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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Moving Forward

On this, New Year's Eve, I thought I would pop in and say hello.  I know, I have been completely ignoring my blog.  It just doesn't hold the same appeal as it once did to "air my dirty laundry" to everyone on the web.  But I will not delete it as there is pertinent information about Chiari surgery here that should someone want to read, I want to be available to them.

Six months... what has happened in six months.  

Work: It was far too difficult for me to return to work full-time.  Symptoms flared up fiercely.  New, strange symptoms developed.  The neurologist even thought I'd had a stroke at one point... I'm alright, but I have very little tolerance for over-exertion.  I work 4 hours a day and manage with that... though some days are harder than others.  My biggest hurdles are the nerve / arm pain and guilt.  I feel tremendously guilty that I am not working full time.  The guilty feel will hopefully be addressed in the New Year when I start a grief and loss program.  Grief and loss of my former life and lifestyle.

Home:  Sophie is wonderful and amazing and smart and a pain in the neck at times.  But we love her to bits.  She's not a big Weimaraner.  Only about 50lbs.  She is petite like her grandma China.  Fine with me.  We have completed 3 levels of obedience courses and will look at something new in January to keep her active.  With the cold and ice and snow here I can't walk her as often for fear of slipping (despite wearing metal snow grips) so we play in the newly fenced backyard or at the nearby dog park.  She has her own winter attire - a lovely purple fleece-lined jacket.  It can get -40 here.  So far the coldest has been -23C / -10F.  And we have plenty of snow!  She loves the snow and would play until her paws froze if we let her!

Hubby is good and working lots with all of the snow.  Me, I'm a home-body.  If I'm not at work - my 4 hours of the day - I stay pretty much at home.  I still do as much crafting as I can, but I limit it to 1 hour a day for my neck and arm's sakes. I signed up for a cross-stitch exchange forum on FB and I stitch for a few of them, but not all as 2 per month is lots! I concentrate on my Christmas crafts mostly.  I've just been asked to make 7 spiders for a Christmas order for the coming year so I will definitely get onto those soon.    Here's one of my Christmas spiders:


They are very popular at the craft shows I do every year.  I think this year I sold approximately 60.  I include the story of the Christmas spider with each one.  They are meant to be on the Christmas tree, but many of my returning customers leave them out on the mantle or a shelf year-round.  It was actually one of my best years at the shows this year, and I'm thankful.  A little pocket money this time of year certainly helps.

I'll stop here.  I still pop in to read my favourite blogs from time to time.  Know I think of all my bloggy friends often.  I might be gone from the web, but you are not forgotten.

Wishing you all a wonderful New Year and all the best for 2012!






Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm still here

It's been a whirlwind of activity lately...  Being a puppy owner, trying to get back to work full-time, summer prolonged April weather, and everything in between...

Saw the neurosurgeon on June 6th in Toronto. My one year zipperversary was yesterday.  I'm good!!  In terms of the Chiari, Dr. G is very happy with the surgery and my recovery, as am I.  I don't need to see him again unless I start having an increase in symptoms.  We're going to keep an eye on things every 18 months with an MRI.  This will also monitor the arachnoid cyst I have in my brain.  I have to return to the ENT who initially diagnosed me with Chiari to have my tinnitus checked again as it hasn't cleared up with the decompression surgery.  In terms of the brachial neuritis, I've got another 6 to 12 months recovery ahead of me, as I do with a full decompression recovery.

I got the full report from the neurologist I saw who confirmed the brachial neuritis.  She doesn't recommend I work full time yet, and my family doctor agrees.  Hurray!!  As the current return to work plan is going to be the death of me! I'm supposed to increase to full time by July 4th.  But I'm exhausted after 5 hours.  Like, go home, need a nap exhausted.  Plus the increase in hours has increased my pain, fatigue and my shoulder blades are winging again...  All signs that the increase of hours is too much at this juncture in time / recovery.

We're still awaiting the arrival of spring and summer.  The weather has only been nice 2 days in a row.  It'll be nice, sunny and warm 24C.  Then it will be cold and raining 12C for 3 or 4 days in a row... very depressing and gloomy.  Makes me cold, miserable and sore.  My gardens are barely growing.  There are only a few blooms on my tomatoes and I am just seeing hints of basil and green onions I planted over 3 weeks ago... Very depressing. We need some heat and dry weather for a few days... or nothing is going to grow!  Which means buying and not picking my own :(   And I down-scaled the gardening this year for 1. my arm's sake and 2. space and 3. a puppy who tries to eat everything!!

And puppy... loving the puppy... Sophie is wonderful.  We are loving every minute of puppyhood.  Including the occasional late night trips outside to pee, the incessant biting as she is teething 4 teeth right now, the defiance when we're trying to train her.  Everything.  She is the only dog I have ever been acquainted with who does not want to go for a walk.  Especially in the morning.  Forget it, not gonna happen.  Treats, pulling, bribing.  Nothing works.  So we don't go for a walk in the morning.  If she's receptive I take her out back and throw a stick or ball.  Or we do training.  Most morning she just wants to sleep or cuddle.  Tonight we will graduate from puppy school.  It's been a great class.  We're learning lots and in fact were instinctively doing some of the things they are teaching us.  (helps that I read everything I could get out of the library on training a puppy beforehand!)  She is also afraid of water.  In the tub.  In the yard.  At the beach.  In kiddie pools at the leash-a-thon... If it's wet and not in her bowl, she wants NOTHING to do with it.  Very unusual for a Weim.  

I'm helping dad fix the back door, honest!!

Water!! Ack!! Nobody told me there was water at the beach!

I'm being swallowed by a boa constrictor... or am I swallowing him?

She snuggled up to me for a nap so I closed my eyes too!
Sophie is a huge attraction wherever we go as Weims are not a popular breed, but they are a very beautiful breed.  She won the youngest pet award at the leash-a-thon and came home with at least 10 bags of treats.  Everyone at puppy school wants to say hi to her.  And wherever we go - walks, the pet store, even just to the corner store - people stop to meet her and ask what breed she is.  We're very proud parents.  She is quick to learn, even if she doesn't always listen or obey.  She sits, lies down, comes, fetches usually without fail.  We're working on no pull walking, going to mat and staying.  She is the love of my life, after hubby of course.  And I wouldn't trade her for the world.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Affirmation

I finally have a firm diagnosis of what went on with my right arm last summer at the time I had my decompression surgery.

