Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Looking forward

Hello everyone,

I know, I know, I've been away for a long time. I haven't posted in months and have made myself scarce on your blogs and I do apologize, but I was hit with a burn out at the end of August and have only really begun to feel like myself again for the pas two and a half weeks or so. I was taken off guard by the burn out as after my vacation in late June, I felt like I was ready to take on the world, but when I look back I can see now that my body was giving me some warning signs that everything wasn't quite right even after going back to work after my surgery in early June. Anyhow, I was hit pretty hard and was off work from lunch time August 22nd until this Tuesday. Burn outs are, as my doctor and psychologist both told me, not bad things. They are a sign something in our lives in unbalanced and in order to get well, we need to get that balance back. It took me the better part of the two months I was off work, quite a bit of lost sleep and a few tears to realize that what I really need right now is more time for myself so I can do things I enjoy and have not been able to do for some time, like cook and travel and visit museums and go out and take pictures. I also want to do other things professionally. I loved my job for the longest time and still enjoy it to some extent, I think I always will, but I have been giving tours at the same place for eleven years and have been working in the office for six and half of those years. I have the opportunity to work with my Sweetheart in his engineering firm, which to me seems absolutely fascinating. He is a civil engineer as I have mentioned before and often goes out of town on inspections and I would love to go with him. The only way I could realistically achieve this and have more time for myself was to quit my full time position and go back to work exclusively on call. It took a lot of courage, but two weeks ago I called up my boss and explained my situation to him and he was very understanding and appreciative of my honesty. I think most of the people I work with understand my decision and are even happy for me, but of few of them seem rather confused. I worked incredibly hard and had to be incredibly patient in order to get a permanent position at the Oratory and only got it in 2010. Before that I was working at the same job I have full time but for a much lower salary, which I was quite admired for. All I can say to really explain my decision is that my father dying flipped my entire world upside down and has made me see things quite differently. My father died much, much sooner than he should have and if he had not suffered from such crippling depression, I know he would have loved to have done so much more to enjoy life than he did. He would have traveled, and cooked, and played hockey, and cycled with my Sweetheart and I, and gone fishing with my grandfather and gone to Montreal Canadiens games with my brother and come to my choral concerts, and gone skiing with my brother and I and so many other things. Depression took all of that away from him though and I know that that upset him greatly. He wanted to get well, but he couldn't. I am well though and I have a unique opportunity to be able to do all the things I want to do but have not been able to, so I want to do them and not just for myself, but for my father as well and I want to think of him while I do the things I love and I want to think of him smiling at me as I do them.

On that note, here a few pictures of the things I enjoyed while I was off work, because one thing that both my doctor and my psychologist told me to do was to not sit around at home feeling sorry for myself. They told me to go out and do things I enjoyed and so I did. In September I went to see the international flora sculpture competition at one of my favorite places in Montreal, the Botanical Gardens. I took over 100 pictures and am still working them and will try and get some more pictures up when I have the chance.

I also went for another little road trip to Quebec City with my Sweetheart, that's him on the right taking a picture of the Château Frontenac. We had an amazing time and he won two contracts for his engineering firm while we were there. We also went for a drive around Île d'Orléans and went to a fabulous black current producer there called Cassis Monna et Filles. Go visit your website and go visit them if you are ever in the Quebec City area, they are totally worth the detour as is Île d'Orléans, it is a lovely little island with beautiful scenery. It's actually one of the places I want to go back and visit to take pictures, because we didn't have the time to take any while we were there!

And here, finally, a few of the long promised pictures of my house!

This is the front entrance on Halloween night with the pumpkins my Sweetheart and I carved. We had candy for ninety kids, but only ended up getting eight at our door! The weather was awful though, so we're going to try our luck again next year.

This is my library, it's been a favorite with everyone who has come to visit me so far.

This is my totally awesome eat-in kitchen. I have enjoyed many happy hours cooking in here so far and I actually enjoy washing the granite counters and island. The wall on the left has another counter and has storage all around it. I have so much storage in the kitchen that some of it is empty and every time I buy dishes or something else for the kitchen my Sweetheart teases me and says 'But are you sure you have room to put that away?' The door at the back leads out onto the rear balcony and fire escape. 

This is the dining room. The table, chairs, dish cabinet and work of art (copper leaves) on the wall were my father. At my house warming I fit seventeen people around the table. We carted in every chair I had in my house and a few spares people had brought. My father's dining room table had never been used for a meal before (my brother played poker at it with a few friends once or twice), so it was so moving for me to see all my best friends sitting around the table with me having such a wonderful time.

Here is the living room, with Quinn lying on top of the radiator cover. My cats lover the radiator covers ever since I have turned on the heat! The couch and coffee table were my father's as well and the coffee table is actually also hidden storage space as the top slides back so you can store things inside the table. The door in this room leads onto the front balcony and there's a good sized maple tree in front of it which is great for privacy, I'm planning on putting a table and chairs out there next Spring.

And here, finally, is the office! It took me a while to set it up as I had to have a desk made to measure for it since the space it quite small. For months I had the chair, which I bought at an antique shop, but no desk! When the desk finally did arrive, it was quite something getting it home. It was all in one piece in a huge box which barely fit out of the back room of the store. The store owner and I then had to enlist the help of the men who ran the bookshop next door to get it into the back of my car. It fit perfectly (God bless my little red VW hatchback), but then I couldn't see out my back window. I drove all the way home that way and then my Sweetheart and I had to enlist the help of one of my next door neighbors to get the box out of my car. Getting it up the stairs and into the office was the easy part :)

So there you have it. I can't promise that I will post here very often because I am spending a lot of my free time with my Sweetheart and his family now, but I can promise that I will do my best, especially since I think I will have a lot of interesting things to share with you all in the coming months :o) Thanks for sticking around and I hope to pop back in soon!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Québec City

 View of the Petit Champlain district in Québec City

Oh my gosh, it's a new post! Yeah, sorry it's taken me a while, I have become a very occasional blogger as I'm sure you have noticed. Life has been very busy for me since I moved into my new place. Getting my boxes emptied and my place set up was the easiest part, then came the long, drawn out delivery process for my washer and dryer (I spent the first three weeks I was in my new place having to go to Sweetheart's place to do my laundry) and the alarm system and phone woes (it took me three tries to get a cable guy who actually knew how to connect phone by cable system so that my alarm system would work) and getting my heating system checked out to see if it is worthy of the coming Fall and Winter (turns out my furnace is an energy eating dinosaur, so they're coming to replace it next week) and yanking all the weeds out of my sorrowfully neglected front garden (previous owners had landscaping done, but then did nothing to maintain it). Add to all of that the fact that I'm working three evening shifts and two day shifts for the Summer, spending adequate time with Sweetheart and my friends, trying to jog more than once a week and the fact that I have started singing lessons and learning Polish (for the benefit of communicating with Sweetheart's family, they make the effort to try and speak French around me as much as possible, so I figured I could try and speak a bit of Polish as well) and blogging takes a bit of a back seat. I do think about making time to blog a lot, but actually making the time is a bit harder. I'm working on it folks, I swear I am!

