Saturday, November 28, 2015

Rock Fever

Rock Fever: the hemmed in, claustrophobic feeling you occasionally experience when you live on an island

Here are 10 signs of "Rock Fever." I am not a licensed Psychologist, so please refrain from using this list as a form for diagnosis; however, if you are experiencing any of the following, it may be time to briefly leave the island on which you currently live. It's Ok. Part of the process of loving where you live is being able to identify that occasionally you need to take a break to gain perspective. The following may or may not be based on real life experiences. You decide.

1) You're talking to chickens - specifically, you are criticizing the chickens' parenting habits: "C'mon Hen, are you seriously walking your babies out in the middle of traffic??? Be a better Mom!"

2) When you ask your students about recent trips to Miami, you begin to tingle with excitement as the student speaks of malls and famous food chains: "Ok, Jevonte, we'll start speech therapy in a minute. Tell me about the mall again... Did you see a store called Express in that mall? Tell me... what colours are in for Fall? Did you see scarves? How about tall leather boots? See those?

3) Your entire day revolves around the cruise ship schedule. The cruise ship tourists are preventing you from living your life to the fullest: "Cocktails at Bar Crudo today? Oh, I'd love to but there's actually 5 cruise ships in port. I'd prefer to do cocktails on Monday when there are only 2 ships in port."

4) You deem a meeting a "success" when one out of four people attend and arrives less than 30 minutes late.

5) You create your own offensive Xmas coffee cup and fill it with your crappy packaged vanilla latte so that you can feel closer to Starbucks.

6) You bring a friend to the Pharmacy for back-up when you go to pick up your prescription: "Ok, buddy, I usually lose my cool after the second hour of waiting for my prescription. You got my back?"

7) You don't even blink an eye when your student tells you that he ate Iguana for dinner last night. In fact, you ask what it tastes like (chicken, obviously), and consider adding it to your weekly menu.

8) When someone tags you in a Facebook photo, you carefully examine the picture and wonder who the blonde Jamaican is in the photo. Upon realizing that the blonde Jamaican is actually you, and your tan resembles the colour of the tangerine rum punch in you hand, you vow to spend the next week in the shade.

9) You've become obsessed with a section of the grocery store called "Day Olds." This is a special place where you can occasionally score $8 CI brownies for $2 CI. You celebrate moments like this by texting all your friends about your sweet pick-up and calculating your amazing savings ("That's only 50 cents per brownie! Boom!")

10) When the power goes out for the second night in a row, you lay in your very hot room pondering hairstyles for work that won't require an electronic appliance in the morning and praying for a "power outage day" (that's like a "snow day" in Canada).

The stealthy Cayman chicken: She waits for you to go snorkelling and then steals your chips

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Just walk it off, Derrek, walk it off

I have this awesome friend named *Derrek (*all names have been changed to protect identity of individuals). Derrek is fun. Derrek is kind. Derrek is dependable. Derrek is a really loyal, awesome friend. Derrek is one of my favourite people in the entire world.  Derrek is also an aggressive vacationer.

By aggressive, I mean that Derrek takes all vacationing activities to the next level. He is not content with seeing sharks behind a glass…he wants to swim with the sharks - and touch them. Derrek doesn't want to buy the coconuts from the roadside stands, he wants to climb a tree and get his own coconuts. The beauty of travelling with Derrek is that you will never be bored. Ever. Derrek will entertain you with his shenanigans. There is; however, a downside - Derrek has a tendency to hurt himself whilst aggressively vacationing.

Take for example, the Cozumel blowhole incident of 2010. Derrek saw some blowholes. They interested him. While we all stood back to watch the blowholes from a safe distance, Derrek insisted on putting his face directly on top of the blowhole to get a much better vantage of what was about it to happen. Yelling, "Don't worry, I timed it!" we managed to get the camera out to capture this moment that will forever be a memory of that powerful blowhole.

Cue deviated septum.


We laughed as Derrek complained about the saltwater in his sinuses and his painful nasal passage for the rest of the holiday. We all felt slightly guilty for laughing when we returned home only to discover that Derrek required nose surgery for a deviated septum. Oops. Sorry Derrek!

Typically Derrek brings about his injuries whilst vacationing aggressively. This time; however, we can't really blame Derrek for what occurred. He was vacationing at a fairly calm level. Derrek and his fabulous wife had just arrived from Canada. We hopped on a tiny little plane and flew to Little Cayman for a long weekend of diving.

The dives were beautiful - and "normal," in the sense that no one went any deeper than they were supposed to, we all did a safety stop, and everyone was fine when the boat took us back to our rental house.

A few hours after our dives, Derrek began complaining of vertigo. Vertigo is a common problem for Derrek, so we handed him a Caybrew, told him to jump in the pool, and all would be well.

Derrek just wasn't feeling better. Typically the life of the party, Derrek was lethargic, barely sipping his beer and quietly sunning himself by the pool.

"Hey Kirstie, my arms are kinda numb."

"Um, hmmm. That kinda sounds like the bends, buddy."

We discussed this new symptom and Derrek deduced that there was no way he could have decompression sickness, given the depth that we dived and our safety stop time.

"You know what…I think my circulation is just poor. I'm gonna walk this off."

Famous last words. A word to the wise: If you have the bends, you can't just "walk it off."

Within 4 hours, we were all being emergency airlifted back to Grand Cayman so that Derrek could spend some quality time in the hyperbaric chamber. Poor Derrek was on tons of oxygen, IV in arm, laying on a gurney, feeling his limbs get tinglier by the minute. The rest of us were trying not to freak out, as our little plane was flying 500 ft over the ocean (Given that we had all just dived, we were all at risk of decompression sickness if we flew at a higher altitude. Plus, Derrek could have gotten much sicker).

Thankfully, Derrek only required about 3 hours in a very hot claustrophobic hyperbaric chamber before all the numbness, tingling, and nausea was gone. Within 24 hours, he was in tip top shape again, aggressively attempting to catch sting rays with his bare hands, whilst vacationing aggressively. Haha.

I must say, although our diving trip on Little Cayman was cut short, we all experienced quite the adventure, courtesy of our friend Derrek. We were all just so relieved that it had a happy ending. The dive Doctor explained that there are many factors that can contribute to the acquisition of decompression sickness. Derrek may have simply been dehydrated prior to our early morning dives. He did not, surprisingly, dive aggressively. It could have happened to anyone.

Moral of the story: vacation aggressively at your own risk. Sometimes the bends happens. You can't walk it off.

Love you, Derrek!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Palm Trees and Pumpkin Pie

Sometimes I get a little bit homesick.

It's not that I don't love our life on the island.

It's not that I want to move back to Saskatchewan.

It's just that now that I've been living here for over a year, I'm beginning to notice that certain times of the year pique a twinge of homesickness in my heart.

The other day, I went to fill out a check and I had absolutely no idea what month it was. As the bank teller watched me fiddle with my pen, wracking my brain for a month, (any month!) I scoured my environment: palm trees out the window, people dressed in shorts and tank tops, A/C cranked in the cool building. Shit. It could have been January. It could have been August. For about 60 seconds, I had no freakin' clue what season I was even dealing with! Other than American television urging me to find my perfect Halloween costume and the fact that the pool temperature has decreased from 92 to 83 degrees, there are absolutely no cues that orient one to time on this island.

Facebook tells me that it's Thanksgiving weekend in Canada. Although I was never a super Thanksgiving holiday fan, I find myself longing for a cool fall breeze, a scarf around my neck, and a pumpkin spiced latte in my hands. It makes me miss my family. I know they will be gathering on Sunday for turkey, Baba's perogies, and pumpkin pie, and yes, it makes me feel sad to know that I won't be there….but then the romantic version of Thanksgiving that I've created in my brain fades and I recall the feeling of dread that I always experienced around Thanksgiving - knowing that winter was on the way.

