Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Hello NB!

We made it to NB! And I don't think we've stopped much since. We picked some strawberries today, drove out to Alma for some fried clams (sooo good!!), visited my grandfather at the Moncton hospital (he's doing okay), visited Isaiah's family, and hauled all of our stuff out of random closets and from the garage.

We're off to Springhill tomorrow so I hope everyone has a wonderful extra second today and Happy Canada Day! Hopefully Eastlink will indeed show up on Thursday and install our Internet.

Driving along Quebec.
This place always makes me laugh.
Driving some more in Quebec. Bored yet?
Yay NB!!!
We all have old school boats apparently!
St. John river in the rain.

Yayyyy hometown!!!

Friday, 26 June 2015

Goodbye Toronto!

And we're off! Goodbye Toronto! We're taking a few days to get home so I'll update when I get back to the Maritimes.

An ode to Toronto:

While Toronto is mocked all over Canada,
It does have two adorable panda(s)
Hanging out at the massive zoo,
And there is never a shortage of things to do.
With theaters, street festivals, and restaurants galore,
Museums, movies, and neighborhoods to explore. 
Or how about a sport like soccer, basketball, or a baseball game
Although the closest you can get to hockey is the hall of fame.
Unless you happen to be rolling in the dough
Or have a recent increase of cash flow.
While the smog and traffic can mess with your head,
Thankfully you can't hear or it while in bed.
Toronto, you were a good surrogate home,
But now it's time for us to roam.
Back to the sea to get some fresh air,
Fare Thee well and take care.

...See you in August!

Nighttime Toronto.
Where all the cool Torontonians hang out. Except for that one Wed night when it was just me.
View of the lake from our terrace.
Toronto from the Islands!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Thursday before we leave.

I had a pft test this morning as they can't let me go without just one last thing. My FEV1 was down again, back to where it was two weeks ago. After it was so good last week, it's quite frustrating, more so because I wasn't expecting it at all. I've had good numbers at home all week so I don't know what happened. I haven't heard anything back from my coordinator about it yet so I'm hoping this isn't going to cause a last minute hiccup in our moving plans.

We have the place pretty much packed up and only have a bit of cleaning left. The car is full but seems to be okay for our last few night bags so we're ready to go as long as they don't call me at 8am to do some sort of intervention for me. Hopefully it can all wait until I get back to NS. We have very little food left so we better be on our way soon. Our final Toronto meal was some order-in greasy Thai food as that's somewhat lacking in Springhill.

I still can't believe it's our last night here. I was all ready to write something profound and sentimental about how much I ended up liking Toronto and how much I'm going to miss the city but those two thoughts are all I've got and that's not exactly groundbreaking.

I'm going to miss this view:

(Gmail somehow turned my pics into a panorama and while I'm not sure how it happened, I like it.)
The view from the balcony!
The view from the couch. Aka the one we stare at more often.

Transplant manual is no more.

Goodbye transplant manual! Well, actually, I did keep the information about medication side-effects and who to call if I get sick and whatnot. But goodbye to the rest of it! Throwing that away felt wonderful.

Solid advice: DO NOT give someone money for lungs!!!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Artwork to leave behind.

I was gifted a watercolour pencil book awhile I was in the hospital and have been going through it to learn a bit on how to use the pencils to do more than Christmas cards and abstract drawings.

While packing this week, I threw out my practice sketches but took some pictures so I can remember them.

One of the lessons was grass and bark with a practice deer eye
When I was tired of practicing from the book, I drew a giant chicken because it's fun.
Trees are also a good thing to pratice.
Also, not related to the water colour book, I have been working my own version of the 'shed party' by Adam Young (his work is amazingly colourful and playful). I haven't had time to finish it and am not going to move it home but will probably try another version once we're back in Springhill. 

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Last blood work.

My last Toronto blood work was taken this morning, with the shortest wait yet of 10 minutes. Afterward, I had my last meeting with my transplant coordinator who gave me more requisition forms and paperwork to get everything set up in NS. All the paperwork and people to call induced a small moment of panic of how much hassle it's going to be. But then I considered that it's better than hanging out here and since I can't do anything about it right now, I'll at least try to hold off the stress until we hit the border.

We also had our last Toronto pool swim today at my cousins. It was fantastic and a great way to procrastinate from packing. I tried to be super careful about applying tons of sunscreen but I still managed to get a little red. Stupid medication. I may have to soon invest in some flowy peasant tops and harem pants to stay cool while out in the sun to avoid getting burned this summer.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Weekend outings.