Now on another note, I finally have some photos of my visit to Québec City for you! They were all taken in Old Québec, except for the last few which were taken in Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré, but I'll get to that in a minute. First, a bit of history! Québec City is one of the oldest European settlements in North America, it was founded my Samuel De Champlain on July 3rd, 1608, however the first fort built on the site by Jacques Cartier dates all the way back to 1535. He spent one Winter there before heading back to France. He planned to come back and settle the site more permanently, but eventually abandoned the settlement permanently due to ongoing hostilities with the First Peoples in the area and also the harsh conditions in the are in the Winter. You have to be made of stern stuff to deal with Canadian Winters now, so imagine what it was like three hundred odd years ago...Québec City remained under French control until 1763 when the English took over. Despite being the capital of New France and now the Province of Quebec, Québec city in 1763 still had only 8000 inhabitants. That just goes to show you how much interest the French took in colonizing North America. We were good for hunting beavers for their fur hats. That was pretty much it. After the English took over, the population in Québec City and the rest of Canada steadily grew, especially after the War of Independence in the United States when a lot of Loyalists and their families moved North to Canada so they could remain loyal to the British. Québec City is still relatively small however with a population of 516 622 in the immediate city and 765 706 when you include its suburbs. Compare that to the population of Montreal which is 1.65 million in the city and close to 4 million when you include its suburbs and you get an idea of the difference between the two. I had only been to Québec City once in my mid teens before my visit there with Sweetheart in May and I was struck by how much smaller it was than I remembered. It is a lovely place though and full of history. Also, fear not, if you wish to visit Québec City and speak no French, most people who work in shops, restaurants and tourist attractions are bilingual and if you happen to fall on someone who is not, they will be able to find someone who does speak English to help you :)

Square across from Notre-Dame-des-Victoires church in Old Québec 

Mural on the side of a building with Notre-Dames-des-Victoires church in the background

A view of the Chateau Frontenac from a street in the Basse Ville(Lower Town)

The other place Sweetheart and I went to visit while in Québec City was Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine in the town of Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré, which is about a half-hour drive from Québec City, if even that. It is a shrine dedicated to the mother of the Virgin Mary, Ste. Anne, and is one of three major sites of Catholic Pilgrimage in the province of Québec. Many people have visited the Shrine over hundreds of years and have left miraculously cured from all sorts of ailments. The shrine is absolutely beautiful, inside and out as you can see is well worth a visit whether you are Catholic or not. 

There you have it! I hope you enjoyed this post and I really hope I can make it back here soon with another. I have not forgotten my promise to show you pictures of my new home, just give me a chance to sort through my father's 247 CDs...I alphabetized them all and they are now sitting in neat stacks on my living room floor waiting to be listened to so I can decide which ones I'm going to keep. I made it through the As the other day. Once the floor is clear (I'm aiming to get the sorting done before my housewarming on August 24th), I'll be good for pictures :)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Vacation post!

Hi everyone!

Now that I'm pretty much settled into my new place, I have time to pop in to share a few of this year's Prince Edward Island vacation pictures with you! I had a bit of a rough time emotionally at the beginning of my vacation (running away from Fathers' Day by myself didn't work as well as I thought it would...), I enjoyed my vacation in general, which is not hard to do when you are in Prince Edward Island for a week and spoiled weather-wise!

My favorite place this time around was definitely the Greenwich Dunes section of Prince Edward Island National Park, which was right across from my cottage on St.Peter's Bay

     Greenwich Dunes with the freshwater lake that sits inside the dune system
                                          Greenwich beach, just on the other side of the dunes
                                     Greenwich Dunes with the floating boardwalk in the distance
                                                       Sand dunes on Greenwich beach

If you would like to learn more about the Greenwich sand dunes, you can visit the pages dedicated to them on the Prince Edward Island National Park website here . I cannot recommend a visit to this area of PEI National park enough if you are ever on the island, it is a breathtaking place filled with hiking trails. Be warned though, there is only one washroom at the entrance to the park. I assumed there are more at the official entrance to the beach, but that is quite a long walk away once you are on the beach and to get there if you have used the trails to walk to the dunes you are looking at a good half hour. So be sure to used the washroom when you get to the entrance to the trails and ration your water use accordingly if you are like me and you need to go often. I found out about the single bathroom the hard way and have been warning everyone about it since then lol

Another favorite pastime of mine when I'm in Prince Edward Island is to go for drives along the island's scenic heritage roads. These are roads that have existed for over one hundred years and have been kept in their original condition in order to preserve some of the island's original character. They are wonderful to visit, but you do have to be careful not to drive over 20 kilometers per hour on them as they are dusty, narrow and often have ruts in them. I damaged the front right wheel well and bumper on my rental car on the old Princetown-Warburton road on my last full day of vacation and ended up having to be towed back to Charlottetown to get a second rental car after going through a rut at about 15 kilometers per hour. I was on a section of the road that I should not have been on though and that was only made for tractors, so it was my own fault for not paying more attention to the map.

                                                                 Millvale historic road
                                 Princetown-Warburton Road, well worth the insurance deductible :)

And lastly, I was in Prince Edward Island at the height of lupin season, much to my delight! My love affair with lupins began when I was very little and my mother read me the story of The Lupin Lady. My first lupins were brought to me by an elderly lady who owned a cottage by a lake here in Quebec that we used to rent every Summer. She brought them to us when she found out how fascinated I was by them and from that time on we have always had some in our gardens. I bought a small pouch of lupin seeds during my vacation and will be planting them in my garden here in the fall. I'm also contemplating planting a few seeds by my father's grave at the cemetery to see if they will grow. Can you imagine my delight though during my first visit to Prince Edward Island when I was 15 and we came across entire fields of late-blooming lupins? I was beyond thrilled and that is saying something for a blasé teenager!

My lupin fixation was more than satisfied during my week on the Island :) 

I hope you've enjoyed your second little glimpse at Prince Edward Island, I'll be back soon with some pictures from the day I spent with my Sweetheart in Quebec City and also some pictures of my new home once I'm totally done setting up. I still have some pictures and things to hang on the walls and also my dad's CDs to sift through and alphabetize with mine. Once all that is done I will give you a photographic tour :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Canada Day

Happy Birthday to my astonishing, diverse, beautiful country and Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadian! I'm so happy and proud to be Canadian, I wouldn't want to live in any other country and even if I ever do, I will still be Canadian right to my soul :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hi everyone!

Just a quick note to let you all know that I'm back from my vacation. I have a bit of story to tell you about my second to last day on the island and some photos to show you as well, but all that is going to have yo wait for a bit since I am back at work and juggling my move as well, which is set for Friday of next week! So between packing boxes, making sure all my services (gas, electricity, cable) get shifted from my apartment to my house and trying to keep some time for my Sweetheart and I, blogging is going to have to wait for a bit.

Let me tell you though, I am very happy that I did not buy in a new condo or housing development. It has been my experience that new condos or houses always have some kinks to work out before they can truly be settled in to. My Grandparents, for example, bought a new house when they first moved to the Stated nearly 20 years ago. It was in a fancy new development in San Jose, California and it was a lovely home. However, when my grandparents moved in, it did not take them too long to realise that they had hot water coming into the toilet in the Master Bedroom!