Pumpkin spiced latte and Kahlua on ice - Genius?

It's no Baba's perogies, but it does taste like Thanksgiving in a glass. 

My mom traveled back to Canada today. We had such an amazing time together. It flew by and I miss her already. When Mom planned this trip in July, she anticipated that I would still be in a lot of pain from my knee surgery. Her intent was to come down and help out around the house, thinking that I may still be immobile only 4 months post surgery. I was so excited for her to arrive and see that I don't need help anymore. My knees are doing awesome! I'm working full time, doing my physio exercises regularly, weaning off of the knee braces, and am almost completely off of the painkillers - whoohoo! So instead of coming to the island to act as reinforcement, she was able to spend the entire time touring, beaching, lunching, and spending quality fun mother-daughter time with me! I've told my Mom numerous times how grateful I am for all of her support during all of my surgeries, but it was so awesome to show her by treating her to a fabulous few weeks on Cayman. I realize how lucky I am to have such a great relationship with my Mom and I'm so proud when people comment about how similar we are! Mom and I both classify raw cake mix in a bowl as a legitimate and tasty bedtime snack, we speak about celebrities like they are our close friends, ("That's so sad about Miranda and Blake. I saw him on The Voice the other day and he looks like he's doing well"),  and we both appreciate the art of people watching and conjuring up creative stories, ("Check out that couple. She must be introducing him to her parents for the first time. You can tell that her Dad's not impressed.") We really do have fun together and I just genuinely enjoy my Mom's company.

So this Thanksgiving weekend, I am incredibly thankful for my Mom. I miss you already, Mom, but now we have so many awesome memories to replace some of the crappy ones (ummm... Let's toss out that memory of that one time when I stole all of your vodka and replaced it with water. TIP: Parents, freeze your vodka. Duh).

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in Canadia (haha). Throw on a scarf and have a piece of pumpkin pie for me!

Sunset wine!

East End lunch!

Bar Bites at Camana Bay!

Marriott live music sunset!

Spott's Beach!


Catamaran to Rum Point BBQ!

Swimming at Seven Mile Beach!
Ev can't keep up. 



Saturday, October 3, 2015

Soon Come

My co-workers are awesome people. They're all very brave. They've said goodbye to family, friends, stepped out of their comfort zones, and moved far away to be here. Many accepted their job without knowing a soul on the island, arriving with no car, no home, and no support system - simply a 5 night hotel voucher at Sunshine Suites. My co-workers come in many colours - they come from all over the world! - Jamaica, Barbados, Ireland, England, Mexico, Canada, and the US. They all come with varying religious beliefs, political views, morals and values. They embrace adventure and excitement. They reminisce about their "old" life and support each other through bouts of homesickness.

In one year of working in my office, I've learned about Georgi-Ann's family time - stargazing in their oceanfront backyard in Barbados. I've learned that Stephanie's grandparents immigrated to Jamaica from India. I've learned that Monty misses combining Milo on his family farm in Colorado. I've learned that Joan thinks the world of her two sons and really misses her son who is still living the UK. I've learned all about the "rules" of dating Caribbean men from Denise (FYI: complicated. Think I'll stick with my Canadian boy). We've celebrated successful weeks overlooking the sea, sipping a cocktail at Friday happy hour. We've lamented over tough case conferences with chocolates on our office couch at coffee break. We've all introduced our family and friends to each other when they come on island to visit. These are the people who helped me create my "worry box" when they saw that I was stressed out about my surgeries. (A worry box is little red box where I can store my worries, by the way - I'm pretty sure it's a psych tool used when working children with anxiety disorders, but whatevs. It works!). This is a unique workplace. Something happens when you bring together such a diverse group of people who all moved away and made so many sacrifices to be where they are - you become attached. Fast.

This week was tough. We said farewell - good luck - bon voyage to one of our best, Stephanie. Stephanie is an Educational Psychologist and has been here for 2 years. She decided to move on to her next adventure and do her Post-doc in Minneapolis this Fall (I know, I warned her…It's chilly. Well,  let's be honest, Minneapolis is almost Saskatchewan cold!)  Stephanie hails from Jamaica and is smart, witty, hard-working, and thoughtful. She's very beautiful and we lovingly refer to her as "Jamaican Barbie." Stephanie taught me that "buddy" means "penis" in Jamaican (The horror of realizing that I've been calling my  students "buddy" for 8 months - remember when I introduced "buddy week"?? - "Hey kids, grab your buddy and bring him to speech today!" ACK!!!). Stephanie taught me that "Soon come" means, "be back soon" (or..."I'm skipping out of work early and I will not see you again today," depending on who is saying it. Haha),  and she taught me that Jamaican Bulla (ginger flavoured heavy carb) settles any stomach.

I've only known Stephanie for a year, yet she was such an integral part of my recovery this summer. When I was at my lowest, feeling sick, useless and sorry for myself, she sent a package containing all my favourite Caribbean treats, along with a note telling me how much I was missed at the office and encouraging me to hurry up and get well because they needed me back! It completely lifted my spirits and pushed me to keep going, at a time I wasn't sure I even wanted to.  It reminded me that I would and could actually get through this. Thanks, buddy friend. That was awesome. It's super cool when someone whom you've just recently met "gets" you and impacts your life in such a short period of time. I'm a firm believer that people come in and out of your life at specific times for a reason. Stephanie was one of my "people."

So although one of the perks of working and living here is meeting so many interesting, diverse people, the downside is all the goodbyes. Cayman is a transient location. People are constantly coming in and heading out. I went to buy a "farewell, good luck" card from the card shop today and they were completely sold out. Coincidence? Most employees here are on 2 year work permits. Upon meeting someone, the conversation typically goes like this, "How long have you been here? So when are you leaving?"

Evan and I discussed this oddity:

"Ev, it's so weird, people are always asking, 'How long will you stay? When are you moving on?"

"It's just like hockey life,  'When are you moving on? Where will you go next?"

Wow. It is. It bears an uncanny resemblance to my previous life as a "hockey wife." Obviously I'm attracted to this transient lifestyle for some reason. I guess I'm drawn to the excitement - the highs and lows of trying something brand new - meeting and learning from such diverse, interesting, adventurous people and then saying goodbye - well goodbye for now anyway. Good luck, Steph. Buy a toque and some Sorels, buddy. Soon come.

Since this pic was taken, we lost Kevin, Raven, and Steph. We miss you guys!!

My birthday

Steph always looks much more poised in pics than me. Perhaps it's because she's sober. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Home Sweet Home…for now :)

We bought a house!

Well, a condo, to be exact. We purchased the condo that we've been renting for over a year now.
The paint is wearing off and is an uninspiring sandy oatmeal colour. You know, like if someone put sand on your oatmeal.
The dated vertical blinds are falling haphazardly from the valance.
One of the ceiling fans works periodically. When it does work, it wobbles.
The countertop is a faded lilac/mauvy colour and is pulling away from the walls.
The light fixtures scream, "the 90's rocked, dude!"

It needs some work.

But…

If you sit on the toilet, open the bathroom door, and look straight ahead, you can see the Caribbean Sea! You might even see a passing cruise ship. Wave! I kid you not.

SOLD!

Ev and I have worked hard, took some risks, and made some difficult decisions in order to to buy, build, and sell a handful of properties over the years. Our intention was usually to make a profit. Rarely have we built a house with the intent of living in it forever (forever is so so long). So I've always lived by the mantra: never form an emotional connection with your house. Do not, I repeat, do NOT get attached to a property. It's just a property. But…I have felt a little sad when our houses have sold, and I cherish the memories we made in each house. I mourn the loss of those dinners on the beautiful granite countertops, baths in the luxurious jetted tub, and parties at the wicked awesome basement bar. But it was always just a house. I'm gonna be honest with you right now, I LOVE this condo in Grand Cayman. LOVE it. That's an emotion, right? Damn. Yes, this condo needs some TLC, and I'm looking forward to some minor renovations, but after living in this condo for a year, I have formed…ugh…an emotional attachment. Boo, Kirstie, Boo!

