Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Run Lindsay Run

I've wanted to do this for a long time... But it felt so strange to think about writing a story without an ending. I think that this latest flare-up of symptoms has made me realize that an ending isn't guaranteed - and that it's the journey that counts anyway.

And so, on one of those incredibly low days when life didn't seem fair OR fun, I began to write this. It's still a work in progress. But this is for my mom - in honour of 'our' four year Joints in Motion anniversary this month. Geoff's my official running buddy now, but you've always been my trainer and my cheerleader. You waited for me at the finish line in Bermuda for a loooong time (and with a serious back injury), and in my darkest moments I can close my eyes and hear you screaming from the half-way point, 'That's my girl! She's going to do it!'


I crossed the starting line when I was ten years old. The funny thing about this race is that we didn't really know that we were starting it until we were in it. And we certainly never signed up for it.

It was Spring Break in Grade Five - and it was bittersweet because, as much as I loved the chance to play and spend time with friends, I was one of those smart and social kids who really loved going to school.

Just a few days before school started again, I got sick - really sick - and I spent days in bed fighting off a case of pneumonia. And I didn't go back to school on Monday. Instead, I woke up and my ten-year-old body had been transformed into a prison overnight. I was unable to move a single bone or muscle in my body without screaming and crying from pain. Instead of spending that next week in my desk, I spent it in a hospital bed.

That week became a sprint for the adults around me - a whirlwind of tests, specialists, and prayers. That week, I saw my dad cry for the very first time, and I heard the word that would alter the course of the rest of my life: arthritis.

I'm glad that I was only ten years old. Children have no concept of a marathon, of how much strength and determination it will take to reach the finish line. They just take off running.

And that's exactly what I did: I ran. And along the way, the scenery was gorgeous. Once we got all my meds figured out, most of junior high was straightforward with a gradual downward slope. Like most young teenagers, I found out who my true friends were, and I began to discover the things I was passionate about: music, literature, language, and politics. When I entered my high school years, the course got a little tricky and navigating those hills started to make me tired. At the beginning of Grade 11, the meds I'd been relying on for years suddenly stopped working, and we tried a series of 7 or 8 new ones before we discovered a combination that kept my symptoms largely under control. But I kept on moving - I learned to drive, I got my first job and my first boyfriend, I volunteered at summer camp programs, and I had thousands of adventures with my friends. I couldn't play sports, but I made signs, painted my face, and cheered on my friends who played on our school's teams. I auditioned and was added to the cast of our spring play, but at Saturday rehearsals I could sometimes be found throwing up in the girls washroom backstage - a nasty side effect of the meds I injected into my body every Friday night. I learned what most seasoned marathon runners could have told me - that for every uphill, there's a downhill.

At the end of high school, my classmates voted to make me their valedictorian and I received a scholarship to study English at the University of Winnipeg, where their resource department was ready to help me with any accommodations I needed. For the first time, I felt like I might win this race.

It was during university that the surgeries started - a series of four procedures, designed to keep my jaw joints mobile and as pain-free as possible despite the fact that the arthritis had decided to take up residence there. The cycle became predictable: surgery, recovery, then a period of 6 good months, then a gradual increase in pain and loss of mobility, then another surgery. I felt like, with every repeat surgery, I was slowing down and losing momentum. My legs were feeling heavy and I was starting to wonder why I was running at all.

That's when I decided to run a different kind of race: a marathon for The Arthritis Society's Joints in Motion program. For almost a year, I worked with friends and family to plan fundraisers and trained as much as I was able to. In January 2004, my mom travelled with me to Hamilton, Bermuda where I walked a full marathon in 8 hours and 27 minutes. Crossing that finish line was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but it changed my life. It was exactly what I needed to recapture my motivation to keep running the 'real' race.

And it's a good thing I came home feeling inspired, because the eight weeks after the marathon were some of the hardest of my life - plodding straight uphill. My body had not appreciated the grueling task I'd demanded of it, and things were kind of crazy in my 'real life' too - a new job, the loss of some long-term friends, and a tough break-up.

But as the snow melted at the end of a long, cold Winnipeg winter, the path ahead seemed to level off. I was picking up speed, running faster than I ever had before... That spring, my medical team and I realized that my arthritis was in remission and I went off all my meds. And I was okay. I was more than okay - I began to see the finish line in the distance and my surgeon helped me plan my final sprint: one last jaw surgery, a radical one, that would make my jaw joints as good as new and set me up for life after the race.

It didn't really cross my mind to be scared about the surgery, or the months of recovery that would follow. I was so excited to get to that finish line - the pain of the sprint didn't matter.

My surgery date was September 1, 2004. It's a date I'll remember like other people remember the death of a loved one - because it's a date when something died inside of me. The surgery was tough and the recovery was tougher. I fought through with everything I had, but everything I had wasn't good enough this time. Days turned into weeks that turned into months, and I was still unable to work full-time, paralyzed by pain and an intense fatigue that absolutely overwhelmed me. I looked ahead, and the finish line was gone from my sight - instead, the road stretched ahead of my indefinitely. I was as surprised as anyone to feel my fighting spirit give in to the exhaustion. By Christmas time, I found myself sitting down on the side of the road, unwilling to try another step.

My last ounce of energy was used to drag myself in to my rheumatologist's office. At that appointment, he confirmed what I had suspected for weeks: that my arthritis was in fact totally gone from my body, but that the surgery seemed to have triggered the onset of fibromyalgia (a disease that's a member of the arthritis family).

It felt like a mean trick. I was within sight of my finish line, and then the race officials let me know that - instead of completing the course I'd been navigating for twelve long years - I'd be beginning another marathon instead. Honestly, I sat there for a while. I wasn't really sure I was up for another race. The first one had been hard - very hard - and I was tired of running.

I needed some motivation. I thought back to the last time I felt truly inspired to run and motivated to WIN. And I knew in my heart that it was when I had completed my Joints in Motion project. And it was that same place in my heart that told me I'd need to do it again. It was my only hope to keep myself moving forward.

In October 2005, I travelled to Lausanne, Switzerland with the Joints in Motion team. I was there on my own, and I was about 10k into my half-marathon when I realized that I was going to be the last person to finish that day. It was cold and rainy outside, and I was limping before the race even started. The idea of finishing last was terrifying, and I was filled with visions of crossing that finish line with no one there but the marathon officials to witness what felt like an Olympic victory to me.

When I rounded the last corner and the giant red and white arch marking the finish line came into view, I knew I'd been wrong. I wasn't there on my own. I was there as part of the Joints in Motion team. And I had no less than fifty people there at the finish line, screaming their hearts out for me - as if my slow, shaky limp to the finish line was a gold medal sprint. The official marathon finish line pictures are hilarious, because I was sobbing uncontrollably. But they were happy tears. They were tears that meant I was ALIVE, and that this new disease had not captured all the best parts of my spirit. I was still in the race. And I was still winning.

I wish I could show you all the footage of my victory in Lausanne, but the Global television team didn't air it. Apparently, my choice of words after struggling through a half-marathon - and fighting with the French-speaking officials for the last half of the race to let me finish - wasn't exactly family-friendly... :)

From there, I pressed onward. I hunted down my dream job, and I grabbed it and poured myself into it. I explored some more of the world and I laughed and I crossed dozens of things off my list. I met a man who loved me and understood me and captured my heart, and he volunteered to tie on his own pair of metaphorical sneakers when he married me in September 2007. On our honeymoon six weeks later, we travelled to Athens, Greece and he walked alongside me as we completed the 10K as my third Joints in Motion event.

