Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Here's to leaving the past where it belongs.

Here's to new and exciting things. 

Here's to excitement. 

Here's to accepting nothing less than the best. 

Here's to good health, happiness, and love!

Xo


Monday, December 30, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Better late than never!


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

I've been so caught up with of the busyness that the holiday season brings that I forgot to acknowledge the fact that this Thursday that just passed was my blog's 6 year anniversary!

Honestly, when I started this blog, I hadn't the foggiest idea what I was doing or why-what I did know is that I needed an outlet of some sort. Blogging has definitely helped.

It's so useful and beneficial to me especially. I like going back into my blog sometimes and reading what I had written in the past. Nobody wants to stumble; nobody wants to fall. And sometimes, when I read back on those times when I did stumble, it helps me appreciate that things will eventually work out the way that they are meant to.

I'll admit-I still have trouble with that concept sometimes. Sometimes...some days...some weeks, some MONTHS are just..hard. But, when I read back about a point in time where I couldn't even walk, and now I can do all of these things...it just helps me remember that I am truly blessed. I hope I remember to keep that in mind more often :)

xo

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sephora Debacle and Color IQ

I went to Sephora today and got the color IQ thing done! This basically means that they take a special camera or something and it takes a pic of your skin in various places (head, chin, and temple) and it suggests makeup for your skin from different brands and the colours that work for your skin.

The following were the choices given to me as a suitable choice based on my "color IQ"


I found this color matching thing fascinating, as I'm always looking for a good color match.  For those in the know, finding foundation for darker skin tones can sometimes be a chore. Without the correct colour match, and also when the makeup begins to oxidize on our skin as the day goes on, the the probability of our skin looking "grey" is very real. Not cute.

That said, I didn't feel that the above options would be suitable for me. First, when I came in to Sephora in the first place, it was actually because I wanted to return a product that I had purchased online days before. I had purchased a Lancome powder as suggested online within a forum for women who had the same skin colour as me based on the fact that we were both a colour match for Mac NW45 foundation/powder. The colour suggested was 510 suede (c). The name of the makeup was Lancome Dual Finish-Versatile Powder. When I decided to get on google and try to learn about cool skin tones vs warm skin tones, everything I saw online seemed to indicate that I actually have a warm skin tone and not a cool one.  Well, I just purchased makeup for cool skin tones! This simply won't work!

Well, as you can see by the Lancome makeup in the last photo up there, the color IQ seems to indicate that I'm a cool skin tone too.  At this point, I should have just took the makeup I walked in with and left.  But I didn't. I wanted to take the advice of the professionals!

Now, I told the very nice woman who did my color IQ that I have very oily skin, and I actually wanted a powder and not a cream based foundation. She still tried the Lancome 24H foundation listed above. She didn't seem to like the way it looked on my skin, so she suggested another foundation by Nars. She said that it would dry to a powder finish, and would be good for my oily skin. I took her advice. It was a bit pricey, but I took advantage of the $20 coupon that Sephora had sent to me via email the other day.

When I got home, I got on google and searched the Nars product I bought (Nars Radiant Cream Compact Foundation. I bought the compact too, which was a separate cost). There was a resounding DON'T USE THIS IF YOU'RE AN OILY GIRL in the product's reviews.

Annoyed! I'm not just oily-I'm downright GREASY. So after a bit of research, I decided that I would try out Kat Von D Lock-it Powder Foundation. I got to the store and had an associate pick out an appropriate colour for me. She went with Deep 72 in the Kat Von D Lock-it Powder. I've used it a few times-hopefully I'm not some strange shade of orange as the day goes on. We'll see I guess haha.

I went to the cashier to return the Nars products and exchange them for the Kat Von D Lock-it Powder foundation. I expressed to the cashier that I hoped that I would get my $20 off of my new purchase, especially since I was kinda...steered in the wrong direction with the Nars. She assured me I would. Lo and behold-I got home and looked at my receipt-no such luck.

I called Sephora online who advised me to call the store I went to directly.  I spoke to a manager at the store who told me that there was nothing I could do since I paid for my purchase with my debit card. My ORIGINAL purchase of the Nars makeup was made on my credit card, but my new purchase was made on my debit card. She advised me to just come in any time and they could fixed it. I expressed my displeasure, and that I had no interest in coming in for a 3rd time to solve this. She advised me I could come back ANY time and there was no time limit. This did not make me feel better. I'm pretty much done my Christmas shopping and the idea of traipsing through the mall in December really doesn't sound the greatest. The manager finally seemed to agree, and offered me a $30 gift card which she offered to send to me in the mail. I agreed. I haven't received it yet, but we'll see.

So that's my sephora debacle.

That said, for those looking for (possible) NW45 equivalents, please see my color IQ above. I also use/have used/have been suggested to use the following products. I will continue to come back to this page to update it as I use new things:

Side note: I've found what I deem to be MY perfect nude lipstick for my NW45 skintone: Fresh Brew from Mac! Pair it with a lip pencil, though (this step is non-negotiable). I enjoy cork (very close in colour to Fresh Brew) and Chestnut (darker, but works GREAT too).

Kat Von D Lock-it Powder Foundation in Deep72 (currently use-this actually falls into the color IQ 1R13, whereas above in the photos I'm listed as a 1R14)

Lancome Dual Finish-Versatile Powder Makeup-510 Suede (c) (suggested but never used-will likely try it when the Kat Von D is done)

Iman Cream to Powder Foundation- Earth 3 (have used)
Iman Luxury Pressed Powder-Earth Dark (have used)

Valana Minerals Stardust Foundation-Gentle Amber or Red Amber, or a mix of both (have used)

NARS Radiant Cream Compact Foundation - Syracuse (suggested-but NOT for oily skin!)

Edit (April 2014): Revlon photo ready HD in Cappuccino works too (I've used it twice with no complaints..I bought it on sale for $14.00 CAD so I'm pretty happy about that). Edit (September 2014-I stopped using this because it didn't photograph well-I guess it was the SPF in it?)

Edit (September 2014): Makeup Forever HD Invisible Cover foundation in colour 178 Chestnut (love it-currently use)
Kiss New York Aqua BB Cream in Medium Dark (this is my every day foundation now-I get mucho compliments when I wear this bb cream-a little goes a long way. A pea size dab should be more than enough)



Edit: Sephora sent me a gift card and other goodies in the mail. Oh fine, all is forgiven lol. 



nw45 equivalents, nw45 matches, nw45 alternatives

Monday, December 2, 2013

We just don't know

We go to bed, we wake up, and we go about our day, not knowing that this day is our last. This is the last time I'll hug my family. This is the last time I'll brush my teeth. This is the last time I'll leave this house. This is the last person I'll kiss. I'm only 5 breaths away from my last...

We just don't know. 


Monday, November 25, 2013

...and then I went to Emerg...

Yeah, you read that right.

On Tuesday evening, I got my lunch and everything ready for work the next day. I went to bed and everything was fine. But then, I woke up around 2 am. My stomach was absolutely KILLING me. I couldn't sit still. Still hunched over, I made my way to the kitchen and quietly made myself a hot water bottle-I didn't want to wake anyone up. I crawled back upstairs and into my bed with my hot water bottle and I chugged back a few swigs of pepto bismol. To no avail.

I couldn't bring myself to even search for gravol, so I asked my sister.  Unfortunately, she only had those ginger flavoured chewable ones. The last time I took those, I threw up.  This time was no different.

Nothing was providing me with a shred of relief. I was in so much pain. I had my sister tell my parents, as it was becoming (literally) painfully obvious that an ER would be in my future.I threw on any clothes that were in arm's reach, put them on, and headed to the ER with my Dad.

