Helping women with chronic illnesses

Category — Co-existing Conditions

Getting Back On Track!

The five year anniversary of me starting a blog will be in about three weeks. In all of that time, the longest I’ve gone without writing has been recently. It definitely hasn’t been easy for me to step away from it but there have been various reasons that I couldn’t maintain the pace I had set before. I am hopeful that I’ll get things back on track as soon as possible.

It really bothered me that I was unable to be active online this year for Endometriosis Awareness Month. Little did I know when I posted that short video on March 1st that it would be my only March post! Sometimes we just can’t predict what life will throw at us, though. So – as I’ve said before – I try to speak out for endometriosis awareness, as best I can, throughout the year.

Aside from managing my own illnesses, I have been spending time helping a relative who was recently hospitalized, I’ve been helping other family members with various issues, I did some volunteer work that I was “recruited” for, and I was summoned for jury duty.

I have written many times about the importance of pacing and the frustration I feel when I am unable to write regularly on this blog . While I have missed the time I’ve recently had away from this blog, I know that I needed that time to focus on other activities.

In recent weeks, I have been dealing with the same type of fibromyalgia flare-up I get every year when winter turns to spring. While my migraines have been less frequent and less severe since I’ve been getting acupuncture for them, I’ve still had some.

In regard to jury duty, it was an interesting experience. I have been summoned for jury duty many times over the years (far more than most people I know). The last time I was called, I was extremely sick and it was out of the question for me to go in. My doctor had written a letter that excused me from jury duty.

This time when I was summoned, I really stopped to ponder whether I thought I could do it or not. Without a doubt I am still in poor health. My fibromyalgia has been flaring and it really hurts to sit still in one spot for any length of time. That one illness alone would make jury duty a challenge. At the same time, I am not in the very dire shape I was in when I was last summoned. So, I discussed the summons with my primary care physician. She was fully prepared to write me another letter (and she’s not one to take writing such letters lightly); she knows how sick I am and how difficult it would be for me to sit still for so long without moving/stretching and to have infrequent access to a rest room (considering that my interstitial cystitis can cause severe bladder pain and make for unpredictable timing as far as the need for a rest room).

However, I look at jury duty as an important civic duty – like voting. I wanted to give it a shot if I thought I might be able to do it. So, she advised me to take advantage of the time to talk with the attorneys privately about my concerns (rest room access and avoiding exposure to fragrances were the two things I was most worried about). I had been through the voir dire process once before and was already planning on talking with the attorneys privately before my doctor suggested it. So, I screwed up my courage and took a pass on the note from my doctor.

My jury summons number was low. So I knew from past experience I would be called in on the first day. Sure enough, when I called the automated message it said to report the next morning. To make a very long story short, I ended up being one of the people called to sit in “the box” to be questioned by the attorneys. The judge had given some basic details about the case. It was a medical malpractice case that was expected to last two weeks! At this point, I will be perfectly honest and say that I started to wonder if I’d made a mistake passing up that note. However, I patiently waited for the opportunity to speak with the attorneys privately. This came at the very end of the first day. (I will say that I wasn’t sure how I would make it to the lunch break that first day; my bladder was not happy)!

© Jenny Rollo

The private discussion with the attorneys enabled me to share my concerns. In addition to explaining my concerns regarding rest room access (mainly because of IC) and worries about fragrances (and their potential to trigger migraines or even make me faint due to MCS), I had to fill them in on the 2008 surgery I had – which did not go as intended and which has resulted in permanent damage to my left leg (long story). After listening all day to questions pertaining to the medical malpractice case (where a man is now disabled following knee surgery that did not go as planned), I knew that I needed to disclose my own history with having had surgery that has resulted in lifelong damage to the nerves in my leg. We were instructed to return the next day and then I was excused by lunchtime the second day. I have no doubt that my leg situation made me an unwanted juror for that particular case. The good part was that I had the satisfaction of knowing that I had done my best and given it a shot. While there would have been absolutely nothing wrong with me being more cautious and having simply accepted a note from my doctor, I’m glad that I gave it my best shot.

In any event, I am really thankful (and lucky!) that the long stretches where I haven’t posted anything here have not resulted in people unsubscribing from my blog. On the rare occasions I’ve hopped online long enough to take a look at my blog statistics, the traffic has not dipped down in any kind of significant way. I can see that people are still reading my blog even when the most recent post is outdated. I can’t begin to express how grateful I am that people have been so patient and understanding. It’s too soon to tell when I’ll be able to get back on track the way I really want to but I am making every effort to do so.

In less than a month, it will be five years from when I started blogging. The thoughtful people I’ve met – through this blog, through my YouTube channel (which I really need to update more often!) and through social media – continue to amaze me. Thank you very much for your ongoing support and patience!

This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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May 7, 2013   4 Comments

REALLY?!? Is THIS Truly Your Idea Of Meaningful Endometriosis Research?

For anyone who isn’t familiar with the “REALLY?!?” skits on Saturday Night Live, I’m including a video clip with an example of one here. When I became aware yesterday of a newly published endometriosis study, these type of skits just popped into my head.

For me, sometimes humor is the single best antidote when something really gets under my skin. So, I guess it’s not too surprising that an SNL skit ran through my head while I was reading about the recently published endometriosis study I mentioned earlier. One of the first things I did I after I saw something about the study was email my friend Endochick.

It is a common occurrence for me to run endometriosis-related items by her when I find them upsetting. I find it helpful to see if she shares my perspective when such situations arise. The study came to my attention because I received a Google alert email notification for it. (She and I are each signed up for Google alerts for articles that mention the word “endometriosis”. Subscribing to these alerts is a means of staying in the loop on endometriosis news). In any event, she had seen the recently published endometriosis study before I emailed her. When I shared my “REALLY?!?” reaction to it, she had a very similar reaction.

At this point, I suppose it’s about time for me to share some information about the endometriosis study I found so objectionable (not to mention objectifying!) The study is called (and I swear to you all that I am not making this title up!): Attractiveness of women with rectovaginal endometriosis: a case-control study. That’s right. The word “attractiveness” is literally in the name of the endometriosis study. (Feel free to pause at this juncture to marvel, let your jaw drop, or swear). The preceding link will only get you to the abstract for the study. (Those wishing to read the entire study are required pay $31.50 to access it).

