Tuesday, March 29, 2011

back from the heart-hospital

I just spent two and a half days in our heart hospital. I knew this recent trip taxed me out so the only responsible thing was to go to the ER to get into the heart hospital to see exactly what was going on since my squeezing chest and shortness of breath hadn't improved since I returned to Canada. Perhaps I'm a little impatient to have rest return the body to homeostasis but when it comes to health, it's more important to check right away. That and my Dr. Cardio man and Cardio-NP would rather see me there then not show up when something could have gone wrong. Of course, entering via the ER proved to be an educating experience on their part - again. A friend brought me. I also let my Ex know since she is still my emergency contact (and she knows my health history so if people want to give me, say nitro (which they attempted) I could still depend on her. She is still dependable and love is still there - on both our parts, despite the brokenness of it all. In fact, at one point I had both la femme and la Ex there and I felt so lucky to have not one but two women that love me very much. Even more if I include my friend that brought me who couldn't stay because it was 'family' only (they were over capacity again). So yes, educational in that even the on-call cardiologist had no idea how to handle my illness so decided just to move me over to the heart hospital. But in the mean time he did make me go through a cat-scan (I hate those things with all that hot die running through my veins. It makes me feel like my head is bursting.) No blood clots were found, no embolisms and really the only thing that was off was my haemoglobin so they gave me a phlebotomy. I'm so glad that my day nurse did it and not my night nurse because the night one didn't even know what a phlebotomy was. My day nurse on the other hand made a usually displeasing and really annoying procedure (that when done wrong is very uncomfortable at best) very fast and well, fast. She poked me in all the right places and was done before I could start telling the other cardiologists (in training) how icky they usually make me feel. Truth be told though, the ativan probably helped. But really, she is a really good nurse. As usual I had a team of students look at me. The chief of cardiology grabbed my hands (permission granted) and quizzed their eager little future cardiologists. He asked them what they saw (even I knew what he was looking for as I used to quiz my wife's peers when she was going through paramedic school. Then he told the kids about my illness calling me an original blue baby. (I guess there aren't any anymore). I'm sure I have more to write but I'm very tired. I'm expected back at work tomorrow. The only good thing about that it that it's a "slow" day but I'm sure I'll be packed with catching up on shit from being away for 10 days. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to survive without O2 since I've spend the past 10 days on O2 - non-stop except when I showered and tonight when my sister brought me home. We sat and chatted for over 20 minutes but I was without O2. I was very dizzy with her (it was nice catching up.... it's nice to have a sister again). All my thoughts and hopes about dropping down to part-time are out the window. Those were based on plans la femme and I had. I'm thinking of just getting rid of this house for once and for all so all I have to manage is a small apartment - but it would not be in my best interest to live alone (who would be there to call 911 if I couldn't?). In the meantime I need to get through work tomorrow and make sure my O2 carrier is working on some sort of quiet portable solution for work (even if I suck on it over lunch...)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I am home!