A shred of happiness to this situation was the ER was completely empty when we arrived. The time that I arrived and the time that I was taken in was about 15 minutes.

I was immediately given IV fluids as well as pain medication...sweet, heavenly pain medication. I was also given anti-nausea medication as well. The IV fluids kept flowing, as I was very much dehydrated. My heart raced at 130 bpm because of my lack of hydration. An ECG showed no abnormalities. I did an X-ray, blood tests, etc. As a precaution, I was admitted.

I expected to be there overnight and go home by Thursday. I didn't actually get home until the weekend. I felt good after I was being taken up to my room, but had a rough night. The days that followed were better.

Odd things happened-an entire set of lab tests were lost, and I had to repeat them. I had to refuse to do bloodwork a couple of times because I felt it was excessive. I don't have veins, especially since my main vein had an IV in it. For that reason, anytime blood was drawn, it was drawn from the veins in my hand. That doesn't tickle, especially when you have a nurse who isn't especially skilled in the art of inserting needles into tiny veins.  Another time, a blood tech answered her cell phone and had a (brief) conversation with someone while there was a needle sticking out of the top of my hand. I was beyond annoyed. At another point, a doctor told me that it was almost certainly ok for me to go home, and he would go and check with the team. Well, he never came back. So I didn't get to go home as I planned. I was SO MAD AT HIM!

I cried a lot. Cried from frustration, and cried from pain. The fact that I was admitted to the hospital caused me to miss me ortho appointment that I had. I've been waiting a month for this appointment and was very disappointed when I had to miss it. I pleaded for them to let me go, as I felt just fine. They refused. In fact, everyone that came to visit me had to wear gloves and a gown, since the reason for my upset stomach hadn't been determined and they didn't want the run the risk of me "infecting" anyone.

So in the end, it was probably just a regular stomach bug. The CT scan I did showed minor abnormalities, so I'll have to repeat it in a few months. Hopefully it's nothing, as I don't need any more "abnormalities". Sometimes I feel like a tattered piece of paper being held together by tape!

Now, I'm waiting to hear back from my transplant coordinator who will try to get me another appointment with the ortho doctor. I'm praying that it's soon. I was so mad that I was forced to miss it. SO MAD.

I'm glad to be home. I'll resume limping around until I can finally see the surgeon, book a date, and have something to look forward to.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Who is Miz Flow?

Affable- I'm sure many people would say that I'm friendly and easy to talk to. I'm definitely someone that others come to when they need someone to listen to a problem. I try to give honest answers, but I also try to provide an angle that is perhaps different than the obvious angle that others may have already given. 

Bright-I would say that I'm pretty intelligent. I pick up on things quickly and am quick-witted. This allows me to adapt when in any number of situations. 

Compassionate- I am a very compassionate person. I care about others-a LOT. I care what happens to people and sympathize with others too. If someone is crying, I cry with them. When someone tells me something sad, I'm sad with them. 

Determined-I've faltered, but I've never been one to take "no" for an answer. I've been through unimaginable gauntlets, but when the obstacles knock me down, I get back up. Hell, I'll even crawl if I have to. Sometimes I'll sit at an obstacle and cry because I don't think I can make is past;I think maybe this time I've met my match. My breaking point. But, I always get up and move forward. 

Easygoing-I don't need the four seasons hotel when I go on vacation. Is it nice? Yes. But, I don't need it. I'm laid back, I let things happen as they will, and try not to stress over the little things. There are too many big things to be concerned with. So yes, you can have the last cupcake I was saving. I'll just buy more tomorrow. 

Faithful-loyal to a fault, in fact. If I'm in a relationship, I'm in it through thick or thin. If the relationship isn't working and it's time for the relationship to end, I'll end it as painlessly as possible. But again, based on some of my other traits, if I see faults in a relationship, whether within my family or outside of it, I don't just end it right away. I try to find a way. 

Generous-the blouse off of my back I will give to almost anyone. You need a coffee? I got you. You like my scarf?  Look-I got you the same one in a different colour. You need someone to hang out with? Sure-I'm there. Now, this generosity isn't always reciprocated, but I try not to let that bother me. It's hard sometimes-specifically when it relates to the generosity of one's time. 

Humorous-I'm good at conjuring up the perfectly placed joke at the perfectly placed time. My mind works a million miles a minute, and this enables me to crack the perfect joke at the perfect time. I love to laugh and I love to make people laugh.

Intuitive-I'm very intuitive. I very much have the ability to see things-feel things. I need to listen to my powers of intuition more often. Sometimes these powers are saying things that I don't want to hear, so I ignore them. I push them down and tune them out. And, almost always, my intuition comes back and says "I told you so". 

Kind-I like to think I'm kind. I'm nice to others and do what I can to help. This includes volunteering my time and my efforts. I try to read others, then bump up my level of kindness based on their needs. If I can tell someone is really down, I do my best to bring them back up. 

Loyal-I'm definitely a loyal person. This includes both my professional and personal life. I'm loyal to my employer. This shows as I've been there for 10 years. I'm loyal to my friends. While I try not to break plans with others, if a really good friend NEEDS me, trust that I'll be there. 

Optimistic-my family helps me out a lot with this one. My friends too. I try to look on the bright side of things. I've really had to exercise my optimism these last number of weeks. When one thing goes wrong, it is human nature to focus on that, even though 10 things have gone right. In life, and in my career, though I may falter, for the most part I am very optimistic. 

Patient-I put up with a LOT. Being patient is a big part of my personality. I'm patient with myself. Whenever I have a setback and have to claw my way back up to health, I'm patient with myself and my healing process. I'm patient with others, as I understand that others deal with things differently. My ways may not be your ways, and I understand that. I'm patient at work, as the nature of my job puts me in a position whereby I deal with nearly every demeanour of person everyday. 

Quick-witted-trust me: if you make a joke, I've got a comeback in record time. It will make you laugh, and, again, it will be delivered impeccably and placed perfectly. I have my siblings to thank for my quickwit. Being the youngest of 3 siblings helped me learn to hold my own. 

Reliable-if my friends need me-I'll be there. I try not to let anyone down and I try not to disappoint anyone. If I say I'm going to be somewhere, unless I'm sick or otherwise unwell, I will be where I said I would be. I'm even there for those who perhaps aren't there for me when I need them. It's just who I am. 

Sensitive-I'm very sensitive. Don't get me wrong, I'm a strong person, but if I feel wronged, I will cry. If someone says or does something hurtful, I will cry. Not often in front of others..but I do she'd tears. I think it's because I sometimes give others too much power in my own life. I need to take control (even) more. Something to work on perhaps. But there's nothing wrong with a good cry every now and then.

Thoughtful- I always take other people's thoughts and feelings into consideration. I think of others, and will do little things here and there just to let others know I'm thinking of them. 

Understanding-I have my ups and downs. I've said that before. I know who I am. But I can never know what others are thinking or going through. Sometimes others will do dumb or mean things, or say rude or insensitive things. Not because they're mean or awful people, but perhaps because they're going through something. I may not understand what you're going through...but...I understand. 

Versatile-I'm able to adapt to a number of different situations. This includes comfortably hanging out with people with different interests, in different environments, different age groups, etc. This is a great trait in my opinion, whether in a business setting or a social setting. 

Well-rounded-I try to have balance in my life. This includes making time for work, life, health, etc. At times, one thing in life may take priority over another, but in the end, I try to keep balanced. This even includes my diet. I eat what I want when I want. But, I crave and love broccoli, kale, asparagus, and brussle sprouts on one day, then cupcakes, chocolate, chips, and cookies the next. 

