Sunday, December 11, 2016

What the cluck?

Ahhh…the sounds and sights of the Christmas season is upon us.

Sparkling white lights twinkle around the trunk of the palm trees.

"Jingle Bells" echoes in the grocery store as you place your eggnog in your cart.

Shoppers clamour the stores in search of the perfect holiday gift.

Children scream with excitement as they attempt to release the trapped chickens.

What a minute…what?

Oh yes, it's that time of year where the children... and chickens... go nuts.

Working as a Speech Therapist in the schools, I have come to the realization that there are 2 distinct times of year when it is virtually impossible to hold the attention of a student - the entire month of December and the entire month of June. I've tried. I've strategized ways around this predicament to no avail. The kids are just wild with excitement for Christmas in December and Summer Holidays in June.

Last week I attempted to re-assess all my students' speech and language skills. Worst. Idea. Ever. Not only were the students distracted, excitedly listing off their wish list for Santa, but many of them were nowhere to be found - either practicing for the Christmas concert in the Hall or carolling the neighbourhood on a class trip. If I did manage to re-assess a child, he was impulsively shouting out wrong responses to subjects that we have painstakingly drilled repeatedly in the last few months.

"Ok, J'Quan. Listen closely: a shirt, pants, and socks - they are all….."
(C'mon kid, we've been targeting categories for 3 months)


Ugh. So close.

To make matters worse, one of my schools decided to set out traps for chickens last week. As you may have suspected, given my multiple posts and complaints about chickens, there are a LOT of wild chickens on the island. The chickens roam free, digging in garbages, stopping traffic to cross with their fuzzy chicks, and fighting with each other in the streets (I once witnessed 5 chickens chasing a rooster who was running wildly with a piece of pizza in its mouth).

The chickens are a real nuisance on the school grounds because they jump in the garbage bins and leave a trial of half-eaten school lunches behind. One of my schools attempted to alleviate the problem by outfitting each bin with a lid; however, the chickens got savvy and began knocking off the lids by jumping up and bumping them off with their own heads! These chickens are calculating and I secretly fear that one day they, and the iguanas, will rule the island.

Desperate for a solution, the school decided to trial chicken trapping. You gotta do what you gotta do, but I seriously questioned why this chicken trapping trial had to occur directly outside my therapy window, during my re-assessment week, in the middle of the school day. In the words of Vivian (Pretty woman) "Big mistake. Big. Huge."

I tried to divert my students' attention away from the window where 3 cages sat, containing 2 desperately squawking chickens. Suddenly dozens of chickens descended upon the area, clucking wildly, and (from what I imagine), shouting reassurance to their trapped friends, "We will get you out! Stay calm Edna! Don't get your feathers in a knot Margaret!"

Cue the wild students. Curious students, transitioning to their next class, suddenly became interested in the commotion and descended upon the school yard as well. As I unsuccessfully attempted to extract a description of a bicycle out of J'Quan, the view out side  my window now consisted of dozens of flapping, squawking chickens and screaming students, either attempting to kill or release the trapped chickens (The jury is still out, but let's give them the benefit of the doubt and call it a "rescue mission")

Gritting my teeth, I stomped outside (when I say "stomped," I mean limped heavily and loudly), put my hands on my hips and screeched, "PUT THE CHICKENS DOWN AND GET BACK TO CLASS NOWWWWWWW!"

The shrillness of my "mom" voice was alarming. The students stared blankly at me for a mere second, likely deafened by the frequency of my voice, and then carried on with the loud, chaotic chicken rescue mission. I wiped the sweat that was now dripping down my face, arms, and legs, and stormed into the School office, yelling at no one in particular, "The chickens! You have to do something about the chickens!"

I had reached the end of my rope. I am no spring chicken, you know. I was ready to fly the coop (See what I did there?)

In the end, the chicken trapping was an epic fail. The students' rescue mission had succeeded and no chickens were trapped during that momentous afternoon.

Once the bird seed cleared, I calmly sat down at my computer and began composing a strongly worded email with the following subject line: "Chicken trapping is interfering with speech therapy."

At that moment it suddenly dawned on me that I was truly living a completely different life than I had ever imagined.

Update: I fly back to the Arctic Circle Saskatchewan in less than a week! I am so excited to see all my friends and family and celebrate my first Christmas in 4 years back at home. I am; however, slightly concerned about the weather forecast. When you google, "Prince Albert Weather," an alert pops up stating: "Extreme cold warning due to Polar vortex." EEEKS! Given that I haven't experienced "winter" in 2 years, I am a little apprehensive about how my body (especially my knees) will react to wind chills of -40 degrees Celsius. I showed one of my keen students a map depicting the current temperatures in Saskatchewan and his response was, "But that can't be possible. I don't get it." Yes, kid, yes it can be possible. My Caribbean co-workers questioned, "How do humans live there?" Um…we just do? I'm not exactly sure how to respond to these questions, but I do know that it is imperative that I locate a pair of socks before I fly out on Friday.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

It's a Dog's Life

Last we spoke, I was seeking some much needed solace after an "interesting" cruising experience on the "unfun" ship.