Needless to say, there is absolutely no way I was going to pay $31.50 to read the full article when it was very evident from the title alone that it would really make me angry! If money were no object, I’d still have no desire to financially support such “research” by paying to access the article. As anyone who knows me can probably guess, I still wanted to get my hands on the full study. The title and a peek at the abstract were not enough. I wanted to see the entire article before writing about it here. Reading online summaries of it just isn’t the same as reading the source article. Thankfully, a thoughtful friend of mine had the ability to access it. So, I was able to read the full article about the study (that was inexplicably published in Fertility and Sterility). I won’t attempt to do an in-depth analysis of the study. Instead, I will share (as briefly as possible) my perspective on the value (or complete lack thereof) of a study such as this one. Obviously, I am not able to publish the full study here for legal reasons.

Let’s just say that the full article was every bit as revolting as I had anticipated. While I was preparing to write this post, I came across the following hilarious article about the study: A study rating female attractiveness: the journal Fertility and Sterility publishes misogyny. Let me clarify why it was funny to me. In part, it made me laugh out loud because one of the great many things I ranted about in my email to Endochick was that I found this study to be misogynistic. So, when I happened upon Dr. Jen Gunter’s characterization of the endometriosis study, I found her words humorous and validating as well.

Here are just a few of the things that ran through my mind when I learned of this study regarding the attractiveness of endometriosis patients. Why not study prevention of endometriosis? Why not find the cause(s) of it? Why not study how to improve the treatment options for the millions of women and girls living with endometriosis? Why not study improving fertility in those endometriosis patients struggling with infertility? Heck, why not (gasp) study to find a cure for endometriosis?

To wrap things up here, I’m going to respond to this study (Attractiveness of women with rectovaginal endometriosis: a case-control study) — “REALLY?!?”-style. The study article was 7 pages long. I’ll try to make this as painless as possible.

It’s “REALLY?!?” time…

(1) The doctors who conducted the research for the aforementioned study looked at what age the study participants first had sexual intercourse. (Having read it in context, I can tell you that this was part of their “attractiveness of endometriosis patients” theorizing).

REALLY?!? — Sigh. You think that studying when women first had sexual intercourse is a meaningful use of your time – when you claim to be studying endometriosis? I think not. Please see the paragraph I posted earlier for some ideas of better uses for your endometriosis research time.

(2) The title of the study is: “Attractiveness of women with rectovaginal endometriosis: a case-control study”.

REALLY?!?That is your study’s article title? Wow, you’re not even trying to disguise the fact that the main focus of your “research” was to have yourselves (a handful of doctors) literally “rate” women’s “attractiveness” on a graded scale?! I have a question for you. Have you ever watched that movie about the allegedly shady origins of Facebook? You know… The one where people were rating students on campus based on their physical appearance using the software that was allegedly some sort of prototype for what we now know as Facebook? That’s what this rating of women’s appearance reminds me of. You’re doctors. Don’t you have medical training that equips you to conduct meaningful studies using scientific methods? Have you no shame?

(3) From the study (in the conclusion section): “Women with rectovaginal endometriosis were judged to be more attractive than those in the two control groups. Moreover, they had a leaner silhouette, larger breasts, and an earlier coitarche”.

REALLY?!? — After all of the time and effort you put into this endometriosis research study, this conclusion (and it is word for word from the study, people) is the best that you can produce? The fruits of all your labors on this study are summarized in the two sentences above? REALLY?!? This truly was the focus of your “endometriosis research” study? Nothing about prevention of endometriosis, improving treatment options for patients, finding clues that could lead to a cure for endometriosis? Just a focus on where the endometrial implants were located in the women judged to be “more attractive”, who had larger breasts, who had a leaner silhouette, and when the women from each of the groups first had sexual intercourse?

While I can’t post the entire study, I can post some quotes from it. So here are a few. Brace yourselves. Bear in mind that these are direct quotes from the endometriosis study published in Fertility and Sterility. I include them here because I think they provide some extra insight beyond my “ranting” into the ridiculousness of the use of time and energy by these researchers (for those who haven’t read the full study):

Some endometriosis study quotes that boggle my mind:

“However, in order to limit potential unintentional seductive behaviors that might have swayed the raters’ judgment, information on the specific hypothesis of different degrees of attractiveness in the three study groups was not given in advance of the physical evaluation”.

“This finding could be explained by higher attractiveness and, hence, higher male sexual demand, even in the adolescent phase”.

“As an example, a higher breast-to-underbreast ratio (large breasts) might have been more attractive to male than female raters”.

Endometriosis researchers/doctors can do better than this. They must. Endometriosis research that improves quality of life for patients while searching doggedly for clues as to cause(s) of endometriosis and while diligently searching for a cure absolutely must take precedence over research that instead focuses on the physical appearance and sex lives of patients!! Seriously, I don’t understand how a study like this even gets funded. Let alone published in a major medical journal. In the meantime, millions of women and girls the world over are living with this serious illness. A study such as this not only misses looking at the many crucial topics of interest to anyone serious about researching endometriosis but it takes resources away from looking at what truly needs to be studied.

I can think of many useful topics for endometriosis researchers to investigate. Studies that focus on the physical appearance of endometriosis patients do not make that list. I find it offensive that doctors at a university are conducting such research and I find it even more appalling that a medical journal such as Fertility and Sterility is giving the study legs by publishing it.

At the risk of sounding redundant, I will ask again… Why not study prevention of endometriosis? Why not find the cause(s) of it? Why not study how to improve the treatment options for the millions of women and girls living with endometriosis? Why not study improving fertility in those endometriosis patients struggling with infertility? Heck, why not (gasp) study to find a cure for endometriosis?

The women and girls living with this illness deserve better than this. An endometriosis study where doctors spend time rating physical attractiveness is not my idea of a meaningful use of time or resources. We deserve better than this.

This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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December 1, 2012   18 Comments

A Holiday Time Re-Post

Originally posted 12/20/2010 with the title:

Family, Facebook, and Frenzy:
A Holiday Infertility Meditation

Today’s guest blogger, Dr. Diane Rasmussen, is chronically healing from multiple illnesses including Stage IV endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), hypothyroidism and lipo-lymphedema. She has never been pregnant. Her inability to conceive naturally was confirmed when she was forced to have both fallopian tubes removed (one in 2008 and the other in 2009) due to endometriosis-related complications. A professor, she loves both research and teaching.

As Jeanne noted in her wonderful last post, this is a stressful time of year. We’re told (and, for some reason, we believe) that we’re supposed to maintain a big smile full of magical holiday cheer while we host a delicious dinner for friends and family, bake fattening cookies for the office party, buy the perfect gift for the dog groomer, play Santa to our kids…

Wait a second! I can’t do all that! I mean, I don’t have kids!

“Why don’t you have kids?” a woman I had just met asked me recently.