I felt the need to write down the positive things about me, as I sometimes get stuck on negatives. Oftentimes the negative isn't even about "me", but things that happened to me or around me that make me unhappy. I will go back and read this post whenever I feel down. Sometimes it's good to just...stop. Refocus. Be sad when you need to, but try not to let it consume you. 

Xo 



Thursday, November 14, 2013

Maintaining Clear Skin (Discount Code Below)

Maintaining relatively clear skin while taking medication that actually WANTS you to have bad skin has been difficult. I've mentioned in a previous post my struggles as it relates to my skin.  I cringe when I think back to these days:
Yikes!
Trust me when I say I avoided social situations when possible because I didn't want anyone to see my skin. No amount of makeup could cover my acne...and even still, it was essentially a slippery slope. The idea of using heavy makeup while trying to heal your troubled skin just doesn't work out.

In the past, I went the natural route and used honey and brown sugar scrubs, clay masks, etc. I have good results with those, but after a short while, it was almost as if my skin got "used to" these products and stopped working.

In recent years, I managed to maintain moderately clear skin by using brown soap and an alcohol free toner, along with cerave skin lotion.  When I went to California to visit my friend in August, she showed me a bug by Paula Begoun. She essentially breaks down which products are the bad, good, the best, etc. These comparisons include makeup, makeup remover, face wash, mascara...everything under the sun. She also has her own line of skincare products.  The fact that she has her own product line, but still has a book that outlines products that she and her team think are good really struck me.  It's like..ok, I have my own products, but if you don't want to use them, check out these drugstore/department store/specialty store etc alternatives.  Maybe that was the game...because I bought some products and had them shipped to my home right away so that they would be there as soon as I returned home from my trip.

The first product that I bought was Paula's Choice Facial Toner.

When I started using this, I almost immediately started getting compliments on my skin. This toner really helped minimize my huge pores and control oil. Just in trying this product I could see a big difference.
I went on to try the facial wash and the BHA skin treatment.




 After this, I was sold. My skin is amazingly smooth and even. Of course, my skin isn't perfect. But it's much better than it has been in a while.  I rounded off my Paula's Choice regimen with her facial mask, sunscreen, and her shine reducing lotion. My skin is extremely oily-especially on my cheeks/under my eyes where my glasses sit., so it is really necessary.





So this is how my regimen looks.  I know it's probably going to look complicated/complex, but it works for me haha.   These links are accurate as of the date I wrote this post (Nov 14, 2013) and will remain accurate just as long as the internet doesn't change *haha*
I've linked everything to the site/page that I bought each product-just click on the name of the product and a page will open in a new window. And yes, I bought each product with my own money (or my dad's money haha) and used each for a number of months, so my testimony is real.

AM:
Wash Face: African Black Soap
Toner: Paula's Choice Toner
Treatment: BHA Lotion
Moisturize: 2 drops of grapeseed oil, a drop of cerave lotion, and a dollop of Paula's Choice sunscreen
--Then makeup-primer, foundation, Paula's choice shine control, powder on top.

PM:
Wash Face: Paula's Choice Cleanser
Toner: Paula's Choice Toner
Treatment; BHA Lotion
Moisturize: 2 drops of grapeseed oil, cerave lotion.

Weekly (or when I remember and have time):
Treatment: Paula's Choice Facial mask
--*used after washing, before toning, treatment, moisturizing.

If trying out Paula's Choice is something you're interested in doing, here's a link for $10 off your first purchase.  Honestly...give it a try. Paula's choice has a wonderful refund/return policy, though I'm pretty sure you won't need it.

Here you go! http://goo.gl/pYygmv



Cheese!


Monday, November 4, 2013

Mish Mash

I'm calling this post a mish mash because I'm not even exactly sure what I'm going to talk about!

First of all, let's talk about the month of October. I'm not gonna lie-this month has been a tough one for me. It has had it's highs and it has definitely had it's lows.

One of the lows is the fact that my Godfather passed away. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease a number of years ago. He was always the one who would do the family's taxes, and as he became more and more ill, he invited me over to his home to teach me how to take over the taxes for my family. I'm thankful for that, as he taught me things that are not only useful now, but will be very useful and helpful in the future. The funeral was difficult for me. People always say the same thing when they go to funerals an approach the casket- "It doesn't even look like him/her". It really didn't look like him.  I remember many years back when my Godfather had an open house at his place of work and invited my entire family. He was so full of energy and excited to have us all there. Then I think to recent years, as he began to lose that extra "pep in his step" that he always had.  All this ran through my mind as I looked at him at the funeral. I walked out quickly and went to the washroom. I went into a stall and closed the door.  And cried.

My knee has been another source of stress for me. I had no idea that my knee was going to get this bad so suddenly, and I had no idea that surgery would be in the cards for me sooner rather than later. I've started to make some great contacts at work, and I'm hoping that another position will be in my future. I've been seeing some great positions come up, too. I'm afraid to apply for them now because I don't know when I'll be able to have surgery once I actually see my specialist. It could be very soon, it could be a number of weeks-I don't know.

Other things here and there have been difficult for me this month too.  I can't count the amount of time I've just spent in my room, my face buried in a pillow and wondering...why this...why now...just why. I know that everything will eventually work out the way it's supposed to work out in the end, but I sometimes just wish that things would work out exactly the way I want them to. But...it never does, does it.

Here's to what I hope will be a better month, full of good things, including happiness, peace of mind, and progress.

xo


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Another Knee update

Update: it still hurts :(

My knee is still pretty sore, especially if I don't take my Tylenol in the morning to start my day. I usually don't take it if I'm going to be home for the day. 

I will usually take 2 arthritis or 3 "muscle aches and body pain" Tylenol in the morning just as soon as I wake up so that it has kicked in by the time I'm ready to leave home. I will admit though...as the end of my work day draws near, I've noticed that my walk is less of a walk and more of a "The Walking Dead" zombie lurch. 

It's unfortunate that I have to wait soo long for an appointment, so I'm hoping my body will be kind until then. It's just hard to think that I'll not only have to wait for the appointment, but the booking of the surgery after that will also require some sort of a wait. Crappy!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Stomach Scar Sundays (2)

Here it is-the picture stomach scar update from my scar revision on September 14, 2013.

I think I've devised a better method for taking my stomach pictures. It includes standing up and facing the mirror-as opposed to lying down in bed like I did in "week 1". I think it shows the scar better.

The scar looks a bit better, especially at the bottom. Near the middle, I think it almost looks better in week 1..? Maybe...? Eh..maybe not so much.  I'll keep up with the silicone strips and see what happens. But for now, I'm happy :) 

Oh, the arrows in both pics are just meant to show you a previous "marker scar", just to give an idea of which part of my scar is what. 

Also, as I mentioned in my former fistula Fridays post, the "week 1", "week 2", ect mentioned in these posts are meant to document my use of silicone strips when the wound was healed enough to begin using the strips. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Swollen Knee update!

So in a post a couple of days ago, I posted a pic of me in the ER and my swollen as heck knee.  It had gotten so swollen and so full of fluid that I couldn't even walk! Well, I could walk, but I was definitely limping like crazy!

So as I mentioned, the rheumatologist did come in and remove fluid from my knee. They removed a full 40cc (or 40ml). This is actually quite a bit of fluid to be removed! After removing the fluid, I was given a prescription for naproxen. This is only a 7 day course of naproxen, which is an anti-inflammatory.  There is much controversy about taking naproxen, especially since it isn't considered the best thing for my kidney. I was also given an appointment to see another doctor on Friday just to see how my knee was doing.

