Image by Gravitywave via Flickr

If it’s not birds, it’s mosquitoes. The near constant rain has resurrected a long dormant type for double teaming duty with the regular bloodsuckers we normally have. The new variety though isn’t nocturnal. It likes sunshine too making it impossible to avoid being bitten.

The Fort’s soccer fields and playgrounds practically pulsate with them. Dee and I have been swarmed twice in the last week and it makes me wonder how people coped back in yore without pesticide deterrents.

By “swarmed” I mean literally covered. Remember those commercials where the guy sticks his arm into an aquarium filled with the little pests and it disappears under the creatures. That kind of swarmed.

I don’t even have to be bitten to itch. For some reason, just contact sets my skin aflame with intense itching that last for about 10 or so minutes after.

And with West Nile and encephalitis being a mosquito carried threat anymore, it’s hard to shrug the plague off as just a summer side-effect to be endured. It also makes me feel a bit guilty leaving Dee to fend at soccer camp this week, slowly eaten by mosquitoes all day.

Summer in Alberta is not as awesome as years past.

Ear Infection

Image by clappstar via Flickr

Ear infections were the bane of my early childhood. I vividly remember having my ear drum lanced when I was about 4 years old. Easily one of the most painful medical procedures ever and remember, I’ve given birth and had my tonsils out as an adult – among other things, so I have a vast base for comparison.

Ear aches are common for me again because of the whole sinus issues thing. I had hoped the recent allergy testing would prove revelatory and provide a basis for relief.

No such luck.

I am allergic to nothing though I am having histamine over-reactions. Blood is off somewhere being micro-analyzed but the allergist doesn’t hold out much hope of finding a concrete cause because my irritants are man-made/chemical in nature.

“Well,” Rob said, ” at least we know that earth isn’t rejecting you. You are rejecting the earth.”

Only the man dominated parts of it.

The last couple of nights, as I also battle a mutant cold, my eyes have puffed like and itched and I couldn’t figure out why until it occurred to me that the blanket we’d brought up from the living room for extra warmth smelled like Rob’s mother.

The perfume was the culprit and the offending blanket is now in the wash.

But it’s frustrating not knowing what will trigger a reaction and I am tired of taking allergy medicine daily when the reality is that I don’t come into contact with triggers daily.

An allergic reaction to sawdust right before the holiday laid the foundation for sinus issues which triggered my ear trouble and set me up for a hard fall with this cold I now have – courtesy, we believe, of the soon to be FIL.

Years of allergic reactions have damaged my Eustachian tubes until the weenies clamp closed at the slightest provocation.

Going to the doctor in the old days of my American life meant antibiotics and a swift return to the land of the tolerably living, but in the Canadian wilds, I am told to use OTC’s and suck it up, which – unsurprisingly takes longer and about half the time lands me back in the doctor’s office with a “take to my bed” kind of infection.

What to do? What indeed.

Personally, I loathe taking Rx drugs because I am the kind of person for whom side-effects are a given. And though life is flexible enough that I can take to my bed – bed is boring.

Home remedies only take a person so far but so far so good in my case. Without a fever (and I pretty much have to be consumed with disease to run a fever at any rate), I can expect little action from the medical profession.

Yoga starts up again tonight. It might be a seated posture class. Just saying.

reiki cat

Leslie, my old college chum, sent me a message via Facebook not long ago asking if I would be interested in helping her out. She’s studying Healing Touch and needed to practice her distance healing.

Iowa to Alberta is a purty fer distance so it qualifies.

I’ve mentioned Les before. She has always been the most interesting and open to all things of my friends. Her training includes Reiki and she is at master level, but she is exploring Healing Touch too. Similar and yet not, it involves tapping the cosmic energy or the universe or God – whatever resonates most for you in order to wrap your understanding about what amounts to super-sensitive/charged beings manipulating life force to promote well-being, health and healing if necessary.

Do I believe in this?

Totally.  I can see the air after all. Multi-colored specs ripple all around me. I was probably five or six when I realized that not everyone could see them, and as it is hard to explain exactly what I see without alarming people, I learned to keep it to myself. It’s a bit like my useless talent for knowing when/if people will have children or not, or my daughter’s ability to dream snippets of her life in advance.

She took my “history” and asked about problem areas in much the same way a massage or physical therapist would and we set up a time.

This morning I experienced “healing touch” and I must say it is in no way magicky or new age. It was very much like massage in that it can be felt in an immediate and tangible way.

I’d explained to Les that my forearms were sore from yoga. The muscles are tight and they are one of the last remaining holdouts in my quest to liberate myself physically as the low back and hamstrings have long since surrendered to the void and my shoulder unknotted ages ago.

Quickly into the session, they warmed and began to feel as though wrapped in soft warm flannel or cotton casts.

Since my allergies are acting up, I asked her to focus on the sinuses too and throughout the session they drained. The fullness and pressure vanished and an intense flushing occurred.

