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Friday, May 30, 2014

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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.
********
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.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Two Weeks in Florida!

Our holiday was lovely. We spent a wonderful (if insane!) week with my family south of St. Pete's Beach. We have a spot we love to go there and this time, with everyone going to be there together, we rented a larger three-bedroom condo. Mom and Dad took one room, and Petite slept on a cot in the corner of their room. Hubby and I had a room and my sis, her hubby and my nephew took the third room with the king size bed. Two full bathrooms and a deck and parking out front and we had lots of space.

Well, lots of space, yes. But the noise! Oh dear heavens. I think it was enough to addle baby Jesus himself! Eeesh! As my mom said, next time, we get two places so there's somewhere for her and my dad to go to get away from the insanity that happens to be life with young children! I figured it might be a tad too much for them to handle. I was absolutely right.

Regardless, we had a fun time visiting the beach and just enjoying time together. We took the kids up the strip to the ice cream shop. That was a special treat. The two kids got along so well it was really nice. They played pretty well together, except for the fact that Petite is older and can, naturally, do things that my nephew is not yet able to do. I think he was a bit frustrated by that. He threw a fit now and then... typical for the "Terrible Two's." We all survived though. He's a sweet little guy. I think he too found it a bit much; with Nana and Poppy's attention divided between two grandchildren, I don't know how much he enjoyed that aspect of things.


For the second week, we drove up to Orlando and rented a house with our friends who flew in from California. We picked up the groceries and found the house, got ourselves settled and waited for them. We were a bit turned off because the promised "heated pool" and "spa" certainly wasn't working as it was supposed to. Not cool. We called a bunch of times and never did get satisfactory resolution for the entire week. We also had to call to remind them about the BBQ that we'd rented for the week. However, other than those two issues, the property was lovely. Hubby and I had a room. Petite had a room. Our friends had a room and their kids (twins) shared a room. All the kids had their own queen sized beds. It was lovely. Three bathrooms. Pool. Spa. Deck. And beautifully decorated. We loved it.


While in Orlando, we hit a few of the parks. Of course we took Petite to the Magic Kingdom! Her very first visit! She loved it. We did a breakfast with the Princesses in Cinderella's Castle too! Such fun! Petite was in awe. We rode on so many of the rides, starting with It's a Small World and finishing the evening at the raceway. Petite rode on that four times I think. One minor glitch; my girlfriend lost her husband's cell phone but retracing our steps, we found it! Whew! He was nervous about that. Understandably so! We were in the park from 9 a.m. to 11:15 p.m. and Petite had the stroller to relax in for much of the day. She was a real trooper. She only crashed and fell asleep on our way out of the park around 11:00 p.m. Not bad for four years old!


Two days later we hit Animal Kingdom. While I've been to Magic Kingdom at least 15 times, this was my first visit to Animal Kingdom. It was... okay. Not as splashy or as fun-filled as Magic Kingdom, but still a good way to spend the day. We did a few rides, saw lots of birds and animals, and had a spectacular brunch at Tusker House where we got to meet four characters! Excellent food. Great atmosphere. And time with Mickey to boot! YAY! Admittedly, Florida was in the midst of a cold snap and we had blankets and sweatshirts during our day in Animal Kingdom. They were definitely needed.








We took a night to go to Medieval Times as well. Flying hawks. Horses and swordplay. A great meal that the kids got to eat with their hands! And Petite got herself a princess tiara at the end of the show. It was loads of fun. My buddy and his wife were in their element. It was loads of fun.

Their family took a day to go to LegoLand too. We went out to do some shopping; I had some vitamins and things to pick up for post surgery and we wanted to check out the stuff in the shops and stores, and see a few sights.


