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Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday fun and curiousity

I have been getting several offers from companies to post advertising on my blog.  One actually is interesting me enough that I am actually really playing with the idea, it looks like fun.  The other offer that keeps coming in is for people to do "guest blogs" here.  I know it would give me more content, but also still playing with the idea.  I still like the idea that the words you find here are mine alone, and therefore, I am responsible for either making you disappointed or entertaining you.

But what is even more exciting is that my blog is "doing well" in numbers, and it looks like an editor wants to work with me.  I want to see what we can do over the weekend, so as another challenge, do you see the woman who looks like she is juggling to the right of this?  Can you click on that to bring you to Top Mommy Blogs?  Right now in the rankings I am #171 out of about 4500 blogs, and #8 overall in my category.  I am only eight people away from reaching 500 on my Facebook writing page too, so if you enjoy the postings there, can I ask you to share it on your page?  I am giving myself the deadline to finish my last three chapters of my book by the end of November, but I need your help too if I am going to be able to appeal to a publisher.

I already know in advance that I need to thank you all for "sharing" and clicking, you all will never know how much it means to have your support and wonderful words of encouragement.

Monday, August 26, 2013

It's Monday...and time for me to start my confessions again.

So tonight I returned to TOPS(Taking off Pounds Sensibly)...and I thought that I had gone early in July, but low and behold, I have not been there or weighed in since June 3rd.

For those of you who know us, you know that we went through a very hard time the last few months.  When I would be in Edmonton, and around the hospital I ate horribly, and I lost about seven pounds the first few weeks.  But then when I started being back up in Fort McMurray, I found that I was stress eating, pasta and bread once again became my best friends.  Tim was away a lot as well through the entire summer, spending days down in Edmonton almost every week.  So I would then eat what the kids wanted.  Add in that I felt like I never had time to even go for a walk, and well, you know what has happened.  I have gained.  I was so proud that from Christmas to June, I lost every week.  But since then I have gained 5.6 pounds while going without checking in.

But tonight as I sit here, 5.6 pounds heavier, which puts me back at 189.6, I am more disappointed with myself than anything else.  I said that I would keep making my health a priority, and I was going to stay on track.  But I didn't, and I can say it was stress and it was the summer and all that, but those are all just excuses.  And I am disappointed that once you throw stress at me, I revert back to dealing with my emotions with food.

So I am back in the confessional, I am back to making healthy meals, not just for myself, but for the family, and hopefully next week I will be able to report a loss.  I was way too close to those 190's tonight for my own comfort.

How did everyone else do this summer?  Ready to get back on track with me?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Easter weekend

After Shayleen's spinal test, I can remember sneaking out into the main hallway of the Stollery late Holy Thursday night, and calling Tim.  Everything that I was going through felt too heavy to handle by myself.  I was terrified that Shayleen was going to pass away and I was going to be there alone with her.  I couldn't figure out why the doctors could not tell us what was wrong with her, and I felt so helpless sitting beside her bed watching her little body struggle.

The room that we were in at the Stollery quickly became my home.  It had a little mattress on the flat surface under the window that faced out onto the inner workings of the hospital.  The only meal that I can really remember going for was breakfast.  Once the early morning tests were over she would fall into an exhausted sleep and I would literally run down the hospital cafeteria for my breakfast bagel and take it back to the room.  I can remember waiting for the elevators there, and they seemed to take an eternity.  I was always scared that she would wake up while I was gone, and would get worked up when I wasn't there.  It happened twice, and I would hurry back into the room, forgetting my hunger, dropping the bagel, and swipe her up into my arms to try to find a position where she would once again be comfortable.  The nurses put an order on her file that if you were not comfortable with Shayleen, you were not to attempt to pick her up or disturb her.  Her little body was in constant pain.

And then it was decided that she would have to go for a liver biopsy.  And they were going to do another spinal.  I had to ask four doctors before they decided that they would go ahead and do the spinal when she was under for the biopsy.  I was so relieved that she would be asleep this time around, wouldn't that be better for her?  But first we had to prepare for the biopsy.  I of course, went to immediately to the computer to find out what this test would be like for her, and the information I found there did not make me feel better.  There was a high risk of bleeding from the needle that actually entered the liver, but there was also a risk of puncturing other organs, and she would have to be monitored closely during and after the biopsy.  Plus she would now have to suffer through another spinal, and since she was so tiny she could not tell us exactly what hurt, or how bad it was.  To prepare, I had to once again put Shayleen through a fasting.  I would not be allowed to feed her after midnight, and she would be heading to surgery in the morning.  That was the plan.  At almost seven weeks now, Shayleen went through the eight hours of fasting, and even though her body was in terrible pain from the tests, the inflammation, and the unknowns, she was now more uncomfortable from hunger.  But even feeding Shayleen was something that could turn into an experience.  At the most, she would take a quarter of an ounce, and then seem full.  I would wait, and walk, and burp her, and wait until she might take another quarter of an ounce.  She seemed to be in pain even drinking, but I was terrified I was starving her all the time.  And then another nightmare.  Her IV stopped working, and they could not get it running again.  They started trying to get her little veins to accommodate one at 10p.m., and every hour someone new would come into the room, and we would lay her little body down, hold her down, and fight to find a vein that would work.  It was not until early the next morning that a former vet, who had started IVs on birds finally got it working.  I remember collapsing in the chair beside the bed crying.  It had been 10 hours of watching her suffer, and it was like nothing I had ever experienced before.