The neurologist I saw in Toronto for the nerve study speculated that I might have brachial neuritis.  The NL I saw locally a couple weeks ago confirmed it.  At first she wasn't sure what was going on.  She reviewed my MRIs, x-rays and nerve study results.  Hmmm.... they all just left her with more questions.  She muttered out-loud to herself and ran a off a list of possible diagnosis.  Then she said something, of which I only caught "scapular winging".  I said "I had scapular winging!"  To which she replied, "but there's nothing here in any of the notes or reports.  Well, if you had scapular winging, then you have brachial neuritis!"  

EUREKA!!!!!!!!!!  We have an official diagnosis!

We chatted a bit more and she looked back at the nerve study.  If the NL suspected it was brachial neuritis, he didn't test the right nerves during the study! ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! I went through agony for NOTHING!!  Well. almost nothing.  There is also a superficial radial nerve issue in my right hand.  

So the local NL and I discussed where to go from here.  The average recovery is 2 years, meaning I have a year to go still.  Okay, I can live with that.  I am to continue massage, physio and acupuncture.  I should not ride my motorcycle until I regain the feeling in my hand. (bbbuuutttt, I wanna RIDE!!!!)

I move forward from here.  I had a return to work assessment to get back to full time this week on Tuesday.  My chair arrived yesterday and my cart (which is pretty useless in everyone's eyes at the office) arrived today.  The rehab manager who came Tuesday brought me the RinG pens and some monster paper clips to help me out too.  Just waiting on my headset for the phone.  The rehab company will be setting up a return to work schedule to increase my hours.  It's going to be gradual.  Very gradual.  Days like today I was exhausted by 9:30.  I was attempting to get my new chair comfy.  Wasn't happening as I can't get the tilt right.  I feel like I'm falling off the edge all the time.  I tried to contact the tech at the chair company, but didn't hear back before I left.  Monday, no wait, Monday is a US holiday, Tuesday, I'll have to call Texas and see what I can do.  I'm not strong enough to actually tilt the chair and then lock it in place at the same time... yep, I felt completely weak and inadequate.  My co-worker even tried to help!   I'll get it right in another couple day or so.

Until I'm up go snuff, I'll continue where I'm at.  Snuggling a puppy, working and getting on with my new "normal" life.                                                                                                                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                      

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ten on Tuesday!

Top Ten Things About Owning a Dog I Never Knew Before

1.  You can fall in love in seconds.  And from that point in time you will NEVER be the same person.

2.  Feed a dog once.  She'll poop 3 times.  Laws of physics are mystical here!

3.  Puppy breath (which I'm told everyone LOVES) smells to me like mild skunk.  Just saying... it's not like fresh baked cookies or anything, I'm kinda disappointed!

4.  When she's sick, your life is on hold.  And you are terrified that you broke her.

5.  The smell of puppy treats makes you hungry.  Mostly because you haven't eaten lunch in the past 4 days being too occupied feeding her a lunchtime.

6.  It doesn't matter what it is, a puppy will try to eat it.  Poop.  Rocks.  Concrete.  Dead worms.  Dead leaves.  Grass.  Sofas.  Blankets.  Slippers.  Mum's toes.  Mum's pantyhose (ARGH!! 2nd time wearing them!) and everything else she can get her mouth around.

7.  Puppies are escape artists disguised in furry wrappings.  And when they escape from their kennel while you are at work they are very proud to show off their skills when you find them when you get home.  (Yesterday was a long day... Sophie was sitting proudly on her blanket when I came home.  Not in her kennel where I left her!)

8.  Puppies think running away is fun.  Mum thinks running hurts my brain.  Puppy doesn't know I'm missing part of C1 and I'm not supposed to bounce!

9.  A sleeping puppy moves and shakes and growls and woofs and snores and whines and runs and twitches and does all kinds of funny little movements.  And has no idea she is doing it.

10.  A puppy sleeping in your lap is your own personal heating pad.  Not to mention cute, wonderful and makes you fall in love all over again.

Sophie with her Wubba Rabbit.  She loves her Wubba!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sophie!

As promised, here are some pics of Sophie when we first got her home on Tuesday.

What's up!

Princess Sophie

Pretty Girl!

Zzzzz.... it was a long morning flying to my new home.

It's MY Wubba Wabbit!
As new parents, I think we're doing well.  Sophie is very energetic and smart.  Three days and she is learning her name and "No!"  She even went to the vet's yesterday.  She wasn't too happy when we first got there, but she is stopped shaking and actually fell asleep on the exam table, then rolled off of it!! I caught her just before she hit the floor.  No harm done, not even a squeak out of her. But scared the life out of mummy!  And she met a few of the people I work with after the vet's.  Everyone loves her.  It was suggested she become the new office mascot.  Somehow I don't think the managing partners will go for it!

We love her.  Plain and simple.  From the moment the airline attendant brought her out to the counter we were in love.  Pictures don't do her beauty justice.  

Monday, May 2, 2011

Introducing....

I'd like to introduce you to Breica's Don't Wanna Miss a Thing, aka Sophie!!!

Sophie - stacked - awesome conformation!!

She was born to championship parents Macy and Kai on March 4, 2011, in Southern Ontario.  And tomorrow morning she will take the biggest steps of her life and fly to our home a couple hours away!!  We've already been told she will need some heavy sucking up to once she is off the planes!  We're beyond excited, and we're nearly exhausted already, but it is all worth it for her!!! 

We have been EXTREMELY busy!!  Shopping, puppy proofing, fixing the fence - which frost heaved at least 8" in some spots this winter!  installing puppy proof garbage cans, moving things out of the "chew zone" etc.  And more trips back and forth to the pet store and H. Depot than I care to count!

The night we decided on which puppy and which names to give her hubby asked if I was happy.  I gave him the duh-stupid look.  The second happiest day I can every remember, so I know tomorrow will be even more memorable!! Only my wedding day surpasses my current emotions!!

Sophie at 4 weeks - first trip outside

Sophie - 8 weeks
I will post more pics of our little girl once we have her home!