In the meantime, my nephrologist ordered some blood work to see how my creatinine was doing. He wanted to make sure that the naproxen wasn't having an immediate negative affect on my kidney. I also did a urine test. Hopefully the tests came out ok, as I will not hear anything about the results until at least Monday. With today being Saturday, I'll have already taken 5 more pills by then. Praying it doesn't affect my kidney in any way, shape, or form.

Anyhow, at my appointment yesterday, my knee was tapped again. A student doctor tapped my knee. From what I could hear from the main doctor, she put the needle a bit too low, and therefore the optimal amount of fluid to be removed was not removed.  Some coricosteroid was injected into my joint as well to help with the inflammation.  I was told to stay off of my feet until today, and by today my knee would feel better.  To tell you the truth, with it still being early, I haven't actually had the opportunity to "test my knee out", but I'll definitely be doing that soon as I do have to go out.

As for the x-ray that was done on Tuesday, the doctor did say, as for where my joint is concerned, that it is essentially a "bone on bone" situation. I don't have much (if any) of the cushioning that people usually have in their knee, and this can cause a lot of pain. There are also "bodies" (aka, bits of bone and stuff) floating around in my knee, which also causes a lot of pain and can also cause inflammation.  Bottom line? Knee replacement in my near future.  It kind of sucks that it came at this time-I wish it came earlier in the summer. Maybe I could have gotten it done in early September, and by early November it would have already been 8 weeks, and probably full healing would have taken place by then. As for now, with winter coming, having a knee replaced in the winter and having to deal with getting around in the snow won't be fun. On top of that, my parents are going on vacation towards the end of November, so doing it now wouldn't be an option either as I would pretty much be confined to home, and getting to doctor's appointments would be a nightmare.

Anyhow, I am able to walk now and my limp is minimal. However my right knee can now easily be mistaken for a bowl of Rice Krispies, as I certainly do snap, crackle, and pop with every step.

But...I can walk..!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Former Fistula Fridays (2)

Hey everyone- it's fistula Fridays!

Time for an update on my fistula's healing progress. I wore the silicone scar strips all week.

These pics compare the first set of pics I labelled as "fistula Fridays" with pics taken today. 

First pic-upper arm

Second pic-inner bend of elbow

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My knee hurts!

The very same day that I got my fistula removed...something just wasn't white right with my right knee. I don't know why, but the second I stepped off of the hospital bed that day after the procedure, my knee felt...off. 

So fast forward to today, a few weeks later, and my knee really took a turn for the worst!

I do have a history of osteoarthritis and avascular necrosis in my right knee, but it has been a long while since I've had a real issue with it. All of a sudden, this past Sunday morning/2 days ago, I woke up and it hurt a bit. As the day went on, it began to hurt...a LOT!

I was away from home on Saturday night and returned home Sunday afternoon and took the bus/subway. I'm so thankful that my knee held up long enough to safely get me home! As the evening went on, it was to the point where I was limping all over the place. I put some heat on it via a hot water bottle. I had to work the following day and was worried about being able to make it. I made it in, but I tell ya- the walk from my desk to the washroom which normally takes about 20 seconds or so took my like 5 minutes. I brought an ice pack with me to work. When it got warm, I took the on of two small ice packs that I keep in my lunch bag to keep my food cold and stuck it into my knee brace. I exchanged the ice pack with the other one when it got warm. 

The walk to the kitchen, while much shorter than the walk to the washroom, was also a chore. But in the end I made it through the day. I stayed in bed when I got home. 

The next day/today, I decided that I had better head to emergency. My knee feels warm and I'm very concerned about the swelling and fluid in there.  I've already done an x-ray and was given some pain medication. My nurse also took some blood from me for blood tests. Let's see what happens with those. 

In the meantime, here is a pic of both of my knees that I just took as I lie down here in my ER bed. As you can see, my right knee is much bigger than the left one. 



So now I'm basically waiting for a doctor to come in here with a monster sized needle declaring the need to tap my knee. And if that DOES happen...watch it be a shaky student doctor holding the huge needle...  

*le sigh*

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Former Fistula Fridays & Stomach Scar Sundays!

So it's time for stomach scar Sundays! Now what I've decided is that I'll (try and) post progress of my arm on Fridays and my stomach on Sundays. Since Friday had already passed, I'll post my fistula pic here in this post. Now I may not do it EVERY Friday/Sunday, but at the very least, any updates to be posted will be posted on those days. 

First, we'll start off with my fistula side by side comparison. I think the healing is coming along nicely. I haven't started wearing silicone strips on my arm yet, but I think it's sufficiently healed enough to begin doing so, so I'll be putting one on later. The arrow shows a spot just beside where I have a stitch sticking out. I'll have to get that looked at soon and see if it can be removed somehow. I've picked at it a little a couple of times just because it's there, but I'm also scared of yanking it or pulling it, lest I remove a "load baring" stitch and swimming pools worth of blood and gore start pouring out of my arm :|. Anyhow, aside from that, so far so good! Left pic is from about a week ago, and right side is today. 



Next is a side by side comparison of my stomach scar. The pic on the left is from a little more than a week ago, and the one on the right is from today. The arrows show the same spot/section of the scar so you can see the healing progress, as I cannot take the exact same pic every time. It's looking good! After this post, I'll put a fresh silicone strip for the week back on. I know the left pic especially from last week isn't the best quality-I'll try better next update. 


That's it for now. Time to silicone strip up!

Tags that wouldn't fit: silicone, silicone sheets, silicone strips, stomach scar, Healing, heal, progress

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

So I have a stitch sticking out of my arm.

It isn't big, but yup, it's there. I picked at it a bit at first, thinking it was perhaps a scab that wanted to stand straight up for some reason. But I realized quickly that it was a scab. The stitches used for my surgery were dissolvable ones. Will this stitch eventually dissolve on its own, or am I destined to have this stitch stick out of my arm for the rest of my life??? 
**insert horror movie scream here**



Sunday, October 6, 2013

Follow up with the plastic surgeon

I went to see the plastic surgeon on Saturday and he is pretty happy with the progress of my healing scar revision incision. What struck me most was the fact that he said "I'm happy for you". Yes. And I'm happy too. The scar, simply put, is a million times better than pre-revision. 

I forgot to take a picture of it before putting on my silicone strip. When I took off the strip last week, the bottom part of the scar didn't appear to be healing as well. In fact, there was some yellow discharge that was reminiscent of an infection. Scared out of my wits, I sent my cousin, who is a nurse, a panicked iMessage asking for advice. I was very literally in tears because I of course didn't want to deal with an infection or have any other concerns where the wound was concerned.

Seeing that I was a panicked mess and it was too late at night for me to traipse off the the drugstore to buy saline, my cousin hopped on her white horse and came to rescue me. She used saline to clean the wound, then squeezed it to see if any discharge would come out. Either none or very little did. After that, she applied wet gauze on the wound with dry gauze on top. She then taped it to my stomach. She let me know that the saline would draw the drainage out of the wound. It was pretty small in her opinion and she wasn't worried. I was!

The next day, I removed the gauze and there was a small amount of discharge on it. I let the wound air out for the day and did the same wet/dry gauze technique that my cousin did the night before just prior to going to bed. 

The next morning, there was the tiniest bit of discharge. I decided not to wet/dry gauze the wound again. 

Just two days later, what I thought was looking like a bad infection actually seems to gave resolved itself.