“I can’t have them due to severe endometriosis,” I replied tersely. You’d think I’d be used to this now, I thought to myself. But I never get used to that question. I also never get used to the fact that people with children sometimes assume my schedule is more flexible than theirs, or the fact that people who don’t know the real story probably think my husband of seven years and I are waiting for some inconceivable (pun intended) deadline to start “trying,” or the fact that my friends with children must think I really want to see Junior’s mug-shot-of-the-day every time I log in to Facebook. (Note: if you are my Facebook friend and you do that, I may have hidden your updates some time ago.)

However, those are all mere annoyances. Speaking personally, the time it hurts the worst is when I go to a worship service. All the children are asked to come to the front of the sanctuary to hear a story, and then we have to sing to them as they head to their classes after the story: “Go now in peace/may the spirit of love surround you/everywhere you may go.” But I can never sing: by the time the story is done, I am crying too hard to sing, although I do hope love and peace surround them. It’s not their fault I can’t have a child, after all. That said, their presence makes it difficult for me to attend services, despite the (theoretical) idea that one goes to worship services for spiritual renewal.

Could it get any worse? Cue the holidays. “Christmas is for children,” we’re told. The kids are performing holiday pageants, the toy department at your favourite discount store is overflowing with games and action figures, and your co-workers are all conversing excitedly about the trips they and their kids are taking over the break. Or their kids are coming home from university for a few weeks. Or their kids are bringing the grandkids home. Or whatever.

If you are reading this post seeking answers for how to get through the holidays, I’m not sure I have any concrete advice for you. I struggle with it myself, and I just want December to be over so we can get back to “normal” life. As a childless-by-choice friend suggested, the only sensible ways to get through the holidays are either (1) remaining under general anaesthesia through January 3, or (2) checking into a luxurious hotel with no phone, good books, and room service.

Just don’t forget the underlying message: especially during the holidays, family makes everything worthwhile, and if you don’t have a family of your own, you have nothing.

Wait a minute. Is that true?

I have a supportive husband who sees me as a person rather than a mere baby-making machine, wonderful friends, a Chihuahua who curls up by my side every night, and a rapidly developing career that I love – so many reasons for gratitude! On the other hand, I have multiple chronic illnesses that frequently inhibit me from living life as easily as others do, and I lost my wonderful dad to frontal lobe dementia in May 2010, an absolutely devastating personal loss that will never leave me.

But no matter how I examine my life, no matter how much I ponder my strengths, my weaknesses, or both, I always come to this conclusion: I am more than my (in)ability to have children. And, if you want to be pregnant but are not, you are so much more than that too.

We are definitely the sum of our pasts and our present selves. Sadly, I am watching so many people I know struggle. I know people who have had multiple recent deaths within their inner circles, who have gravely ill spouses, who are going through divorces, who may not be able to see their children (even though they have them), who simply cannot keep up with the societal expectations of the season, and so on. So many of us are just doing the best we can to get through it all right now, whether we can’t conceive, or the fruitcake got burned…

Lately, I’ve been struck by the devastating situations that children face at this time of year (and all year, for that matter). My nightly news broadcast keeps reporting that local charities do not have nearly enough toys for all the children that can only get holiday presents through donations. I have also seen a series of advertisements for a foundation seeking money to buy medications to treat leprosy in impoverished children. So many parents worldwide do not have jobs, or homes, or grocery money.

And then I think, I’m not rich, but I do have a job, a place to live, and a stocked kitchen. And I suppose I could think, It’s not fair! I could provide for children more easily than they could, and they have them! But, in actuality, I’ve been thinking, you know, there is more than one way to “mother” or “father” in this tragic world, and we can all start today…

As I conclude this post, I want to return to the subject of my wonderful dad, who would have turned 68 on December 15. He worked hard, played hard, and made people happy with his kind nature and silly jokes. He exemplified the kind of person I strive to be, and I hope he is watching me from wherever he is with pride. The twist? He was my adoptive father, but I never thought of him that way, and I’ve never known a more loving dad. Of the countless lessons I indirectly learned from him, the most important was that your “family” is by no means limited to blood. I’m not suggesting adoption is the answer for everyone, and I’m not diminishing the devastating loss we all feel with infertility. But I wouldn’t exchange my life (or either set of parents) for anything.

That said, I do believe that we are all one family on this planet, and as my favourite band U2 once brilliantly sang, “We get to carry each other,” a fact that us humans frequently fail to remember. And this particular family is what makes everything worthwhile, and if you don’t have your Earth family (and, hopefully, some love and peace to go with it), then you have nothing.

A fate even worse than not being able to post your own sonogram photos on Facebook.

This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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November 22, 2012   2 Comments

The Chronic Illness Community And You

Let’s start with a definition of community. It’s a word people (healthy or not) use often – but the meaning of it is quite special to those of us who are living with chronic illnesses and interacting with others who are living in similar circumstances.


A social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually preceded by the): the business community; the community of scholars.

As just about any chronic illness patient can probably tell you, the value and support of the chronic illness community is just extraordinary! Most people I have met in the 30 years I have been living with chronic illness find the validation and phenomenal compassion of fellow patients to be of utmost importance. The chronic illness community provides irreplaceable understanding and it provides for mutual support.

There are times that the only people who seem to be completely able to identify with the struggles faced by persons living with chronic illness are those who are living it themselves. This is where validation becomes so important. Healthy loved ones, friends and co-workers who try their very best to understand the daily challenges of living with chronic illness may, ultimately, not be able to do so. This is where support from people who “get it” becomes key.

As far as compassion is concerned, our chronically ill peers have the ability to empathize since they can relate firsthand to symptoms or experiences. This isn’t to say, of course, that our healthy loved ones or friends or co-workers don’t care. Obviously a great many of them do. (Granted, most people living with chronic illness have had some experience in the workplace that involves people who are not very compassionate or understanding). The majority of healthy people around us, in my experience, do make attempts to understand and do try to show that they care. (Realistically, there will always be people who don’t fall into this category but I think most people try in their own ways to show their compassion).

At the end of the day, though, I believe the reason that chronic illness communities of all sorts (online and off, support groups, messages boards, blogs, Facebook groups or other Facebook interactions, Twitter niches for chronic illness patients to interact, etc.) are so valued, so highly utilized, and so appreciated by such large numbers of patients all stems back to these core elements… validation and support.

So very many of the experiences I have had firsthand – and those I have witnessed other patients having – are examples of such an excellent outpouring of concern, caring, and empathy from patient to patient in all sorts of situations. I feel extremely fortunate to have gotten to know so many wonderful, thoughtful people on my own journey!

