Let’s Do This More Often

Happy anniversary, Sweetheart. Today is number 4 for us.

Today, I will be sitting on the ground in a park downtown waiting for you. Because you are doing this:

32 km run with 35 lb rucksack
3.2 km portage with 65 lb canoe and 35 lb rucksack
11 km canoe paddle
5.6 km rucksack run

For fun. Well, maybe for pride. Either way, I still can’t really understand it, but I will do my utmost to support it because it’s important to you.

This year hasn’t been easy for us. There were a lot of times when things that should have been said were just swallowed because we didn’t want to “make it worse”. Your position last year made it really hard for us to spend time as a family, and then when we did it was in fear that the BlackBerry would go off one more time. Like the time we tried to see a movie and nearly caused an international incident. Hopefully, this year is more relaxed for us. I can already tell it will be socially busy, but at least it seems like it’s socially busy together. So there’s that.

Maybe this year we will get to have an actual vacation – I hear they are those things where people leave their place of residence, and instead of going to someone else’s place of residence, end up at magical places like amusement parks or historical monuments. We can hope, anyways.

I love you. I will always love you. It doesn’t really matter if we spend our anniversary together or if we go somewhere warm in the winter. It has never mattered that our movies are not always uninterrupted. I wouldn’t choose another life if it meant leaving you behind. And the little boy that worships you is just going to have to keep on doing it. Because I look at this photo of us, 4 years ago today, and I see love. And I see joy. And as long as we are together, those two things will always be there.

This year, let’s do this more often.


Another Dirty Word

Something weird happened to me yesterday. I sat down, slouching into the soft couch, to watch one of Grunt’s favourite shows with him. At one point, he climbed into my lap and I looked down to make sure he was going to get comfortable in a way that wouldn’t hurt me either.

And then I realized: I can see my legs. Not just my legs, but the tops of them. And not just the tops, but I can the rest of my body underneath my tummy. Somewhere along the way of losing weight and getting more active, I actually got thinner than I remember being in a long time.

This is an important milestone for several reasons. Since puberty, I have had this annoying large stomach that protruded over my lower abdomen, the tell-tale mark of someone with PCOS. It has only gotten more prominent since having Grunt, as I carried him very high. And since my accident, I have had a much larger behind, thanks to all that fluid that stuck around the injured areas because of the nerve damage done. So, when I look in the mirror sideways, all I see are these two problem areas; my torso gets lost somewhere in the middle.

In 2015, MiniSir and I decided we were going to get healthy – lose weight, eat better, take care of ourselves a little more. The previous 4 years had been a cluster of serious, terrible, and exciting things; a time in our lives we could not forget even if we wanted to. But 2015 we chose to start fresh, and give Grunt positive role models right at home. We purchased pedometers, started counting calories, watching portion sizes, and intensely meal planning. MiniSir started exercising right away, and his weight melted off. He has since managed to successfully lose over 50 pounds. Exercise has always left a dirty taste in my mouth, so I focused on being active with Grunt and trying to hit my 10000 steps a day. It was easier said than done, but by the end of the year, I had lost nearly 40 pounds.

We found as we got doing it that it felt good. We enjoyed it, and it helped us keep our grocery costs and food waste to a minimum. Helping ourselves and helping the planet? Okay! We decided to purchase home exercise equipment for our joint Christmas gift – we had a friend looking to off-load his and we were given a great price. So now we have a treadmill and a recumbent bike, and since MiniSir is a runner, you can guess which one was for me.

I was reluctant to start seriously exercising – what if I hurt something, what if I made it worse, what if what if. Finally, I made up my mind to try without judgment, and I got on the recumbent bike and pedalled. The next day, I got on it again. And the next. Throw in a little yoga once or twice a week, and suddenly you know how I’ve been spending my time while Grunt naps since the start of the year.

Some days I just can’t even, and I still get on the bike. Today, for example. I’m biking and writing this blog. I have no qualms about multi-tasking, and if this helps me feel better about time I spend on me, then it’s a win-win. I can only bike for about a half hour before my back and pelvis tell me I’ve done enough, but I can work up a sweat in that time which tells me I have indeed done what I came to do.