As for my brother, he bought a brand new condo that he is moving into with girlfriend, or at least he was supposed to...His moved was supposed to take place at the end of April or early May (I don't remember which), but it was delayed a first time because the roof of the building was leaking right above his condo. My brother arranged to be compensated for the delay in the delivery of his home and he rescheduled his move for this Monday, but when he turned up in front of his new condo building with his girlfriend with their packed moving van, it turned out that their condo was not ready and the developer hadn't even bothered to let them know so they could reschedule their move! The developer ended up putting my brother and his girlfriend in another unit in the building that was not quite finished either, but that was still more functional than their own unit would have been. It didn't even have any kitchen counters yet!!! In the slight defense of the developer, there is a construction strike on which has delayed the delivery of new condos all over Montreal, but that does not in any way excuse the fact that he did not call my brother to let him know that his unit was not ready and that he should delay his move until it was!

Another case is my Sweetheart's sister whose new condo was delayed by over a year before she was able to move in and even once she did, there was still lots of work to be done on the landscaping and outside of the building which resulted in noise and inconvenience and on top of that, they started building the second phase of the condo project not even a year after she moved in, so even more dust and noise.

I'm not saying that moving into a new building is all bad, as my Sweetheart says there are advantages, but as for me I'm very happy to be moving into a building that has been around since 1927 and has long since worked out its kinks and that is in an area where no new construction is possible since in my mind one of the worst things that can happen is to be stuck with construction going on next to your home!

Monday, June 17, 2013

On vacation with no internet!

Hi folks,
So, I am on a much needed vacation on Prince Edward Island! I've been here since Saturday and had planned on catching up on my blogging in the evening after my day's touring was done, but the internet connection in my rented cottage sucks and that's when there is one, so I am typing this from my cell phone!
Here's the link for my Tumblr blog for you though, which is where the pictures from my Instagram account go, aside from Facebook. It is a lot more laid back than my Blogger blog, but that's the whole point :-)
See you all soon!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Final post-myomectomy update!

Hi everyone!

So, I'm back at work! I saw the doctor last Wednesday and he he said that things are looking really good, my incision scar looks excellent and my inside scarring is looking very good as well. He gave me the all-clear to go back to my regular activities, so I was back in the office this morning and back to jogging short distances (1.5 km versus the nearly four I was up to before my surgery) on Wednesday. I've also been lifting more and the increased activity is helping loosen up the last of my abdominal stiffness and get rid of the last of the twinges I was feeling, mostly when getting into my car. I'm hoping that being more active will also make my upcoming period easier since my first period after the surgery was very painful, probably because there was still so much healing going on. I did, however, bleed 75-80% less than before having the surgery, so I was very, very happy about that!

My final instructions from my ob/gyn were not to attempt to get pregnant for at least a year, but to not wait much longer than that either. Hmm...we'll see :) I'm just glad that I can have babies now as before it wasn't even an option. The other excellent news on that front is that despite the large size of the fibroid the doctor removed, my uterine wall held up (there was no gaping), so I will be able to have a natural birth as long as nothing else (like the baby being in a breech position or my cervix not dilating) indicates that I have a c-section. The doctor was quite impressed when my uterine wall held up as quite often women who have large fibroids removed require extensive uterine wall repair and therefore it is deemed safer for them to have c-sections for their births. I must say I am very glad that I have avoided that as recovering from this type of incision once is quite enough for me for now. I'm normally very active, so having my activities curbed for a month and a half was a bit of a challenge.

So there you have it, the end of my myomectomy journey! I hope that sharing my story will be helpful to women looking for first-hand information regarding abdominal myomectomy recovery, but once again, the best advice I can give is that if your doctor advises you to have a myomectomy, go for it! It may be a scary thought at first, but it is so, so worth it in the end because the relief from your fibroid symptoms will be instantaneous and really, the recovery is not that bad either because you feel a bit better every day :)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The kitchen in my new home and Ottawa

Hello everyone!
I hope you've been having a good week so far! On my end, things have been pretty nuts with finalizing the purchase of my new home and then selling my father's home and ironing out the details of when the new owners will be able to move in and therefore when I will have to get the furniture of my father's that I am keeping out of the house. It looks like I'm going to have to end up moving out on a Friday and will therefore be hiring movers for the first time ever. 132$ and hour plus 40$ fuel surcharge. Ouch...oh well, at least I know they're a reputable company since they moved my family and I from our first house to our second one many years ago and nothing was broken or lost. I'll have a better idea of the exact cost of the move once a company representative comes in for an evaluation on Monday, so between now and then I'm going to go back to my father's place and make a final decision on what furniture of his I am taking and what stuff of mine I am going to be getting rid of. I know that I will more than likely not be bringing a single book case since one of the rooms at my new place has some build into the wall. Plenty of space for all of my books in there, let me tell you!

I know you guys were eager to see some pictures of my new place, so in this post I'm sharing part of the kitchen with you. See the massive built in cabinets back there? I will never ever lack kitchen storage space again, you can be sure of that! The kitchen opens up onto my back deck and behind the kitchen island is my amazing gas stove and stainless steel fridge and the DISHWASHER!!! I have not had a dishwasher in five years and have missed it very much indeed :) Another detail I love about the kitchen are two little Murano (Venetian) glass lights above the island. See below for a close up of those, my Sweetheart and I love them to death! 

So aside from all the planning for my move, I have been trying to fit some fun in now that I pretty much done healing from my surgery. I will be seeing my Ob-Gyn on Tuesday and plan on getting the all clear from him at that point, but I've already been easing myself back into things I was restricted from doing since early last week and everything has been going fine. One of the things I did for fun this week was to take a little road trip to Ottawa with my friend G on Monday. I had only ever been to Ottawa once and the weather hadn't been very good so I did not get to see much. We were treated to lovely weather this time and G had been to Ottawa tons of times, so she knew just where to take me. We were also in luck as it was the last day of Ottawa's annual tulip festival, so that made for some colorful pictures. (from left to right: tulips in Major's Hill Park, the Parliament buildings and Library of Parliament can be seen across the river, Rideau Canal Locks with the Farimont Château Laurier on their left and finally the facade of the Parliament Buildings with the famous Peace Tower)

If  you are every planning a trip to the Montreal Area, I strongly recommend planning on taking a day to visit Ottawa as well. It is an easy two hour drive away at the most and there is plenty to do there. Byward Market is a must and a visit of the Parliament Buildings is fascinating as well. I took a tour of the buildings the first time I went to Ottawa and the architecture is very impressive as is the history of the building and government of Canada. A walk along the locks is also a lot of fun, especially if you happen to be there when there are boats being put through them! There are also plenty of museums to be visited in Ottawa as well as across in the river in Gatineau-Hull. I haven't visited any of them yet (it was way to nice out to be inside on Monday), but look forward to having the chance to do so soon.

