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Archive for the ‘Emotions’ Category


I was 14, he was 15. The very first day we met, he kissed my hand, very Cinderella style. Little did he know he was kissing the hand of a hopeless dreamer. An incurable romantic. A girl who, even at 14, had learned how to exit the world of her reality and dwell in the world of books, movies, plays and music. My fantasy world was the real one in which I dwelt and the reality of school and homework and parents and such were just the nuisance that had to be endured between escapisms.
Our first date. How ironic it was to a movie. Escapism please!
We went to see The Little Mermaid. When it was first released to theatres (am I dating myself, much?). The song “kiss the girl” was the backdrop to our first kiss. He with his towering height and me with my fantasies and already I had us married off with kids and living in a far away land.
Cut to now, and we’re married with kids and moved provinces, so in a way, my 14 year old dream came true.
My number is inverted now. I’m 41. I still use books and movies and plays and music as a way to leave the trappings of the adult world, a world VASTLY more disappointing than I was led to believe as a child. Sure, I can eat what I want and go to bed when I want, but I also pay taxes and clean and raise children and have a job. But I have my dreams. Tucked away where I can call upon them when needed. I still read books and fall in love with the mythical worlds weaved for me. I even write books where I can bend the fantasy to my own will and whimsy. Songs still transport me and movies are where I give over my heart and soul to be drawn into another place and time.
So, it’s no surprise that when the live action Beauty and the Beast was announced that I immediately professed that I would not only see this in theatre, but that we would all go, husband, wife and the three children still remaining at home. No one minded. When your mother is a dreamer, she tends to influence her children.
The day approached and the closer we got, the more excited we became. The kids would frequently play the trailers on the internet and I, the eternal crier, would more often than not, feel my eyes growing hot with anticipation.

On Sunday we crammed our five adult forms into the car and drove to the theatre where Belle awaited. As we sat in a row at the back of the theatre, I leaned over to my husband and whispered “I love that 22 years of marriage later, you’re still taking me to Disney movies. Only now we bring our children.” He tried to pretend like that didn’t make him “catch the feels” too, but I know it did. He has been much more sentimental since his heart attacks.
The show started and transported is exactly what we were. My youngest, the 15 year old, 6’2 man-child sitting beside me, spent the entire show holding my hand, or laying his head on my shoulder, or hugging me. My girls sat at the end silently letting tears fall. The movie was perfection. It should be held up as an example of how to bring a beloved animation to live action. I won`t go into the details of the myriad of ways I loved it, because this post would simply be too long.
It was beautiful visually, artistically, musically and in it`s composition. The casting was perfect and I truly wanted to step through that screen and into Belle`s world.
We left the theatre that evening to go home to the world that we built. It`s warm, inviting and loving. It`s full of laughter, and yes, sometimes tears. Usually mine. It`s teenagers and adult children who still hug their parents. It`s kids who were brought up to love and to treat people with kindness and dignity and inclusion. With all the mistakes and pitfalls I’ve taken in my life, it`s my deepest source of pride to see the family that we built and what we`ve built it into. Even with my love for escaping through books and music and movies and plays, it’s still that Prince Charming of mine that I come back to.

And he still kisses my hand.

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I haven’t really commented publicly on the Orlando shooting at Pulse, but believe me when I say it has been on my mind and very close to the surface since it happened.  So I’m finally going to talk about it. Or at least, talk about why a mass shooting in a gay nightclub in another country,far away from me; a married woman in her forties with children and dogs and a husband, would matter so much.  

I have five kids.  If you read my blog, you already know this.  If you have read my blog for a while now, you also probably know my oldest daughter is gay.  Coming out wasn’t easy for her.  Not because of my reaction, her dad’s, her siblings, but…other members of our family can’t understand it and don’t accept it.  She got a lot of backlash at high school.  We lived in a very small town and believe me, being out there wasn’t always easy but, one of the things I admire most about my daughter is that she is beautifully herself.  Unapologetically.  Being authentic is a gift. She has it. Anyone who knows her knows how utterly genuine she is.  

