It’s Been a Long Time 09/07/2017

Hi!

I know, it’s been a long time since my last post. I wasn’t as far out of my anxiety/depression/fibromyalgia flare episode as I thought. I backslid. It feels like I’ve been in a fibro flare since September. I usually have a flare when the seasons change and when there are weather disturbances. Winter was so weird this year I didn’t stop flaring.

I’ve decided to concentrate on the blog and a few farmer’s markets/craft markets for the rest of the year. I’m also going to practice extreme self-care in an attempt to not have a repeat eight-month episode. As I feel better I can write up my designs and go through that process. My hope is to blog five or more times per week and participate in at least two markets. I’ll add anything I make to the shop and just close it on market days so the same thing doesn’t sell twice.

I have a pile of different things I’ve made during the past six months that just need the ends woven in, to be washed, photographed and added to the shop. I’m going to work on those this week. Weather permitting I will even be able to use sunlight rather than artificial lights!

Blog-wise I plan to continue Simply Sunday and Tuesday Quotation posts. The rest will be updates on what I’m doing and book or product reviews.

One big life change is that my pension plan (from my last employer) sent me an exit package with four options:

1-leave my locked-in pension money with then until I can begin accessing it as a retiree at 55.
2-transfer it into another HOOPP (Hospitals Of Ontario Pension Plan) employer if I was working at another hospital.
3-transfer it to another employer pension.
4-transfer it to a financial institution in a LIRA (Locked-In Retirement Account) or transfer the above locked-in portion to a LIRA and take a cash amount to keep or put into an RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan)

I chose option 4 and to keep the cash. I received it a few weeks ago. I plan to live off that cash as long as possible. It was $89 355.00 locked-in and $92 238.12 cash (in a cheque) and allows me to get off social assistance. It feels like a weight of stress is off my back! It’s so nice to not have to worry too much about money! I kept a few thousand in my regular savings account and put the rest in a higher interest savings account. I want to see just how much or little I need before I start removing money out of the higher interest savings account monthly.

When I checked on health insurance to cover what I’m losing by going off assistance I found the monthly fees would be more than my monthly prescriptions cost due to all my health issues. It’s going to be cheaper to just pay for what OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) doesn’t cover. I will basically have to pay for prescription drugs, glasses, dental care, massages, chiropractic visits, physiotherapy visits and a semi-private or private hospital room should I be admitted to a hospital.

I admit I have made a few large purchases since receiving that cheque. I went from depositing it at the Credit Union directly across the street to the electronics store. I purchased a MacBook Air and an iPad Pro, both in the smaller size. I’ve since had to purchase a few Mac programs I use on my iPhone 6SE and iPad; I wish third party apps could be used across all Apple products, not just the Apple apps! I’m still learning the intricacies of the differences between Mac and PC computers. This is my first Mac.

I’ve bought some e-books-ok, lots of e-books.

I plan on replacing my FitBit One; its button is taped on and half of the neoprene cover has fallen off or is close to falling off. It’s lasted at least five years though-probably more-I’d have to look up when I first joined the FitBit website community.

I joined DoTerra an essential oil provider, as a wellness consultant. As a consultant I can sell to others, sign up other consultants and receive discounts on the oils and other products I purchase. I’m still learning about all that this can entail. My first shipment has been shipped but hasn’t yet arrived.

I rejoined the Yarn Love Yarn Club for six months. I love Katie’s yarns and her colour sense! I’m so glad I am now financially able to rejoin. I missed receiving those wonderful monthly yarns! Katie also sells jewellery now, I bought a few bracelets from her too. The bracelets are on their way too.

Q1 2017 Review

These first three months of 2017 did not go anything like I had planned. I signed up for many online courses and had tonnes of ebooks to read and review.

I’ve been in a major depressive episode with anxiety and overwhelm since mid-January. I realized what was going on mid-February and started trying to climb out. Things were improving. I had an eye appointment and learned I needed new glasses and should get bifocals. My optometrist was willing to hold off on the bifocals for another year since I couldn’t afford bifocals but I still had enough of a prescription change to require new glasses anyway. (I picked up my new glasses last week.) 