I’m hungrier, downright starving some days. Last week I ate supper and then an hour later I had a bowl of oatmeal and almond milk. But I feel good when I’m hungry – it means I need the fuel.

So maybe exercise still sounds like a dirty word to me. And maybe I hide my scale in my closet so I don’t obsess over my weight. Maybe I’m taking anti-depressants still to help me sleep.

But you know what else I am doing? I’m kicking that bulletproof, armoured bank truck right in the ass.

You can’t beat me, truck. What didn’t kill me has made me infinitely stronger: physically, mentally, emotionally.

Bring it.

Flat-Out Friday: Blaze of Sorry


I’m going down in a blaaaaaaaze of sorry…

Oh Bon Jovi. Thank you for being so incredibly corruptible to meet my needs. Because this is how I feel – like I’m getting shot down in some sick, apologetic hailstorm of crap. I have had a bouquet of GPs since the accident, and aside from the one that had a stroke and can’t be blamed, only one of them has had any real idea of how to treat me. The others – well, I’ve been called a junkie, had a whole team of doctors refuse to assign me one person to oversee my case, and now I have one so fixated on my weight that she disregards my perfectly logical requests.

I went to see my family doctor on Monday morning, armed with the information from the occupational medicine doctor from Calgary. I was anxious to see her as she is going on medical leave for 4 months to have a hip replaced, and I wanted to make sure I had some things sorted out while she was away. The first thing she always does is ask how many times a week I swim, to which I respond “twice” because it is currently the upper echelon of my physical ability. Shaking her head as though I’ve done something wrong, she then asks me how much I weigh. When I stand on the scale and it hasn’t changed since the last time, she tsks me. TSKS ME. As though swimming and gaining muscle is going to somehow make me lighter. She doesn’t mention the inches I’ve lost around my stomach, even though I can now fit into clothes I last wore over a year ago. Still not daunted, I launch into my story about the specialist visit in Calgary.

The first thing I bring up is the issue with pelvic fractures affecting fertility. I ask for a referral to a fertility clinic to explore it further. She shakes her head again, with the response that any referral to a clinic of that kind is such a huge investigation that unless we have been actively trying to 2 years to get pregnant and haven’t, she won’t even consider referring me. I indicate that it’s been two years since the accident (two years exactly on Monday), and that we haven’t been using any contraceptives since. She then suggests that maybe the fault is with Matt. Deadpan, I inform her of his four children with his ex-wife. When she sits and stares at me blankly, I counter with asking for imaging of the area – MRI, ultrasound, xrays, all of it – since I’d like to know what it all looks like now, 2 years down the line. Again, a shake of the head and she tells me that there is no imaging that will show the amount of scar tissue build-up (a complete lie) and that it won’t prove anything. Her last parting shot on the subject? “You don’t even know if you want to have children, so you need to make up your mind first.”

Excuse me? 

How is it even possible that the health care system is so broken that, instead of trying to figure out if it is even possible for me to have kids, I have to decide if I want to try and then try and fail before they’ll do anything. It seems backwards to me. Don’t see if it’s even possible – just put yourself through all kinds of mental anguish trying to decide and then not getting pregnant anyway.

The second issue I bring up – the nerve damage and possible effected reflexes – is met with complete ignorance. She has no response for me, even when I ask for a neurologist’s opinion, as if we’ve reached the point of no return and she can’t be bothered with me any more. Indicating that she’ll wait until the specialist’s report is in her hand, she berates me for my weight again, a parting shot before she opens the door signalling the end of the appointment, and tells me to make an appointment for December when she’s back from her surgery.

So what now? What am I supposed to do for 4 months without a GP and no direction? Apparently losing weight should be on the top of my agenda, but the way I feel about my doctor right now, she can go rub salt. I’ll weigh what I want, I’ll swim as much as I want, and I’ll feel good about doing it. If my weight goes down, then fine, but if not, then fine. 

I don’t care.

I’m waiting for the specialist’s report, just to see what my lawyer has to say, and my psychiatrist, and my physiotherapist: professionals that actually give a crap and care about my care. I’ll go from there. And if my doctor doesn’t happen to be involved for the next four months, whatever.

