Category Archives: personal

The Good News and the Bad News

The good news is that doctors are somewhat closer to finding out what is wrong with me.

Last night the infection and swelling had made it’s way out of my foot, up my ankle, past my calf, and now into my knee.

I am off to a vascular surgeon as the feeling is that I need a vascular by-pass surgery on my leg.   Of course they just did some tests that suggested I don’t need vascular surgery.  It kind of feels like a line out of City Slickers.  “I don’t know where we are going but we are making good time.”

So until then I am on another anti-biotic (actually it’s one that didn’t get the job done before) and I find myself on another waiting list.

I get asked if the process makes me angry.  I don’t know about angry but it makes me anxious.  The not knowing what is wrong with me causes me to feel some anxiety.  Since anxiety is a feeling, I never know what to do with it.

If the news was bad, then I would just face it but the entire, “I think it is this” “No, I think it is that” keeps me awake at night.  Well I don’t know if it is that or the pain but something is keeping me awake at night.  It also makes it hard to figure out what to do.  Do I cancel the hike to Grey Owl’s?  Do we cancel our vacation to Calgary?

Anyways, it isn’t something that I factored into this summer.

So this was unexpected

If you remember, last winter I got really sick with a chest infection and flu.  I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t do anything.  Even writing my weekly column or appearing on The Saskatoon Afternoon Show was exhausting.    Shortly before this, my doctor just quit his practice and disappeared without anyone from his practice telling me. I was left without a family doctor (he wasn’t that great) so I went into a walk in clinic and saw someone who prescribed me some serious medication (that would come back and haunt me later).  On the same day I went into the doctor, I noticed my foot was badly infected.  The doctor assured me that the anti-biotic that she was giving me for my chest would kill that as well and as far as I realized, it had.

I eventually got better in early January but in late January I was out and slipped on some ice and really hurt the ankle.  It swelled up and has bothered me for months.  I have badly sprained things before and never thought that much about it.  A doctor looked at it and thought it was tendonitis which seemed to make sense to me. 

The swelling continued and got worse for weeks.  It would go down at night and return in the morning.  During that time I was having some of the worst fevers and chills that I have ever had.  I would get some cold that I would violently shake for hours at night and then get so hot as I would be burning up.  My night table still has gloves and toque in it when I would be trying to get warm.  Wendy thought it was something more serious but I just shrugged it off as a flu.

It wasn’t.  I woke up one morning to large ulcer on the bottom of my foot one morning. It was almost an inch deep.  I had no idea how long it was there but there was a trail of blood that followed me from the bed to the tub.  Long time readers of the blog know that I suffer from neuropathy quite badly.  When your feet always hurt, you tend to ignore the pain to cope.  Excruciating pain in my feet is the norm, not the exception but I knew right away I was in deep trouble.

My mother lost her right left to an ulcer just like this.  It took years but the ulcer won.  Here I was without a family doctor, type II diabetic, and freaking inch deep bleeding ulcer on my foot. 

So I went back to the walk in clinic.  I got lectured by the doctor over not having a family doctor.  I snapped back for him to recommend me one because the web thinks that many of them are quacks.  He looked at the list and said, “I wouldn’t recommend any of these to you.”  I know, I had been phoning and searching for months.  It’s hard to find a good doctor.  I have horror stories of being the only one in a waiting room but still being left for an hour.   Another one couldn’t remember basic things about me despite reading my chart in front of me.

The walk in clinic doctor referred me to the wound clinic at City Hospital.  I would start to go down there regularly were they would dress my would and tell me to come back in a couple of days.  I would be back with a different dressing.  Since I shower every day of my life and the dressing needs to be dry, I kind of would dress it again myself.  For all of the areas in my life where I am incompetent, this is the one thing I do quite well. 

Since then, they have done some circulation tests and a lot of treatments on the wound.  It is slowly healing but the foot was still infected.

During this I finally found a good family doctor.  The web likes him.  The nurses that I see almost all of the time all approve of him and he has updated magazines in his examination rooms.  He has put me one some extremely powerful antibiotics.  They were so powerful the pharmacist that we go and see was uncomfortable with them.  The good news is that they seem to be working.  I can see my ankle and foot tonight.  This is a big deal.

The bad news is that they make me really sick.  I am taking pro-biotics to counter the negative effects of the anti-biotics but the reality is that the rest of my body is hating these things as much as the infection in my foot is.  Another 12 days of this round of anti-biotics and then the hope is the diminished swelling the lack of infection in my foot will lead to some healing.