Why only a 10K, when I had already proven that I was capable of more? Because it allowed me to finish early - early enough that we could spend some time at the finish line, cheering until the very last member of the Joints in Motion team received her medal, limping across the finish line.

And I keep on moving forward. It's not a record-setting pace by any means, but I'm moving - sometimes faster, sometimes slower, but always forward. The race doesn't have mile markers to let me know how much farther I have left, but that matters less and less. Because with every step, I become increasingly certain that - no matter how long it takes - when I cross the finish line, I'm crossing as a winner.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Letter to Winnipeg

Dear Winnipeg,

That was a MEAN TRICK you played this week. On Saturday and Sunday, we were all out enjoying our awesome new 9 km ice skating trail on the river in -3 degree weather. And this morning when I had to go to work, it was -45 with the windchill.

All I really want to know is WHY? I've been so kind to you. When other people make fun of you for having so many mosquitoes in summer, I tell them about the Jazz Festival and the Fringe Festival and Folklorama and all our nearby beaches and hiking trails... All the things that make you fun when the weather's nice. And when they ask how we can stand the cold winters, I tell them you're not so bad - that the temperatures are bearable and that we make the most of it with outdoor activities and amazing theatre and incredible concerts and a decent hockey team... All the things that make you fun when the weather's not so nice.

And then you go and pull a trick like this. Seriously... Was -45 really necessary? That's beyond ridiculous. Mere steps from my car on the way to the office, your frigid winds began to attack and suffocate me. It was MEAN and NASTY. And I'm told that you're going to be treating us this way for at least a couple of days? Very immature.

I love you. You know I do. Because there's really no sane, rational reason to live here otherwise. But the way you're treating me today makes me wonder if this might be turning into an abusive relationship.

Please consider changing your mind about this awful winter weather, Winnipeg. We're good people here, and - quite frankly - you need us sticking up for you.


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Six Until Me

I love this blog, written by a twentysomething woman named Kerri who lives with Type 1 Diabetes. It's a different disease. I was 10, not 6. And it was a sheep and a duck, not a kitty. But there's something in her writing and in her story that reminds me of me, and reminds me why I fight.

Here's a sneak peek...

It was six years, until me.

I didn’t know her before my arrival, but from what I hear, she was a good kid. Running all over the place. Devouring every book she could find. This kid even read in the shower when she was that small. Bloated, damp books strewn about the bathroom. She tortured her sister relentlessly. She tried to play the games her older brother taught her.

She smiled a lot. And laughed out loud.

I’m not sure when I was called out to stay with her, but I’ve been told it was when she was sick as a little kid on her sixth birthday. She had a fever that lasted for days. Lethargic little thing, under the careful watch of her ever-vigilant mother. I remember visiting her then, settling gently into her tiny body and making it my home. No one knew I was there. They wouldn’t know for six more months.

Six months until me.

She doesn’t remember much of her own diagnosis, but I do. I remember when they found me. I remember when she peed in the cup at the doctor’s office before she started second grade and they detected the ketones. They called her parents. Her mom and dad brought her in for follow up bloodwork. And then they found me. September 1986.

She didn’t cry much. Her mom and dad brought her to the hospital, where she stayed for two weeks. Her parents bought her a stuffed Kitty that she toted around everywhere… the doctors became used to her little face and the presence of the stuffed animal. She said that Kitty was diabetic, too, and both Kerri and Kitty received injections. The fabric of the animal became a little stained from injecting saline, but it made her smile again. She didn’t feel alone.

And she grew up. Even though I was there. She competed in spelling bees. She tap danced for 15 years. She played soccer, albeit badly. (But I had nothing to do with that.) She kissed a boy. She drove her car. She battled with her parents and confided in her friends. She wrote stories. She keeps a journal, still. She went to college. She moved out on her own. She succeeded. She failed. She adopted too many cats. She fell in love. She dreamed. And then she fell in love again.

She had six years, until me. People thought I would change her life, make her sad. Make her sick. Make her angry.

But instead, I’ve made her strong. I’ve made her fearless. And I’ve made her appreciate everything she has, everything she fights for. She hasn’t let me make her choices. She refuses to let me own her. She controls me. When she is in her last moments, whether sixty years from now or today, she will know, with certainty, that she has lived.

Really lived.

She still smiles a lot. And laughs out loud.

Read more at Six Until Me.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

The Return

And then all the fun was over.

No big surprise. To be honest, I'm a little surprised that it lasted as long as it did. I haven't taken a pill since Wednesday at lunchtime, and I felt pretty okay until last night. I knew that some of this weekend's activities might have sped along the return of my symptoms - but I don't really care. It was totally worth it. At least until this morning, when I woke up and everything hurt. Not at the level I was at before, but worse than it's been in at least a couple of weeks.

I'm trying really hard not to be frustrated and discouraged. I know that this was the right long-term decision for me - even if the short-term isn't very much fun. I needed Geoff to remind me of that this morning.

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Monday Secret

I just loved this one. I'm not sure why, and I don't really care to analyze it. I just know that words are powerful things - and with words alone, two people can be brought together or torn apart irreparably. Maybe I'm just sentimental because I started to fall in love with Geoff through his words first.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Weekend Update: Now Entirely Work-Free!

FRIDAY: Work ended *promptly* at 5 pm last week, which was absolutely okay with me. It was a looooong week. My parents picked me up and we headed over to Carlos & Murphy's for a very healthy dinner (hehe) - I'd been craving their tacos all week, and I was NOT disappointed. From there, my mom and I headed to MTC for 'Fiddler on the Roof.' And I don't really have words for it... It was incredible, amazing, wonderful - the actor playing Tevye seriously gave me goosebumps, he was so perfect. The first show at MTC this fall was phenomenal, and - if it's possible - I think they just keep getting better. Next up is Glengarry Glen Ross at the Warehouse, which has me pretty excited - I love Mamet plays.

SATURDAY: Glorious Saturday. I had every excuse to sleep in on Saturday because Geoff slept half the day once he got home from work at 8 am. Unfortunately, I'm not able to sleep like I used to be able to, so I was up and showered by 10 am. I got a bunch of stuff done around town, then woke up Geoff around 3 pm - and we had a great, relaxing day together. We had the latest brunch in the world, then hung out and ran some more errands, watched TV, and then got a little fancied up for our 'date night' - sushi, yum :)

SUNDAY: This morning, we went to go see what all the fuss was about at Soul Sanctuary - a church here in Winnipeg. We joined Emily there, and ran into *lots* of other people we knew. It was nice... I like a lot of things about the way they do church. And I liked what I heard. There were two messages that I walked away with this morning. The first was that it's okay for Christians to express disappointment or hurt or anger, and to talk about the process that gets us to a place of healing - instead of just glossing over or masking up the tough, dark, ugly stuff. The second was that it's so critically important to LISTEN, and to hear other people's stories - it's the most important 'ministry' we'll ever have. Both great messages, and both truths that I'll carry for me all week. I love when that happens at church.

After that, we met up with Em and a friend for lunch and skating at The Forks - and it was a *perfect* day for skating at The Forks. From there, Geoff and I spent an hour enjoying some hot chocolate at Second Cup, then took in U2 3D at IMAX. Very cool. If you're even a moderate U2 fan, you MUST GO.

