Monday, July 28, 2014

A Walk in the Woods

When we did the Walk to Fight Arthritis in early June, it was a big experience for a number of reasons. One of these was that I've always wanted to tromp through the woods in the Don Valley. Doing the Walk did not lend itself to stop and photograph the wondrous surroundings. Recently, The Boy and I went back with ample time for a leisurely walk.

We started by wandering around the Brickworks' Saturday market and then headed towards the ponds. Where another dream came true.

For years, I have admired photographs of dragonflies. I've very much wanted the opportunity to photograph one myself, but I live downtown and the odd time I see one, it flies off before I can get out my camera. Turns out that all I had to do was find a pond.

Now I'd like to photograph a dragonfly on a prettier background than pondscum!

From a bit further away, the pond is beautiful.

After the pond, but before you get to the woods, you walk through a beautiful meadow area, gone wild with grasses and wildflowers. And I was completely overwhelmed by all the green. It would be impossible to count all the difference shades of green, so all I did was let my eyes absorb the glory.

This area is not exactly accessible, but if you have a power wheelchair that's comfortable in uneven terrain, it's a great place to get close to all the green.

I learned a lot of different things that day in the woods. Among them that there is a quarry in the Don Valley

But enough of all that, let's get into the woods! Which we did very quickly and for the first time in years, even decades, I was in a decidedly woodsy area. I knew that it was something I'd very much wanted to do, but had no idea how much I'd missed the woods – much more easily accessible in Denmark — until I saw sights like this

There are also signs of human influence, moments that show that these woods are in the middle of the city, but they are so embraced by nature that it doesn't seem jarring. This culvert, for instance, had created a beautiful little watering hole, complete with waterfall

A bit further down the path, there was a railway bridge, almost totally obscured by trees at each side of the path

Thankfully, it was a beautiful sunny day and that gave me the opportunity to play with light filtering through leaves, one of my favourite things in the world

It doesn't get much more green than that.

Or this. A perfect moment, just me and The Boy in the woods.

I came home with my soul at peace and feeling a deep happiness. I've only been there twice, but this has become one of my favourite places in Toronto.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Our Hands Can! Community Stories June 2014: Living Things

Show Us Your Hands! is launching an exciting new community program called the Picture Project. Every month, we ask people who live with inflammatory arthritis to take photos of their hands [involved in] doing something related to the month’s theme and post them on our Facebook page. The inaugural monthly Picture Project was this June on the theme of Living Things.

To celebrate this new program, we asked the Show Us Your Hands! Advisory Council to choose their favorite among the submissions. The winner will receive a signed copy of Your Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Tools for Managing Treatment, Side Effects and Pain by Lene Andersen, our Director of Community Outreach. We received a wonderful variety of submissions, some of which have been chosen to be included in this month’s Our Hands Can! Community Stories. Read on to the end of the post where we announce the winner.

And now we’d like like you to meet a few of the wonderful submissions on the theme of what your hands can do with Living Things.

Emily Fowler Eller gave us our very own “Daily Squee” when she submitted this photo of her hand holding one of her newborn English Angora rabbits. Around our international offices, there was a collective awwww. Ellen says that her bunnies are “sweet friends and produce wool which I spin into yarn and knit.”

Robyn Crocome shared a photo from her garden. She said “I am so thankful that I can still feed the winter garden birds under the glorious tree dahlia” We were thankful for her thoughtful perspective on gratitude and giving back to other living things.

Greida Quintero submitted this powerful photo of her hand with a stethoscope. She said that “today I can do my work to take care of my patients.” Thanks for the wonderful work you do, Greida. It’s good to know that there are people like you who have inflammatory arthritis and work in the healthcare system.

Angelica Jacobs shared a beautiful moment with her faithful companion. Angelica shared how important her dog is to her, saying “when I'm not well, she sleeps on me. Follows me everywhere and talks to me (dog talk).” Those of us who have pets completely understand what you mean, Angelica!

Thank you to everyone who submitted photos in our June Picture Project! And now…. The winner!

Congratulations to Greida Quintero! We’ll be in touch to arrange sending the book to you.

Do you want to help us unite and inspire the inflammatory arthritis community? Join the Picture Project! Post a photo of what your hands can do on the Show Us Your Hands! Facebook page. July’s theme is Holiday Fun. All submissions qualify to win a copy of 7 Facets: A Meditation on Pain by Lene Andersen.

What can your hands do for Holiday Fun?