My house is one where we talk about everything.  So, when she came out to us, the kids just took it as easily as if she had told them that actually, despite the rainbow of colours that have found their way into her hair, she is actually a natural blonde.  I mean, it’s still her. What was there not to accept? 

Ah but there were things not to accept where others were concerned.  Some of our family was not and is not so accepting.  And that pains me.  

We all know that there has been an extreme uphill battle for the gay community to climb.  And I’m embracing ALL of the community. Gay, lesbian, queer, trans, bi, questioning and anyone else I’m leaving out. There is a lot of ignorance and intolerance out there and that breeds fear and hate.  But I had thought, as most of us likely had, that we as a society have come leaps and bounds. 

And then.  The shooting. 

It’s too much.  

I was texting my gorgeous girl the morning it happened.  She lives in another province and I couldn’t be there to hug her, hold her.  She was looking forward to going to pride this year in Toronto.  She is not going now. Because she was going to go alone and now, well, without someone there with her to help her feel safe, she doesn’t want to risk it.  

Which is the saddest thing. She will be 21 next month. This is the time in her life when she should be going out to gay bars and clubs and meeting people and having fun.  

As I watched the Tony awards last Sunday night, I cried when Lin Manuel gave his speech and said “love is love is love is love is love”. Because that hit the nail right on the head for me.  

To everyone in the world who doesn’t get it. There is no wrong way to love.  There is no wrong gender to love. No evil way, no sacrilidgeous way, no broken way no hateful way, no sinful way. Love. Is. Love. 

Love is love. 

Say it out loud.  Love is love.  

And every single person on this planet is entitled to love in whatever incarnation it makes them feel loved in return.  How could anyone begrudge love?  

I hope the families of this massacre find peace in their days to come.  I hope the gay community finds new strength and continues to stand up and say WE ARE WORTHY.  I hope my daughter finds joy and happiness and love with a wonderful partner some day.  

And I hope the people whose hearts are still closed to a part of humankind find a way to open them.  Have your grinch moment and let your hearts grow.  Because, no one wants to threaten you, or put their relationship “in your face” anymore than you do.  They simple want to dance, without dying. 

They just want to love their lives and one another.  As we all do.  

Love is love.  We learned to love as children.  

So grow up.  

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My parents arrive tomorrow for a few days’ visit. I’m actually really happy to have them come. Because they are leaving in a few weeks for a trip back to the motherland. Ireland. And shortly after that, they are moving back to Ontario. Yeah. I have no idea why either. If my own recent trip back to Ontario taught me anything, it’s that I don’t want to live there again and I don’t know why anyone else would either after they’ve had a taste of life in, um, I don’t know, ANY OTHER PROVINCE. I take back ANY time I have bitched out here about traffic or construction. We have it easy. We have it super easy.

What I *did* miss was people. Specific people. My daughter. Oh lord Keisha you are SO beautiful you don’t even realize. And seeing you happy, full of energy, settled, you have no idea how much that made me smile. I think the last time I saw you in such a good place, you were about 12. Maybe. I’m so proud and I really wish we could spend time together more, but at the same time I’m happy to let you live your life and just…fly.
Best friends Alex and Greig. I have no words. Three years were like three days. Because we just fell right back into our wonderful ways as if no time had passed at all. God I missed you.
My brother and sister and the new baby. Yes, I have two other sisters in Ontario and I didn’t get to see either of them, but new babies win. Always. And Saoirse is a dream. My eighth niece (I also have three nephews) and I’m sure, knowing our family, that we’re not done yet. I mean, I am done, but I still have two unmarried brothers and Ciaran and Angela are newly weds, I’m sure they’ll have at least one more. I just love the babies. LOVE

One of my favourite visits of the trip was seeing my grandparents. I love how my Grandmother is still so full of joy and laughter. I loved making Grandpa’s eyes light up at new pictures of my kids, their great-grandchildren. I love their cozy home and I just loved spending time with them. I miss that, living so far away. I don’t know how many more opportunities I’ll have to do it.