During the trip, I started my Optifast. It was the prescription liquid diet that I needed to take for three weeks prior to surgery. It consists of four shakes a day, supplemented by broth, sugar free jello and sugar free popsicles, decaf tea, flavoured water and absolutely NOTHING else. I confess, I had four meals while on Optifast. Two meals were nothing but grilled steak. Two meals were grilled salmon with steamed broccoli. Those four meals were absolutely delicious! It was lovely. And the night before I started the Opti, we went to Cody's... the most incredible steakhouse we have ever had the pleasure to find. They had a T-bone steak on sale and I polished that off with pinache! Yummy!!!

Other than that, the Opti wasn't that hard. I managed. The goal of the three week liquid diet is to shrink the liver. Because the liver sits so close to the stomach, when doing the surgery there is a risk of nicking the liver with the surgical tools. So by shrinking the liver there is less of a risk.

We enjoyed the vacation, but it was marred upon our return by a huge loss.

That's for the next post...

Thanks for reading everyone. Next up, the incredible loss we suffered, preparations for Nana and Poppy, and my surgery.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Vacation, Have to Get Away

... with apologies to the Go-Go's for changing the verb tense!

We are very much looking forward to escaping winter temps that have seen our city colder than The North Pole for many days in the last month. Brrr. Yes, we hit the -40C mark (which is also -40F by the way for my American readers) on a number of occasions. And yes, that's damn cold. Enough. We had more than half of the snow that we usually get in the season before Winter officially started! Good God! Nuts or what?!

So it is with great happiness we are eyeing Saturday with glee and delight. We are leaving for two weeks on holidays to the sunny south. The first week we are hooking up with my mom and dad, my sis, BIL and nephew, and my aunt. I cannot wait to see the kids playing together. I can't wait to see Mom and Dad and my aunt. I'm looking forward to seeing my sis and BIL; Hubby hasn't seen my BIL in YEARS and the boys like to get together now and then.

The second week, we drive to Orlando and hook up with friends of ours from California whom we haven't seen since I was pregnant with Petite! That will be so much fun. We are hitting Disney's Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Medieval Times. With some time in there for swimming, carousing and general fun of course.

My stepson has moved in; this became official at the end of December. I think he's doing pretty well here. I hope so anyway. And Petite is soooo happy to have her big brother in the house! They get along really well and he's fantastic with her. Bless his heart. He's a good kid.

My surgery is quickly approaching. The date has been set for VSG on February 3. I'll be off for the entire month of February to recover. Mom and Dad will fly in on February 1 (my stepson's birthday as it so happens) and they will stay with us for two weeks to help out. I'll be pretty weak for a bit. To be expected. My goal is to lose about 140-160 pounds. I am going to do my best to use the chance and the tool that I will be given to the absolute fullest. Keep your fingers crossed! This will get fun!

I start the pre-op liquid diet (Optifast) while we are in Florida. Ugh. That's a bit of a downer, but you know something? I'm not stressing over it one little bit. It will all be well worth it. And I look forward to what that means for me in the long run. It doesn't matter, not one little bit. I think I'm going to miss having a glass of wine by the pool or something, but other than that, I'll do just fine. Definitely.

The Opti lasts for three weeks; upon our return from FLA, I have one week at work before surgery. And I have to do my pre-admission appointment as well. That will take a few hours but I'm sure it's nothing I haven't experienced before. I just dread the possibility that they will do bloodwork! *shudder* Oh you know how much I hate THAT crap!!

Petite has just started her second level of swimming classes (Salamander) and the instructor was surprised; he truly thought she had done the class before! He says she is really very good. I'm glad to hear that. I will work with her while in Florida in the pool to practise her various floats, kicks and push-offs. Never know... she may end up in competitive swimming like me and my sister were!

Gotta run; I've spent the evening taking over 1300 photos off my iPhone so I can finally install the latest IOS and do over 60 updates to the apps. I really need to clear a few gigs of space on that thing! Sheesh!

Love and hugs to all in blogland! I hope to post before surgery and let you know how things are going!

Monday, December 09, 2013

All the Goings-On in Our House!

We're getting through the insanity of the Christmas season one day at a time.

