Archive for May, 2008

yay me

I’m feeling better today, thanks for asking. I even took Jasper for a decent walk. We went to the dog park and I marched right into the deep woods, most because I wanted to stick to the shade. It is actually hot today. I discovered that the mosquitoes are out in force already. When I stopped to talk to another doodle owner, we were immediately surrounded in a cloud of mosquitoes. I exaggerate not one bit. Hundreds of them. But when I walked fast enough, they left me alone.

The thing that was so great was that I could walk fast enough. I actually walked fast through the woods. It wasn’t even my heavy-footed fast for me but slow for everyone else kind of walk – I passed a couple of people. Now, those people were at least 150 lbs overweight each, but still!

Up until recently, I had this weird sort of stomp to my walk, like my shoes were made of cement. But I noticed, as I beetled through the woods, that I have managed to shed that. I still trip a lot, but I look like I’m walking normally.

So I’m kind of thrilled. It wasn’t long ago that I just couldn’t even imagine walking in the woods at all. Now, granted, my zippy walk was only about half an hour long, but it is still amazing.

I wonder when these accomplishments will become old hat to me? How long before I start taking for granted that I can walk up stairs? Because I swear, every single time I make it to the top of a staircase, I am impressed, like a little kid. Look what I did!


The other thing I did was get a new pair of shoes for Boo. This is more impressive than it sounds. One of my first outings, after I was freed from the hospital, was for sandals for Maya. It took many shoe stores and much pain, spread out over days to accommodate for my lack of energy. (There is nothing new about Maya and parental shoe torture.) In one of the stores, we found adorable shoes that didn’t fit Maya, but would fit Boo. They were sandal-like in lightness and really, very cute. See? –

Now, truth be told, I do have a perfectly good pair of hand-me-down sandals that will probably fit her, but they are black. Basic and black. Asher hardly wore them, with the speed his feet grow. I knew she’d hate those sandals and love these ones and I couldn’t really blame her. They were more expensive than I like to pay but there was Maya, like the devil on my shoulder, saying, “You have to buy them. She’ll love them.”

So I did. And she did. She has worn no other shoe since. Until yesterday, when one strap snapped.

My old self would have been sad and annoyed at the expense and gone out and bought more sensible sandals this time. But I’m not like that any more. I am not sure exactly when it changed or what brought about the change. Possibly I have just become – dare I say it? – less WASPy over the years. Or maybe I just aged and decided it was time to stand up for myself.

I took the shoes back to the store and told the nice saleschild there that I yes I was having a good day, only I had this little problem I hoped she could help me with. I showed her the shoes and the bill I miraculously found, demonstrating the shoes to be 3 weeks old, and she gave me new ones, just like that.

Now, of course, I am risking these ones lasting 3 weeks too, and playing the shoe-exchange game all summer, but I think the problem actually stemmed from Boo’s extremely bad habit of not undoing and doing the shoes up again, preferring to just ram her feet in (so yes, technically the breakage was her fault, but 3 weeks? Come on). So I told her those were the very last ones in her size (small lie)  and if she wants to keep them, she’ll take her shoes off and put them on like a civilized human being. I think she will. She was so happy. Her sheer shoe delight made spending the money on those crappy shoes worth it. I’m getting soft.

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My throat hurts. A lot – the kind of hurt where you scrunch your eyes up and brace yourself just to swallow. It’s been kind of sore for a couple of days, but then I just woke up to this – whamo. To go with it, I am exhausted and ache. My first functional act of the day was to pick up the kids at school. At 3:45 pm.

Wait, there was one more functional act before that – I called my doctor’s office’s after-hours clinic and made an appointment for 6 pm.

After I picked up the kids, I was driving home. I drive along a street towards the enterance to the highway. The entrance was coming up, so I put on my indicator to move over into the right lane on this very not-busy street, and slowed down a bit to pull in after the car I was beside. I wasn’t obnoxious and didn’t try to pull in ahead of the car. I also put my indicator on in plenty of time, but as I had dropped back behind the car enough to pull in, the car behind it started to speed up. The big asshole in the car behind decided that for no good reason at all, he wasn’t going to let me merge, despite my polite and correct way of doing so. He just zoomed up and blocked the space, forcing me to either miss the highway entrance or slow down radically to get behind him, thereby endagering the people behind me who would not be expecting me to to suddenly slow down so much.

I did slow down more, but first, I leaned on the horn, and merged in such a way that maybe, for a moment, the big dork in the car next to me might wonder if I was just going to drive right into him instead. I didn’t, of course. I slid in right behind him, in order to make my exit. But what I wanted to do, despite my incredibly sore throat (or, perhaps, because of it), was drive right up his inconsiderate ass and tail him to wherever he was going, so I could then tell him in person what a huge moron he is.