I am home and in one piece... everything else is a little worse for wear. I am grateful the flight from Chicago was only an hour and a half. It was getting difficult to breath and I know I've surely created some damage (signs of liver congestion for sure). I see my Dr. Cardio man in a few weeks, my regular doctor this week. I am tired, drained, grateful to be with my two little fury creatures. I can't find my meds (DD) and have no more left from the trip if I can't find the new box (ordered so I'd have some upon my return). Normally I can find them within an hour, retrace my steps. This trip has been so traumatizing both physically and emotionally that I have no clue where they are. This is the worst time to be without them. I thought the nightmare would end being back on Canadian soil. Apparently not. March was supposed to be a month of great shifts and changes. There are changes occurring for sure, just not the ones I ever imagined entering this month. I'm too tired for this but will continue trucking on because that's what I do. Facing a big limitation - of not having the ability to complete one of my bucket-list items hasn't even been processed yet. I was in survival mode, just searching for lower ground and getting the hell outta there and hack home. Not being able to complete this latest activity also drives home everything my Dr. Cardio man and NP were trying to drill in to my head: you're not well enough to travel. No more flights? I like to think I still can be the reality is this city is my life (with the exception of weekend driving trips etc.). Even then, there's so much more to travelling than just getting in the car like when I was a young neo-hippy: get & go. (oh dear, the broken English of the south has 'gotten' to me). I used to not know what was worse: being trapped in a foreign land where if something happens to you no one cares, or being trapped (limited to a day's drive of) here in this boring little town. I know for certain this is the right place to be. Even if something happens to me in the middle of nowhere Canada, I know I will be cared for. Thanks to our mildly socialized influences on health care (and care for people in general) I feel safe and secure here. This truly is the best country in the world. (Even our religious extremists pale to comparison in the deep south: they have guns there!). Early on in our trip when we were stuck in northern Tx, we tried to limit our stops there as much as possible: it's a large state to cross so we were stuck there for nearly 2 days, we had to eat at one point so we hit a road-side dinner. When we walked in, both of us pale white, both with short hair and me with my little rolly O2 machine, peoples' tanned heads/hats really did turn. There were only 3 other women in that diner and 2 of 'em were serving. Of course, in meat country "vegetarian" in a blasphemy so I just ordered salad (which all had meat in!). It is oil country (the sight of the oil pumps littering the landscape was surreal) and the stench in the air was making breathing challenging (again). That was probably the most unsafe I've felt in a long time (the only other time was when I worked at a store downtown here and was robbed. I later found out that it really was a gun in his jacket and not his hand. I quit the next day. So all this to say I'm greiving yet another loss: the ability to move around freely. To go where I thought I could go now that I can afford to travel a bit. Nope, that's not in my cards. Neither are half my dreams I had walking into this month. I return to work tomorrow, with no DD meds, and perhaps without a job. I am bracing myself for whatever comes.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I am in hell, otherwise known as the 'nited states of america.
I just don't know where to begin.
Perhaps with sharing my greatest fear in the world: I am agoraphobic - the fear of uncontrolled social conditions, a person always needing a sense of safety (also known as looking for an escape route real or imaginary). There, I've admitted my greatest fear to the world. Now let me state that although I have that, I have been to France, Bahamas and even Mexico. How does this relate to my agoraphobia. I need a way to get home (that's not dependent on air), even if it's by donkey. One cannot take a bus or a train home from France. But I went anyway.
So here I am in the US, needing to get out.

At first the elevation was just too high for my health. I was swallowing blood. I had two options, to stay at low elevation with a friend until I became more stable, or to just start driving and head as far east and north as we could. My travel companion and I chose the second route. Mainly because I feared not being well enough to board on Sat. and then perhaps facing the driving choice then. So here we are finally in lower ground and things are still going to hell. Details are not important nor do I have energy for them. This is my living nightmare. I want to go home.
I am safe, I have my O2, we are sheltered. I know it could be worse, but it's precisely because this situation is pulling at MY greatest fear that this is intolerable.

If I ever get home safe and healthy I will NEVER travel to the states again... sure there's driving (is cross-border even worth it?) but I will never ever ever use american air-carriers. From being afraid of being a woman in scary-Texas to the salt and MSG added to every food imaginable to the upselling and rip-off taxes here there & every where, I think I will stick to my one tax: hst. I get my health-care, my roads, etc. all paid for under ONE tax!

