Sunday, 31 July 2016

I Got A Doctor!!!!

We Canadians like to brag about our health care system, but the reality is, it is a bit broken. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of good things, like when my husband had salmonella food poisoning, in a week we had 2 trips to the ER, a CT scan and an MRI and it cost us the price of parking and his drugs. I am sure his care would have been in the tens of thousands of dollars. We are lucky that if we  are really sick, care is much easier to get and we won't end up with huge bills.

What is really hard to get is a family doctor. For years, I went to a university (like 14 years) and as a student had access to student health services and had a doctor. When I graduated for the 3rd time, it was time to find a new doctor. This was hard and I ended up with a "weird" doctor who wore leather pants and worked in his basement. He was efficient, but maybe a bit old school and did I mention he always wore leather pants. I didn't need to go often so it worked.

Then we decided to move across the river to another province. In Canada, health care is provincial. What we didn't know about our area was it is the area with the fewest family doctors in the province. The population is equally split between seniors and young families. After living here for 6 months, we were able to finally get on the list to get a family doctor. Tuesday will be 4 years here, and I just got a doctor on Friday.  My husband still doesn't have one.

Here is how I got my doctor. While we don't have doctors we are attached to a clinic and if we need something we call them and generally we see the resident or traveling doctor. On Friday I made my 3rd trip (in 4 years) to the clinic, as I needed a prescription refilled. I was expecting to see the resident. I was fine with that as it was a simple prescription refill. I arrived and was told the resident was ill, but if I didn't mind the wait, one of the other doctors would see me. I needed my prescription as of Sunday and having the day off and a book, I was happy to wait. I waited about 45 minutes and was seen. In our conversation (mainly that I hadn't had a full physical in almost 5 years), this doctor agreed to take me on as a patient. She said I should have a doctor, and even though she was overwhelmed that day (seeing 2 doctors caseloads) was happy to take me on. She did point out, she wasn't going to be seeing much of me (let's hope not!). I signed the form making her my gp. In a few weeks I will call and book my physical (which will likely only take place in the late fall).

I called my husband and said "I got a doctor" and his response was "get out! How do I get one?" I admit I am more excited than I should be about this. It shouldn't be such a thing, but now I have a doctor, whom from the first visit seemed like someone I will like. At least she wasn't wearing leather pants . . . . teehee!

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Thankful Thursday - The Desk

In a world with portable devices I know a lot of people don't use a desk, especially at home. I do however. I work at home at least one day per week (I am hoping to make that 2 more often, but I am always saying that) and I do the best work sitting at my desk.

This isn't any desk. This is a very special desk. It was my great-grandfather's desk. I believe he had it made for himself. It was then my grandfather's desk. When my grandfather died, I was asked if I wanted it. I said yes, and now I spend my work at home days sitting at this very solid piece of furniture.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Tasty Tuesday - What I Eat

The number one question I get asked in conversations regarding my restricted diet is "what do you eat?"  People can't imagine what I eat without gluten, soy, potato and tomato, because they can't imagine a world without processed food.

It is actually pretty darn easy to eat at home with my food restrictions now that I have found a few key products. I have found some cereal I can eat, bread and pasta.

A week day of food looks like this:

Breakfast - Green smoothie and I rotate between cereal and toast with natural peanut butter.  I drink a cup of tea on my drive in. (On weekends we always have pancakes on Sunday and we may have eggs on Saturday).

Morning snack - I usually have 1/2 my green smoothie to drink as I make 3-4 cups and can't drink it all at breakfast - I often have fruit or seed balls (they are my granola bar substitute).

Lunch - on the weekend I make a pot of something - rice dish, quinoa dish, soup and I have that, sometimes with corn chips or rice crackers. Sometimes I may have leftovers from dinner as well.

