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Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Spring Has Sprung!

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Welcome Spring!

Ah, where to start? 

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Out for a Sunday ride.

Riding Gypsy out to the top ring, past the pond with the ducks, the Killdeers calling, and inhaling the fresh spring scents into my nostrils, I realize that this is the prize that Tom kept urging me to “keep my eye on.”  In fact, we had the chance to go riding together on Sunday.  As we sat together on horseback next to the pond, the blue sky and warm sun on our faces, I felt truly content.  Tom said, “I love the smell of spring.”  I agreed. I haven’t smelled unadulterated spring from horseback in a couple years now; always the smells were soured by the smell of oxygen tubing. This was amazingly special and momentous, and yet… so natural. 


Which led to a further thought: have these lungs ever cantered outside on a horse in springtime before? I wondered this as we clipped along, Gypsy stretching out, her eye on the horizon.  It seems, I think, that these lungs take quite naturally to this horseback riding gig.  And then I wondered if these could be the lungs of a jockey?  I will probably never know the answer to that question because that information is kept anonymous in Canada… but it makes you wonder… a jockey would be a small man: so a good size match for me…


In any event, riding outdoors is a boon to the spirit.  Even Gypsy too seems to drink the air in greedily: it smells so clean and clear this time of year.  In fact, she’s probably finding me a bit of  a bother because now I get in the saddle and make her work. I even had to use the spurs the other day she was so lazy! Well one thing is for sure: it’s a good workout. Soon I am hoping to perhaps join a jumping lesson. Maybe even get to a schooling show this summer, BECAUSE I CAN.  Now, I spent most of my teenage weekends at horseshows, and so retired from showing a long time ago. Such a renewal of interest would be entirely silly of me, but I just want so badly to feel part of the community again. For so long I sat on the sidelines catching my breath, you know?


In many respects I feel like a teenager again.  Not just because I feel the fitness that I had in teenage returning, but simply because teenage is a time of CHANGE, and there is so much of change happening in my body right now.  I’ve been gaining weight.  I have been learning a new skill (Diabetes management), I have been watching my body change, my face especially. It got a bit moon faced there at 25  mgs of Prednisone, but is looking more normal at 20. Then there was the drug fueled moustache I had for a couple months, which has thankfully now fallen out of it’s own accord. Oh, and I’m on a new drug, an anti-fungal for  my lungs. (It is $50 a pill, and I take it twice a day until April — Thanks be to God for Manulife!)  I tell you, it’s like one change after the next!  TEENAGE all over again!

But if I am in teenage, Henry most definatly isn’t. The poor old boy is forever fixated with ice. He loves to roll around on it, scrape at it, lick it, and then roll around on it some more. It drove him wild to see me skate this winter.  Well so the old boy decided he’d like to walk across Connie’s not-so-frozen pool yesterday! Well, the ice didn’t hold him and down and in he went.  We fished him out, but he didn’t half scare himself and is extremely sore from straining to escape his near icy-demise. Mother said, “that’s the most frightened I’ve been since they wheeled you into the operating room!”  In my worry for Henry I got a glimpse into just how hard it must be to watch someone you love be in such dire straights.  But anyways, he’s safe now!


So there you have it. Just as the buds are about to pop, so too is Pangman coming back to life.  I had hoped that Tom would write to you during his March break with tales of our adventures, but truthfully we’ve spent half of  it apart: Tom has a cold!  We did, however, have  a lovely day  Tuesday walking up to Kensington market (a walk I’ve never been able to make before) and into all the vintage clothing stores: Tom bought a Homburg! Oh, and I even walked to and from the CN tower on Sunday, which sort of blows my mind as it’s about half an hour each direction.  Note to self: get better shoes! So, I think Tom would probably write here, “Look at her go!” which I hear him saying quite often these days.

At the risk of continuing to write slightly self obsessed and possibly braggadocios blog entries ( I hope they do not come across as such, I’m just so thrilled!) I will hopefully be able to post a lot less frequently. Which is to say that I pray every day that these lungs work well for a long time to come and that we have few emergencies to write about, although with transplant there is always the risk of stuff going awry quickly. Which is why I want to get busy and back to life!  Never fail to stop and smell the roses, which I did, in fact do today at the greenhouse, and they smelled very sweet indeed. But there I am again bragging. Well… gotta’ go!


Who's a lucky girl?

“Vacation”!

In Uncategorized on March 9, 2009 at 6:12 pm
Mill above Walter's Falls, Grey County

Mill above Walter's Falls, Grey County

If the definition of “vacation” is to spend all weekend with your in-laws stuffing your face, then I have indeed had a vacation! But not only that, last weekend’s road trip to Owen Sound marked the first time I crossed the invisible “two hours from Toronto” limitation that had been in place pre-transplant.  Somewhere around Markdale I realized, “Oh my gosh! I’m two hours from Toronto!” with glee.

And it was sitting in an inn over looking Walter’s falls near Bognor that we realized that I’d actually made it four months post-transplant as of March 4th.  I was shocked that I could have missed such an anniversary, but the plain fact of the matter is that I was too busy living my life to be sitting around counting the days. In fact, on the 4th of March I was enjoying my third ride on Gypsy post-transplant.  A balmy 15 degrees it was that day, and I remarked to myself that I had chosen a good time of year to get back into riding.  Following the ride I gave Gypsy’s mane a good pulling, and clipped her whiskers up. She looks less shaggy: younger even!  It’s such a treat to be able to enjoy grooming again, even from behind a hospital mask (she had, after all, just been rolling in the mud.)

