Thursday, March 17, 2022

Teef

 I'm trying to get back to taking care of myself better. This means catching p on all the things I haven't been able to do safely during covid. Like checkups. Like workouts. Like hilarious pupil dilations and eye exams. 

Like (shudder) dentists.

Bleh.

This morning I got my teeth cleaned for the first time in years. It was a bit unnerving, but I am glad I finally did. Wow. They feel awesome. I have individual shiny teeth again. No cavities too, so bonus on that. A lot of people have terrible teeth after chemotherapy and I was meticulous with my oral care during treatment to avoid mouth sores and the like and it seems to have made a difference. Of course now I don't take care of my teeth well at all post treatment anymore (ahem)...so that's kind of dumb of me. I figure that needs to change so I keep my teeth as long as I can.

My job has incredible benefits and in addition to decent dental coverage our other health benefits have been expanded recently to include a lot of neat new extra things, including electric toothbrushes and health supplements and hobby tools. So - I have a fancy electric toothbrush to try and use regularly now that my teefs are cleaned. I may look into getting some cool craft tools and such as well. We shall see. 

For now, I'll work on organizing my life and expanding some hobbies and treating myself better. I am feeling stronger and a bit thinner in my recent efforts to be a better steward of my body and after watching people close to me lose their health I've been vividly kicked in the ass...er, teeth, to be better.


Friday, March 11, 2022

Survivor guilt

 Lets unpack a steam train full of baggage shall we? If this triggers you or you don't want this I respect your boundaries to not take this into your head right now. This is mostly a post of writing out my feelings and I don't expect you to take this upon yourself. You might wanna go for a walk or pet a cat instead I figure.

OK here goes. 

Last month my father in law passed away from cancer. He's been sick for a long time - bladder cancer after decades of smoking and despite what seemed to be successful treatments and a not great surgery that took him a long time to heal from that removed his bowels and prostate and bladder he came home to then find it had spread to his bones. He and I were never very close - he was not a great father to my husband and could be a bit of a jerk - but I would not wish this on anyone. The last 5 months of his life he weakened and then started to live with constant pain...pain that was eventually so hard to bear that ne was not lucid with all the pain medication he was given. He was going to be moved into the hospital for hospice care soon after he peacefully left this earth surrounded by his family. It was a terrible way to die, and yet as peaceful and good as it could have been, surrounded by family and knowing he had looked after everything he could and was ready to go. He had a strong faith that sustained him, and seeing how despite his pain and frustration he deeply loved his wife and family really made me respect him a  great deal at the end. Life is wierd that way. 

His illness and death had a huge impact on me. He and I had bonded a bit when he was sick -we were the "cancer buddies" and I was willing to talk to him about stuff that no one else would and I encouraged him with my recovery that he would beat this too. For a time we thought he had. We both felt the fear - each new random ache and pain means maybe the cancer is back. Every cough or weakness could be a sign of a new problem. I've been so lucky that for me it has never been anything to worry about (knock on wood). For him though? The worst fears of a survivor made real. 

Trying to squash the fear of reoccurance is hard for a survivor. Indescribable. You can't really talk about it because you can't stop it and you can't fix it and after a while people get sick of hearing about it. You are expected to "get over it" and get back to life. You try. Some days you even forget. My tattoos over my scars have helped me see beauty is what used to be a vivid reminder of my sickness and take control of the "new me". Him getting sick just brought all this back for me again. Watching what could have been. Seeing the pain and frustration. The anger. The pleading. Watching those he loved suffer. 

And then? THE GUILT. How dare I make this about me? How selfish of me to take his suffering and try to turn it into something else? Having lost a parent I tried to forget the pain of watching my mother fade away and support my in laws however I could, but sometimes I would just find my self crying over new aches and sitting blankly staring while petting a cat. And more guilt then...because during this I am supposed to be supporting my partner. He suffers from depression and needed my help to try and get through all this after years of covid decimating his work. So much MUCHness. Everywhere. I am usually annoyingly happy. This does not compute. 