I'm feeling a little more like myself lately... The 'detox' from my meds was pretty rough on a couple of days last week, but I feel like it's almost entirely out of my system now - and it's AWESOME. I feel like my brain is clearing, that my personality has a little bit of spark to it, that I'm loving and enjoying life again. I want to cry when I type that, because it's so huge to me. The downside, of course, is that my pain is creeping up a little bit again. Not like it was before, but it's definitely more than it was on the meds. And I'm (mostly) okay with that. In a few more weeks, the meds will be totally gone and I'll be free and clear to pursue some less toxic natural approaches to finding a balance in my health. I'm kind of excited for this adventure, finding and cultivating a sustainable approach to living the best life that I possibly can.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Smile

AAAHHHH... My heart is beating so fast right now.

This morning was kind of a gong show at the office. Geoff dropped me off, then he was going to wait in line to pick up Lenny Kravitz tickets the moment they went on sale at Ticketmaster at 10 am. I walked into the office and ran into Dolly (the other account manager at Cocoon), who was on her way out to go wait in line to pick up tickets for herself and for some of our other coworkers.

Geoff and Dolly ended up in line together. And he came back to the office with Dolly to tell me the great news: that they scored Row Ten floor seats. I was so happy... Until those losers actually handed me the tickets, and I saw that they were big fat liars who had actually managed to land ROW ONE FLOOR SEATS.

I rather uncharacteristically began to scream... After I calmed down a little, I was informed that we had a visitor in the office, interviewing for an internship here. Oops. Anyway, they thought it was pretty funny.

And that, friends, is my Friday Smile :)


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Best. News. EVER.

Guess who's coming to town in March, kids... LENNY KRAVITZ (my future husband). Yummylicious. And I totally adore his music. I could literally not be more excited right now :)


Film Geek (and not ashamed)

The 80th annual Academy Award nominations, announced earlier today:

Best Picture: Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood.

Actor: George Clooney, Michael Clayton; Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood; Johnny Depp, Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street; Tommy Lee Jones, In the Valley of Elah; Viggo Mortensen, Eastern Promises.

Actress: Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age; Julie Christie, Away From Her; Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose; Laura Linney, The Savages; Ellen Page, Juno.

Supporting Actor: Casey Affleck, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford; Javier Bardem, No Country for Old Men; Hal Holbrook, Into the Wild; Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson's War; Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton.

Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett, I'm Not There; Ruby Dee, American Gangster; Saoirse Ronan, Atonement; Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone; Tilda Swinton, Michael Clayton.

Director: Julian Schnabel, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; Jason Reitman, Juno; Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men; Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood.

Foreign Film: Beaufort, Israel; The Counterfeiters, Austria; Katyn, Poland; Mongol, Kazakhstan; 12, Russia.

Adapted Screenplay: Christopher Hampton, Atonement; Sarah Polley, Away from Her; Ronald Harwood, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, No Country for Old Men; Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Blood.

Original Screenplay: Diablo Cody, Juno; Nancy Oliver, Lars and the Real Girl; Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton; Brad Bird, Jan Pinkava and Jim Capobianco, Ratatouille; Tamara Jenkins, The Savages.

Animated Feature Film: Persepolis; Ratatouille; Surf's Up.

Art Direction: American Gangster, Atonement, The Golden Compass, Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, There Will Be Blood.

Cinematography: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Atonement, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood.

Sound Mixing: The Bourne Ultimatum, No Country for Old Men, Ratatouille, 3:10 to Yuma, Transformers.

Sound Editing: The Bourne Ultimatum, No Country for Old Men, Ratatouille, There Will Be Blood, Transformers.

Original Score: Atonement, Dario Marianelli; The Kite Runner, Alberto Iglesias; Michael Clayton, James Newton Howard; Ratatouille, Michael Giacchino; 3:10 to Yuma, Marco Beltrami.

Original Song: Falling Slowly from Once, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova; Happy Working Song from Enchanted, Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz; Raise It Up from August Rush, Nominees to be determined; So Close from Enchanted, Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz; That's How You Know from Enchanted, Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz.

Costume: Across the Universe, Atonement, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, La Vie en Rose, Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Documentary Feature: No End in Sight, Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, Sicko, Taxi to the Dark Side, War/Dance.

Documentary (short subject): Freeheld, La Corona (The Crown), Salim Baba, Sari's Mother.

Film Editing: The Bourne Ultimatum, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Into the Wild, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood.

Makeup: La Vie en Rose, Norbit, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

Animated Short Film: I Met the Walrus, Madame Tutli-Putli, Meme Les Pigeons Vont au Paradis (Even Pigeons Go to Heaven), My Love (Moya Lyubov), Peter & the Wolf.

Live Action Short Film: At Night, Il Supplente (The Substitute), Le Mozart des Pickpockets (The Mozart of Pickpockets), Tanghi Argentini, The Tonto Woman.

Visual Effects: The Golden Compass, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Transformers.

Oh, and in a kind-of-related note, Heath Ledger died today. Kind of weird and random. You just don't imagine young famous people dying - especially in the middle of their career. And even more especially when they have a baby. Sad.

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I have put so much energy into convincing people that I am NOT a princess, and I realized this morning that I totally am. Geoff is working today, which meant that - for the first time in 2008, if you can believe it - I had to drive myself to work. Yep, that's right. I had to go outside, warm up my car, brush off all the snow, make my own coffee (shut up), drive and park, and then walk to the office in the FREEZING cold.


Even I have the common sense to be a little bit embarrassed about how prissy I've become - though I know it has everything to do with the fact that I've been sick. Still... At the very least, maybe I'll start setting up the coffee stuff the night before and hitting the little 'timer' button on our machine :)

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Monday Smile

Ouch. Though I totally agree.


I TOLD You I Was Normal!

So it's Day Two of my journey to get myself off of these stupid new meds. So far, I am NOT particularly impressed. I'm still dealing with nausea and a headache, plus I have the added bonus of starting to feel my fibromyalgia pain again. I think that's what you would probably refer to as 'the worst of both worlds.' But I'm at work and mostly functional, which is a positive step.

The good news that has come out of today is that I called for my test results from last week, and they all came back NORMAL. Like seriously normal. Like squarely in the middle of the normal range on every single test (yes, mom, even my hemoglobin - weird, hey?).

The best part is that they tested my sed rate - basically an indication in my blood of whether or not I have active arthritis in my body, based on how slowly or quickly my red blood cells settle to the bottom of a vial - and I came back at a level of 9 (normal is between 1 and 20). That's awesome, because it confirms that my arthritis is still in remission and that it is *only* fibro that we're dealing with here. I suppose it's kind of lousy, because arthritis is treatable and fibro isn't... But arthritis causes long-term damage, and fibro doesn't.

So at the end of the day, I've decided to be happy about it :)

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Weekend Update: Emily's Picture-Perfect Birthday Edition

FRIDAY: Nothing to note here, really. I worked from home, fighting off extremely icky side effects on Day Two of my 'new and improved' double dose of the new meds. Geoff got home from work around 8 to find a wife who'd cocooned herself into a blanket on the couch, ordered pizza for dinner, and was determined to spent the rest of the evening watching What Not to Wear - and then sleeping (sleep, glorious sleep!). And that, my friends, is *precisely* what happened. No apologies. It was a super-long week.