That's it for now, thanks so much for all of your kind comments on my previous post! I'll be sure to let you know how my doctor's visit goes on Tuesday, whether I get the all clear and any final recommendations he gives me.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Spring seen through my new camera lens

Oh my gosh, it's a photo post!!! I got myself a new wide-angle lens yesterday and went out to try it today with my friend G in tow, with the clear understanding that she would have to be patient while I shutter bugged away. This was also my first time taking my camera out since before my father passed away. I just hadn't felt like it since then, I think I hadn't even taken it out since Christmas, if even then. It feels like a lifetime ago. I have two vacations coming up though, one to Prince Edward Island in June and another to Paris in September and I wanted to be able to get some really great shots on both trips, so a new wide-angle lens was a must and one of Montreal's best photography supply shops, Lozeau, had a Canon sale on this week, so off I went to treat myself yesterday. The weather was not very good for photography today, it was raining on and off, very cloudy and windy, but my blossoming crab apple tree shots came out quite well :)

You can click all of them to enlarge them. More wide-angle lens fun to come, I bought my first home last week and am going for the inspection tomorrow, so a few photos may pop up on here :)

On another note, after my shutter bug session was over I went to Pointe-Claire Village with G and she took me into two shops with her, the first being Izzi, a shop that I had never notice before despite living in the West Island for 25 years before moving to NDG. It's been around for quite a while and what a discovery it was for me today. The sell natural body butters, hand creams, soaps and shower gels and they also had a sale on. I got myself an amazing sea kelp body butter that smells heavenly and since I purchased that, I got a mango hand cream for free. I will never use any products but theirs again, I swear it!!! 

We also went to Dix Mille Villages which sells exclusively hand crafted, fair trade products. I found my night tables made exclusively from old wood, meaning wood that was discarded or that comes from dead trees as well as my night table lamps there, so I am all in all very, very happy wit how my day went :) I encourage you to visit Dix Mille Villages if ever you are in Montreal or to see if there are any of their shops in your area, they really are amazing little places!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fourth post-Myomectomy check-in and other news

Hi there everyone!

It has now been three and a half weeks since my surgery and I am doing really, really well! I hardly have to take any Tylenol at all, am stretching more and more, have gone back to driving and am walking at my normal pace, which is quite speedy. I also went to the first half of my choir practice last night and felt no discomfort after an hour and a half of singing. I was feeling amazing when I got out of there and fully intend to do my full three hour practice next week!

As for my living situation, my Sweetheart helped me move back to my place on Sunday and I've been doing well on my own. I was rather sad and lonely and a bit insecure at first, but I got back into the swing of things quite quickly and am now feeling quite normal. It's also much quieter at my place than at my Sweetheart's since there is no construction site behind the bedroom window here. There are putting the second phase of a condominium project up right behind my Sweetheart's condo building and let me tell you that getting woken up at 7:00 A.M. every weekday morning by jackhammers, dump trucks and backhoes is not much fun and they keep at it until 3:00 P.M. except on Fridays when they stop at noon. They also take a coffee break at 9:00 A.M. until 9:20 A.M. and lunch from noon until 1:00 P.M. Yup, after three weeks I learned their schedule by heart! I also napped with the back door and window shut and my headphones in. No need for that at my place, my closed courtyard blocks out most of the traffic noise from the street, but then again I have not needed a nap since Saturday, which is another nice development and is more than likely due to the fact that I sleep a good two hours more in the morning without the construction noise and also since my Sweetheart doesn't wake me up by leaving for work.

My post-surgery recommendations for this week would be, once again, do not overdo it. I did overdo it on Sunday a bit by carrying some things, even though they were well under the 10 lb weight restriction, up the stairs to my apartment in order to help my Sweetheart. I then spent a good part of the afternoon walking around in the sun and heat house hunting. I was very, very swollen by the end of the day and rather discouraged. The swelling has gone back down to what it was on Saturday now, but if I had not overdone it it might be gone by now. Who knows? All I know was that I was kicking myself on Sunday night when I saw how swollen I was. So no matter how good your are feeling, obey your doctor's orders and the six week restrictions he gives you, even the pesky abstinence order!!! That is the other positive point to my being back home, my boyfriend and I were beginning to have serious issues keeping our hands off of each other. The first two weeks was not an issue, but by the end of the third when I was really getting back to normal it was getting rough. My apologies to anyone who thinks that might be TMI, but it's part of the road to recovery. No sex for six weeks and that's the end of it, nothing to be done and it is the hardest part. No house cleaning is nothing in comparison :J

On an entirely different subject, I AM BUYING A HOUSE!!! Well, it's actually an upper duplex here in my neighborhood, but it's the size of a small house and I am over the moon about it. I had been looking for a place for about two weeks and had visited nine places already in three neighborhoods and was getting discouraged because trust me folks, people ask crazy prices for complete and utter crap out there. I decided that what I really wanted was to stay in my current neighborhood. I really, really love it here, it's a great area, very safe, very quiet and also quite close to where I work. That meant broadening my financial horizons a bit though and I was comfortable with that because it is thanks to my father that I am able to finally buy a place and he would have wanted me to buy something that would make me happy and allow me to live in a nice, safe neighborhood. My father knows this neighborhood, he grew up in it and lived here all his life until my brother came along and he moved into the suburbs with my mother and I. So I upped my price range a bit and *poof* fell onto the perfect upper duplex that had only been on the market for two weeks. I pounced on it, sent the listing to my agent right away and asked him to arrange a visit for me yesterday. We went to see it with a friend of mine (always a good idea to visit houses with a second pair of eyes) and I had trouble containing my enthusiasm. We walked out, thanked the listing agent, let her leave and then I told my agent I wanted to make an offer. Yes, I was sure, yes, I was comfortable with being above my original budget, no, I did not want to wait for my Sweetheart to get back from his business trip to Niagara Falls because I was afraid I might lose the place if I waited until Wednesday or Thursday. Just put the offer in, man, put the offer in!!! So there you have it, my offer should be in by the end of the day and I should be moving in at some point in July. I am absolutely thrilled and I am sure my father is happy for me too, he approves of my choice, I can feel it. I will be posting pictures of the place once I am moved in and cannot wait for all of you to see it. It is so perfect, so me and I cannot believe it is going to be mine.

Thank you so much for looking after me Daddy, thank you a thousand times over. I just miss you so much and wish you could be here to help me and to pick up my moving van and drive it and help load it perfectly like you did for my two other moves. I just know that something will fall over in the truck because you weren't there to fit everything together like a perfect jigsaw puzzle. Hopefully Adam and Stéphane will be able to figure it out between them. Give them a nudge in the right direction, would you?

*May 6th through 12th is Mental Health Week here in Canada. I invite you to visit this website to learn more about Mental Health Week and also how you can maintain you mental health and where you can turn for help if you or someone you love has mental health issues.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Third post-Myomectomy check-in: out and about!

Hi everyone!

So, I am two weeks and one day out of my surgery and am feeling pretty darn good! I went for my first major outing by myself yesterday, walking to a mall that is about 5-10 minutes from my Sweetheart's place. I had lunch there, shopped around a little and then stopped in at the grocery store to get myself a little something for dinner and bouquet of flowers before coming back home. I felt great upon arriving back home, still full of energy and I was also feeling great this morning, so I decided to hop on the metro with my Sweetheart and a bunch of his family who were going to Sweetheart's parents' place for lunch. There was no room for me in the car at the other end, so I got off the metro at McGill and went shopping Downtown. After getting myself a new spring coat and a christening gift for Sweetheart's soon-to-be Godson (the ceremony is tomorrow afternoon), I walked along Ste-Catherine back to Guy metro and came home. I am very pleased with my progress and I should be back in my own apartment on Tuesday or Wednesday and also back to driving! I may see about taking AnnieG, my beloved VW GTI out for a spin tonight otherwise I'll give it a shot tomorrow.