Survivor guilt is real. I know I'm not here to change the world, but I suppose I'm still here to bring a little splash of me to whoever needs it. And to fill up their cup I need to fill up mine as well. Not entirely sure how to do that, but I suppose the first step is admitting the guilt I feel. Where I go with it remains to be seen. 


The spring time of the mind

 I always thought is was kinda dumb to take a picture or measurements when starting a fitness journey. To me it just made me feel worse having actual numbers staring at me to prove how I'd really let things get out of hand. 

Before I got cancer almost 10 years ago I was in grad school while working full time (not recommended if you want to sleep) and I took what little free time I had to discipline myself to eat clean and workout. I was, ironically, in the best shape of my life while a few small tumors were building a nest in my right breast. I was grateful for that health when I had to go through about a year of chemo, surgeries and radiation and all kinds of things that made me realize it wasn't the beauty I craved so much as the self control. The strength. I'm a clumsy human and the more muscles I have the stronger and more precise I can be. You gain a new perspective when you ache and feel like a 90 year old and after having come back from that I tend to look at things differently now.

Yes. I still do over indulge. Yes I still have a somewhat unhealthy relationship with food (repeat after me - food is not a reward). I love food and good scotch. I oscillate in my attention to health - but I also have limits. I had a great holiday season and enjoyed myself thoroughly, but occasional rewards had become the norm again and having 2 drinks after work each night to destress was not helping my mind or my ass. Instead of workouts in the AM I would sit with my cats and surf facebook and numb my brain. With winter chills it was too cold to walk so that was missing too. I was becoming a working lesson in how not to cope with pandemic burnout. I've been lucky enough to work all through this in a research lab safely and the stress of all that made me want normality so badly...and it was impossible. 

 My dear friend and my godson recently got covid and I could not help them while they recovered and it shook me to look at what was important. While slowly doing little things to organize my life I attacked my bedroom closet after a pile of sweaters landed on my head. I discovered a lot of clothes I love that I haven't worn because they don't fit any more. I slowly looked in other closets and organized and looked at things to see what mattered and tried to organize what little I could in a crazy time....and it helped. I started to see little glimpses of OK. Build parts of my home up from under 2 years of ADHD isolation clutter and feel accomplished. And so for the last few weeks I've been getting up again in the Am to do a workout and cutting back alcohol to one day on the weekend again. I started reading books and not social media. Big small things.

And it feels good. My largest clothes - my "danger" pants are now comfortable again and I feel stronger. Not a lot stronger, but just not dying or feeling like my muscles are going to collapse. I can hold yoga poses without falling over and do a few pushups. Do cardio without an asthma attack. eh- It's a start. :)It also helps that the stupid chill of our Saskatchewan winters is finally reaching it's end. I can walk to work again some days as long as I bundle up. That adds some morning chill to my day and gives me 40 minutes to myself. Time for podcasts and walks along the river to the lab. Time for me.

I guess what I'm trying to say is it may still be chilly out but it's springtime in my head at least. I hope you're finding little glimpses of springtime somewhere in your soul. Please look for them. They are ever so lovely when they sprout up and show their leafy green little sprogs. :)




Monday, March 07, 2022

Self preservation, Serotonin and 2022

Well hey.

It's been a few.

So - covid huh?

Yeah.

And anyone else had world war 3 on their 2022 bingo card? Yeah me either.

The old curse about "may your life be interesting" seems to be granting demented wishes for all of us.

I've been finding my ADHD is rabbit holing into Facebook and that combined with being constantly attacked as a scientist for just offering science and kindness to people about covid and just science in general I've tried to take a step back from that. A few weeks off Facebook and already I'm doing other things at home that give me serotonin and reading more again. FB was sucking all that I used to post here, plus the way it's set up just invites me to lurk and seek for some kind of random thing from other people and get me some serotonin...which I should really try to get from actual humans. 

So yeah. I think 'm gonna be back here for a while now. I need a place to comment and rant and such, and I do miss my blog. Life has much to talk about and despite the fuckwittery of the current world there has been much goodness in my life. I am still healthy. Still a scientist. I am a godparent. My cats and husband are adorable as ever. 

