Tuesday, December 6, 2011
My life became very difficult in about April (despite what my perky blog posts would seem to reflect) when I begged my doctors to change one of the medications that I'm on. Zyprexa had been a good drug for me, mentally. I've had stable moods for nearly seven years, but it wasn't so good for the rest of me - weight gain, the beginning of metabolic syndrome (high cholesterol and high blood sugars) and teetering on the edge of diabetes. There were two new drugs that came on the market and I bent my doctors' arms into letting me try them out. Neither Abilify or Zeldox (Geodon) were what we'd hoped they'd be which was incredibly hard as my moods raged out of control. It was five months of sky-highs and soul crushing lows and in September I went back on Zyprexa. It didn't take long for me to go back to being stable.
Even though Zyprexa evens out my moods, it can be a frustrating medication in other respects. Not just the physical things (weight gain, etc) but also how sedated it makes me. If there was one amazing thing about my time off Zyprexa, it was that I could think with crystal clarity! I haven't thought that clearly in years and giving that up, no matter how hard the mood swings were, was a very hard decision. It was nice to be able to spar verbally with dad and Jill and to engage in meaningful conversation and debate with other people in my life. Unfortunately the extremes that my moods went to made going back to the world of 'stoned indifference' the only option. As hard as it is to be foggy and to not be able to concentrate or read for pleasure (or learning, for that matter), I decided that it was more important to be stable and reliable than it was to argue passionately.
Some would say that sharing my medication woes and deep truths about what its like to have a mood disorder isn't appropriate. They've said I should just mind my P's and Q's and keep this sort of information quiet except to the closest people in my life but ya know, I'm tired of living like that. I'm not ashamed that I've got a mental illness. Its just a piece of what makes a whole and its not shameful by any stretch of the imagination. Unfortunately some think that mental illness is best kept quiet. I wonder if they really understand what keeping this kind of thing secret is really like and if they know how it only compounds the problem. I refuse to let my mood instability be something people whisper about behind my back. I welcome questions and curiosity!
But the good news is that my life is back on track, thanks in part to my old medication but also because I've got amazing family and friends who stand by me no matter what my moods do. I'm grateful.
Moving Forward with Joy.
Friday, July 1, 2011
I trust this finds you all well.
Things here are getting busier and busier! We're gearing up for our family reunion in a little over two weeks! Gosh, we can't believe how quick this is coming upon us... mom and dad in particular have been busiest. They've done lots of yard work - no more than normal, actually, but it has a special feeling about it now because we're expecting 85 of our closest relatives for three days. Gotta make the place shine! This is dad's side of the family that we're expecting and we couldn't be happier. We're only hoping now for good weather. We've had an incredibly wet spring in the Fraser Valley and we're praying for at least one sunny weekend - namely the weekend of July 15th!
And in that vein, we took a family trip to Costco yesterday. I've been there only once or twice as a young child so its still very exciting to me. I'm certainly not in the market for hardwood flooring or bulk flatwear but I picked up a few good deals on olives, toilet paper and peach cups (in apple juice of course, not syrup - 15g of carbs in each cup and less if you don't drink the juice! yay.). Also found a deal on canned cat food that I'm sure Georgina will appreciate and even managed to find the world largest bag of chocolate chips - 5 pounds! Ok, I'm sure there are bigger bags but its the biggest I've seen! It was a great experience and as a birthday gift to me, Mike bought me $40 of my groceries. So kind!
Mom and dad got some good deals, too. Plastic cutlery, ketchup, and pickles... and who knows what else. It'll all be well used for the reunion.
I'm doubly excited about this reunion as I wasn't originally intending to go. My seizures are triggered by camera flashes so large gatherings have been completely out of the question for the last eight years. But my dear friend Michelle has been teaching me mobility skills for the blind and even bought me my own cane. So I'll be at the reunion, just in an adapted, Deedee-safe, sorta way! I have my sleepshade and my cane and will be getting a funky pair of sunglasses to go over top of said sleepshade... and voila - Deedee can go to the family reunion! I know its rather unorthodox but it would be more of a shame for me to miss the whole shin-dig then for me to have to come 'blind'. I'm excited to see everyone and hug the life out of my aunts from Alberta. Plus we're having a pig roast on Friday evening and I'll be damned if I'm going to miss that! lol. I think its a good way to have both me there as well as all the pictures people want to take. Best of both worlds, in my opinion.