So I came home, out from the (not even kidding) 40 degree heat, to a brisk 12 degree, cool Saint John day and promptly lost my voice. Total laryngitis. I actually could not make any sounds for three days and even now, I’m still scratchy.

June is not cooling its heels though, and we are careening quickly through a season that has left me emotional. Aislinn, our middle daughter, is graduating high school in a few weeks. I don’t know, I’ve been through this graduation thing before, but, on different scales. Liam finished the way I did, through correspondence. Keisha finished through an alt high school and I definitely remember her graduation ceremony, and how choked up I was sitting in the auditorium with Shawn watching our baby cross that stage to get her diploma. But Ash is the middle baby. I have a mental picture of my kids: the “older two”, Ash, the “middle child” and (much to their eternal chagrin that I STILL use this term) the “little two”. If Ash is graduating, that means that really, for REAL this time, they’re all getting older. I have one kid moved out, another on the cusp and now Aislinn making plans for moving on and my beautiful big family is shrinking.
Believe me, I do know that it will eventually get to the phase where it grows again when they all start making their permanent relationships and having their own families. But right now, I’m in the midst of the emotional roller coaster of watching them grow, and letting them go.

I’m feeling my age. I’m searching for a cure to that.

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Where did all the damn traffic come from??? Seriously? And I won’t even talk about the INSANELY aggressive drivers. No wonder we were always smoking and stressed out. Woah.
We landed yesterday morning at about 6:45am Ontario time, got Shawn dropped off in Brampton and then I went to Guelph to pick up our oldest daughter Keisha from her house and we zoomed 25 minutes north to Elora, my hometown. We walked around for about an hour, saw the house where I grew up and where she spent most of her childhood weekends and almost all of her childhood major holidays and decided that it had changed too much. The town, that is. The vibe was completely different. It no longer felt like home to me. So, we headed back to Guelph. As much as to beat the massive storm clouds as to go play around the other city I grew up in and where her Dad and I first met. We had a great time. We saw the high school I went to in Grade nine, both where it used to be and where they rebuilt it, the park where Shawn and I had our first kiss, his old high school, the hospital where my beloved Nana lived out the last years of her life, and a whole bunch of “places of interest”. Read: where all my teenaged shenanigans took place. The Guelph ones, anyway.
But the city has changed SO MUCH. At one point we were headed to a Walmart, which I distinctly remembered the location of, and she kept telling me to turn too soon. I tried to argue with her but, well, she lives here now, so I turned and there it was. Guelph had picked up the whole damn building and moved it. And painted it green! I told Guelph to go home, because it was (and is) clearly drunk.

We didn’t actually wind up taking a lot of pictures, though I thought we would, but, we were so in the moment yesterday. And dudes, she looks fucking amazing. She has worked really hard for the last year and has lost almost 80lbs and she just was so, so, HAPPY. I loved it.

We went out for dinner all three of us last night and finally Shawn and I got some sleep.
Today I get the morning to do just this: writing. First this post and then I’m working on my book again. (SQUEALS OF JOY) and then….
We’re off to Paris Ontario tonight to see our beloved friends and to go to the theatre. You remember my theatre days, right? Lord I miss that. The last show we ever did and by far my favourite was I’ll Be Back Before Midnight. Damn I loved that role. I played Jan. I got to go crazy, shoot a (fake) shotgun, cry onstage, kiss onstage, freak the fuck out on stage, go catatonic onstage and finally, murder my stage husband with an axe. It was awesome.
And Paris Performers are doing the show tonight. So we’re going to see it. YAAYY!!!!

Tomorrow we are going to meet our new niece for the first time, see my brother and sister in law, see my Grandparents and get ready for the early Sunday morning flight home.

