been recording it since it started. I am not sure if it is just me but I rarely find that Tre or Jean-Marc have much to add to the commentary. Tre is too busy trying to like a cross between a Jamaican and Lil C; she does neither well. Jean-Marc’s main contribution continues to be to pump up the audience by praising the choreographers loudly. I would much rather listen to Luther ‘nasty situation’ Brown or Mary Murphy. I am not really sure why Tre and Jean-Marc remain as the anchor judges. Perhaps this is why they have been sending Mary Murphy up every week.
• The dancers on the US version of SYTYCD seem quite a bit stronger than the Canadian version this year. While the eliminations on the American version have been very difficult to predict, it is easy to figure out who should go home.
• The time off seems to be helping. Even though I was not officially done until last Thursday. Just not having to get up and be somewhere has made a big difference to my mood. My fatigue level has dropped – I am no longer sleeping until 1 or 2 in the afternoon. No longer being tired all the time helps with my anxiety level. Not having to drag myself somewhere everyday and not being sure how I am going to do it reduces my anxiety too. A less anxious Shihtzustaff is a very good thing.
• So we watched the first episode of True Blood last night. I have to say I didn’t get it. It did absolutely nothing for me. Am I missing something? Does it get better? Maybe I am not the target audience…
• All of the dogs are doing really well. Kiefer and Piper are going in to see the vet on Monday. We need to find out what is going on with Piper’s breathing and we think Kiefer has an eye infection.

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!

Still sick…

… day 4 of the plague. I have not been this sick in a long time. I slept 14 hours and it still took all I had to take a shower. In fact, I am so sick that this is the first time I have even been in front of the computer. I have to get into work tomorrow so I hope I feel better soon. This has been a very strange virus. I have had a lot of pain in my arms, wrists and hands for 3 days. I literally cannot grasp things with my right hand today. I am going to bed early again tonight and hope that it will break over night. Wish me luck.

Vacation Over

I am back to work tomorrow. I have been off for 2 weeks. It has been very nice. I actually accomplished a fair bit. I slept 12 hours almost every night. It goes to show that I really do need that amount of sleep. I will do my blood test on Tuesday but I suspect that my hemoglobin will be up higher. It went up 5 points last week.

I got lots of errands done. I took both Molly and Bella to the vets. I organized a few things. I also cooked dinner for everyone almost every night. I tried to reduce the amount of stuff in our freezer by mostly using stuff from there.

Work is going to be insanely busy for the next couple of months so I will need to be careful to get enough sleep. I am going to try to go to bed earlier instead of staying up until midnight or later at times. At a minimum I need to get 10 hours of sleep a night during the week. Wish me luck!


The visit with my mother is over. I am sure I will be reflecting on things over the next couple of days. I will sleep better tonight. Deb is taking her to the airport tomorrow morning. Stay tuned.

Some of my Favourite Things

I often have little blog themes that trip through my head. Often they are not enough to write a whole blog about but, nonetheless, they are important to me. I have no idea when this blog will actually be published. Probably once I think I have enough things. I am starting this on May 8, 2010.

  • I love going to bed at night. In fact I think it is the thing I most enjoy in my day. We keep our bedroom very cold – in the winter we have an open door, windows and a ceiling fan. In the summer we have an air conditioner. It feels so great to get into the cold sheets. Usually Deb has gone up first and she will turn on my heating pad or my electric blanket so I get the lovely contrast of hot and cold. Some nights we cuddle and most nights we talk about the adventures of our day or work out something that has been niggling at us. We have Piper and Zoe who both like to cuddle with us, usually pressed up hard against one of us.
  • Deb and I spent the evening together watching old Law and Order SVU. We sat with the dogs, we ordered food in for dinner and enjoyed each other’s company. We were supposed to go out to an event but I am still not recovered from the colonoscopy on the May 10. I am taking iron to try to get my energy up plus I am on higher thyroid medication so hopefully that will kick in soon. Low thyroid causes fatigue. We don’t often get a chance to be together and watch TV.
  • I love driving home listening to music. Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time knows that music is one of my most important self-care techniques. I have a great place list going right now. I have music from the 1970s (Styx), the 1980s (Pet Shop Boys), 1990s (Richard Shindell) and the 2000s (too many to mention but Timbaland stands out). Music has been central to my mental health since I got my first record player. Actually, it goes back even further to listening to Jim Croce on my mother’s 8-track tapes. I can remember waiting anxiously for them to play Seasons in Sun by Terry Jacks. The most important music I can remember listening to the most was Fleetwood Mac, Queen and Supertramp. I am not sure I would have gotten through adolescence without them.
  • I love to watch our dogs play. Right now Zoe and Sawyer are the main attraction. They play for long periods of time. They don’t bark or growl they just play.


I have always had a somewhat strained relationship with sleep.When I was doing my undergrad at university I worked in a group home. I mostly worked nights. We were allowed to sleep but I rarely got enough and I would often have insomnia trying to sleep in a different place. Couple that with the fact that I was working through a lot of my childhood issues in counselling made matters much worse. The group home I worked in was close to the university but I was rarely able to go straight there after a night shift. Invariably, I would have to go home and sleep.
Sleeping back then was a difficult thing for me. I had quite a few routines around sleeping and if anything was the slightest bit off sleep would remain elusive. It had to be dark, I needed ear plugs, and the dog (later dogs) had to be in their places. I could never sleep with another human being in those days. Things went along this way for most of my adult life – until I met Deb when I was 33.
It was really hard for us to sleep together in the beginning. I only had a double bed (and we are 2 larger women). The dogs had their places and Deb had to kind of fit in amongst us. To complicate matters, every time Deb moved Tippy would growl at her. We did not really sleep well together until we got a king-size bed. We then added several more dogs and we eventually learned to co-exist sleeping together.
One of the things that really complicated sleeping with another human being for me was the fact that I was not really into anyone touching me while I slept. It meant that we both had to be on our own sides of the bed while we slept. We slept like this for many years. We had various dogs sleep with us as well. For several years MacKenzie slept with us. She would lay on her side and try to push me out of bed with her paws. This did not go over well!
After many years of adjusting how I sleep I now like to cuddle when I sleep. Sometimes it is with a dog but it is better when it is Deb. I am at her mercy because I am constrained by my CPAP machine and I can’t move over.
It amazes me that I am now quite flexible in my sleeping. I seem to be able to adjust much better to changes in my sleeping environment including the addition of new dogs. Piper is almost always pressed up against my legs for the whole night. It sometimes results in me having less and less room as the night proceeds but it does not really bother me. Sometimes, if I get up, I will slide her over and rub her belly. She doesn’t seem to mind. Currently our bed mates are Piper and Zoe. They both are great bed dogs. They can hold their bladders for 12 hours which seems to be the amount we need to sleep these days. I seem to sleep better, more soundly when I am cuddled up to someone. Perhaps there is something to be said for the family bed with dogs rather than children. I much prefer this sleeping arrangement.