For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Elation and Frustration

Yesterday was quite the day of highs and lows.

First, elation. We got a phone call in the morning from the housing co-op we applied to more than a year ago. We've got a place! At this time next month, we will be moving into our own 3 bdrm, 1 1/2 bath townhouse! To say we're thrilled would be an understatement. We haven't even seen the inside of the place yet - there was only a 2 bdrm apartment available for viewing when we applied - so I have no idea what the layout is like. We swung by yesterday to see it, and I just can't picture it. Is it really three floors? The entry stairs go to the second level. Is it two floors, with another townhouse below us? The co-op does have wheelchair accessible units, so that's entirely possible. The girls and I are swinging by this afternoon, so hopefully, we'll get to go in. I don't know if the current owners are actually out yet.

The next month will be spent renovating the place. It'll be done in time for us to be able to move in during the last 5 days of the month. It's going to be painted and the carpets replaced, which we get to choose colours for, etc. I'll find out more later today.

We will be giving up a few things with the move. No more indoor, heated parking garage. No more gym (though being a co-op, we can look into having one installed, if enough other members want one, too). The car will be parked out doors and we'll have to go into the high rise across the street to do the laundry.

On the plus side, we'll be getting a bigger place while saving about $200 a month, once we're done paying for the shares. The first month will be a bit harsh, as we need to pay for half the shares up front. A few bills might get delayed, but we'll manage. The girls will have their own bedrooms - they've even worked out how they'll divide up their shared items, like the computer and the drawing desk. While we'll be going across the street to do laundry, we don't have to pay for it, as the machines - 8 washers and 8 driers!! - are owned by the members.

We will have to pay for cable. A few years back, the members voted in a cable package that everyone gets, so we'll have tv whether we want it or not. That will be a bit strange. We haven't had tv in over 3 years, and before that it was only Farmer Vision.

More importantly, it's OURS. We can hang up as many pictures as we want. Heck, we can paint murals on the walls, if we feel like it. My knees shudder a bit at the thought of those front steps, but I'll put up with it. We're going to be be about half way to the library compared to where we are now. We'll be able to bring out our piano and all the other stuff we left behind before the move - though the piano will probably have to go into one of the common rooms, as I can't picture it being brought up those front steps, just for size, never mind it's a 1000 pound piano and the stairs are wood, with no risers. That's ok, though. This is a community we're moving into, and if there are other people who would be able to take up piano that normally wouldn't because one is available in the common room, I'm okay with that. Pianos need to be played.

So that was the elation side of things. Then there's the frustration.

I had my appointment with the respiratory specialist. I'd forgotten that we hadn't gone over the barium swallow results, or the sinus Xrays that were done at the same time.

The barium swallow test was actually a lot of fun. The people doing the test had a great sense of humour, which I noticed immediately when I was set up in the machine and I saw a sign on the wall that read "This Wall" in English and several Asian languages. It turned out that when the tech would ask patients to turn to "this wall," they were often asked "which wall?" Never mind that the wall to the other side was covered with cupboards, essentially hidden. Best of all, the barium swallow was a real-time test. The screen was right in front of me and I could see everything the tech could. They were able to answer questions for me and tell me what I was seeing. Very cool!

Of course, all these tests came back normal. I was expecting that, really. At least for the barium swallow. I had no idea what they'd find in the sinus Xrays. The only thing there was that I'm slightly "asymmetrical." Which doesn't effect anything. I don't have sinusitis, which I already knew. Since I was able to watch everything, I knew I didn't have acid reflux, which is what the barium swallow was testing for.

I had to ask about the allergy test results, though. The dr. had the print outs for the other two, but the allergy test was on my computer file, only, so he looked it up. They were testing for wheat/grasses, trees, animals and similar environmental allergies.

I have no allergies.

Just to make things even more difficult, my cough is pretty calm these days. I still have the tickle in my chest, which is irritating as I always feel like I'm just about to cough, even when I don't. I still cough like a gunshot, as my husband describes it, when the tickle gets too overwhelming. I just haven't had any of the coughing fits lately. Which is good. But at the same time, it's frustrating, since there's nothing for the dr. to hear.

I don't have a follow up appointment. He still wants me to do the sleep apnea test overnight in the hospital, which I'll have to arrange. It's a 6 month waiting list, so no hurry there. Meanwhile, he just told me to come back when the cough gets worse again.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Doctors, dentists, tests, more doctors and more tests.

Well, another week has flown right by. Hard to believe that the first month of 2009 is almost over!

It's not like we've been inordinately busy, exactly. I haven't been working at all lately. Aside from getting tired of phoning the office for shifts and never getting through, I'd be pretty useless right now with my arm. I did finally get to a doctor about it. I've got lateral epicondylitis - otherwise known as tennis or golfer's elbow. Since it didn't get any better after leaving it on its own for 2 months, the doctor sent me for physiotherapy. I've had all of one session so far. I ended up cancelling my second one since I wasn't feeling well that day, but I've got another session this Thursday booked. That'll be a busy day. I've got a dental appointment that morning to double check on a tooth I had pulled - it split it in half on New Year's night - and my husband has a follow up appointment for his knee not long after my physio appointment. My arm has actually been feeling a lot better since I got my tooth pulled. Turns out acetominophen is useless for tennis elbow, but ibuprofen, which I was told to take after getting the tooth pulled... that's gooooodddd stuff! It even works better for Dh's back.