Monday, April 18, 2011

A Few Minutes to Myself

I have a few extra minutes to myself today :)  Hubby has a dentist appointment right after work, which gives me an extra hour before I would usually start making dinner. What to do?  Sit down and blog of course!

I have to admit, I want to keep up with my blogging, but my spare time is spent doing a variety of other things lately.  Reading puppy books, finally finishing a cross stitch project I started almost 5 years ago (pics will follow once it's framed), physio, yoga, visiting a friend who has just had major surgery again :( and the list goes on.

I'd like to pick up ideas I've seen on other blogs, like Junebug who is tackling the A to Z Blogging Challenge, or even Marla's Ten on Tuesday, but I can't commit.  There are days when once I'm home and away from the office computer I don't even grab the laptop except to input stuff into our food diaries.  And that I can do from my iPod.  

It's not that I don't love all 3 of my loyal readers, I just don't think I'm that entertaining and engaging that people want to read all about my little corner of the frozen world on a daily basis, especially now that I have gone private.  (And I mean it, my world is  frozen, again.  Snowed all weekend... But it's starting to melt.)  And once we get puppy, in just under 3 weeks, I'm sure I'll be on the computer even less.  We'll be walking twice a day, plus puppy school, training and playing.  I will apologize in advance if my future posts are 1. all about puppy and 2.  fewer and further between.  It's just a fact of life.  Now that I'm feeling better, I don't want to dwell on my surgery and my Chiari and my nerve issues but move forward.  I don't try to stay in the past and rehash everything.  I keep moving forward, just as my favourite quote from Walt Disney says.  Especially because I have had such success with the decompression surgery.

I'll be here, now and again, but I can't promise the frequency.  And thank-you, my loyal readers, for hanging in this long!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

And Stuff

Yes, the phone finally rang a couple weeks back... 3.5 hours later.  And the first call wasn't who I was expecting, but within 2 minutes of hanging up, the caller I waited on phoned.

I was waiting for the insurance adjuster to call.  I was in a minor truck accident.  I boo-booed my pretty lil truck.  And I also boo-booed 3 ribs - cracked the ribs from the cartilage.  Not one of my finer moments in my driving history.  I backed into a concrete pole.  Yep.  It wasn't even a moving object.  And, at 5km/h in reverse I injured myself.  I don't do anything half-assed.  I go full tilt into everything!!  Long story short, my truck is fixed.  I had to drive a car (ugh!!!) for 5 days.  Now I'm working on getting me on the mend, again.  Just when you start to feel good, the carpet gets pulled out from under you, again.

But, I'm still shiny side up, even if the shiny parts are a little bruised and tarnished! 

The first call the other day was the occupational therapist hired by my long-term insurer.  I had my ergonomic assessment at work.  The OT is recommending a headset for my phone, a new chair, a funky no-grip pen to make it easier to write, and a cart to carry files.  I agree with all of the recommendations, but I'm self-conscious about using a cart.  It looks like a little ol' lady's grocery cart... The pens look cool and might help as I can't grip a regular pen for any length of time as there is no feeling in my thumb and index finger most of the time.  We will wait to see what the insurance company approves.  

I've requested a referral to a local neurologist from my family dr.  I would like someone to actually confirm the EMG study findings as brachial neuritis.  And have someone tell me whether I'm recovering well.  I'm starting to feel better, which is wonderful.  Lots of physio, massage and acupuncture are helping!!

We're getting closer to puppy time!! Our little girl will be ready to ship to us on May 6th.  We have decided to have her shipped to us rather than subjecting an 8 week old puppy to an 18 hour drive home, which we would have to do over 2 days for sure, finding a place that accepts pets along the way to stay the night.  By having her shipped she is in our loving arms in about 4 hours instead.  And the breeder ships dogs all the time without any problems.  

We've been doing a lot of shopping for puppy, who still is unnamed.  We went to 3 pet stores last Friday and hubby's wallet did not get away unscathed.  And Sunday, we repeated the process :)  We have a whole basket of toys, chews, balls, rope toys and a blanket.  Plus I bought her designer poop baggies and a winter jacket for next year.  We ordered the collars and leads last night off the net.  We just need food, bowls and beauty supplies for her, and her of course!!  Hubby would love to fast forward the next 3 weeks until she is in our arms.  

Very soon one of these little bundles of fur will be all ours!!!


Monday, March 28, 2011

(((((((((( Ring Ring, Ring Ring )))))))))

I received a really unspecific call-back time - someone (we don't know who) will call sometime Monday between 1 pm and 5pm (no, we can't be more specific)... So I've been sitting here for over 2 hours waiting for the phone to ring.  I hurried through a call from hubby because I didn't want to tie up the phone line.  I used my pay-as-you-go cell to make 2 other short calls.  And still, then phone doesn't ring.  Yet, as soon as I leave the room to pee (heaven forbid!) I know that it is going to ring.  And I refuse to take the phone to the little girl's room.  Even I have standards!

I was under the assumption that this company had a maximum call-back policy (48 hours if it is a non-emergency). I know I know... people are busy, it's Monday, the "busiest" day of the work week.  Things get put aside because they are less important.  Your number gets forgotten on the list until the next day - when they are liable to call between 8 am  and 1 pm while I am at work, and knowing my luck, won't leave a message.  Or the person you left a message with on Saturday forgot to press send on the e-mail notification.  Or they took down my home number incorrectly.  Or the call-center building in the middle of nowhere had a power failure and their computers didn't back up the information which was to be sent out so someone could call me... or 101 other unforeseeable circumstances completely beyond my control.  I hate waiting for phone calls.

If you've never heard this ring tone from the movie Bedtime Stories, listen, you'll get a chuckle... I'm about to the last "ring" right about now!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thursday's Reflections Etc.

Yes, I know, I fell off the Ten on Tuesday wagon... sorry.  There's just been a lot going on and not a lot of time to post.  I'm taking care of me right now and trying not to sweat the small stuff.