Here is why:

1) The pool: our complex has one of the largest pools on the island. I usually spend about 3-4 evenings a week physio-ing, floating, or sipping a cocktail around the pool. It's about 10 feet away from the ocean, so when you lie on your back, you can hear the waves crashing. A beautiful barbecue area sits next to it so Ev can grill a steak while I float. It's pure bliss. Often, I'm the only one actually in the pool, so as I lie on my back, listening to the waves crash, inhaling the scent of BBQ, I imagine that I am Beyonce, casually swimming in my private seaside pool. "Jay Z, where's my cocktail?"



2) The patio: We are located on the ground floor and look directly out at the pool and the sea. To the right of our patio is a honeysuckle flower. When I was a kid, there was a picture of a honeysuckle in our bathroom. I often thought that honeysuckle was beautiful and wondered where one would find such a flower - and now I see it everyday! Tiny birds drink from that flower, so Biloxi can sit, stalk and  chatter away with excitement for hours. Biloxi has also started sunning himself on the patio, on his back, legs high in the air. Now that's relaxation. While Biloxi shamelessly flaunts all of his kitty parts, Evan and I enjoy spending our early evenings on the patio, listening to the palm trees rustle in the breeze, sipping a rum punch, and watching the sun go down. Ahhhh….my patio.

Biloxi! Have you no shame?

His and hers seating

Best spot to drink my morning tea

3) The people: We have lovely, interesting neighbours. Above and over from our unit is a couple from Italy. They have a dog named "Bella." When Bella barks, Michele, the tall, smiling Italian man says, "Bella!" in his thick Italian accent. I love it! My Canadian friend, Brenda, lives in the building next to us. It's so nice to walk over to her place for a chat or meet at the pool for a BBQ. Every evening, a British dad and his little girl go for a swim in the pool. I've watched this little girl grow from baby to a smart little person over the course of a year. The interaction between the little girl and her dad is priceless. I think it is awesome how this little girl will always have the memory of swimming with her dad at sunset each night. They swim, play, and discuss what they will have for dinner. The British accent makes any child's language, in my opinion, sound very advanced and mature, "Daddy, shall we have chippies with our sausage?"Haha.

4) The Path: a perfect little path runs around the complex - weaving in and out around the pool and the buildings, with a view of the ocean. It's an ideal distance to take Dundee for a 10 minute walk every morning. I love that little walk and it serves to "regulate" me before I get ready for my work day.

morning walk with my pooch

This path leads down to a shore dive site - throw on your equipment and go for a dive!


5) Location: Our condo is located in West Bay. When we first moved to the island, a few people advised us to avoid West Bay. It has a reputation for being a little "rough." There definitely are some areas of West Bay that I would not want to wander around at night, but overall, it's nothing different than what one sees in a lower socioeconomic area in any city. There are definitely some West Bay characters who are regularly swerving the streets on their bike, beer in hand  beers in hands, but you know, it gives the neighbourhood some flavour.  Many areas of West Bay are beautiful, with homes overlooking the ocean - our street included. I also love that we can get to seven mile beach in about 7 minutes (coincidence?) and we are rarely stuck in traffic, as we're usually going against the rush hour madness (there is actually rush hour madness here, for reals). I love our location, and I feel like it's a secret spot on the island that many islanders don't even know exists.

seven mile beach - 7 minutes away!

*I asked Ev what his favourite thing was about our condo and his response was, "The landscapers. I never have to mow the lawn again." OK. Typical boy response.

Yep, this condo makes my heart  happy. I don't know if it's our "forever" home. I doubt it. We'll move again, I'm pretty sure. But in the meantime, it definitely feels right, and I can't wait to start putting my stamp on it.

PS: Does, "We need thousands of dollars wired to our Cayman Islands account ASAP!" sound suspicious? Ya, It's not so easy to purchase a property here when your money is in Canada. Ev's been dealing with both our Canadian and Cayman bank for weeks to ensure the funds were wired from our Canadian account into our Cayman bank account. Overall, from the day we requested the wire from our Canadian bank until the day that we could it access it was an 8 day process. 8 freakin' days! I was positive that our money was being held hostage - I was just waiting for the ransom note. In the movies, wiring is instantaneous, no? It's not like some man is coming on a boat with a sack full of our money and we need to wait for him to clear customs. Ev says this was a "lesson in fortitude" for me. Fortitude shmortitude. Show me the money!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

"Is that a tasmanian devil?" "No, sir, that's my cat."

Here's an idea for a new reality TV series:

It's called:  "Can you make it  - without hating each other's face?"

Plot: Find a newly dating couple who is fresh, enthusiastic, and "in love." Are they ready for marriage? Let's all watch and find out!

Give them a 22 pound cat and a 25 pound dog to carry in little boxes. Give them 4 overweight suitcases packed full of Tim Horton's tea leaves, which will eventually spill all over their clothing. Injure one individual in the couple - let's say, for example, a little knee injury.

Challenge: Fly as passengers on American Airlines from 5am until 9pm. Give the couple two very tight connections in Toronto and Miami. Ensure the customs line in Toronto is out the door. Cue a scene where one member of couple is running to the gate with cat and dog in hands, belt dangling around neck (no time to re-clothe after security!), whilst pushing other member of couple in a wheel chair, who is stating, in a frenzy, "Our flight is boarding NOW!"

Do not let the couple eat anything during the entire journey. Cue a temper tantrum by the angry cat in Miami. Ensure that the cat is making very loud, distracting and tortuous noises that cause the other airport passengers to glare in disbelief. In Miami, create a "couple challenge" for dramatic effect. For example, when one member of the couple takes the dog to the airport doggie park to pee, ensure security will not let the dog and the individual back into the airport, inaccurately stating that the dog's plane ticket has not been paid in full.

Cue scene where there is frantic texting between the couple,

"What can I do to help? I'm in the boarding area with the cat. He is freaking out. He just tried to escape out of his box. My knee won't make it all the way to security with this spazzing cat!"

"Take a picture of the receipt and text it to me."

"My phone is going to die soon."

"They are insisting that I pay $250!"

"I can't find the receipt. There are 50 pages of paperwork here, but no receipt! Our plane boards in 10 minutes!"

"K. I will pay and meet you on plane."

"Good luck. My phone is at 3% Shit! The cat just escaped."

Once the couple and the pets safely board the plane, wallets empty from paying off security, cue a mechanical issue with the airplane, causing the plane to sit motionless on the tarmac for at least an hour. Cue crying child in seat behind the couple. Cue frantic barking by dog in little box.

There. Can the couple make it through these tortuous 15 hours with no sleep, no food, and only their friendship and love for each other to keep them sane? If the couple survives without hating each other's face, cue an instant wedding - they will be fine. If not, sayonara - you are not cut out for marriage. Better luck next time.

PS: Evan and I made it back to our little paradise. Dundee and Biloxi, although tattered and emotionally scarred, are doing fine. Evan and I still love each other - heck, we even LIKE each other! The knees are holding up very well, and Evan is back to sweating profusely each and every time he so much as lifts his baby finger. I started back at work and, man, was it ever awesome to see so many smiling faces and dish out "hello hugs" after a few months away. I forgot just how beautiful (and HOT!) this sweet little island really is. I've already taken out one suicidal chicken with our car and shamelessly used my knee brace to narrowly escape a ticket, "Sir, I know my car registration is overdue but look, I just had knee surgery," (hiking up skirt to reveal horrid brace). Haha!

Although my heart still hurts from so many goodbyes, I feel pretty good. Life is good.

Cheers

Biloxi: BEFORE - Angry

Biloxi: AFTER - blissful

Dundee: BEFORE - petrified

Dundee: AFTER - elated
Knees: BEFORE - confined

Knees: AFTER: free!
First morning tea on the beach - thank goodness some of the Timmy's survived the trip!

