Sunday, 29 January 2017

Happy 10 years, Isaiah!

This weekend is approximately Isaiah and I's 10 year anniversary and instead of the traditional tin, we're getting the car a new set of brakes. We're romantic that way.

I don't talk a lot about our relationship but we've been through quite a bit over the past 10 years. If a couple can stay together through the stress of a transplant and cancer, I think it's a good set up for the rest of their relationship. If nothing else, we have checked the "in sickness and in health" part off the list.

I can't imagine having gone through all my medical nonsense without him around. If he had a fear or dislike of hospitals at the start of our relationship, he never let it show or quickly got over it. He sat by my side during countless hospital admissions, brought me home-cooked meals, and took my 2 a.m. panic attack phone calls.

We may not always have the most romantic relationship but having someone around who knows me well enough to leave me alone when I'm being injected in the spine with needles is exactly the relationship I want. Something the nurse should've picked up on when she saw him sitting in the corner instead of hovering over me and kept rubbing my arm for "comfort."

Not to say it's all been easy, of course we had issues figuring out the changes in our relationship when he had to take on more and more of a caregiver role when I got progressively more sick. It's hard to find a balance between being a partner and being a caregiver when one person is chronically ill. I think we did a good job but it took a lot of communication about what each of us needed at that time.

I was so scared he was going to burn out that I kept harassing him about it to the point where I probably stressed him out looking for signs of depression. Studies have found that caregivers tend to have increased rates of depression, ptsd, and increased isolation when their loved one is hospitalized, even if the person gets better. A reminder that even if you're looking after someone, you need to look after yourself first. As the airlines always reminds everyone: put on your own oxygen mask before assisting the person beside you.

A recent article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal talked about the importance of caregiver supports and preventing caregiver burnout. They quoted a study from the New England Journal of Medicine that concluded elderly caregivers have an increased 3.7% chance of dying in the year after their spouses are hospitalized. Isaiah isn't elderly so I wasn't worried he was going to die, just that he may burn out and need to run away for awhile.

It's stressful to be the caregiver of someone who is chronically ill. It's also hard to need someone to take care of you. It's especially hard when the person taking care of you didn't exactly sign up for that role. Isaiah didn't go into this relationship 10 years ago thinking he would become proficient at medical lingo, cancer talk, and learning how to navigate hospitals. I had a lot of times where I second guessed our relationship and wondered if he stuck around just so he wasn't the jerk who ran away from a sick partner. That doubt puts stress on the relationship that can be hard to deal with especially when other issues may seem more pressing.

I think the lesson is that relationships are hard, no matter what you're going through and I'm so thankful he's been by my side for all of the past 10 years.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Recipe: Stuffed Acorn Squash

I haven't shared a recipe in a while so here is a stuffed squash I made this week. We had 6 squash left in our cold cellar from October and for some reason the acorn squash had started to turn yellow so we thought we should cook one. It was fine on the inside and not soft, just a bit yellower. 

It was my first time cooking an acorn squash because Isaiah doesn't like them but he wasn't at the farm on the day I bought all the squash for winter so now we have some.
Why did it suddenly start turning yellow?
I cooked the squash whole, with some salt, pepper, butter and brown sugar for a half hour because it was too cute to cut in half.
Look how tiny it is!
While that was baking, I fried up two sausages (I cut them out of the casing), onion, garlic, and spinach and mixed that in with a cup of rice, salt, pepper, oregano, and sage. 

Then I stuffed it into the squash and baked the entire thing for another 30 minutes and when the squash still wasn't completely cooked through, I cut it in half and finished baking it that way. Next time I'll just start off by halving the squash and save myself some time. It was delicious.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Transplant Trot

I signed up for the Moncton Transplant Trot 5km today, to run it and everything! I signed Isaiah up for the 10km and I now realize it's his birthday weekend. Happy Birthday!