Am just on my way out the door to mom and dad's for supper. Homemade pizza. YUM!
Moving foward with Joy!
Thursday, June 9, 2011
As you can see, I've given this blog a facelift. It needed some lovin' and a new Spring look! Let me know if you have any strong view on the new colours and fonts.
Mom and dad spent the afternoon here, helping me with a few things. Dad fixed all my screen windows as well as my hide-a-bed that was broken ages ago. We got lots accomplished and even started on the adapter for my patio window, where the air conditioner will hook up. (Its previously been attached to my kitchen window but its no long practical to have it there). We finished with supper, which mom made for us while dad and I worked away, fixing things. It was strange to have someone else cook in my kitchen but the meal was delightful.
I've had two major excitements in the last two days.
One of them is this:
I have a 'pest' problem. I live on the ground-floor of my apartment block and there are squirrels and cats galore who enjoyed using my planters as both a place to store their treasures (nuts and the like) as well as using it as a convenient bathroom. It was a major pain in the neck for me... as soon as I'd get anything growing, the squirrels and cats would dig it up. BUT this contraption should fix that problem. It was originally a habitat for raising hamsters and guinea pigs. Dad found it abandoned downtown by the old court house and immediately saw potential in it. It was in really really sad shape but after a few weeks, its been reinforced, repainted and re-fibre glassed and is lookin' pretty spiffy! I've planted my 'garden' in it, beans, carrots, spinich, dill. And I'm looking forward to being able to enjoy some of those veggies this year! yay!
The other most major excitement of my last couple days is the arrival of Georgina:
Sorry the picture is a bit blurry. She's 7 weeks old and weighs in at 1 pound! And she's about as big as a brick of butter, too. So adorable. She's currently confined to the bathroom... now that I know she's figured out the litter box, I've been letting her explore her surroundings a bit more - adventures in the living room, kitchen and dining room. I think I'll keep her in the bathroom at night for a few more days but she seems to be settling in very nicely. We have a new apartment manager who doesn't mind us having pets, so I've paid the pet deposit and now Georgina has a home with me.
There's been plenty of other things going on, most notably preparing for the reunion next month. Golly, I can't believe how fast its creeping up on us! I've been baking lots for it... every 10 days I've been making a different kind of Amish bread and then freeze both loaves. They freeze and thaw well plus it means that I'll get my baking done while its still cool out. I found this site. Its got TONS of new amish bread recipes. I've got the Apple Streusel Amish Bread in the oven right now. Lookin' pretty good and smells even better! I'm looking forward to trying the coconut cream one next. I split my starter this time, so I've got three other starters. I'm gong to freeze two so that if I kill my starter again I won't have to pester my patient Aunt for some of her sourdough starter! And the remaining starter (besides the one I'll keep to make even more bread!) will make the coconut cream one tomorrow after I go grocery shopping. There'll be over 90 people at the reunion - I'm sure they'll eat all the Amish Bread I can make! haha.
Blessings for all of you out there as you go about your days.
Moving Forward with Joy
Friday, May 27, 2011
Its interesting what can happen in a month's time, isn't it?
My month has mostly centered on medication changes. It hasn't been easy but I think we've got a keeper. I'm pleased to report this, as my month has seen highs and lows. I'm not out of the woods yet by any means since these drug changes (adding a new drug, taking away another) won't be finished for another month or two. There's a light at the end of my tunnel, I'm happy to say.
This new drug of mine has to be taken with a meal ("not a snack" as the pharmacist and doctor have told me time and time again) so I've actually had to start eating breakfast and supper at the same time each day. That might not sound so bad but it truly is a pain in the rump! Working nights doesn't help but I think I've found a system, thank goodness.