SATURDAY: I was totally evil yesterday, and refused to take my pills until waaaay late in the day. Instead, Geoff came with me to see Shelly - a herbalist and nutritional consultant who I used to see. It was a great appointment. Shelly is eternally optimistic, and absolutely determined that we can work together to improve my quality of life with fibromyalgia through healthy eating, herbal supplements, and natural therapy options (while not discounting the role that traditional medicine will play). It was music to my ears. There's not really much we can do until I'm off my current meds - so I can't see her again for almost a month. But I was so encouraged to spend some time with someone who (a) believes that I suffer from a disease that causes me lots of discomfort, and (b) believes that we can do something to fix that. Based on my first couple of days on this new dose, I have decided that I need to stop. I can't handle this anymore - it's not a quality of life that's acceptable to me. Unfortunately, it will be a little bit of a process to wean myself back off (and I know that I'm risking a relapse of the pain I dealt with during the first half of January), but I think it's what I need to do. This is no life at all.

After my appointment, Geoff and I went out from brunch (I was starving because I hadn't taken my meds yet), and then Emily came over and we spent the afternoon at Polo Park and getting her make-up done before the whole gang congregated at Elephant & Castle downtown for dinner. Then Emily, Rocky, Chey, and I headed over to the Michael Buble concert. Lucky girl... Who else gets to celebrate their 28th birthday with a Michael Buble concert? What a very cool memory.

Um, AMAZING. We had such a great time - it was an absolutely incredible concert. I'd go into all kinds of details, but my friend Erin (who had *way* better seats) did such a fine job, I'll just link to her summary and you can read it here!

Because I waited until dinner to take my meds, I managed to make it until probably 20 minutes before the end of the show before my nausea and headache kicked in - so I could truly enjoy the evening. I'm sure my doctor would freak about my stupid decision, but I don't care. I have no regrets. Other than the tiny little fact that I was up sooo many times during the night because I was fighting extreme nausea and my legs were in lots of pain. Still, a mild price to pay for a very fun evening out with friends, in honour of Emily :)

Click here to see the pics from Em's birthday dinner.

Oh, and one other (random) thing that happened on Saturday: my car's odometre hit 200,000 kms. Now THAT's depressing. Geoff and I were half-expecting it to either die on the spot, or to spew confetti :)

SUNDAY: Today, we went to church in the morning and then picked up some much-needed groceries. Nothing much planned for the rest of the day. I'm feeling extra-nauseated today and am very much okay with just taking it easy before I begin another busy work week...

Thanks to all of you who continue to pray for us. I can feel your support, and I appreciate your emails and messages you've been sending me. I *am* going to get better - but it's a journey.

Me with the Birthday Girl

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Smile x 2

I've realized more than ever lately that my joy needs to come from within myself, not from the people around me. And so, instead of traipsing through the internet in search of something to post here that will make me giggle - I've drafted my very own Joy List (inspired by my cousin Jolene, who is so darn good at it). I put my own twist on it, though.

So more for my own benefit than anyone else's, here's my list of reasons why it's worth fighting through the ickiness I'm feeling today and choosing joy in this moment:

* Because I believe that life is worth living, and living fully. I'm not stalled out here, waiting for my 'healthy life' to begin again - this IS my life, and I'm living it right now.

* Because I have a job that I love, and I don't want to work from home indefinitely. I love being in our office and interacting with my goofy coworkers all day, every day. They make me laugh until my stomach hurts.

* Because Wellington Crescent in winter is just about the most beautiful place in the world, and I miss going for walks. (Though I hear it's ridiculously cold outside this week...)

* Because I have a whole list of countries left to explore, and I'll need to be healthier than this to do that.

* Because - eventually - I want to be a mom. And I want to be a GOOD mom. And that means participating, not just watching.

* Because I miss sitting around and laughing with Geoff about absolutely nothing. Everything has been so grown-up and serious lately - for good reason, but I miss just talking about our days without discussion of side effects and doctors appointments coming into the equation.

* Because I miss writing - for me, not for my job - and I'd love to get back into writing freelance articles, etc. And I'm just not creative when I feel like this.

* Because TV sucks right now during the writers' strike, and I'd much rather be going out and doing stuff with my friends :)

And speaking of Jolene and Miguel... They welcomed little Trinity Dawn into the world three days ago, and she's an absolute doll. SO very happy for you guys! :)

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Thursday, January 17, 2008


Be sure to check out this sampling of letters written to the editor of the New York Times, published in later editions this week, as a response to Alex Berenson's largely misinformed front-page fibromyalgia article.

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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back - and a Giant Leap

I'm getting a little sick of this dance - pardon the terrible pun. I'm working from home again today. I'm more nauseated again today, and my light sensitivity is back. I didn't take gravol last night, and I was awake for hours and hours. So frustrating... But I finished the book I've been reading - just don't ask at what time.

UPDATE 12.21: I made a pretty big decision this morning. I'm home today anyway, so I may as well make the leap. I just started my first double dose about 18 hours early. I'm nervous about how I might be affected in the next 24 to 48 hours, but confident that this was the right decision for me. If you're the praying kind... Now would be the time :)

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Good Enough

I'm totally cheating. A good chunk of this post is copied and pasted from an email I just wrote to my mother-in-law. But I realized that it formed a pretty good start to an update on where things are at in my head and in my heart today.

I'm sure you've realized by now that 'good enough' isn't ever good enough for me... I understand that sometimes you need to be uncomfortable for a short while in order to find health in the long term. I also understand that I need the best possible quality of life I can find for myself NOW, because the future is always uncertain. It's sometimes very tricky to balance those two truths - especially when you're trying to objectively analyze two options in a mushy, medicated brain :)

It's going to be a tough call - whether to stay on an 'introductory dose' of the meds I started last week (or go off them entirely), or whether to take my doctor's advice and double it starting on Friday morning. I don't want to live the pain of the past two weeks again, but I also want to be able to enjoy my life free of these side effects. I know it's bizarre that I've reacted so strongly to such a relatively small dose of this drug - but that's not really something that can be controlled, and every person is different.

I don't think I'll know for sure what I'll do until that moment of truth comes on Friday morning - when it's time to pop that second pill (or not). I've made arrangements to work from home that day, in case I do choose to try the stronger dose. I'd hate to live with the pain I still have and always wonder if it would be less on a higher dose, and if I could have managed it...

Argh. In the meantime, I'm a girl who's on an anti-depressant, somewhat unnecessarily. If anyone has ever fooled around with the wrong anti-depressant drug - or had a doctor adjust their dose too high - I know you know what I'm talking about. I'm living my life, kind of. Everything is FLAT. I feel like I'm watching, and not participating. And that is SO very un-Lindsay.

That's another reason to be scared of this dosage increase on Friday. Though everything I've read suggests that I'll even out within a couple of weeks.

Anyway. That's where I'm at today. And it's easier to blog about it, rather than dealing with people who want to talk about it. Is that too honest for you? :)

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Wednesday Wisdom

Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.
- Timothy Leary


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

And Now, For a Little Perspective

This was in my inbox today... One of my aunts (Val) spent time as a volunteer at this orphanage in her 20s, and I was so impacted by her pictures and her stories. Please take a few minutes to read about what is happening in Kenya, and how it is affecting the work of this charity that cares for the country's orphaned and abandoned children - and if you're able to do something (a donation, a fundraiser, or a prayer), please help.