There was a lot of snow there this winter...

There was a lot of snow up north this winter...

Ah, so, back to my visit to Owen Sound. It was great to show up there without  oxygen tanks, and to walk up the big hill behind the house onto the Bruce trail with Henry & Tom like I did when we first met. Sure I was out of breath by the top, but it’s a considerable hill after all! We enjoyed the spectacular view of the harbour from a clearing and even stopped by (the more famous) Inglis Falls during the weekend.

Tom also got the gift of one of his Grandpa’s wonderful fiddles this weekend and so we played a fair bit of music together.  I am annoyed that my medications give me a tremor which causes my fiddle playing to sound ragged, so I stuck mostly to the guitar. (“Brother Dan” pointed out by video conference that the tremor will improve my tremolo on the mandolin: now there’s the silver lining!) Tom’s fiddling, however, was sounding really accomplished by the end of the weekend, it’s true!  So, it wasn’t as if *all* we did was eat, but it was pretty constant!  Mostly it was just nice to be up with family and  *relaxing*.   Oh, and did I mention the eating? Thanks to the folks most heartily!

Tom plays his grampa's fiddle for Mom Ruth.

THIS JUST IN:  Today’s weight is up to 51 kilos: that’s just a smidgeon *above* my pre transplant weight. Good range to be in.  My Pulmonary Function Test FEV1 is at 2.3 litres, which is my all-time post tx high!  I know some people have much *higher* post transplant numbers, but this is still a heck of a lot better than pre transplant, and I have to remind myself of that.

Spring in the Air!

In Uncategorized on March 5, 2009 at 7:32 pm

… spring is in the air as I write this! At last: MARCH!

I just treated myself to a few retail purchases along sunny Queen West, a spring jacket for one: what a gift to be able to do something so frivolous as shop! I must be careful however not to buy anything too small: my pants are getting tighter by the day it seems.  I’m currently at my pre-transplant weight, which was still on the light side, but just at the lower healthy edge of the body mass index scale.  The diabetes management has helped me to put my food to good use as energy for muscles and fat. As my friend Shyboy said after watching me eat, “you’re making CELLS!”  And yes, I’ve been teased for “eating like a teenage boy”, which is constantly.  I have those chaps to fill out, after all!  Here is the latest installment of ASK HENRY, by the way.  You will note the difference in my face from the previous video where I appeared as the Orphan newsboy.


Yesterday was my second time in the saddle post transplant, and I can’t get over how much more aerobic I was able to be after just seven more days. I’d been pushing myself on the treadmill, and it’s translated nicely into saddle stamina.  I was able to make multiple laps of the arena at both trot and canter, adding in circles and changes of direction, and even a couple flying lead changes. It is a gas to be able to work on stuff –the finer details of riding– that I pretty much thought I’d never be able to do again. The continuity that I am able to achieve now (without having to stop & catch my breath)means I can work on bending, transitions, impulsion, etc.  Oh! And they re-oiled the arena at the farm so it’s not dusty: they used some sort of nice oil, so no scent at all, which is a bonus.  Not toxic smelling at all! Brilliant in fact!

After going riding yesterday I took Henry down to the park at the foot of  Strachan at the Lakeshore. He *loves* this park, & the last time I took him was in the fall when it took me forever to walk, multiple rest stops and a whole tank of oxygen. This time we walked the entire length of the park a couple of times, even running sometimes — why? because I can! It’s fun also to get Henry moving too, as he is enjoying my new lungs lots. Before our relationship had become entirely food based: as in, I fed him, and Tom walked him. NOW, however, I can walk and run and play with him and it’s so awesome!!! He’s such a funny happy chappy who loves to romp and play.  I love it! It’s like our relationship has grown also thanks to my donor. So too can be said of my relationship with other people: my sister and I went skating together for example.

My donor. Yes, I got misty while I was driving along the highway the other day: it sometimes just hits you. The miracle. But also the loss the family must feel.  I had to STOP being misty as I was going 100kmp! But in any event, as I considered my ride from yesterday I just got to be so GRATEFUL. And amazed. They were grateful, amazed tears because I thought I might never get to do again what I just did so easily on horseback! And I have a lovely inner thigh burn today to remind me. In any event, as I return to being “Alex” again, I feel a letter to the family coming on.  In Canada this is kept anonymous, so I may never know the family, but we can share letters.I think I’ll be fully ready after I get singing again with the band.

Oh! So, I had my final three month assessment tests last week, which involved having a tube down my nose for 24 hours,(which was as unpleasant as it sounds) and the eating of a radio active sandwich. That part was bizarre because you had to wear a bib and gloves to eat the meal, however, you were EATNG the radioactive gunk: God forbid you get some on your shirt!  Ah, science!

This weekend we are hoping to go on our first “road trip”: to visit Tom’s parents in Owen Sound. This will be a good test for us travelling with the new drug schedule and medications.  Baby steps! Thanks everyone for your continuing interest and comments. May you each enjoy every day!