I hope to do better than three years ago when we participated and I walked slowly due to my inability to breathe. My goal then was to walk 5km in a hour, which I did but barely. I don't have a goal set for this year because I have no idea how fast I jog (not very) but I bet it'll be comfortably under a hour.

The Trot is at the end of April so I have time to get ready. It's to raise money for the NB Transplant Association which is a very good cause. I know Amy has used their resources to find out what is covered regarding lung transplants as a resident of NB (she's not heading to Toronto yet, just likes to be more prepared with information than I was). And the Canadian Transplant Association exists to promote organ donation which is a cause I'm 100% behind.

Since my hospital incident in Dec, which I'm calling Poopmas 2016, I've been getting back into my regular exercise program but have had to reduce everything to make up for the lost time. I'm confident I can build it back up though.

I've had fairly good success with the couch to 5km program. Well, I did until I stopped following it. I built up to jogging for 25 minutes at a time but since my 'break' I've gone back to two minute jog and one minute walk. Today I did some 5 minute spurts so I am building back up. I do find it easier psychologically to have mini breaks in between the jogging times so I'll probably stick with some variation of that rather than a solid 25 or 30 minute jog.

The program did help with offering guidelines for how much to intensity to increase each week so I would recommend it for anyone starting out. However, I had to build up for a long time to get to their "week 1" suggestion and tended to repeat weeks if I felt I wasn't ready physically to move onto the next level. So it's good as long as you're aware that the "run a 5km in 8 weeks!"claim may not be realistic. Better to go slow and not bust out your knee, which was my fear the entire time.

I know that by using our treadmill to exercise, it's a bit deceiving about my ability because it doesn't translate to real jogging. But it's so much easier than going outside or even to the exercise track at the community center so I'll stick with it for now. When it warms up again, I'll head back outside. So sometime in April. Just in time for the Transplant Trot!

Friday, 13 January 2017

I'm sure you've noticed that I'm not blogging as much as I use to. Honestly because I don't have much to say. My health life is no longer very exciting (except when it randomly is) and it seems after many years, I've moved into a somewhat boring routine stage of my life. No complaints from me, it just doesn't make for overly interesting blog posts.

So I've decided to commit to a weekly blog post. That way they'll still be some health updates, recipes, and any fun stuff I'm up to but in a more structured way.

Look for new posts on Sundays!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

New Year Resolutions

Happy New Year! I hope everyone is recovering from their holidays. I'm still recovering from the hospital, my throat is still a bit of a mess but my nose is finally feeling better. The NG tube did a number on my throat that is taking forever to heal. For some reason rhubarb juice and club soda, while feeling nice aren't actually curing anything. But my energy is mostly back along with my appetite so things are heading in the right direction.

Since it's the start of a new year and I'm starting the year not admitted to hospital for the first time in three years, I thought I should try some New Year resolutions more than "get out of this hospital." I know concrete plans are the way to go more than just "do more stuff" or "eat healthier."

My first goal for this year is to be able to run a 5km. Well, jog a 5km. It doesn't even have to be continuous. Just be able to get my body from point A to point B in a reasonable time without falling over, and ideally, without throwing up. Isaiah wants to sign us up for the Halifax Bluenose in May (him doing 10km and me doing the 5km) so that's a reasonable goal. Even though my Christmas stint in the hospital set me back exercise-wise. It's no fair that three weeks of not exercising means you lose all muscles. Where can I send my angry letter about that?

My second goal is to create more art stuff without worrying about the end result. I think sometimes I don't do as much because I know it won't turn out the way I imagined or how the picture in the book looks. But that's ridiculous because I enjoy the process so I need to focus more on that than the end result. Who cares if the flowers I painted are lopsided or the leaves look like green blobs. It's only paper. But that's a vague goal, which I was trying not to do so instead I'll say, one afternoon a week spent on creating something. Sewing, painting, drawing, knitting, whatever, just setting aside time once a week to be crafty.

Anyway, those are my goals for this year: run a 5km and do more nonsense art.

Here's to a fantastic 2017!