I'm very sad today.  I found out yesterday that a long-time email / FB friend passed away.  She battled cervical / ovarian cancer and was told she won, only to find out a couple years later the doctors were wrong.  During radiation treatments they had damaged her kidneys to the point she needed a transplant.  Then more and more tests.  More and more doctors.  More and more opinions.  And finally a verdict that no one wanted to hear.  I'm very very saddened by the failure by the doctors in her area to properly diagnose, treat and follow up on her cancer.  She did everything she could to tell them something was still wrong.  They didn't listen.  She fought very hard but lost her final battle on Sunday.  Rest in peace Steph... I'll miss you're crazy antics, your collection of furry and scaly and swimming creatures.  I'll miss our emails and FB chats.  You were one of my cheering squad during my brain surgery and I'll never forget your support.  Rest pain free forever my dear friend.

I have been going through a gauntlet of appointments - physio, acupuncture, massage - and I'm starting to feel better.  I'm not saying I'm 100%, but I notice a little thing here and there.  Like the feeling returned to my thumb and finger for a couple days.  And a little more energy.  I have been doing a bit more yoga.  Yoga is helping keep me calm and centred.  I plan to go for another infrared sauna tomorrow.  The sauna helps with detoxing my system and helps my arthritis.  I'm taking my iron supplement and powdered barely greens every day.  My physio tapes my shoulder blades in place helps take the pressure off of my brachial nerve.  This helps with pain management.  So I'm taped 5 days of the week.  Acupuncture is doing a little of everything - detoxing, pain management, centring.  I really find it helping.  I haven't really had a headache in I don't know how many weeks :)  I still don't sleep well, but that's something to work on.  My strength is very slowly improving too.  Little steps on the big road to recovery.

Hubby and I are confirmed as puppy owners-to-be.  Or more correctly, we're going to be owned by a Weimaraner :)  The puppies should be ready to go to home at the end of April, early May.  We are extremely excited.  We spend hours reading, researching, browsing products and food.  We go to the pet shops and look at all the fun stuff we get to buy her.  Compare food and treats.  And we argue back and forth about it.  I know how very important all this stuff is and will be for puppy, I just never thought we would argue about it!

We're deciding on names...  Whadda you think??


We both like:
Lily or Willow

He likes:
Skye or Lacey

I like:
Portia or Sela



(Photos are all courtesy of our breeders at Breica Weimaraners)  

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Feeling Better and Worse

Chinese medicine is doing something.  Along with the acupuncture and cupping and heat treatment, the addition of liquid iron to my diet to help my anemia, I'm feeling like a human being.  Really, almost normal.  (well, normal for me!)  I don't have the dizzy spells I was having which leads me to believe it was more an iron deficiency issue than a POTS issue (hopefully!).  I've had 3 treatments.  I go for my 4th on Monday, then I have a couple of weeks off as there were no openings.  I'm pleasantly surprise, and a little relieved.  Feeling better was the whole goal here.  One step at a time.

In addition to the liquid iron supplement I am also taking barley greens once a day.  I have to mix it with V8 juice, just can swallow that "green" flavour on its own.  So, that is some much-needed protein my body was lacking.

I'm eating.  And I'm hungry!  And food is staying with me so I'm actually benefitting from the nutrients for a change.  I know, I know, it's only been 4 weeks, but I'm noticing the slight differences.  

Yesterday I went for an infrared sauna.  Very different from a traditional Finnish sauna that I'm used to.  It heats you, not the air, so you can breath and it is more comfortable.  It also doesn't just make you sweat but improves your immune system, cardiovascular system, detoxifies, improves the appearance of burns and scars... and the list goes on.  It is good for conditions like arthritis, bronchitis and much more.  I was roasted in about 25 minutes at 70C / 158F, but it doesn't feel that hot.  I know I can't handle a traditional sauna much over 50C / 120F.  

At physio we have started strength training.  Very very gradually.  I'm talking bicep curls with stretch banding - 3 sets of up to 10 reps.  Right now I manage 3 sets but at most 7 reps.  But it is a start.  And my shoulder blades are taped in place to 1 - minimize pain and 2 - reduce pressure on the brachial nerve bundle.  I'm happy with my progress so far, it's only been 2 weeks.

And on the puppy front... Macy's litter was born March 4th and China's litter on March 10th.  Hubby and I are sooooooooooooooo excited.   Sometime in May we will have our own sweet baby girl Weimaraner.  We've seen tons of pictures and chatted online with the breeder.  We send emails back and forth and she answers our questions as soon as she is free.  Poor breeder, she had the flu when the first puppies were born, moved (including her horse and all the dogs!), and was just settling in when the second litter arrived.  I don't think she's had much sleep!!  We are very happy with her knowledge and how quickly she gets back to us.  We can't wait until May!!

And on the worse front... I was supposed to go see my great-aunt this morning.  She was admitted to our hospital from her home 3 hours west of here.  But I'm running a low fever and feel blah so I don't want to pass on anything to her.  Probably a bit of a bug.  Ugh.  I hate feeling like this.  I'm hungry, but my tummy has been rumbly and I don't want to put anything in it except maybe some ginger...  I hope this passes soon.

Oh, and also on the better front - I have had headaches that go away within a few minutes, without taking anything for them.  Not sure why, but I'M LOVING IT!!  Headache "free" for a couple weeks now! (BIG SMILEY GRIN!!!!)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Warped

My sense of time is very strange right now.  I'll ask hubby what day it is and not understand that it's already Wednesday.  Where did Sunday, Monday and Tuesday go??  I'm chalking the time warp to stress and fatigue and 101 other things running through my head lately.

So because of these time warps I'm stuck in, I really owe you an update... so here's the Cliff Notes versions... because seriously, I lose track of time and it'll take me hours to do a full update.

EMG Nerve Study Results:
I have a possible answer for the shoulder issues.  Brachial Neuritis.  There is possibly a lesion on my brachial nerve.  This caused the arm / shoulder issues just after my brain surgery in June.  Good news - it's not a permanent condition.  It's on average a 2 year recovery.  I can live with that. 