I recently started back to a bit more physical activity too after using food and booze to medicate my winter blahs...so there is gonna be some fitness tracking and ranting about how hungry I am while I get back into my previous size of pants. Not gonna lie though, mostly I think it's more my brain needing to spew randomness out and hash out life and not just have experiences to be shared on social media. Instagram and Tiktok are amusing, but there's something to be said for Ye Olde Bloggosphere and sharing things with my partner. 

SO hey - feel free to swing back a few times a week for all the rants and random blarbles I have floating around in my bean. Same bat time. Same bat channel. 

PS -I cross-posted and linked here from over from my other fitness blog -the thought of posting in 2 places hurts my head.   


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Alive and kicking

Hi- still here. Mostly posting on my other blog mainly...no point in repeating. Changed the format here...seemed fitting what with me being less frequent -mainly I just love the photo. Wish I knew code better so I could get my own tweaked template. I've been dabbling in website design at work and at home lately so I'm starting to learn some tricks.

I may start to link to other posts there, although I admit I've been lousy at posting at all the last long while. Life is busy and it seems like Facebook and Instagram steal a lot of what may have ended up here in the past. I am trying to be more present and have active hobbies not on the interwebs. Also? I am lazy...

But, I hope you're well. Let me know what you're up to.
I'm healed up and still kicking.
Weird as over. Older and curioser.

To you today? Much love.

Gotta go - science calls!

Yes - this is an actual muppet. I have the best friends :)

Friday, November 06, 2015

And so it begins....

Today my dad is coming to help reno our bathroom.

I.
Am.
So.
Excited.

Soon no more pink tub and surround, pink toilet and sink. No more uncleanable wood parkay flooring (icky patooey). AND a bathtub deep enough for a proper soaking bath. We splurged on the tub (it says it fills up to 19" deep muahahaha) and the rest will just be nice and simple. Dad is building me a vanity since it's a weird size and we're gonna put in a square vessel sink with a nice simple dark counter top from Rona. I have a new white toilet and a decent but cheap tub surround ready to go too. Wednesday we found some click and lay vinyl waterproof flooring that will be super easy to put down - a nice greyed marbley pattern. We like the current wall colour of the bathroom (a dark warm grey called Metropolis) and we're gonna build on that with white fixtures, a light grey vanity and dark vanity counter top and medium grey floor. All the fixtures are a brushed nickel which matches the towel rods and handles already in there so I'm really hoping it will come together nicely in the end.

Now we just plan our attack. First we are replacing our robin's egg blue toilet downstairs which no longer works properly (why with the colours? Just why?) and will put the extra flooring from upstairs down as well in the half bath down there. It has grungy old parkay wood flooring there too (why unsealed wood floor in a bathroom? Just why?). This way we'll still have a toilet and sink to use while the upstairs bath is ripped apart. We'll be without a shower for a while...I think we'll be visiting my brother a lot!

I'm not sure how I'll cope with my workouts now that I think of it. I've been doing the Insanity workout program and keeping up with it and am very pleased with how it's been going so far. I am dripping sweat at the end tho - with no shower I may have to become the queen of sponge baths...or maybe just go into the gym here on campus just so I can shower here! I guess I'll figure it out. I don't want to not workout during renos since I'll be sitting on my butt doing nothing after my surgery for a month. I guess I'll figure something out that won't send my family and coworkers running away from me. Much. Hmmmm...

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The day the music died

Life can be a cruel bastard sometimes.

I had the pleasure to meet Jon Horvath a number of times over many years...many many years at Shambhala, Burning Man and other big electronic Canadian festivals....but also here many times at Saskatoon. Here at my home where he came to play sometimes and he and J talked music and laughed. He always made a point of saying hello to us whenever and wherever we found him. He let a shared love of music link up us and so many others with him and them. Considering the very social life he lived and the tragic loss of his lovely wife a few years ago he was kind and inspiring...and, dammit, he loved funk. He and his group Fort Knox Five made funk and brought it to the world. It was a unique funky sound I discovered and loved. Damn...I loved it. Still do. So many people do.