The last few days have been busy but fun, we've managed to do a few more things on my "Toronto to-do list."

Thursday, we went to the ROM and checked out their new dinosaur and the Pompeii exhibit.  Spoiler: Everyone dies. They had quite a few artifacts from Pompeii and some of the casts that were made from the bodies that have been found during the excavation. There were glass bowls that survived but more interestingly (to me), were the glass vases that melted during the ash-rainfall-that-killed-all (I'm being told it's actually called the pyroclastic flow...thanks geologist).

Friday, we finally made is kayaking on the Islands! The boat house was finally open. We rented a doubles kayak instead of each getting our own and we spent more time than I want to admit getting in sync so our paddles would stop hitting each other.  We made it to a few lagoon type places and checked out the dragon boats and went through their course (the races happened this weekend). By the end of the hour, our arms were aching and we both had blisters. We spent the rest of the day finding some geocaches, looking at the animals, and getting lost with the children in the maze.

Saturday, we had a picnic and small hike with my family. It was adjacent to the Bruce trail so I'm counting it as hiking part of the Bruce trail. My knee managed to hold up until the drive home. Two exciting things about that 1) my knee continues to get better and 2) I drove! My first time driving since the transplant. It's been over 7 months and it felt so good to be behind the wheel again. I gleefully yelled at all the other drivers on the road.

Sunday, we had a games day with various family members. We also went to an Escape Room which are all the rage now. It was quite fun and we were one clue away from escaping before the time ran out and we were sucked back into time and space forever. Or something like that...

Today, we tackled some of the packing. I have another box of meds to take back to the pharmacy (I've already taken two boxes) and threw out a bunch of supplies that I no longer need, like the vac dressing foam. It feels really good to get rid of all this stuff. We did keep all the gauze and tape though so are prepared if anyone has a serious accident while visiting.

Friday, 19 June 2015

One week!

One week left in Toronto. A week from today, we'll be packing up and heading off to Ottawa, then Montreal, and then NB!

Everyone keeps asking me if I'm excited to move back and I would have to say, my feelings are mixed. I've really enjoyed living in Toronto and while I knew it wouldn't be a permanent move, I am a bit sad to go. It's been different living here while being able to do stuff versus when I couldn't do as much pre-transplant. I mean, I did as much as I could before the transplant but now that I can do more, I keep thinking of all the stuff we could do before we leave. I know we've seen a lot but there is always one more beach or festival or museum to visit. That is the great part of Toronto living.

I keep making comments like 'it's happened so fast' to which Isaiah usually responds 'ummm, no, it hasn't.' I don't mean that the transplant or waiting was quick in any way, it just feels as though we're leaving as I'm starting to feel great and ready to explore more. Which is suppose to happen, clearly the government isn't going to subsidize my rent for me to be vacationing in Toronto. They want to send me home as quickly as possible.

I do feel ready to leave medically. I feel as though I have a handle on the medication and what to do if something doesn't go right. I was not ready at my three month mark when they mentioned briefly if I should be discharged at that point (that discussion did not last very long).

I think I'm just being my typical self of becoming nostalgic about leaving a place even if it's not all full of excellent memories. I mean, I do have good memories of this place, but also some almost-died-not-so-great ones. I'm sure it's all the moving stress that is kicking in and causing me to think about all the positive aspects of Toronto and how much easier it would be not to move.

The non-nostaglic part of me is excited to be heading back to the Maritimes. I can't wait to see people again and head off to the beach. It will also be nice to have a quiet space that gets dark at night without using sleep masks. It was pointed out to me last night that I've lived in Toronto longer than I lived in Springhill. I will still continue to refer to Springhill as home though. Toronto was always a temporary move and I'll be back in two months for my 9 month checkup ready to visit a new museum or see a musical!

We'll be back soon, Halifax!

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Lung function

My lung function is back up, yay! I hope I was just tired last week or something. It was up to 1.84 which is actually the highest I've ever gotten at the pft lab. They could only do my fev1 test as part of the system was down but that's all I really care about anyway. I'm sure the doctors look at the other numbers but the fev1 is the only one they ever talk about.

Hurray for not needing antibiotics this time around!

Cooking: Spaghetti Squash with Bean Balls

Another recipe from the Oh She Glows website that I tried was the Italian Bean Balls & Spaghetti Squash (click for recipe). I picked up fresh basil and everything even with our 'no buying more groceries' rule. The flavour was nice but they were fairly dry. I'm not sure if it was the recipe or if I baked them too long.