The chronic illness community truly is an amazing group of people. We are fortunate to live in an era where technology enables us to connect with far more people than we could have in years past. At 43 years old, I remember the pre-Internet days of searching for medical information and trying to find other people living with the same symptoms as me. It’s wonderful to have the Internet to enable us to make far more connections than could be made otherwise… with people the world over!

What do you appreciate about the chronic illness community? How have you benefited from being a part of it? How does it make you feel to be able to give and take information, engage in mutual support, and even help fellow patients cope with the stress of living with chronic illness(es) and chronic pain?

This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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May 24, 2012   4 Comments

Getting Back In The Saddle

It can be quite difficult for anyone to “get back in the saddle”, so to speak, when the normal routine has been disrupted. I think it’s especially challenging for those living with chronic pain and chronic illness. As those living with chronic conditions know, having routines can be especially helpful for riding out the storms.

While one’s daily routine may be thrown off kilter by things like symptom flare-ups, surgery, and new diagnoses… it can still be very useful to have a routine to act as a framework. Even if that routine has to be tweaked, improved, or temporarily abandoned for brief periods, it can be helpful. By the way, when I talk about getting “back in the saddle” I’m speaking in a figurative sense (as anyone who has read my blog regularly understands).

So, what is one to do when the daily routine has been turned upside down, shaken up, altered? That is a very good question. In my own situation, it is abundantly clear that I may never be able to return to the pace I kept in the past. Even if the offline situation that has disrupted my usual routine were to be magically resolved (no, it’s not resolved), I honestly don’t see how I can return to writing as frequently as I did before. Even if I had the time and energy to resume that kind of schedule (no, I don’t), this has been one of those life experiences that forces a person to re-assess everything.

To be clear, I will most definitely be continuing to write this blog. I also look forward to getting back to some sort of routine with it… even if that’s not the routine it used to be. However, I’m not sure yet how my routine will differ from what it was in the past. My sense is that I’ll likely be writing about nearly all the same topics but just less frequently than before. However, I’m not sure yet how it will play out.

With the offline situation still unresolved and with my energy level far lower than I’d like it to be, I recognize that I need to pace myself and focus on self-care issues (getting enough sleep, eating right, managing my time in healthy ways, etc.)

Thank you to my online friends for your patience and understanding while I sort things out and attempt to begin the journey of getting back to a more normal schedule. There are many unanswered messages from people that I need to address and I don’t know when I will get to them. I just need to take one day at a time. It will be a gradual process but I hope, at some point, to get back to a similar routine to what I had before… just calmer in pace.

This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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April 16, 2012   2 Comments

Taking A Break: Not Always A Piece Of Cake!

Taking a break. It sounds easy, right? It sounds like something to look forward to, doesn’t it? Sometimes it is just that. However, I would hazard a guess that many people who live with chronic illness and chronic pain have times where they find it extremely difficult to take a break. Taking a break isn’t always a piece of cake.

Generally speaking, I tend to operate on “the edge” most of the time. What do I mean by “the edge”? Well, I have a tendency to push myself… hard. Sometimes I push myself too hard. This can result in sleep deprivation, loss of perspective on what the healthy limits are (for me with my chronically ill body), and burnout. So, when something unexpected comes up or added stressors enter the picture it can be very difficult for me to deal with everything at once.

The trick for me is in knowing how and when to pull back from activities that must wait (such as writing this blog and replying to messages) during times when I just don’t have enough energy to do everything I want to do. Taking a break from my blog is quite stressful for me. It causes me to become disconnected from the wonderful, supportive online community of people living with chronic illness. It results in me getting behind on replying to emails and Facebook messages from other patients. It also makes me get behind moderating and replying to blog comments. Getting backlogged on all of the above is stressful for me. I don’t like the idea that anyone might think I’m ignoring them. Taking a “break” only to return to a backlog of messages stresses me out.

Here is the thing, though. There are times when taking a break is absolutely needed and warranted. The “break” may not necessarily be to rest. It may be to focus on other activities that need attention. It may not be a “break” in the traditional sense at all. It may simply be a temporary change in routine. A change of focus. The type of break I’m talking about is more the kind where one is not necessarily resting (not that those type of breaks aren’t important too!); it is the type of break where one chooses (or is forced to accept) that one set of activities must be put on hold for a certain period of time. There either aren’t enough hours in the day or there isn’t enough energy in the person to do everything on his/her plate.

How about you?

What does it take to make you take a break? Do your loved ones need to remind you to take a break? Do you recognize it yourself and take swift action? Does it vary… sometimes you take swift action to get things “into balance” but other times you push yourself too hard and life ends up forcing you to accept your limits? Do you find it difficult to balance everything on your plate? How do you restore balance when things get out of kilter?

I would really love to hear everyone’s ideas on this. Please take a moment to leave a blog comment. You don’t need to have a blog to leave a comment. To leave a blog comment, all you need is your name (screen name is fine) and email address (which no one will see but me). This (finding balance/knowing when to “take a break”) is a topic that affects everyone but it really impacts people living with chronic illness. I would love to hear from people regarding how they cope with finding a balance, prioritizing tasks, managing time, and preventing burnout. Your comments are appreciated.

This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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October 14, 2011   8 Comments

Who Knew One Abscessed Tooth Could Cause So Much Grief?

As I mentioned previously, I have an abscessed tooth that needs to be extracted. A root canal was attempted on this tooth awhile back but due to the unusual nature of the tooth, it was not possible to do a successful root canal on it. (The instruments were bending and it simply wasn’t possible to go any further). Two endodontists later, I have been referred to an oral surgeon to have it extracted.

The green number 29 above refers to the tooth number affected. The green arrows and number 2 below indicate that this tooth has two roots despite the fact that it is not a molar. (It should only have one root). The yellow arrow points to the tooth behind that one. It is marked with a crown symbol because it has a crown on it. The red arrow points to the abscessed area beneath tooth number 29. The blue arrow points at the tooth in front of tooth number 29. Last but not least, the purple arrow above all three teeth indicates where a bridge will go (over the three teeth). I’ve been told that it may take months for the area to heal sufficiently following the extraction before the bridge can be installed. (The crown will come off and the bridge will sit where it is now).

Having had two previous extractions where anesthesia failed (and I felt everything!), I have been very nervous about having another extraction. On top of that, out of the four colonoscopies I’ve had, for two of them the IV sedation failed and I felt everything. (For the other two colonoscopies, the pain wasn’t as bad but I never got sleepy – the way the hospital staff kept telling me I would/should).