Sadly Jon H died a few days ago. He drifted away from a coma after a sudden illness...and a whole musical community, me included (if I can even consider myself a part of it), are struck a bit dumb. It's really sad that a great guy who finally was really seeing his music getting successful and making a great life for himself and putting so much energy into other artists to help them is just...gone.

A really great eulogy for Jon is here. If you like funk or Fort Knox Five have a read and remember. Or better...play some funk. Dance under the stars. Look up Fort Knox Five on Soundcloud...tracks like Fire in My Belly and Swinging on a Rhyme? Well your ass will thank you and dance a little and bring  a smile to your face. Listen to a few Funk The World mixes to hear some great funk Fort Knox Five gathered from all around the world...because we all need a little more music in our lives.

This man brought a lot of joy to my life and a whole lot of others I know and hold dear.
We will keep the funk alive.

RIP Jon.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Oh my god there's a mountain lion in your fridge

Someone in a cancer group I'm a part of poste this the other day and it's funny...and very true.

“What’s it like to go through cancer treatment? It’s something like this: one day, you’re minding your own business, you open the fridge to get some breakfast, and OH MY GOD THERE’S A MOUNTAIN LION IN YOUR FRIDGE.
Wait, what? How? Why is there a mountain lion in your fridge? NO TIME TO EXPLAIN. RUN! THE MOUNTAIN LION WILL KILL YOU! UNLESS YOU FIND SOMETHING EVEN MORE FEROCIOUS TO KILL IT FIRST!
So you take off running, and the mountain lion is right behind you. You know the only thing that can kill a mountain lion is a bear, and the only bear is on top of the mountain, so you better find that bear. You start running up the mountain in hopes of finding the bear. Your friends desperately want to help, but they are powerless against mountain lions, as mountain lions are godless killing machines. But they really want to help, so they’re cheering you on and bringing you paper cups of water and orange slices as you run up the mountain and yelling at the mountain lion - “GET LOST, MOUNTAIN LION, NO ONE LIKES YOU” - and you really appreciate the support, but the mountain lion is still coming.
Also, for some reason, there’s someone in the crowd who’s yelling “that’s not really a mountain lion, it’s a puma” and another person yelling “I read that mountain lions are allergic to kale, have you tried rubbing kale on it?”
As you’re running up the mountain, you see other people fleeing their own mountain lions. Some of the mountain lions seem comparatively wimpy - they’re half grown and only have three legs or whatever, and you think to yourself - why couldn’t I have gotten one of those mountain lions? But then you look over at the people who are fleeing mountain lions the size of a monster truck with huge prehistoric saber fangs, and you feel like an asshole for even thinking that - and besides, who in their right mind would want to fight a mountain lion, even a three-legged one?
Finally, the person closest to you, whose job it is to take care of you - maybe a parent or sibling or best friend or, in my case, my husband - comes barging out of the woods and jumps on the mountain lion, whaling on it and screaming “GODDAMMIT MOUNTAIN LION, STOP TRYING TO EAT MY WIFE,” and the mountain lion punches your husband right in the face. Now your husband (or whatever) is rolling around on the ground clutching his nose, and he’s bought you some time, but you still need to get to the top of the mountain.
Eventually you reach the top, finally, and the bear is there. Waiting. For both of you. You rush right up to the bear, and the bear rushes the mountain lion, but the bear has to go through you to get to the mountain lion, and in doing so, the bear TOTALLY KICKS YOUR ASS, but not before it also punches your husband in the face. And your husband is now staggering around with a black eye and bloody nose, and saying “can I get some help, I’ve been punched in the face by two apex predators and I think my nose is broken,” and all you can say is “I’M KIND OF BUSY IN CASE YOU HADN’T NOTICED I’M FIGHTING A MOUNTAIN LION.”
Then, IF YOU ARE LUCKY, the bear leaps on the mountain lion and they are locked in epic battle until finally the two of them roll off a cliff edge together, and the mountain lion is dead.
Maybe. You’re not sure - it fell off the cliff, but mountain lions are crafty. It could come back at any moment.
And all your friends come running up to you and say “that was amazing! You’re so brave, we’re so proud of you! You didn’t die! That must be a huge relief!”
Meanwhile, you blew out both your knees, you’re having an asthma attack, you twisted your ankle, and also you have been mauled by a bear. And everyone says “boy, you must be excited to walk down the mountain!” And all you can think as you stagger to your feet is “fuck this mountain, I never wanted to climb it in the first place.”