We basically had to smoother them with sauce (which we were trying to use up so that was okay) but it felt like we were eating a ton of sauce more than the squash bites. The recipe also made way more than we could eat, even with leftovers. I think but didn't know what to do with all the extras. Next time I would halve the recipe for the same amount of spaghetti squash as they super dried out for the second day.

I, again, used almonds instead of the walnuts and two eggs instead of the ground flax.

Baked bean balls.
They look and taste much better smothered in sauce with Parmesan cheese. The spaghetti squash was as yummy as ever.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The death of the circle fruit bowl.

Second to last pottery drop-in. Boo! Tonight I went prepared to glaze my circle bowl that I made last week, only to find that it had fallen apart into a pile of sad circles. Double boo! I was hoping it was going to be a cool looking bowl.

Clearly I didn't use enough of the 'glue' (actually just watered down clay), to stick them together or maybe not enough pressure? Either way, it was not a success.

Seeing as there is only one more week before we leave, I didn't really have time to make another one so I accepted my loses and took the pile to the back to see what I could save. Some of the circles were still stuck together and a few solo ones were cracked but I managed to salvage a few of them. 

I put on the eye mask, fired up the electric sander, and shaved down some of the edges. I had to do it in spurts though in an attempt to avoid breathing in the dust although I'm not sure how successful I was at that. I need the lung power for my pfts tomorrow. I'm no expert sander and their machine is not super top quality so it took awhile but I managed to smooth down some edges. At least I got rid of any sharp bits that might cut anyone.

Then I got to work glazing them different shades of red and green as I've decided they shall become Christmas tree decorations. The back will be a boring white but at least one side might look good. Or people can wear them as necklaces if they are really into the red and green necklace look. So many options!
My attempt at a fun fruit bowl.
Nope, not today!
Plan B.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Cooking: Lettuce taco wraps with lentils.

Just two weeks left so we're trying to eat through all our food so we have less to move. We've been buying less over the past month or so but this week, we're getting more serious about strategic cooking. I foresee a lot of meat and pasta dishes in our future with random veggies thrown in.

I have been trying to use up a lot of the beans and lentils so we don't have to move them, plus they're good for digestion. I got hooked on the Oh She Glows website which has great bean recipes. Her recipes are all vegan and a lot are gluten free (neither of which is a concern for me), so I substituted the 'flax seed thickener mix' with a egg and 'almond flour' with wheat flour for one recipe.

She had some great ideas for green lentils (the red ones went into a yummy curry) so I made the Green Taco Wraps (click for recipe). They turned out fantastic, highly recommended. I used almonds instead of cashews and regular sour cream instead of cashew sour cream.

The 'meaty' filling. There's no kidding yourself, it doesn't taste like meat but it does have a great texture. Fried red peppers and onions in back.
Lettuce to make the 'shell' with chopped tomatoes and cheese (again, I'm not vegan).
Isaiah's taco. We topped them with salsa and guac as well as the sour cream. His is not quite as messy as mine.
I always fill my tacos too full. I had to get another piece of lettuce to make a super wrap.

Toronto Reference Library.

We're down to two weeks left in Toronto. Ahh! I checked off another thing on my "things to see/do in Toronto" checklist. After bloodwork this morning, I walked to the Toronto Reference Library to check out their giant collection of Arthur Conan Doyle books. Apparently it's one of the world's best library collections on the life and work of ACD as well as other fictional and reference books about Sherlock Holmes. I'm told that Arthur Conan Doyle fans from around the world visit for tours and lectures.

It seems random to me that it's in Toronto and not somewhere in England but it's pretty cool. I read a Sherlock Holmes book (not written by ACD) during my cycling trip that I've always regretted not keeping (although at the time I didn't want to haul a finished book around), and now I can't remember the name or author of that book. All I know is that it was a small green paperback and was a story of the meeting of Watson and Freud and it was super witty. I thought maybe I could find it in the collection but I did not although I'm sure it was there. Turns out there are a lot of green paperback books about Sherlock Holmes.

The last thing on my list (well, last practical thing, I don't think we'll be hiking the Bruce trail in the next two weeks) will be kayaking around the Toronto Islands. I have it scheduled in for Friday, hopefully the weather holds!

Part of the room of books. It was so inviting.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Back from Ottawa.