8a.m. came and went, her surgery time was bumped.  We would now have to keep fasting her until lunch time.  By the time 3p.m. rolled around, I was in tears again.  I did not think that her poor little body could take any more.  They came for her at 4p.m.  The porter was a super sweet British lady, who was like everyone's Nanny.  I was allowed into the operating room until they got her asleep.  And then that kind British lady gathered me in her arms and guided me back to the hall.  She came back to check on me every so often, and encouraged me to go get something to eat or sleep.  I don't think I would have been able to move if someone had forced me.  It was 7p.m. before she was in recovery, and 8p.m. before they finally brought her out, and we headed back to our room.  And still no one could tell me anything, except that even sedated, Shayleen had fought back on the spinal, and they did not know if they had enough for a good test yet.  And now, I still could not feed her.  We had to wait two hours.  It had been 22 hours since she ate....and she was seven weeks old.

Tim immediately heard in my voice that I needed to see my family.  I had never been away for my boys except for one night when I had traveled to Baddeck with my sister's in laws and my mother in law a few years earlier before we left Cape Breton.  I was stressed about how they were doing, and it was Easter, I had never missed a holiday with them all before.  And now, they were giving Shayleen Saturday and Sunday "off" from any major tests, so hopefully they were going to tell us soon what was wrong, and how it was going to be fixed.

We had bought Shayleen her first Easter Sunday dress.  And on Sunday, with her IV failed again, we were allowed to disconnect her and take her to Sunday mass on the fifth floor in her little pink dress.  We came back from mass feeling more relaxed, and we gathered around her bed to take some family photos before I took off her pretty Easter bonnet and dress.

I was so happy to have a little girl to dress up....and I always loved little hats, so she had to have one.  And then I took her pretty little dress off, and she was covered in an angry rash, it looked like her chest, back, and legs were on fire.  I immediately pressed the buzzer hanging above her bed, and the nurses came running.  An intern was called in, and I was devastated to hear that my desire to dress her up might have caused the irritation.  An older doctor came in later in the evening, and as I sat rocking Shayleen, I asked him if it could be HIV.  I had been googling things again, and wondered about the rash.  He assured me that she would have been tested when she was born, so there was no way it was that, and then he wished us a good night.  It was less than 10 minutes later when he returned looking a little shaken.  Apparently the tests that they thought had been done in Fort McMurray at the time of her birth had not been done.  A lab tech would be here shortly to test us both for HIV, Syphilis, and hepatitis.  It would be at least three days before we had any results.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Easy Shepherd's Pie

This is so easy, and one of Tim's favorites...and the kids all eat it too, so you know those recipes are keepers!

I peel and get the potatoes boiling first.  I usually use about six to eight potatoes for a casserole dish that is 9X13.  While the potatoes are cooking, I brown up about a pound and a half of hamburger.  Nothing is exact, lol.  I don't like as much potato,  so I don't make them as thick on my end when putting it together...and you can add more hamburger depending on how many you are feeding.

As the hamburger is getting close to finished, add in about two tsp. of garlic, and about a half a cup of red wine(the wine is optional, but I find it gives a fuller taste).  Then drain off any remaining fat after the wine is soaked into the meat.  Add a package of onion soup mix(or two if you have more hamburger).  Add some salt and pepper to taste, and at least one tablespoon of worcheshire sauce.  Blend this all together well.  Then add about three cups of vegetables.  I like the frozen mix with carrots, peas, beans and corn...but I usually add in an extra can of corn because the kids like it.  Then dump the mixture into a casserole dish, and top with potatoes which have been mashed.  I add about two tablespoons of butter and one third of a cup of whipping cream or milk to the potatoes when I am mashing them.

Then top the meat mixture with the potatoes, and throw in the oven at 355 degrees for about a half hour to 45 minutes.  I cover with tinfoil, but then take it off towards the end to brown the potatoes some, as that is how Tim likes it.

Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Stollery

Once inside the emergency doors with Shayleen and our pile of luggage, and car seat, I felt a little off balance.  I kept thinking that it could not be anything too serious, she just seemed like she was getting better.  It had to be something related to the withdrawal, and they would help us and send us back to Fort McMurray.

We were moved into a cubicle before too long, but then the wait began.  It was almost 4a.m. before we were brought upstairs to the fourth floor of the stollery, and put in a room which was a bunch of beds filled with tiny little sick bodies in one room.  I had no idea how familiar the sounds of the alarms would become as I tried to close my tired eyes for a few minutes once out of the harsh, bright lights of the emergency room.  But there was no way I could sleep, as I looked around the room at the other tired looking parents perched in chairs beside their children.  They all looked so tired, but no one slept.  Nurses bustled around and the sliding glass door to the room seemed to be in constant motion.  It felt like some kind of portal to a whole new universe that I was completely unsure of.