Acupuncture:
I've been for 2 visits.  I felt better after my first visit - more centred and refreshed.  I was so stressed at visit #2 that I don't think I could relax even if you drugged me.  But I have 4 more visits booked.  I will continue to see the acupuncturist, who is actually a Dr. of Chinese Medicine (BIG GRIN and thumbs up!) for a couple of months.  She is working on not only my arm / nerve issues but also my horrible digestive tract and my arthritis - which is out of control right now because of the cold - warm - dry - damp - snowing - cloudy - sunny - can't make up it's mind!! weather forecasts lately.  She explained some of my EMG results and will review my MRIs as well.  She is taking in the Western medicine findings and treating where she can with acupuncture, inferred and some other heat therapy, cupping etc.  She has discovered a couple things without me telling her about them too and I think she is a genius.  From my pulse she could tell my GI tract has been acting up lately.  From my tongue and my eyes that I'm severely anemic again - due to the GI issues... And a few other things.  I started an iron supplement and a green powder supplement to try and help the GI and anemia.  She is AMAZING and I'm so happy that I was referred to her.

Physio:
I went to see a new physiotherapist yesterday.  He comes very highly recommended and I can see why. (He's the physio the local doctors go and see....  he's gotta be good.)  My consult was only supposed to be a few minutes for him to decide if he would take on a patient with brachial neuritis as he has not dealt with it in his 24 years of practice.  I was there an hour and a half.  And I came out with another appointment on Friday, two homework exercises and hope.  Hope of regaining all of the strength that I lost.  Hope of returning to my new normal life.  And finally understanding what all of the MRI, CT, and EMG reports mean.  No one has ever gone through a report with me.  Until the new physio and my acupuncturist that is.

Work:
I continue to work 4 hours a day and I'm still dragging my butt arm by the time I get home. (Like Igor in some horror film... my arm hanging limply in front of me...)  But I feel like I'm at least accomplishing something most days.  The dizzy spells I have from time to time cloud my thinking and I feel like I haven't done anything.  But it's getting better and I can at least see 1 place on my desk right now that is not a foot high with file folders.  My bosses continue to support me and are amazing through all of my return to work.  The young lady they hired to assist me with the filing, copying, etc is working out very well.  It's great to have the help.  I don't feel like I'm floundering as much anymore.

LTD:
The long-term disability assessor is going to send someone to assess me at work.  Don't know what it will entail or what will be involved.  But I'm looking at it as a positive.  Help me get back to my new normal.

PUPPY!!!!
We're looking at getting a puppy!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm just a little excited, and a little anxious!!  And we're going to get MY puppy!! MY DREAM PUPPY!!! My "I've wanted one all of my life" puppy!!  Hubby spends every evening on the internet researching breeders and the dogs.  We have sent away several applications to breeders in Canada and the US.   I have 3 books checked out from the library sitting beside me on the couch.  Hubby sits and reads it out loud to me after supper.  (I'm too tired to focus on anything lately... darn anemia!) (And I've also been SUPER B!T@HY lately because I'm so tired... poor hubby)

Doesn't she just make your heart melt??? This isn't the actual puppy.  Someone else owns this little sweetheart... the litter we're interested in isn't born yet... (this is actually the mom of one of the litters!)

and finally...

AQUARIUM:
It's up, it's running great.  There are 5  2 new fishies living here now, for starters.  2 angel fish and 3 2 bronze corydories.  I love to sit and watch the fish play in the current from the output.  And they love to come to the side of the tank when we're standing close.  They almost beg to be fed! (Argh... do to a phosphate problem in my tank the 2 angels and 1 cory died within 12 hours of posting this so I had to "amend" it... back to the beginning with the fish, again.)



For today, there's the last few weeks in a nutshell.  I'm exhausted.  Time for some down-time.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Privacy Reasons

I've decided to go private for a whole multitude of reasons.  Privacy is the key one.  It's not that I want to hide away any helpful information I may post about Chiari or other medical conditions which go along with it, but there is a lot of information on the internet and most of mine is just reiterated from somewhere else.   And it's not because I want to slander or say mean and miserable things about people without repercussion.    It's just a personal decision that a few fellow bloggers have also come to recently.

My story is personal, and readers are interested in the personal experience, but those who are interested in reading have already read it.  
If you know of anyone who may benefit from my blog or be interested in what I have to say I will happily add them as a reader.  They may contact me at cassandraelvish@yahoo.com.

Thank you for reading.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In Search of the Perfect Cookie

I love ginger snaps.  I would have to rate them as a favourite, if not my favourite cookie.  Walker's makes these divine little shortbreads with real ginger stem... luscious little cookies.  And the only place I've ever found them is at the Porter airlines lounge in Toronto.  It's customary for us to grab 2 packs and put them in my purse to savour when we get home!  
I was at the bulk store Friday and I found candied ginger pieces for baking cookies! (Instead of the huge chunks my mum likes to eat just by themselves)  So online I went to find the perfect cookie recipe to replicate those delectable Walker's creations....
These are good, a little different, but my first crack at baking with candied ginger stem.

Ginger Stem Cookies
6 TBSP butter
6 TBSP brown sugar
6 TBSP honey
4 TBSP molasses 

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Add brown sugar, honey and molasses.  Warm and combine until creamy consistency.

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1.5 tsp ground ginger (more if you like even spicier cookies!)
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup of candied or bottled ginger stem - very finely chopped to chocolate chip size chunks.

Pre-heat the oven to 350F / 300F convection.  Line your pans with parchment paper.  (Believe me, invest in a roll or sheets.  Your cookies will not come off the pan otherwise.)

Sift dry ingredients into the pot mixture.  If you find it a little too thin, add more flour 1/4 cup at a time.  The dough will not be dry like other ginger snaps, but more of a glossy, but not sticky, mixture.  If you want to transfer the pot mixture to a stand mixer, it'd be a great idea.  Use your bread hook.  Otherwise you may need a strong-armed man (or a cement mixer!!)  in the kitchen to incorporate all that flour in the pot. 

Add the candied ginger and work out the Popeye muscles at little more to incorporate it.

Roll into teaspoon size balls. This dough rolls beautifully and doesn't stick to your hands.  Careful if you're having the little ones help as this dough is warm.  Place well spaced on the parchment lined cookie pan and flatten slightly with the heel of you hand.  This dough works nicely while it is still warm.  When it cools it gets hard to handle.

Bake for 11 to 13 minutes at 350F / 300F convection until golden brown.

The first time I bake a new cookie I do a test bake before I throw the whole lot onto the pan.

My first test cookies didn't have enough flour and were baked too hot.  They were flatter than pancakes and once they cooled, were hard enough to chip teeth.  