I now get how road rage works.

Fortunately for both of us, I had kids in the car, so I let him go.

I must confess, I am a rather aggressive driver most of the time. I don’t know why. If I’ve merged at a reasonable point, for example, in rush-hour traffic that is going down to one-fewer lanes, and somebody drives their car right up to the end of that ending lane and then tries to insert themselved at the last possible moment, I am the sort of person that makes sure I am mere inches from the guy in front of me to ensure that doesn’t happen. I view it as punishment for being obnoxious. There are occasions, though, when I am in a hurry, that I am the obnoxious last-minute merger car. So yes, I have my faults. But I never, ever do outright nasty things like speed up to prevent someone from a perfectly legitimate merge.

I wonder if that guy is always and incurably and asshole, or if he is just one in his car?

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I’m Number One!

As I have mentioned before, my blog stats show me what phrases people are searching when they find me. I have noticed a couple trends recently. One, there are a lot of people, and I mean a lot, who think they can find luck on the internet. Last summer, I wrote about my success in finding four-leaf clovers and that’s probably the most popular post I have now, even surpassing the ones in which I mention those evil Webkinz.

About once a week, someone leaves a comment on that post actually asking me for luck, like I can somehow dole it out, since I’m so four-leaf-clover rich. (Perhaps some of them should read some more recent posts, then they’d realize that I haven’t actually been that lucky lately, although I suppose the fact that I’m still here to ramble on like this could be considered lucky.) I let the first couple stay, but now I delete them all. But no wonder there are so many people out there trying to take advantage of the gullible and desperate, because it appears there are a great many gullible and desperate people out there.

So I googled the phrase I keep seeing – ‘need some luck.’ My post is second on the list. Oh, lucky me.

The other phrase that comes up all the time is ‘lumpy boobs.’ I had no idea so many women were worried about their lumpy boobs. (I’m assuming the searchers are worried women rather than interested men.) I had no idea so many boobs were lumpy. So I googled that phrase and I’m first! How can I be first when so many people seem concerned about this? All the rest of the links on the first page lead people to actual real answers, and yet people keep clicking on me.

Luck and boobs. That’s what it’s all about.

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In my quest for alternative pain relief, I’ve recently had a couple massages. The first one was quite gentle and while it was enjoyable, the effects weren’t lasting beyond about an hour. So for the next one, I told the massage therapist to dig a little deeper, work on the muscles. The muscles in my back and neck are very, very tight, she admitted, but after working on them pretty hard, she said she felt they’d softened a little bit.

I felt okay during the day, but by early evening, the muscles in my back, neck and head were just screaming at me. Moving hurt. Breathing hurt. I was wishing for some bigtime pain meds, which don’t really exist. I have no idea if further massages are a good idea – if they can actually cause a more permenant softening of my hard and stubborn muscles, or if those muscles will just hurt more at the intrusion. Must do some research on that before the next scheduled appointment.

I was a bit nervous about my assessment for the pain clinic this morning, imagining this making my early-morning stiffness even more extreme. While you have to be in chronic pain to get into the program, you also have to have the stamina to hang out in their program all day.

I made it to my appointment on time, and it didn’t even feel hideously early. They asked me all kinds of questions about my pain and functioning, including one I hate. They asked me to rate my pain on a scale of one to ten, ten being the most unbearable pain you’ve experienced. This was a question I got in the hospital a lot, whenever I told them anything hurt.

The thing is, the ruptured colon totally reset the definition of number 10 for me. Compared to that, nothing else gets higher than maybe a 5 or 6. I figure the rupture probably occured around 9 pm, given that I suddenly felt a great deal more pain than before and ended up collapsing on the bathroom floor. But I didn’t get into surgery until 11 am. Add to that the dehydration caused profuse sweating from the pain and the fact that they wouldn’t allow me any liquids, and I felt really, really bad. I felt so bad that when the surgeon told me one possible outcome of the sugery was death, I didn’t care. I really didn’t. This is basically what I thought: “Okay, whatever. Just knock me out now.” During what could have been my last conscious moments on this earth, strapped down to the operating table, all I could do was complain that the mask put over my face to sedate me didn’t have a good enough seal and I wasn’t reaching unconscious fast enough. “Why am I still here?”