There are days when news of our world renders us powerless to do anything about the chaos. There are also days when we have the opportunity to offer peace and comfort to our global family in crisis. Today is such a day.

On December 29th, while we enjoyed the peace of an abundant Canadian Christmas, Kenyans watched in disbelief as the peace of their country began to unravel. Since then, more than 350,000 Kenyans have been displaced and hundreds have died in tribal clashes.

For those who have not been introduced to our work, the Mully Children’s Family Charitable Foundation is a registered Canadian charity; a humanitarian organization that provides for 1,500 of Kenya’s orphaned and abandoned children. Through our African field partner, the Mully Children’s Family, founded and run by Charles Mulli, street children facing abandonment, abuse, additions or HIV/AIDS are welcomed regardless of religion or tribe. The Mully Children’s Family has been rescuing such children for 19 years. Over 3,500 children have been rehabilitated and have returned to their communities, modeling the same compassion that was offered to them by a man the children call Daddy, Charles Mulli.

350 children left the Mully Children’s Family homes to spend Christmas holidays with their extended families in Eldoret and Mombassa; areas ravaged by violence and bloodshed. These children and staff members have yet to be heard from due to the mass exit from Eldoret and a breakdown in the country’s communication system.

With road blockages throughout the country, without military support, Charles cannot travel to these areas to locate the children. Plans are in place to find the children and bring them home the moment it is safe to do so. Trauma counselors will be in place to guide all the children through this horrendous time. In addition to added costs for the rescue and counseling, food costs in Kenya have tripled.

At a time when Charles and his wife Esther must be overwhelmed by worry for their missing children and staff, he is extending compassion in a way most of us cannot identify with. Charles has worked in Kenya’s slums for years and has expertise in caring for large numbers of people. Plans are in place to offer emergency aid to 15,000 families who have seen their houses burnt, communities looted and horrific violence. For $50, families will receive trauma counselling, spiritual guidance, three hot meals a day, clean and safe drinking water, clothing, basic health care, increased sanitation (pit latrines to cut down on infectious diseases) hygiene products and recreational activities and sports for the children. MCF’s staff are in place and eager to start the work. They need the funds, and quickly.

Charles has vast experience with emergency food drives as he helps thousands each Christmas and during periods of drought. He has worked in Kenya’s slums for years. With 1,500 mouths to feed on a daily basis, he knows where to find bulk food for the best cost. In short, donations to our emergency fund will be stretched to maximum value.

The Canada Helps logo on our website offers you the opportunity to act immmediately. All funds are Tax receiptable. Cheques can also be mailed to MCFCF, PO Box 93014, 1111 Davis Drive, Newmarket, Ontario, L3Y 8K3.

In addition to asking for a donation for emergency relief, we are asking you to join us, and spread the word of how Canadians can rally together and offer comfort to Kenya's traumatized children.

For those interested in taking this initiative further, visit the Crisis relief page for a simple fundraising activity you can ask your child’s school to participate in. In our years of working with schools and teachers, Canadian students have the ability to achieve greatness when they set out to help children in other countries.

Words fail to express our gratitude for support for our family at MCF as well as extending yourself to displaced Kenyans who will never have the privilege of thanking you in person.

Thanks also for your prayers for a Peaceful resolution. Please keep storming the heavens on the children's behalf. These little ones belong to Him.

Help us bring the smiles back to the children's faces.

Learn more at

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Meanwhile, Back at the Office

Other than being mad, I'm still feeling sick. My overall pain level has dropped from an 8 or 9 to around a 5 or 6, which I'm pretty happy about. But the side effects from this new drug are ridiculous. I swear, I've developed every side effect on the list. And the nausea / dizziness / shakiness can get kind of dramatic. I've been on chemo meds before, and I don't think it's a stretch at all to compare how I've been feeling to that experience.

I'm back at work today, but Geoff is on standby to pick me up if this doesn't go well. I had to try, though. Every day is a little bit better, and it helps me feel normal to be at work and contributing to society.

The next big hurdle will be Friday. That's the day I'm supposed to double my dose. I've already talked to people at work about avoiding meetings on that day, so that I can easily make the call to work from home if I need to. I hope it doesn't come to that.

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Lindsay is MAD

Not crazy mad. Angry mad. Because of this article that appeared in the New York Times today, that set me - and how many other people - back about 20 years today. It's absolutely appalling to me.

(For the record, we've already determined that Lyrica is not a suitable treatment for me, because I'm unwilling to deal with its side effects - including unknown effects on future pregnancies.)

Anyway. Here are a few juicy excerpts. You can read the article in all its disgusting glory if you really want to - and I'd recommend it, because there's actually some good information buried deep inside, under all the bulls**t. But this should suffice to get my point across. The bold is ALL MINE.

Feel free to send your own letters of protest to:

Drug Approved. Is Disease Real?
By Alex Berenson
January 14, 2008

Fibromyalgia is a real disease. Or so says Pfizer in a new television advertising campaign for Lyrica, the first medicine approved to treat the pain condition, whose very existence is questioned by some doctors.

PHOTO CAPTION: Lynne Matallana, who says she has fibromyalgia, said the drugs would aid acceptance.

For patient advocacy groups and doctors who specialize in fibromyalgia, the Lyrica approval is a milestone. They say they hope Lyrica and two other drugs that may be approved this year will legitimize fibromyalgia, just as Prozac brought depression into the mainstream.

But other doctors — including the one who wrote the 1990 paper that defined fibromyalgia but who has since changed his mind — say that the disease does not exist and that Lyrica and the other drugs will be taken by millions of people who do not need them.

As diagnosed, fibromyalgia primarily affects middle-aged women and is characterized by chronic, widespread pain of unknown origin. Many of its sufferers are afflicted by other similarly nebulous conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome.

Advocacy groups and doctors who treat fibromyalgia estimate that 2 to 4 percent of adult Americans, as many as 10 million people, suffer from the disorder.

Those figures are sharply disputed by those doctors who do not consider fibromyalgia a medically recognizable illness and who say that diagnosing the condition actually worsens suffering by causing patients to obsess over aches that other people simply tolerate. Further, they warn that Lyrica’s side effects, which include severe weight gain, dizziness and edema, are very real, even if fibromyalgia is not.

Despite the controversy, the American College of Rheumatology, the Food and Drug Administration and insurers recognize fibromyalgia as a diagnosable disease. And drug companies are aggressively pursuing fibromyalgia treatments, seeing the potential for a major new market. [NOTE FROM LINDSAY: IF ALL OF THESE BODIES RECOGNIZE IT AS A DISEASE - INCLUDING INSURANCE COMPANIES, WHO ARE THE LAST PEOPLE WHO WANT TO ADMIT IT - HOW IS THERE STILL A 'CONTROVERSY'?]

But doctors who are skeptical of fibromyalgia say vague complaints of chronic pain do not add up to a disease. No biological tests exist to diagnose fibromyalgia, and the condition cannot be linked to any environmental or biological causes.

The diagnosis of fibromyalgia itself worsens the condition by encouraging people to think of themselves as sick and catalog their pain, said Dr. Nortin Hadler, a rheumatologist and professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina who has written extensively about fibromyalgia.

“These people live under a cloud,” he said. “And the more they seem to be around the medical establishment, the sicker they get.”