The line of residents seemed to circle the room within a few short hours, and the telling of what I knew started, and would be repeated about 10 times that first day and a half.  I called Tim with little information, except that I already felt exhausted and we were waiting to see doctors.  By the middle of the afternoon we were moved into a room with a young teenage boy who had a head injury from a crash on his motorbike while not wearing a helmet.  He was going to be fine, but was being kept for a few days observation.  The little bugger is lucky I did not kill him myself during the next two nights.  As Shayleen's pain grew, we would have to walk and sit and contort my body in a recliner chair to try to keep her comfortable.  When I would find a comfortable position and she would settle I would freeze like that, scared that if I moved a muscle it would cause her more pain and we would start all over again.  The shitty little teenager would be pleasant enough when his mother was around, but once she left he would constantly be yelling over Shayleen, telling me to "shut that kid up" and when I would quiet her, he would yell profanities such as, "It's about fucking time", which of course woke her up again.  It was during the second night that a nurse was in the room and heard him...she did not hesitate, she wheeled him out into the hallway all the while scolding him that this poor baby was in terrible pain and that his behavior was unacceptable.  He was none too pleased to be resting in the brightly light, bustling hallway for the rest of the night.  Thankfully the next day we were put into our own room, and I remember it was actually a few hours before I even realized that we were in isolation, and people had to "gown up" to come in.  I don't think it was until the doctors came in that day and started talking about precautions that I finally clued in.  They still could not say definitely what was wrong with Shayleen, but she had been put into isolation in case others were carrying any germs that could make her even more sick.

It was late that afternoon when a tall, slender dark haired doctor entered the room, and informed me that he was the liver specialist, and within a sentence or two totally pissed me off.  He was the first person at the hospital to ask me to explain my relationship to Shayleen. And asked several questions which made me wonder if he had even looked at her file at all. I answered honestly and said that she was our foster child, he immediately changed his demeanor and spoke very abruptly and with no compassion, feeling or respect.  He went on to say that "this Indian foster baby" would more than likely need a liver transplant and it was more than likely because of all the alcohol her mother drank.  He seemed so cold and I followed him to the hallway as he left.  He had said he would be rotating with another doctor, so either I would be seeing him or the other doctor about the liver issues.  When I followed him to the hallway, I think he thought I had another question.  I don't know where I got my nerve that day, but he had made me so angry.  I closed the door behind me and I told him to never come back in that room and address Shayleen as a "foster child", she had a name, and he could use it.  I then went on to say that I wanted him to read her file, and try not to be a complete insensitive jerk when dealing with our little girl.  To which he said, "I thought you were just the foster mom?" I wanted to kick him so bad.

It was the next day that it felt like the intense tests began.  Shayleen had been undergoing the regular stuff, bloodwork, some x-rays and things like that.  But then all of a sudden it seemed like they became more desperate to figure out what was wrong with our little girl.  They did something called a long bone test, where they more or less strapped her down and extended her limbs as much as they could for a different type of x-ray.  It was after that test that a social worker made a visit.  Shayleen had so much inflammation in her joints that it looked like her arms and legs were broken.  Naturally, since we were foster parents, the abuse questions began.  I had always thought I would mind being questioned about a child in our care and whether or not we were abusing them, but I don't think I even completely clued in, at that point there were so many coming and going and asking questions that it did not register that this person was not trying to figure out what was wrong with her, but perhaps what we had done wrong.

And then that tiny little almost six week old baby had to go for a spinal test.  The doctor came in to explain what would be done, but I knew already, having endured a few myself, and some bone marrow biopsies as well.  I knew it would not be pleasant, and the doctor was surprised when I said that I would be accompanying Shayleen.  She already was calming down at times by just hearing my voice, and I was not sending her off for such a horrible test by herself.

There were probably 8-10 people in the room at the end of the hall, just down from her room.  It was like a mini-operating room and sterile in feeling.  They took Shayleen and laid her on the big table, and she immediately looked even tinier.  They began preparing trays and sterile kits around her, and she began to cry.  A nurse put an arm around my shoulders and assured me that they would do it as quickly as possible and I could wait outside.  I moved closer to the table, and a doctor said I could help by holding her head still when they got her in position.  Four and a half years later, as I sit here writing this the tears still come, and there have been times that I think maybe I should have left the room...but that would have only made it easier for me, not for her.  I can close my eyes and be there in that room, with the smell of alcohol, iodine, rubber gloves and cleanness.  I can close my eyes and picture the way that curved that little baby into almost a horseshoe position so that her tiny little bum and lower back was exposed as much as possible to the doctor who then inserted the needle into her spine...over and over.  They could not get a good draw, and the time seemed to go in slow motion as this little girl lay on the table screaming like nothing I had ever heard before.  There were six adults with their hands on her tiny body, and still she fought back.  I started crying, and the tears burned down my cheeks as my throat felt like it was being tightened with a vice.  Finally they said they would not continue, but they did not think they had enough for a successful test.  They would have to try again tomorrow.

Shayleen and I went back to her room and sat crying in the rocking chair for a while, her in pain, and I in pain for what she was having to endure.  And yet I still could not imagine what was to come.