Monday, March 21, 2011

trapped - travel II

I'm trapped with no way out. I'm praying for a solution. I could not go across the desert. I'm sick and my cardiologist was right... elevation is getting to me. I cannot board a plane because I am no longer stable. I know my body, and these sensations rendered me in the cardio-hospital 2 years ago. Now all I can do is seek refuge for a night somewhere "low" (for desert standards) 1200ft above sea level. We are driving as far east as we can to go home. The only problem is the elevation over the next leg of the journey is the highest point (at NM lowest point bordering TX). During the day it taxes me in the car but at night, I must have a place of lower elevation in order for my body to recharge. I'm scared for the rest of this journey home. I spent half the day leaving Las Vegas and mourning my trip, my loss of freedom and realizing that many bucket-list items will not ever get done no matter how much chutzpa I have. My chest hurts. Badly.
We are driving because I know in my heart of hearts that I am not stable enough to re board an aircraft.
I am angry with myself that I thought I could do this. I did not realize just how high high was. At this point it's not even money that concerns me, it's finding a safe way out. Damn Colorado plateau! It's just 16 hours to flat lands again... but it's that hump I'm very afraid of. I'm afraid of sleeping in the next town who's elevation is still twice that of Vegas. I had a bad night last night.
A good night's sleep might help - but I'm afraid to go to bed. The O2 just isn't enough.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

vacation II

I may have to come home... I am not fairing very well. I realize my body is not acclimatized but we're still at the lowest elevation part of this entire trip.
In fact the airport we have to fly out of is in the city with the highest metropolitan elevation in the US. I don't know why I didn't look into that before picking airports.
I taste blood, I cannot breathe on 24hr O2. We've already scratched 1/2 the natural wonders off the list because I can't cope.
The doctors were right, my body is not as strong as I think. My spirit, kick ass. Reality...is kicking my ass. Not sure what I'm going to do. I'm a million miles away from home, this trip has already cost more than Israel (states and their stupid surprise surtaxes on everything, and they complain about our one tax of everything. At least it's known.). If we change airports now... whatever.

travel I

Well, I know I won't be able to ever see Israel. It's day 1 and I am beat. The first flight wasn't so bad since it was a short one. Second flight was another thing. As we climbed over the Rockies I could feel my body being taxed over the increased elevation. Yes I wore my O2 the entire time, I also had my compression socks on (although I couldn't find full leg one, only knee high). It's 3 hours later in my body making for an 18hour day with 2 flights, lots of salt, smoke and high elevation.
I'm saddened that a transatlantic (or Pacific for that matter) flight will never happen. I'm sitting at the base of the tackiest valley in the world, elevation of 3900 feet and I can't go 3 minutes without O2. Just getting into the hotel was a nightmare, with smoke all around (and none smoking signs above). The US is a joke - land of the free my ass. I will be leaving Vegas in the morning covered in smoke choking from from the stench. It won't matter how long I shower for, it's coming with me. My freedom to breath clean are seems to not matter. My freedom to have a peaceful sleep doesn't seem to matter either.
I have no interest in going to the Strip to see all the wasted electricity in Sin City. On the highway we passed the Bellagio, Caesar's and all the grand names. I thought about taking a jaunt but this old sick is is sick of tacky and my journey has only just begun. I won't be spending a second night here, but that's OK - it means I might actually be able to fit in a day trip to the Grand Canyon. We will see. I am enjoying speaking a whole other language, a secret language here with la femme (although I have to be careful for the French tourists, but whatever, c'est la vie).
My curiosity for those grand casino-hotel-resorts has completely disappeared after checking in (with cigarettes not even 2 feet from me) when I took a look at just how desperate people look sitting there with alcohol in hand spending money and having cigarettes dangle from their mouths. Perhaps Canadians are boring, but I think I'll keep my dignity and money intact and spend it on 4X4'ing in the desert looking at the earth's crust built up over 12 million years ago (the reading I did on the plane had some very fascinating facts about how all this land was built up, eroded, developed. As recently experienced in Japan, our Earth is magnificent beyond reason - it can move and island country 3 meters in one earth quake - it produces massive red rock formations and "natural bridges" that don't even compare with the man-made neon blinking outside this window.
So in the end being under the full moon in the desert is overshadowed by the neon. It's too bad because this is the closest the moon has been to the earth in over 20 years. (I did get a look at it on the way in, but the city is brighter than it's splendor).
At least here I don't give a shit about walking around with O2 - I can't. Without it I won't make it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

