Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from freezing my ass off land!

Wishing you all a most wonderful and heartfelt Merry Christmas to all my bloggy friends!

I'm esconced in the bosom of my caucausian Edmontonian extended family in -17 degree Celsisus weather - lovely. My feet and hands are freezing but my heart is toasty warm. Mmmm. Can't possibly eat more Ferrer Rocher and mixed nuts down my throat - but I'm going to try.

A toast to you and yours. May you be fertile, may you be content, may you be held in peace and love and appreciation for the amazing women that you are!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Lesson to learn - 4

By the way, my Buddhist friend who had a double mastectomy last Thursday was at the culture centre chanting on Saturday morning and shopping in the afternoon with nothing more than extra strength Tylenol in her system. After I stopped blubbering, I called her and spoke to her just to confirm what I had been told. She sounded so great and so happy. She said she felt our daimoku the whole time. She felt so grateful.

Frankly, if I had had a cold, I wouldn't have gotten up early and dragged my ass to the culture centre in the freezing cold, never mind surgery.

Note to self. No more excuses.

I had a really great conversation with hubby the other night about being grateful for family. His older brother was being a bit persnickety about something. And as usual, hubby starts barking into the phone and then they hang up on each other and then he gets a phone call back and then they express how their tender emotions and the fight is over.

You know how I complain about how cheery his family is at this time of the year and how overwhelmed it makes me feel. I only have memories of sullen, dysfunctional Christmases and yet I still crave to be with my side of the family just once without having it feel like something I have to ENDURE. I told him how lucky he was to have a great mother, and warm and caring relatives, that they should never let petty complaints get in the way of their love for one another. Like every family, they have their issues, but for crying out loud, they actually talk to each other even if they're mad. They have always made me feel so appreciated and accepted and I know so many people who have to endure with in laws or relatives with gritted teeth.

My family wouldn't know the honest truth if it smacked them upside the head. I've tried to talk privately with each of my sisters about things and they have an uncanny ability to avoid actually being alone with me. We have a tendency to report events, not share how we really feel. When things go wrong, it's usually me that tries to "fix" things. I can count on one hand the amount of times we've been alone together in the past 10 years. I would also have fingers left for the amount of times they've actually called to see if I needed anything.

So. With this in mind, I will do my best to embrace my husband's side of the family with more gratitude and appreciation for who they are. I think his mum wants us to go to church. I have no idea why people who never go to church insist everyone go at Christmas. Oh, man. This is going to be tough.

And I'm not eating trifle... no matter what.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's Okay, I'm Just Neurotic!

Why the hell do I need to see a psychiatrist? I don't. When I booked the appointment, it was because I was tired of the throw this against the wall and see what sticks kind of approach. I was hoping that maybe someone who dispensed anxiety meds might have some sort of experience with drug combinations or dosages or something. Perhaps all I needed was a little bit of this and a dash of that. And maybe, he could even offer counselling. However, I think I already realized that I was willing to walk the unmedicated route for a little while cause I was feeling much more motivated about my life. Watching one of my dearest friends in the world die in front of me gave me a certain perspective on life. I've seen my Buddhist friends look head on into BIG FUCKING ILLNESSES and glow with such high life conditions. I'm not looking for any big illness wake up lessons. No thanks. I'm full thank you. So I went to my specialist appointment and he asked me a bunch of questions and I answered.

I told him that I had recently come off of Effexor because the side effects were outweighing the benefits. I had reached a big question mark, not quite clear of the withdrawal, but given my grief issues, I was certain to be a little emotional. Yes, it did its thing, my mood improved and I got a lot of stuff done. That's always a good thing. Getting out of bed is always a good thing. Pretending you have life under control when really you don't is not a plan. It's a disguise. But I don't see why I have to put with intense itching, dead taste buds (wait, that was a good thing cause skinny tastes good), no libido, crazy ass dreams that make you wake up in DREAD and the threat of burning up on a spin bike. He made a comment that perhaps some of the side effects were psychological. Oh. No. He Did. Ent.

I smiled sweetly. I told him what difference did that make? If one feels the drug is giving you a nasty side effect, it's still real to the person affected. He conceded quite graciously on that point. Or maybe my smile looked homicidal, I don't know.