It’ll all be in the reports anyway.

Week in Review: Get a Life

We have friends! I mean, not that we didn’t have friends before, but Matt and I are both the sort of people that have a few friends we really, really like, as opposed to a lot of friends who are just all right. Whatever. The point is that we have friends who like us and we like them and they want to hang out with us, like, twice a week. It’s uncanny!

Awww, aren’t we cute?!

We went to Trivia Night again on Thursday – did not do nearly as well as the first week we attended, but the experience was marred by a malfunctioning microphone and a case of “pub near capacity”. We still had a lot of fun but I was jangled by the time we left (“jangled” was Matt’s word; it’s a good one). Friday night we attended another military party: the All Ranks Dinner/Dance at Schank’s, which is this crazy pub with bowling, virtual golf, mini golf, an arcade, pool tables, and three bars for two stories of drinking craziness. Basically, it was huge. Matt was the runner-of-all-things-running that night, so I helped with the technical stuff as his familiarity with and patience for computers is moderate at best. Everything went off well, and we had a good meal, some great conversation, and we won a door prize which we are using for admission passes to K-Days here in Edmonton, basically the city’s equivalent of the Expo in Ottawa. It’s great because Matt will be on summer leave while they are on, so we can fully enjoy all they offer and get me plenty of weight-bearing exercise walking around looking at it all.

Speaking of walking around, Saturday we spent a few hours doing just that. We went to Whyte Ave for the Art Walk, a sidewalk gallery of artists from all over the province that takes up several city blocks and an entire park. We then walked through the neighbourhood of Old Strathcona and looked at some of the great older houses, admiring the upkeep the owners were clearly undertaking. When I began to get tired, we headed back toward Whyte for a bubble tea, and then it was off to get groceries before heading home.

Sunday we helped celebrate Fort Edmonton Park’s Celtic Gathering, and it was a lot of fun. Matt and I are really loving our season passes to the Fort – we have been 3 times now and we do something new each time. This time we tried haggis and bannock, toured the market, snagged fresh ginger molasses cookies at the Bakery and sat in the beautiful Queen Victoria Park under the arbour while we ate them. We saw the movie playing at the Capital Cinema, called “Northern Lights”. It was quite excellent and captured the spirit of Edmonton and its people very well. We took a steam train ride and played old fashioned games at the Midway. Matt won me a fan by carefully tossing softballs into a numbered grid, and I won him a set of wooden dominoes from the fishing pond.

All in all, we are getting out and actually enjoying summer in our city. Tonight we are off to a barbeque with two homemade pies. Wednesday there is an event for Friends of the Devonian Garden where they are giving a talk on orchid varieties and a tour of the Japanese Garden with a park interpreter. And then Sunday is Military and Service Appreciation Day at the local baseball field, so Matt has secured us tickets and we are off to watch some AAA ball.

To sum up: we have finally gotten a life.

Flat-Out Friday: ZOMG What?!

Whew. It’s been a week. Appointments with both the physician and the psychiatrist have taken their toll on me mentally and physically. Because I could only find a doctor in a small town south of the city, I have to get up in the morning and drive Matt to work so I can have the car on the days I have appointments. Needless to say, it ends up being quite the round trip in the end. And then I went and put the appointment with my psychiatrist on the very next day, deciding that before I see him, I’d go swimming. I went and I did, extending my swim length to 300 metres, and then it was Date Night with Matt last night, and…

I slept all day today.

It’s not like I wanted to. But I woke up, made some breakfast and did the dishes, and went back to bed, sleeping soundly until Matt called on his way home from work.

My doctor wants me to be swimming up to three times a week, and as much as I’d like to accommodate her, if I swim one day, I need a day of rest to make up for it. So I could swim Monday, rest Tuesday, swim Wednesday, rest Thursday, and swim Friday, but that would mean Saturday would be a day of rest and as much as I would love to get in shape quickly, spending time with my husband is far more important to me. Is that wrong?

She’s pleased with my progress as a whole, since I’ve permanently lost weight while also losing fat and gaining muscle tone. Not too quickly, mind you, but in a strong and healthy way. I am interested in getting up to swimming three times a week, but I also need to figure out if that’s really the best course of action for me, or if it’s pushing a little harder than I should be at the moment.