They say you can’t remember pain, and I’ve always found that to be crap. I remember my legs hurting when I was a child, remember how the pain felt. I can easily remember how badly my body aches when the FMS really flares, how migraines feel, how labour and delivery felt. But I cannot remember the pain of the rupture. I cannot bring it to mind at all. I only remember feeling miserable and moaning over and over, like a mantra, “It hurts, it hurts, it hurts.” I felt badly about that, worrying that I was upsetting my mother, who was standing beside my bed helpless to do anything at all to make it better, but I could not stop the moaning. I remember begging for sedation, not understanding why they couldn’t just knock me out that moment, even if they weren’t ready to operate.

Needless to say, that experience really messes up the bell curve when it comes to rating my pain. Assigning a number to a feeling is difficult enough as it is. So when they asked me the question this morning, I decided to remove the rupture from the curve, since it was pulling everything out of wack. I decided that when the nurse says that number 10 is the worst pain ever, she really didn’t mean pain that makes you uncaring of your own death, perhaps even welcoming of it. I decided that unmedicated childbirth could be the worst pain, or maybe the vicious migraines I’ve had, which make me want to hide in a dark room and not move, but have never had me contemplating death – those could be the 10.

After the assessment, which included many questions about my life and how I handle my FMS, the doctor told me that she wasn’t sure how much their program could really do for me. A lot of what they do, she said, was help people come to terms with their conditions and then learn how to appropriately pace themselves, something the doctor thinks I have done long ago. (J disagreed when I told him, saying I don’t know how to pace myself at all). Despite that, she did think that maybe they could still help. She said knowing something (how to hande one’s illness, for example) and doing it are not the same thing, and perhaps having everything in one place and working thought it intensively would be of benefit to me. That was pretty much the conclusion I had come to as well (although I was secretly hoping they knew some stuff I don’t already, and this meeting kind of popped that bubble).

All that being said, they rejected me. Thanks to my Nap, I’m not at the point where I could handle the intensity of their course. That was what I feared would happen. However, she suggested re-evaluating me in September. She did say that it was just a matter of time. I just need to recover from, as she put it ‘this insult to your body’ and eventually they will accept me.

I consoled myself when I left by popping over to a large and marvelous garden centre near there and getting a couple little plants for the few gaps still in my front garden. Green things make everything better in spring. 

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I was up reasonably bright and early this morning because Asher had a play at school I had to attend first thing. The play was happy thing #1.

(Asher with two co-stars who are ‘on a bus.’ If he looks way taller than they are, well, that is because he is.)

We, the audience, got to experience the play three times in a row, as there were not nearly enough roles to go around. It was okay because the play wasn’t that long and the children were uber-cute, even the ones I wasn’t directly related to. As 8-turning-9 years old, they are right on the cusp of being too old for this sort of thing and yet not quite. They are still into it, and yet you can see hints of the grown-up people they are becoming, which I found utterly charming.

Asher was the narrator in the third play, sharing his duties with another kid. In the first two plays, the narrator was not a shared role. In fact, in the first play, the kid who narrated not only knew all his lines but every single line in the entire play. It was very entertaining watching him stand off to the side, lips moving silently as the other kids spoke their lines. It was like he was the puppet master.

Despite sharing the narrating duties, Asher still had a lot of lines, way more than I expected him to have in a play, especially a French play. He had about 10 lines, which is 9 more than I thought I’d hear out of him. It was the second-biggest role in the play. Needless to say, I love his French teacher. I always liked her, but now I love her.

I don’t actually just love her for seeing the potential to memorize that many lines in my space cadet of a son, but because she actually seems to be teaching them some French. That’s more than I ever got in my 11 years of French classes in the Ontario school system.

(Asher with the Other Asher (whose name also isn’t, in fact, Asher). They are buds, despite being dissimilar in practically every respect. Other Asher is, for example, extremely good at all sports. Except basketball. Asher is mediocre at all sports. Except basketball. But that is just because he’s so much closer to the net than the rest of them.)

The bad is that as a result of all of us rushing out in the morning, Jasper did not get enough of a chance to relieve himself in an appropriate spot (outside) and therefore did so in an inappropriate one (inside) – inside Maya’s room in particular. Thank goodness she’s at shul school and I got a chance to clean it up before she got to experience it first-hand. Her siblings will make certain she gets to experience it second-hand. They can’t wait to tell her.

The happy thing #2 is that a book I pre-ordered showed up today. Number 4 in the series Percy Jackson and the Olympians, The Battle of the Labyrinth, by Rick Riordan, is being released in the US today, but not until the 13th in Canada. And yet, the moment I pre-ordered it at the end of last week, Chapters happily mailed it out to me. Too bad Riordan doesn’t have the fame he deserves so I could sell it on ebay like people did with the rare early copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows.