When we talked later, she told me that she’d also done a lymphatic flush and mind clearing. The latter was truly interesting because close to the end of the session I was suddenly aware of a thin red line swirling around my head at eye level. It reminded me of the scanners at store check-outs, but instead of being a steady line, it gave the impression that it was shooting around my head.

Right now I am feeling a little wrung out. The lymph flush no doubt. Therapeutic massage has the same effect though it tends to lag about 24 hrs whereas this hit within hours. Not likely something that would happen if I were not battling allergies and had a good night’s sleep under my belt. Last night was fitful because I am not tolerating the sawdust. My eyes swelled and itch intolerably. Gogi berry caps are good but not decisive in quelling the histamine reaction entirely.

The past couple of days has given me a chance to gab girl-style in a way I haven’t been able to for quite a while. I am reminded again of my isolation living here without family and old friends. Though it is a ways off still, the planned trip to Iowa is welcome. I plan to take advantage of proximity and indulge in old ties.

Reiki and Healing Touch are not so far removed from my yoga training as they might sound. It’s all energy based. We are essentially bits of charged matter that decided for reasons unknown to take solid shape. My yoga teachers and my massage therapist talk about transference of energy in physical adjustments, and I was a public school teacher long enough to know that there is more than a bit of energy corralling and exchange going on in the pupil-teacher relationship.

That the distance healing could work was something I did not question though the intensity was a surprise. I didn’t expect it to be as immediate and intense. Of course, why wouldn’t it be? Energy is not confined in its pure form by time and space  (pardon my ignorance of physics here because I know there are rules).

I will try this again. I don’t want to abuse or presume on our friendship though. Like yoga, healing sessions should be remunerated as we value what we must pay for in some way more than what is just given to us even when it comes from a generous intention.

Wall between office/living room

Image by adamrice via Flickr

Apparently, houses stay up better with load bearing walls. Who knew?

No, the house hasn’t collapsed and the beam didn’t drop on my head as I helped steady it though I had visions of an ER visit, split skull and concussion whenever it wobbled.

Unsurprisingly, my husband did not ask for help even though I was sitting not ten feet away in the office and he could have called Silver earlier in the evening as Edie offered his assistance not once but twice in the same number of days this week.

I had to insist a bit. Not because I enjoy helping. All things hoisting provoke visions of muscle tearing and ligament wrenching when it doesn’t simply make me fear for my safety in general. I offered because the grunting is scary and the thumps – alarming.

By quarter to eleven – yes, that’s P.M. – one of new beams was in place and Dee, at least, was not likely to wake up in the former dining room.

The dust had settled enough to vacuum, which was good because my skin itched even where there were no hives and my eyes, one of which had nearly swelled shut, felt as raw as my sinuses. This was not, perhaps, the best week to be scheduled for allergy testing as I am not allowed any antihistamines or cold medication.

Fortunately, a yoga buddy clued me to the awesome power of gogi berry capsules. Two and my eyes were merely itchy as opposed to clamping shut.

The beams replace the load bearing wall and should be up and secured by end of week – all six of them. After that the front room opens up to us again and we can begin making hurried preparations for Christmas.

Rob’s family – blood and in-law – are converging from all directions, and I have a feeling that things will be Chinese curse equivalent at the very least.

But one interesting moment at a time.


Shadow, canola, and sky

Image by Chris & Lara Pawluk via Flickr


The fields surrounding the hamlet we live in are hard to see these days. Dust kicked up by the harvest as combines the size of houses roam with manic purpose, desperate to finish a harvest thwarted by a wetter than usual autumn that followed on the heels of a soggy summer.

Being allergic to the produce is only half my problem. I am reactive to dirty air in general as my lungs take issue with being required to perform the simple filtering task for which they were designed in the first place.  Gritty air plus allergens means my lungs burn even as the muscles of my chest, upper back and side knot in anticipation of the histamine onslaught.

Yesterday, it felt like my bottom ribs were riddled with cracks like an antique glaze on ceramic. Today is a tad better as there seem to be fewer farmers dusting the breeze.

The worst thing about my asthma, aside from having it at all, is the confinement. Even the windows hold me in as I strive to keep the particle saturation to a minimum indoors.

I saw the Doctor again today to follow-up on my lung function test – which they didn’t have – but she and I agree that it is my allergies that are ground-zero. Asthma is merely a by-product. Identify and control the allergies and the asthma will be subdued as a side-effect.

Allergy testing won’t commence until just before Christmas. That’s the first available appointment.

In the meantime, I am – uncharacteristically and well aware of the irony – hoping for a good rain.

Basically when you have food allergies, you don’t eat out. That kind of normal experience that nearly everyone takes for granted is not an option for you. Whereas food in the grocery comes with labels that are about 90% helpful in helping you avoid thing things that will make you sick, restaurants are not similarly labeled.