To make a long story short, my dentist sent a letter to the oral surgeon explaining why he believed general anesthesia would be appropriate in my case. Thankfully, the oral surgeon “gets it”. Since he is the chief of the oral surgery department and since his office suite is located right in the hospital building, it will not be necessary to use an operating room. (He has everything he needs right in his office and he can administer the anesthesia). This will cost far less money than having general anesthesia in the operating room. It will be done as an outpatient. The figures I was given by phone were far higher than reality. He apologized when he learned of the figures his staff had given me and told me that I had been “misinformed”. What a relief that it is far less money than I was told initially and that he’ll be using a general anesthesia medication.

In the meantime, I recently had a migraine for 8 consecutive days. I don’t think the abscessed tooth helped matters any. (My primary care physician was telling me last week about how my dental issues could affect the migraine pain).

Now that my migraine is gone, my blood pressure has stabilized. It had gotten quite high during the migraine. My primary care physician instructed me how to tweak the dose of my blood pressure medication (something I need to do based on where I am at in my cycle). Right now, I’m on the usual dose. I don’t want to double the dose unless I really need to. Plus, altering the dose may affect my Reynaud’s.

In any event… between the migraine for over a week, the abscessed tooth, the appointment that got squeezed in because my PCP wanted to talk (in person) about the blood pressure spiking up and down, and other medical appointments, I have been feeling drained and overwhelmed. I will be happy to get this extraction behind me (scheduled for early October).

To say that I am behind on replying to emails, blog comments, and Facebook messages would be an understatement. I can count on one hand the number of blog comments I have submitted in the past month or so. I appreciate everyone’s patience. What I’ve described in this post is really just the tip of the iceberg, I’m afraid. I really dislike getting backlogged on messages. While I know that other people who have chronic illness(es) understand, it still overwhelms me when things get as backed up as they are now. Thank you all for your understanding.

This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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September 24, 2011   6 Comments

Chronic Travel: Planning And Implementation

I have written previously about a camping trip we recently took (see here and here). While I had concerns for how my body would handle such a trip (particularly how I would fare regarding fibromyalgia pain), I decided to go and hoped that my body would tolerate a trip of this nature and length. Since my interstitial cystitis can make it challenging to ride in a car for long stretches, I was sure to do a bladder instillation shortly before we left the house. This was very helpful in reducing the number of times we need to stop to find a rest room.

Planning phase: more complex with chronic illness…

While we chose camping over a hotel/motel (or a Bed & Breakfast) due to previous severely negative experiences with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) reactions, I was certainly aware that camping could present its own MCS challenges. Camping is most definitely not for all MCS patients. However, I felt that I was in a position to give it a try with the hope that I would not have any nasty reactions. We knew going in that I might have to bail out if anything were to make this necessary.

Yes, there was a bailout plan.

We decided we were willing to take the risks involved with this trip. Granted, this was a bit scary for me and I had to have faith that my husband would assist me in bailing out if that were to become necessary. Obviously, I would not have been happy if we had to cut our trip short due to my illnesses but it was important to know that bailing out would be an option. Had we done so, we would only have been out a couple of nights worth of campground fees (which wasn’t very much). We wouldn’t have been out the sort of money involved in cutting a hotel stay short. So, the stress of changing our plans and the fact that we would have lost the time we invested would have been the major losses if I had found myself unable to complete what we’d planned.

By the way, did I mention that we discovered on the first day that we had to turn roaming off on our cell phones because we were so close to Canada? Yes, it could have gotten very expensive if we had not turned off the roaming. It was very cool to put the canoe in (not far from our tent) and reach Canadian waters in no time, though. We also enjoyed our visit to the 1000 Islands Skydeck (mentioned in a previous post and located in Canada). We hadn’t been to Canada in quite awhile so this was the first time we needed to show enhanced drivers licenses (a less expensive alternative to passports). Having grown up never having to show anything to get into Canada or back into the United States, it felt odd having to produce enhanced drivers licenses and have them scanned. It was the most thorough border crossing I’ve ever experienced.

We purchased the tent about 4-5 months in advance so that we could air it out before the trip. It can be difficult to predict what I might react to and we needed to be sure we had ventilated it well enough before traveling so that I wouldn’t have an MCS reaction to it. Thankfully, the tent had no smell (that I could notice, anyway) when we first opened the box.

The tent, van, and canoe.

This was a pleasant surprise compared to what I was expecting. The tent worked very well throughout the trip. We were very careful getting in and out of the tent (trying not to let any bugs inside). Would you believe that we didn’t have a single bug in the tent in the 5 days we used it? It was well ventilated with plenty of windows. I was very pleased with it.

In addition to all of the normal things one does to plan for a trip, we had to evaluate whether the transportation we had could safely handle such a trip. My van (pictured above) was in and out of the auto shop a couple of times right before the trip.

Something that worried me pre-trip…

The pesky light above kept appearing on my dashboard. Needless to say, we needed to get to the bottom of why this light kept appearing since we didn’t want to be stranded somewhere far away from home with a broken-down car. Taking my husband’s car for the trip was out of the question for several reasons. For one, his car is too small and we wouldn’t have had enough space for what we were taking with us. For another, his car has slightly more miles than mine does (which is saying a lot considering the mileage on my van).

My odometer…

Finally, the seats in his car are far less comfortable than the ones in mine. So, from a fibromyalgia standpoint, taking his car for a trip like that was out of the question. Having been reassured by our trusted mechanic that the cause for the engine light was not something that was a safety issue (and was a repair he even said could wait to be fixed), we decided that the van was safe to drive. As I touched on previously, my husband was the primary packer. He organized our belongings well and got them to fit nicely inside of the van. We had reserved our campsite online.

Rest room access is always a top priority with my illnesses.

It goes without saying that the first criteria I had for choosing a campsite was proximity to the rest rooms. Our site ended up being about 500 feet from them. This distance to the rest room was workable for me… even if I accidentally wandered slightly off track on the way back to the tent in the middle of the night. (Note to self: don’t forget to wear your glasses when traipsing through the campground to the rest room in the middle of the night with it very dark). We were very fortunate in that we had no one next to us on one side for the entire time and we only had people next to us the first night on the other side.

This can’t be explained simply by the fact that we camped Monday through Friday (though I’m sure bypassing the weekend helped) because there were many, many areas of the state park that were packed like sardines. I am very grateful that we had no neighbors on either side for nearly the entire trip and that we were near a rest room. We could even see the lake from our campsite!

The last thing I wanted was to be crammed alongside lots of other campers in close proximity. We got lucky!