On the medical front, things are going very well. I removed my steri-strips on Wednesday and the scabs are coming off of my incision very nicely. I now only occasionally feel a slight twinge from my inner stitches and I have not had any Naproxen since Wednesday and am therefore sleeping much better. My swelling is also still coming down and I am almost down to what I was before the operation. I find that my swelling goes down by a good notch the day following a nice, active day. I've even been able to wear my skinny jeans a few times, hurray! I wouldn't be able to do a full day in them though as I do get more swollen as the day goes on, which is perfectly normal. As for my scar, it is very, very thin and very pink. There is also a hard ridge underneath it, which is normal. I am also still quite numb between my belly button and my pubic bone, but even that is getting better.

So, recommendations for this stage of recovery: fight cabin fever!!! Even if you do not feel like going out for a walk, do it! You will feel much better afterwards because if you stay inside too much, you will get very bored, very frustrated and unhappy. I went through this about mid-way through this week and it was not fun. After pushing myself to go out though and seeing how well I felt afterwards, I made a point of going out a bit every day.

Also, if you feel the need to take a nap, do! If it is after 4:00 P.M. though, put an alarm on for a half hour or one hour at the most, otherwise you will have issues getting to sleep later on in the evening. This also happened to me this week. I fell asleep at about 3:30 P.M. on Wednesday and didn't wake up until 5:30 P.M.. I then had some pretty decent issues getting to sleep when we went to bed at 11:30 P.M. Oops :J

Finally, pace yourself. Just because I am feeling pretty amazing two weeks after my surgery doesn't mean you will. I am a fast healer and was in amazing shape going into my operation. I do encourage you to try and do a bit more every day. My big progress today was getting being able to stretch a bit when I woke up this morning and getting onto the metro (outside of rush hour and fairly early for a Saturday to make sure I could have a seat, you do not want to risk getting elbowed or knocked over). Doing something new every day will feel like winning a trophy, you'll see :)

That's it for now, I'll be in for another update next week! Until then, I hope you're enjoying Spring and the weekend!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Second post-myomectomy check-in!

Hi everyone!

So, I had my surgery exactly one week ago today and like clockwork there is a huge difference in my energy level today! I've been up since about 7:45 this morning (Sweetheart had to get up to go to work and I was starving so I got up as well) and have not had to go back to bed for a nap yet. I've laid down to read and watch a movie just so I don't overdo it, but have not felt sleepy at all, which is something because I've ended up having at least one or two naps a day since coming home from the hospital.

I've also started weaning myself off my prescription anti-inflammatory medication, Naproxen. I was able to skip a dose last night and only had half a pill this morning. I'm very happy about this because the medication had been giving my really, really odd dreams that bordered on nightmares, shortness of breath and possibly hot flashes as well, but those may also have been caused by my body working so hard on the healing process and the estrogen that was feeding the fibroid refocusing itself elsewhere. The jury is still out on that one, but I have been having fewer hot flashes since I've been cutting back on the Naproxen.

Also, my clips were removed yesterday and my incision is now covered with steri-strips which I was told I can remove next Thursday.
The incision is apparently healing perfectly, which I was very happy to hear. I'm going to keep treating it with Traumeel cream and will hopefully avoid having too much of a scar, although things are looking very good on that front so far. Also, my swelling is coming down nicely, so I may be able to give you a bit of an 'after fibroid removal' picture next week if everything keeps going well.

On that note, I do believe I will take myself out for a walk since it is nice and warm here today. Not sunny, but definitely warm, a nice, balmy 21 degrees Celsius!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

First post-myomectomy check in!

Hi folks!

So, I came through my surgery with flying colors and have been recovering very, very quickly! The entire surgery lasted under two hours, they took me in at 7:45 A.M. and I was wheeled into recovery at 9:20 A.M. after they removed one single but very large fibroid from the left hand side of my uterine lining.  What happened to the other fibroids that were seen on my last ultrasound, I do not know. They may have disappeared when I stopped using progesterone cream or perhaps they were never there at all. They may have been an illusion created by how misshapen my uterus had become due to the size (think grapefruit on steroids) of the fibroid that has always been there, but the bottom line is that there being only one fibroid in there is a very good sign that my having a fibroid was more than likely a fluke and I will hopefully never have another. Typically fibroids that are caused by a serious hormone imbalance grow in abundance which is what I had been led to believe was my case, but apparently not, or at lease not anymore! Hooray!

No picture with this post because I am still very swollen from the surgery, but I can tell you that my incision is healing very well. The surgical staples are coming out on Thursday and I am moving around more and more easily every day. My Sweetheart and his family (sister and mother) are taking very, very good care of me and the only bothersome things I cannot do for myself right now are drive, put on my socks and dry myself off below my knees. That and I am doing everything I can to not sneeze or laugh. Laughing is quite painful so I dare not imagine what sneezing would be like!

My recommendations so far for any ladies out there who are going to be going through this surgery are to do your core strengthening exercises for a good two months beforehand if you can! I'm pretty sure they're part of the reason I am recovering so quickly and also have so little pain. Also, be warned that you will be very, very gassy for a few days after your surgery and this will not get better until after you have had a few bowel movements. If you want this go quickly for you, leave off the morphine as soon as you are able, drink loads and loads of water to flush it out of you system and WALK, like lots and lots. You will heal more quickly if you do and once the gas starts walking will help it pass. You may think this is TMI, but you will thank me fore telling you about it if you ever need the info. As of Saturday night I have been taking Naproxen for pain and the stuff works great and has no undesirable side-effects as far as I can tell. Take the oral painkillers they give you once you are off the morphine and do not look back unless you make a false move, laugh too much or, God forbid, sneeze.

That's it for now, I'm off to wash so dishes and then hop back into bed with my book. I'll be back with another post as soon as I feel I can offer more useful information and also an inspiring 'after picture'. Let me tell you though, if you are considering a myomectomy because your fibroids are making your life miserable, do not hesitate, just go for it! The relief of the fibroid symptoms after the surgery is instant and amazing, you will absolutely never regret it!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Pre-myomectomy picture

Hi folks,

It's taken me a lot of guts to post this picture, not because I think I look bad, but because I'm afraid of the opposite type of comments, the "Oh my God, this woman is faking it, her problem isn't that bad, look how tiny her midriff is!". Do not let the degree of swelling around my waistline deceive you folks, believe me when I tell you there is a doozy of a fibroid (soft ball to grapefruit sized) in there along with a collection of others, all of which I am having my OB/GYN evict on Friday. The largest fibroid is in the lining of my uterus on the left hand side and, as I have said before, is squishing my bladder and putting pressure on the lower part of my spine, causing pain right before my period. I also have abnormal swelling right before my period (the photo is me at my slimmest a few days after the end of my cycle, taken this evening and also after two months of intense core muscle strengthening in preparation for my surgery). I also have been suffering from gradually increasing menstrual flow for the past year, so really, it's time for these fibroids to go, especially if my Sweetheart and I want to be able to have babies any time in the near (within the next few years) future.