Petite was sick a few weeks ago. She picked up a bug from her cousin and just couldn't shake it. What started as a low-grade fever progressed to lethargy, a cough, a headache, a snotty nose, and finally an ear infection, over the duration of about 11 days. After the third visit to the GP, she looked at us and said, "Wow, I never see you guys THIS often." Finally on that third visit, she found the ear infection and prescribed antibiotics. Within 24 hours, Petite was a new child; it was remarkable. Honestly, I was figuring that if our doc still hadn't found anything by that third visit, I was going to enlist a second opinion. Petite missed 8.5 days of school and really, watching her temp range between 99 and 101 for those 11 days was NOT fun. Poor girl.

She's recovered nicely since then. However then Hubby got it. Between the time he needed to take off to watch her while she was sick, and the time he needed for himself to tend to a rattling chest cough, he took a bit of a financial hit. He's making that up this week with some overtime at work. They're busy, so he may as well get something out of it.

And he has since recovered too. However, it's my turn. For the past 8 days or so, I've got a chesty cough and sinus trouble. I really need to see a doc now, as I'm prone to pneumonia and sinus infection but I'm struggling to find the time. I cannot get there tomorrow. Nor Wednesday. Possibly Thursday. We'll see.

Like I said, one day at a time.

Christmas is fast approaching and because of our conflicting schedules, Hubby and I have very little done. I'm either at work myself or caring for Petite. It's crazy.

The last few weeks though, my 17-year old stepson has come to stay with us pretty much every weekend. He's frustrated with living at his mother's right now and he's finally decided to take the plunge and move in with us. That will happen just after Christmas. I am looking forward to having him in the house. And I know Petite is too!

She will have to give up her playroom (essentially the spare bedroom) and we'll move her toys downstairs to the basement. She is old enough to come and go down there now so she's fine playing there. It's been hard because with only her and me in the house, she wants to play near me while I'm cooking dinner or clearing up, or whatever, in the evenings. With her big brother in the house, she is fine to play near him instead and they'll set themselves up downstairs I expect. We'll see how it goes.

So Christmas happens, then my stepson moves in, and then we head south for a two-week holiday. The first week will be with my parents and my sister, BIL and nephew, all together in a big condo near the beach. CANNOT wait. I last saw my nephew in May of last year for a quick visit. I truly do not recall the last time I saw my BIL though. And Hubby hasn't seen my BIL in... oh wow... AGES. The boys will have fun together. As will the kids! We are all looking forward to it.

The second week we are driving up to Orlando and renting a house there with our friends from California, whom we haven't seen since the spring of 2009 when I was pregnant with Petite. These are good friends of ours and we FaceTime frequently and for a very long time, we gamed together. We will hit the theme parks (Petite's first visit to the Magic Kingdom!) and do a few things up there, relaxing in the house pool when we are looking for downtime. That will be a fun-filled week.

Upon return, I will have one week at work. Followed by my parents' arrival in early February. Followed by VSG surgery on February 3. I will be off work from February 3 to March 3 inclusive, recovering from major surgery and learning to eat again. And learning to get enough water, protein, vitamins and minerals into my body with the new limitations of a tiny stomach.

There you have it. Our plans for the next few months. As always, busy, busy, busy!

In the meantime, I thought you might wish to see this. Petite's first school photo. When I sent her off to school that morning, I had no idea how on earth her pic would come out! I envisaged messy hair, dirt on her face, stains on her clothing, etc. I was pleasantly surprised to have a lovely pic that I will cherish for many years to come!


Lots of love to you all in blogland! 

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Birthday Balloons and Surgery Upcoming

November 6 would have been my Aunt B's 79th birthday. We lost her last summer when she was 77 after a very short 6-week illness. It was a shock. It still is, quite frankly. There are still days here and there when the phone rings and for a split second, the thought runs through my brain, "Oh, it must be Aunt B; haven't heard from her in awhile." And then a moment after that, "Damn. That won't happen. There are no phones in heaven." About once a month, Petite says something like, "I wish Aunt B could come down and visit us." Or "Can we Facetime with Aunt B too, like with Nana?" Not easy.