These pics may be a bit graphic, especially because I quadruple zoomed in with my camera haha. But this is what it looked like when I called my cousin.  As you can see, there appears to be a hole with yellow in it. Scary looking up close to be honest. 

After a couple of wet/dry gauze applications, then letting it heal without covering it, this is what it looked like. The top part of the wound has my silicone strip on it. I have left the bottom uncovered to allow it to heal a bit more before applying the silicone strip to it. 


I think applying the silicone strip too early may have contributed to the bottom getting all yucky. I don't think it was closed/healed enough, and therefore not ready for the strips as the instructions do state that the wound should be closed before putting the strips on.  I thought it was, but clearly I was wrong. So we're going to wait a bit this time. 

I'm scheduled to see the surgeon again towards the end of next month. Here's to hoping there is good progress. 


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Fistula scar: un-steri-stripped

I removed the last of my steri strips from my arm yesterday. It seems as though my arm is healing relatively well. It's scabby and dry from the scabs, but I don't want to put any lotions or anything on it as I don't want it to get irritated. 

These photos were taken immediately after the steri strips were removed yesterday. (below pics may be graphic for some)




Ok it actually looks kinda gross right now. But it's dry, nothing is oozing anything, and I think that it'll start looking much better as it heals further and the scabs fall off. 

What I DO see is a thing of beauty-a flat, soon to be smooth arm without a thrill. So yes, this is my arm after having my fistula removed. I'll do another update on this in a week or two. 

In terms of pain-minimal. The main source of pain is when I straighten my arm when it hasn't been straightened for an hour or so. It feels very stiff near my forearm near the inner bend of my elbow. I have continued to gently stretch it regularly throughout the day and this stiffness/soreness is slowly but surely resolving. 

At the walkathon the other day, one of the gentlemen there who spoke had received a kidney transplant and is celebrating 40 years with his transplanted organ this year. Wow. Here's to him, and hopefully me having similar results. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Scar management

So now that I've had all of these medical procedures (haha), I'm going to be left with some scars. Before getting my stitches out, I looked up different types of scar management options. Vitamin E oil got VERY mixed reviews. When I went to get my stitches out the other day, they tried to sell me a small container of vitamin E cream for $18. I didn't feel the value was very good at ALL, so I decided to go with an option I found online at well.ca- silicone strips. 

 These strips seemed to come pretty highly recommended, especially for post-op scars. They also came highly recommended for older scars. I'm going to try them out for a few weeks then report back on how my scar looks. 

The box comes with 5 sheets of silicone that can be cut to size. Here is one of the sheets. It has air bubbles in it. It didn't when I first opened the package a day ago, but when I took it out of the package to put it on, my hands were wet, so perhaps my wet hands caused the bumps/bubbles. 



These strips are applied to the scar/properly healed wound and they remain there for 7 days. They apparently will stay on in the shower. Each of these 5 sheets are 10 x 18 cm (or 4 x 7 in). The good thing is that these sheets can be cut to size, which is what I did in the picture below. I trimmed off a small rectangular strip long enough to cover my scar and that was it. 


Scar therapy via theses silicon strips doesn't come cheap, though. The box of 5 sheets cost me $99.99. As someone who is prone to keloid-y scar formations, I'm hoping that these Mepiform silicon strips/sheets will do the trick for my scar revision scar. When my fistula removal scar has healed up, the steri strips fall off, and the stitches dissolve, I'll be using them on my arm too. 

These strips are flesh coloured! Unfortunately, not the colour of my flesh! Haha. But I won't be showing my stomach all over the place (especially at this time of the year) and I really don't care if they are visible on my arm either.

Will post an update of my stomach scar before scar therapy and with regular updates. 

Stay tuned. 

Kidney walk 2013

Yesterday was the kidney walk. Thankfully we were blessed with a beautiful day (hot, in fact) which made the walk all the more easy. 

My team consisted of my fellow former dialyzor, now kidney recipient friend Sadia, and Sadia's lovely friend Zahrah. 

When we all arrived, we received our t-shirts, survival kits, and signs. On the sticky signs, we would write who we were walking for. This is what I wrote. 

I don't know what the correlation is (if any), but ever since I got my fistula revised, my right knee has been especially angry. For this reason, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to complete the full 5km. There was a 2km option available as well, and I contemplated it, but we ended up walking the full 5km. 

This is team "Nephro Flow" (lame, I know", with Zahrah on the left, me in the centre, and Sadz on the right. 



We headed off on our walk and ran into many friends along the way. This is a pic of Julie and I-she's been my long time transplant coordinator and close friend. She's lovely :)


We set off on our walk. In spite of my knee feeling a bit touchy, it held up for the entire 5km and I was pretty pleased about that :) 

It was a great walk, and I'm proud to say that the three of us raised $1765. Not bad for 3 people who started fundraising only a month or so before the event whereas some have been fundraising for twice as long!

This is myself, Tiffany (physiotherapy asstn), and Sadz

And of course, the two kidney recipients. 

And no better way to end the walk than to have some lunch with friends. 



T'was a good time and a good cause, and I hope to raise even more funds next year!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I'm just me. Minus the bionic arm.

As the title of this post would suggest, I had my fistula removed/reversed on Monday :)
Before getting into the OR, the anesthesiologist gave me a nerve block. He used an ultrasound machine to locate the nerves of my arm and injected them to make my arm numb. I will say-not one of my favourite experiences!

After that, the anesthesiologist that was in the actual OR with me kept asking me to lift my arm up and down. It got more and more difficult as time passed. 

After that when I got to the OR, I was lying down and started to get scared. I could still feel my arm and was afraid that I'd be able to feel the doctor cut my arm the same way i felt the plastic surgeon cut my stomach a few weeks back. So, there was one nurse there who took on "tear wiping" duty. She dried my tears and kept me calm. Around then I heard the anesthesiologist say she was going to give me some medication to relax me. The nurse then came around and touched my fingers and asked if I could feel anything. I couldn't. She asked if I could move my arm. I couldn't. I was glad-I really didn't want to even begin to feel ANYTHING!

The doctor came in and a curtain/drape was put over my head/face-I guess to prevent me from watching/seeing the surgery and or my own blood and gore from my arm. The whole thing took about an hour. I dosed off a couple of times. When it was over, the doctor and surgical nurse (not my tear drying nurse) wrapped my arm in a tensor bandage and sent me to recovery. When I got there, after about 30 minutes, I noticed that my left arm was hanging off of the bed and I had no idea! I had to use my right arm to pick up my left arm and put it back on the bed. It felt sooo weird. 

I gotta say, though. My experience in the recovery room was annoying to say the least. Those of us who have spent a lot of time in the hospital have all had a moment (or two) like this. The nurse was treating me like I was a dialysis patient when I'm not. From the "I brought you apple juice instead of orange juice because I know orange juice is not good for your kidney" to "the medication they have you to make you relax may last longer in your system because your kidneys cannot filter them out like someone who's kidney function is normal" comments. After a while, I just nodded and said "uh huh", as I had just had a medical procedure and was tired of repeatedly saying "that doesn't apply to me for X, Y, and Z reasons". Ah well-bless her heart. 

Finally, I went to recovery room number 2 and was able to get dressed with the help of my nurse. I went home with a sling. 

My arm stayed numb until late Monday evening and the feeling has now come back. Good because I can move my arm, but bad because now I can feel pain! Nothing a little extra strength Tylenol can't fix :) Raising my hand in certain ways, for example, sitting with my arms up at a computer, washing my face, taking a shower, tying my hair up, ect..these continue to be a struggle for now. I hope the pain will subside soon. Thankfully I'm able to blog from my phone while keeping my arm straight...since I'm lying almost completely horizontal in bed hehe. 