So there you have it, I've decided to share my story on here because really, there are so few ressources out there for women suffering from fibroids. I've looked and looked and aside from ge eric medical texts, I've found very few testimonies from women who have dealt with fibroids and had them removed, especially women my age in Canada who have gone through this recently. It think this is because A: not many women my age have fibroids that need to be removed B: it takes a lot of courage to talk about this type of problem because people often look at you with pity when you do and that feels crappy and C: it can be embarrassing. I realise that I am very fortunate to not be more visibly swollen than I am. God gave me a uterus that is tilted towards the back. If it was tilted forwards I would look like I was almost five months pregnant.

I sincerely hope that women who suffer from fibroids will find my fibroid posts (I will be posting at least one or two after my surgery) and that they will find them helpful and comforting. In the mean time, please send positive thoughts and prayers to my Sweetheart and for the road ahead and also healing thoughts and prayers for me.

Lux aeterna - John Rutter

I had the huge pleasure of singing this in concert with my choir for the second time yesterday. It is my all-time favorite piece to perform and I look forward to the day when we sing it with the solo line and I get to perform that part somewhere other than in my living room!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Tulips growing near my place a few years ago

Hi everyone! 

First of all, I want to wish all of my Christian readers a very happy Easter :) I hope you get to enjoy this wonderful Holiday weekend with your loved ones. I will be going to a family dinner tonight and am going to be going to the cemetery to bring my father some flowers beforehand.

I'm sorry once again that I have not bee around much lately. Work has been crazy and life outside of work has been as well. I have been going to meetings at the bank with my brother to get our father's affairs in order, I have bought myself a car and have been getting ready for my upcoming surgery. In among all that I've been trying to find time to exercise and see my friends and keep my apartment tidy and talk with my Sweetheart. The last part has resolved itself since my Sweetheart finally came home very, very, very early on Thursday morning. We spent time together Thursday and Friday and I have now handed him off to his family for the weekend. Hopefully they'll return him to me willingly enough tonight or tomorrow.

Anyhow, I've been doing okay with keeping up with everything, but sometimes everything catches up with me and then I have to put of the breaks and cut back on stuff like outings with my friends and, unfortunately, exercising. My abdominal and core muscle exercises are easy enough to keep up with since I can do them at home, but since it has still been too cold for me to run outside (for anyone who sings, you know that cold air messes with your voice when you run in it and then there would go my ability to sing properly during choir practice and concerts) and time to make it to the running track has been sorrowfully lacking I've been slacking off on my jogging much to my sorrow :( I won't be able to run for four to six weeks after my surgery    and I've only been able to make it to the indoor track on average once a week for the past month or so. I doubt I'll be able to do much better this coming week since I have two choir practices and a concert. Hopefully next week I'll be able to make it out twice before my operation, because after that I will have to substitute the running for lots and lots of walking for a little while.

As for my surgery, it is coming up fast. I'm having some fibroids (benign tumors of the uterus that a large portion of women have, many of them without even knowing about it) removed as they have been causing me a lot of grief, such as very heavy periods, pressure on the nerves on the lower left had side of my back and perhaps most annoying of all, the largest one is squishing my bladder on one side. As I've said many times in the past few weeks, in my next life I want to be a guy. It looks so much easier. So basically what my doctor is going to be doing is performing something similar to a c-section, except that he will be removing all of my fibroids. You very, very rarely end up with just one fibroid. I have several, but the one causing me the most trouble is a very large (grapefruit sized) one that is the lining on the left hand side of my uterus. The other ones are more normal sized, thank heavens. I don't want to know how I would be feeling if they weren't, but the doctor is going to take them all out just in case some of the other ones decide to grow like crazy once the big one is out of the way. If you are wondering why I got these, don't worry, I am too. Fibroids can be genetic (as mine may be since a few women in my family had them, but none as badly as I do or as young) , but in my case I'm pretty sure they're due to my hypersensitivity to synthetic hormones. I never, ever had a problem with my hormones before I took the pill, but after I did...boy oh boy. I didn't even make it through my three month test pack before I ended up in the emergency room with issues and after that I had more. Anyhow, hopefully I'll be one of the majority of women who have their fibroids removed and never have another problem. I'm feeling pretty confident that the operation will go well and that I will bounce back from the operation pretty quickly, but I will admit that I am going to be requesting Valium upon my arrival in the hospital since hospitals do not bring very good memories and feelings for me right now. I didn't deal with being in one for my pre-op the other day and I'll be in for about three after my operation. I'll be bringing chamomile in both tea and tincture formats.

So that's my news for now, I'll try and pop in again before my surgery, otherwise I'll give you guys an update once it's all done! I'll be off work for at least a month, so I'll be able to come around a few times I hope. I may even give you guys a before and after shot of my waistline. I am not overweight by any means and what little fat I did have around my midsection I have worked off with my pre-surgery strengthening exercises, but there is, as you can probably imagine, some visible swelling due to the size of the largest fibroid, or at least to me there is!

Thursday, March 14, 2013


One of my cousins posted this on Facebook and I had to share it. I am the chicken. I wish I was the tiger so I could kick some butt, but right now I am definitely the chicken. I have to laugh about it, otherwise I would cry.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I'm still here

Hi all,

I'm popping in to give you some sign of life! I'm still struggling with everything that's going on in my life. I had a very rocky week last week and suffered from an emotional crash and burn after my birthday once my Sweetheart was gone. I went from an emotional high to a major low and was just getting over it when there was a major family crisis this week. Definitely not cool. I'm therefore taking it as easy as I can this week and am hoping for an easier time this coming week.

My Sweetheart may or may not be coming home during the night Thursday into Friday, it remains to be seen. I was supposed to find out yesterday, but when I called him he was at a service station somewhere and I was not able to call him back. I'll find out today, but at this point, one week more without him will not make a huge difference since he's already been gone so long. His visit to Montreal for my birthday went by so quickly it felt like a blink. we saw each other every day while he was here, which was amazing, but since he's gone back we've had a hard time communicating because I'm back at work full time and it is a very busy time for me right now and also the cell phone and Internet signals over in my Sweetheart's neck of the woods have not been as strong. He's also been moving around in Haiti a lot more going to other work sites and to the beach for one night. Basically, he's been all over the map because the aid organization he works for when he is not working on the school now knows that he is there so they have been taking him to visit their work sites.