And then he gave me his professional opinion. He told me I probably could use some psychotherapy cause I had some "life issues" but that I wasn't suffering from severe depression and I didn't need medication. If I had indicated that I just wanted to try something else, he would have gone with that. (That was something he could "fix". ) I asked him if he could refer me to any low cost or free therapists. He told me he didn't know anyone and the last psych at the clinic that did that had retired. So. Ah. I'm good to go.

I told him that it's always nice to have a symptom addressed and treated but it rarely addresses the total health and wellness of a patient and I impressed upon him that it would be really nice if one could really do further research to offer assistance and reassurance to those who might not know how to proceed next if one might find themselves in a situation similar to mine. Not suicidal, just "neurotic". Was that polite?

Yeah, I guess you could say I have some issues with medical professionals. Given that I have more than just a casual acquaintance with the medical system for a pretty healthy individual (mainly for hoo haw malfunctioning and maybe that's why I'm bitter/cranky/sensitive). I feel like I can say with confidence that GENERALLY SPEAKING western medicine is only focused on the eliminating the symptom or treating a disease. Not preventing a disease, or getting to the real cause of a symptom. Don't get me wrong, I love pills. They don't call me the pharmacist for nothing. I won't tolerate discomfort if I can take a pill for it. But did you ever notice that when someone really hears and acknowledges what you have to say (even if it's only in 5 minutes) you actually FEEL better? Especially with your spouse. Even if it's just "all in your head". What's wrong with seeing a doctor and feeling less "stressed" coming out then when you went in? Did you know that some people's blood pressure actually goes up a bit just from simply seeing a white lab coat? Do you know the real reason why some cancer patients just turn away from the medical establishment. It's not that they don't want to live. It's not that they don't want treatment. It's because sometimes the treatment feels WORSE than the disease. So. Don't. Even.

That's my rant and thanks for listening. I feel better already.

I thanked the doc for his time and on my way out I formulated an action plan for myself. I felt grateful that at least he saw me as perfectly capable of handling my own mental health. That's a positive. I really can't afford to spend several hundred dollars a month to see my old shrink, sweet as she is, but I do have a program through my actor benefits that will allow 6 visits without any money down. Of course, you spend a couple sessions bringing the counsellor up to speed and then wrapping up, but hey, I might just be able to find a good "coach". Maybe I'll drag up a new skeleton out of the closet. I actually know what most of my "issues" are and how they came about, I'm actually good with that - it's just the how do I change that thing that is no longer working for me - that's the sticky part.

So here's my plan, stick with the chanting, exercise and treating myself well, I've got some amazing creative work to look forward to (yes!!!!) and acknowledge that crying about my friend and my dog is grief and it's okay to feel sad. I will continue to write action plans and post up positive notes and Buddhist encouragement on my bathroom mirror and tell people to back off when they get on my last nerve. I will own up to bad behaviour and apologize where needed (cause I hate apologizing cause I'm HARDLY EVER WRONG) and I will work on demonstrating the love, understanding and compassion that I so desire. I am also a bit cranky and will firmly but lovingly place my foot up the ass of the person who gets on my last nerve.

Good plan.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Memories of Samps and Snow

This is for Wordgirl and Lucy.


I had a really nice appointment with my regular GP yesterday. Nice because she was actually listening to me and not hurrying me out the door or anything. I was just filling her on my freedom from Effexor escapades. I'm still grieving the loss of a long time friend and I still miss my dog so much. We had a lot of snow recently and I always remember how much Big Boy loved the snow. What dog doesn't? I also unpacked some Christmas stuff and started crying when I picked up his stocking. He looked forward to his stocking - with savoury treats and rawhides - he could smell them right through the wrapping of course, so I had to put it out last minute or else risk having a pool of slobber on the floor. We would go on long walks through the park on snowy cold days, with him repeatedly throwing himself down and rubbing all over the snow, catching snowballs in his mouth, peeing all over snowmen. Ah, if only I could be similarly so easily entertained.