The next test came out soft, golden, chewy and approved by the hubby in the taste test.

I'm bringing some to mum's tomorrow for Family Day dinner and I hope the rest of the family enjoys them too!!

Oh, and if you mix it all in the pot, soak that pot right away once it is empty or you'll need a chisel!!

Note to self... These cookies are hard on the arm...  There is a lot of stirring to incorporate the flour.  Plus, I started with a double batch... Silly me!!  Just saying it out loud so anyone fancying to try them out is aware, yes, definitely use the stand mixer!

Sorry there's no pic of all the ingredients together.  Forgot to snap the photo before I got going.  

Friday, February 11, 2011

If You Can't Say Anything Nice...

Thumber's right.

"If you can't say anything nice, don't say nothing at all."

I openly apologize to anyone and everyone for various posts in my blog that were inconsiderate to their feelings.  I said it myself, I need to think before I speak, and before I post.  

It is my sincerest wish not to hurt anyone's feelings.



Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

1.  Appointment with my GP today to get the results of the EMG nerve study.  No significant findings.  No permanent nerve damage.  No carpal tunnel syndrome.  My radial nerve demonstrates some issues but as they are improving gradually there is hope the feeling in my thumb and two fingers will come back.  No answers.  So where do I go from here?  My GP has no idea... neither do I.

2.  The fishies are living and loving their new home!  I moved them over on Thursday and Friday last week.  I added two live plants on the weekend.  In a couple more weeks I will add some more fish.  I decided to wait a little longer than 2 weeks of cycling because I'd like to get some angelfish.  Reason one, the store I buy from is currently out of stock (a good sign - I'll get "fresh" fish!).  Reason two, angels are sensitive to water changes so I'm just being extra cautious.

3.  I can't take it anymore and I booked a haircut for tomorrow.  Growing my hair back out is driving me CRAZY!  It's all shaggy, and really, in the morning I look like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo.  So then it's wet, moussed, blow-dried, styled, sprayed... like 20 to 25 minutes of my life spent on my hair - ARGHHHHHH!!!!!  I'm a low maintenance girl.  This is ridiculous.  So I'm hoping my stylist can give me a style out of this mess and not take too much of the length off.  If not I may resort to wearing babushkas.

4.  I'm happy to have the help at work as I'm feeling absolutely overwhelmed and almost lost it today. 

5.  Hubby and I are watching a Bones marathon.  He bought me season 1 and 2 on DVD for Christmas.  We're into season 2 now.  Soooo in love with David Boreanez.  Always have been... since he played Angel at least.  I wouldn't kick him out for eating cookies in bed.   

6.  My occipital bone is aching tonight... I do some yoga and stretches every night to help the neck, shoulder, arm and my back.  Guess I'll find the Tylonel before bed... Don't need a headache tomorrow.

7.  More news from the GP today.  He says he has no idea what POTS is.  Yet he mentioned it to me at my last visit.  So in order to find out why I'm having the dizzy spells and grey outs, he is going to speak to one of the cardiologists and ask how we should proceed.  So more waiting for more tests...  

8.  Mum and Papa are making stollen (German Christmas bread) tomorrow.  Due to limited space in all of our freezers over Christmas, we didn't get to make the second batch - a batch makes 13 or 14 loaves.  Wish I could be there to help, however I work all morning and by the time I would be free, they'll already be baking.  So not a lot of help to give by that point.  But I get to reap the rewards of contributing the candied peel and raisins :)

9.  I really need to get motivated and get back into doing some type of structured activity.  Whether I go to the pool for aquabics or try to go back to yoga, I've gotta get off my butt.  I haven't even been walking much.  Just 2 nights a week with hubby.  I'm in a rut.  And I might need some help (or possibly motivation with a stick of dynamite) getting out of it.

10.  Have you seen Despicable Me?  If you haven't you should!! The minions are adorable!  Hubby and I have watched it a couple of times now.  It's a cute story.  Wonder where I can get me a minion...   Go, check out the trailer here.  

Monday, February 7, 2011

Rest in Peace

I'm at the age where I know more people in the obituaries than in the birth announcements.  And it makes me sad.
I had a very close relationship with my grandma.  She passed away last May.  When I was young I remember her reading the paper from back to front.  She joked she wanted to make sure she wasn't in the obits.  As she got older she stopped reading the in memorium and obituaries because she knew too many people.  I understand that now.  I didn't as a teen.  

Over the weekend I read the funeral notices for a former boyfriend's father and a neighbour from the street where I grew up.  The father was 65 and had cancer off and on for 20+ years.  It took my breath away when I saw his picture.  His death renewed the ache in my own heart from the loss of my father-in-law and grandma.  He was even in my dream last night.  I saw him in a department store.  His wife was farther in the background, sorta hazy.  
I approached him and said "I'm sorry, I just heard about your passing."  
He gave me one of his wonderful smiles and replied "yes".  He lowered his eyes.  
I asked "was it peaceful? You didn't suffer?"
"No" he replied, "it was very peaceful. I didn't suffer."  
I felt him grow warmer, almost glow brighter.  And I woke up.  
I hope that the family knows he is at peace.  Mr. L, rest in peace.

My old neighbour was a wonderful young lady of 98.  I hadn't seen her in 8 or 9 years, and frankly I didn't realize that she was even alive any longer.  She lived across the street until I was in my teens.  She babysat me from time to time. She was an avid gardener. I remember a friend and I sitting on the wall by the garden opening the buds of the poppies she grew to see what colour they were going to be and making the snap-dragons talk.  Amy, rest in peace.

To top it all off, this week marks 3 years since my dear high school friend's mom and best friends untimely passing in a car crash.  S was also in the car and was severely injured.  She spent 2 weeks in a coma, broken wrists, ribs and internal injuries.  She is an amazing woman who is working to overcome a huge tragedy.  I'm proud to call her my friend.  But it still saddens me to see how much S hurts when February comes around each year.  K and C, rest in peace.

I'm pensive and sad over the losses this week.  But I'm very grateful to have my health, husband, family and friends.  After all, I'm still shiny side up.

