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Monday, December 15, 2014

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Microblog Mondays: Give or Receive?

Our dear Mel over at Stirrup Queens has begun a blog phenomenon... as she frequently does. 

Microblog Mondays. Writing in your own space. Something short and sweet. But it's meant to take back our bloggy space and call it our own. I am going to try to do this periodically. Life's hectic. So we'll see how long this lasts.


*********************
Mel was discussing whether we truly prefer to give than to receive.

My answer? Hell yes. I LOVE to give. I give for the absolute sake of giving. Not ever expecting anything in return. Truthfully, if someone does offer something in return, I feel a sense of embarrassment. Isn't that weird? I have the distinct impression that I am not in the majority or the norm in this.

I love Christmas. I go overboard at Christmas, just because I love to give so very much. Even the neighbours get chocolates and Christmas cards and their kids get presents, even if it's something little. Just because. My coworkers all get cards, and sometimes a little chocolate. I keep extra boxes of candy canes and goodies to give out, just in case. I love, love, love to give.

I don't particularly like to receive, though I confess, there are one or two items this year I truly want to receive (heated blanket, fitbit, and some of my favourite moisturizer are really high on my 'want' list at the moment). Hubby says I need clothing more than those things. He may be right. I have very little in my closet.

Regardless of whether I receive, I just hope that what I do give is good enough. (Seems to be a recurrent theme in my life; "Is it / Am I good enough?"

********************
For those who may have wondered, I didn't win that little red dress. A shame too. So while out shopping yesterday, I actually took the time to peek around for a little red dress for myself. I found a gorgeous black skirt and a red dress, but I was too afraid to try them on. Shopping for clothing for myself is fraught with a whole boatload of negative emotions at the moment. Baby steps. Baby steps...

A difficult weekend in our house. More on that later as the family doesn't want to reveal details just yet. Suffice it to say, the hits keep on comin'. I am looking forward to getting away for Christmas and seeing my family. Bear with me if I miss a Monday. I'm semi-absent for a week or so. After all, it's Christmas. Merry Christmas all. For your viewing pleasure, Petite wishes you all a very Merry Christmas too!


With the Big Man in Red, Himself. (December 13, 2014)

Monday, December 08, 2014

Microblog Mondays; Favourite Colours

Our dear Mel over at Stirrup Queens has begun a blog phenomenon... as she frequently does. 

Microblog Mondays. Writing in your own space. Something short and sweet. But it's meant to take back our bloggy space and call it our own. I am going to try to do this periodically. Life's hectic. So we'll see how long this lasts.


*********************

Yeah, yeah, I spell "colour" with a "u"... I'm Canadian. Deal. :)

I don't know that I have favourites, per se. I mean, being obese, I've dressed in black and dark colours for so long I don't know if I'd recognize colour if it smacked me in the face! Seriously.

I know that I have a love/hate relationship with reds. My face had a few red tones and I'm auburn-haired with loads of freckles... red is NOT a colour that looks good on me. But I love it in décor; it just POPS and makes you pay attention.

I tend to gravitate to blues and pinks if given the opportunity to choose clothing of colour. I'm fearful of bold colours because, like the red, it makes you pay attention. Attention is something I did not want as an obese female. God knows.

So imagine my surprise and intrigue when on a local Buy Nothing FB exchange site, I found myself throwing my name in the hat to receive a low-cut, sequinned, empire-waisted (size 10, no less!) red, knee-length dress for the Christmas season. I don't expect to get it of course, but wow, for once, I'd like to have something that looks good and gives me a bit of a boost.

Fingers crossed!

Now... I must go comment on some of your blogs. I've been slackin. Admittedly, with my MIL's passing, I've been quite busy this week. And yes, I really need to clean up the dead links in my sidebar! (So many bloggers have fallen off the face of the earth! Quite a shame really.)

Monday, December 01, 2014

Microblog Mondays: RIP to my MIL

Our dear Mel over at Stirrup Queens has begun a blog phenomenon... as she frequently does. 