Dh is having sooo much fun these days. _insert heavy sarcasm_ It's bad enough he's got his fatigue and back injury bothering him, but his knee is giving him grief again, too. Another old injury. He ended up missing a couple of days work because of the pain. That and it kept giving out on him. I was actually able to get him in to see our regular doctor on short notice, thanks to a cancellation, and we were able to take him for Xrays immediately after. Dh even got to see the Xrays before they got sent off, which was really cool. The dr. doesn't expect to find anything in the Xrays, but he needs to get those done first before sending Dh for an MRI. He also gave Dh a prescription for anti-inflammatories. They're doing a great job for his knee - but they *really* upset his insides. He's still on a couple of other prescriptions from the dr. at the walk-in clinic, though he dropped some of them. One of them had some pretty wicked side effects. They were supposed to lower his blood sugars, but instead screamed them way up. Only afterwards did we find out that this med. is named in a multi-province class action suit in relation to congenital heart failure and kidney failure, causing permanent damage and deaths. Lovely. On the plus side, this was the most expensive of the drugs, so dropping it makes things easier on the pocket book. We need to update our regular doctor about the prescriptions the walk-in dr. put Dh on, but this was the first time Dh got to see him in at least a year.

I've got another follow up appointment with the respiratory specialist this week. Oh, there's another story. I saw him before Christmas to go over my test results. It was even late enough in the day that Dh was able to join me. Now, the last time I saw him, he was quick to blame some test results showing I had low lung volume on my being fat, so I was curious to see if he'd even notice that my methacholine challange results were well within normal ranges. He didn't.

I was really surprised to find out nothing showed up in the bronchoscopy. They even did a biopsy and tested me for fungal infections, bacterial infections, and specifically for TB. Not only did they all come back normal, but I didn't even have any signs of irritation in my bronchial tubes. With all my coughing, I thought there would at least be some scarring or something. Nope. Everything looks perfectly healthy. Which is good, but it was the one test I really thought would show *something.*

My CT scan also came back normal for my lungs, but the folks that went over the images mentioned that they could see fat on my liver. The specialist told me it would have nothing to do with my chronic cough, but he passed it on so I (and my regular doctor) would be aware of it. Of course, he blamed it on my size. *sigh*

When I got home I did some research. Fatty Liver Disease, which can only be diagnosed through a biopsy, is associated with alcholol abuse, starvation, obesity, drug abuse and the side effects of some drugs. Fat on the liver, which is not Fatty Liver Disease, is one of those things that no one really knows the cause of, or even if it's harmful. It gets discovered by accident when people undergo MRIs or CT scans for other things - like I did. Blaming it on my size was just another supposition on his part.

When I saw my regular doctor about my arm, I used the opportunity to talk to him about the chronic cough and the various test results. I also brought up with him the issue the respiratory specialist seems to have with fat people. I said I wasn't quite sure how to deal with it, and that my main concern was that, if this guy is so quick to jump to conclusions about stuff unrelated to my cough, what else might he jump to conclusions about? My doctor was quite startled to hear that the specialist blamed the fat on my liver on my size. I barely finished mentioning it when he started saying that was rediculous. He wasn't impressed about the lung volume assumptions, either. In the end, though, I just wanted him to be aware of the situation. It's not much of an issue for me, but if he's got a patient with, say, and eating disorder, he'll know that this is not a doctor to recommend them to. These sorts of comments would be instant triggers. As we talked about it, I wondered if I should bring it up with the specialist, but my doctor told me not to bother. It wouldn't do any good. :-P Since it's unrelated to why I'm seeing the specialist, I'll just let it slide for now.

Meanwhile, I was sent for more blood tests by the specialist - this time to test for allergies. I've had allergy tests before, but they were the prick tests, not blood tests. I'll find out the results of that on tuesday. The results from the sleep test, meanwhile, weren't much good, since it was so short. I did snore (which means I actually slept more than I thought I did that night), and my blood oxygen levels did drop. When I mentioned that I'd slept horribly that night, the specialist said he wanted me to go for an overnight test. It has nothing to do with my cough, but he wants to play it safe. I'm ok with that. We don't take sleep apnea lightly. I do wonder, however, how an overnight test in a lab is going to be any better. If I slept so poorly during the test at home, it's going to be a lot worse in a strange bed with all those wires glued to me! Mind you, he says there's at least a 6 month waiting list right now, so it's not like I'll be getting it done any time soon.

Well, it's past 1 am right now. Which means it's the first day of Chinese New Year.

Gung Hey Fat Choy!


Monday, January 19, 2009

May you live in interesting times...

The past few months have been interesting indeed.