Of course, we would have had to read it first anyway. It’s kind of killing me not to just read it without the kids, but they will kill me if I do.


Here’s a bonus happy and bad, all in one. I have been on a waiting list for a pain clinic here that runs a 4-week intensive course to teach those of us afflicted with chronic pain to better deal with it. I had to fill out a form with pages and pages of questions about my condition and send it in, and the next step is to get an appointment with a doctor for assessment. I was led to understand it would be quite the wait for that appointment, but then I got a call yesterday telling me they had an opening this week. So yay for cancellations! But the appointment, at a hospital all the way across town, is at 8:15 am. AM! The 20 minute drive will be a good 40 minutes with the rush hour traffic and I have to be there at 8. 15. AM. I hurt just thinking about it.

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the weekend

This weekend was kind of sucky. It rained, it was cold, I was tired. I don’t know how much of the tired can be blamed on my recent illness or how much of it should be blamed on my not-so-recent illness (ie, the FMS). I think I’ll blame some of the fatigue on the FMS and I’ll blame the fact that my legs got rubbery after walking for 10 minutes on my Big Nap.

Of course, when it comes right down to it, does it really matter which bit of how I felt can be blamed on what? Wait – yes it does. J kept pushing me to go for walks – long walks in the rainy weather – which I resisted, saying I was too tired. I don’t want to push myself too far. That makes sense if the fatigue is coma-related, but not if it is the FMS.

Anyway, I didn’t just sit around in bed all weekend – although that was a big part of my weekend, I admit. I did the birthday party routine. Asher had a party that started at 10 am on Sunday and Boo at 10:30, both at the other end of town (I suppose that is better than one at this end and one at that end). Asher’s ended at 11:30 and Boo’s at 12:30. Given that it takes 20 minutes to get home, there was no point in doing so between the end of one and the end of the other. Or in between, for that matter.

So Maya and I kicked around after dropping Boo off, wandering through an enormous pet store, for example, where I saw the coolest Betta (Siamese Fighting Fish) tank. I surfed around in search of a photo, but couldn’t find one. It was a small square tank that you hang on the wall. It was very elegant and zen-like and I wanted it. I love Bettas, but can’t put them in my fish tank because they get pissed off with the fish currently in residence. I have a tank full of little guppy-type fish called Endlers and their pretty tails get any Betta I’ve tried in the tank all riled up. They look like variations of this:

I coveted for a bit, then pictured in my head how annoyed J would be with both the money spent and another creature requiring care (especially as my current fish tank hasn’t been cleaned in about forever), and moved on.

We then headed back to pick up Asher, only to discover that party was running late. So I stood around and watched boys eat cake. When that was done, we went off to Boo’s party, arriving a bit early, just early enough to stand around and watch girls eat cake.

Just when I thought that party was over and I was free, the party chick handed each kid a bag of tokens and let them loose in a games area to play games for tickets, which can then be exchanged for small, crappy prizes.

The moment Boo was handed her bag, her two older siblings advanced on her and she clutched that bag to her chest in the way only a third child knows how. So I bought tokens for the older two. More standing around. That was my exercise. And it wore me out.

I think I might go clean the fish tank now. I’m inspired.

And now, we end with a cute picture of Maya and Jasper:

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I’m just dragging myself out of the hole I fell into thanks to Sting. Man, was I wiped yesterday. It was all worth it, though. It was lots of fun. The friend with the box had a great view – okay, Sting was kind of small, but there was a great big view screen right in front of us. The only people who got to see the performers close up were crazy enough to stand throughout the concert, so I was happy with the seat and the screen.

What weighs more, the earth or just-under-infinity houses? This is the question the boy just came in and asked me. How does he come up with these things?

We’ve been digging weeds in the back yard. I’ve been planting clover everywhere for the past couple of years, but there’s one spot where the clover didn’t take last year and these huge annoying weeds are taking over. Boo monkeyed around the swing set while Asher, Maya and I dug. We were doing really well, making a nice clear patch to scatter clover seeds when Jasper decided to help. We now have several sizeable holes there too. I know I should have stopped him, but he looks like such a madman, lunging around in the dirt, that we can’t bring ourselves to even try. It makes him so happy. I care deeply about my front garden, babying it and yelling at children who step in the wrong spot, but the back yard is all about function and if it makes the dog happy to dig a few holes – or children, for that matter – I’m not going to get too upset about it.

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Tonight, J and I are going to see the Police in concert, thanks to a good friend with a box. I love Sting. I’ve loved Sting for years, Not only do I like his music, but he sure is purty. It kind of kills me, though, that he’s been purty the entire 20 years I’ve been a fan, while I’ve gotten distinctly less so.