Microblog Mondays. Writing in your own space. Something short and sweet. But it's meant to take back our bloggy space and call it our own. I am going to try to do this periodically. Life's hectic. So we'll see how long this lasts.


*********************

A sad, and very difficult week in our house.

My MIL passed away last Monday afternoon, in the presence of her husband, her sister, one of her daughters, Hubby, and me.

She retired a few years ago, and had lost a significant amount of weight; I knew something was wrong but she was never fully tested. This past summer, they found a tumor and it was surgically removed, but no follow-up chemo or radiation was forthcoming. (We later found that it had been offered to her, but she turned it down. We question now whether she realized the ramifications of that particular decision. She was suffering from dementia on and off during this time because of the tumor.)

Post-op, she came home and was doing fairly well, but just before our Thanksgiving in early October, she took another turn for the worse and things went rapidly downhill from there. She was in the ICU and then transferred to a hospice. We did not expect her to live to see her 67th birthday on November 20. But she made it. She had asked Hubby for a piece of KFC and a Tim Horton's coffee a couple of days before her birthday and she enjoyed what she could eat of that... (translation: very little of either, but at least it was something).

On Monday past, November 24, 2014, my MIL's husband and a couple of the kids were to meet with the doctors at 3 p.m. to discuss her care and next steps. But that morning, Hubby's youngest sister called to verify that the meeting was still on and she was told, "Your mom's breathing has changed. Someone might want to get here sooner than 3 p.m." Hubby called me around 11:45. As soon as he told me that, I knew. You see, I've been down this road before. I knew exactly what the nurses were telling the family.

I told Hubby, "Hang up the phone. March straight to your boss' office and tell him it's an emergency. You need to leave RIGHT NOW. I will meet you there. Go." I did that as well, and I met him just before 1 p.m. at the doors to the hospice. We had barely over an hour with her; she took her last breath at 2:19 p.m. and amid tears, grief, love and pain, we said our goodbyes. Hubby and I left soon thereafter to get his youngest sister at home, and I stayed with the three young children so that his sis could go to the hospice with him. I called the funeral home and started the ball rolling from the home base. And it's been a whirlwind of a week since.

RIP Nicole. You are loved more than you can know and you will truly, truly be missed.

Our huge thanks to our friends and family who came to the celebration of her life this past Saturday; even our dear friends from Toronto (Pam and V) made the trek and we are ever so grateful. Seeing so many people there to pay their respects made it a little easier to say goodbye.

P.S. Thank you all for your sweet comments, e-mails, and thoughts on my last post about the weight loss and the negative comment I had received. You are all so very kind and I am grateful for your understanding and for your outpouring of love. (What a wonderful virtual world this is.)

Monday, November 24, 2014

Microblog Mondays: "Be Careful of your Face"

Our dear Mel over at Stirrup Queens has begun a blog phenomenon... as she frequently does. 

Microblog Mondays. Writing in your own space. Something short and sweet. But it's meant to take back our bloggy space and call it our own. I am going to try to do this periodically. Life's hectic. So we'll see how long this lasts.


*********************

Before I had weight loss surgery (WLS), I had heard so very frequently the same old line that I grew to hate more than the extra weight itself, "Gil, you have such a pretty face. If only you weren't so fat." Yes indeed, people had the gall to say that to me, in person. I mean seriously, how does one respond to that sort of insensitivity? Sheesh.

Now that I have had WLS, the weight is shedding quickly and I am being very diligent about following my surgeon's guidelines regarding my water intake, protein consumption, required vitamins/minerals, and portion control. It all works well together and to date, I'm more than 115 lbs down. But I'm technically still obese. At least for another pound or two. Then, with a little luck I'll be in the "overweight" category for another 30 lbs. Rest assured, my surgeon's office is following me closely, including watching my blood work.

This week, I got lucky and won tickets to my university's alumni association dinner (a value of $300) that was held downtown at the beautiful Château. A famous Canadian musician was the keynote speaker and I've been a fan of his and his band's music for nigh on 20 years now. It was an excellent opportunity to meet him in person. Hubby snagged this shot.