That we had a Canadian federal election at about the same time as the US presidential election has made for a unique situation. It's not very often we can compare the two side by side like this.

I have to admit, I have no idea how you folks in the US can put up with 2 years of electioneering. For us, campaigns are measured in weeks, not years, and that's more than enough for me! *L*

You folks in the US seem to have a completely different attitude towards your president that we have for our Prime Minister, too. The US president gets the whole rock star treatment. I know people in the US who consider meeting the president, or even just being in the same room, as a lifetime event they proudly talk about for years. Most Canadians probably wouldn't want to be in the same room as the PM - unless it's to throw pies or something. But then, I can't imagine the US president throttling protesters, either. Overall, though, our attitude towards our PM is pretty low key, and political gatherings are rather uneventful.

With the president-elect to be sworn in tomorrow, however, things seems to have risen to a whole new level. I can understand people getting excited. Especially in a crowd of like minded individuals. What I can't understand is the deification of Obama.

I'll admit to being saddened when Obama was elected. Not that he won, exactly. If US citizens are willing to overlook things like voter irregularities (even ballots pre-checked for Obama), that's up to them. Or that his "decisive win" was only a few percentage points higher than McCain in the popular vote - which actually means something in a 2 party system, unlike our own 5 party plus system; or that he seems to be all style, little substance. And what can beat the arrogance of someone who claims his victory as "the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal?"

It makes little difference to me. What saddened me more than anything else is that, no matter what he does, Obama is set up for failure. People actually think he's going to save the planet - from what is debatable, but mostly in the area of "stopping" climate change. If people really believe the president of the United States has the power to control climate, they're in for some serious disappointment! If he tries to keep his pie in the sky campaign promises, he will fail. If he backs off and starts dealing with the real world, he will be considered a failure, too. He can't win.

He's not only expected to save the world from anthropogenic global warming, but he's supposed to be able to save the world's economy, too. He's even supposed to somehow bring peace on Earth while he's at it. This is not something any human is capable of.

But then, some people think Obama is more than human. There are serious online discussion about whether or not Obama is an "enlightened being," or has something called "mana." It was creepy enough to see little children sing praise to Obama during the election (that second link goes beyond "creepy" to "alarming"). Now there are children's books that have God talking to Obama (excerpts here). Oh, and don't forget the reggae song, Obama By Thy Name. Yup, even the Lord's Prayer has been Obamified.

Quite frankly, I'm finding the whole thing is getting pretty scary.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

How awesome is this!!!

Psychiatrist knits anatomically correct wooly brain.

Psychiatrist Dr Karen Norberg, of National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, spent a year knitting an anatomically correct replica of the human brain.

Isn't this just wild?? I love it!

Dr Norberg said she started knitting the individual parts of the brain - such as the cerebellum, brainstem and amygdala - separately before bringing them together.

Her patience paid off and the woolly brain is now on display at the Boston Museum of Science.

The psychiatrist is now looking for other ways of using her creativity: "I'm thinking of posters or t-shirts, but I am not so sure whether people will want to walk around with a knitted brain on the front of their clothes."

Me, me!! I'd wear one!

Yes, I'm a geek.

This is environmentally friendly??

While we were doing our to-ing and fro-ing today, we swung by the grocery store and I dashed in to pick up a few things. This is our usual grocery store, and the one I used to work at as a cashier. As I was standing in line, I noticed a new 18L water bottle display along the front.

Until now, this store had two options available for customers who wanted the big jugs of water for their water coolers. One involved full water bottles provided by a bottled water company. If a customer was getting a new one, they had to pay a $10 deposit for the bottle, plus the cost of the water. Once empty, they would bring back the old bottle and just pay for the water of a new one, exchanging bottle for bottle. If they forgot the empty, they had to pay the deposit again. Or, they could just return the empty and get their full deposit back. The empty bottles would then be picked up by the supplier for sterilization and refilling.

The other choice was for customers to fill bottles at a water station in one of the aisles. Customers could bring their own bottles, of buy any of a variety of sizes of empty bottles and jugs ranging from 4 to 18L in size. For the first purchase, they'd pay for the container as well as the water, and we'd add a "refill" sticker to the container so that other cashiers wouldn't charge them for the container again. The18L bottles had special caps that, once used in a cooler, could not be used again. We would provide new caps free of charge.

It looks like both of these options are now gone.

The new display had bottles each with a green coloured paper label, declaring them as being "green" and BPA free. A huge banner above declared the green-ness of these bottles, as well as the pertinent details. No deposit! 25 cent enviro fee! Single use!

Single use?

Sure enough, these new "environmentally friendly," BPA free plastic water cooler bottles can not be re-used. Once empty, you have to buy a new one. I don't even know if the new, BPA free bottles are recyclable. I do find it terribly ironic that these new "green" bottles will mean so many more bottles, since none of them are returnable or reusable.

Yeah. That's sooo much better for the environment.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It's been a long time...

... but I haven't abandoned this blog. Part of the problem is that I have so much I want to write about, and no time to sit down and think things through to write about them.

I'm hoping to correct that in the near future.