Why Does Mommy Hurt? Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for a signed copy of Why Does Mommy Hurt? Helping Children Cope with the Challenges of Having a Caregiver with Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, or Autoimmune Disease, the new book by Elizabeth M. Christy.

The winner is Kerry. Congratulations! Send me an email at landers5ATgmailDOTcom with your address and we'll get your book in the mail.

My thanks to Elizabeth for her guest post and the book. 

If you didn’t win, I encourage you to buy this book — it’s a terrific children’s book that can help you explain not just Fibromyalgia, but also other conditions causing chronic pain, such as RA and migraine. Why Does Mommy Hurt? is only $8.96 in paperback and $3.95 in Kindle ebook (PDF available directly from Parents with Pain). You may also want to join Elizabeth’s Parents with Pain network to get support from others in your situation.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Medical Adventure

“If I’ve had a heart attack, I’m going to be really pissed.”
-          Me, Monday at 3:35 PM

Well, wasn’t that something! As such as ventures though, it was one I’d rather not have had, but since it apparently had to happen, the end result was a huge relief. Thought I’d put that in there to keep you from having a nervous breakdown as you’re reading this.

I wasn’t feeling well on Sunday and at a certain point, I realized many of my symptoms bore a rather uncomfortable resemblance to the symptoms women may experience when having a heart attack. On the other hand, the symptoms could also be explained by other factors, including RA, Fibro and a vat of roiling acid having replaced my stomach. I did the “smart” thing and decided to wait and see (note: not recommended). I was still feeling a bit wonky Monday morning, so I decided to go see my GP. She took my blood pressure (120/76 — this will be relevant later) and then did the smart thing by hooking me up to an ECG. Which looked “a bit funny.” When I asked what that meant, she said it showed that I‘d had a heart attack.

Not funny.

Then there was a call to 911 and an ambulance ride to the ER. Which I naturally documented because a) I have a blog; and b) planning the post kept me from freaking out.

Herewith are some of the thoughts I had Monday afternoon:

So glad the nurse agreed to go upstairs with me before calling 911 so I can grab some raisins and crackers. They’ve got to let me eat at some point.

Wheee! Being on a gurney is fun. I get to see the world from a standing person’s point of view.

Apparently, very sick people are not entitled to a comfortable ride. Ambulances have really crappy suspension.

The triage nurse is nice. Do wish she would stop referring to my ECGs as “squiggly.”

Ah. Thank you for explaining that it’s not me having more heart attacks, but placement of electrodes needing to be adjusted.

Lying around in an ER hallway is really boring.

I’m pretty sure that getting to lie around being bored is a good sign.

Really thankful that The Boy dropped everything and came to keep me company.

I feel like a bird.

Ah. A room. This is nice. The gurney is a lot more comfortable than I’d expected.

Remember to tell The Boy that we are engaged. I have heard bad stories about anyone who's not a fiancée or spouse not being allowed in.

Dear nurse: why is it necessary for me to explain that I have a disability and therefore cannot put the gown on myself and why are you kicking out my partner just because I need blood drawn?

It takes some doing to keep everyone updated.

I’m hungry. Why did this have to happen just before lunch?

This is the first time I’ve skipped my Mandatory Rest Period in years.

I’m really hungry.

Having the terms you hear in medical shows on TV (like sinus tachycardia) applied to you is surreal.

Does that sign really say “hand hygiene use with 2 metres of patient”?? (it didn’t. It was within)

Being hooked up to a heart monitor is a bit more reality than I was prepared for.

Oh, look! The second year medical student taking my medical history looks like he’s 12!

Do I really only take up half a page??

I’m so hungry I forgot half of the symptoms I had.

That automatic blood pressure cuff pumps out so hard it increases my blood pressure. It was perfectly fine two hours ago and now it’s 145/95.

I’m STARVING! Those blood tests better come back soon so I can eat.

Yay!! Nothing wrong with me, blood tests are negative, I can go home.

I can eat!

Raisins and crackers have never tasted so good.

I can get dressed.

I’m going home

More in-depth tests showed that I haven’t had a heart attack, instead it was my GERD having a conniption fit. Much grateful appreciation goes out to Jean, my GP, and Allison, my/her nurse, whose vigilance and caring made it really scary situation easier. To Christine and Brian, the paramedics whose calm and sense of humour helped me stay calm, and to the staff at Toronto General ER who moved me through the process quickly and without a fuss. Overall, the entire episode was very calm. That helped a lot.