Anyway, to commemorate her birthday, just like we do for the day she died, we let some helium balloons soar into the skies to carry our birthday wishes up to her.


Me and Petite with birthday balloons for Aunt B

Love you Aunt B. You shall always be remembered because we will never forget. *blows a kiss*


VSG Surgery Update
Yesterday I went to the pre-surgery information class at the hospital. It was a duration of a couple of hours to discuss what our pre-surgery liquid diet was like, restrictions post-surgery, diet post-surgery, types of food phases we need to work through over a period of months, etc. Honestly, there wasn't a whole lot there that I didn't already know from being a member on the forums on www.obesityhelp.com. I did learn the lifting restrictions are 10 lbs and less only for 4-6 weeks. I learned more about the types of vitamins and supplements that are required post-surgery. I know that I can purchase half vanilla and half chocolate of the pre-surgery liquid diet. 

And I learned that I cannot travel for 4 weeks post surgery. That means that likely, my surgery will not happen until I return from the trip down south in January. I know right now they are scheduling surgeries for early December. The 4-week no travel restriction would already interfere with my trip so we will sit tight on stuff and I'll have it done when I get back. Not to worry. 

Next up is my appointment with the surgeon. That is next week. When you get this far in the process, usually surgery is about 4-6 weeks after that appointment so I know I'm progressing through the entire screening program they've established. I'm so ready to get this show on the road! Anxious and excited. Kind of like how I felt when I was doing the IVF. Not quite as nervous I suppose... seems to me that the IVF determined more of what my future would look like. 

I mean, while this surgery is (hopefully!) going to do the same, all I've ever known is my current weight, so even the concept of imagining myself at a lower weight is unknown. Definitely the road not travelled. I've never seen myself like that because I've never been like that. Yesterday in the class, people spoke about surgery and weight loss permitting them to do some activities again, like they used to when they were thin/average. I couldn't contribute anything like that. I have nothing like that to look back on. 

They tell us to browse through magazines, determining our own style post-surgery; what sorts of clothes to buy, how to re-image yourself. I cannot fathom that sort of thing because I've never in my life been a normal weight. I stopped looking at fashion and style when I was about 13 or 14, because by then, I was already in plus sizes. So after surgery, I expect I'll be the one wearing my same baggy clothing until it falls off me... literally! We shall see.

Hope all are well out there in Blogland. Boy, I have to catch up with my reading... so much happening with you all!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Photo Updates for You

Some of the things and goings on in our world of late.

Bonavista Bay, July 29, 2013

Pizza Girl! (August 2013)

Sleeping Beauty, August 2013

She's off to school! (August 29, 2013)

Faeries (Playing with her friend)

Faeries

Smudge, 18 years (September 2013)

Shadow, 18 years (September 2013)

She got up here all by herself! When did she get to be so big?!

Rarely has my name been misspelled quite so badly! LOL

Swimming classes (September 2013) 

My 1st Parent-Teacher Night! (September 2013)

Lacy Sky (October 1, 2013)

Sunrise (October 1, 2013)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Decisions, First Day of School, and (gulp!) Surgery!

It's been almost one year since we made the decision not to cycle again and try for a sibling for Petite. We are, for the most part (98%), sure of that decision... and now and then I think, "What if?" There will always be part of me that wonders what theoretical baby #2 would be like, but alas, we shall never know. We have chosen to be grateful and very thankful for the little girl that we do have and we are enjoying her and moving on.

This year, Petite turned four. And two days after her birthday, she started Junior Kindergarten. Yes indeed. All-day school for my girl. She finished at the daycare (as did two other little girls her age, as they were all starting school) and she has made the transition to school. So far, so good. It does mean that Hubby and I are saving the daycare money and putting it towards the debt and various other things. Hubby takes the morning, ensuring that Petite gets up, washed, dressed, has breakfast and then he takes her to school. I now work from 6:50 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. and I leave promptly at that time to drive from the south of the city back to the area where we live so as to arrive on time to pick Petite up at 3:45 when school lets out. We're home by 4. And these days, she's tiring out earlier and heading to bed by about 8:30. We're working to move her bedtime back a bit as she needs more sleep, but as always, and since infancy, she HATES to go to bed. Nothing changes!