She did agree with me that having a dog can be therapeutic. There is this article in the Vancouver Sun that says that dogs can be better than Prozac. I'm still not over Saint Sampson but 2009 is a new year....

For those who asked: Here's the link for the Omega 3 capsules. They come highly recommended by Teendoc.

I had my mammogram today - oh, joy, now I can obsess about that - I had to go back for an ultrasound last year because I have a fibrous mass in one of my breasts, but my doctor told me I could call her - hopefully the results will be in before Christmas.

One more doctor appointment tomorrow. They say it takes a village to raise a child - well, it takes a whole medical team to take care of my ass!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A "YES"!

I have some great news - I have been accepted into the acting ensemble at the Banff Centre for the Women in the Director's Chair program. I didn't make it as a director, but that's okay, I'll make it next year's goal. It was a bit of a long shot anyway. And it costs a fortune. I was going to get a scholarship to go but now I don't have to stress about that now. As a participating actor, the expenses are all paid for. Yippee! I get to work with some up and coming female directors and immerse myself in a creative atmosphere. I'll be taking notes from a director's point of view and I will soak up inspiration. I'm travelling again - what good fortune for me! I absolutely hate January (unless I'm working) and now I have something to look forward to. Of course, I just found out that hubby will be going to Toronto a couple days before but he will have to stock up on frozen foods cause I'm outta here.

Part of the thrill is someone just saying "yes" to me. It's been a looooooong time since that's happened career wise. I've been an actor for years and I've developed a thick skin to rejection, but really, if you had to endure the amount of "no" I've had this year, you'd be medicated too.

Speaking of medication, I've been off Effexor for about 10 days now and I'm feeling much better. It's been two whole nights without a sweaty sleep. I'm still having some minor side effects, but I'm enjoying having my taste buds (for shiraz and popcorn, and President's Choice Dulce la leche ice cream sandwiches) come alive. My Mike & Ikes' obsession may be ending - I can actually taste the ohmigod that's way too much sugar! what the hell have I been eating? feeling again. I haven't been to the gym since last week when I almost spontaneously combusted in spin class. Not in the mood, but if I'm not careful, after Christmas time, I may not be able to get my mood IN my jeans.

I've been ingesting my omega 3 oil (eww!) and Teendoc has sent me a link for more high grade oil to stabilize my mood. (Why is everything cheaper in the States?) Speaking of mood, I just paid the GNP of a small country to get my hair done again. So I'm feeling like my old diva self again. Hubby has me on a cash budget these days, but he's been good enough (read: smart) to keep my hairstyle in mind. Trust me you don't want to fuck with an irritable black woman coming off an SSRI with a old weave!

He's made a couple comments about me dressing lately in dog walking clothes (baggy sweats - they are warm and it's cold and snowing here at the moment), but I pointed out to him that I only have 3 pairs of pants (skinny black jeans, blue jeans, dress pants) that actually fit skinny (size 12 - so what Tyra?) me and since I've been on shopping lockdown, I don't have a huge selection. I'm actually getting rid of a bunch of old clothes. I actually don't mind so much now - I'm trying to change my financial karma and I want to be able to save money for more important things like baby gear.... and my hair. You know, important stuff.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I've got to to change my subheading soon. My uterus isn't crappy anymore, my periods are lighter than ever.

As a matter of fact, strange spotting notwithstanding, I did eventually get my real flow this week, so I'm feeling hormonally more balanced. Screw you menopause, I'll get there when I get there and not a minute sooner! And by the way, I am indeed experiencing withdrawal from Effexor which does include sweating for no particular reason, so there. Food is starting to taste really good, too, like my taste buds are waking up .... which could be a bit of a problem.