Before the trip was over, I had not-so-lovely visits from both endometriosis and migraine pain. Having lived with endometriosis since I was 13 years old, I have become accustomed to it acting up anytime I travel. So I wasn’t surprised. (It’s not something I can plan around either. That’s not how my body is wired). As for the migraine pain, I was thankful that it was short-lived. Neither “took over” the trip.

What was the biggest challenge/risk that surfaced during the trip? That would have to be when one of our neighbors burned something very nasty in the campground (seemingly from the row of campsites right behind ours). This campfire most definitely did not contain just wood burning in it (and I’m fully aware that some MCS patients wouldn’t be able to tolerate any campfire at all). To me, it smelled like burning plastic. That’s right. Burning. Plastic. The smell was so strong that I couldn’t imagine how it would dissipate anytime soon. We were just heading out for the day when this happened. I was afraid to leave our tent in that air but knew that taking the tent down would mean that we were going home. (There is no way my husband would go through the hassle of taking the tent down unless we were leaving).

Why people burn toxic items, I have no idea!

At this point, my husband (who isn’t always fond of what he tends to consider “making a scene” in regard to me having an MCS reaction)… made me incredibly proud. He stopped in at the registration desk and told them about the problem with someone burning far more than firewood. It was so incredibly hot that day that I stayed in the van with the air conditioning running when he went in. So, I don’t know precisely what he said or how he said it. All I know is that I was scared to return to our tent because if whatever was generating that smell didn’t get terminated very quickly, I knew we’d have to pack up and go home halfway through our trip. When we returned to our campsite later, there was NO smell. None. The park rangers must have taken very swift action because there wasn’t a trace of the smell when we got back. I was so happy that my husband spoke up and that the park’s staff was so responsive. Go New York State park rangers!

Also, I was pleasantly stunned to discover that the state park uses no toxic “air fresheners” in the campground rest rooms! (See this link for more information about Anne C. Steinemann, Ph.D., who has done research on “air fresheners” and other toxic products). I even had a brief chat with a manager up at the registration desk and it turns out they clean their lodges with green cleaning products. I didn’t enter any lodges and don’t know what products they use – but I was pleased to see them making an effort to select healthier products and to avoid unnecessarily exposing people to toxic chemicals. I was impressed!

This new store was a really good find:

One brutally hot (100+ Fahrenheit) day, we had gone into one of the towns (Clayton, NY) in the 1000 islands to eat and I spotted an adorable shop across the road from where we had parked. I was incredibly hot and I suggested we check out this shop not only because it looked cute but because I knew it would be air conditioned. (At that point, I was too impatient for cool air to even wait for the van’s air conditioning to kick in). So, we went and checked out the shop. It was like an oasis! Walking into the shop, we were immediately greeted by a very welcome wall of cold air. Inside, there were many beautiful items of clothing, hats, etc.

I found a warm hat for winter there…

Every winter, I’m always searching around the house for a good hat. With my short hair, my ears get cold. This shop had a snuggly, warm hat that will be great this winter. I know, I know… Who buys a winter hat on a 100+ degree day, right? Well, it was so nice and cool in the store that I wasn’t deterred from planning ahead for winter. We had a very nice chat with the store owner. As it turns out, the store is quite new. So new, in fact, that the website for it is not yet active.

However, I am linking to it anyway. I figure that way once the site is up and running anyone who reads this and goes on to travel in the 1000 islands may consider looking paca up. The name of the shop refers to the alpaca fibers that are used to make many of the items in the shop (including my hat). For those who may never travel to the 1000 islands, once that site is up and running it will give people a chance to shop online.

“In recent years, interest in alpaca fiber clothing has surged, perhaps partly because alpaca ranching has a reasonably low impact on the environment”.

Unfortunately, the crisp, clean bag it was packaged in got crunched in the car (thus no photos of that).

The owner of the shop was extremely friendly. She wrapped my purchase up in pretty turquoise tissue paper (sealed with the paca logo) and placed it in a white bag. She was the kind of person with whom you could just have a good, long chat. I’m not normally very chatty when I am shopping. So, it’s a bit unusual for me to be quite so chatty in anyplace that sells things. (Generally, I like to be in and out to dodge sales pitches and such). This shopkeeper, though, was totally non-pushy and let us browse around without making us feel pressured, rushed, or hovered over in any way.

Everything in the store was truly pretty and I felt like I was leaving the store with a special memento of our trip… in part because she took the time to wrap the package up and make it look so pretty. The whole shop was just gorgeous. I look forward to this shop going online because there were some very nice, reasonably priced items that would make nice gifts. Since I don’t step foot in malls due to my MCS, it’s always nice to discover new online shops. This shop really stood out and had some gorgeous merchandise. I told the owner when we were there that I might mention her shop online. Above is her business card. After discussing it with the owner, I decided not to display the phone number listed on her card (since she is still in the process of getting the shop set up… and unsure she wants that to be the number displayed on the Internet for her shop). So, I blocked out the phone number but the rest of the information you need to find her shop is there.

Finally… dessert. Are you a fudge fan?

Quite possibly the best, freshest fudge I have ever had was here: Lil’ River Fudge Co. If you’re ever in the area, I cannot over-emphasize how delicious this fudge was. They had locations in both Alexandria Bay, NY and Clayton, NY.

Well, I think it’s time for me to wrap up this 3 part series on traveling while chronically ill. Obviously, what works for one patient may not work for another. Let me try to wrap all of the loose ends up with a bow, so to speak.

Wrapping up…

The trip presented its challenges and not-so-relaxing moments. (That’s code for my husband and I found ourselves arguing a few times and that wasn’t fun). The way I look at it, the stakes were high for this trip. We invested money, time, and effort into making this trip happen. I risked increased pain and MCS reactions by trying such travel. When the stakes are high (and when pain levels are higher than they would be at home… in my case) and the temperatures outdoors are high, tempers will often flare. Was the trip perfect? No. Would I do a trip like it again? Yes. Will I be doing so anytime soon? No. It will be some time before we recover financially from this adventure and it will be some time for my body to recover as well.

All in all, though, I’m glad we took some chances and tried something we hadn’t done before. Now we know that, with some planning and effort, it IS possible for me to travel despite not being able to stay in hotels, motels, and/or Bed & Breakfast establishments. That knowledge is freeing for me. Now, all I have to do is recover from the trip. Thanks to a decent air mattress, the fibromyalgia pain wasn’t too out of control while we were camping. It was worse than at home (especially with the stairs at the castle and the walking around we did in town). However, I’ve had worse.

Finally… my 5 tips for traveling when one is chronically ill:

  • Know your limitations. Try to find ways to creatively work within those limitations.

  • If possible, have someone traveling with you to assist you with tasks you can’t (and/or shouldn’t) do.

