Monday, January 11, 2016

Recover "ed"

Today I went back to work today after missing 12.5 days.

If you know me, you know that this is unbelieveable. One day off maybe, but 12.5. What the what!

I haven't missed that many days of work in a row since 2011 when I had my cancer surgery and before that it was 2007 when I got diagnosed with Crohn's disease so, you know it must have been a bit of a big deal.

Without providing TMI, I had a big surgery but that is not what this blog is about.

I wanted to come back to work after Christmas. That would have been 4.5 days off after a major surgery. I was feeling guilty and always feel guilty whenever I am not at work. I get paid to be there right? I need to be present for our school, students, staff, and community right? Well, if you remember my unfortunate hospitalization in August for the stupid disseminated Zoster virus mess (see blog Never Fully Charged) I like to be a work. I like my job and especially the people I get to be with everyday.

But, something changed when I reread my Never Fully Charged post. I realized I was actually letting my school community down but not being even close to 100%. Why would I return again to work and not be at my best. Why return "recovering" when I need to return "recovered"? It took me to November to recover from the summer situation and this was going to be no easy recovery either.

Then I saw this picture "you can't pour from an empty cup".

I would hope that those that know me, have worked with me, or care in anyway for me realize that I needed to "recover". Not just be ok, and ready to go but actually "recovered" from this major surgery. I hope people know that rarely do I put myself first. (Check out Simon Sinek's book Leaders Eat Last and his YouTube talk Why Leaders Eat Last

I have slept, cooked good meals, gone for walks, knitted, read, worked on my doctorate final dissertation, and just rested - something I can't really remember doing for a long time. I feel amazing. I am ready to go and be a good leader again. I am feeling 95% (tough to be 100% with Crohn's disease always looming in the background) but am proud that I made the decision to listen to the doctors and surgeons to take this time needed to fully recover.

To those who are feeling guilty about being at home because you are not well, stop it. Take the time you need to be your best because your friends, family, and co-workers deserve you to be firing on all cylinders.

Today was wonderful. I felt great, got to see all my school community, got lots done and was able to get back at it!

A lot of people are posting their "word" for 2016. word is RECOVERED and proud of it.



Sunday, September 20, 2015

"Never Fully Charged"

It's been over 8 months since my last blog post. I know that's sounds awful but I haven't been well and for the first time in a long time I have learned to pick and chose where I put my energy and a blog post (for me) takes a lot of work.

Today I had an epiphany while chatting with my colleague Ann Marie. I was sharing with her my disappointment in the way I have been feeling and work output and she texted "Never fully charged! Hard to start a year on a low low battery." She's so right. I don't realize that I will never be 100% all the time ever again and I need to come to terms with that.
This summer was awesome. Lennie and I took holidays and did some wonderful adventures to Vermont, Boston, Bermuda, and Calumet. We had his brother and family visit, friends in from Germany, and did many projects around the house.

We even adopted 2 kittens that we have be waiting to do for a long time.

For the first time in a long time I felt good and even did some runs at the track and then...I started to feel I had the flu. I know what that means, I know when I am not well.

A flu that wouldn't go away. A flu that caused terrible headaches. A flu that caused a rash. Then I found a bubble on my side that we thought it was poison ivy or prickly heat rash. But, the headaches, chills, and sweats continued and I thought maybe I had the chicken pox and I couldn't take it any more so I took myself to the ER.

They quickly took me in, did blood work, got me on an IV and put me in isolation. Many teams came thru and looked at me and said lots of "oohs" and "ahas" and then referred me to infectious diseases. They attended and quickly said that I had something called Disseminated Zoster virus. It's Shingles but in 7 different parts of my body. I needed to be hospitalized, put on antiviral, kept away from others who may or may not of had chicken pox and that I was really sick.

I knew it. I knew I was in bad shape. The pain was unbearable and they quickly got me numerous pain and sleep meds. I don't remember much after that till about 4 days later where I woke up on the 6th floor at Vic. Hospital in an isolation room. The body pain was better, I still had a wicked headache and sores all over my body including my face and eye. Teams came thru and talked to me, an eye specialist came and did tests, IVs continued and I slept.

In 2007 when I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease we made the decision that I would take immune suppressors to fight that disease BUT it would make me more susceptible to viruses. Well, here it is, a tough virus to deal with. Also, complicating this fight was the stupid thyroid cancer that always squeezes its way into every problem and certainly doesn't help the cause with its medication and ridiculous aftermath.

Lennie and my parents visited but it was difficult because you had to dress in protective stuff.