I posted the pic on Facebook, and got many comments on how great I look; almost everyone completely ignored the fact that I am standing next to Alan Doyle! I couldn't believe it!

Anyway, I have a girlfriend who is also a fan, and I e-mailed that photo to her as she is not on Facebook. She opened the e-mail while I was on the phone with her. And her first comment to me was, "Oh Gil, be careful of your face." She went on to say that in her view, I had lost more than enough weight. She repeated that line no less than FOUR times during our convo. "Gil, be careful of your face."

I reiterated that my surgeon is following me closely. "Be careful of your face." I told her that skin takes an average of two years to come back into place (assuming it will; for some people it does not) and that I just have to bide my time. "Be careful of your face." I told her that I am technically still obese. "Be careful of your face."

Seems no matter what I do, I cannot win. I guess my face/neck is on the losing end of this battle. Whether I am fat or thin.

And as frequently happens, that one negative comment overshadowed all the other positive ones by at least a million times to one.
*cue the tears*

So much for the 'microblog'... Sorry.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Microblog Mondays

Our dear Mel over at Stirrup Queens (and why does some part of me still want to call her blog by its previous moniker, "Stirrup Queens and Sperm Palace Jesters"?) has begun a blog phenomenon as she frequently does.

Microblog Mondays. Writing in your own space. Something short and sweet. But it's meant to take back our bloggy space and call it our own. I am going to try to do this periodically. Life's hectic. So we'll see how long this lasts.

*********************

Cold. Brr. I am freezing post-op. I cannot get warm enough. Most evenings find me cozied up with Petite in her bed, snuggling for warmth as she still enjoys it when Mommy or Daddy lies down with her to cap off her day. She falls asleep pretty easily that way.

I usually manage to get up and get to my own bed in due course. But I was so chilled last night, I simply did NOT want to get out from under her blankets.

I go to bed and this is what I use to try to keep warm:
  • fleece jammies (Mom just had a gorgeous new set from LL Bean sent to me! Thanks Mom!)
  • a heating pad at my feet
  • a Magic Bag (or two) heated in the microwave. One goes across my torso, the other near my upper arms as they get cold very fast.
  • a heavy feather duvet
  • I did have two extra blankets on my side of the bed, but now that the duvet and the duvet cover is on, those make it super heavy!
  • and last night, I added a pair of fuzzy socks. That helped.
I am looking into investing in a soft, twin heated blanket for the winter. Apparently the first winter or two post-op is brutal until your body gets used to things again. If you have other suggestions, I'm open to hearing about them! Brrrr!!! And we've barely got snow! This is just gonna be no fun at all come January and February when we experience -30 and -40 degrees!!!! I'm gonna be an icicle!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Moving Right Along; the Latest and Greatest in our World. Or at least, what's keeping us busy.

So let's get up to speed, shall we? Where were we when we last left off? Oh yeah...

Ontario Election

The Ontario election has come and gone. The Liberals won a majority and that means that IVF coverage was pushed through in the budget. Now we do not know yet what that 'coverage' will look like. What will it cover? One fresh cycle only? Or frozen too? How many cycles exactly? Will it come in the form of a tax break or actual coverage up front? And for what ages? Married couples only? Singles? LGBT? What about using donor eggs? What about using donor sperm? There are a lot of parameters to decide.

Milestones

We are still feeling the loss of my baby boy, Shadow as the previous post detailed. His brother, Smudge, has certainly stepped up and tried to fill the void. He's like Velcro to me at the moment, and hates it when I leave the house. He's very attached to people and prefers to be in a room where we are, rather than by himself. But sometimes age gets the better of him and he'd just prefer to go lie down and sleep on our bed, warm and cosy in the blankets. He turned 19 on August 25. He's an old boy now, but we love him and we are keeping him as happy and comfortable as possible until his own time comes.

Petite's 5th birthday was in August as well. Because she started kindergarten (Jardin) this year, ON her birthday no less (!), she opted to wait to celebrate her birthday in September so she could invite a few of her classmates and close friends from school. So we did that and had 14 children come to celebrate at a local indoor play park. She had an absolute blast!