  • Be flexible. Be open to adjusting your plans as needed. Weather, unexpected factors, and illness flare-ups can throw plans off.

  • Listen to your body and respond accordingly. Tweak plans if needed. The risk of burnout is not worth it. Rest as needed.

  • Enjoy what you can and focus on it and what you can do. Try not to get fixated on what you can’t do.

    I am acutely aware that some of my readers are housebound and that these last 3 posts on travel are not helpful in the aspect that one who is housebound can’t take the sort of chances I did with this trip. My hope is that maybe seeing the pictures (especially from the post about the castle) might still be worth a read for those unable to travel. Obviously different people are at different levels as far as what they are able to do and I don’t mean to suggest in any of these posts that anyone should take unsafe risks. The risks I took with this trip were ones I felt comfortable taking but I know that there are people who wouldn’t be able to take the same risks. Everyone is in a unique living situation. What works for one person may not work at all for another. Hopefully, these posts may provide some helpful tips, ideas, and even hope for those who are able to do limited travel. For those who are not in that position, my hope is that by sharing photos from my trip (along with a narrative on what it was like to prepare and carry out this travel) that you might get some enjoyment out of learning a bit about an area you may never have visited. For those of you who stuck with me through all 3 posts about my camping trip (from the bird’s “gift” to the lovely shop we discovered), thank you for your patience.

    We packed a great deal into a week and I really haven’t even scratched the surface but I tried to do the best overview I could. If you are chronically ill and wish to travel but are afraid to do so because of limitations imposed by your illness(es), it’s possible that travel is not a good idea for you at this time or it’s possible that you may be able to do so with sufficient planning and and a dose of courage. I wasn’t at all sure I’d make it through this trip but I did it and I’m glad I did. Everyone is different, though, and each person needs to evaluate his/her own situation to determine whether it is wise to travel. I just thought I’d share my experience in case it gives anyone ideas. I really think it’s important to stay safe and evaluate one’s own situation to ascertain whether traveling is advisable.

    This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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  • August 12, 2011   16 Comments

    Chronic Camping Continued: The Castle

    Boldt Castle on Heart Island: Alexandria Bay, NY

    It isn’t very often that I travel; it is challenging to do so because of the various chronic medical conditions I have. So, the camping trip we took in July took some joint effort with my husband (regarding both planning and implementation), significant support from him in the form of performing some of the physical tasks needed to make this trip happen and a leap of faith on my part. As I mentioned in the previous post, it is going to take me some time to recover from traveling. In this post, I am going to take a break from talking about the details of how I prepared for the trip (and such) to just share a few photos.

    The grounds

    I had been to the 1000 Islands once previous to this trip. I was a child at the time and I had seen Boldt Castle prior to its restoration. While the figure quoted online for restoration that has been completed on the castle is $29 million, we learned from talking to the staff at the castle that a more up-to-date figure for the ongoing restoration is $40 million. Having seen the castle as a child at a time when it was run-down and full of graffiti, I was amazed when I saw the website for Boldt Castle prior to our trip. As the trip was approaching, I was looking forward to seeing the castle in person since it looked so different than what I remembered. I was not disappointed by what we saw on our trip. It was absolutely gorgeous inside and out.

    The porch

    The difference between what the castle looked like when I saw it as a child and what it looks like now was a night and day contrast. It really was impressive to see what they have been able to to the interior and to the grounds. I knew going in that there would be many stairs and that touring the castle would be challenging for me. (By the way, there is an elevator). I have to say, though, that any fatigue and pain I experienced while touring the castle was well worth it. It is just a beautiful building. Heck, someone at the castle even had the good sense to have Enya playing the the background. In my opinion, that music set the perfect, soothing tone for people to take in this interesting building.

    It was a very hot day when we toured the castle. I overcame some anxiety stemming from the last time I was on a boat and we set off to take the short (5-10 minute), fume-free boat ride to the heart-shaped island where the castle is located. The cool, comfortable interior of the castle was refreshing after being in the hot sun. I will finish up this post with some photos from the castle…

    This reminded me of the ballroom in The Sound of Music.


    Striking difference in appearance from graffiti-filled walls…

    Very different than it looked when I was there 30+ years ago.

    Beautiful details…

    The white lace umbrella made me think of Somewhere In Time.

    There was stained glass…

    … in the ceiling.

    Click here for a virtual tour of the castle. Everyone at the castle was very friendly and informative. If you’re ever looking for a place to visit, I highly recommend the castle and surrounding region. With the many tourists visiting the castle, there was not a single time that day where I smelled any fragrances on anyone. We were amazingly fortunate to visit such a busy place without me having and multiple chemical sensitivity reactions. (Other illnesses were talking to me but I tried to temporarily ignore their voices… knowing that I would pay a price later and accepting that likelihood). I was just very thankful that I didn’t react to any toxic fragrances in that crowded castle. (Crowds can be dangerous for me and it was bustling with tourists).

    Check out the website for a winter photograph of the castle surrounded by snowy trees. It’s very pretty!

    Having seen the final Harry Potter movie, which was awesome, right before the trip somehow seemed to make walking through the castle even more fun.

    There were definitely very challenging moments of the trip but I am grateful that my chronic illnesses didn’t stop me from trying something new. The trip was far from perfect but I’m thankful to have made it through the entire five days, as scheduled. Doing so was a major milestone for me… especially with the oppressive heat. When I get the energy, I will be writing more about our camping adventure.

    This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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    August 5, 2011   6 Comments

    Chronic Camp ‘Carnival’

    Behold: ‘Home Sweet Home’ (from July 18 – 22). I kid you not!

    My mother’s comment when we had returned safely from our camping trip was, “how did you do it”?! What a loaded question! (She knows that I have never done an adventure like this before and that tent camping itself poses all sorts of challenges for me health-wise). I will write more about all that in future posts. For now, let me just say that I was grateful for the opportunity to travel (something I do rarely) and I was also grateful to return home afterwards. We got some lovely photos that I’ll be sharing in future posts. Before I talk about the camping trip any more, let me digress just a bit for some ‘blog housekeeping’…

    The month that I blogged the least ever (since I began writing online in June 2008) was last month. A quick peek at my archives shows just how much less frequently I have been writing lately. I realize some people may even be wondering if I have burned out or abandoned my blog since I have updated it so infrequently lately. I haven’t abandoned it. I have come closer than I would like to regarding burning out in recent months. Posts like this and this might have given that away to some of you. It will take me some time to get back on track but I’m working on it. At the same time, I am listening to my body. In the aftermath of the (sometimes wild) trip I’m beginning to write about today, I need to get enough rest. Thank you for your patience. A few of you have sent me messages asking if I’m alright. I appreciate your concern.