Of course I started to panic because the list of things I wanted to get done at school before the kids arrived started to add up. New staff room, bulletin boards, calls to families, and meetings needed to be accomplished. Plus we had a new VP joining our team and I wanted to do a good job creating a trusting, respectful relationship as an admin partnership.

After several more days I started to get very upset because I didn't feel I was getting any better, my care was getting mismanaged due to an unbelievably busy floor at Vic, and I was lonely in this room 24 hours a day. I begged to go home and after some difficult conversations with many Dr teams they let my mom bring me home promising to stay away from others and wear a protective mask for a while.

They gave me another 7 days of oral antiviral meds and I came home to be looked after by the kitties.

So now here I am 2 weeks into the school year and "never fully charged" from this summer has been tough! Unfortunately, part of the hospital plan was to remove me from my methotrexate that I take for my Crohn's disease because it is an immune suppressor which would have counteracted the antiviral so of course, 3 weeks off that has caused all my auto immune stuff to flare up.

It feels like my body doesn't know what to fight - you know when you have too many apps open on your devices and it makes you feel like it is not functioning as well as it should? Well, my body is trying to decide where to put its energy. Crohn's, arthritis, shingles, school, psoriasis, thyroid, doctorate, vertigo?

What I have realized today is that I will never be fully charged because of the numerous functions my body is trying to manage. I have already made huge sacrifices to conserve my body's battery energy to work full time and do my doctorate but, I am going to have to make even more.

I am happy that I was able to do a blog, that must be a good sign. I am also 8 months from finishing the doctorate which takes a lot of energy. I am also back on the methotrexate which should kick in soon and handle all the autoimmune symptoms well.

So I just need to relax, take a day at a time, ask for help from others, be patience and recognize my "new normal" of  being "never fully charged" will be ok.

What do you do to re charge your batteries?  Is that important to you? Anyone else feeling the "too many apps open" squeeze?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hello Knitty

Little known fact...I have been knitting since I was 19 years old.

My mom and grandma taught me in Cardiff, Ontario in the spring of 1988. I had left high school to finish it by correspondence classes because I really wasn't transitioning well from my move home from living in France.

Looking back on it I was too big for my britches and needed some grounding from my grandparents. Since there was no Internet back then I would snail mail my assignments to and from my teachers and while waiting, I learned to knit.

I loved it then and still to this day feel it is one of the few things I do which truly centres me.
Last Christmas when we started our sabbatical I knit a sweater and this Christmas I went nuts and completed 4 projects and 1/2 of another.

Using the leftover purple yarn from last year's sweater, I knit a slouch hat.
Then I made Megan and me cool shawl like items. I joined the website and have been able to track all my projects.

They turned out pretty good. I took the brown one and Megan requested a purple one.

I posted the photos on social media and my cousin Sarah requested a circle scarf so I made that too. It was easy but I didn't do a good job of the seam so learned how to do an invisible one for the next scarf.

Now I am working on this cardigan in the colour charcoal. I love it so far and it looks great. Plus, it is an easy pattern.

All this knitting has got me inspired to start a knitting club.

Here's the voting list for the knitting club names I'm starting. Which one do you like?
1. Loopers
2. Hello Knitty
3. Purl Jam
4. Wholly Knit
5. Sheep Trick
6. Knitty by Nature
7. Rows before Bros
8. The Knit Wits

Club "draft" statutes...
- Thou shall attend with own stuff.
- Thou shall not talk about work.
- Thou shall clean up own mess.
- Thou shall drink coffee/tea/wine & lots of it.
- Thou shall not poke anyone with needles.
- Thou shall measure twice and cut once.

Anyone want in?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

I'm sweet enough

Here is the "before photo"

On July 17th Megan and I returned from our awesome trip to Mississippi with a little bit of money, some shopping, and a new found understanding of our sugar addiction. Challenging each other to 8 days of going sugar free (the length of time her kids were still away at camp) we began the challenge.
We recognized that we both have awful eating habits that are surrounded with bad choices, too much crap, and a lot of items with no nutritional value.

We brainstormed healthy choices and possible snacks that were sugar free plus that she would pick me up each night at 7:00pm for a walk (the exact time we normally would begin our binge eating nightly fun).

The first couple of days were great and easy plus we got walks in. The next couple sucked with headaches, crankiness, and cravings. Oh the cravings! We pushed through and hit our 8 days and she left to pick up the kids at camp. I said we should go for 6 more days to hit 2 weeks of sugar free. She had lost 5 pounds and Lennie (who was doing nothing) lost 6 and we wanted to punch him. I was the somewhat the same.