For me, the drive to work and the drive home is exponentially longer; while there was movement afoot to try to keep me where I was, the Harper government's "Deficit Reduction Action Plan," or DRAP, meant that money was being cut all over the place. They cut a number of positions (funded positions, that now can no longer be filled) from the Branch where I was. And further cuts come next year, as of April. While the money was available at the moment, as of April, it would not be. Added to the fact that at my substantive position, they needed someone with my skills, and voilà, my substantive supervisor requested to have me back there. Ugh. Not only do I hate the drive, but jeez, the work is mind-numbing. Not challenging. I hate the environment. Morale sucks. There is a total lack of transparency and good faith. It's terrible. I've actually contemplated taking a leave of absence and just putting the house up for sale, and moving to the east coast, back near my family, and living on my RRSPs until I find something. Not realistic is it?

I've searched high and low for work. EVERY single job that I am qualified for with the federal government on the east coast is restricted in the "Area of Selection" to (a) people that live and/or work in the area already and/or (b) people that work for a specific government department. That means that anyone else across Canada who wants to relocate to a different province is shafted. So essentially regular members and civilian members have the option to relocate based on compassionate and family needs, but public servants? Yeah, you can f*ckin' whistle dixie. You're stuck. No possible way. I've searched for 5+ years now and it's damned frustrating. Even my HR is of no help. They suggested that I send out my resume to various departments in the province and ask to get on a deployment/secondment/assignment list so that when something comes up, they might possibly consider me. Nice... Colour me angry.

Hubby had applied for a good job in NB and qualified beautifully for it. Unfortunately he received a letter yesterday thanking him for applying but another candidate was chosen. We don't know why yet; I suspect it's a location factor, as in, they do not want to have to foot the bill for a move and thus they chose someone who lives there already. Frustrating as all get out.

That said, if Hubby were to get something, and had to go, it would mean I need to seek out daycare again so I can make sure Petite gets to and from school on time.

And as well, it would mean Hubby wouldn't be here for my surgery.

Yes,  you read that right. Surgery.

That is the decision I'd made that I had alluded to in this blog previously. In fact, it's bariatric surgery. Stomach surgery. I am most of the way through the year-long process at this point to have either Roux-en-Y or Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy surgery in the fall/winter to reduce the size of my stomach and essentially, reset my metabolism, giving me a chance, however slim it might be, of getting myself down to a 'normal' size.

I've been overweight all my life. I first went on Weight Watchers when I was 10 years old. I've done a number of things through my life to try to lose weight, but at each turn, I'm failing. Shakes. Pills. Exercise. Ketosis diets. Low-carb diets. Low-fat diets. Weight Watchers (Lord knows how many times!). You name it, I've likely tried it. But all around me, I see the same thing. Failure after failure. Many people lose significant amounts of weight, and most of them put it all back on. And more. And that's hard. My m.o. is to lose about 20-40 pounds, maintain awhile, and it creeps back. My weight has been stable for years. Even with Petite, I only gained 9 pounds through the pregnancy, and with birth, lost about 40, only to have that come back after 5-6 months. Now, people tell me I am losing. They say they can see it. But I'm not. I'm more toned possibly because I drink a protein shake every morning for breakfast and I exercise almost daily. But I'm not losing an ounce.