I’m already sunburned (I had forgotten about Ontario heat, it’s going to be 40 today with the humidity), I’ve already laughed until my face hurt. I’ve already gotten emotional.

It’s been the best day so far. I’m looking forward to the next two immensely.

Happy Friday, all!!

Now I’m off to exercise my fingers and work out what’s going on in Summer Poppies. I’ve been working on this book for Four Years. It’s time I get serious with it again and wrap it up.

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It’s been a whirlwind month and a half since I first went to the hospital with my swollen feet.
There I was back in January with a small, sharp pain thinking it was plantar fasciitis or something related, just dealing with it when one night in February, I looked down and noticed my ankle was a little swollen. No biggie, I thought. I had been feeling pain in my left foot, so maybe I was unconsciously over compensating with the right. I went to bed and woke up without swelling.
But then it kept getting worse. And the pain shifted from under my heel to both my ankles, my knees and my feet in general. Finally the swelling and pain got so bad that I had trouble walking so one night, after my late shift at work, I went to the ER. 11 hours later I left with an appointment to see a rheumatologist. Dr. Grant.

Dr. Grant is wonderful. At our first visit, he told me that what I was experiencing was likely Rheumatoid Arthritis. Which was a hard thing for me to hear. He gave me a prescription for naproxen and a follow up appointment for a week later. We talked about all the other joints where I had sharpness or pains and we talked about sarcoidosis, which he felt was not to be completely ruled out, but, he wanted to wait and see what happened with the naproxen. To be safe, he sent me downstairs (his office is in the hospital) for chest x-rays and blood work. Well, I picked up my pills, took them home and started on it. Two days later the pain was worse and the swelling was WAY worse. My legs were one size, from the widest point of my calves, down to my toes. I could barely fit shoes on, even with the laces open as widely as possible. I called his office and he got me back in immediately.

That was a Wednesday. I went to my appointment with him that morning and showed him my feet, which now also had angry looking dark blotches on the skin. Then he looked at my legs, my knees, my fingers and fingernails and told me that my x-ray had shown that the lymph nodes in my lungs were enlarged. A classic sign of sarc. He did an ultrasound on my ankles and pointed out granulomas and swelling issues. He sent me down for more blood work, another x-ray and a ct scan with contrast as well as an ECG. Sarc, I was beginning to learn, is a scary ass disease. He also wrote me out of work for a few days because now I needed prednisone to take down the swelling and I really needed to be off my poor feet. I was fine with that, seeing as walking was so painful and I had been limping around work for a while.

The new pills took down the swelling and my next appointment the following week confirmed it. I had granulomas everywhere. In my joints, lungs, one in my BRAIN behind my EYES (I’m seeing an opthamologist about that one, and it’s likely the reason I suddenly needed glasses this year) and enough of a question mark around my ECG result that I’m being sent for an echo-cardiogram.

I may or may not have had a panic attack about some of this.

Here’s the thing about Sarcoidosis though, that I’ve learned on this complete whirlwind. It’s either going to be acute, and it will all clear up and go away, or it’s going to be chronic and I’ll have problems and flare ups for the rest of my life and NO ONE knows which until I finish my course of steroids and have things settle down.

It’s called “The Snowflake Disease” because it’s literally different in everyone it affects. It’s called the “it’s not cancer booby prize” because often times those granulomas are seen as tumors. It’s called the great pretender because it’s symptoms imitate: arthritis, lupus, chronic fatigue, hashimotos, fibromyalgia and many, many more illnesses. In fact, it’s not unusual for it to go along with any or all of these. The jury is still out on whether or not I also have rheumatoid arthritis with this, we simply can’t know until all the sarc symptoms are gone or under control.

My wonderful husband, who as most of you know, has had his own issues with sudden, extremely serious health/heart problems, has been wonderful through this. He has listened to me rant, he has listened to me cry, and he has listened to me complain. On our most recent date night, we spent a good hour discussing our respective health and how we feel about it all. Who knew that at 40 we would have so much to talk about in that department? Certainly neither of us did.