This weeks lunch is quinoa with pumpkin and asparagus

Afternoon snack - I have upped my fruit intake to 3 servings now, instead of the 2 my nutritionist suggested. I don't always have the 3rd, but I like the option. I have a piece of fruit and either1/4 c  sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

Car snacks - As I have a long commute home and a late dinner I aways pack 2-3 cups of raw veggies and 1/4 of nuts to eat on the way. If I am extra hungry during the day, I might eat some of my veggies earlier. I can't eat nuts at work, so I keep them in my car and always have them for the road.

I rotate toward mixed nuts, cashews and walnuts generally.
While I prefer them salted, I try and get unsalted ones. 

Dinner - Most nights my husband cooks and it can vary, but generally we have some meat, a starch (usually rice or sweet potato or pasta) and 1-2 veggies. Favourite meals - BBQ burgers, rice wraps, curry, sweet pulled pork, and a really nice steak!

What I drink: I might have a glass of wine with dinner or perhaps a cocktail (especially in the summer). During the day I generally drink water and the occasional second or third tea (especially in the winter).

On the weekends, I eat a lot of the same things, I don't snack as much. I probably eat less, although I do eat more "junk". I have discovered I can eat skittles, so I have one candy in my wheelhouse now. I am more likely to eat ice cream and popcorn.

That is what I eat.

Sunday, 17 July 2016


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According to your results you appear to be the type of person who doesn't socialize very often. You likely have a limited social network, and possibly aren't really interested in extending it beyond a few close and intimate friendships. Having an active social life doesn't appear to be an important thing to you. Chances are that when the opportunity arises to socialize among a large group of people, you'll most likely turn it down if possible. This doesn't necessarily mean you don't enjoy socializing or being around people. Rather, you tend to prefer spending time with smaller groups of friends. Individuals who score similarly to you typically aren't conversation-starters, especially with people they aren't familiar with. In addition, they aren't known to be exceptionally outgoing, unless among close friends.

(People who I met at BAR, don't think this applies to you. I didn't find BAR stressful at all . . . maybe that is because the people at BAR are more my tribe or maybe it is because I figured if it went to hell, I never had to see any of you again)

I have been giving socialization  a lot of thought recently (which led me to the quiz whose results you see above) because of my reaction to an invitation to a party. I was invited to a party that would be about 10 people, most of whom I like (only one I would say I dislike), and my immediate reaction was "no way in hell."  This party is being held at a friend's house, a friend whose house I was at a party earlier in the month. At the first party, nothing "bad" happened. I was teased a little by a friend, but I didn't make any huge social blunders or anything. (It is not like I got drunk and started singing or anything). However, I did leave feeling exhausted. The idea of going to another party, within a month, just is too much for me.

I think there are a lot of reasons why I feel this way. Looking back at my life, there is something about me that makes me less desirable to many and makes me the target of bullying.  I was bullied and excluded extensively as a kid. (I was the only kid not invited to more parties than I can count or likely know about). While I don't have a diagnosis, it is clear I fall more on the autism spectrum than many. I am sure I appear socially awkward to people. Groups overwhelm me. Bad experiences in groups have further made me not trust them and be more awkward in them. It has become a vicious circle. 

For the first 4 decades of my life, I have repeatedly tried to be the "Social K10" with little success. I am better at small talk now, but haven't really gained any other skills, but rather have had my dislike of groups reinforced. I have decided, going forward,  I am going to "Be K10". (I am borrowing this notion from  Gretchen Rubin's "Be Gretchen" - aka be yourself). I am done being a social group member.  I am limiting my big group events out side of work (work takes a lot of energy as most of my work is with people, half of whom are in crisis). Over the years,  I have been pressured into going to may such events (because apparently other people care)  and I am not going to let that happen any more. I will go to events that I want to (because even then, I know I am going to feel crappy after it but  I feel crappier if I didn't want to be there in the first place). I will put my focus on cultivating relationships in small group settings. If people don't like it, well, not my problem. 