Ev and Dundee on a sunset stroll



Thursday, August 20, 2015

I'm not crying, my eyes are just really watery this week

I'm not much of a public crier. I mean, no one really wants to cry in public, but it happens. I didn't cry at my graduation. I didn't cry at my wedding. I seldom cry at funerals. Babies do not bring tears to my eyes, nor do cute little puppies. It's not that I'm a stone cold heartless woman, it's just that I prefer to do my crying in private. Typically, I give myself a day. One day. I might just sit in the bathroom and let it all out. All the tears that I've bottled up over the course of a few weeks, or maybe a few months are given permission to flow freely. Once my time clock runs out, it's done. The crying is over. There. Better. This was always my preferred method of dealing with my feeling(s). Since "knee-gate" in 2012; however, things have changed. I'm not exactly sure why, but it all began when Dr. M explained my diagnosis and prognosis to me in his office one day, over 3 years ago. The floodgates opened, I ugly cried years of salty tears all over his lovely desk, as he desperately searched for kleenex, and I've never been the same since (and Dr. M will never forget to equip his desk with kleenex). And it's getting worse. With each passing year, and the experience of additional surgeries and continuous goodbyes, I'm morphing into this soft, mushy, sentimental, touchy-feely kinda person. Icky.

As we pack our things and say good-bye (for now), I have been kinda an emotional mess. Mother Nature has also timed things perfectly, ensuring that my estrogen levels are at an all time low in order to sabotage my ability to handle things in a rational manner. Screw you, Mother Nature, and your "lady cycle."

These are things that have made me cry in the last few days:

1) Sarah McLachlan: "I will remember you" has played on Songza numerous times while I have been driving. Are you kidding me, Songza? Is this playlist specifically created for: "Stabbing yourself with your keys while you're driving"?  I snivelled away as she sang, "Weep not for the memories." Sarah McLachlan, you, your sappy music, and your sad puppy infomercials are evil (but quite touching as well - keep up the good work).

2) Dr. M's office: To be fair, I'm 99.9% confident that there is tear gas leaking through the vents in that office. Is it a coincidence that my eyes have watered uncontrollably in over half of my appointments in that place? I think not. I'm quite certain that the nerves in my lacrimal glands were stimulated by a chemical weapon, resulting in tears. There's no way that I'm THAT emotional, c'mon! Sorry, Dr. M. I suck. :)

3) Doggie Goodbyes: Yesterday Dundee, our little white Coton de Tulear, had to say goodbye to his best bud, Carter, a 100 lb brown Pit bull. As I attempted to assist in their goodbye, ("Dundee, say goodbye to your buddy. You'll see him next summer"), my eyes welled up with tears and I exclaimed, "Evan, this is so sad! Their faces are just so sad!" to which Ev replied, "Their faces always look like that. They are expressionless, Kirstie!" Ugh. Heartbreaking. I feel personally responsible for ripping apart this deep doggie friendship. (FYI: The dogs suck at Skyping. Dundee can see Carter, but Carter can't see Dundee. Dundee cries and Carter runs to every window looking for Dundee. Incredibly painful to watch. Sigh).

Is this their "sad" face or their "happy" face? Who knows. 

4) Evan asking, "Are you OK?": After 19 years as best buddies, Ev's ability to detect a looming Kirstie breakdown is pretty darn accurate. As Evan and I discussed the list of "to-do's" before departure, I believed that I was  presenting myself as stable and self-assured.  Evan suddenly interrupted me with, "Are you OK, Kirst?" Dammit. Ummmm. Well…."NOOOOOOO!" Ugh. Cue the tears. Cue the Evan hug. Seriously, Kirstie, pull yourself together, girl!

So anyway, I'm not too proud to admit that I'm pretty sucky this week, but it is for good reason. Yes, I will very much miss my friends and family, and the life that we love and live during our summers at Candle Lake. But we will be back again next summer, my friends and family will visit if they can, and life will carry on. I'm also looking forward to returning back to our "other" life on the island. I'm feeling much better and ready to get back to work and our regular island routine. How lucky are we to have two worlds with wonderful people supporting us in both! I think my emotions become stirred when I reflect back on the last 8 months - the most difficult 8 months that Evan and I have endured in our 19 years together, and I realize just how much our friends and family love us. They stepped up, took control,  and cared for us when we were unable and too exhausted to do it on our own. I was at a point where I couldn't give anything back, yet my friends and family persisted, cheering me on,  offering support, loving and caring for me unconditionally. It's amazing how one text, one phone call, one visit, brightened some of my darkest days. We have an incredible team of peops who love us to the end of the Earth, and that makes me bawl like a baby with gratitude. (Cue Sarah's "...Weep not for the memories.")

Cheers friends! Look out Cayman, the Lindsays are comin' for you on Friday!

PS: After extensive drug-testing, intense interrogation, and comprehensive criminal record checks, the animals have clearance to cross the Cayman border! whoohoo! (Luckily Biloxi's "Heathrow catnip misunderstanding of 2003" has been forgiven) hehe :)



Thursday, July 30, 2015

Love outlives us all

We said our final goodbye to Evan's dad, Jerry, yesterday. Jerry passed away in February, with his boys and Peggy at his side. Jerry fought a long, hard battle with mesothelioma, a cancer that he acquired through working with asbestos many many years ago. Yesterday, Evan, Evan's brother, Scott, Peggy, and I walked slowly and thoughtfully to Jerry's grave sight, where his ashes would be buried. The weather was warm, breezy, and sunny, but a storm was brewing in the North. We held each other, shed some tears, and remembered Jerry. I remember meeting Jerry for the first time as a 17 year old girl. He was a large, stoic, intimidating man. It took a few occasions to realize that Jerry liked me, and enjoyed my company. Once I knew he approved and genuinely liked me, we teased each other back and forth - he always had a twinkle in his eye. I briefly lived with Jerry and Peggy while I did a work placement in Red Deer. Wow. Did I ever feel loved in that home! One day Jerry came home with a  scarf that he had picked out for me - one he thought would go perfectly with the new coat I had bought. At that point, I knew that Jerry cared for me deeply, and accepted me as a part of his family - someone who was suited to the son he treasured so much. I remember camping with Jerry - laughing and telling ghost stories late into the night. I remember dancing with Jerry on our wedding day. Jerry was so happy that day - I could feel the joy radiating from him. As we danced (I could never figure out his trademark dance move), he told me that he was so proud to have me as a daughter. I've never felt more accepted, loved, and proud to be a Lindsay. I'm going to miss my twinkling-eyed Jerry, and my heart just breaks for Peggy, Evan, and Scott.

As we stood around Jerry's ashes, Scott looked up at the sky and said, "Well that's weird." We looked up and saw a rainbow circling around the sun. It was pretty incredible. It was so apparent that Jerry was with us. He would have loved seeing us all together, remembering him. He is so loved, and always will be.

This is also the week that the world lost Ryan. It was 4 years ago on July 31. I am thankful that the tragic memories of that day on the river have been pushed aside to the part of my brain that doesn't allow access anymore. The brain is funny like that. My memories of Ryan continue to be his enthusiasm and zest for life. This year, especially, has been one where I've thought about Ryan a lot. The words of the Minister: "Use Ryan's life to inspire your own," have resonated in my mind for the last 4 years. Our decision to "sell it all" and move to a tropical island was most certainly inspired by Ryan. He would have loved it! I can still hear that high pitched excited voice, "F'n deadly man!" One day Evan and I commented, "Ryan would have been our first guest here - he probably would have made some home made boat and found a way to get here by sea!" I feel Ryan's energy around me all the time and it makes me feel incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity to know him and learn from him during the years that we did have together. It's amazing how time heals and I hope and pray that time is healing the hearts of Ryan's friends and family and that time will heal the hearts of those of us who love and miss Jerry so much right now.