And I still read the paper back to front, for now.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fill In the Blanks

I went lurking over at Linny's Vault and decided to play along with this one. Want to play along too? Copy the blanks, fill in your answers on your blog & link up at The Little Thing We Do so others can check you out. It's lots of fun!


  • If my house was on fire and I could only grab 3 things, I would grab my laptop, my purse and the cross stitch project I'm working on right now (these things take YEARS to complete sometimes - I'm not starting over).  And I'm assuming my hubby will get his own a$s out of the house




  • A smell I really like is homemade bread baking... yummy!





  • Something you might not know about me is  I can speak 3 other languages.  2 of them fluently.  Italian, French and some Finnish





  • Some of my favorite websites to putter about on are FB (yes, sorry, I'm addicted...) EMS cross stitch board (yes, I'm addicted to crafts too) and plain ol' Yahoo!





  • This weekend I will hopefully accomplish something - maybe some housework or baking, or I'll end up going into work... another hearing starts Monday.





  • Nothing makes me happier than knowing how lucky I am to have what I have - my family, my husband, my home, my job and my improving health





  • A bad habit I have is speaking before I think.  My resolution when I returned to work after surgery was to think carefully before I opened my mouth
  • Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Ten on Tuesday

    1.  The firm has hired a young lady to help me out at work with the administrative tasks like filing, photocopying, and taking the phone calls in the afternoon.  Today is day two.  So far so good.  I hope I have enough stuff to keep her busy!

    2.  The new aquarium is set up!! Hurray!! Hubby had the day off on Sunday (finally!) and we dragged his brother over to help move furniture and set everything up.  It is cycling now, I hope to have fishies in it next week.  

    3.  Grrr... I hate misleading sales people.  When I bought my truck I bought the extended warranty.  This is the super platinum warranty, "everything under the sun is covered."   Well, not quite everything.  The battery for one, and the cost to check the battery for another.  And my truck needs a block heater cord - remember the -50F we had last Sunday??  At least it's covered under the extended warranty, after I pay the $100 deductible.  I guess in hind-sight I probably opted for the deductible so the warranty didn't cost a small fortune....  But darn it anyways!  Have to shell out the cash tomorrow when the truck gets fixed.  

    4.  I need new menu ideas.  I keep watching the cooking show at 3pm and trying to get new stuff when I pick up groceries.  But I'm just so tired of chicken.  I can only eat chicken and shellfish.  And with hubby on a calorie counter, we eat chicken almost every day of the week.  I wish it was a little warmer, I could barbecue in the afternoon before it gets dark...  I'm just stuck in a chicken rut...  Bahk bahk!!!

    5.  Moving the furniture around to accommodate the new aquarium has given hubby ideas... new book shelf, media / tv centre, sofa, love seat and chair...  It will be beautiful when it's all done.  But it's not going to be cheap.

    6.  I want to go on a holiday.  Even if it is only for a weekend away in Duluth or Minneapolis... The trips I've gone on in the last year have all been to Toronto for doctor's appointments or my surgery.  I want to go away and relax.

    7.  I entered a contest on a Canadian tv show for a kitchen make-over.  I would really love to win it.  When we bought our house in 2002 we tore out a wall between the kitchen and living room.  There was a 2" difference in the flooring heights so we had to tear out all the flooring too...  And the kick-plates from the cabinets.  And the casing trim and baseboard.  We did, or rather, I did repaint the kitchen so it was fresh, however, we haven't been able to afford to redo the rest of the kitchen.  Cabinets, counters, flooring... all the big $$ items.  The contest asked for a picture and why you deserve to win.  Cross your fingers for me - I'd love to have flooring instead of plywood and scatter rugs!

    8.  I've watched what coverage I can of the events in Egypt.  I find it very upsetting.  I also find it hard to  comprehend the difficulties in the political system.  Yes, I understand that Egypt is a dictatorship and does not have free elections.  I understand the people are frustrated and that change is required. However, I don't understand how rioting and looting helps the situation.  When I read they broke into the Cairo museum and destroyed 2 mummies and the ticket office I was heart-broken.  This is their history.  Yes, the mummies were placed in the museum by a dictator, and the country is still under dictator rule, but the mummies were put there 100 years ago... Please honour history.  Don't destroy it.

    9.  Wow - I went political for a Ten on Tuesday item!  Something I don't usually get involved with.  You know, the two things to never discuss... Politics and religion.  I'm not a religious fanatic.  I don't follow politics in other countries very much.   I couldn't tell you the difference between right and left and democratic and conservative.  I know for whom I vote at election times and I'm content with that.  I'm not content with the political practices in Canada, but I don't think there is any country where every citizen is completely happy with how things are run.

    10.  I'm staring at a very blank wall above the television and decided we definitely need some art above the tv.  In it's old location we have 3 small pictures hanging up.  Now it's a large, 20 ft. long grey blank canvas begging for some colour.  Time to go shopping!

    11.  BONUS!  I was invited to join a few people from work at one of two fitness activities... everyone knows how active I used to be before my Chiari diagnosis and surgery.  One is a circuit class and the other is hot yoga.  But I can't get back into the gym or yoga yet.  I'm happy they asked though.  It was nice to be included.

    Saturday, January 29, 2011

    Oh for the LOVE of Shoes!

    Yesterday was my EMG appointment at Toronto Western Hospital.  Hubby and I flew down in the morning, walked up to the hospital and I met with Dr. A.  The assessment and tests didn't red flag anything for Dr. A, but he will analyze the data and send a report to my GP and Dr. Gentili.  He told me a couple of interesting things.
    1.  Nerves regenerate at a millimetre per day on average.  NOT a millimetre per year as I was told by someone else.  Phew!  So this could get better soon!
    2.  The radial nerve is the most easily injured in the arm because it runs at the outside of the wrist, near the thumb.  It is a very common injury.  Okay - makes sense.
    3.  If my GP suspects I have POTS, I have to see a specialist at Toronto General as soon as I can make arrangements.
    He tested my muscle conductivity, listened to 3 muscles in my shoulder, arm and hand (using a 4cm needle injected at each point... OUCH - especially the one in my hand!!) He tested my hot / cold sense, and then the tech came and did the actual conductivity test.  Nothing like being electrocuted to start off your day!
    I think the appointment went very well and my GP will receive the results in about a week.