We also passed the anniversary of my Aunt's passing, and just last week, we released balloons to celebrate what would have been her 80th birthday. We still miss her so very much. She has left a definite void in our hearts.

Vacation

Over the summer, I took Petite back to The Rock to spend time with my family. We took a side detour over to NS and NB to see family there. In particular, to meet my cousin's new boy-girl twins! They were about 5 months old when we saw them and they were gorgeous! Oh my heavens! What beautiful children. My cousin and his wife did IVF as well and they hit the jackpot. She was able to carry the twins to 39 weeks before they induced her and delivered them by C-section. How very, very luck are they. And in a nod to my grandfather and my aunt, the boy's middle name is my grandfather's first name, and the girl's middle name is my aunt's first name… or the diminutive of it and the name my aunt actually preferred us to call her. I had a few dresses that my aunt had given to Petite, and I passed them on to this baby girl; she can actually wear a dress that her namesake purchased… long before she was even conceived. We are so blessed.

While at home, I managed to see my sister and my nephew too. We had such fun with them and made some wonderful memories, for kids, parents, and grandparents alike. It was a lovely holiday.

Family Grief

Right now, we are dealing with a family issue. Over the summer, my MIL complained of pain in her right side. She delayed a visit to the doctor, and when she finally got to see them, they couldn't do both tests they had hoped at the same visit, so postponed both of them for 6-8 weeks. Eventually, they found it. A growth. She needed surgery, fast, and that done, she was sent home. Apparently they knew it was cancer and told her and offered her chemo which she declined (we question now if she realized the ramifications of her choice, given her dementia at the time). She was sent home. Five weeks later, she was back in hospital with the same symptoms and still too weak, recovering from the first surgery, to undergo a second. The growth had returned, growing quickly and aggressively. She has a sarcoma and it is now systemic. It is terminal. She was in the ICU and has now been transferred to a hospice. There are good days and bad (on Sunday past, she did not awaken at all), but the doctors gave her anywhere from days to weeks left. We are visiting as much as we possibly can and trying to help the family get her affairs in order for the inevitable. It will happen; we just need to be prepared. Or as prepared as we can possibly be. The whole family is in shock and not dealing well with this terribly sad news. (By the way, if you know me personally, this is not yet public information so please do not post anything on FB or other social media about this. I would appreciate your consideration for this sensitive issue. Thank you in advance.)

VSG and Weight Loss

Now, as to my surgery and recovery… and my own accountability.

I had my Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy performed at the Civic on February 3, 2014. Today is November 13. To date, I have lost 114 lbs. I go through long stalls -- weeks where I do not lose a pound – but I usually check my measurements or do a photo comparison (or clothing comparison) and I realize that in the stalls, I am usually losing or redistributing my body weight in other ways. It's pretty fascinating.

My operation took a mere 50 minutes and was without complication. I walked into the operating room and by the time they brought me to a semi-private room in the trauma ward to recover, I was able to get off the gurney and walk to my bed with assistance. It's a laparoscopic procedure, so I do not have a long incision, but rather I had five small incisions through which the surgeon removed approximately 85-90% of my stomach. I have a tiny sleeve of a stomach now that is about the size of a thick pen or narrow highlighter. It can hold 2-3 ounces comfortably, but much more than that makes me get the 'foamies.' That is when I start salivating quickly, as if I were going to vomit, I get lightheaded, my heart races a bit and I start to tear up at the eyes, swallowing hard to try to keep myself from being sick. I usually get up and walk it off, and after a burp/heave or two, it passes. It's happened a few times. Quite the learning curve! My new sleeve cannot handle milk very well, though cheese and yogourt are good. I am following my diet and eating protein forward, followed by veggies (only IF I have room).