So that's pretty heavy stuff - it's been a heavy few weeks but I'm feeling much better these days and I'm physically and mentally strong enough now to process the events over the past 6 months and help to support Evan and his family.

One of my biggest fears about moving away was that things would change. Things have changed. A lot. But there's no need to fear it. With moving away, the sale of the gym, rumours, and untruths, Evan and I were faced with the reality that some of our friendships were not as strong as we had thought. If this was Facebook, Evan and I would have been "unfriended." Haha (awkward laugh). At first, it hurt. But something really awesome happened: our true friends really came through - they showed how much they love and support us. Not just our Canadian friends, but our newly acquired buddies on the island. Some people really surprised us, reaching out to offer help in any way they could. They have been there for us through everything - even the ugly (lots of ugly from me! Sorry!) -  and have demonstrated to us that no matter what changes, they will stand by us. We needed them, and they were there for us, no questions asked. Unconditional, uncomplicated love. Awesomeness! We have 3 weeks left before we move back to the island. 3 weeks! OMG. I intend to spend the next 3 weeks showing my friends and family how much I love and appreciate all of them. I love you guys! Thank you.

I also have 3 weeks to continue to improve my walking.  For the first time since January, I am now able to walk crutchless (that's crutchless, not crotchless haha) indoors, but I'm still using 1 crutch when walking outside. I wear 2 giant, awkward braces on my legs. Let me tell ya, It's very difficult to pull that look off, but I know I can rock this, and have a newly acquired wardrobe of long, slinky skirts. I'm really really good at walking backwards - if I could spend the rest of my life walking backwards, I'd bet set. I'm also a very speedy sideways walker (like a ninja crab). Stairs are difficult, but doable, and the pain varies from day to day (I actually pulled a muscle in my ass this week! Who knew that a muscle in a such a presently tiny area could hurt so bad!!!) Overall, progress is great and things are moving along. I'm still a little scared, but definitely hopeful.

Cheers to telling the ones who mean the most to you how you feel. Friends: get ready for 3 weeks of Kirstie Love! Haha.






Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I can do this by my (EXPLETIVE) self!

Oh the toddler years. Although I can't speak from the personal experience of raising a toddler, I can definitely say that as an observer, the toddler years often appear to be a very challenging time for both parent and child. Toddlers can be defiant. They can be impulsive. They can constantly challenge their boundaries and assert their independence - which can be difficult for parents when they want to foster their toddler's growth, yet keep their child safe from harm.

Cue Kirstie: weeks 6-8 of recovery. As I have gained more independence and strength, I have also morphed into a defiant, impatient, angry little toddler. This is slightly ironic as, apparently (so I've heard), I was a terrible 2 year old who banged my head against the floor until it bruised if I did not get my way (Hello people, just give me my way! duh).

For 6 weeks after surgery, I depended heavily on family and friends to feed me, water me, bathe me (a job I allocated to Evan ONLY - good times, hey Ev? wink wink. Haha), and basically tend to my beck and call. When you feel sore, sick, and listless, this is much needed and appreciated. But something happened….I began to feel better.

Evan's mom, Peggy, came and stayed with us for a month. I don't think either of us planned on her staying for a whole month, but it just flew by, and we both enjoyed each other's company so much. I really love Peggy, and not just because she's my mother-in-law and the best cook ever. Peggy is also my good friend. She's honest and funny. She makes me laugh. She's easy to talk to. We are both going through a tough time in our lives, and it felt good to go through it together. Also, we both share a hatred of the "inspirational" saying:  "Time to pull up your big girl panties." People need to stop saying that! It does NOT inspire one who is struggling. Plus, I've never seen a table at Victoria's Secret that displays "big girl panties." It's dumb. Rant over. In addition to being a super friend and confidante, Peg also cleaned and re-organized my entire house! Hello? Awesomeness! I am so grateful for that. Side note: before Peggy arrived, Evan insisted on using only paper plates, as he decided to "strike" against washing dishes. Thank goodness for the arrival of my Peggy!

Anyway, every day my mom, who we all know is incredibly awesome as well, would come over and I would get a visit with the "moms." (someday I'll look back on those hours as some of the best, I'm sure!) The visit would always start with a run-down of what I had eaten. I still need to gain about 15 pounds to be healthy again, and I know Peggy and my mom were just concerned that I wasn't eating enough. You know moms. One particular day, I was lying on the couch and mom walked in my house.

Peggy said, "Hi Lynne, SHE ate her whole bowl of porridge today!"

"Wow! I also brought HER yogurt. Maybe SHE'LL eat that!"

"SHE'LL probably like that!"

That's when it happened. That's when I suddenly morphed into….ANGRY TODDLER KIRSTIE.

"I am right here!" I shouted, "I am NOT a SHE or a HER. I am RIGHT HERE!"

Oops. Shame on the moms for trying to keep me alive and healthy! Thankfully, the moms shrugged off my little tantrum and we moved on. My mom did admit that as soon as I left the room she said to Peggy, "Well SHE is NOT having a good day." Haha. I did notice that I was never a pronoun again (FYI: SHE did eat the yogurt. It was good).

It happened again a few days later. The stairs in our cabin that lead to our master bedroom are basically death stairs. They are long. They are slippery. They are steep. And I mean steep, people! For some reason they are bright yellow so when you're falling to your death, you're also blinded by an offensive yellow hue. Not wanting to give up my comfy master bed, Evan has been carrying me up the steep stairs every night. Sounds romantic, right? Not when you have absolutely no say over your bedtime. It turned into a bit of an issue. One evening Evan informed me that he had an early start the next day and would like to go to bed at 9:30. 9:30??? What, am I like 8 years old? What the heck am I going to do in bed at 9:30? It's still light outside - I can hear children tubing behind a boat at 9:30! People are watering their lawns at 9:30!  Even Peggy was completely insulted with my bedtime, "Evan, Kirstie and I were supposed to watch CSI at 9!" She would joke about it as we watched TV at night, "Uh oh Kirstie, he's coming to get you and take you to bed!" Evan had a solution for me, "Why don't you just sleep downstairs" (in the not so comfy smaller bed). Cue Angry toddler Kirstie. "NO, that's fine. I will find a way to get up those damn stairs by myself."

And I did.

Backwards on my bum (not much cushioning there these days!), crutches in hand, I tricep pushed my way up those stairs at 11pm - the time that I CHOSE to go to bed. Unfortunately, halfway up the death trap, one crutch slipped out of my grasp and tumbled to the floor. Shit. So at this point I was stuck halfway up the bright yellow staircase, 1 crutch down. Hearing Evan snoring softly, refusing to ask for help, I continued up the stairs on my ass and dragged myself to my bed with the help of my amazing triceps (thank god those still work). It took me at least 20 minutes. There. The next day when I awoke, the other crutch, the casualty crutch, stood quietly beside my bed. Ev and I never discussed what may or may not have occurred during my independent stair climbing episode. I am proud to say that I now have a solid strategy that gets me up that horrid staircase independently every evening - when I DECIDE to go to bed.

Behold: The yellow staircase…of death
In addition to my defiance, I have also apparently lost my ability to share with others. As I mentioned earlier, Peg is the ultimate cook. Her baking is to die for. Peggy's signature creation is the skor bite. Graham wafer crust topped with skor bar pieces, chocolate, and condensed milk - this dessert will bring you to your knees. Unfortunately my angry stomach is just not havin' it these days. In Peg's wisdom, she baked all my favourites, including the skor bites, and froze them for me - to be consumed once I was feeling better. My evil friends (you know the ones who have been helping keep me alive and happy for the last 6 weeks) found the frozen baking, and to my horror, began snacking on a few items. As I watched them devour my treats with pleasure, crumbs falling off their chins, Toddler Kirstie began to rage full force.

"You jerks! Those are mine!" I half-joked, (but not really), "Peg made those for ME. They are MINE!"

