Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Oopsie...I missed some things

Have I missed several major events worth blogging about in my absence?  Yes.  Can I offer a valid explanation?  Not really.  Life just sort of got in the way for a while.

How have you been?

Me?  I've been busy.  Since you last read me, I've been back to Vancouver for a much needed visit in October; I've been to Toronto for training and a much needed visit with several friends; I've been diagnosed with Hypoglycemia after an unfortunate mishap at work; Babe's been diagnosed Celiac as an indirect result of my unfortunate mishap at work; and I've experienced my first xmas in another language.

In between all of this stuff, the world has continued to shock, amaze, amuse, delight, terrify, and haunt me.

In October, suffering from a tear-inducing lack of hugs from my parents, I finally took a leap and booked expensive "cheap" round trip flights for Etienne and myself to Vancouver.  As it was his first time going anywhere west of Niagara Falls, I tried to take it easy on him and still show him some of the things about Vancouver worth missing.  We stayed downtown, and we went across the border to Bellingham to shop; we took the seabus to North Vancouver and wandered around the Lonsdale Quay; we took the Skytrain to Metrotown; we wandered through Gastown and he enjoyed the furniture stores there; and we visited with mum and dad and the dog.  He met some of my Vancouver friends, and we got the dreaded meeting with Rod over with.  Overall, it was a brief, but much needed trip home.  He like Vancouver instantly, and should we move there, he's already got neighbourhoods picked out!

In November, I went to Toronto to be trained as a Speaker/Ambassador for Dying with Dignity.  It was an emotional and informative day, as we were required to tell a 5 minute story about ourselves and our experiences with choice in dying.  You can imagine what you might feel like after 15 people tell their stories...but it was necessary.  While I was doing that, Etienne enjoyed himself by going to the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Hockey Hall of Fame.  During that trip, he met some more MPPers who are now transplanted to Toronto, as well as my dear friends Olaf and Rick.  The friends conspired to show us (me) a good time by arranging for us to attend a Strip Spelling Bee.  Yes, you read that right.  Strip Spelling Bee.  I also had the opportunity to introduce Etienne to Gail
who is one of the most incredible people I've ever had the privilege of meeting.  So Toronto was a quick trip, but packed with good times.

Now, you're probably curious about the medical issues I've mentioned.  Well, it's a long story, but I'll try to give you the cliffnotes.  It was just a few days after the last blog post in September.  I was sitting (important!) at my desk, working away on nothing stressful, when I suddenly felt very dizzy.   You tend not to get dizzy when sitting, so I knew something was wrong.  My pulse sped up, and I started to get sweaty.  I was afraid it was another anxiety attack, but for one, I wasn't stressed, and for two, this was unlike my prior experiences.  I emailed Etienne downstairs and told him I was in distress.  With his help, I got down on the floor in case I did faint, and from there, things went down hill fast.  An ambulance was called, I was given glucose orally, and taken to the hospital in Hull for what turned out to be an 8 hour wait without seeing a doctor.  We left and came home on the understanding that I would go to the clinic in the morning.  At this point, "Hypoglycemia" had been tossed around (in French) enough for me to get an idea of what the nurse and paramedics were thinking.  Etienne had been feeling "off" for months, so he decided to come with me to the clinic and get checked out.  We set off and when we came out from the exam rooms, we each had a sheet ordering blood tests: a two-hour glucose test for me, and for him...well, it would be quicker to list the things NOT checked off for them to test in him.  The doctor he saw indicated that he thought Etienne might have Celiac's Disease.

Since my test required a 12 hour fast, I had to wait yet another day to go, so very early in the morning, I made my way to the lab, sucked down a bottle of flat orange soda-like stuff, and sat down to wait.  For the first hour, I was fine.  I read, and I watched people come and go.  But into the second hour, I started to feel tired.  Then I felt drunk.  Finally I felt sick.  By that time, I didn't need a blood test to figure it out: I am hypoglycemic.  Not a huge surprise to me; my gramma had Type 2 Diabetes for the last 13 year of her life, and daddy was diagnosed with Type 2 as well in his 50s.  It was inevitable, really.  Aboriginals have a higher likelihood of developing Diabetes.  When the doctor did get the results, he confirmed it.  He called it "Pre-diabetic."  I can guess at it, but I think what that means is that I'm getting blood sugar, but insulin is eating it up pretty fast.  Etienne's test took longer to come back, but they confirmed that he did in fact have Celiac's Disease, though the results seemed to indicate that it wasn't a particularly bad case.

Since then, we've both had to make serious adjustments to our lifestyle.  For me, I've had to try my best to shift to five smaller meals a day and snacking in between (the results have been fair...I need to see a dietician to get a better idea of what I'm supposed to be doing); but poor Etienne's had a worse go of it.  For one thing, he's a vegetarian.  So he can't exactly start chowing down more meat to replace the loss of many gluten products.  He's also had to experiment with different gluten-free foods to try to find what works best.  But the hardest part was giving up the beer.  He's found some gluten-free beer-like beverages which he's okay with, but I can tell he misses a good Guinness.  So there's that sob story.  We're doing better, though I have the occasional setback when my blood sugar will drop in a matter of minutes unexpectedly.  I haven't gotten used to how quickly it can happen.

Over the xmas weekend, we went to Montreal to be with Etienne's family.  His brother moved to North American this summer, and his sister and her fiancee are here for a school year, so his mother decided to come over for the holidays.  They are aware that I comprehend some French, but I can't speak it, so they are patient with me.  But there are members of the extended family who have no patience with me, so it was awkward at times.  I felt like I was an intruder, as though I didn't belong there, like I should not be a part of Etienne's life.  I wouldn't say there was hostility at my being an anglophone, but I will say that very little effort was made to engage me by those in the family who are new to me.  It made me miss xmas with my family all the more, because there I would be comfortable and welcomed.  Next year, my French should be improved, but I don't think I'll look back on this xmas season as a fond one. 

So there is the quick (long) version of important events that have occurred since September 24th.  Next time, I'll try to have my groove back, since there is much in the world and my life worth commenting on.


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