Breakfast is the biggest challenge as I'm badly allergic to eggs and eggs happen to be one of the quickest and easiest breakfasts out there. So, I've turned to oatmeal. Porridge, granola, and the newest addition to my diet, baked oatmeal. I had to go searching the web for new things to do with oats and came across a recipe for it on a vegan website (vegan = no eggs or dairy). I've had some success with the recipe and have made a few tweaks to it, taking into consideration my many other allergies. And all the while, still counting carbs.
Vegan Baked Oatmeal
2 cups oats (I use rolled oats)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup milk (I used coconut but the recipe actually calls for rice)
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
Mix wet ingredients with dry then pour into a greased 8x8 pan.
Bake at 350*F for 25 to 30 minutes
Let set 5 to 10 minutes before serving
1/6 of the pan = one serving = 33g carbs
I was short on cow's milk this last time but I happened to have canned coconut milk. I don't use it very often and I always forget to shake it well before opening the can! I did some fancy work with a wisk and then went from there.
The baked oatmeal turns out great and freezes well. I freeze single-servings and then throw it in the fridge to thaw at night, then heat in the microwave in the morning for quick breakfasts. Top with milk (think: porridge) or yogurt and you're good to go.
If anyone out there has egg-free breakfast ideas, please pass them on!
Bed is calling but I hope this finds you well.
Moving forward, as ever, with Joy.
Monday, May 2, 2011
The quote that prompted that was this:
"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that" - Martin Luther King, Jr.A number of my friends posted that quote from Dr. King and while I agree with the principle - that we can't fight hate with hate - I think that its far too idealistic and that Martin Luther King Jr meant a lot more about hatred then just us being mad at one son-of-a-bleep who inspired such hatred and evil in the world.
Let me be honest and to-the-point, I'm not happy that he's dead. I'm just happy that he can't go on leaving such destruction and death in his wake. I agree with the spirit of the quote - we can't fight hate with hate - but I don't honestly think that's what we're doing. The Canadian war in Afghanistan isn't about us hating Muslims, or even extremists. At least, that isn't my understanding of it. Its about putting a stop to the way awful way people are treated and the terrible way a country is run. I think its fair to say that the Extremists there hate us but I can safely say that I don't hate them. We're fighting hate with "get them to stop destroying lives, already!". I think that most Canadians don't really give a damn about extremists (of all stripes), I just think we want them to live their lives as peacefully as we live ours.
I think Afghanistan is a very interesting and beautiful country and I think the people that live there are even more so. I don't hate any of them! And I never hated bin Laden, my naive Canadian hope was that he would see the error of his ways and would decide on his own to stop hurting people! At least now he's no longer a threat.
I can't truly live that quote which is why I posted my comment in such a way. I'm not proud that I'm pleased he's no longer breathing but I know I'm not the only one who feels that way!
Facebook isn't a good place for strong opinions, in my opinion, so I took down my post. I think everyone has a right to their opinions (and you're all welcome to share them in the comment section here, if you choose) but I'm very aware of the variety of people who read my wall... I don't want them offended. It wasn't wise of me to bring up something so inflammatory there which is truly why I removed the post.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Simply Ten Good Things:
1. A long night at work
2. Good company through that shift
3. A mom and dad who are waiting expectantly for details of that shift
4. Six hours sleep with no interruptions (not for another hour, though)
5. Banana-Peach yogurt smoothies
6. The mere fact that I can eat both peaches AND bananas
7. A sister and her man-friend who ply me with iced coffees to keep me going
8. A nice warm shower
9. Porridge for supper
10. Another interesting night ahead of me
Hope you can make up your own list of "ten simple things" that have made your day.
Moving forward with Joy
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Thanks for all the support you all have sent me following my rant about seizures and how they're portrayed in the Bible. It means a lot that not everyone is crazy and thinks folks with seizures are full of demons. Unfortunately, there are people I've come into contact with (some of them being former friends) who believe that my seizures are a result of past sin. Its stupid really but what can I say? I'm glad to have people around me who aren't narrow minded like that! Merci Bien!