My friends' sticky little guilty faces looked up at me in disbelief.

"Kirstie. You have to learn how to share. Since you've had your surgery you've turned into a food hoarder. Come on now."

Um. OK. Fine. Sharing is caring or whatever. I'll take a time out in the corner and think about what I've done.

The final straw that broke the toddler's back occurred just a few days ago. Every evening, I've been soaking in my hot tub for a half hour or so. It's wonderful. My joints feel so much better, it's quiet, I can watch the loons on the lake, It smells divine (Evan added a tropical scent to the water) - it really is a blissful event that I anticipate daily. Each night, I let Evan know when I'd like to get in the hot tub, and bless Evan's heart, he picks me up and puts me in the hot tub. He really is a very patient person. One night, however, I caught a slight eye roll when I made my hot tub request. Perhaps there was something in his eye? It's difficult to ascertain. But I detected an eye roll. An exasperated eye roll.

"You know what? I'm going to get in and out of the hot tub myself today!" I stated defiantly. Evan watched from the window as, again, I tricep pushed my bony little bum up the hot tub steps. Crutches leaning against hot tub, sitting happily in my bubbly water, I exclaimed proudly, "I'm fine!"

10 minutes later, Evan and Dundee came out to see how I was doing, "I'm just going to take the dog for a walk. Are you sure you're ok?" asked Ev.

"Oh ya. My crutches are right here. I can get out by myself. I'm good. You go ahead," I responded proudly insolently.

Not more than 2 minutes after he left for his hour long walk with the dog, my crutches slipped and fell off the edge of the hot tub, bounced off the deck with a THUD (I kid you not), and landed in the middle of my freakin yard.

Initially in a bit of shock, i stared dumbly at those A-hole crutches - gleaming in the sun, mocking me from the grass.

And then I had a temper tantrum. A full blown toddler temper tantrum. I turned the jets on high in an attempt to dampen my infuriated words.

"YOU (EXPLETIVE) crutches. I (EXPLETIVE)  hate you! This isn't  (EXPLETIVE) fair. I (EXPLETIVE) just want to (EXPLETIVE) do this my (EXPLETIVE) self."
 (at least at age 36 I possess an expansive vocabulary to communicate my displeasure)

I smacked the water with my hands. I sobbed into my coconut-scented bubbles. If there would have been a floor I'm sure I would have banged my head against it.

Once the tantrum was over. I sat helpless in that hot tub and realized that my trusty little triceps were not getting me out of this one. I would simply have to admit defeat and wait in that tub until Evan returned from his walk. I would have to ask him for help.

Although a hot tub overlooking a lake is really not a terrible place to be stranded, over an hour later, I was subdued and slightly demoralized. Sweat dripping down my face I noticed that my fingers and toes were pruned, my skin was raw from excessive chlorine exposure, and I was floating on the surface like a hard boiled egg. Evan returned and saw my crutches on the grass.

"Please help me," I said meekly.

He nodded, picked up the crutches and calmly placed them against the hot tub.

Minding my manners I smiled gratefully, "Thank you," I said.



You tell those crutches, Evan!
No tantrum here. Just chillin' in my tub, happy as a clam (Are clams really happy?)


Remember that time when the crutches were used for good, and not for evil?














Saturday, June 20, 2015

Toto, I have a feeling we're not on the island anymore

We've officially been back in Canada for over 6 weeks now. Honestly, given the state of my knees (which I really don't feel up to discussing right now), it feels like forever. The days are long. Sometimes it feels like we never left and our incredible Grand Cayman life never happened. Every now and then; however, I realize that a part of me is still in island mode. I still have moments of "island brain." Some mornings I wake up and can hear the Candle Lake waves crashing and for a moment I forget exactly where I am. I'm literally torn between two worlds…or perhaps I'm still over medicated? - tough to say.

Here are a few indicators that I am NOT on the island anymore:

1) Avocados:

Ev came home from Safeway with an avocado.

"Avocado?" I inquire, "What are we like rich now?"

"Hey Kirstie, avocados are like a buck here."

Right. Avocados are like anniversary/special birthday treats at $7 a pop on island. At $7 a pop, you're not even guaranteed that it won't be smooshy and overripe! We're stocking up big time and I'm going to avocado everything up while we're in Canada (did I just turn avocado into a verb?) There must be an avocado cocktail? dessert? smoothie? Can I rub it all over my face to reduce pores? Foot scrub? If there is a recipe, I'm on board because the elusive avocado is gold on Grand Cayman and our avocado eating days will soon be a distant memory, "Remember that day in Canada when we ate an avocado just for fun?"

2) Sundays:

We had a near panic attack one Saturday night in Candle Lake when we realized that we had forgotten to buy milk. We calmed down and reminded ourselves that all the milk stores in Canada are indeed open on Sundays. Heck, we could go to Walmart and buy Martha Stewart sheets and George shoes on Sunday if we wanted to! (but we won't, keep reading below to find out why) We're getting used to the "Sunday is a day of rest" philosophy on island. It is kinda nice, other than the fact that the grocery stores are often jam packed on Saturday nights, and you're really in a pickle if you're making a special Sunday meal and are missing a key ingredient! Sunday is a true day of rest on Cayman. There are no errands to run if nothing is open. What shall one do on a Sunday then? Church? Sunday brunch? Swim in the ocean? Go for a dive? Lay by the pool?  - the possibilities are endless when running errands is officially impossible. Yay for a day of rest! (Although I must say, initially, I hated it and suffered anxiety around the day of rest. What if I just suddenly want cake and a bottle of wine on a Sunday? I'm SOL).

3) Forecast:

On Grand, I might check the forecast once a week - maybe - but unless a tropical storm is looming, it's pretty boring. The weather page is typically full of bright yellow suns and an average high of 30 degrees Celsius every day. No surprise there. Every now and then you might experience a cold front of 25 degree highs for a few days (the kids wear fleece jackets!) Now that we're back at Candle Lake, I obsessively check the weather for 2 reasons:  1) to determine my father's emotional state. The fields are dry. The farmers require more rain for the crops. Time to panic? Nope, we're just mildly pissed at Mother Nature, but we can still forgive if she sends some precipitation now…NOW!  2) to determine if we will finally get a nice boat day. The boat and dock are in the water simply awaiting us to clamour in with our coolers, bikinis,  and tunes for a lovely summer boat day. There's nothing worse than anticipating a hot summer weekend based on the "scientific?" weather network.com forecast, only to realize late Friday afternoon that the beauty forecast has been kaiboshed and replaced with rain and/or high winds. C'mon weather network. Don't psych us out like that! There really are so few weekends in summer that can be enjoyed in the boat with the sun beaming down. That's not fair. After the winter Sasky's endure year after year, I feel that we are at least owed 2 months of legit summer. My theory is that most Saskatchewanians are in an emotionally abusive relationship with the weather. We get smacked with a -40 day, we bitch, we complain, we threaten to leave (some stray for a few weeks in Mexico - we even check the weather back in Saskatchewan while we're in Mexico and laugh to ourselves, "Ha, I got away from you, weather!")  and then the weather's like, "I love you. I'm sorry. Here's a sunny +30 day." We lie to ourselves, "What a great day. I'm so happy with this weather. I knew it would change if I just remained patient. I love living in Saskatchewan!" We advertise it all over Facebook, "Look at the amazing highs today on my weather app!" And then Boom, it hits us with a cold rainy July weekend like the A-hole it really is. Ugh. I want out of this abusive relationship and want absolutely nothing to do with obsessive weather forecast checking ever again. I'm breaking up with Saskatchewan weather. You are dead to me…until I need to know the weekend forecast.

The view from my window: you can't have a rainbow without a little rain? Ok, sure, but can't it just be sunny for a while?



