Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Travel Tuesdays #9

Last week it was a toss up between Chinese New Year and Mardi Gras as to which to showcase in Travel Tuesdays, so I saved New Orleans for this week. As much as I would love to say that I'd love to go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, nothing could be further from the truth. There would be waaaaaay too many people for my liking. Besides, we were there for a non-event week and it was still packed! Friday and Saturday night on Bourbon street can give you a really good idea of what Mardi Gras would be like (maybe?!) I'm sure it's much crazier but there were still people getting drunk on Hurricanes and showing their body bits for beads. This was Greg and my first trip together and we had a great time! 3 for 1 drinks at lunchtime don't hurt either, as long as you make time for an afternoon nap in the heat of the day.
Our favourite day was the one where we went to the Audubon Zoo. We took the Canal Street Trolley that dropped us off at the Audubon Park. We saw trees we'd never seen before, they just wrapped around us as we walked through them.
It was my idea to go on a cemetery tour, because cemeteries in New Orleans are different from ones here. The dead are buried in family tombs and left to bake in the Louisiana heat. They say that within a year the body has turned to dust. I'd believe it. The day that we took the tour it was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun was just blazing down on us amongst all the bright white tombs. Poor Greg who can't tolerate the sun much was crouching and hiding amongst the tombs searching for any little bit of shade! The worst picture EVER taken of us was taken in front of Marie Laveau's tomb. It is said that she was reputed to be the burial place of "notorious voodoo queen." Voodooism of African origin, was brought to New Orleans from Santo Domingo and flourished in the 19th century. (just a bit of UBI)
Needless to say, I learned a lesson this day: it is highly doubtful that Greg and I will ever go on a beach holiday together, he really doesn't do well in the sun.
I meant to add this last picture in with the collage. The architecture in the French Quarter really is beautiful with all it's iron work detail on the balconies. Despite being know for a major party town, I must say, it's also one of the prettiest cities I've been to in the USA.
You must go sometime!
Head on over to The Beeshive to see the new 'gourmet' restaurant in Ufa, Russia!
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Saturday, February 24, 2007


My Cats have a Heart On!
Had I taken this photo earlier this year, it would have been my Valentine's Pic. Since Mao's surgery, the kittties have been unusually close. They are in Dutchie's basket together. A First. And, look carefully, they are shaped like a heart! How cute. I do love my cats.
Posted by PicasaPlease take the time to go visit Kate in the Kitchen who is kind enough to host WCB this weekend!

Friday, February 23, 2007

This past week I have started working in Critical Care again and I am quite happy about that. One thing has really bugged me though. My friend Sal works in this unit, but is presently on maternity leave. I am thrilled to show off pictures of her baby to anyone who asks, but inevitably the next question from well-intentioned colleagues are comments like "oh! You're next!" "When are you having babies?" "About time you got started, eh?!"
Part of me has come to expect these questions because I suppose they are innocent enough, and relevant enough to the conversation. I have my answer prepared : "We can't have kids." You would think that would be a conversation stopper, but it's not. I hear "Oh, you're still young, it'll happen"or "When you least expect it, that's when it'll happen." (These well-intentioned people should be Fertility Specialists.) I was given a 0.5% chance of getting pregnant and then there was still a 50% chance of staying pregnant. I don't usually bother with statistics, but this week it's been in my face. I am peri-menopausal. There is no doubt in the diagnosis, my Fertility Specialist sent me packing two years ago with an FSH of 67.
I have been having hot flashes this month that are driving me crazy. The heat starts in my hands, goes up my arms to my head. Then it settles under my bra-line and makes a bee-line down my legs where it feels like a million little pinpricks while my leg pores open up to sweat. I've had visions of how nice it would be to tear off my clothes and run outside to make snow-angels in the sub-zero temperatures we've been having. This lasts about a minute or two and then I'm searching for my sweaters or jackets that I've thrown off a minute earlier because I've got the chills. This happens a few times an hour, and although it's just a few minutes, I can't begin to tell you how uncomfortable it is.
Thankfully, my mood is pretty stable. I do not rip people's faces off when they ask me if I'm going to have kids. Even more thankfully, no one has asked me when my baby is due, because then I couldn't promise I wouldn't start ripping off faces.
As I said, it's been two years now since I've known that we wouldn't be able to have kids. Egg donation is the only possibility, and believe it or not, I do have a friend who has some frozen eggs and they have been offered to us. She now has two beautiful children and she and her husband do not plan to use the remaining eggs for themselves. Greg and I discussed this option and decided against it. While my friend has two healthy children, the eggs were harvested when she was 40. This isn't so much a problem, but the main issue is, is that they are friends of ours. Imagine using her DNA, having a child, and seeing our child and her children together. Biologically, they would be half-siblings. Psychologically, there are dozens of issues. Would my friend truly be able to separate herself from our child? How would her husband feel seeing our child that would look like a mix of Greg and his wife? What if their children died, would my friend want to be more involved with our child? How would it affect my friend's parents and in-laws, and her children, presuming this was not a big secret? And, how would it affect me? Would it make me feel less of a woman because our child is not part of my genetic make-up? Would a part of me always think of it as 'her' child? Or, should I be grateful that at least it would be part of Greg's DNA? These are a few of hundreds of questions we could ask ourselves, and I haven't even touched upon legal, ethical, financial issues.
So, I don't think Egg donation is such an easy option. Neither Greg nor I think it is an option for us, as exciting as it first sounded. And for other reasons, neither Greg nor I are interested in adoption.
I think I have to come up with a better response to people's well-intentioned questions, one where I don't feel like I have to be apologetic, or get into explanations about my early aging process.
Any suggestions?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Travel Tuesdays #8