I learned about a craft/small business market to be held quarterly in town and obtained the registration forms planning to register for all four. I planned to register after returning from my oncology appointment the next week. 

While in the city the morning of my appt my sister called. Her eldest, my 23 yo nephew had died. That was Feb.21. CancerCare was great and expidited my appointment getting me in right away. My mother and I hit the highway immediately for the five hour drive home.

The autopsy on my nephew was inconclusive and we haven’t heard back on the lab test results. We still don’t know what happened to Mike. He just didn’t wake up that morning.

Needless to say I slid back into my depression with grief added to the mix. I’ve done little business-wise since mid-January until recently. I can’t concentrate but I can still crochet my old standby washcloth! I posted to my blog twice. All my pre-scheduled posts have been used. I didn’t register for the markets yet. I knew I wasn’t emotionally ready for the March 11th one but I still plan to register for the remaining ones.

I’m slowly trying to get to a new normal and get back on track with my business but I gave myself this month to recovery and self-care and what business I can do easily.

I can concentrate better now but any attempts to read nonfiction fail. I have the attention span of my five year old nephew! I have been able to read fiction so watch for reviews in the next few weeks. I’m slowly starting to knit more than just washcloths. I can still access some of those courses and still plan of starting and completing them. But, I’m still recovering and plan on a slow start to Q2.

A Healthier Life Update 02/06/2016

I hope to continue these A Healthier Me post monthly.

My  fibromyalgia is still flaring from the change from winter to spring. The temperatures keep rising and falling yet the rainstorms of spring have begun. We’ve also had snow repeatedly and hail occasionally. My body does not like temperature and barometric changes anymore. As a result my pain and fatigue levels are high. And summer will be upon us soon!

www.bridgwatercrafts.com
The crabapple tree in bloom!

I am still meeting monthly with the various members of the Diabetes Program. My dietician was off sick the day of my May appointment so I saw their other dietician. She gave me some good tips considered she was squeezing my dietician’s patiients in between her own. One of her suggestions was making my own tortilla chips by purchasing pre-made tortillas from the grocery store, seasoning then baking. They are lower calorie than store bought tortilla chips. I’ve made some since but haven’t eaten them yet as we are finishing off the bought ones first.

Although I haven’t been able to do all the exercises their Kinesiologist planned I have been able to do cardio almost daily. I’m up to 40 minutes on my stationary bike. I’ve even biked a few times despite walking 20-40 minutes to appointments. It’s become a habit to bike daily.

Slowly my health is changing for the better. I would rather make small steady changes than drastic large changes. I want my changes to be lifelong not short-term quick changes. I tallied up the numbers yesterday. Since February, I have lost 15.25 cm/6″ total off my bust, waist, and hips! Since April 1, I have lost 3.4 kg/7.5 lbs! My blood glucose levels have started coming down. It’s encouraging to see results!

Now I’m working on adding stretches and strengthening exercises to my routine and reducing my carbohydrate intake. The trick, I’m learning is to make the changes slowly enough that my fibromyalgia does not continue flaring but regularly enough to become habits.

If you want to read the previous posts on this theme they are linked below:

May
March
February

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Review: MedNexus

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am receiving compensation by MedNexus for this review.

MedNexus is a new medical search engine for patients that weeds out the magnitude of sites to direct the patient to the most reputable sites offering the best, most up to date information. MedNexus can be found on Facebook and on Twitter.

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I worked in the health care industry for 22 years, ending with 12 years in the health records department. I also have multiple chronic illnesses. I have used the Internet extensively to find medical information for both personal and work needs. I wish a site of this caliber existed years ago!

MedNexus has advisory boards (business; Medical; and Scientific) in place to guide them in filtering the available information. They have extensive Privacy and Terms of Service policies in place. The website is mobile responsive and as easy to use on my tablet as my laptop.

Searching for diseases is simple and provides a number of results. Diseases have Explained, Diagnosis, Treatment, Management and Risk Factors sections. This area is a work in progress; not all have this section, at least a few of my more rare disorders are not set up yet. Searches result in Health Topics; Published Research; Ongoing Clinical Trials and Forum Discussion.