4) Driving

I haven't driven once since we've returned to Canada, nor am I cleared to drive until i'm weight bearing and progressing with my rehab (I'm currently double braced, donning big ugly braces on both knees). As a passenger, I silently freak out when Evan or my mom make a left turn into the right lane, especially in parking lots. My heart skips a beat until I realize that staying right is the appropriate lane in this country. Still a weird one to shift back and forth between. I've advanced to feeling completely  comfortable with left lane driving in Cayman and dealing with round abouts vs. traffic lights. Sitting through so many traffic lights here makes me cringe. When will it change? Make it change! Why won't it….OH, it's green now…well Thank goodness! In fact, during our first week here, Ev blatantly drove straight through a red light. Not yellow. Bright red. He wasn't looking for it nor did he notice it. And where the hell are the chickens? Note to self: watch for traffic lights, not for chickens.

5) Wait times:

Mom asked me to wait in the car while she picked up my prescriptions. My first thought, "I can't wait in her vehicle for  6 hours!" And then I remembered that prescriptions in Canada can actually be dropped off and picked up in the span of  20 minutes! Brilliant. What an efficient system! I drop off a prescription and then I have pills in my hands in about half and hour. Beauty. No worries about my meds "not existing" on island. Sweet, you mean I don't have to make my meds in my basement?

It was the same situation with banking. Sprawled out in the backseat, donning my clumsy knee braces, I prepared myself for a long wait as Ev ran in to do some banking. I took out US magazine, contemplated the marriage of Kim and Kanye and before I could even delve into Kim's new pregnancy (Oh just what we need in this world - another self-centred, entitled human), Evan was back. "Seriously? Did you just perform several transactions in less than 5 minutes?" Lovely. You have no idea how convenient this is until you're faced with multiple hour waits to run a simple errand.

6) Converting currency:

When we initially moved to the island, we were constantly converting Cayman Island Dollars (CI's) into Canadian dollars to determine how much things cost. "This drink is $10 CI - OMG I'm paying $15 Canadian - it better be the best fricken rum punch I've ever drank" (FYI: it was, and I was "happy" after just 1 drink!). Around Dec-Jan, we just stopped converting. It didn't make sense to convert everything into Canadian dollars anymore, as my salary is paid out in CI's and Ev's is in US dollars.  Funny enough, now that I'm back in Canada, I find myself converting back to the CI currency. With the exchange rate where it is, everything is such a great deal - I can't possibly pass it up. My awesome mom and fabulous mother-in-law oiled up my wheelchair and took me on a road trip to Winners this week. It was so great for my presently foul mood. (Side Note: If you require help composing an angry letter/death threat, I'm your woman. Walmart lost a hot tub that we purchased weeks ago. Not only did I send numerous angry private messages, but I also filled their Facebook page with sad "poor me" messages in my attempt at public shaming. You messed with the wrong biatch who desperately needs that fricken hot tub, Walmart). Anyway, When the cashier rang through my incredibly successful purchase of $330 at Winners, I quickly convinced myself it was an amazing deal at only $210 CI. I basically owe it to our budget to do as much shopping as possible whilst in Canada. Do you sell avocados at Winners because I'll take more of those, please.
Mom and Peggy putting together my wheels for the shopping trip. Perk: convenient parking!

7) I'm married to a pirate:

Ev's always been a beer drinker. He delved into red wines for a few years as well, but typically when company is over or when he's out in the boat in warm weather, he's drinking beer. Once we began the routine of post-work Friday happy hours on the island, I noticed Evan ordering rum punches more frequently. In Ev's teenage years, hard liquor reduced him to a cantankerous stubborn ass (sorry, Ev, but you can't deny that)  Not anymore. In Ev's maturity, the rum punch relaxes him, abolishes his nervous eye twitch, and renders him harmonious. Since we've returned to Candle Lake, I've noticed our bar fridge is still stocked full with beer from last summer! He's simply not into the beer anymore. Surprisingly, he has been mixing himself a rum punch in the evenings, adding several different rums and fruit juices (Perhaps he requires hard alcohol to cope with his now cantankerous wife?) You think you know your husband after 19 years together? Now he's a rum punch guy? Who knew? Arggg matey!
Rum Punch please! heavy on the punch, if you know what I mean
Cheers to a great weekend! 10 more days until I can weightbear (AKA re-learn how to walk). Not that I'm counting down every single hour.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Another chapter closed - Saskpro CrossFit has a new owner!

This week was a big week for Evan - he handed over the keys to Saskpro CrossFit, the business that he created 6 years ago.

When we made the decision to move to Grand Cayman, Ev's intention was to continue to run Saskpro, commuting every few months to ensure things were running smoothly. At Christmastime, it was apparent to Ev that this was not going to work. Evan was definitely in a tough spot, wanting to spend time with his dad during his last days, and feeling the guilt of not being present at the gym as much as he had intended. He told me in December that he knew in his heart that he needed to sell the gym if we were going to continue living on the island. That's when the dialogue began.

As luck would have it, the perfect buyers came along! Scott and Shelli Gardiner - an inspirational couple and loyal Saskpro members -  have purchased the gym. Evan and I couldn't be happier. Scott and Shelli have an amazing story to share - I couldn't do it justice in a blog post, but I will say that Shelli suffered a stroke in 2007 which left her with paralysis on one side. She and Evan worked together for years at Saskpro, and as a team, they accomplished great things - including a fabulous new cane-less gait, hey Shell? Scott and Shelli have battled through big-time adversity and Evan and I certainly look to them for inspiration when we're fighting our own little battles with my knees. Evan and I just know that they will be fabulous ambassadors of the gym and will inspire everyone who walks through Saskpro's doors. Congratulations Scott and Shelli. We know you will put your heart and soul into it.

I really view this event as something to be celebrated. It's a true success story: Evan created this gym from nothing. It all actually began as a hockey conditioning centre converted out of an office building. Evan's dad, Jerry, drove in from Alberta for 2 weeks to help with the construction. Ev and his dad worked long, hard days and I know those memories of working so closely with his dad and having his dad's unconditional support are so precious to Ev. With the help of family and friends, we converted an office building into a skating treadmill paradise! Six years later, after changing locations 3 times, completely changing the vision of the business, and selling one very expensive skating treadmill, it has become something amazing. It became a community - a place where people go to work hard, feel great, and meet like-minded people. Some people think that Ev just got lucky. Not at all. The first 2-3 years were insane. I vividly remember Evan's 90 hour work weeks, the late late nights, the tears (mine…and maybe his too at times), and the books - Oh man, Evan must have read 450 business and fitness books! He worked his ass off. There were many times when the business wasn't "working" - Evan never gave up - he would read another book, consult with a business coaching company, and make changes until it began "working" again. The gym began with less than a dozen members and it has expanded to serve over 200 members! I am so proud of him. I am incredibly grateful to those who have supported us in this decision by sending us messages, stopping in to say "hi", asking how I am doing after surgery, and congratulating Evan on a job well done. I hope that once the dust clears and Ev can breathe a big sigh of relief, Evan and I will properly pop a bottle of champagne and toast the end of an amazing chapter! What a wild ride - life is just full of these wild rides - you just never know what direction your life will take.
Kayla and Ev hang the first sign
Evan and Jerry after a long day of work

Stop for a snack - those green walls HAVE to go!