The info I was given in recovery for aftercare was based on someone who has just gotten a fistula put in, and therefore doesn't necessarily apply to me. I called the vascular coordinator, but her voicemail message indicates that she's away performing her civil duties as a citizen of this country lol (jury duty). She did give me a few tips, but I would have loved to speak to her again and get some confirmation/reassurance. Oh well-I'll play it by ear and, more importantly, play it safe. 

I have stitches, but they are of the dissolvable variety, so I won't have to go back and get those removed.  

There's always a question about whether or not one should remove their fistula after transplant. I know my girl Sadia, who recently had a transplant, has decided not to. It's a valid argument, since at any time, heaven forbid, one's transplanted kidney could fail and dialysis would be needed again. If that happens to Sadia, well, her access is still right there. If that happens to me, I'll have to have a line put in my chest. 

For me, I did think about this quite a bit-even before receiving my transplant. Let's face it-the reason I wanted it removed is because I didn't like the way it looked-plain and simple. I want to wear short sleeved shirts out in public, at work, and at the gym without feeling self conscious about it. If something should happen in the future and I need dialysis again *knocks on wooden bed post with non-fistula removed arm*, then I suppose I'll need to have a line put in until something else can be figured out-perhaps another fistula? A graft, I dunno. Hopefully, this isn't something I'll have to worry about for an extremely long time (hopefully, not at all!). That said, having your fistula removed is not a decision to be taken lightly. Infact, some doctors will discourage it. Others won't. Others will only allow it if they are confident with your prognosis as it relates to your kidney. As always, this is a decision to be discussed with your doctor and your family.

Up next, a shopping trip. Tank tops, tube tops, sun dresses, short sleeves...all of that. Haha. Well, it's getting cold outside. Maybe in the near future I'll have a warm and tropical destination in the near future. Who knows? So until then, my newly constructed, no longer bionic arm may need to wait :) Do/will the cons outweigh the pros? As someone who used to love and always wear short sleeves ect, and as someone who loves going to the gym and pumping iron, yep! 

I still have the bandage on my arm. I kind of look forward to removing it and seeing what my new battle scar(s) will look like :) 


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I'm really bright-I promise!

I'm kinda down and out right now. 

When I started working for my current employer, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life career wise. I had taken chef training previously, but with health issues and problems with my joints, I knew that working in a hot kitchen and standing on my feet for hours and hours at a time wouldn't be the best for me physically. So, I did the responsible thing- I went back to school. 

I took HR. I finished. Not only did I finish, I graduated with honours. I even took the extra step of going on to write the national knowledge exam (and pass it) while taking a full course load. 

So what's the problem?

I can't get a job to save my life. 

It seems like all of my friends that i went to college with have gotten jobs in their chosen HR fields. Not me though. 

Just the other day I celebrated my 10 year anniversary with my current employer. For almost the last 2 years I've been applying for HR roles non stop, but out of the tons and tons of positions I've applied for, I've only gotten two interviews-one over the phone and one in person. 

The most common feedback that I get is that the person who was hired had more experience than me-namely HR experience.

This feedback is very difficult for me. I'm very educated, I'm sharp, I'm quick, and I'm smart. The problem is: I don't have hands-on HR experience. The problem is this: I have no idea how to obtain HR experience if no one will take a chance on me. 

I've applied outside of the company. Part time positions, full time positions, anything. But no call backs. 

I have a mentor who works in recruiting. She has reviewed my résumé and has made a few minor changes with me. Even with these changes, I still can't manage to get my foot in the door. 

I got lucky and had a hr manager from another department within my organization contact me. She and I had been in contact before because I emailed her and have her my national knowledge exam study notes. She invited me to apply for a coordinator role on her team. I applied for the role and spoke to her on the phone. I didn't make it past the phone interview. 

It's very discouraging. I almost feel like giving up. My luck doesn't seem to be very good. At all. In several facets of life.

I'm networking, I'm getting in people's faces, ect. What makes it worse is the fact that I REALLY dislike what I'm doing right now job wise, and I don't have the ability to just quit. Aside from that being irresponsible, it's not going to work out well, especially when it comes to my employer and my medical benefits.  

I don't know what to do anymore. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Guess what? I've been revised!

As you may remember if you're a long time reader of my blog (or someone who has delved deep into my past posts), back in 2006, I somehow ended up with a perforated colon. 

The day I woke up with that severe stomach pain and the few days that followed were probably some of the worst pain I've ever been through. Then...the days that followed were painful too. When the surgeon on call came into my room in the ER and told me what was going to happen...it just didn't click-I still had no idea what was in store. The pain was so severe and the painkillers were so ineffective; at that point it didn't matter what he said or what needed to be done. I just hoped to would get done-and fast. And it was. I woke up. I felt amazing. Then it hit me...I'm wearing a colostomy bag. 

The fear of not knowing whether or not I'd have to wear this bag on my stomach forever was crippling and real. "I'll have to wear this forever" I thought. "With my luck...I'll have to wear this forever".  As I tried to cope with this while in the hospital, the time to remove my staples from the incision the surgeon had to make to remove the damaged part of my colon drew near. My lovely nurse that day removed just one staple and declared that my wound had not healed properly yet-it was too soon. So, she didn't remove them. 

The very next day, a Sunday, another doctor that I hadn't met before declared that it was time to remove my staples. I told her that the nurse yesterday said that it was too early for me. No-they must come out. Today. 

A few hours later, it became painfully clear that yesterday's nurse was right. It was too early. My wound opened the second the last staple was removed. I didn't bleed, but I did look down and saw directly into my stomach. I was horrified. The nurse who removed the staples was too. Not knowing what to say, she exclaimed "what did you do?!" to me, her tone accusatory. Yes, I used my two heavily IV'd hands to rip my stomach open, of course. She scurried off to get the same doctor. When the doctor arrived, she looked at my wound from afar. She hid her nerves and distress well. She ordered the nurse to pack the wound with gauze, as re-stapling the wound at this point would create a pocket/empty gap/space in my stomach. This could lead to infection. 

So every day, up until discharge and after I was discharged, a nurse would come, clean my wound, repack it, and bandaged it back up. This allowed the wound to heal from the inside out. After 6-7 weeks, the wound had finally healed. A year later, I took a picture of my scar. I hate it. I am actually surprised that I had the courage to share this pic in a post back in 2008. 

Why me is what I thought. I was thankful that I didn't need the colostomy indefinitely-it was reversed 6 months after the initial surgery. But that said, I had to be left with the scars like the one above. The smaller scars here and there I could deal with, but I was very unhappy with the scar from my bellybutton down. 

In the years that passed, I saw one plastic surgeon. He said he'd fix my scar once I stopped using prednisone and mmf. Impossible-I have lupus. I need to be on immunosuppressants. I saw another plastic surgeon. Well, the student doctor. She said this was cosmetic and I'd have to pay for it. I told her that this was caused by doctor's error. The doctor who ordered my staples out should have known that those who are on prednisone heal slowly and my staples should have been in longer.The  student doctor said she'd include in the letter that she would send to OHIP asking them to cover the costs that the scar was due to a "complication from surgery". Right. She advised me that my surgery almost certainly wouldn't be covered.  She didn't even bother discussing possible pricing, nor did the actual doctor even bother speaking to me or coming in to see me. I got dressed. In tears. And left. 