Anyhow, if he and I are lucky, he'll be able to come home this week, otherwise I'll be on my own for a bit longer. At this point, all I can say is 'meh', which is my reaction to a lot of stuff right now. I had to spend an hour and twelve minutes on the phone to cancel my father's cell phone service and get my phone off of his corporate account and onto my own? Meh, it had to get done. I'm having surgery in a month which will require a lengthy recovery? Meh, it has to get done. I may have to tough it out on my own for another week without my Sweetheart? Meh, he'll come home eventually. I'm feeling very blase about everything? Meh, I assume I'll return to my cheerful self eventually. Sooner rather than later I hope, because feeling 'meh', is not very fun. I know this will take time though, I'm not kidding myself about that anymore and I also know that I may never feel quite the same again. I will always have an empty spot inside me. I will always miss my father and I will always feel cheated that he passed away so soon. You don't miss someone who passes away right away you know. It creeps up on you the longer they're gone. It doesn't hit you right away that they're gone forever, but when it does the pain is terrible. You want a hug from them, but you can't have it. You want to pick up the phone and call them, but you can't. You want to have a conversation with them, but you can't. It is very hard.

I'll try and pop by again soon and let you know how I'm doing and if my Sweetheart has come home or not, but in the mean time I will continue trying to keep up with your blogs when I can. Thanks for sticking with me, even though my posts are not as chipper as they used to be. Once my surgery is out of the way, I'll be able to plan some vacation time with my Sweetheart (we've been talking about Paris!) so that will give me something more fun to focus on and tell you guys about!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lunch in Paris and grief

It's quiet at work today, so I have the time to pop in and get a post up for you guys!

I wanted to begin by telling you about an amazing book I just finished reading: Elizabeth Bard's 'Lunch in Paris'. It is the delicious, heartwarming and sometimes heartwrenching story of a young American woman who meets a frenchmen while studying and her move to Paris in order to be with him. There are recipes at the end of every chapter that the author either cooked herself or enjoyed eating after they were made by a member of her family or a friend. All of them were made with fresh, local ingredients, mostly purchased by the author at her local market. I loved every single page of this book and it is one of the few things that has gotten me laughing since I bought it last week. I cannot recommend this book to you highly enough, just make sure that you don't read it while hungry :)

Aside from that, my Sweetheart has come home, safe and sound. I collected him from the airport on Tuesday night and stayed at his place until I had to leave for work yesterday afternoon and then met up with him Downtown last night after he was done attending a conference and headed back to his place. We had a bit of a talk last night about everything that happened to my family and I while we were away and exactly what had happened to my father in order for him to pass away in a matter of days. My poor Sweetheart has had the wind knocked out of him by all this since he was so far away. When I told him that I was having a bit of a hard time yesterday he asked me exactly what was bothering me in order for me to feel upset one day and almost normal the next. I told him that it was not a matter of one specific thing bothering me, that grief just works that way. You are up and down, up and down all the time, but even when you are feeling up, there is always an emptiness in you that was not there before. The sense that your loved one is missing and will never come back. Maybe that eases after a time, but from what I've been told, it never goes away. I have been told though that with time the up days begin increase and eventually outnumber the down days. 

I will admit that the experience of loss and grief has been different from what I thought it would be. I imagined that I would be sad all at once and that when I began to feel better, I would keep feeling better. I expected to feel better in slow in stages, but I definitely never expected to be on what feels more like weeks of PMS. I've been told that this is normal by other people who have been through the loss of someone very dear to them and that the roller coaster will go on for a while yet, so at least I've been warned.

I am just about done my first full day of work since just before my father passed away and it has gone very well, so I'm pleased about that. I had been doing half days since Tuesday of last week. I'm now looking forward to my birthday party with my friends tomorrow and my birthday dinner with my family on Sunday and more than anything else, more time with my Sweetheart. He is going to his brother's place to spend time with his family this evening and overnight, so we will see each other again tomorrow at the restaurant with our friends. I am so, so looking forward to having a much deserved night out with my crew :)

I hope you all have a lovely weekend and look forward to reading your comments. I've missed you guys since I've been blogging less, but I think I'm ready to get back into the loop.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

My father's guitar

Hi everyone,

So, things are slowly easing into a new kind of normal for me. I went back to work this week for half days. I had a bit of a false start on Monday, but I worked Tuesday to Thursday. I have three more half days next week, Monday through Wednesday and then Thursday and Friday I will try to work all day and see how it goes. I've done okay so far, but I am very up and down emotionally (typically one day up, one day down, today was an up day) and get tired very easily and from what I've been told things may be like this for a while. I got quite frustrated by it all on Thursday, but then discovered that it was just because I needed a good cry which was something I hadn't had in days.

I do have a few things to look forward to which have been helping me get through the days, one of which was my mission to go and get my father's guitar out of his house so I can learn how to play it. I pulled that off today and am very happy to now have it in my living room. I will work on learning how to play chords first and my goal is to eventually be able to play the 2nd movement of Vivaldi's guitar concerto in D major. My father was given his guitar by a priest he was friends with when he was little, but he never learned to play it. My aunt and uncle had it restored for him this Christmas, it had been sleeping in one of their closets for years and they thought that giving it to him with a book to teach him how to play it would give him a hobby and maybe help him work through his depression. My father was very moved by their gift, but never took the guitar home with him. It still needed to have its neck straightened so my aunt and uncle took it to a luthier (string instrument creator and 'doctor') and did not have the chance to take it back to him before he passed away. That's why, since I am my father's musical child (I inherited my musical ability from him), I have made it a goal to learn how to play the guitar since he never had the chance to.

The other thing I've been looking forward to is my Sweetheart coming home. He will be here on Tuesday, his flight is getting in at 8:35 P.M. if all goes well which it hopefully will. Tuesday happens to be my birthday, so after everything that has happened lately I could not ask for a better gift than finally, finally having my Sweetheart with me. I will be picking him up from the airport, which will be a first for me. Of all the times my Sweetheart has traveled, he has always come home during my work hours or in the middle of the night, so I have never been able to pick him up. I am absolutely thrilled that I will be able to do so this time :)

That's all my news for this week, I'll try and drop by again next week, but since my Sweetheart will be home and I will have birthday celebrations nearly all weekend, I might be a bit late on my next post!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Sometimes loving someone means having to let them go

My father smiling at me, Spring 2008

Hi everyone,

I'm sorry I've been silent for a few weeks, but I've had a bit of a rough time. My brother and I had our father rushed to the hospital on the evening of Wednesday, January 23rd after I called him around 6:00 P.M. and he did not sound well at all. My brother came to get me and we drove out to our father's place (about a half hour away). I rode in the ambulance with him to the local hospital, but his condition was too serious for them to handle, so they transferred him to the ICU at the Montreal General Hospital around Midnight. His condition stabilized a bit during the day on Thursday the 24th, but he started going downhill on Friday the 29th and never recovered. My father passed away a bit before 4:00 P.M. on Tuesday, January 29th. He was only 58 and left my brother and I, our mother, our grandparents who are 81 and 86, our aunt and uncle and  many, cousins, extended family members, friends and former colleagues utterly heartbroken. 

I will not into go into the physical details of what exactly caused my father's death, but as you all know he was battling severe depression and had been for some time. He fought and fought and fought, but in the end it was just too much for him to even be able to get out of bed and eat properly. None of us had seen him smile or heard him laugh and joke since October. He had become so deeply unhappy, so despondent. 