I have some exciting news - I had a conversation with my boss earlier this evening... and she's given me the thumbs-up for a trip to Halifax this September! I can't tell you how excited I am!! I'm trying not to get lost in the thrill of it but its hard. I'm really looking forward to time with Jenny, Josh and the kids... seeing their new place, being a sneaky house-elf while she's putting the kids to bed, leaving little presents for everyone when they're asleep. I'm looking forward to it all! I miss them so much and I dearly look forward to another chance to experience the friendly atmosphere of the east coast!
We're still determining how long I'll be gone for and whether I'll be traveling alone or with one/both of my parents. But I know that there's lots of time to figure that out. September is still five months away! I know how fast the time flew when preparing for my last trip and this time will be no different. But more than anything, these trips of mine are bathed in prayer. Prayers for safety as I travel, for a seizure-free experience altogether, etc. When God's involved, anything is possible.
Joyfully moving forward, now more than ever.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
I went to church two weeks ago – to a lovely Presbyterian crowd over in Agassiz. I have some friends who go there and I often tag along. It’s a good group of people with wonderful contemporary worship and sermons that actually mean something (and aren’t a history lesson on some obscure passage in Ezekiel).
I was there two weeks ago when a fill-in pastor preached. Seems like a nice enough guy but I had a hard time swallowing the first scripture reading, from Matthew 17:14-20, which made swallowing his whole sermon difficult.
When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”
“You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.
Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
Now, some of you know that I, like the boy, I have seizures. Big, ugly seizures. And most of you know that I don’t like a whole lot of fuss made over them. They’re embarrassing enough without people falling over themselves feeling sorry for me.
I understand that the dad in this scripture was not blessed to live in an age of anti-convulsant medications, Ketogenic diets, and other therapies and surgeries that could have helped his son. For this dad, the only hope for his son lay with a man of miracles who could heal the boy. I get that. Heaven knows my dad has been in his position... when the doctors even in our age of science don’t know how to help. And like the dad in the scripture, he ended up on his knees praying in faith that I’d be healed and made whole. But ya know, I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter how hard dad prayed, it isn’t all about conviction. ‘Cause if it were, then I’d be healed purely by my dad’s faith. And I don’t mean to put too fine a point on it, but I’m still having seizures eight years later.
So, when ministers and pastors everywhere stand up and preach about mustard seeds moving mountains and fathers having faith the Lord can heal their sick children, I get a little pissy. I know they’re trying to underscore an important lesson but I want to stand up and shout at them “It’s not just about faith, buddy!”
I think faith plays a part but the other side of that coin is God, in His power, has to know that the time is right for healing to take place before he’ll ever let it happen. I don’t want to sound negative but I’ve moved past the point of wanting God to heal me. Yes, it’d be nice to drive again, to go out and be social without having my anxiety overwhelm me that someone has a camera or someone is going to flick the lights in a room to get our attention. Ya, that’d be great. But I’m not going to pin my hopes on it happening. God knows I’d like to be rid of my medication, God knows I’d like to live without these seizures, God knows I’d like my family to not have to worry themselves sick about me when I go grocery shopping. But it isn’t all about faith – it’s also about God’s perfect timing.
And while I’m slaughtering sacred cows, enough of this ‘possessed by the devil’ hogwash! I don’t have any more demons in me than the average Joe. And to any pastor who might be reading this... please be careful with this passage. It’s damaging enough to the poor people with Epilepsy in the room who have to sit through you discussing their condition like they’re some Biblical tragedy! There’s also untold damage done to each person in the congregation who inevitably take away from this scripture that people who have seizures are afflicted with demons, and that we need to feel sorry that Jesus hasn’t healed them yet.