After contacting the hospital expressing my concerns, I was in no certain terms told "Sorry, no dice. Sometimes people who go through medical issues look for someone to blame. We hope we can still provide you care in the future". 

I drafted a response to that email in anger. How dare you try to psychoanalyze me via email?  

I still have the angry email. The angry, unsent email. 

It became clear to me that if I was going to get this scar fixed, I'd have to pay for it myself. I went to my family doctor and had him refer me to a plastic surgeon. He went to school with a plastic surgeon, so he referred me there. 

A few weeks later, I went to see the plastic surgeon. He was very kind. He quoted me a price that I thought was fair, as I expected to pay much, much more. 

So, on Saturday September 14, I went back to the plastic surgeon and had my scar revised. The whole thing took maybe 20-25 minutes-not long. There were a few painful bits where sufficient freezing/numbing wasn't done and I could feel the scalpel cut me open.  I didn't move, but I did yelp out in pain as i stared at the ceiling while the tears streamed out of my eyes, down my face, and past my ears. Other than a few of those occasions-smooth sailing. And those situations were quickly rectified. 

It has been 3 days since the scar revision. I'm still pretty sore. I have a tensor bandage wrapped around my stomach. I keep it there all the time except when I'm taking a shower. The bleeding had pretty well stopped when I removed my tensor bandage and the gauze the following day. Now I only have the tensor bandage there, as well as the stitches and the steri strips. My stomach is understandably swollen right now. I expect it to be pretty swollen for a few weeks, and for the swelling to continuously go down over the next few months. 


Kinda gross cuz it's bloody-I know. Sorry. 


The stitches are to come out in 2 weeks. I made an appointment to have them come out, but I later realized that I made the appointment 2 days shy of 2 full weeks. 

Guess what?

I'm rescheduling. 

I want my FULL 2 weeks, if not a couple MORE days. Not less. Not going down that road again. 

The doctor showed me the scar right after he stitched it up. It looks hugely better. No more division down the middle of my belly button down, leaving bumps of fat on each side. It's smooth and even. I can't wait for full healing to take place so I can see the final result. My surgeon said that the left over scar may need some injections in the future. This is probably due to the fact that a keloid-y scar may result. I'm game. 

So that's my scar revision. What sucks is that I can't go to the gym for a while. But it's absolutely for the greater good. 



Thursday, September 5, 2013

Kidney Walk!

On Saturday September 28, I'll be doing the kidney walk here in Toronto. I've never done it before, but with it being 18 months since I've received my kidney transplant, I think it's fitting that I do the walk!

The funds being raised will used to help create a better future for those suffering with kidney disease. My obvious hope is a future with no kidney disease. No dialysis. No paying hundreds of dollars to pay for dialysis when you go on vacation. No being stuck to a machine. 

I've never done anything like this before, but I hope those of you who read my blog and have followed my candid journey of ups and downs will be able to spare a few dollars, if even a buck or two, and sponsor me for my walk! 

Here's the link. Xo

Thank you!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

I'm back...and inked!

Heyy!
I know I didn't post any entries upon my return from England, so here I go!

My return trip was a bit stressful. I got to the airport much later than I would have liked to, my replaced hip set off the metal detectors at security, I went to the washroom, left, then realized about 10 minutes later that I had forgotten my purse in the stall (!!), and I had to runnnnn like mad to get to my gate before it closed. I made it with only 2 minutes to spare.

Luckily for me, I was in club class with air transat so I didn't have to worry about climbing over a bunch of people in order to get to my seat. Even better, the seat beside me was empty, so I was able to relax even more. It was glorious. When I saw down with swear pouring down my face, a very kind flight attendant came and offered me some orange juice which I gladly accepted. :)

There were some other issues as it related to that flight, but I'll discuss that in another post.

Anyhow, in other news, my brother and I got matching tattoos! The tattoos were to commemorate the kidney transplant my brother and I went through.

The right picture is my brother's left shoulder and the right picture is the right side of my torso/side area. I really like it! It has been almost a week and it's at the itchy stage! :( But I'm not scratching-I promise! :)
What do you think?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I'm in England! LOL

I'll admit that I've been tired and lazy and therefore I didn't do anywhere near the amount of updating that I should have. But, I've been here in England since last week Wednesday. I'm going back home on Thursday morning, so tomorrow will be a day of packing and relaxing.

I got to do and see so many great things. I went to Buckingham Palace, The British Museum, Tower of London, Greenwich..so many great places! Of course, I took photos and documented everything, so follow me and/or take a peak at my instagram page for all of my best/favourite pictures from my adventures!

As for feelings of unwellness, I held out pretty well. I did get sick two days after arriving here in London. I bet it’s due in part to having spanned 8 hours in time zone as well as whatever I may have ate. I just stayed home that day and was pretty much good to go (in moderation) the following day.

I must say that I’m pretty proud of my joints over these past few weeks. I haven’t had any major aches or pains, but I have had some. This is definitely not bad, considering the vast amount of walking and trekking and commuting I’ve done, especially here in London. My knee and hip feel pretty good.

All in all, it has been a great two weeks and I am very glad that I was able to go on this vacation. I look forward to the vacations to come. I enjoy travelling on my own, but I hope that in the near future I’ll have a travel buddy. That always makes things interesting. Aside from travelling myself, I’ve never done any major travelling without my parents…so let’s see what the future holds where that is concerned! 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

California-Vacation Day 2

Yesterday was another great day. We drove down to San Francisco and checked out some touristy areas. We didn’t get to go to the golden gate bridge, but we saw it from afar. We also got to check out Alcatraz from afar. To be honest..I didn’t even want to get on the boat and venture there! Though I’m sure it would have been an experience. Next time…maybe.

We checked out some local restaurants and other spots too. I personally enjoyed our dinner spot, which was a Mongolian grill restaurant. I’ve never had Mongolian grill before, but it was pretty cool. You pick your own meats, veggies, and noodles. You put your raw, frozen, very thinly sliced meat in one bowl and your veggies and noodles in another. You also have your choice of various sauces that you can put in either or both bowls. After that, you give the bowls to two guys who are manning a huge flat grill. They cook everything for your and then put on a plate for you. Delicious. Dessert was self serve vanilla ice cream and an ice cream cone. Hey- why mess with what definitely works? A quick chat with this Mongolian grill spot had been in business for 40 years. Awesome. Wish I remembered the name of the restaurant..

For lunch, we went to Mel’s drive in diner. We didn’t drive in we sat inside lol. I got a half rotisserie chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy as well as a side of veggies. All delicious.
Man..am I ever going to need to hit the gym when I get back!
Mission for today-hit up the local outlet malls and get me a Michael Kors bag and watch. Wish me luck

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Day 1 Vacation!

Yesterday was my first day in San Jose. I love it here! The weather is good-long sleeve weather but you can still get away with shorts. Sarah and Shawn’s place is gorgeous. It’s an apartment but it looks more like a condo to me. There’s a pool, gym, workout room, ect. Yesterday after I arrived, we took some time to walk around the complex and check things out. It’s really lovely! I kind of regret not booking more time here!

After picking Shawn up from work, we went out to Mexicani Grill for dinner. I got tacos and a margarita. All delicious! Then we went to an area which is reminiscent of Yorkville or Rodeo drive. Very fancy and nice. There, we stopped and had dessert. I got a giant piece of chocolate cake which I didn’t even come close to finishing. It was delicious though!

Today we are going to head to San Francisco and do some “tourist-y” stuff. I look forward to tomorrow when we’re gonna do some serious shopping.
I have been uploading pictures to instagram, so you can check that out also. Bye for now!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I'm here! I'm here!