And some sleeping in.  I am back at City Hospital early tomorrow morning.  Hopefully things keep healing.  It has almost been six months of this and I am getting tired of it.

It’s Monday Morning

The weekend that was:  On Sunday everyone wanted to do something so I told them to get into the car, we drove to Costco and then I told them that we were going to Moose Jaw.  Instead I drove north to Prince Albert (and no one got it until the turn off just outside of Prince Albert).  We refuelled there and then went to Waskesiu before heading to the Grey Owl’s Cabin trailhead.

Grey Owl's Cabin

It was eerily free of wild life but then a ruffled grouse wandered across my path and managed to stay deep enough in the shadows that I couldn’t get a good photo.  As soon as it was just about to wander into site, Wendy and Mark came down the trail noisy enough that people in Prince Albert complained.  The grouse was gone.

On the way back home we noticed a large herd of elk chilling out on the Waskesiu Golf Course.  Their first round of the year?

Elk in Waskesiu

We then were stared down by some whitetail deer at the park entrance.  It was a great day.

The only bad thing was that we bought a bag of stale Cheezies at the Shell gas station in Prince Albert.  Disgusting

On my to-do list this week:  Off to Winnipeg on Tuesday.  If you see me at 5:00 a.m. in the Saskatoon Airport and I don’t say hi, it’s because I am still asleep.

Book I’m in the midst of: Hidden Cities by Moses Gates

How I’m feeling about this week: Can’t wait for the nicer weather so we can get the hike to Grey Owl’s completed.

Your Dog Does Actually Love You

Not just posting this to make you feel better.  Your dog really does love you.

Is doggie love real? While it may seem obvious to you that your dog loves you, there’s been very little scientific data that dogs feel the equivalent of love for their owners. Some have argued that humans, who crave love and social bonds, see what they want to see when they ascribe “love” to their dogs, while the dogs are simply playing a game to manipulate you for food and care.

Now, from a team of neuroscientists in Japan, comes compelling evidence, released today in the journal Science, that dogs really do love their owners.

In two different experiments, the team, led by Takefumi Kikusui of Azabu University, measured levels of a hormone called oxytocin in response to dogs and owners gazing into each others’ eyes.

Scientists have previously shown that touching between dogs and people increases oxytocin levels in both humans and their pets, but this new research expands on these findings and extends it to include wolves that were hand-raised by humans.

The experiments focused on eye gaze. In the first experiment, dogs and their owners were assigned to interact for 30 minutes. Those dog-owner pairs that engaged in the most in eye contact showed the highest increases in urinary oxytocin levels in both partners. Touching also raised oxytocin levels.

When the experiment was repeated with wolf-owner pairs, the wolves rarely eye-gazed, and there was no correlation “with the oxytocin change ratio in either owners or wolves.”

Tendinitus

So you remember earlier this winter when I was super sick for a couple of months?  Yeah that was fun.  

The doctor gave me a powerful antibiotic to kill what it was that was killing me.  It was so powerful they were worried about the side effects as it could actually induce some severe intestinal issues from killing too much bacteria in my stomach.  It could basically bring on Crohn’s disease.  

Since I had lost the ability to breath, it seemed like a not bad risk to take.  The antibiotics worked, no Crohn’s disease.  It seems like I survived.

Shortly afterwords, I was out walking in City Park.  You know the neighbourhood that refuses to clean their sidewalks.  I slipped slightly on the ice and hurt my ankle.  I shook it off (Well more like “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift) and kept walking.  It didn’t seem that bad until the next day when I woke up and my ankle was the size of a small nation.  

I was like, I couldn’t have broken it but then I realized that something was really wrong with my ankle.  So yes, I cracked my ankle.  Of course days later it was even bigger.  It was growing like the Saskatchewan debt under the Sask Party. (oh calm down, I take shots at the NDP and Liberals as well, the debt joke was there and my ankle really hurts).

After more consultations with a doctor, I found out that it is severe tendonitis.  Apparently use of the antibiotic I took has a connection to triggering it in diabetics which is kind of crazy. 

The end result has been unbelievable pain for weeks and it isn’t really going away.  My ankle seems to do much better over night and in the morning, it feels okay.  Then by night, it is horribly painful again.    The treatment that has been suggested is a cortisone shot which isn’t really effective but can also long term damage to my blood sugar.  

It took over two years for my one shoulder to recover from what is called frozen shoulder (tendonitis in the shoulder).  I am not looking forward to this.