We continued to research foods, eat healthy breakfasts, and fight our cravings. Next thing you know we have gone 2 weeks, then a month and now we are at the 3 month mark. Thursday I go to the doctor for an official weigh in. I know what I started at and last week I had lost 22.5 pounds so far.

I was most worried when I returned to school in September knowing I had terrible habits of not eating breakfast then binging when I got home. For some reason that has not happened. Lennie has been making protein shakes and leaving one for me on the counter when he leaves. We have lots of bagels to toast and eat on the run.

My 46th birthday was this week and I threw myself a party and didn't eat a single bit of sugar. I didn't even want it. I did have lots of treats for my friends but stuck to healthy stuff plus lots of fruit and veggies. Tomorrow is thanksgiving and pie has always been my favourite part of the big feast. I will not eat any and have no interest in ruining how great I am feeling.

The biggest change is the complete elimination of mood swings. Without any sugar, you have no highs or crashes in the day. I really feel the difference in my emotional control and reduction of "freak outs". Unbelievable actually as you can feel yourself in control as opposed to feeling out of emotional control.

I am hoping to hit the 25 pound loss benchmark this week at the doctor and can see even greater weight loss in my future. This is the first time something has worked, been easy (except for the first week), been free, and been the right thing for me.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Catching up from summer 2014.

What a great summer we are having. I can't remember a better one. For many years I have worked many weeks throughout the typical teacher summer or we have jammed packed it so that we don't get to enjoy our home and pool. This summer we said to try and limit trips, spend time together, and continue to get project done around the house. Our garden looks awesome.

I finished an intercession course for my doctorate and got 97% yes, 97%. I worked really hard and the learning just clicked for me. I have started the summer course and am enjoying this one too. This is really inspiring me for the fall at my new school, so I have spent so time getting ready and organized.

My BFF Megan and I went to Mississippi last week and had an awesome time. I love the trips through my Total rewards points and it was beautiful, fun, and great to spend time together since we didn't have our annual March Break trip because Lennie and I were away.

When we returned Megan and I agreed that our eating habits suck and we need to get off sugar. We swore off sugar for 8 days. I have spent the time cooking and loving it. Lennie and I have enjoyed all kinds of great things, no yucky snacks or sugary drinks plus Megan and I have walked each night. I have definitely lost some weight so far, feel great, and look forward to the next 8 days of our challenge.

We also have enjoyed catching up with our cat Checkers. Ok, he's not ours and we don't know who he belongs to, or what his real name is, but he has adopted us and it feels great. Lennie and I still miss our fur babies Tigger and Winnie everyday so when this handsome beautiful guy stumbled into our yard, we were so happy. We give him some food and he snuggles but then leaves and comes back every couple of hours. Been awesome.

The last thing we have done is been participating in some charity golfing events. I quit golf a couple of years ago - long story, but is like golfing for a good cause and we even got to meet Darcy Tucker.

Can't wait to see what August brings. Hugs to all.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Week 26 of BZ Adventure - the official end

June 21 - 27

Well Lennie is gone to Quebec - awesome!!!  That means I can organize and clean without him seeing some of the stuff I am throwing out.  I am going to tackle the basement first as I have a ton of stuff from my educational career that I need to organize before next Friday when I move to the new school.

I was able to get it all down to 16 boxes!!! The garbage men with thrilled with all the garbage and recycling.  I was thrilled as we have nothing left in the basement and I have only kept the extra special student work plus all my stuff I need for admin.

This is our last official week of the sabbatical - even though we do not work in the summer - well I have to work the first week of July and last week of August - our leave official ends June 30th so this will be last post of the BZ Adventure.

I have learned a ton.  Mostly, that we don't need so much stuff, the world is actually quite small but very special.  We will be doing this leave again in 5 years and I look forward to planning it and seeing where it leads.

This week we also celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary - WOW.  While I took a ton of photos on our trip, these are a few of my favourite of us.

Week 25 of BZ Adventure

June 14 - 20

Spent the week working on my doctorate course.  An assignment was a book review on any leadership book that is not on the course syllabus.  I chose Dr. Dennis Spark's book Leading For Results.

Once you submitted your book review you were to create an on line presentation of your book summarizing it for your colleagues.  Some people did power point things and of course I racked my brain to do something unique.  I learn how to use imovie and using my phone, I made this video.  Everyone liked it, including Dr. Sparks who I sent it to first for approval (I sent him my paper too and he gave me an A+).

Check out video presentation of the book Leading for Results