My father was an exceptional man. He was extremely intelligent and passionate about his work and sports. He was a perfectionist in everything he did. He was a natural athlete and loved cycling and curling. He was also a foodie and loved trying new foods any time he could. He loved being near water whether it was fishing out on a lake or being near the ocean. I think he had a slight preference for the ocean though, just like me. He also loved photography, especially when travelling. Finally, even though he didn't have the easiest time showing it, I know that he absolutely adored my brother and I. He had an easier time displaying his attachment to my brother because they had more obvious points in common, but I know that he had a very special place in his heart for me and I will forever cherish the fact that out of all the people who visited him in the hospital when he was ill this past summer, I was the only one he spent hours and hours alone with. I was also the last one to spend time alone with my Father when he was conscious that Wednesday night we had to bring  him to the hospital.

We held my father's funeral and burial this week along with a day of visitation and I cannot begin to express how touched I was so see so many people come out to pay their respects to my father. Literally hundreds of people came either to the funeral home or to the funeral service at the church. My father touched so many people during his life, I really had no idea how many.

I'm now trying to get back to some sense of normalcy in my life, but it won't be easy. Yesterday I felt pretty good, but today I've been feeling more down. Things will undoubtedly get easier once my Sweetheart finally gets home in 10 days. Everything with my father happened so quickly that he was not able to make it home in time as the village where he is working in Haiti is so incredibly remote. We have been talking a lot though (he climbs up onto the roof of the house he and E are staying in so he can get a half decent signal on his decrepit Haitian cell phone so we can talk) and he is now purposely coming home on my birthday because he knows that it will not be easy for me to celebrate it without my father.

I will try and keep up some fairly regular posts, but things may be slow for a little while as I get my feet back under me. 

Thank you all for your support while my father was unwell. All the advice I can give you if someone you care for is suffering from mental illness of any kind is to not give up on them for one second, always let them know you love them, never judge them and do everything you can to help them while keeping in mind that you must also be kind to yourself. Also, always remember that the first step someone suffering from mental illness must take if there is to be any hope of their getting better is acknowledging their condition and asking for help. My father was never fully able to do this and we were therefore very limited in what we could do for him. He wanted to get well on his own and never realized just how much danger he was in, not even at the very end. In a way, I take great comfort in that fact. My father did not know he was dying, not even while we were in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, not even once we were at the hospital. He was not afraid, he did not suffer, I don't even think he felt any pain. They gave him some Valium so they could run some tests on him and he fell asleep and never woke up. I'm glad he went so peacefully, so very glad. Never, ever blame yourself if this sort of thing happens to you. It is not your fault, it is not anyone's fault. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The fine art of the long-distance relationship

Well, my tour group never showed up this morning and the phone hasn't been ringing so much, so I figured this was the perfect time for a post about something other than my father.

As you know, my Sweetheart is away in Haiti for two months. Before this trip, he was in Angola for six weeks from mid-October to the end of November. That trip was the last of the many, many trips he made last year, I think it must of been at least five or six, none of them any shorter than ten days and there was, of course, that two year period when he lived in Toronto and I shuttled back and forth from his place to mine every six weeks. 

With all this travelling on my Sweetheart's part, it is needless to say that he and I have the long-distance relationship thing down to an art. I have blogged about this before, but I do like bringing the subject back up in case any of my newer followers end up in a situation where they are contemplating ending a relationship because they have a partner who travels a lot for work or who might have to move away for a time because of it. My opinion of the matter is, of course, that long-distance relationships can work as long as both partners trust one another implicitely and have independant personalities. You both also have to be good communicators. My Sweetheart and I are very fortunate that we both have all three of these things. We have never in eight years given each other any reason to believe that the other would not be faithful while we were appart and we are both perfectly able to function on our own. We love each other very much and are one another's favorite person to be around, but we are not emotionally dependant on one another and most certainly do not feel a need to be together every night of the week. Even when we eventually move in together, we will still each have our own hobbies and our own friends and will still have no qualms about sending the other off for an evening with their own friends. That will just be the perfect oppotunity for the other to enjoy some alone time and in my case I will more than likely indulge in a nice, long bath with a glass of red wine. As for communication, we mostly developped that talent while my Sweetheart wa sin Toronto. Sweetheart used to not be that great of a communicator, but pretty soon after he moved 527 kms away he realised that it might be important for us to talk on Skype more than once or twice a week and to exchange e-mails more than twice a week as well. In short, he started to really miss me for the first time ever and he also appreciated the value of our relationship more, especially when it became clear to him that I was the only person who came to visit him regularly while he was in Toronto. I made at least a dozen trips to see him over the two years and two months he was there and that proved to him just how serious I was about our relationship.

So, while I have gotten used to my Sweetheart's frequent travels, they still do get hard sometimes. Do not think for one moment that long-distance relationships are easy by any stretch of the imagination. They require more patience and work than the average relationship, but I have also found that they can serve to make the relationship far more solid. I also find that you appreciate your partner much more when they are near you. If ever you find yourself faced with the reality of a long-distance relationship, I encourage you to give it shot. This type of relationship, whether it is full-time or part-time (my Sweetheart has been known to stay at home for a few months at a time occasionnally) is not for everyone, but when they work out they can be very rewarding.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

One foot in front of the other...

Sunset on Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward Island

As you can see, I'm revisiting my Prince Edward Island picture from this pas Spring. My two vacations this Spring and Summer were the high point of the last year for me, but while my time with my family in July was lovely, I think i liked my time in Prince Edward Island even better. It really is, I think, my favorite place in the world (not that I can claim to have see very much of it!). It is so peaceful there, so beautiful. The air is so clean and the ocean is always nearby. People are so friendly and helpful and life moves along at a much more laid back pace. Even though I am a city girl and always have been, I think I can say with a fair amount of certainty that I could move to Prince Edward Island and be perfectly happy there. 

Thinking of going back to Prince Edward Island this Spring or Summer is one of the things that is keeping me going right now. My father just keeps getting worse and the only way I can deal with that right now is to do my best to keep busy and when I'm not busy, to try and think of pleasant things. I think about my Sweetheart, I fall asleep at night imagining his arms around me, I think of where I would like to go for my vacations this year, I think about how much fun I'm going to have at my birthday party in a month, anything at all that will keep my mind from veering off into worrying about my father. It will do me no good to constantly worry about him or to think about the probable outcome of his situation as there is really nothing I can do to help him unless, as I have said before, he decides to help himself. Sometimes I think my friends find it odd that I can talk to them about my father with a straight face. I can spill out the entire story of what has happened to him in the past year and what my family and I have been through because of it and not shed a tear. It's a front I put up for when I'm in front of others. I've become very good at numbing myself. The only problem is that sometimes I stay numb for quite a while and then people ask me if I'm okay when I'm not as chatty or cheerful as I used to be. If it's one of my good friends, I can just look at them and they're like 'Right, dumb question! Wanna go for a chocolate fix? Or sushi?'. Some days though I'm astonished at how normal I feel and then I feel bad for feeling normal. It's all very confusing. 

The bottom line is that all I can do is try to cope as best I can. I cook, I go running, I go to choir practice, I go out by myself or with friends, I try to do little things for myself. I call my father and then sometimes have a good cry and I go up to work and thank my lucky stars that I have my job to keep me busy eight hours a day five days a week and I dream of a day when things will get better.

The moon above Cavendish Beach (click to enlarge and see it more clearly on the upper right)