I searched nine of my medical conditions including the treatment of my thyroid cancer doing ten searches in total. All ten provided great results in all categories. Common terms are used and medical terms clearly explained. All matched up with my understanding of my conditions baring in mind I did not go into each and every search result. Some had hundreds of Health Topics and thousands of Forum Discussions!

I am very impressed with MedNexus. The founders, Nathanael Geman and Kevin Ann, have done a wonderful job. I would definitely recommend this search engine to my blog readers, family, friends and old coworkers. I will certainly tell my three family members who work in different departments of our local health centre about them.

If you give MedNexus a try they would appreciate your filling out their survey to help them continue building a great site!

A Healthier Life Update 03/03/2016

On February 18th in my A Healthier Life post I spoke about the changes I’ve made health-wise and future plans. This morning I had an appointment with my primary health care provider. She had received the lab results from a few weeks ago. Things are worse than I thought, my friends.
My Diabetes is officially uncontrolled. I’ve never been in the uncontrolled range. My a1c (a blood test of your blood glucose levels and a few other things) came back at 8.0. It’s never been out of the 6-6.8 range since my diagnosis in 2011. 6s are considered perfectly controlled for diabetics; 5 is not diabetic or extremely perfect for a diabetic. Once you have diabetes you have it for life; there is no cure, only treatments. So we increased my dosage of Metformin and sent a consult to the local Diabetes Education Program. I don’t know how long their wait list is especially since I was referred to a multiple of their services. I may hear back this week or it could be weeks from now.
In the meantime, I’m going to make some changes. I’m going to check my blood glucose levels more frequently instead of the once a week or so I was before. I’m going to continue tracking my food but instead of waiting until the thirty days of solidarity are over I’m going to start making dietary changes now. In the past few weeks of tracking I have found I frequently eat far more than my recommended calories and way more carbohydrates than I realized. So starting tomorrow, I am going to start decreasing my caloric intake and my net carbohydrate grams. I also need to increase my physical activity level so I’m burning more calories. I want to start walking outdoors more but the ups and downs of our temperature make the sidewalks slippery so I’m going to take that slow until Spring. I’m going to start with a daily walk to the mailbox and exercising at home.
This doesn’t mean I will stop trying to drink 2L/day or sleep better or do my neck stretches. Those will be continued. It just means my plan for becoming healthier has been accelerated.
Hopefully my next health update will bring better news!

2016 Plans

Oprah Winfrey said “A lesson will keep repeating itself until it is learned. Life first will send the lesson to you in the size of a pebble; if you ignore the pebble, then life will send you a brick; if you ignore the brick, life will send you a brick wall; if you ignore the brick wall, life will send you a demolition truck.”
In 2015 I was sent that demolition truck. I lost my full-time job, my house and most importantly control of my failing health. I’m slowly climbing out of the rubble left behind but in the process I broke a lot of promises. Promises made here, on social networks and “in real life”. I take responsibility for those. I can’t change them but I can say I’m sorry and I’m working on fixing things. Part of fixing those things is abandoning, for the time being, finishing writing my books C’ést Ma Vie 2015 and C’ést Ma Vie 2016. 

Instead this year I’m going to work on my business, my designing and my health. Balancing a business and fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cervical disc degeneration with neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, high blood pressure, moderately high cholesterol, recurrent labyrinthitis, the possible recurrence of my thyroid cancer, and the latest, recurrent corneal abrasion syndrome with basement cell dystrophy in my left eye can be very difficult. I had surgery for the same disorder in January 2006 in my right eye. I was told at that time it is usually in both eyes but didn’t have any issues with my left eye until summer 2015. Balancing all that can be difficult especially when you add life into the mix too. But I’m going to try to find that elusive balance this year.

I’m working on a crochet afghan right now. Technically it’s a sample for a design but in reality it is so much more. I designed this pattern for my toddler great-nephew. I crocheted it first in a toddler size then started a king-size bed size (which is unfinished, I ran out of one important colour). This one though is special in a different way. This one is going to be a gift given to a refugee family a group in town is sponsoring. This family has gone through so much in an attempt to leave a war zone. We don’t know when they will be arriving yet. But it will be in the next few months-during winter. I can’t even imagine the shock the family will have leaving the east coast of Africa to come to a small town in Canada. Culture shock, weather shock. How do you prepare to go from a place of 40+’C to potential -40’C? This family is going to be cold no matter how many clothes are given to them. Hopefully this blanket will help.