    Hubby and I left the hospital around noon and started walking towards Bloor St.  He had a store in mind to check out.  We walked through the Toronto fashion district.  Bloor St. is lined with designers stores like Hermes, Dacosta, Gucci, Chanel, Prada... you get the picture.  All the places you and I with modest incomes, mortgages and bills to pay can only dream about shopping.  Designers you see on Paris runways, and are not sold at your local Sears store.  We walked into the "mall" (they aren't really malls in this area, more like huge office complexes with shops on the main floor and offices above).  The store we were looking for appears to have closed... hmpf! A long walk for not!  But anyways... the whole reason for this post... 

    I found a shoe store.  It had a 50% clearance sign, so I said to hubby I'd like to just take a peak at the rack for my size.  I have small feet 35 Euro, size 5 - 5.5 US.  So finding shoes, especially cute shoes, is often difficult.  And I have a new found love of heels.  Now that my feet don't kill me all the time, and my head seems to tolerate a half-day in heels, I'm looking to add to my collection of 2 pair!

    So I found the absolutely cutest pair on the rack.  I have absolutely no idea who this "Ron White" is.  I thought the shoes were adorable and I almost asked to try them on.  Until I found the price tag that is.  This is a $589.00 pair of shoes!!! But, they were on sale for the low low price of $299.00!!!  OMG!! I have spent as much at $100 on a pair of Birkenstocks, but not more than that.  $300 for a pair of shoes is quite unreasonable!  But OMG they are so cute.  And apparently very comfortable.  But I didn't try them on.  I put the shoe back on the rack and went to find hubby.  I held up the shoe and he kinda scoffed.  Then I showed him the price.  He laughed out loud and we put the pretty $150 shoe back on it's rack and carried on our merry way.   But oh they are so cute!!


    So to compare with the designer shoes, here are my two little beauties.

    The red pair are sling-backs from Payless.  They cost $49.00  They are great with a black suit and red sweater or with jeans on casual Friday.  I love the flower.  I call them my poppy shoes. 


    The brown pair are adorable and surprisingly very comfortable.  They're Le Chateau and I have no idea what they are worth.



    Both pairs were gifted to my by a colleague of my mum's.  They were her daughter's shoes.  Her daughter passed away from Cystic Fibrosis this past year.  I'm kinda honoured that her mum thought of me to give the shoes, knowing I too had small feet. 

    So I'm on the look-out now for another pair of cute 3" heels.  I'm no Sex in the City girl when it comes to my shoe wardrobe, but I'd like to have a pair or two more in my collection.

    Tuesday, January 25, 2011

    Ten on Tuesday

    1.  I, well we, go to Toronto on Friday for my EMG nerve study.  Flight leaves at 6:55am... so at the airport by 6:00am.  Return flight is at 6:50pm, home by 9.  My appointment is at 11:00 and should be about an hour or so.  Fingers crossed for answers!!!  I don't expect miracles, but would like to know what is going on in my right shoulder, arm, and hand.

    2.  Sunday morning I had to call my boss for a ride to work.  He asked me to come in and do a few things for a huge file closing on Monday.  No problem working on the weekend... except when it is -37C / -34F, and with the wind chill -46C / -50F.  Yes folks, that is COLD!  Needless to say there is a problem with my block heater in the truck and she wouldn't start.  Heck, I didn't wanna start!  Hubby was working too, so thank goodness my boss lives close and his car started and off to work we went.

    3.  I tried to blow up my brother-in-law M on Sunday too.  He tried to kill me.  We're equal!  M came over to try and get the truck started when I got home from work.  He has a block heater tester.  We went outside, the truck was plugged in, and he said to turn on the power to the extension cord.  And my block heater cord arched and caught fire!  He yelled and I ran back to the switch to turn it off, falling on some ice in the process.  Switch off, M comes to the side of the house and made sure I was alright.  I was, just startled and winded from the unexpected slip and fall.  We had a good laugh when I finally got up from the ground.  M,  I'll blow you up, you try and kill me!

    4.  So because of #2 and #3, truck went into the dealership today for a check-up.  The block heater is not working.  (for my southern friends, it's COLD here.  -40s cold sometimes.  We have an electric heater plug in our engine blocks to warm the coolant so our vehicles will start in these temperatures.  Some vehicles also have oil pan heaters.)  The block heater is covered under warranty.  Because the truck isn't starting properly they also checked the charging system.  They found I need a new battery, not covered by warranty.  And they charged me $40 just to tell me that.  ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!

    5.  Enough about my princess (truck).  My aquarium is slowly getting set up.  The pressure test last Thursday proved the tank could hold it's 40 gallons of water.  Tonight we started putting the stand together.  It was a couples project.  And a lot of fun.  I usually put together the DIY furniture so hubby was asking me how the lock nuts go in.  It was cute.  And it was fun.  We don't often do home improvements together.  Can't wait until we get the stand flipped upright and start rearranging the furniture to set it up in the living room :)

    6.  So because I'm doubling the size of my aquarium I have been researching fishies.  I've decided I would like some angel fish and some gouramis.  And some live plants.

    7.  Do you ever hear a song and it can totally change your mood?  One of my favourites is "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawwo'ole.  (Watch the last 2 minutes of 50 First Dates, that's the song)  It just puts me at ease.  Israel was a Hawaiian musician with a wonderful talent.  It's hard to believe such a soft, gentle voice came out of such a big man.  He must have been a real teddy bear in life.  He performed a lot of traditional Hawaiian music, but has a few English titles as well.  Just go to YouTube already ....Over the Rainbow.  And check out his other videos while you're there.

    8.  Because it's been so cold, the air is also extremely dry.  My skin feels like sand paper.  My poor nose is soooo raw... thank goodness I don't also have a cold!  I'm keeping Aveeno in business!

    9.  At massage therapy today Dee hit a pressure point that made me feel cold on the top of my head into my left side of my forehead.  Very bizarre feeling.  Like the after-effects of Novocain.  Creeped me out a little.

    10.  My passion for cross stitch has been renewed of late.  I'm working on a large project that I started in 2006... Yes, it got put away for a long time, partly because I got so involved with my craft show projects, partly because it is a very involved piece.  Once it is complete I will reveal all.  But until it is done it remains a secret as it is a gift.