You know part of the resistance to that whole idea is I'm still tied to my fertility (non-existent as it is). I was reading chicklet's post on the whole will I or won't I thing and it really struck a chord in me. The wanting to have a child, any child versus wanting a genetic child. With IVF, there is always hope in every embryo and hope is an addictive feeling. When you win, you win big time - but when you lose - oh, it costs so much more than just money. As much as I've put that idea to rest, occasionally when I see a bi-racial child I get that yearning in the base of my stomach. We dropped by our friends' place on the weekend with Christmas gifts in tow. They just had their second boy last week. I played with the 18 month old a bit and saw the 2nd boy snuggled against his mum for a breastfeeding and I wonder what our child might have looked like. I tidied up the play area and wonder what it would be like to be reading and teaching a child what a ball is, or a flower. I see how hard it is to have an adult conversation (unless you're the father who apparently can have conversations with his buddy without risking the toddler's demands for attention for mama, mama, mama!) Hubby told me he had told his friend that it had been really difficult to spend time (he's the godfather)with them in the past because their son was a constant reminder of what our own bio child could have been. These guys grew up together and I know it can be awkward for my husband as well.

In the past, I do remember us being there at the circumcision (the father was out of the country working) and the nurse thought my husband was the father and the mum was his wife. It was like somebody stabbed me. There I was comforting her cause she was all stressed and I was in a room full of parents and their babies feeling like the nanny or something. I was just trying to be there for friends, but honestly, I should have been given at least a gift certificate or something.

Back to the present, and I am still waiting to hold a baby of my own. Just breathe, wait, pray (and action) and repeat.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Now for a spiritual moment

This morning I went to my friend's house to chant. Yesterday it was bright and crisp and sunshiney and you could just love this city to death and today it's grey and rainy/sleety/snowy and I feel like cozying up in bed all day. And after last night's sweatfest, that's exactly what i wanted to do. But I hauled my butt up anyway.

With us was a fellow Buddhist who is undergoing her own nasty breast cancer battle. We talked a bit and though I was reluctant to share my friend's experience with it for obvious reasons, I just had to plead with her to ask for help if she really needs it from her friends and members. We all feel proud of our strength and independence, but I have to say it is a joy to care for your friend when she's feeling poorly. Even if we just sit in the other room while she's asleep.

She told us an amazing thing - when she had to get radiation treatment, she felt the presence of the members and Pres. Ikeda and Mrs. Ikeda holding her hand and she knew she wasn't alone and therefore she wasn't afraid. Her skin continues to remain smooth and unblemished. That's so awesome. I feel so encouraged by her experience because it meant that prayers can truly be felt.

Another Buddhist friend of mine who has been battling diabetes for the past few years and has been close to death too many times now has to have a kidney transplant. A student, one who had been touched by his compassion for her, was tested as they had the same blood type and amazingly is a match. His transplant is taking place on Monday. This happened within 6 months! Many people have to wait years for this to happen. I am so happy for him to have this incredible opportunity and I hope the kidney remains compatible.

Feeling grateful for my petty discomforts.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Doctor here's your Rx, get out

I went to the doctor, not my usual one as I couldn't get in with her. I think she was on speed cause she conducted our visit at rapid fire speed. She even handed me a prescription for ativan from the exam room door. I had to make her sit down and explain my blood test results. I did get my FSH test and it was quite low - which means I'm not menopausal, but it doesn't rule out perimenopause. Sigh. I just loving being a girl. In any case, I'm done with the Effexor. The side effects are outweighing the good effects. I'll be getting my Omega 3s tomorrow. My appointment with the clinic psychiatrist is on the 20th. So I've put honey on notice - don't get on my nerves - I could snap... unless I get to go to Linen's N' Things... or Banana Republic - one or the other.

WTF? part 2

I've decided to wean myself off the Effexor. I had the worst hot flash/nightsweat or whatever the hell it was while I was in Toronto. I put on my cozy fleece pjs and cuddle up in my stellar king size bed in the hotel and one hour later wake up like my body is on fire! I throw off the covers, throw off my top and run to the bathroom mirror. My skin is prickly and appears to be inflamed. I felt like I had a sunburn! My top is soaked through but the sheets are dry. Mmmm. I've been sweating through the night the whole time I've been on the Effexor but this was the worst. Okay, I calm down and realize that maybe I shouldn't be wearing a fleece top though I actually wasn't hot at all in it and opt for a towel instead. The next night I drank 1/2 litre of red wine and slept like a baby. No sweats and woke up feeling lovely.