I made it back from Ottawa, I had a fantastic time and ate a lot of candy. The train trip was as exciting on the return trip as it was on the way there. That means it was not exciting in any way.

After returning to Toronto, I immediately went up for my clinic appointment. The train was about 10 minutes late so I was about 10 min late, at least I had gotten my x-ray done on Friday so I wasn't even later. Of course, it didn't really matter as I was still waiting for hours.

The doctor is mildly concerned about the drop in my lung function but not enough to want to do anything today. He said to get it re-tested at the end of the week and then if it's still low they'll investigate further.

I have a bit of a cough and occasional runny nose so he gave me a steroid nose spray for me to use as maybe that will stop some of my nasal dripping and therefore the coughing.

My home numbers have come up a bit this weekend so I'm really hoping it was just a last-week issue that will clear itself up without antibiotics. We found an apartment in Springhill for July so it would be super irritating to be delayed now.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Lung function woes

I'm on a train to Ottawa for the weekend! It's been awhile since I've been on a actual train (not counting the GO train). I'm officially over my digestive issues and am back to eating whatever I want. Hurray!

Other than that piece of good news, it's been a long week. My pfts have been down at home which worried me so I called my coordinator and arranged pft tests for yesterday. Turns out it was not the fault of my microspirometer but that my lung function has dropped 14% since two weeks ago. Ahhhh.

According to the rules, if it drops more than 10%, the respirologist calls the coordinator and often sends the person up to clinic. My coordinator called me immediately and decided that since I don't have any other symptoms of infection, it would be best to wait until Mondays clinic.

While this means I still get to go to Ottawa this weekend, it does mean that I get to spend the weekend worrying that I have a raging infection or rejection or something.

The second bad news this week is that my exercise regime has ground to a halt due to intense pain in my knee. Well, it's more like a constant throbbing. I've been icing and elevating it as much as possible and have been avoiding all leg exercises at the gym. I'm not confident that I've been resting as much as possible but I've been trying! It's hard when I have energy and want to keep doing stuff.

So, fingers crossed that my weekend rocks and my lung function improves!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Recovering from the weekend?

Isaiah and I spent a fantastic weekend at the Field Trip music fest listening to bands and trying to avoid getting a sunburn. We saw Sharon and Bram, Dan Mangan, Alabama Shakes, and a ton of other bands. I enjoyed all of them except for one punk-style angry band that I'm sure my 14 yr old angsty self would've enjoyed but I can longer get behind the whole "the world is against me, my life is miserable" shtick. We lasted about 10 minutes with that band before checking out the band at the second stage.

The best part about the festival is that it was at the fort across the street from us so I came home between sets to put on some warmer evening clothes and grab some non-overpriced food. The worst part was that I forgot how smoky outdoor festival things are. Even though it was a 'kid friendly' event, and there were children everywhere, so were the smokers. We ended up scouting out areas with kids to sit at as there was a less likely chance of people smoking. 

Aaand then yesterday, my body revolted. I don't know if I was overtired or ate too much with too few digestive enzymes but I spent the day yesterday on the couch trying to stop the feeling of someone stabbing me with a million knives in my digestive tract. I've had this happen before so it didn't cause me to panic but being in pain all night because my body doesn't want to digest food, is never an enjoyable experience.

It also didn't help that when I took Tylenol to try to help the pain, I immediately threw it up. My body really wasn't happy with me.

I'm feeling somewhat better now thankfully. I was scared to eat much all day so I stuck to oily food and fiber in hopes that would help. It seems to have helped, the waves of pain stabbing have been slowing down and it's now only an occasional thing so I think I'll be able to sleep tonight. It would be good for both me and Isaiah who has a job interview tomorrow and would prefer not to fall asleep during it.

To return to a happier note, here are some weekend pics:

Sharon and Bram! We all had a giant sing-a-long.
Me hanging out at the back for Alabama Shakes.
Dan Mangan singing at the kids stage. He also did a show at the 'adult' stage with his band, Blacksmith.
How we spent most of Sunday.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Pottery pieces back.

On Wednesday night, I went to the drop-in pottery session and made a fun vase and picked up all my pieces. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all of these vases but they sure are fun to make.

Leaf plate.
Blue plate I made on the wheel so it's super wobbly.

Red vase.
My garlic press vase. It's super cool.
Up close.
The fun of glazing, both of these bowls we glazed with 'burnt sugar', the one on the left had a coat of clear overtop and it took away all of the red.
Swirly vase.
Outside of the bowl.
Woven plate thing.