In honour of Chinese New Year, this Tuesday I am headed back to Hong Kong.
Kung Hei Fat Choy!
Let's see...I was in Hong Kong in 1993, and it just so happened it was Chinese New Year. That would have been The Year of the Rooster. To be honest, initially I had no great desire to go to Hong Kong, but our travel plans just turned out that way. I'm VERY glad that I went! I loved it! There was so much more to see than your average Chinatown, which I think was what I was expecting. Although I was there for four days, I've always intended to go back because there was so much more to see. And, it is a dream of mine to one day go to China and see the Great Wall.
One of the most spectacular experiences about Hong Kong, was landing at the old Kai Tak Airport. Not knowing what I was in for, I actually thought the plane was headed for a crash! We were so close to downtown skyscrapers and apartment buildings, that I could see people's laundry hanging from the clotheslines outside their windows. Next we were in for a hairpin turn, and then what seemed like a 45 degree nosedive into the water! Honestly, I have never been more petrified in a plane! This airport is no longer open, I guess it was too dangerous, and having only one run-way likely caused huge bottlenecks.
Check out the YouTube video below for an idea of what this landing was like!

Landing at KaiTak Airport HK

Sunday, February 18, 2007

WCB #89

Now that Mr. Mao is feeling better, Madame Dutchess thought she would like to be the star of Weekend Cat Blogging this week. Here's my girl looking all pretty in the sunlight. Kitchen Mage has been kind enough to be the Hostess with the Mostess this weekend. Thanks!

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Last night I worked my first shift back at my old stomping grounds, the Critical Care Unit. I have to say I had a great shift, and it felt good to be back. It felt really good to have so many people happy to see me again, lots of hugs and kisses. Because it's a huggy-kissy kind of place there was nothing weird or unusual about that. The funny thing is, the Recovery Room is located just on the other side of a bridge, about 50 metres away but secluded behind the OR doors so the rest of the hospital often has no idea where it even is. I really wasn't that far away. Anyway, I came home this morning and slept like a Baby. (a non-colicky baby!) I'm back in the Unit again tonight for another 12 hour shift, and Greg is having The Boys over for a Jam Night. I'm planning on doing quite a few Friday night shifts over the winter months, one because it's a guaranteed shift, they are usually short-staffed and two, to give Greg some time to work on his music with the guys. (And I don't have to listen to their racket!)

I'm starting to get really pumped about our trip to Europe in May. Berlin and Amsterdam are booked, and now I'm working on a four day trip to Prague. I've always wanted to go there, and I'm thinking that this is the perfect opportunity. I want to see as much as we can, and although we could venture forth and see more of Germany or the Netherlands, I've got my heart set on Prague. And since I am the Tour Manager, I get to do what I want! Three countries in two weeks. I think it will be a great first trip to Europe for Greg. I want to give him the travel bug so that we can have a yearly adventure and he'll be as excited about it as I am.