And I need to lose about half of my body weight to be in a 'normal' weight range. HALF. Really? Yup. You bet. One-half of my body weight needs to be gone. Sure, I'm relatively healthy and active. I don't do caffeine. I rarely do soft drinks (pop). I do 1% milk, and Greek yogourt, lean meats, lots of fruit and veggies and enough water to float the Queen Mary! I exercise. I get out and about. I don't have high cholesterol, diabetes, sleep apnea, etc. Yet nothing I do makes a darn bit of difference. And I want to make sure that I am THERE for the little girl we worked so darn hard to have. While I'm not experiencing any life-threatening illnesses now, who is to say they're not lurking in my 50s and they won't catch me later on? By doing this now, while I am young, and active, and ready, I am nipping it in the bud and making sure I am doing the utmost I can for me, my health, my family, and my future.

It was broached to me by our RE in fact. He suggested I have it done before doing IVF. But I had researched it already; after surgery you cannot get pregnant for 18 months to two years. Time was not on our side as I was 38 when we did our IVF. I didn't want to wait until I was 40 to do the IVF and then find out my FSH was miserable. I told him that as long as I was relatively healthy, I needed to do the IVF first. At least TRY it to see. And look!? It got us Petite. In contemplating baby #2, it was a decision of either we do an IVF, or Gil gets to look into bariatric surgery. We opted for the latter, given my age and our risks. (And I won't lie... our finances.)

I was worried about the fact that in Ontario, Roux-en-Y is the usual surgery performed. Essentially they make a tiny pouch out of your stomach and move your pyloric valve from the bottom of your normal stomach to the bottom of that tiny pouch. In moving that valve, you are no longer able to take NSAIDs. And that would be a dealbreaker for me; I rely on NSAIDs to control my psoriatic arthritis. This arthritis is not degenerative, but it is inflammatory. NSAIDs do the job and my Rheumatologist was concerned that without them, I would be crippled. He recommended that instead of Roux-en-Y, I have a Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG). In that surgery, they leave the pyloric valve where it is, and cut away most of the excess pouch of your normal stomach, leaving a narrow, banana-shaped stomach instead. With VSG, I can still take NSAIDs.

The process takes about one year. I spoke to my GP before we went on the cruise. At the end of January. She completed the referral, and sent it off to the Bariatric Registry. In the meantime, she ordered a lung functioning test and some blood work (ugh!). The hospital that I will go through contacted me and invited me to an information session in April and ordered additional blood work (more ugh). Then I had an appointment in July with a nurse who determined that I did not need a stomach scope (no sign of ulcers) and no colonoscopy either. She also said I did not need a sleep study; although I snore when extremely tired or sick, I do not snore on a regular basis and my neck circumference does not indicate apnea. At the end of July, my Rheumatologist wrote the letter indicating VSG is preferred for me (both are covered by OHIP in Ontario). This week, I had an abdominal ultrasound, to measure stomach, kidneys, etc. That info will get to my doctor next week. And also earlier this week, I was cleared by the Behaviourist and the Dietitian. I've already given up drinking at and around mealtimes, drinking with a straw, and I've cut back significantly on my intake of pop, opting for water predominantly, or juice. The Dietitian wants me to take my iron pills with Vitamin C at night. And she wants me to change my protein powder and my daily vitamins. Easy to do. Next up at the end of October is an echocardiogram to verify the status of my heart murmur, which was diagnosed when I was 18. After that will be a post-operative class, and then meeting the surgeon, get my pre-surgery liquid diet (a prescription) and I will be assigned a surgery date.

We are halfway hoping that surgery will be by early December. We have a holiday booked in the south for January and it would be really nice to have it all over and done with and be on the road to a new me by then. I am not sure yet how it will all pan out. But I am determined to make it work. I am stubborn. I didn't give up when I was dealing with all the blows of infertility, and damned if I'll give up now. It's time. It's time to do this for me. And I can't wait.

Speaking of time, it's time to get Petite in bed. She starts a new gymnastics class in the morning and on Tuesday, a brand new swimming class. Should be fun! Wish us luck.

For your enjoyment... Petite's first day of school.


Love to all in blogland.

P.S. More on the rest of our summer next time. Promise. I'm going to try to be more diligent! Bear with me.