Dr. Frederick Wolfe, the director of the National Databank for Rheumatic Diseases and the lead author of the 1990 paper that first defined the diagnostic guidelines for fibromyalgia, says he has become cynical and discouraged about the diagnosis. He now considers the condition a physical response to stress, depression, and economic and social anxiety.

“Some of us in those days thought that we had actually identified a disease, which this clearly is not,” Dr. Wolfe said. “To make people ill, to give them an illness, was the wrong thing.”

Most people “manage to get through life with some vicissitudes, but we adapt,” said Dr. George Ehrlich, a rheumatologist and an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “People with fibromyalgia do not adapt.”

Dr. Wolfe expects the drugs will be widely used. The companies, he said, are “going to make a fortune.”

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Weekend Update: 'That Dog Would Make Nice Warm Earmuffs' Edition

So we were dogsitting for Jess and Kevin (well, technically, I guess it was for Pugsly) this weekend, and I confirmed one thing immediately upon my arrival at home after work on Friday night: I AM NOT A DOG PERSON.

It seems that the tiny but mischievous pug had managed to escape from our front entrance (chewing the door and our baseboards in the process - ew). In the half-hour that we were away, she had turned a magazine into absolute confetti AND somehow managed to find two pairs of my underwear from my laundry basket and chewed them into shreds as well. Oh, and did I mention that I had to clean up a pile of dog s**t from the carpet AND a puddle on the floor of the bathroom? And Geoff the dog-lover was at work. Awesome. We were off to a *great* start. There is not enough disinfectant in the world to make that okay.

That pretty much set the tone for the weekend. While I was dealing with medication side effects, I was also dealing with a hyperactive puppy who was attempting to chew everything in sight and did NOT have very good manners. Geoff laughed at my attempts to reason calmly with the dog, and our talks about her unacceptable behaviour. And my frantic disinfecting of EVERYTHING.

In between the dog-fuelled insanity (and while I sacrificed yet another pair of underwear - what is UP with this dog?!), I managed to:
- Watch a couple of episodes of What Not to Wear on Friday night
- Have (count 'em!) TWO bubble baths
- Spend a lovely and long-overdue evening at home with Erin on Saturday, made even lovelier by the flowers and muffins that she brought along
- Survive an hour at the home show with my parents on Sunday afternoon - the survival part was more to do with the noise and people and walking around, not with spending time with my parents :)
- Read an entire brainless romance novel (thanks, Em!)
- Do a little bit of work from home

Jess and Kevin called on Sunday that they were ready to come and get their precious little angel. I mentioned that she'd been incredibly hyper. Jessie laughed and agreed with me. I also mentioned that she'd been chewing everything in our house. Jessie laughed again, and agreed with me. All things that would have been *very* nice to know ahead of time... Ah, family :)

PUGSLY: A face that only a mother could love...

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Monday Secret

This one made me laugh out loud... And for the record, my *amazing* gingerbread is totally made from scratch :)


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ready or Not

Another week... And I'm so determined to make this week better than last week. (Shouldn't be too hard. Maybe I should learn to set more challenging goals for myself?)

I'm happy to say that I have some good news to report. I'm not sure if it's the new meds or just my flare running its course - so hard to tell sometimes - but my pain is less than it was last week. Friday night, I was contemplating calling a cab to take me to the ER because the pain was so unbearable. Today, I ache constantly from head to toe - but the pain isn't making me crazy anymore. I still have weak, tingling arms and legs. But the pain is bearable again. Thank god.

What I'm dealing with instead are nasty medication side effects. I feel so nauseated, I lay in bed for hours this morning, too scared to move because I thought I'd be sick. I finally talked myself into walking across the hall to the bathroom, where I sat for over an hour, trying not to be sick. I've had a wicked headache and this ringing/buzzing in my ears since about two hours after my first dose, and I feel like my eyes are fuzzy (yes, my glasses are on - shut up). And I'm absolutely listless, which I hate more than anything else.

I'm miserable. But here's the thing: if it's the meds that are taking the edge off my pain, then going off them will make me hurt like crazy again. I'm at a total loss. I want to do what's healthy for my body - but I don't know what that is.

But ready or not, it will be Monday in two hours. And so another week begins.

UPDATE 09.25 (MONDAY): Turns out, I was not so much ready. These side effects are ridiculous, and I am extremely sensitive to light and sound - on top of the nausea, headache, and dizziness I've been dealing with on and off all weekend. And so, I made the call to work from home today. I hate that I feel guilty about it, but I know that I need to take care of myself. And the sound of my alarm this morning reverberated inside my head until I cried this morning.

If you're the praying kind, please pray that these side effects will start to let up today. I can't risk going off these meds and having my pain increase again - and I don't want to have to make that decision.

UPDATE 13.20 (MONDAY): As a weird side note... I've been noticing that my jaw has been hurting me lots this weekend - I keep on catching myself clenching my teeth together really tightly, and it's like I can't stop myself from doing it. I googled it, and it turns out to be a side effect of the medication. WEIRD.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Smile

A less traditional Friday Smile for you today... I just received the 2008-2009 Joints in Motion destination plans in my inbox today, and it made me smile - partly because I really want to do another one, and partly because I know that for every person who signs up for one of these amazing destinations, we are one step closer to finding a cure.

Without further ado, here they are (tentative for now)...

September 2008 - Maui, Hawaii
Full and Half Marathon
Fundraising Goal approx $6,000

April 2009 - Big Sur, California
21 Mile, 10.6 Mile, 9 Mile & 5K
Fundraising Goal approx $4,500
*Chosen by Runners World magazine as the world's most beautiful course

April 2009 - Country Music Marathon, Nashville
Full and Half Marathon
Fundraising Goal approx $4,000

May 2009 - Trieste, Italy
Full and Half Marathon (Run OR In-Line Skate)
Fundraising Goal approx $6,000
*2 hours NE of Venice, on the Italy/Slovenia border

July 2009 - Gold Coast Marathon, Australia
Full and Half Marathon, 10K Run, 7.5K Walk
Fundraising Goal approx $10,000
*We'll throw 'er on the barbie, mates!

And it's not too late to join in some of the remaining 2007/2008 destinations:
Great Wall, China - May 2008
Edinburgh, Scotland - May 2008
Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania - August 2008
Machu Picchu, Peru - August 2008
Walt Disney World, Florida - September 2008
Negril, Jamaica - December 2008
Walt Disney World, Florida - January 2009

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New Developments

For starters, I need to say thank you to everyone who's been leaving comments on my blog or emailing me this week. You have no idea how much your words of encouragement mean to me, and how they help keep me going. It's so cool that - when I feel like I don't have any hope left - your thoughts and prayers can help spark the little bit of hope that's buried deep down inside of me.

Even more than that, I have absolutely no idea how I would have made it through this week - and working, no less - without Geoff. I don't even know where to start. He has been so incredible to me. His capacity to love kind of overwhelms me, in a good way - I just don't feel like I've done anything to deserve it.