march- big shifts

It's been a hectic few weeks. There are many times I've wanted to write... much life life-impacting choices have been made, new directions etc. But I just haven't had the time. I'm going away on vacation and it just seems that everything that needs closure in my life needs it before I go away. My thesis has finally been approved for publication... only after like 4 revisions in the last 3 weeks alone, never mind the past 3 months! This thing has consumed my life for far too long and for the past 8 months it's been nonstop. In the end it's twice as long as it should have been but was accepted because during one of the earlier edits, I cut everything down to their word allotment and my supervisor had a hissy.... saying all the good stuff was gone. So approval for double the words was sought. Thanks goodness cuz I've been running on empty for a long time. I wanted to see this thing approved and done with around the same time that la femme was done her promotional course. But, alas, my APA just wasn't up to par. Oh those spaces and hyphens. But, it's in and my application for graduation is in. Finally. It's not all secured and I'll be expecting something when I come back - because that's just how Murphy works in my life. He never got the divorce papers.

Speaking of that.... on my birthday I decided to finally grant myself some closure. I've heard through the grapevine that she wants closure but of course she's doing nothing about it. So off to divorce court I went. That and she never sent me a birthday greeting. Silence was always her weapon of choice and it seems it's still being used. For the first time in 11 years not one greeting. Even last year she sent me a card. I miss my once best friend, but what can I do- I'm forced to move on since she won't have it. Someone said to me recently that "I won". On the outside everything looks great: I'm in a new relationship, I'm still working at a job I (used to) love, I have the house, etc. etc. So why is it after the application I felt so empty, so defeated? I sat in the family court's waiting room sobbing into my jacket. I have no shame in my tears but snot running out my nose is a whole other thing. As I tried to regain composure, to muster up a little bit of strength to return to my car, an old lady walked by saying "it gets better dear, it just takes time". I thought about what that friend said about me wining. No one won here. This isn't even a race or competition. I lost just as much as she did. I lost my marriage, my wife, my family, my best friend and my soul mate. Just because someone new is in my life does not take away from the loss and devastation that I too went through. The only difference is that I have the drive to get back up again. I didn't "win" I worked my ass of spiritually, and otherwise to become a person that would attract a woman like la femme francaise. A client said to me the other day, success isn't about the things you win, concur, have etc. it's about how your deal with your losses, set backs, devastation. He couldn't have had better timing. I chose to face my devastation and let it strengthen my already strong-ass spirit. So I used that strength to declare my loss legally.

On the level of great things happening in March, la femme francaise finally met my family (I met her last month). Yes... I can tell she's approved by my mother because they spoke almost exclusively in French. My siblings said after that it was so nice to hear my mother speak French (she doesn't with us- perhaps because our French sucks). It can't be that bad, since a few days ago la femme and I had a miss-understanding all in French. Miss-understanding aside, I couldn't believe I could express myself when sad, using about 95% French. And she understood! But that doesn't indicate that the French was actually any good! (My housemates don't understand french so that's our 'safe language'.)

So much emotionally significant shifts happening that we've decided to take bigger decisions off the table. I've continued to work. She's continued to live in her house. Work has only gotten crazier. After my boss got let go, someone else on my team quit a few weeks ago. As of this week yet another person is on stress leave. We are down to bare bones and as much as it's a very bad time to go away and leave only 3 other people to run 5 programs, the only thing I can do without outright quitting at this point would be to go away and recharge.

I am looking forward to the desert. I've had this trip on my bucket list for 20 years, literally. Aside from landing in the big city, once we're outta there I hope to not encounter another group of people (larger than 20) again until the other side of the desert where we fly out - and that is completely possible. I was a little disappointed to not get a blue jeep to rent, but apparently there are lots of off road Jeep Wrangler desert-day rentals. We'll be spending our 7th full moon in the desert. This trip I'll have a portable O2 compressor so no more dealing with tank-exchanges. I'm so excited....