So folks, please realize that healing happens in two parts – first faith, followed by God’s perfect timing. And please educate yourselves about the conditions in the Bible that Jesus heals, not just seizures. Think about the paralyzed, the blind, the bleeding disorders, etc. I figure that God gave us science as a way of healing ourselves but at the end of the day God still wants us to talk to him... I just don’t think he wants us praying for stuff as if we’re still living 2000 years ago when there were few other explanations for things like seizures.
The real message people need to hear is that seizures are a normal part of life for 1% of the population of the world. We’re not crazy and we don’t have to deal with any more personal demons than anybody else out there. Epilepsy is just a disorder, scar tissue in the brain, nothing more.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Its been a good day here... no complaints, that's for sure. Got to spend the afternoon with dad - it went well. We ran errands and puttered around the 'farm', then dad brought over his drill (gosh that thing is loud!) and we hung up some coat hooks in my hallway and by my buffet. We made little plaques for the hooks about two weeks ago. I'm particularly excited about the one by my buffet - its a home for my apron and my rag bag. Looks great! We hung these hooks higher then the last ones which is fantastic... my coats aren't hanging in the way of my shoe rack anymore. Horrah.
I've spent the last few days creating, sewing, and have neglected all forms of housework. The dishes will be first but everything here needs a clean. And my poor plants - they're crying out for water! Shame on me.
I work tonight... in a little over an hour. Its been snowing on and off all day, hopefully that means a busy night. We shall see.
A few pictures from this fall:
We had a record number of beets this fall. And not just in sheer numbers but also in size. They were gigantic. We pickle them all (yum!) but mom tried a new technique for cooking them - she read about baking them instead of boiling them and she said its much easier and there's way less mess - no beet juice covering everything within splattering distance. And the skins come off just as easily. I think this new way of doing things will stick.
We took a ton of pictures this year for the Christmas card... this is one of the funnier ones. Jill and I were just being silly and it sure got everyone laughing.
Joyfully Moving Forward.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Yep, I know its been a while. It seems like I've fallen out of habit of writing here.
To catch up:
Christmas was awesome. Jill's man-friend Mike was with us as his family is in Manitoba and Ontario. It made sense for him to join us and we couldn't have been happier. The day itself was awesome and fairly standard as far as Christmases go. I was blessed with gifts and had a wonderful time blessing my family right back! I didn't get all my Christmas projects done... in fact there's still a few waiting to be finished... but they'll get done eventually. Now that Christmas is over there isn't such pressure to finish 'em! There's one that I absolutely need to do in the next month or two - a baby karate uniform for my friend's baby gift. Her husband is big-time into that mixed martial arts stuff and asked me to make it for her. I started but its sitting there, unfinished. Shame on me!
Work is awesome. No complaints there. I feel like I'm always learning something new. This week it was all about medium-duty vehicles and what we charge for towing them. I've committed most of it to memory except I get hung up on the Dodge vehicles and get a bit confused. I just need to sit down and write it all out about twenty times and I'll remember it then. Its the only way I can memorize - how very grade 2 spelling tests, eh?
I've had a moderately busy afternoon and evening. I went up to The Preserved Seed today to pick up some Organic Salt. Its not easy to come by but boy is it ever good. This stuff is sea salt but the last stuff I bought from them was Himalayan Crystal salt. Its all delightful and is worth the $5 a pound I pay. I picked up some for Jenny, too. From there I went to the hospital to say hi to mom (who was on shift) and my friend Iris, a lady from church, who has been in hospital for five months now. She's in good spirits and will be moved to the Bradley Centre next week. She's looking forward to that which is awesome. Plus her husband lives just around the corner so they get to spend all sorts of time together even though they don't live under the same roof anymore. I hit up the thrift store (MCC) and picked up a few things I need for a project I'm working on for Michelle and then, finally, went home.