In the last month or two, I've had a taste of popcorn and chocolate. I try to stay far away from the carbs to maximize my 'honeymoon' phase which can last for 12-18 months. But now and then, a taste is really nice. Much of my diet now consists of protein shakes for breakfast, some peanut butter for a snack, lunch is usually some meat or fish, a second snack of cheese or a pepperoni stick, supper would be protein with some sauce/dip to help it go down easy (e.g., hamburger patty with 1/3 cup of my homemade spaghetti sauce), and nighttime… is my downfall. I have to be very careful in the evenings. After Petite goes to bed, I tend to look for something to nibble on, more out of habit than anything else. I have found some good protein snacks but I need to be more diligent in choosing them rather than opting for a bite of sugar or carbs. Those are a dangerous, slippery slope! I do NOT want to go there!

I have had some incredible NSVs (non-scale victories) along the way. For example,

  • I've gone from size 22/24 down to 10/12. I cannot recall EVER being in size 10/12 before. When I was 14, I was in size 14 as a child.
  • I can cross my legs… something I've never been able to do. I can even do it on a plane!
  • I can lower the table tray on a plane and still have room to move and bend; it doesn't rest on my stomach. I even had room on either side of my hips while on the plane. That's a FIRST for me in all my years of travel!
  • I have oodles of room in movie theatre seats now; something that is novel. I used to lean over away from my seatmate so I didn't infringe on his/her personal space. That's hard on the back for a three-hour stretch!
  • I can wear heels comfortably all day now. WOW! I was even able to buy boots with heels, off the rack at a REGULAR shoe store!!! OMG!
  • I have had to readjust my seat, mirrors, armrests, etc., in my car to accommodate my new, smaller size.
  • I can shop for hours and not get winded; not that I've done any shopping for myself really. My sister took me out and dressed me up but I'm sorta terrified to do it myself. I've no idea where to begin. After 30+ years of shopping at two or three stores exclusively, I do not even know what's popular anymore.
  • I had to take off my wedding rings; they were falling off my fingers and I was afraid I would lose them. L
  • My shoes are far too large on me. I need new ones for the most part. I never would have thought I would lose weight in my feet. But I truly have.
  • My gold necklace hangs much lower on me than it should. I am loathe to shorten the chain (my parents gave me the chain, while Hubby gave me the pendant) but it looks kinda comical now.
  • It hurts to sit on a hard chair. This is something I've never really experienced before but as someone who had lots of rear padding, I am really feeling my bones when I sit down on a hard surface. Ouch!
  • I've lost somewhere around 65" off my body. I've not calculated it lately, but at last calculation it was 60+ inches. Pretty incredible.
  • I am cold… ALL. THE. TIME. Seriously. I spent all summer freezing. I had a folded blanket on my side of the bed on top of the sheet, one blanket, and top cover. Hubby was so warm he'd kick off the bedding while I shivered. He broke down and bought me a heating pad. I think I'm in the market for a heated twin blanket actually. I cannot get warm at all and I sit in my office with a blanket over my lap and a wool sweater over my shirt. Brrr. I am officially going to FREEZE this winter. Guaranteed.
  • I'm not quite as self-conscious in public anymore. As a morbidly obese person, you spend your life painfully aware that you take up too much space. And you try as much as possible to avoid shoving your mass in the face of others. It's overwhelming much of the time. It gave me a lot of anxiety. I sense that anxiety is diminishing, but it's being replaced by something else. Instead of thinking, "Oh God, I know everyone is judging me for my huge size," now I think, "Oh my, I hope no one can see the extra skin hanging (in whatever spot is visible at the time)." We definitely ARE our own worst critics. It's terrible. Body dysmorphia is a real thing, and I'm at the stage when I'm just starting to deal with it. Very hard.

There are more. Many, many more. But that's enough for now.

Lots of people have commented on my weight loss and I tell them the truth: I had surgery back in February and I've been working hard ever since. It's not easy. And I'm not done yet. I still have between 30 and 50 lbs that I would like to lose. I'm still technically obese. I want, for once in my life, to see a normal BMI, which for me means being 150 lbs or less.
I've come a long way, but this is just the beginning.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Heartbreaking Loss in January 2014

So while we wait for the outcome of the Ontario election to be determined.
You see, the NDP did not support the Liberal budget throwing things in disarray and forcing an election in mid-June. To date, only the Liberal platform specifies the inclusion of IVF. The NDP have waffled on the matter, and the PCs will not support it. Guess where my vote is going? D'uh. No brainer, huh?
Anyway, back to my blog.
At one point a few posts back, I briefly mentioned the huge loss we had suffered.
For those of you who are not animal lovers, fair enough. But I ask that you respect my particular feelings on the topic.