Friday night we tried to eat out at a new place in The Fort, a Vietnamese noodle house. Asian foods, if I am alert for peanuts, are strangely easier for me to eat. Rob was a bit dubious. He has learned (more quickly than I ironically) that dining out nearly always ends in disaster. The only safe bets include Subway, Subjoint and anyplace that serves eggs and toast any time of day. The short list of my allergies includes: peanuts, tomatoes, anything citrus, oil, butter, onions, red meat, pig, and chicken. It might not seem a long list but try to find a seasoning or sauce that doesn’t contain tomato or onion. You wouldn’t believe the number of foods that those two things alone knock off the “good foods” list. Vegetarian options are not plentiful when they exist at all and most dishes are prepared with some kind of oil and the more oil used the sicker I will be. 

When we arrived at the Noodle House, I had surprisingly high hopes. We walked in, however, and were greeted with a CASH ONLY PLEASE sign and promptly turned and left. Cash? Quaint. I was undeterred though Rob voiced suspicions of omens. We headed toward a strip mall on 99 Ave and while I hit the ATM there, Rob and Katy ran into the Shopper’s to pick up a registered letter the postlady had left him a note for earlier that day. Money and junk mail in hand we first hit the main post and then returned to the Noodle House. To make a long story a bit shorter, I will quote you Rob’s rendition of our noodle house adventures:

The Fort Noodle House was a total bust.  We returned, with our cash, and were eventually seated.  We looked at the menus; only one kids’ menu item (French fries, chicken wings, pop….wait, did that say chicken WINGS?  For KIDS?)  We looked over the rest of the selections.   There were a few vegetarian selections and we discussed a few possibilities.  But I was starting to get a bad vibe about the place.  It was filling up and it was visibly understaffed.  We decided to nip a potentially bad dining experiment experience in the bud and got up and left.

 and skip to the Chinese buffet that came after.

Normally I can eat Chinese. It’s hard to get into too much trouble with rice and veggies, but Rob had nearly filled a plate for Katy before I realized that this buffet was more Alberta than Chinese. Meat in nearly every dish and onions in the rest. And I was ready to cry. Seriously. Dining out is absolutely not on my list of fun things to do. If I am not trying to make a meal out of side dishes, I am trying to assure my fellow diners that I am really okay with not eating while they stuff themselves in my face. I am not sure which is worse sometimes. Feeling like a leper or knowing that aside from Rob, no one really has much patience with my food “issues”. People with food allergies are generally treated like closet anorexics – we just don’t like to eat or something because no one but the small children of anal retentive overparenters really has food allergies. Even the health profession tends to downplay the idea. I have been told I have an ulcer (nope), IBS (nope) or perhaps I mistook a stomach virus for something more. 

Let me tell you what happens when I eat tomatoes or citrus. I get a bumpy rash on both sides of my tongue leaving it feeling as though I have burned it, and sometimes my lips will tingle or go numb. Then I get horrible stomach pains which then travel through my digestive tract wreaking havoc. 

Yes, I know. That was TMI. But I don’t banish food from my life lightly, and I am as weary of my allergies to food being looked down on or dismissed as I am of smokers who crowd doorways and take insult when my asthma flares. I would rather be a “normal” person, but for whatever reason I am on my way to life in a plastic bubble.

Rob, though, is better than a plastic bubble. Perhaps in a way he is my bubble. When I told him I wasn’t going to be able to eat anything, he sprang into action. Grabbing a menu, he quickly found me suitable entrées and while ordering quizzed the hostess as to the types of ingredients used. Peanut Oil? MSG? Within ten minutes we were all seated and eating.

So the evening ended on a high note. Katy loves to get out and it was nice to not have to prepare an evening meal. I don’t think we will eat there again. It was, in Rob’s words a downtown skid row establishment.

I have been sidelined today by a nasty hayfever attack that started at the gym yesterday morning. I discovered last fall that I am really allergic to something in the cleaning products they use. So I visited the doctor who put me on a heavy duty dose of a much better anti-histamine and I gave up showering at the gym because my symptoms usually started there.

All was well, relatively, until yesterday when I began sneezing in the locker room right after my work-out and continued to sneeze and drip the rest of the day. Fortunately my eyes didn’t swell nearly shut as they did the last time though they hurt. Today I skipped the gym workout to give myself additional time to shut down the histamine reaction which is much improved but I can tell I am not quite 100% yet. Since I have yoga this afternoon, I will still get a bit of a workout (make that a lot – yoga is a bitch and I discover new and lazier muscles all the time). Tomorrow I will get back to the gym and running – I am covering four miles now of which I run half or more.

I hate having allergies. It really bites and doesn’t seem the least bit fair. What makes it so exasperating is the attitude most people take towards my difficulties. I am not the only one to have complained about the cleaning solution the gym uses. Other people have reported allergic reactions as well but the gym’s attitude, well sympathetic, has been one of “you’ll have to learn to cope”. Not very helpful but typical of society in general as I often am told that my asthma difficulties in smoky environments, or even just dodging the smokers who gather outside doors of public places, could be dealt with by me simply never leaving my house. 

Rob wondered what we were going to do about my allergies and I replied that he will just have to disinfect himself well when he comes for conjugal visits in my plastic bubble. Not very funny I guess, but what can a person do but keep their sense of humor?