I’m also working on a knitted afghan design sample. The sample will be a birthday gift for my nephew’s fifth birthday in April. I told him yesterday he has to stop growing or I’ll never get this afghan complete! He gave me a look then ignored me for a television show. But the adults and his big sister laughed!

I also have a few designs almost ready for release, and a few I need to finish writing up before testing can start. I basically have seven designs in progress right now. Wow, I didn’t realize how many until just now!

On the life side, I’m going to try to read more ( I can’t believe I only read eight books in 2015!); spend more time with family; crochet and knit for pleasure; and try to patiently wait for approval or denial of my provincial and federal disability applications.

Wish me luck!

September is here!

Can you believe it’s September already? We are finally getting summer weather and autumn is quickly approaching. The geese are flying south and I’ve seen some leaves changing colours!

I’ve had three corneal abrasions in two weeks. Now I’m having an allergic reaction to the meds for the abrasions. My eyelids are red, itchy and swollen.

All the eye issues have backed everything up. I’m behind on my packing and moving. I’m way behind on my reading. The content planning for the blog is behind. I’ve had to delay my first periscope. I’ve been spending a lot of time crocheting instead.

But there are some good things too…I received my first social assistance cheque! I had a haircut for the first time in months! I signed up for a second year of the Starship! I’m watching lots of periscopes and learning a lot.

I just signed up for a 30 day branding challenge by Maya Elious. I’ll need to do Day 1 and 2 tomorrow or stay one day behind as I just received the first email and it’s 22:33. I need to go to bed soon but that’s what I get for not reading my emails until bedtime.

I’m hoping to start posting more often this month. Ideally, I want to post daily like I did last November. I’m working on organizing an editorial (content) plan. That’s another thing the eye problems have delayed but I have been thinking about it a lot.

See you tomorrow!

Designs Updates

It’s been a while since I posted a design update. There’s a few reasons for that; my own health issues, a death in the family, and family health emergencies. As a result, I’m lagging behind where I thought I’d be now.

The February chapter of the book is not yet published. I hope to finish that this weekend and upload it to the sales sites. Then I can show you the designs.

The March chapter is with the proofreaders. One of the designs is knit but the pattern not complete nor photography done. I decided I did not like the way the crochet design; a math error early on meant it did not turn out as envisioned. When even blocking didn’t correct that I ripped it out. It has been restarted with the correct math and a bigger hook. It is now looking as I planned.

While in denial of the crochet design fail, I started the April knit design. It was going great until I put it down to finish the corrected Cathlyn design.

Then my little great-nephew needed a spring toque so I started crocheting him one. That is almost done. A variation of it may go in the design pile for later. Basically I can’t focus, so I fallen onto a variant of are sign I’ve been crocheting for years as little brainpower is required. I’ve made a few modifications in the last few days that sparked a design idea. I’m almost done the hat but my shoulder is bothering me so I stopped for the night.

I have no design pictures for you but here’s one from my bedroom window a few days ago. I was not impressed at the newly fallen snow!

April Snow
April Snow

C’est Ma Vie! 2015 is for Sale!!!

It’s been three months from the idea to fruition.

The fall last weekend backed me up a week. It is exactly seven days after the planned release, and it’s taken most of the day but it’s happened. The files and the covers have been uploaded. Descriptions and thank you emails typed. All that remains is waiting for purchasers; and the next chapter, of course.

Chapter Two: February is almost complete. The designs are almost ready for editing. Can you believe it’s almost March?!

For those of you on Ravelry, a just the patterns version will be available there tomorrow. If you buy the C’est Ma Vie! With Patterns version, contact me via the same email as your PayPal account with your Ravelry username. I’ll send you a coupon code for the Ravelry version so you can have the patterns in your library.

The books are available here or via Payhip. The regular version is $15.00 CAD. The version with patterns is $25.00 CAD. It looks like a huge difference in price but there are thirteen knit and eleven crochet patterns included in the pattern version. That’s a pretty good deal-less than a dollar a pattern whether you do both crafts or not.