No one ever expects that they will wake up one morning and be sick for the rest of their lives. We simply don’t count that in the things that we worry about. There are far too many other things to worry about. But I can’t spend my days dwelling on it either. I have to make a choice every morning when I get up. Pay attention to what’s hurting today, yes for sure, but then, adjust, and move on. I have to CHOOSE not to live *in* the hard. I have to choose to let my hard just be a part of me and focus on what’s good. Or at least focus on what needs my attention more. Because there is always something that does. It’s the same mindset that I use when I’m having a bad day with depression. Or at least the one I work hard at using, some fights are better than others. We live in the mindset we allow ourselves to live in. Sure, I could give in to the self wallowing and eating of all the feelings and depression of it all. Sometimes I do just that. But I don’t want to live in it every day. I don’t want ALL my days to be defined by my illness. Because I am not my illness. I am just me.

So that’s it, folks. Opthamologist on May 3rd (I AM freaking a bit over this one, I have a phobia about my eyes being touched and an intense fear of what they may have to do) and echo cardiogram coming up sometime soon. Then follow up x-rays and likely a follow up ct to see if anything has shrunk or gone away completely.

In the meantime, work. Kids. Husband. House.

Life.

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It turns out, a LOT of you read my post on the ONE night I didn’t love my hospital. Like a lot. It was one of my highest rated posts ever. Which is not a bad thing. I even got a thank you for writing it from one of the staff members at the hospital. But let me fill you in on what’s going on since then and why I am back to full-on loving my hospital.

Yes, it was a shit night. No, no one should have to wait 11 hours in pain before seeing someone. That was crap. I stand by that.

So I posted my pity party thing the other day. Feeling sorry for myself and whining and all that good stuff. But then, some things happened.

On Monday, my husband drove our daughter to Halifax to tour the University she was accepted to (don’t ask me how in the hell we’re going to make those financials happen, I’m still hoping on the lottery) and I went to work. I LOVE my job. I lucked into working at one of the greatest places in the city and I have the most wonderful co-workers. But it’s really hard to keep your spirits up when you’re in pain. My feet were still swollen despite being on meds for three days by that point and my legs were hurting. I was still limping and a lot of people at work asked me how I’m doing. Well, I was honest, but I hate complaining all the time so often my answers were kind of jokey. Oh, you know, still sore, but hey, I’m okay!
I got home Monday night and had some running around to do. My daughter had a flute lesson, with my hubs and other daughter away it was just my two youngest and myself for dinner so we stopped at Sobey’s and I let them get whatever they wanted to eat. None of us were really hungry, it was a nice treat.

When I got home though, I just couldn’t ignore the pains. My legs from the knees down, my wrists, elbows, I was hurting all over. I thought, I’ll take a nice bath. That’ll feel great on all my sore spots. And it did. Until I tried to get out of the bath and I couldn’t get up.
I had to call my 15 year old daughter for help. That night I called my Rheumatologist’s office, knowing I would get a voice mail. I left him a message asking him to please just call me back in the morning. I wanted to know if it was normal for everything to get exponentially worse before it got better. His office called first thing in the morning with an appointment for me for 9:30 Wednesday. That fast.

Tuesday was more of the same. Pain so bad it was hard to get through my day. Shawn and Ash weren’t due to come home until Wednesday but I couldn’t hide from him on the phone how hard it was for me. I got home from work just after 8pm, spent about fifteen minutes with the kids and then came to bed. Within a half hour I heard voices. Shawn and Ash had come straight home from the tour and were here! I’m so glad they got to do their full tour first and I’m so very thankful they were home because quite frankly, I was scared and grateful to have Shawn able to come with me back to the hospital. By now my legs were the same size from my mid-calf down to my toes they were so swollen and there were red patches on my skin.