I believe I’ve made mention of the troubles I’ve been having lately, and my psychiatrist agrees with me: something is going on. What I don’t think I’ve mentioned is exactly what is going on. I’m having panic attacks. Unbidden, unrelenting, frequent and debilitating panic attacks. I barely made it across the road to the physiotherapist on Tuesday. Before my drive on Wednesday, I could not stop thinking about all the terrible things that could happen while I was behind the wheel. Neither of these instances was expected, and both of them are urgent enough to need dealt with promptly.

My doctor has adjusted my meds and is setting me up with another psychologist to continue working through whatever is bottled up in my head. Since the pain associated with getting better (the scar tissue thing) can be feeding the anxieties just as terribly as the current and frequent “Acts of God” this province has experienced, we aren’t quite sure what is causing the recent and violent increase in these attacks. We can only make sure they are well-handled. And since all my tricks and techniques learned in CBT therapy weren’t working, I knew something had to be done.

So, la. Now you know. If I’m flighty or spacey the next little while, you’ll forgive me, won’t you? I will try, really honestly try, to keep all of you updated as I go through this.
Air kisses to all.

The Wonders of You (Yes! You, Canada!)

Matt looking properly dapper

Hi all! Long time, no talk. Sorry for the intermittent contact lately. As you know from my last post, I’ve been feeling a bit undermotivated. However, Matt and I had a great Canada Day weekend, so I want to share some of our photos and memories with you all. Friday and Saturday were spent running around doing errands and watching some movies. Overall, nothing significant to report.

We found an original “Cherry Bomb” (our beloved Ford Fiesta)!

But Sunday we went to the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village! It’s just east of Edmonton, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: an old-timey village devoted to educating people about the Ukrainian migration and settlement here in Alberta. Also, that particular day was the Vintage Day celebration, so there was a tasters fair to try all the different foods, live music, and a vintage car show.

The working Mill, making Red Grain wheat

We couldn’t resist, so we fired up the sunscreen and headed out. The town site is really quite cool, and they have a great collection of houses, stores, and public places that have been moved from the surrounding small towns and placed in the Village for preservation. We were able to experience a small but very decorative Greek Orthodox church, a working mill, an authentic train station, and examples of how both the poor and the rich made a living in this new world. The historical interpreters were very good and maintained character, except for the young girl that told me she loved my My Little Pony t-shirt (but even with that slip she was still extremely knowledgable about her building). We spent a few hours there and we only saw about half of the park. When it is not so hot and humid, we may make our way back to see the rest.

Making a call at the Telephone Exchange

And Monday, Canada Day itself, we visited Fort Edmonton Park again for their Dominion Day celebration! It was such a fun and different way of celebrating, and the place was absolutely packed with people. We took in all the buildings we had missed the last time, going slowly and savouring everything. There was live music here as well! Two great bands were playing hits from the Roaring 20s (and music inspired by the time period – there was definitely a movie music medley). There were flappers teaching the Charleston, mounties and “bobbies” clearing the streetcar tracks with bullhorns and whistles, and Matt and I found a house we really liked so we just have to convince the Park to let us live there. We also got our photos taken at the Olde Tyme Photo Shoppe (I wish I had made that name up) dressed as a very to-do Victorian couple. The photographer took to calling me “Lady Anastasia”. I think it was the feathers on my hat that did it.

Matt fed horses for the first time ever! Immediately afterward, we discovered the sign that said “Don’t Feed the Horses!” Whoops.

Since Monday was even hotter than Sunday (over 40C with the humidex factored in), we walked around the park for a few hours and then called it a day. But what a day; it was so much fun! We plan on visiting the Park again soon to attend their annual Celtic Gathering – I cannot wait to go back.

I somehow feel this bulletin is still extremely relevant

We have plans this weekend to take in the Devonian Gardens on one of their “Date Nights”, and head down to Whyte Ave for the Medieval Festival on Saturday. Summer is so much fun in this city, and I adore heading out with Matt to places he hasn’t ever been even though he lived here before.

I’ll be back on Friday with another Flat-Out post. It’s been great seeing you again!