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Talk amongst yourselves

This recent article has a lot of really interesting points to make about how people deal with their lives, often in ways that are harmful, instead of working to make their life more satisfying. I've recently had a few conversations about this very topic...found it very interesting.
 For example...
"Like our parents of the last generation, we are close to subduing the vibrant and powerful spirit of our bodies to the point of quiet bickering, to complaining quietly until it may have almost found solace in the only mediums it has been offered. We may now have almost accepted small pleasures and transient moments of commercial entertainment as enough – as if this was all there ever was.
Our generation, whether they subscribe to higher ideals or not, is quickly and dangerously reaching the point where it is enough to “just get by”: to get a job, watch movies, have sex and buy more stuff. We can leave these problems to someone else. Content with the barrage of entertainment that consumer culture has to offer, and overwhelmed by the daunting challenge our generation faces, there are enough distractions to keep us comfortably numb well after we’ve forgotten what real life is all about.
 Now, it’s true. Even eco-minded activists like to watch movies or get engrossed in the occasional videogame, go out for a few beers – whatever it is. It’s certainly fine to enjoy these things. It’s just important to keep these forms in balance with everything else in life."

Monday, April 06, 2015

The only thing

So there's a new Sufjan Stevens album. And it turns out I can't stop listening to it. It's a sad album, songs about losing his mum...but, well I relate...and, well, the music is so damn beautiful. I think this and The only thing are my favourite tracks on the album. It's one of those songs to listen to on a train with the rain pouring outside, or a sunset stroll...haunting.

The whole album is available on Soundcloud for listening on the Asthmatic Kitty label site. Have a listen. I bet it makes you twinkle inside just a little bit...

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Gollumy day

As I sit here trying to write papers on my breast cancer research from my thesis I am still mentally foggy when I sit down to focus.  It's what I have come to call in my head a Gollumy day. I am trying how to get past this so I can finish these papers and get things going without having to wash through all these emotions every time I whip out my data files and read up on the most recent breast cancer research. As I look at slides and count patient data I am vividly aware of the fact that each sample is a person. All this data…it *was* me. I, like others, am logged in the big beige slide and FFPE carousels on 5th floor at City Hospital…just another surgpath number. Yes, I did work to help make diagnosis better for people. In the process I met all the people who ended up testing and supporting me in my fight, giving me confidence in their quality of work and the level of treatment I received. It helped me stay sane knowing all the details I had learned.

And now I'm better. So they say. I feel better. I have hair. I have my health back. I feel…almost…normal. Some days I can forget I was ever sick. Some days. Until I take of my shirt to get ready for bed and see the white line across my chest where my right breast used to be. Most days I remember how strong I am…was…and most days I remember what I learned about what I need to appreciate and look to as important in my life. It's not like I lost my legs or anything.
But some days, like today, as I sit with my kitten in my lap at the table typing and attempting to work on stats and read about breast cancer all that comes back in random flashes. Like some sort of demented PTSD. Trying to focus on things and ignore all the emotions that flow back is not something I'm completely ready for. Not so bad really…I just want it to go away…and am wondering if it ever will.

When we went to Burning man last year I took my chemo log card. I left it in the temple and spent time there sobbing out my anxiety and worry and all that came with everything I had been through and tried my best to leave it there. When the temple burned it took a lot of that with it. I met up with some cancer survivors there and together we walked to remember and to forget. I let go of a lot there.
But apparently I still have a lot in there hiding out and it likes to come and visit from time to time. Just to mess with me.

Well, Fuck you cancer. Fuck you for everything you took from me and everything I have to carry with me every day.

I want to stand at the top of a mountain and scream with every fiber of my being…like Gollum said: LEAVE NOW AND NEVER COME BACK.

You fucker.

Teef

 I'm trying to get back to taking care of myself better. This means catching p on all the things I haven't been able to do safely du...