Yes, I am going to miss things, and yes this is going to keep me at the edge of the potential community, but that is where I am already and that is where I am happiest. It is when I try to cross that line closer to the centre, that it really falls apart. Research shows you only need a couple of really close friends (they define that as someone you can call at 2 am if you needed help) and I have that. I am not alone, I just have a small, awesome circle, that is happy to let me stand at the edge and doesn't judge me for not jumping in. 


Thursday, 14 July 2016

Thankful Thursday - Fans

The average July temperature in my part of the world would be 20 C (70 F) with the average max being 26 C (80 F). Because of this, it is generally fine to live without air conditioning. However, we are having an unusually hot summer (minus last weekend which was the coldest July day since the records began in 1953).

For some perspective on how unusually hot this summer has been we have already had 4 days over 33 C (91F) when usually we only have 3 over the entire summer and 1 by this time of year. We have also had 11 days over 31 C (88F) when normally we only have 8 during the entire summer and only 3 by now.

Because we don't have air conditioning, today I am thankful for the fans we have. They help keep the air moving and the one beside my bed keeps me feeling cool while I sleep.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Treat Creep

I was feeling sorry for myself almost 2 weeks ago thinking my days as an ice cream eater were behind me. It wasn't because I shouldn't eat too much dairy, but because so many ice creams contain soy that I thought I was giving it up. I literally did a happy dance in the grocery store when I found one that didn't contain soy! (It was one of the few brands I hadn't Googled!)  I was desperately missing ice cream, especially since it has been so hot (low 30 C or 90 F, which is really hot for my part of the world).

I ended up buying chocolate and vanilla (I don't even really like vanilla unless it has chocolate sauce but don't worry, I had a nice jar of chocolate sauce that didn't contain any off the "no foods") and enjoyed a huge serving the first night (I made a banana split). A week and a half later and the "Treat Creep" (a term I heard on the Podcast Straight and Curly last week) has occurred. Treat creep is when something that should be an occasional treat becomes a regular part of your diet.

It has been so easy to justify having ice cream every night. "It's hot."  "My gut will feel better quickly." "There is so much I can't have, I should get to enjoy this." "I haven't had chocolate for so long."  "It tastes so good." I let the "bad voices" lead me down the wrong path for a week and a half and I have paid a price. Eating so much dairy (and I have had other sources than ice cream, like my husband's should be world famous mac and cheese with brussel sprouts and bacon) has caused bloating, a gut ache (a different one than soy, gluten or tomato, but still pain), and I have just felt exhausted all the time. Worst of all because I am having gut issues, I can't test potato, which I really would like back in my diet (but maybe I am self sabotaging for fear that I don't pass this second test).

I am done talking myself into eating too much of something I should only have a little of. I am done talking myself into eating ice cream every night. I can have it once per week and that is all. The treat creep is out! I have shown that I have the ability to control my eating and it is time I do so.

So until next weekend, sweet, sweet, ice cream!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016


It has now been almost 2 weeks since I joined the craze and got my Fitbit one.

Prior to the Fitbit I would guess the average number of steps I took a day was about 7000. It is easy on even a 7 hours hunched over my desk day to get about 7000 steps, thanks mainly to my dogs.

My goal is to get my 10 000 steps every day. I will do what it takes to get this as long as I am not ill. I will let my body rest if I get the flu or something.  So far, I have hit this goal every day. Somedays it is easy to get all 10 000 and some days I am watching Netflix at 10 at night walking on the treadmill to get them in or jog around the house like a crazy person.

I have been in one competition and while I enjoyed seeing how other people did, it did nothing to motivate me to get more than my 10 000 steps. I am not that externally competitive. I will do it again for sure, because it does help me work toward the 10 000, even if I don't care about winning.

I generally have 4000 steps or close to it by breakfast. This is because I walk the dogs first thing in the morning. The women at work are always impressed as they barely have 1000 when they get to the office. (Many of them are working directly with the kids and can easily get up to 5000 steps in one shift, which is 3 hours, with a little one).

I can feel it in my legs that I am walking more consistently, so I know I wasn't always getting 10 000 steps before.