    Anyway, back to the tent photo. For those of you who are campers, that may look like paradise. For those of you who are not campers, that tent may not look like where you’d choose to stay for a week in the extreme heat of July! (One day reached 102 degrees Fahrenheit – or 38.89 Celsius). With my heat intolerance (discussed previously here), the weather was a major issue for me. I’m not complaining. I signed up for a July trip. I was prepared to give it my all and hope for the best.

    View from 1000 Islands Skydeck on a hazy 102 degree Fahrenheit/38.89 Celsius day

    I had hoped to write about the trip to the 1000 Islands this past week but my body is still working hard to recover from traveling. This was in many ways the most ambitious travel, by far, that I have done in a great many years. So, it will take me some time to catch my breath (and multiple posts to talk about what it was like to travel the way we did when my health is so poor).

    We knew going in it wouldn’t be easy. We also knew that tent camping was the only way we could do overnight travel because of my multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). Besides, we couldn’t have afforded a hotel or motel anyway. (Another perk of camping: campsites are very reasonable). Food and gas were our main expenses for the trip. There were no worries about expensive lodging costs with camping being so affordable.

    The last time we did a trip overnight, we tried staying at a Bed and Breakfast. Unfortunately, despite the pre-screening I did of the B & B over the phone, it became readily apparent that it was as dangerous for me as any hotel or motel would have been. (It was really a disaster). That B & B trip was our final attempt to travel overnight in such a manner. Last summer we abandoned the idea of overnight travel. (Having been burned the summer before by that B & B experience, we elected last summer to do an extremely ambitious day trip). On that trip, we fit far, far too much driving into one day. (That really should have been an overnight trip rather than a day trip). While the end result worked out in that case, we really pushed our luck and it could just have easily turned out much differently. It was way more driving in one day than it makes logical sense to do. That trip we got lucky. I’m not sure I’d ever do that much traveling in one day again, though.

    Tent camping emerged as a way we might travel overnight more safely than by staying in chemical-laden hotels/motels and more safely than by packing way too much driving into one day’s time. We knew it wouldn’t be risk-free but we felt we had to give it a chance if we ever want to be able to do overnight travel. I certainly knew there might be MCS problems camping as well. The only way for me to find out whether tent camping is something that is safe for me to try (fully understanding that whether I have a reaction depends on who my campground neighbors are and what they are doing) was to just do it. (I should note that I am fully aware that this option would be totally out of the question for patients with more severe MCS, some of whom are home-bound because of the illness).

    My husband packed our hammock into the van when I wasn’t looking. (Without my husband’s amazing hard work packing and physically preparing for the trip, it never would have happened). It worked out great one day when I had really had enough canoe time but he hadn’t. We got out of the water, he set up the hammock, and I rested while he went back out in the canoe. In this way, I was able to rest when I needed to and he wasn’t constrained to only canoeing when I felt up to it. The hammock was a nice surprise. I had no idea he had found a way to fit it in the very crowded van full of an air mattress, sleeping bags, a tent, bicycles, clothes, etc. We even had a cherry (oops – I mean a canoe) packed on top of the van for good measure. My husband really did an awesome job packing everything. We didn’t leave a single thing we needed behind. That’s not bad for a week-long trip! I was very grateful for his efforts. (Note to self: the downside of not paying attention during the packing process is not knowing where anything is without searching or asking – for the whole trip)! Anyway, there is much to tell about our week-long trip. Some of it was fun. Some of it was incredibly difficult. Some of it fell somewhere in between.

    I will close this particular post with a tidbit about something that happened on our very first day at the campsite. It is one of those stories that will most likely read funnier than it felt when it happened. It’s OK if you laugh when you read this. I’ll understand. You see… on our first day at the campsite, a bird decided that my head would be the ideal place to deposit a little “gift”. I felt something land on my head and I then bent forward slightly and asked my husband to check my head. Sure enough, he discovered the thoughtful “gift” that had been deposited right on top of my head and remarked, “only you, Jeanne” (in disbelief that of all the places this bird could have left the “gift”, my head would end up being it). Apparently, he thinks I have rotten luck.

    He had seen blackbirds nesting nearby and believes it was a blackbird who presented me with this lovely “welcome to your campsite” gift. So, it was off to the the campground shower for me. Sigh. I wasn’t too thrilled at this inauspicious beginning to the trip. However, once I had showered and was ready to start the day (again), I chuckled to myself recalling that a few days before the trip I had read on a Facebook friend’s wall about her having had a similar experience. Her Facebook friends inundated her with comments about it being “good luck”. I’m not a superstitious person but I decided to Google it today, for fun, and see what would come up. I found remarks from the expected combination of people who swear it’s a good luck omen with people or who swear it’s a myth.

    In any event, our trip was off to a very, um, memorable start one way or another. I tried to keep a sense of humor about it. Actually, I saw absolutely no humor whatsoever when it happened but post-shower and with clean hair again, I was able to laugh about it. (Did I mention that many years ago, another bird left me a gift as I was walking down the street and the name of the street was Bird Street? I kid you not). The fact that this was my second “gift” received over the years resulted in all sorts of hilarity with us joking around and trying to predict when the ‘third turd’ would make an appearance. Thankfully, this was a ‘one-bird-gift-only’ trip.

    There were multiple osprey nests in the area. My husband kept cheering me up by saying, “just be glad it wasn’t an osprey that got you”. The ospreys were beautiful and interesting to watch. I was also grateful that it wasn’t an osprey that left me a “gift”. Those birds are huge!

    When time and energy permit it, I’ll be writing more about the trip. So, if you’d like to learn more about how I slept in a tent for a whole week… stay tuned for upcoming posts. (Anyone who knows me in real life expresses shock when they hear that I spent a week in a tent in the heat of July). There were plenty of barriers to be accommodated on this trip and it was most definitely not easy. However, we made it through the scheduled time for our trip and we even managed to fit in some fun and some beautiful sights. Given the extraordinarily hot weather and my various illnesses acting up throughout the trip, I see this as an accomplishment worth celebrating. We could have bailed early but we decided to hang in there and I’m glad we did… even if I will be in “payback mode” with symptom exacerbation for weeks to come. Stay tuned for more about our camping adventure in future posts – a trip which truly did have a carnival-type atmosphere (and not always in the fun sense) at times. Let’s just say we were never bored!

    This post was written by Jeanne at Copyright © Jeanne — All rights reserved.

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    August 1, 2011   9 Comments