I saw my Dr. the next morning and he confirmed that I likely have sarcoidosis, a very serious disease, but a treatable one, and it was likely that which kicked me into the RA symptoms. By the time I left the hosptial at 1pm that day, I had had a CT scan with contrast (no, the radio active dye DID NOT give me any super powers. I’m still bummed about that), and EKG and more lab work. He just called the departments and got me in. And everyone was great.

I am off for a few days now on some new meds trying to get the swelling down and my symptoms under control so that I can find my new working normal. It’s daunting, and a little bit scary, but I know that I have some really great care behind me. I may not have a family doctor yet, but I do have a specialist who is looking out for me in every sense of the word and that, my friends, is golden.

It just goes to show you, it’s important to speak up when the system lets you down, but it’s equally important to talk when they really rise to the need.

Now, if only I could stop googling sarcoidosis.

Special thanks to Dr. Grant and that lab tech who took my blood whose name I have forgotten. You were great! Didn’t feel a thing.

On with life, dear friends. A couple of days of bed rest means more work on the current book. And that’s something to be really thankful for!!

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I’m about to whine.

Last night was a rough night. Like, rough. So, after my awful night at the hospital, I had a positive experience there – positive in that I have a specialist to work with, whom I got in to see quickly and he seems both very nice and very thorough. Two attributes I love in doctors. He confirmed that I do indeed have rheumatoid arthritis and started me on a course of fairly aggressive anti-inflammatories as well as a pill to protect my stomach. Fine.
Here is the problem. It’s me. I’m the problem. My brain simply did not want to compute that this is a permanent disease.
I went home and broke the news to the family, and texted my best friend Sarah and we cracked jokes about putting baseball cards in my some-day wheelchair spokes. In fact, we all kind of cracked jokes all night because that is what we do. We talked about how some-day I’ll be entitled to a handicap parking permit, and won’t it be nice to have that? Prime parking all the time? Ha ha, so funny, it will be hilarious.
We went out Saturday night to hang with some great friends and while it was kind-of-sort-of mentioned, pretty much I ignored it. Besides, it was a birthday party and I wanted to have some fun.
And then Sunday, we took the kids into the city to hit up Value Village (my kids LOVE thrift shopping, thank goodness) and to go to Costco for some groceries. While moving around was a little sore for me after the festivities of the night before, I managed and we went home.

That’s where the day went south. For me anyway.
You see, I realized that this is not like my sciatica or any sprains or breaks or illnesses I’ve had in my life where time, medications and therapy are going to make it eventually go away. This one won’t go away. Ever. There is no known cure for RA. And yes, we got it early, it looks like, but mine has been a little aggressive in how quickly it cropped up and how fast it went from mild pain to full swelling and more pain. I don’t like it. And I started to feel very sorry for myself. I said to my husband maybe it was my karma for some of my poor choices. He (very smartly, we’ve been married a long time) didn’t really answer that. Since I had been somewhat active the night before and all morning long, my afternoon and evening especially were quite painful. So, I did what any self-respecting 40 year old adult woman would do: lay in my bed feeling sorry for myself and crying.
Because I’m a damn grown up.
This morning I’ve tried to put a new spin on things for myself. I’m NOT the only one in the world with a disease. I’m NOT the only one in the world with THIS disease. Feeling sorry for myself isn’t helping anyone, especially me, so I need to stop it. I got up, got dressed and went to work. I made sure I took my pills and I walked slowly from my parking lot to my building (four blocks), trying to let myself get into a rhythm and not pushing it too hard first thing in the morning. I plan to get up a lot from my desk today, so that I’m not sitting for too long stretches at a time. I’m trying to force my thoughts to go down positive pathways instead of negative ones.
In short, I’m trying to be a damn grown up.
No one wants chronic pain. My father has it in the form of fibro myalgia and I marvel now even more that he maintains the level of activity he does and if he can do that at 70 after suffering for YEARS, I can do it at 40.
I have no idea how yet, but I’m sure as hell going to try.

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