In Amsterdam, I have booked a Budget hotel that is located directly across the canal from Anne Frank's House . I visited the museum years ago, and recall that I had intended to re-read The Diary of a Young Girl when I got home from that trip. That never happened, but it is now next on my reading list. I'm hoping that Greg will also take an interest in reading it, but I won't hold my breath.

A question: Does anyone know of an inexpensive apartment to rent in Prague? Or a Budget hotel, or B&B that they would recommend? I'm looking for something under 70 Euros a night. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day...

...my take.

I spent about three hours yesterday making a card with "special coupons" for Greg yesterday. It was my day off so I was having fun with the new computer/printer trying to do something fun. It worked out well.

Did it have the response I was looking for?

Yes and No.

We had a big snow dump this morning so traffic was slow. Greg called me to say how long it was taking him to get to work. I reminded him to make sure that he ate his lunch today because I had put somthing "Special" in his lunch.

I didn't hear from him for the rest of the day.

When I got home, he had shovelled the driveway, and the garage was open ready for me to pull in my car. (We don't have an automatic garage opener...unless it is human)

Dinner was on it's way, and there was a gorgeous orchid and card from Greg. (I did F-all when I got home from work!)
We watched American Idol, and Greg then fell asleep at 9:30 with both cats passed out on top of him.
It's midnight and here I am.
Happy Valentine's!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Travel Tuesdays #7

At the start of this year, I was quite concerned about Global Warming as our Toronto weather was so incredibly mild. My lilac bush out back was confused and even starting to bud thinking that spring was on it's way. Well, since mid-January we have had a definite cold snap. As I write this, it is -17 degrees Celsius, with a windchill of -28 C. (1.4F/-18.4F in Americaneze) It's frigid, and while I don't particularly like the cold, I'm thinking that it is probably a good thing for our environment.
On Sunday, Greg and I decided to go for a drive to Niagara Falls. It is normally a quick hour and a half highway drive from Toronto but we were busy yapping in the car and missed the highway turnoff. Now, I would have taken the next exit and turned around to get back on the right road. Greg had a better idea and figured that we would take the back roads. It took 3 hours through unploughed farm roads and sometimes white-out conditions, but we finally made it! Niagara Falls was our destination because I had it in my head that the Falls would look pretty in the wintertime. Which, they do I'm sure, when the sun is shining. Which, it wasn't. So everything was kind of grey and white. The American Falls were quite impressive in that there were a lot of ice formations at the bottom and the reservoir where the Maid of the Mist travels in the summertime was frozen. The Horseshoe Falls were still falling and there was a brittle-cold mist that made it unbearable to stand still for long.
It was very icy, and that's where I captured the photos of the ice-covered trees. The ice is actually frozen mist and was clinging to the side of the tree facing the falls. I thought it looked very pretty.

The photos of the Falls are quite grainy due to the lighting, and also likely because I am still learning how to use my new camera, but I think they look best in black and white.
(Click on the pics to enlarge.)
That's it for Travel Tuesdays this week. Keep warm!
Head on over to Mitey Mite's to see the snow-covered mountains of Colorado. Doesn't she look cute as a Snow-bunny?!
The Beeshive has some photos to share of a Kurdish memorial. A reminder of a cruel regime.
If you'd like to show off your travel pics, leave a link and I'll send people on over to visit!Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Greg and I took a road trip today and I took this picture.
Can you guess what it is, and where it was taken?
Find out the answer in this week's Travel Tuesday!

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Church Ladies

This morning Greg and I were both up at 7AM. I guess that's what happens when you go to bed at 10PM. Either that, or it is a sign of aging. Nonetheless, we started out our day great: a pot of coffee, a big juicy newspaper, we did the crossword puzzle together, and we had a full day ahead of us to do with whatever we wanted. There was a rummage sale scheduled at a nearby church, one that we could walk to. I had been looking forward to it for the past few days because it's a novelty. (It's not really rummage season, you know.) On the way over, I was laughing and telling Greg the story of one of the sales I had gone to where I had witnessed a cat fight between a Church Lady and a Freaky Seller I had recognized from the Antique Market that we go to on Sundays. It was ugly. (Click on picture and run mouse across)