The sleep tracking bothers me. I have it on sensitive mode and I barely get 5 good hours of sleep even if I sleep 8. However, most of the time I am not feeling tired. Maybe I should get set it back to normal:)

I will hold the course for the time being and continue to aim for 10 000. Once that is easy, we will look to increase it.

My next goal fitness goal is to add 2 different exercises (kayaking, yoga mainly) to my activity to work on different muscle groups.

That is the scoop with my exercise. It is nice to have something other than food to think about!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

The Knee - An Embarrassing Story That Shows How Uncoordinated I Am

In 2003 I was a grad student struggling to get through the grad level stats that was a requirement for my Master of Psychology. It was a struggle for this girl who only had her grade 11 math and didn't inherit her father's math gene. The goal was to get the B- needed to pass the course. The plan was to spend 40 hours per week studying stats.

On one such January day, I had been sitting cross legged at my desk for hours pouring over my text book. When I finally went to straighten my legs, there was a very sharp pain in my right knee. I hoped it would go away but after a few days knew this needed medical attention.

My doctor referred me to the Sports Medicine Clinic at the University, where I saw one of the doctor's who provided care to local professional athletes. He diagnosed the problem as a torn meniscus. He said he could only confirm it 2 ways - one an MRI that would take a year to get and wouldn't fix the problem, or he would schedule an arthroscopic surgery that would show what was wrong and allow him to fix it. It would also take about a year to get. We went with the latter.

I should make it clear that while my knee hurt, I was able to walk on it and live most of my daily life. To help keep it as strong as possible, he sent me to physio and for the following 13 months I went 2-3 times a week and did my daily exercises. I was always embarrassed, particularly at physio when people had been injured in accidents etc., when people asked me how I hurt my knee. Saying you did it  studying is just so lame!

Finally, the big day I had been waiting for arrived. 14 months after the initial injury, it was time time for surgery. Not knowing how my recovery would be, and given my husband couldn't get a week off work, my mom came to help. The surgery went well, and confirmed the doctor's diagnosis of a meniscus tear. I was given some meds and sent home. It turns out, I would have been fine without my mom's help (although it is always nice to have it), as recovery was amazing! I continued at physio to help minimize any long term problems and had scheduled a trip to Disney 10 weeks after surgery.

10 weeks later, in Disney, my knee became sore and very swollen. It hurt more than pre-surgery. We finished the trip and I came home and called the surgeon. As I was already a patient, getting a follow up was easy. He believed what may have happened was he didn't get all the meniscus and said I needed a second surgery.

I got really lucky, as I happened to return the call to book my second surgery (this is about 2.5 months after the initial surgery) and the receptionist had just hung up from someone cancelling their surgery the following week and I was given that spot. It was very soon so I couldn't get support to help me, but given how the first surgery went, I wasn't worried.
The knee today - you can just make out the scar on the left

Turns out, it was not meniscus the second time, rather it was fat pad. The doctor guesses because I had to wait so long for the first surgery, that it just was too aggravated. Fat pad removal is extremely painful. I woke up from surgery in significant pain. I could barely get up to go to the bathroom. My recovery was made worse because I was also given pain meds that contained codeine by accident and couldn't sleep, had heart palpitations and was hallucinating. At least I knew I was hallucinating. A phone call got a new prescription and my sister was able to come and help me some while my husband worked. I continued physio for about another 6 months and more or less healed my knee. Occasionally I get some pain in it where the fat pad was removed. The doctor said as long as I didn't take up a career where I was on my knees all the time I should be fine. (Funny as I write this post and any time I talk about it, my knee hurts!)

So that is how studying for statistics resulted in needing 2 surgeries and I didn't even get a good scar out of it (I asked for one, but the doctor said only bikers could have good scars).

I ended up with a B+ in Stat. This mark was well below what I was use to, but I was thrilled. It is the mark I worked hardest for in my entire 14 years of post-secondary education.