My fur babies.
Smudge and Shadow, Newfoundland, Christmas 1997

Smudge and Shadow. Brothers, from the same litter. Born in Japan in 1995, on August 25, they came into my life 7 weeks later as tiny, miniature, black balls of curious fuzz. And I doted on them.
Page-A-Day Calendar, 1997
My boys were inseparable. I almost named them Hook and Sook. Hook would have been Smudge; he has the physical trait of the kink at the tip of his tail that is frequently seen in purebred Himalayans (as his mother was. Gosh she was gorgeous. Long, white-haired, docile thing. A beautiful animal.). Shadow would have been Sook; so named because he FOLLOWED ME EVERYWHERE! To the kitchen. To the bathroom. If I sat down, he'd be in my lap. If I lay down, he'd be sleeping on me. When I gamed on the computer for hours into the late night, he found a way to adapt to the formation of my forearms and lay there as I moused and typed.
while pregnant with Petite, Shadow sleeping with me, February 2009
Hook and Sook became Smudge and Shadow. Smudge because of the white smudge on his lower belly; gosh he loves to have that rubbed and nuzzled! He's so affectionate. Shadow because he was my shadow. After all, he truly did follow me everywhere.
They loved the occasional bit of ham or tuna. They were inseparable. They slept together, groomed together, played together, traipsed around the house together, followed me together, and spent about 95% of their waking hours in each other's company. They were joined at the hip, as it were.
Smudge and Shadow, 2008
Shadow was my delicate kitty. Sweet. A little hesitant and fearful. But oh so affectionate! In his younger years he would jump into my arms from the floor. He did that to Hubby the first time Hubby came to our house and it shocked the heck out of both of them! Hubby to see a cat fly up to his mid-chest. and Shadow to realize that Hubby wouldn't catch him in time and he dropped back to the ground! I knew then and there that Hubby was a good guy and would fit into our life. If the cats like you, you're good by me.
Shadow 2009
Both boys, being of advanced age, and having no real other physical issues, began to show signs of kidney failure about two years ago at age 16. We've been managing their symptoms ever since. They continued to eat and drink well, but we gave them medicine to combat the kidney failure, and in the last year or so, a once-a-month B12 injection. But in the last five or six months, they began to vomit.
Well, Shadow began to vomit. And so it progressed. Just around Christmas 2013, I began to see slight traces of blood in his vomit. He must have been hurting so. Poor baby. He was still active though, so I didn't do anything about it.
Shadow and Smudge
In January, the day we left on our vacation, Hubby was in the car with Petite, bags packed, and I was locking the door. I had said goodbye to the boys (our dear neighbour Marc watches them when we are away; he's such a godsend) and turned to head out. At that moment, Shadow began to vomit again. And this time, as it had been once or twice earlier that week, it was a fair bit of dark reddish vomit. Blood. My heart was so heavy. But for a cat at 18 years of age, there are no heroics that will give him the quality of life he used to have. I couldn't put him through that. I stopped, wiped up the vomit, kissed him again and left to join the others in the car. We went on with our holiday.
During our vacation, Marc kept us updated. Three days before we were due to come home, Hubby got a text from Marc. Shadow was not coming to eat. Marc looked around for him, and found him in our bedroom closet, lying in a laundry basket on some of our clothing. He coaxed him out, and got him to eat a little, but he told us it didn't look good. Hubby and I were out at dinner with our friends when that text arrived, and we told Marc that there was nothing he could do, but to please keep us updated.
That was Thursday evening.
Shadow playing with a catnip toy, 2013
Saturday, two days later, we arrived back at home around 2 p.m. When Shadow did not meet us at the door, I knew it couldn't be good. Smudge was there, to-ing and fro-ing on our legs and suitcases, but Shadow didn't make a sound. I called him. Twice. Three times. And then I heard him coming slowly out of the bedroom to greet us. He looked frail. Eyes a bit glassy. Tired. I picked him up and he was already a bit cool to the touch, as compared to his brother. I cuddled him close. I brought him to the kitchen, hoping to give him some tuna and water, which he usually loves to drink, and coax him to have a little. No way. He wouldn't have anything to do with it. I put him down. and watched in horror as I realized he couldn't control his back legs any longer. He managed to walk. swaying a little on his legs, back and forth, and he returned to the bedroom and curl in the laundry basket again. I checked on him. And at that moment, I cried.
I called our vet, but they were closed of course (it was a Saturday after all) and as I had told them, there was no point in heroics. I would not put Shadow through that. I had loved him for all 18 years of his life and I could not put him in pain or subject him to invasive poking and prodding. He didn't belong in a vet's office, on a cold, steel table. He belonged with me. He knew I was home and I needed to be with him.