The freaky guy was decked out in full spray-on hair and his usual glittery top. His make-up was running down his face, and boy! was he angry. He threw a bonafide hissy-fit at the Church Lady which caused her to get pissy and all the women around formed a circle yelling at him! It was quite a sight, let me tell you.
Anyway, Greg and I get to the Church, and we weren't sure where the entrance was as it was not clearly posted, and there was no line-up to get in. We followed a couple of ladies in, but apparently we went in through the BACK door. This little old lady dressed in red SCREAMED at us when we opened the door! "You've come the wrong way! Go back out and around! You can't come in this way!" Then she shoved me. I was so shocked, astounded, surprised, that for a minute I didn't know what hit me! I tried to explain that there was no sign, we didn't know, sorry, perhaps the entrance needed to be clearly labelled with a balloon or something? Then she shoved me again. While I was trying to talk to another lady, just to say a sign would be a good idea, this little 4'10" creature decided to start shoving Greg! All 6'4" of him! She was clearly nuts. At that point Greg got mad and told her that he didn't appreciate her shoving his wife. So she shoved him again, this time with the door! He told her she was rude, and that she didn't have to be such a bitch. Her response was that she could do whatever she liked because she BELONGED to the Church! At that point, I decided that it really wasn't worth it and we'd be better off if we left. On my way out, I could help but tell her that she "wasn't very Christian-like." I think she said something about calling the police.
LOL! All this at 10 AM.
On our way out, I couldn't help but notice that every single person heading into the sale was entering through the doors we had just been kicked out of with that little troll of a woman standing guard.
I didn't tell a soul that they were entering the wrong way.
Is that evil of me?

WCB #88

Mr. Mao and I are both very relieved that last week's medical nightmare has ended. This week we are both sleeping much better and having very sweet dreams.
This week, Weekend Cat Blogging is taking place over at CatSynth so do head on over to say hello to the Lovely Luna and visit the other kitties.
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Thursday, February 08, 2007

I have decided to make a move to go back to work in the Critical Care Unit. For the past 2 years I have been working in the Recovery Room and it's been a welcome break from the emotional burnout that I had from being a Trauma Nurse. As welcome as the break was, I am finding that I am missing using the knowledge and experience I have when taking care of critically ill people. There is a technical and pharmaceutical side of this kind of nursing that I've been away from for enough time. If I don't go back now, I'm afraid that things will have changed so much that I'll be left behind and won't have the confidence to do what I know I am good at.
In the last two years, the population of critically ill patients in Toronto has changed. There are far more violent incidents involving guns and knives. 10 years ago, this was a rarity, now it is the norm. The ICU is now a locked unit and the police are regular features. The faces have changed, but I have a need to go back.
I am looking forward to this, but am also nervous. Nervous precisely because the ill faces have changed. Not all patients are the 'victims,' some are the bad guys. I know it can be hard to keep an open mind when gangs and violence are involved. I am thinking that this is going to be my new challenge.
I have been planning this move back to the ICU for months, and it will take effect at the end of February. Actually, I will be working part-time in Recovery, and part-time in ICU because I think that this will be best for me. Variety is spice of life.
Last Saturday, I was called into the OR because they needed a pair of extra hands for the latest gun-shot victim. I don't normally work in the OR, and in fact was a little squeamish because they had this poor guy cut open like they were doing an autopsy. I did what I could, and know that my help was appreciated, but I know that my skills would have been much better utilized in the ICU after the surgery trying to keep this patient alive and dealing with his family.
I miss that, and am ready to go back with a fresh outlook.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Travel Tuesdays #6

This week, I'm going to stay a little closer to home. A number of years ago I traveled to Halifax, Nova Scotia for a friends wedding. We were only there for a few days, and on our last day my friend and I took a bus tour to Peggy's Cove. The trip was just an hour outside of Halifax, but the bus trip was endless. The driver was also the commentator, and as we were driving through Halifax she commented on every building we passed. Not only the historically significant sites, but also stuff like: "If you take a look out onto your left you'll see a drugstore where you can buy aspirin, cold medicine, bandages, or you can get your prescriptions filled." "Right beside the drugstore is the Vet's office where if you have a dog, or a cat, or even a bunny or a hamster you can take them there if they are sick, or even if they just need their shots." "Now look out the right window and there is the hardware store. So, if you are a gardener you can buy a spade, or potting soil, or a rake. But if you're not a gardener and maybe you need to fix up something around the house you can buy a hammer, or a tape measure, or a screwdriver, and nails and maybe even some wood." You get the idea. It was Painful! So, even though it was already late September, we opted to take a whale-watching boat back to Halifax. We didn't see any whales and it was freezing out on the Atlantic Ocean, but it sure beat taking that bus back again!
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Mr. Mao...