Unfortunately, I’ve lost my glasses, so I won’t be able to truly appreciate how cute he is, but I can still appreciate the music. And the fact that I’m sitting in a box and can go to the bathroom without tripping past rows of feet and then walking for miles.

I think I’ll bring my knitting.

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Wrote this yesterday, didn’t get around to posting it until today. What can you do …

You know what I just realized? Today is my 2-month anniversary of waking up from the coma. That’s it – just two short months. I woke up on February 29th, which is kind of cool. Also, I woke up on day 18 of my coma. Eighteen is a very significant number in Judaism. The letters all have number values, and the word ‘chai,’ which means ‘life,’ has the number value of 18. So coming to life again on the 18th day is also pretty cool.

It is very, very hard to imagine that it has only been two months.

I remember how helpless I felt. The rehab nurses would come in every day to work on my muscles and would try to get me to move my legs – just lift the knee, lift the ankle – and my traitorous legs refused to move.

My hands were in claws, curled up. The times I was awake and no one was in fussing with something medical, I would go over the physio exercises I had been given for my hands and arms, over and over again. I wanted to be able to write again, to feed myself.

I remember the first time I fed myself all alone. The nurse poured my box of cereal into a bowl and put a cloth on my chest to serve as a bib. I dragged the bowl onto my chest and, ham-fisted, spooned the cereal in. A fair amount only made it onto the bib. I still got tired of eating it before it was finished. I hadn’t the energy or strength to put the bowl back on the table, though, and had to wait for the nurse, bowl on my chest.

When I got a little stronger, I would insist on eating dinner myself, slowly cutting off a small peice of meat and manovering it to my mouth. J and my SIL admitted later that it drove them both crazy to watch how slow and awkward I was, that they wanted to just grab the cutlery and feed me.

I remember that I always felt as thought I could not breathe properly, and that was partly because I couldn’t. For at least the first week, they’d put me back on oxygen for nights, and randomly throughout the day when my oxygen fell low. They tested me constantly, checking my oxygen level, blood sugar level, blood pressure. Four times a day, they stuck a needle in my fingers for the blood sugar. Three times a day, they stuck a needle in my belly to give me heprin ( blood thinner to prevent clots). Those burned like a match being held to my skin and the bruising lasted so long the last of them has only just faded.

I insisted on having a fan blowing at me all the time, because then I felt like I could breathe. My family quickly learned to stay out of its path. After a while, it didn’t have to blow directly at me, and then I graduated to not needing it at all. I still can’t breathe properly, though. I still have pleurisy, which means the lining of my lungs is inflamed. I cannot take a deep breath, but I can take a deeper one than I could a week ago. Hiccups feel exactly like a hard punch in the chest, so when I have the misfortune to get them, I sound like this: “Hic! OW! Hic! OW!”

The first time the nurses tried to get me to sit, they pulled me up into sitting position on the side of my bed, three of them surrounding me. I put my fists on the bed to steady myself and they let go. And, just like a small baby, I began to topple over even as I tried to hold myself up.

So they sat me in a chair instead. They took a harness, the kind one would use on a small whale and, rolling me to one side, they put in on the bed. Rolling me to the other side, they had it completely under me. The hooked the loops on each corner up to a machine hanging from the ceiling and lifted me off the bed, swung me over to the chair and lowered me. The first time I sat in the chair I stayed half an hour before I was exhausted, and was lifted back.

As soon as I got comfortable in the chair, the nurses insisted I get there myself. They were always upping the ante. They placed a walker in front of me and hauled me to my feet. As I stood, feeling excruciating pain in my calves and feet, I looked down. My feet were slightly curled under and looked exactly like my grandmother’s feet had and in that moment, I believed I would never again walk normally.

Once I got used to the two-step shuffle it took to get from bed to chair, the nurses handed me the walker, pointed to the hall and said, “Go.” I made it 25 steps the first time. They counted. I was as delighted as a small child and celebrated by buzzing around the ICU in my wheelchair, with the nurses cheering.

I made it 50 steps the next day.

Today, I walked the regular loop with Jasper at the dog park. I walked for half an hour, which means that loop took me about twice as long as it used to, but still, I made it through the whole loop. And that was after getting a few groceries and before picking up the kids and taking Asher to get a new fiddle.

Look at me – you’ll see no hint of what I’ve gone through. It’s all written on my body underneath my clothes, the deep red scars on my belly, my torso, under my left arm. They are my constant reminder of much I’ve gone through to get back here. That, and the looks I sometimes see on the faces of my parents and J. Two months clearly is not as long for them as it is for me.

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