Today, I woke up and I felt... BAD. I had absolutely no will to open my eyes. And when I tested out my arms and legs, I felt immediate sharp pain. I knew in an instant that my pain had increased again overnight. I was just getting used to a 'schedule' to my pain and my symptoms - and now it's all messed up. I had my 3 pm pain at 8 am, and my 8 pm fever started at 11 am. I'm miserable. But I'm at work. My lucky, lucky clients :)

A couple of new developments since yesterday's no-good-very-bad news:
- I've discovered that the Mayo Clinic has two fibromyalgia treatment programs. One is 1.5 days long and it's basically just a consult and education. The other is 3 weeks long and includes full multi-disciplinary treatment. There is also a week-long program at a pain clinic in Chicago that seems to be a good middle-ground option. They are extreme options, but they are options.
- I called and made an appointment for nutritional consulting, which will be annoying and expensive (and will more than likely rob me of my joy, ie. chocolate and coffee), but I don't care any more. I have an appointment for January 19.
- My icky physical condition means that I'll be missing a family funeral tomorrow. I don't know why that's affecting me as much as it is, but it is.
- Jessie dropped off Pugsly at our place this morning, so we can dog-sit this weekend. Should be interesting :)
- Geoff is going back to work tonight - he has night shifts tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday. Which kind of means that I'm on my own this weekend (plus Pugsly, I guess). I'm a little bit scared, but I know that it will be okay.
- I get my car back on Monday, which makes me happy. MPI released it earlier this week, and the repairs are going to be finished either this afternoon or Monday morning. Cool.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Roller Coaster Day

I woke up in a pretty good mood today. Hurting the same as usual, but really looking forward to *finally* getting to see my chronic pain specialist. I went to work from 9 til 2, then Geoff picked me up for my appointment (I'm still driving as little as possible - it's uncomfortable for me, and my arms and legs get numb and tingly). I didn't even mind our wait to see the doctor, because I was just minutes away from a solution.

I really should have known better.

I didn't leave with hope. I left with a replacement prescription for a second type of antidepressant ('many people with fibromyalgia find that a low dose of antidepressants can take the edge off their pain after only one or two weeks'). The internet says four weeks. But who's counting :)

I asked about narcotics for pain - my GP told me that they don't work for people with fibromyalgia. My chronic pain doctor says that they would work, but that he doesn't believe in them because of their potential side effects. Argh. Why won't somebody just give me drugs?!

So I start on my new, ridiculously low-strength antidepressants TOMORROW. Because seriously, given how miserable and full of pain I am right now, the last thing we want is some kind of drug interaction, right? (Is the sarcasm coming through?...) And I have a follow-up appointment on January 31 to see if it's working or not.

I'm kind of out of words. Lots of tears, but no words. I just want someone to help me, so that I can be LINDSAY again. I miss her a lot.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

D Day

It's after midnight on Tuesday night - technically Wednesday morning. Which means that I'm only 12 hours away from finally being able to see my doctor. Not my specialist, just my GP, but at this point I'll kind of just take what I can get.

People keep on asking me how I'm feeling compared to the previous day - better or worse. The truth is that I have no idea anymore. It's hurt so much for so many days in a row now that I feel like I'm going crazy. I can't tell if my pain is worse but I'm just so immune to it that I don't notice, or if it's better and I'm just so worn down that it feels worse than it is. Or if it really is exactly the same. All I know is that it hurts, and I'd do just about anything for five minutes of relief to reset my pain sensors and my determination.

I'm sitting awake on the couch with my laptop. I tried falling asleep, but I couldn't. I'm too scared. I'm usually so guarded about these types of appointments - I expect absolutely nothing, and I'm usually right. Every once in a while, I get a happy surprise. And I'm okay with living my (medical) life like that. But I am so desperate for help that I can't seem to get a handle on my expectations. I've been counting down to this appointment, telling myself that I only need to be tough until 12.30 on Wednesday, and then everything will be okay...

And now I'm sitting here on the couch and wondering -
what happens if it's not?

It's okay if you don't know what to say. Neither do I.

UPDATE 11.28: Apparently, my grandma knew what to say. She sent me this verse this morning: 'I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me' (Psalm 16.8) I'm not much of a Psalms girl, but I thought that was pretty cool. My mom sent me one too: 'May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you might overflow with hope by the power of the holy spirit' (Romans 15.13). All good, but I had already picked my own verse for today: 'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go' (Joshua 1.8-9). I think I'll just take all three, if that's not too greedy :)

UPDATE 15.25: I'm not doing very well. In fact, I'm seriously needing a hug right now - which is unlikely to happen now that I'm back at work. The appointment went kind of exactly how I knew it would. I very honestly and unemotionally told my doctor what's been going on. He had no suggestions, other than to wait and see what the specialist says next week. I told him I needed help TODAY. And after I put up a very good fight (tears included), all I walked away with was a 15-day prescription for an antidepressant.

You know what? That's not entirely true... I also walked away with the internal knowledge that I said and did everything I could possibly do in order to get the help I needed (even if it didn't work) - and that's something pretty big. On some level, it must have worked because he called my cell phone almost three hours after my appointment and told me he decided to do some bloodwork. I'm supposed to have that done tomorrow morning.

Now the waiting game begins again... 6 days and 17 hours until I see my chronic pain specialist. I only need to be tough until then, and then everything will be okay...

UPDATE 15.51: So I just got off the phone with my specialist's office. I figured I had nothing to lose... I told them that I didn't *want* to become one of those crazy stalker people who camps out in their waiting room, but that I was seriously considering it. And guess what. Guess who has an appointment for TOMORROW AFTERNOON with her chronic pain specialist! If I could dance right now, I would. Looks like my prayers for hope didn't get lost after all :)

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Reasons to Smile

I've made it to Tuesday at 4 pm in a ridiculous amount of pain and waddling (slowly) like a duck. That means I have less than 24 hours to wait until I can see my GP, and just over a week to go to see my specialist. I've made it a whole week in this shape already. I can do this.

I coloured my hair this weekend, and it turned out *exactly* the colour I wanted it to. I love when that happens.

There's an email sitting in my inbox from a very special friend, who prayed for me via email the other day. I can't stop opening it and rereading it. I can't tell you how much it meant. It was like this huge, spectacular hug - the kind that almost takes your breath away (the kind that would make me cry right now, because most of my pain seems to have settled in my back).

11 days until we celebrate Em's birthday at the Michael Buble concert.

The Boy is off all week, which means that he is able to drive me to work and pick me up at the end of the day. It may not sound like much, but it's HUGE. My parking spot is almost four blocks from my office, and on top of taking me forever to walk that far, the last thing I need is to slip on the ice and fall. Plus, I'm too tired by the end of the day to possibly consider driving myself home. His willingness to get out of bed early and plan his whole day around my work schedule literally means that I'm able to work this week - which is doing a lot to help me feel normal. Plus he's been doing lots around the house, making dinner, picking up groceries, and just kind of generally being amazing. Lucky girl, I know. I don't even care if I'm bragging.

It's been incredibly nice outside all week. Cheers to above-zero temperatures in Winnipeg in January!

Now officially words, according to the dictionary police: muffin top, ginormous, smack-down, celebutante, McMansion, and man flu (definition: the male tendency to exaggerate the effects of a cold). Man, do I want that job.

The Boy is taking me on a movie date this evening, and we deliberately picked the funniest movie showing right now. I am seriously looking forward to laughing at someone else's problems.

My new day planner is pretty much the funniest thing EVER. It makes me giggle every single time I page through it. Geoff and I found this year's Benrik 'This Diary Will Change Your Life' planner at the Athens airport, of all places. We intended on giving to my brother, but then (a) we spent waaaay too much on him on our trip, and (b) Lindsay liked it waaaay too much and wouldn't give it up. And so, too bad for him and awesome for me. (Sorry, Aaron! Kind of. Okay, not really at all.)