When I get home, I actually surprise myself by feeling a little frisky. Hey, maybe the low libido side effect is going away, but I'm not sure. Back to spin class and I'm getting that crazy prickly feeling and sweating in that not so good way all over again. Okay, maybe I'm just not in shape. Mmmmm. The night sweats and crazy dreams continue, so I decide that enough is enough. I take one pill a day and yesterday I had a panic attack and ran out of a grocery store and came home, took an ativan and lay down til I felt better. And now this morning, it appears I'm having a period again, (the last one being 2-3 weeks ago - I DON'T REMEMBER EXACTLY WHEN CAUSE I STOPPED KEEPING TRACK) but it's definitely too soon.

I have tried explaining this to my GP the last time I saw her and I don't think she gets it. I am going back to the doctor's today and hopefully my FSH test is back. My specialist appointment is on the 20th. So I am either starting perimenopause (fuck it or should I just embrace it) or is it possible that Effexor can cause a hormonal imbalance or is it just more side effects - or a mixture of both?

Told hubby to forget about my dusty eggs and the surrogate idea. Granola and medical advice is welcome.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What the F***?

A lot of things are coming down in price during these hard economic times. Including donor eggs and surrogates. Why is hubby showing me this article? Does he think my 45 year old are still in the game? Is he crazy?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

My sister-friend

I met her through her older half sister, D (yeah, most of their family have names that start with the initial D). We worked together at the CN Tower in 80's. Her sister was heavily made up, had Tina Turner hair and bright red lipstick on her lush lips. She wore bright flashy clothes and hats. Amazing hats. I remember the first time I saw her without makeup and I was stunned, she looked 15 years younger and her skin was silky smooth. When I was looking for a new job and a new place to live, her sister (another "D" (Devadatta) not only got me a job where she worked, but she got me into her old building at High Park. She was totally unlike her sister. She was into all sorts of new age stuff and even introduced me into one of those weekend seminars where you cry and scream, forgive your parents and meditate to the colours of the rainbow. She was a total seeking spirit. She was friends with all her old boyfriends. She was the only woman I had met that actually had "lovers". I met a few of them and invariably they were attracted to me. I don't know why, I never found any of them even remotely attractive, but I was totally out to lunch about guys and I figured if D was nice to them then I should be nice to them. I had no idea that they would misinterpret my friendliness as flirting. I was constantly hanging out with guys that I considered "friends" who had other things on their minds. I was clueless, but she never held it against me.

About once a month we would go out and go dancing at the restaurant club called The Big Bamboo. They had a fabulous reggae band that we totally loved. We would take the subway down, pay $5 to get in and buy a beer or two and split a cab home. We called ourselves the P.P.P. The Positive Pussy Party. We could laugh and carry on while we waited in line and once, a young woman was so taken with our spirit that she asked if she could hang out with us for the evening! That night we had a great time, dancing our asses off and at one point we heard some Jamaican voices behind us. When we turned around, we were surprised to see Chinese faces. Well, if you know anything about Jamaica is that they do have a Chinese minority that speak patois with the best of them. Man, we partied with those guys into the wee hours! We had such a good time winding up and dirty dancing.

Her older sister eventually moved to the States, but when I went to Toronto to visit, D and I would get together and sit at our favourite restaurant in Little Italy, "Midtown" and drink wine and eat tapas. D and I always talked about all sorts of things.

I remember sitting on her back porch in of the many places that she lived... listening to the patois as she filled me in on what was going on with her latest cancer treatment and her crazy family. We talked about life and love and karma and the universe. She was a person that you could tell anything. She would not judge you.

Earlier this year, I went back home for a few days and she bought a bottle of prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) and we had Chinese food. I was so happy to be with her. I never considered her not beating cancer. She was single, she had no children and she seemed perfectly content. She never planned. She just "put things out to the universe" and things would take care of themselves.

She passed away last Monday. I was on a plane one day later and attended her funeral on Wednesday and just came home yesterday. As much as I wanted her back, I knew that her ancestors had called her home. It's just hard to think that I will never hear her laugh again, hear her singsong patois, drink prosecco with her again. Hope the beach is nice and hot where you are D and Bob Marley is playing your favourite song.