Sunday, March 6, 2011

going to the desert...

I've been cleared to fly!

Sorta. I am picking up my portable O2 compressor this month. In order to use it in flight, and just bring it at all I needed clearance from Dr. Cardio man. When I sent an email to cardio NP I didn't hear back. So I called to follow up and she didn't even read it... long story short I booked a ticket last minute. I do not like travelling with this little time to organize things - costs go up, things are booked, etc. etc. I'm coming to terms with letting go of Israel - I have to since this trip is going to cost as much as Israel (it should have only cost half, but thanks to last minute the flights are 60% more and I can't seem to find a Jeep to rent anywhere - so much for another item off the bucket list).

When my cardio NP gave me the "good" news she was fairly condescending - the first time ever. I felt like she was trying to tell me not to live. I understand that I'm not as well as I was when I flew to Florida, or to my brother's wedding in sweltering Mexico, but if I'm going, I'm going to live it out. So she gave me the typical: watch your salt, wear diabetic socks, don't strain yourself, etc. etc. information that I already have for living my daily life in town. I felt like she was talking to an idiot. I mean, I get that I can go into an arrhythmia at any time - not just when I'm thousands of miles from home. What's the difference. I'm DNR either way. Do they really think if I'm under their watchful eye that they will be able to help me if/when these things happen?

They say I am allowed to go, so long as I know the risks, then don't bother telling me what they are, only give me warnings. So I'm going. This is my life, my bucket list.

Thursday, March 3, 2011


As I waited for my Ethiopian stew to cook I flipped through a health magazine I got free at my neighbourhood health food store. In it there was an article about organic beef with a picture of a big old cow. I'm not a fan of cows, I don't think they're cute or cuddly like rabbits or lambs or other furry animals that people eat, but they have eyes, an a nervous system. They feel. They breath. They hurt.

And those are probably one of the first reasons I became a vegetarian 22 years ago. Over the years I've remained a non-meat-eater for all the reasons under the sun: if it was an argument for vegetarianism, I probably ascribed to it at one point or another. Twenty-two years is a long time. I've never done anything else that long (except drive). In that time I've learned how to cook and became a pretty good cook if I (and my ex) do say so. I've learned to cook Ethiopian, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican (a little thanks to my brown-skinned sister-in-law: that was she identifies as), Indian and many other types of food. I've become so accustomed to eating a certain way ("ethnic") that the last 5 or so years (at least) I've no no reasons to be vegetarian except out of habit. So coming across this article on beef surely made me revisit one of my earliest reasons: cruelty to animals. I guess since it's been absent from my life for more than half of my life it seems ridiculous to eat another living breathing creature. We are after all part of the same family: we are all animals on a certain level. Only our brain is bigger and we have possible thumbs.

I'm not writing this as a conversion piece. I respect every one's needs to eat what they want just as I've appreciated respect over the years to choose my own path (of course except from my blood family, so I stopped going to their dinners when all they had for me was potatoes in the meat and potato dinner. I tried cooking "ethnic" for them but they wouldn't have it). I write because sometimes I feel like I'm part of the wrong era or culture - like I should be in part of the world/religion that does not eat animals and could not even fathom doing such a thing. Animals are our friends, our companions, our workmates, etc, but not our meals. I look at my cats often and think about how they are eaten in different parts of the world and how it may seem strange to us here in North America but then we'll turn around and have ground up cow-fat. My cats give me so much more than one meal - or even a week's worth of meals. They give me a (short) lifetime of loyalty and company. To exchange that for a few days of nourishment is ludicrous. This tells me that meat-eating is not sustainable. There needs to be a massive amount of violence and bloodshed to eat for a day (or a week depending on the size of the animal). It does not replenish itself like plants do. I just don't get it - I don't understand a society or societies that can misinform the masses about misconceptions about protein and "lack of protein" just to support the business of murder. Perhaps if Betsy was your friend you would think twice. As for me, I know that I love my little furry companions and they give me more than just a few meals. They give me loyalty, humour and laughter, compassion, love (I know animals don't feel love, but I feel it), and of course priceless company.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