So clearly I haven't been the most efficient blogger as of late. But rest assured-I'm fine! :)

I'm trying to think about what has happened in the last month.

I went to see my bone doctor to see about my bone density's progress. I did a bone density test, then the following week I went to see the doctor for my results. Overall, by bone density has increased by 16%! This can be attributed to a few things. My menstrual period returning right after transplant, my increased calcium intake, and going to the gym a whole bunch all helped! I'm pretty pleased with the results and can't wait to do more!

I've continued on my gym journey and have been enjoying it! I eat pretty well too, but I still do have my vices: mostly sweets! If I managed to cut that out as well as have a better handle on portion control...I'd be amazing right now! LOL.  That said, I tried my VERY first spin class today at GoodLife-RPM. I loved it! First of all, the instructor Rachel was amazing. She came to help me with my bike and adjusted it as per her expertise of what my comfort would be. I was afraid I would even be able to make it 10 minutes in. Whenever I try to use a regular exercise bike at the gym, no matter how low the resistance, I find myself getting off and going back to the treadmill to do my usual brisk walking. But, with biking being a low impact workout, I really wanted to try it.

Now, WHY did I all of a sudden try it? My home gym is a women's gym. While waiting for my Body Combat class to start on Saturday, one of the regulars told me about her workout routine and how it involved spinning classes.  I advised her of my apprehension about taking a spin class.  Since being sick, I have a lot of muscle wasting in my legs and therefore they are very weak. I was afraid that my lack of leg muscles wouldn't be able to to last the workout.  One of the things I like about group classes is that...you don't want to quit.  You're in a group, and you want to keep up with everyone.  When I work out/do cardio on my own, it is a lot "easier" for me to throw in the towel. But in a group class..I push my limits! I was afraid of having to tap out during a group spin class.  The lady I was speaking to assured me that everyone is much too into their own workout to worry about what anyone else was doing.  Also, she let me know that I could adjust my resistance to as high or as low as I wanted-nobody would be monitoring me. Just go at your own pace!

Since she told me that on Saturday, I was determined to take a spin class. So, this morning,. I headed to the nearest co-ed Goodlife where spin classes were being offered. Boy, even though my legs feel like rubber...I loved it! I was definitely pourrring sweat! I will definitely be doing that again. I'm just upset that I waited so long to take one!

What else is new? I'm going on vacation! On Aug 9, I'm going on vacation! First, I'm going to San Jose to visit Sarah. Then, I'm connecting back to Toronto then over to London England to visit family! I look forward to it-can't wait! What's funny..is that I'm kinda upset that I haven't been incorporating spin into my workouts all this time BEFORE my trip. Now I'll have to wait until after I get back on Aug 22 to do more! Hehe


Monday, June 24, 2013

Endoscopy

I never did get around to blogging about the fact that I did have an endoscopy a couple of Thursdays ago.  This pesky reflux has its ups and downs, and sometimes I can't even sleep! I complained to my Transplant Coordinator, explaining to her how uncomfortable this was.  She ordered the endoscopy.

Lemme just say this- I have a SERIOUS gag reflex. I've had endoscopies before, and they consisted of a drowsy Miz Flow dry heaving absolutely nothing since I had been fasting since the night before.  This time, I explained that my gag reflex was out of control. I was given some medication to calm me.

I kid you not- the next thing I remember is opening my eyes and seeing my fully uniformed father smiling at me. "...is it over?" I said, in my genuinely surprised voice. "Yup!" said Pops.  I guess they gave me the good stuff and knocked me ALL the way out..? Hey, fine by me!

Anyhow, Dr. Lily did mention that I did have minor redness/swelling near the bottom of my throat due to reflux.  He suggested that I continue on with the pantaloc that I'm currently taking for 90 days, then re-evaluate at that time. Well, this is what he told me Dad and what he wrote in a half page report that he provides to all of his patients after completing an colonoscopy, endoscopy, ect.  If I had been even semi-alert, I'd have told him that I've been on pantaloc for a loooong time, and when my coordinator tried to stop it as it seemed to possibly be affecting some of my blood results, my body/reflux/throat was having NONE OF IT. I actually had to stop in the middle of work and walk to the local Zellers to buy zantac.  It was minimally effective, but it was better than nothing I suppose.  Dr. Lily did confirm that it was likely the medication that I was on that was causing these reflux symptoms.  Guess I'm just going to have to live with it and keep taking something to keep my acid at bay.  I wonder if there are any methods of controlling reflux that are more natural..something to think about.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Gym Life

I've been spending a lot of time at the gym these last few weeks...it's just part of my routine now.  I didn't go today because I took out my twists, then I had to give my hair a wash, protein treatment, deep conditioner, ect.  I'm not putting my twists back in for another 5 days, so I also had to style it.  So that by itself was an entire process and therefore took up the majority of my day.

Anyhow, I've been back in the gym and I'm really enjoying. I started taking a class that I was really intimidated by before-Body Combat.  Being someone who's really into MMA, UFC, and all that jazz, Body Combat was a class that I was interested in right away. But based on the description of the class, I was a bit worried. My first worry was whether or not I'd even have the stamina to get through the class.  In a way..that's what I like about group classes.  It forces me to push as much as I can because I don't want to give up in a group of people like that.  When I'm on the treadmill or the elliptical machine, it's very easy to say "meh, I'm tired" and just stop. My second worry was that the class would be too difficult because of my sore hip and knee. But, I went to the gym one Saturday morning and decided that I'd give it a try.  I took a spot at the back of the room...which was also close enough to the door that I could slither out quietly without being detected lol.

Anyhow, when the class started, the instructor asked if anyone was new. I raised my hand, in the process thinking "why did I just raise my hand? now they're gonna notice when I crawl out!" But I did. She welcomed me to the class and encouraged me to stay for the full class, even if I had to stop and take breaks.

Well, the class started, and I took not one break throughout the entire class.  I took the breaks that everyone else took, which were breaks in between tracks-just enough time to grab a sip of water and wipe the sweat that was dripping off of my face. But I finished.  What impressed me/made me even more happy was the fact that the instructor demonstrated appropriate modifications for specific moves.  These modifications enabled me to continue staying active throughout the entire workout without standing there thinking "uhmmmm..."  When the class was over, it was INSTANTLY my favourite class of all.  The instructor was great, energetic, and encouraging. The workout was AMAZING. I know that I don't get in enough cardio on the machines.  My legs are still weak and therefore get tired easily on the bikes.  Same with the elliptical. When I'm on the treadmill, I can't run due to the impact to my joints, meaning I can only walk briskly. This doesn't give me the same degree of workout I get from combat, where I'm throwing punches, kicks, using abs...basically engaging my entire body!

I have a book that I talked about before when discussing working out at the gym. I believe it's called 100 workouts for women..? I need to start drawing from that book to help me properly incorporate weight training into my routine.  By doing these fitness classes, I think I have my cardio/muscle training combination in check, but I do need to focus on using weights to build more muscle, which will in turn show better results!

Oh, and on foursquare...I'm the mayor of my primary gym location! That means that I have checked in the most at that particular location. I like that, because it actually encourages me to go. You know, I usually don't skip going to the gym, but maintaining my "mayorship" serves as encouragement for me. Silly, I know! But true :)

But I'm glad that I've been able to get back into the gym.  I'll admit..I was scared to work too hard. I never knew for sure if there was a correlation, but on two occasions, when I was a member of a gym and was working out a lot...I ended up having lupus flares.  But so far so good..I'm flare free :)

 
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