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Monday Secret


Saturday, January 05, 2008

And Yet Another

I'm not really very sure what to say. This week, for the first time in a loooong time, I've had moments where I have honestly thought about giving up. Not 'giving up,' but giving up fighting so hard. It's so tempting to just say that it's too hard to keep filling my life with normal things - and be one of Those Other People with fibromyalgia who (sometimes very legitimately) figure out a way to work from home or just become hermits.

Friday was officially The End Of My Rope, and I called in sick - something that does not happen very often. My pain levels hadn't changed, and my body was screaming, 'Please don't make me go work that hard all day again, I'm tired!' And so I listened. I rested, I sat on the couch for most of the day, I read a book, I had a bubble bath, I let Geoff and my mom bring me lunch, and I let Geoff vacuum and do dishes (I married such an incredible man...) - and I didn't move an inch. I was not-so-secretly (and somewhat foolishly) wishing and hoping that the less I did on Friday, the more I'd be able to do today.

But life doesn't really work that way. And I woke up feeling pretty much exactly the same as I felt on Friday: hurting and tired. Which would have been devastating, except that I had plans that left me no time for self-pity. And so I got up, put my hair in a ponytail, and drove to Osborne to meet Anja and Kari-Ann for our pre-arranged sushi lunch date. I won't lie - it was an extraordinary effort - but I'm so happy I did it. Those girls make me laugh, and in between laughter we always manage to have some genuine, honest, and occasionally intelligent conversation. I love that we all met when we did very similar work at the same company, and were all young and fun and single... And now, older and wiser (ha), we've all found our own versions of our work in places that bring us joy. We're kind of all grown up now. In the last year, both Anja and I got married, and Kari-Ann's expecting her first baby in May. And we have just as much to talk about as we ever did.

Back at home now, I'm more exhausted than I was this morning, my back is seriously killing me, and I can feel every muscle in my legs twitching and pulsing - but my soul is happy.

I'm not going to give up. Because I understand that everything is temporary - this too will pass. And because I understand that, underneath all of this fatigue and pain and frustration, there is ME. And I believe that life is worth living fully.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Another Day

I sincerely wish that I had better news to report. My health is the one thing that I hate being right about. And it's so very hard for me to talk about.

The update is that I feel lousy. My pain level is creeping up slowly, just a little bit more every day, and all my other old symptoms are starting to show up: my balance is getting freaky, my brain is getting fuzzy, and my muscles are getting shaky. I am *so* discouraged right now.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Wednesday Wisdom

Excerpt from 'Keep Working, Girlfriend' (Dec 31.07)

After 13 years of dealing with an unpredictable body, it seems I’ve learned that when dealing with things gone awry, there comes a point when, no matter how much you want to do certain things - you just can’t. You have to pull back to get well. You have to realize that not everything goes as you want when you want it - not great when you have so many things to get done!

Now, when I see people pushing mightily against circumstances that are preventing them from doing what they want RIGHT NOW, I mentally shake my head a bit. I know they haven’t yet realized that there’s something of a perfect order to things in life - or if they know this, they’ve temporarily forgotten. I think this is one thing I’ve learned from my illness.

I believe so much in the importance of YOU being on your support team. When people ask me about the things that may have contributed to my being in remission the past couple of years, I don’t actually know. But I think learning to pay attention to my body’s signals is one of the factors.

By the way, I’m still learning there’s a perfect order to things in life. I always want things to go my way. I just seem to have gotten a handle on all this when it comes to my body.

- Joan

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

It Was a Very Good Year (Part 1 of 2)

My little sister Jessica married Kevin in January 2007, and it was a craaazy weekend. It was the first wedding in our family - and the last in his - so there were lots of emotions. Plus we were trying to save them as much money as possible, which meant getting dirty and helping out with all kinds of things. It also meant that we got to know Kevin's immediate family really well, which was very cool. Especially because they're Jessica's family now too, and a huge part of their life. Oh, and as an added bonus, I got to be a foxy maid of honour.

In January, I also reconnected with a very special friend who I'd lost - or lost track of - a long time ago, making me look at all the relationships in my life just a little bit differently this year.

Would you believe that I celebrated my first *real* Valentine's Day in 2007? For a girl who's been dating (sometimes a lot) since she was 15, it was a statistical impossibility. But it's true. I was rather painfully dumped just before V-Day one year. And I started dating someone on February 15 another year. But the stars finally aligned in 2007, and Geoff and I spent a VERY romantic V-Day: I was sick with probably the worst cold in history, running a high fever, and coughing so much I actually damaged my ribs. Now if that doesn't say romance...

This was an incredibly exciting month for me, because Geoff and I decided to get married - and went ring shopping. We also went house shopping, and made an offer that was accepted on a beautiful house in River Heights. And we booked tickets to go visit his family in May (which we knew was the immediate precursor to a proposal). It was SO HARD to keep my big mouth shut around family and friends because I was so very happy. March also marked a full year that I'd been healthy enough to work full time - so there were lots of things to celebrate.

My little brother Aaron graduated from Red River College's Digital Multimedia Technology program. I was so proud of him. And a little bit sad for myself, because his new job at Manlab waaaaay down Portage meant that we wouldn't be three blocks away during the day anymore - I'd gotten very used to calling him up and meeting for lunch over the past two years. I still miss it.

April also marked the final days and weeks of my 'trial by fire' year of the most difficult living situation I have ever endured. It's not really something I felt comfortable blogging about, but I know that I learned lots about myself in this situation - and there were days when the word 'grace' tattooed in the middle of my back felt like a heavy burden to carry.

The beginning of May marked our (ahem, GEOFF's) possession date on the house. I remember waking up early that morning. Geoff picked me up and we went to go visit the house before work - we were just too excited to wait. I remember every moment as we drove down the street and parked, walked up the front sidewalk, and turned the key in the door for the first time. We walked through this big empty house, and at one point we stopped and looked at each other - and burst out laughing hysterically. This big empty house was going to be our home. It was on this morning that Geoff presented me with my much-adored Tinkerbell house key. So sweet.

May was also the month we travelled to BC so that he could introduce me to his family. We spent 10 days with his parents and Carole's family in Abbotsford, and with Joanne's in Kamloops. We also had the privilege of attending Rob & Vicky's wedding on the first weekend we were there, and Jason & Amy's on the second weekend. Romance must have been in the air, because in between all those weddings, Geoff popped the question and we made everything official. It was a very good week. But my highlight wasn't even the proposal (though it was perfect). It was two days later, as we drove the looooong way home from Kamloops through the Fraser Valley. We talked and laughed and spent an incredibly fun day on the road - just the two of us - and in a comfortably quiet moment on the highway, I just knew that this was the person I wanted to grow old with.

I ended the month on another incredibly happy note: I raised over $5,000 in donations to The Arthritis Society in a single night, putting me over my goal for the Athens Joints in Motion marathon.

This was an extreme happy-and-sad month, and I felt like I was on a roller coaster. This was the month that we all lost Joey, and it feels like every single person I know has been changed irreversibly by that horrible news. I know that - having been only an acquaintance of his - I live my life differently now. So many others who I love have been affected so much more profoundly, and I still cry for them.

And just when I thought I had no tears left, I pulled out some (okay, LOTS of) incredibly happy ones for Anja & Kyle on their wedding day - which was a definite highlight of this year.

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