...Is now back to his old self! Well, 90% back to his old self. His IV came out yesterday, and with the aid of appetite stimulants he is now eating and drinking again. He has lost an awful lot of weight in one week, and is pretty much just skin and bones. Biopsies taken during his surgery has shown that he had a severe bowel infection that led to colitis and he likely has irritable bowel syndrome. We are gong to have to keep a close eye on what he eats, and hopefully we will also be able to get his PICA under control. We go back to the vet tomorrow to have his pain patch removed and to get him weighed. From now on, he'll have to go to the vet once a month to be weighed. Apparently even a sublte weight loss could be an indication that his bowels are acting up again. Lord knows he doesn't want to go through this again (and neither do I!)
Many thanks to all of you for your comments and concerns about Mr. Mao. I truly believe that this helped me (and him) get through this. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 03, 2007

WCB cont...

Well, your good thoughts must be working because Mr. Mao is home! He is a tiny bit better, and The Vet thought Mao would do better at home than he would by himself at the clinic this weekend. The clinic is closed, but she would have gone in a few times to check on him, had we not been able to handle him at home. When we went to visit Mao at the clinic this morning, the Vet had mentioned that she had tried to get a prescription for him from one of the local hospitals, but it was a real hassle. The medication is one that is often used in chemo patients to control nausea. I immediately new what she was talking about and mentioned that I could run back to work and pick it up from the stock in the Recovery Room. So, I did.
She gave Mao the first dose, and a few hours later, he was able to tolerate some food without drooling and vomiting. She called me at 1pm with her idea. Would I be willing to take Mao home over the weekend with his pump, give him all his medications, and syringe-feed him every few hours? OF COURSE! She said that this was an unusual situation, that normally she would not send a sick animal home in this condition, but she felt that since I was a nurse, I would be able to handle Mao. (And, she would be able to give me a discount on his vet bill.)
So, today I find myself being a veterinarian assistant. I am familiar with the IV pump, and the IV medications. There was one IntraMuscular injection that I had to give and that was a bit strange in that I've never given a cat a needle before, but it worked out ok. I was able count his heartbeat with my stethoscope, and as luck would have it, I was able to use my dusty Fertility Thermometer for a good cause!
Mao is doing a little better, he even purred for a little bit this evening, which I'm taking as a very good sign. He is tolerating the syringe feeds, and although he does have a bit of a fever this evening, all in all I am cautiously optimistic that he is going to pull through this.
The Vet will be making a house call tomorrow morning to check in on him, and I think that she will be happy with his progress. He might need to go back to the clinic on Monday for a complete check up, but hopefully he is through the worst.

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Friday, February 02, 2007


My poor Mr. Mao is still very sick. He's now been in the cat hospital since Tuesday, and really is not much better. He's had bloodwork and xrays; antibiotics, anti-emetics, and stomache motility meds through his IV. He hasn't had anything to eat since Monday, food just makes him start drooling uncontrollably. Wednesday he had bloody diarrhea. Thursday they did a barium xray study that showed there was a probably blockage in his ilieo-cecum (bowels) that was likely either a foreign body or a tumour. So today Mr. Mao had surgery which showed absolutely nothing! There was no blockage. I can't believe it. The vet did take all kinds of biopsies, but we won't know the results of those until Monday. The vet thinks he has severe pancreatitis that has slowed his bowels right down. Now Mao is on a pain patch, as well as all the other meds. His vital signs are ok, and his bloodwork is also fairly ok. I sure do hope he is going to survive this. He is such a good little cat, and the house feels so empty without him. Even Dutchess misses him. She has moments where she just stands in the hallway and yowls which is not like her at all.
Please send good wishes Mao's way. He needs all the help he can get.
Don't forget to head on over to Rosa's Yummy Yums for more Weekend Cat Blogging!
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