Shadow, summer 2013
I resolved to leave the luggage until time permitted me to handle the unpacking. Hubby took care of our daughter. I focussed exclusively on spending as much time curled with my fur baby, the cats ensconced in the bed with me or alternatively, me next to him in the closet, for the rest of the afternoon. He couldn't jump onto the bed although he came to the side of it and managed to put his forepaws on the covers, so I brought him up there and he curled in my lap a little, letting me snuggle with him. There, I tried to say my goodbyes. Or. to start to. Shadow snuggled with his brother, for what would be the last time. When he was done, he got up and tried to jump off the bed, but he couldn't do it himself, so I helped him. He got to the laundry basket in our closet again, and lay there, partially on the floor, head and upper body in the tipped up basket, surrounded by our clothing. He loved the softness of my pyjama pants; I'm glad they were there for him.
After about 15 or 20 minutes, he got up and came out. He meowed loudly a few times. I petted him, trying to soothe him. He was visibly agitated. He got in and out of the closet twice, and then I called Hubby to come to us. Petite was in bed by this time, so it was just me, Hubby and the two cats; Smudge on the bed, Shadow in the closet. Hubby moved things aside and sat with him in the closet a few moments, until about five or ten minutes later, when Shadow's breathing changed. It got raspy, ragged. Deep breaths followed by long pauses. I knew it was time. I said, "Do I need to be there?" and Hubby replied, "Yes. Yes you do."
Shadow and me, taking a nap, 2010
I got down with him, sitting beside him. The tears came. I stroked his silky, soft, shiny fur. I whispered to him, "It's okay Baby Shad. It's okay sweetheart. It's okay. You can go if you need to. I love you. I've always loved you. I know you have to go, and it's okay. It's okay." I think I repeated those phrases a hundred times; I think I was trying to convince myself that it was okay to let him go at that point.
His breathing got increasingly shallow, and he lifted his head one last time. I stroked his cheek. Stroked his nose and back down his head, smoothing his fur. My hands were on him at all times. I asked Hubby to get a towel for me and I draped it over my shoulder to pick him up and hold him in a position that he used to love. He was almost gone. and I needed to cuddle him.
I did just that. I held him in my arms as he took his last few breaths and slipped away. He had to go, and I had to let him.
And as he went, my heart broke. My Baby Shad was gone.
Shadow relaxing in the sun on his kitty perch, a favourite spot
After about half an hour, I lowered my baby Shadow and the towel into my lap to curl him there. I sat with him for about two hours. I couldn't bear to tear myself away. We righted the laundry basket and placed him, towel and all, in there for the night. I couldn't bear to have him far from me just yet. It would take time.
Shadow died on January 25, 2014, just after 11 p.m. surrounded by all the love I had to give. He had given me so much over the years. My boys were my constant companions. Through thick and thin, they had given me unconditional love and I returned it to them as good as they gave.
Something tells me he waited for us. He knew he was going to have to leave us, but he waited for us to get home. When we arrived home earlier that afternoon, when he heard our voices, sniffed our scents, curled in my arms, he knew. He just knew he could finally let go. And I will be eternally glad that he waited for me.
Smudge and Shadow 2005
I found a wonderful, caring, compassionate pet bereavement centre who helped me make arrangements. I have Shadow's ashes in an urn, and when the time comes, his brother's ashes shall join his. The two shall be together again someday; it's only right. My boys have always been together. I take comfort in knowing that part of me went with him. As a family, we all made contributions to a keepsake envelope that was cremated with Shadow, and I tucked in one of the grey, felt, catnip mice that Aunt B (who passed away a year and a half ago now) made for the cats. Shadow loved his catnip! Aunt B loved my boys too and I know she will take care of Shadow until I get to see him and cuddle him again.
Last photo of Smudge and Shadow together, January 25, 2014
Rest now dear Shadow. You gave me so much. I am grateful you waited for me to be there. But I know it was time. I love you my sweet Boo. I will see you again and so will your brother.  I promise. Go play in the sun my boy. You deserve the rest. I love you.
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When the time is right, I will get a tattoo to commemorate my boys. I have wanted it for years and after Shadow was gone, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Now that I have a design in mind, when all is said and done, I will get that tattoo. It will be exactly what I need. I look forward to it, and I'll certainly show it off when it's done. 
Thank you for reading. If you have pets, hug them tightly on my behalf, and tell them how much they are loved. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