As far as my recovery goes, I have nothing exciting to report. It's slow. It's painful. I'm not very mobile, given the flare up on my "good" knee. My mood is…well, kinda low. Luckily Dr. M gave me a gentle kick in my ass (wait! I don't have an ass anymore, let's call it a flass, shall we?) Dr. M let me cry for a bit and then sternly told me that it was time to fight. I need to cut back on the painkillers (AKA not be sooo high), I need to start eating (everything tastes like fish, for some reason), and I need to do bed exercises - leg lifts, raises, quad squeezes, etc. Ok Fine. I can do that. I'm trying. I've been through this before, you'd think I'd be awesome at it…but it's tougher this time around. I feel disappointed that I'm right back to a place I swore I'd never be again. I can't help but flash back to 2 years ago - again, I am 20 pounds under weight, high on pills, and immobile. ugh. Sometimes it feels like I'm in a dark hole -  Dr. M threw me a rope - some days I climb the rope (slowly) and some days I just hang on. But I won't let go. June 29 is the day that I will be cleared (hopefully) to begin weight bearing on my surgery knee. I vividly remember that stage from my last transplant. It's painful and difficult, but I recall the pride I felt when I began "learning" how to walk again, after months of moving very little.  My goal is to be as strong as I can be (even if I can only do bed exercises!) so that I'm ready to face my new challenge- the next stage of recovery - at the end of June. Sometimes I feel like screaming, "Enough with the challenges! Haven't I been challenged enough?"

In the meantime, Ev's been trying to keep me comfortable when I come home for a "home visit" (I'm still living at my mom's most of the time). A few nights ago, I complained about the knots in my back, hips, and neck, from being so sedentary. Thoughtfully, Ev came to bed one night with massage oil and offered me a lovely back massage. Yes! Thank you! This is what I need! He began working out a horrible knot in my shoulder. It was amazing! Just as he was really getting to the core of the knot, his speed slowed….and then stopped. I turned around to see that he had fallen asleep on my back - mid-massage. The next day I told him that was the first time he had ever disappointed me in bed! haha. The thought was there, but I'd have to give that one an epic fail! I'm hoping to recoup the other 3/4 of that massage on another date - perhaps during the day when there's less chance of massage narcolepsy.

Cheers to a happy weekend!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Back in Canada with cartilage in my knee!

Disclosure: I am heavily medicated. Sometimes blogging whilst stoned works, sometimes it doesn't. No guarantees. 

It's hard to believe that I was petting stingrays and sipping champagne at the Ritz Carlton just under a month ago - today I am falling asleep on the toilet and anticipating my big event of the day - a bath! How life changes in such a short time. 

hmmm…this isn't good.
Our trip back to Canada went fairly smoothly - with a few hitches, naturally. The morning of our departure the toilet in our condo began spraying water straight up to the ceiling, so while Ev played plumber, I double-checked our flight times, only to realize that our flight actually departed an hour earlier than I had reported. Ooops. Luckily, we were able to get our furry friends and 3 giant suitcases packed and en route to Canada. It was a long day of flights - Grand Cayman to Toronto, Toronto to Calgary, then Calgary to Saskatoon. The Calgary flight was completely geographically unnecessary, but actually saved us about $8000 - no joke! So we endured the extra 3 hours of travel. I was able to access wheelchair service the entire trip home, which was awesome! I highly recommend West Jet if you're ever traveling with someone who requires extra help. The bonus is the ability to bypass all the long lines. Totally worth it. At one point, as I was being frisked in my chair, I looked over at Ev who was sweating profusely. He had a dog under one arm, a cat under the other, and my crutches balanced under an armpit. As he walked through security, Biloxi, the angry cat, began swatting Dundee, the oblivious dog, repeatedly on the head. I could just imagine him saying, "You idiot! I told you the suitcases were a bad sign!" I tried to hold in my laughter as I overheard a woman next to me talking animatedly to her husband, "Honey, look at that funny man with the animals!" haha. Oh we were a sight to be seen!

My fabulous sister, Kayla, surprised us at the airport at 2:30am and offered to drive us home, which was such a fantastic offer after 12 hours of travel! Once we were settled in at our house in Candle Lake, I had a few days to mentally prepare for my 6th knee surgery - the 2nd cartilage transplant - this time in my left knee. I was extremely nervous, knowing what was in store. It turned out to be worse than I had anticipated.

The surgery itself went without a hitch. I was awake with a spinal, and I was ever so helpful, ensuring my orthopaedic surgeon was following all the proper steps to implant the cartilage in my knee ("Hey, Dr. M - did you make nice vertical walls?" - I'm  a "backseat" surgeon. haha. It's a very cool surgery! The cartilage is alive, and comes from a child cadaver. The cartilage was donated, and I feel extremely grateful to be the recipient of such a precious gift. It was my surgeon's second time performing the surgery - the first was my right knee 2 years ago. My condition is very rare, so there are few opportunities in Western Canada to perform this surgery, but I totally trusted my surgeon, as he and I go waaaay back with 6 surgeries together, and a trusting relationship that has spanned over the past 4 years. I'm grateful to have him in my life. 

ya, you smile, sister. Just wait until that freezing wears off !
The hard part came about 4 hours post surgery when the freezing began to wear off. We were unable to get on top of my pain. I was hooked up to a PCA - a device where I can deliver narcotics to myself every 6 minutes. In addition, I was given various other pain killers and anti inflammatories, but, unfortunately, since I've been on so many painkillers over the past 10 weeks, my tolerance is pretty high, and nothing seemed to ease the pain post surgery. It was pretty awful. There was nothing more that I could take to relieve the pain. I held my mom's hand, squeezed Evan's arm, and cried and cried. At one point, I whimpered, "Dr M, I'm too awesome to be in so much pain!" haha. "Yes, Kirstie, yes, you are," he replied. Not super at all. I thought that I was a seasoned surgical patient after enduring 6 knee surgeries - but this one was different - more challenging.  In addition, I had a whiny roommate - a hip replacement who lied profusely about her sleeping habits. This woman snored non-stop from 8pm until 8am and then had the audacity to tell her family that she "never slept a wink." Miserable and sleep deprived on the other side of the curtain, I whispered, "You effin liar!" Yes, it was time for me to get out of the hospital before someone got hurt!

It's been a week now since my surgery. I'm back at my mom's house now. Thankfully, mom and my step-dad, Lenny, have offered me their master bedroom while Evan finishes some renovations at our home. I don't know what I would do without my mom. She has been so awesome - ensuring I have my meds, brushed teeth, the right food, lots of love, etc. Just amazing. I love her so much! We've been spending a lot of evenings laying in bed together, watching "Southern Charm" online (awesome reality TV show - I'm hooked!) I really do have the best mom ever. Evan has been fantastic as well, finding creative ways to awkwardly shower me, without getting my left leg wet. Unfortunately my surgery took place on Evan's birthday, so his 36th was definitely overlooked this year. Evan always presents as cool, calm, and stoic, but I know this has been one of the most challenging years of his life, losing his father, and caring for his sick wife - again. Evan's always so strong for me and his family, but I see him lying awake at night, I notice his nervous eye twitch, and I know that he is struggling as well. During our hockey life, I watched Evan calmly endure heartbreaking trades, lose his job mid-season, and carry the burden of supporting us financially. I thought we had been through it all. In my immaturity, I didn't realize that the loss of a job is nothing compared to the loss of a parent and the challenge of facing recurrent health problems. I have so much respect for Evan and his choice to put his family first during these challenging times. He's keeping my spirits as high as possible, when I'm sure his spirits are wavering as well. 

It's very tricky to get around at the moment, as my "good" knee is not 100%. It's struggling to carry all my weight and I'm only able to crutch a few steps. Evan's been helping me by carrying me to and from the washroom. I'm still experiencing a significant amount of pain. The reality is beginning to set in that I'm much less mobile than I was the first time around, 2 years ago. I might be dependent on a wheel chair for a few months. It's a bit daunting, but I'm hopeful that my right knee will smarten up, the left knee will "accept" my new cartilage, and I will be able to walk again. I'm also hopeful that this condition does not affect any more joints in my body. My goal is to stay positive and try not to worry about things out of my control. I'm also cognizant of the fact that people face physical struggles everyday that are much more serious than mine. I can do this. 

I sure appreciate all the emails, texts, and Facebook messages from friends and family - thanks for thinking about us. 

Mom and Lenny's cat, Maggie. She hates that I've taken over her bed and frequently casts evil spells on me from her stoop.