It's March

It's March - a time of return of the light - the lengthening of days, the rise in temperatures and the sun's distance to us is much, much closer. March has always been a time of flurry for me. With all my siblings as well as myself being born in March it seemed, as a child anyway, that we were always celebrating someone. Then I grew up, met other Pisces and the partying continued. (not in the substance-use-abuse sense). At this age it's a different kind of celebration: making it through another winter. Sure, in this part of the country there are still winter snow storms, well into April actually, but they have a different taste to them: there's a sweetness of warming sun that usually follows the storm. It gives hope to squishy-sticky mud and cold-spring showers along with the anticipation of tulips and the sight of the first pussy-willows under the white blanket of melting snow in the backyard. I have neither pussy-willows nor tulips planted. My spring is marked by increased pain in my hand. You see the mild weather triggers my rheumatoid arthritis - yet one more condition brought on by lack of circulation in the body.

But all this also brings hope and renewal knowing that I've almost made it through another winter. I'm spoiled in my modern western world that I live in. I don't even have to walk longer than a block or two in my life of late. I am fortunate enough to have a car, yes I have a "disability pass" (which my lover calls my princess pass). I do not take the bus. I am a 'bad environmentalist'. However I am also 'disabled'. I am also a vegetarian. I read somewhere, in some green report years ago that the modern-western meat industry accounts for more greenhouse emissions that the sum total of all the cars on earth. So, being a vegetarian (for 21 years) basically renders my 21 years of driving a car. I'm carbon neutral. It may sound like I'm making light of our precious earth - I assure you I'm not. I was on all sorts of green committees in high school, sewed cloth bags at 16 long, long before this ever became a trend. But, I also recognize how much quality of life my driving has given me. I'm sure I've extended my life because of modern western conveniences. I say this while I reflect upon the less than 50 feet of snow I had to walk in today. My crew at work went to our work's cottage for a little team-retreat. There's been some major overhauling in our department and it was about time we took a little break. But, because it's in the country the lane way wasn't plowed after Monday night's big snow storm. So, we walked up the snow-covered lane way carrying all of our food supplies. Of course I had a hard time. I don't push myself anymore, not to the point of keeping up with the regular 2-valved folk. (I push myself because I never want to give up, the day I give up is the day this miraculous system stops working). Something a friend said, or rather texted me just a few days ago, in the middle of my work melt-down, really really sank in. It's helping me make wise-decisions, asking myself if what I am about to choose is worth my life, because that's what it's coming down to.

So today I am looking at getting through this (work upheaval) one day at a time, learning to say no but being prepared about the possible outcome. But If I don't say no to them, I'm saying no to my life. There's too much yet to do, and where I'm at now, some of my bucket list dreams are starting to become a possibility. Sorta. I found my dream car/jeep. At a price I can afford (although I'm not sure I want to own 2 vehicles). I am just waiting on the OK for travel to one of my bucket-list places. I found portable O2, and I'm sick enough that I will continue to be funded. So, living my dreams will require swallowing a lot of pride as I move into wearing O2 a lot more often. Some days I'm not sure I'm willing to swallow that steadfast pride, other days I look at my love, la femme that treats me like I've always known I deserve, la femme that brings out the gentle wonder that I am, I look at her and say yes to the O2, realizing that it will give me MORE time with her. And that's exactly what I want: MORE. (Coincidentally, for our 3month I found a card in a spiritual shop by my work that had one of the chakra centres filling the cover and on it in Tibetan-type script is said, most appropriately "more..." Inside it said "more time, more laughter, move love" and even though I've been declining again, I want more with her. MORE! I pray for a spring plateau that lasts the rest of the year. I pray to see 38 (even though it is "only" a week away). I pray for more...