Once home, I cleaned and cooked and cleaned some more. I baked up some cheese twists (recipe will follow this post) for Adam and I - we had a good visit. Once he left I busted out all those nifty new grains and flours I bought to make a batch of multigrain sourdough (recipe will follow). Auntie Gloria gave me sourdough starter last week and I've been dutifully feeding it and watching it bubble... and tonight was the night - I mixed up almost 16 cups of dough (it was almost to the top of my KitchenAid 16 cup bowl!). Its sitting on the counter, covered, where I'm hoping it will double in size over night. I'd like to bake it up tomorrow but we'll see. The recipe said it takes 12 to 24 hours to completely double... and then another 2 to 6 hours to double in the pans. Its quite a process but I'm looking forward to fresh sourdough bread! And once that was tidied up, I made a batch of dad's fudge. Its the easiest recipe in the world and makes the best fudge ever. I think he got the recipe from the Vancouver Sun last year (recipe will follow). Its cooling and tomorrow I hope to take it up to the folks at the office. Its so nice to have people to bake for.
And now my day is done and I'm off to bed.
Joyfully moving Forward.
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup milk
Mix together to make a dough. It needs to be soft but not falling apart or sticky.
Press out into a rectangle (about 6x10")
Using a pizza cutter, cut into three long rectangle strips
Brush tops with :
1 tbsp melted margarine
2/3 cup cheddar cheese
and spread over two dough strips
At this point I often cut up strips of sandwich meat (whatever I have in the fridge - usually ham) and place those on the two strips with the cheese.
Stack the three strips with the stop strip being the bare one, margarine side down
Using a pizza cutter, cut into 10 to 12 short strips.
Twist each strip gently and pull slightly and place on an ungreased baking sheet
Bake at 425*F for 10-12 minutes
Aunt Gloria's No Knead Multigrain Sourdough – makes 3 large or 4 medium loaves
per 28 gram /1 ounce serving: about 70 calories, 2 g. fat, (0 transfat), 48 mg. sodium, 11 g. carbs, 1.9 g. fibre, 2.5 g. protein
5 cups wheat flour, white all purpose
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups rye flour
2 cups oats or oat flour
1/2 cup flax, ground
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup wheat germ, lightly toasted if you like
3/4 cup bran
1/4 cup poppy seeds
6 tbsp. vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. salt
3-4 cups water
1 tbsp. molasses
6 tbsp. canola oil
3 tbsp. vinegar
1 cup sourdough starter
Mix 1/2 cup flour with your starter, and add enough water to make a thick pancake-consistency batter (sponge). Let it proof covered and get bubbly on the counter overnight. Measure out 1 cup in the morning, put the remainder back in the jar add 1/4 cup water and a scant half cup of flour, let this bubble for 2-4 hours and stick it back in the fridge for next time.
In the morning, mix flours, seeds, wheat germ, gluten, brown sugar, salt.
Mix wet ingredients. Add them and your sponge to your dry ingredients. You need it to be a very moist dough or even a thick batter. Add a bit more flour or water as necessary.
Leave it covered at room temperature for 12-24 hours or until it doubles.
Divide dough into loaves (this is easiest with a sharp knife and wet hands), shape gently, and transfer them to greased loaf pans (glass ones are good because you can tell if the bottom is getting too brown too quick but if you use glass then knock the oven temperature down by 25 degrees). Place in a cool oven and allow to rise for a second time, for 2-6 hours, until the dough is doubled or about level with the top of the loaf pan.
Turn oven to 425 F. with loaves still in the oven. The bread should be done 35-40 minutes later (if it browns too fast, cover with a piece of foil). It should sound hollow when you tap on the top of the loaf.
Tip out of the loaf pans onto a wire rack and allow to cool for several hours. If you cut this bread while still warm it gets quite squodgy. If you can't resist cutting and it seems way too gooey, stick it back in the pan and into the still hot oven for 10-15 minutes to dry a bit. If you want a soft crust, store it in a plastic bag; to keep the crust crisp use a paper bag for storage.
Dad's Vancouver Sun Fudge
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Microwave on high for 10 minutes
Take out every minute to stir
IT WILL BE HOT - don't burn yourself.
Mix with electric egg beater on medium for five minutes. It will thicken
Pour into a 9x9 inch pan preferably lined with parchment on the bottom and sides but greased also works... and let cool for about six hours on a rack. Let sit overnight.