From Futility to Fertility

As featured a couple of weeks ago in the pre-budget announcement, this is the article in the local newspaper that was widely shared by our social media consultants. I am pleased with the article and of course, with the prospective hope that so many couples might have the opportunity to have help to create their families.

It's too late for us... but it's not too late for others. And this is why I fight.

They should be able to have families too, and not have to take out a second mortgage, borrow until they have no more room to do so, or sell body parts to fund IVF.




The three pics are of me and Petite taken the same day as the announcement occurred. She knows a lot about her story already; I will give her all the details as she grows older and can understand. I will not hide it, for I am proud of her and so thrilled that I get to be her mom.

Yes, that still stuns me. *wipes a tear*

I'm lucky and grateful. And I remember that every. single. day. Without fail.

Good on you, Ontario, for doing the right thing. Now to have it come to fruition when the budget is officially delivered later this month or next. Keeping fingers crossed that the promises come true.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

FUNDING FOR IVF in Ontario!

I was going to discuss the great loss that we suffered, and then my surgery, but those posts will have to wait.
Today, we have fantastic news in the province of Ontario.

The provincial government has just, as of this morning, announced funding in the budget to the tune of millions (some reports say $85 million, others quote $50 million) for IVF. Funding will commence in 2015, and favour single embryo transfers. The funding will not include medications, but the procedure itself (frequently a cost of about $10,000 here in Canada) will be covered by the provincial health care plan, OHIP.

There are still a number of details unknown at this time (e.g., criteria to be accepted) but the end result is this: Funding IS forthcoming. And that's so much better than this province has seen for a number of years.

Hubby and I are too old now to benefit from this program, but we want others in Ontario to be able to look towards family building without the type of financial stresses that we felt when we were going through our treatments. We happen to live on the bank of the river that separates Ontario from Quebec; a province that has covered IVF since 2010. I will be honest and tell you that we debated long and hard about whether it was financially sound for us to move for a year or two in order to take advantage of the benefits that Quebec offers. So I am really glad to see Ontario is taking a step in the right direction.

For more information, peek at the links below.

Ontario proposes to pay for in vitro fertilization CBC
Ontario to fund in vitro fertilization The Star
Ontario to fund in vitro fertilization with a caveat—-one embryo at a time to cut risky multiple births National Post
Improving Access to Safe Fertility Treatments Ontario Government website

The organization I'm involved with, Conceivable Dreams, has been pressing this issue for years and we are so pleased to see this happen. I know many people who will be able to benefit from this initiative. It's their time to pursue their dream. May their road be a little less fraught with twists and turns than ours was, and this move will certainly help with that.