Unfortunately that solace lasted about 3.2 seconds.

Upon returning home, we noticed that our little white dog, Dundee, was not himself. With a history of back problems, we knew that he had likely hurt his back jumping off the couch or watching "Dogs with Jobs" with a little too much enthusiasm. We immediately gave him an anti-inflammatory pill in a spoonful of peanut butter and hoped he would feel better quickly.

He didn't. With each passing day, Dundee appeared to be experiencing increasing pain, his appetite diminished, and he just wasn't his usual happy Dundee self. The vet examined him and suggested that if he didn't improve soon, he would benefit from a CT Scan to determine the exact nature of his back injury. The kicker? The CT Scan was in Miami. Ugh.

Over the next few days, I administered my little dog Tramadol every 4 hours - shockingly the same painkiller and strength that I am on. Nights were the worst! Dundee would awaken panting, obviously in pain and I had to hold him tight so that he didn't thrash around. It was exhausting and difficult.

Now anyone who knows Evan well knows his incredible ability to sleep soundly in any situation. If Evan was a Miss America pageant contestant, he would likely win the talent competition with this unique and functional skill. It really is impressive! I suspect that he perfected his ability to sleep soundly in any situation after years of overnights on uncomfortable hockey buses. I actually questioned if Evan was faking this skill in order to avoid loss of sleep until the Firehall incident of 2008. In Evan's previous life, he was a Firefighter with the City of Calgary Fire Department. When there is a call, tones sound in the firehall, increasing in volume and pitch to alert the Firefighters to get moving ASAP. One night, Evan slept through an entire fire. He missed the tones, he missed the bustle of the firefighters moving around him, getting into their gear, and jumping into the truck. He missed the entire thing! Upon returning to the Hall after the fire, Evan's crew found Ev sound asleep in his bed, completely unaware of the night's events. So they did what any professional would do in that situation - they painted Evan's toenails red. Evan defended himself by explaining, "My panic threshold is not very high." Ya, it's probably for the best that he retired that career.

So, you see, I can't really blame Evan when he fails to wake in the middle of the night. He doesn't do it on purpose. But let's be honest here - it pisses me off…just a little.

On the third sleepless night, I held my shaking dog in my arms and physically shoved Evan from his slumber, "I need help!"

Ev did wake up briefly and took over the duties of holding and comforting our distraught dog. Seeing that he had it under control, I rolled over to catch an hour of sleep before I had to get up for work. I was quickly awakened from a light sleep to see Dundee wandering frantically around our bed while Ev slept soundly, arms out, holding an invisible dog. At that moment, I mentally retrieved my "Having a baby: pros and cons" checklist and dusted it off. Picturing sleepless night after sleepless night with a fussy baby, I added a big 'ol check mark under "cons" (Aside: Do not tell me that Evan would surely wake up if it was his own baby crying. He would not. End of discussion).

On Thursday night, Dundee became noticeably worse. The vet told me to watch carefully for any signs of motor issues such as difficulty walking or the dragging of his back legs. While trying to encourage Dundee to eat, Dundee stood up and began dragging his back legs. His back legs didn't work! What a horrible thing to witness. Frantic, I called the vet and we began arranging a referral to Miami for an emergency spinal surgery.

As annoyed as I was with Evan during the sleepless nights, I couldn't have asked for a better partner in crime as we prepared Dundee to travel to Miami. Evan quickly booked a flight while I arranged the paperwork to get Dundee off island (The Cayman Islands Department of Agriculture must approve every exit and entry of each animal). At this point I was sleep deprived and panicked, picturing my precious pet paralyzed. We knew that time was of the essence and Dundee required surgery immediately. Evan calmly packed his bag, carefully placed Dundee in his carry case, kissed me goodbye, assuring me that Dundee would be fine, and flew to Miami that night. As scared as I was, I felt reassured knowing that Evan was taking over the reigns.

Dundee received spinal surgery the next morning. He was diagnosed with a condition called "Intervertebral Disc Disorder," characterized by a ruptured disc in his back. Thankfully, they were able to operate in time, and he is expected to make a full recovery. We will, however, have to limit his jumping activity in the future, as he is prone to further disc problems. The Fido Network may be permanently replaced with The Food Network. Phew. Upon hearing that everything went well, I took a deep breath…but just for a second. We were now faced with the daunting task of importing him back on island.

The paperwork for importing your pet on island is extremely complicated. Blood titres to prove that your pet possesses the rabies vaccine, flea and tick treatments, as well as paperwork completed and signed by a Clinical Vet and a Federal Vet are required. Although Dundee was discharged from the Vet Hospital in Miami on Tuesday, Evan and I worked overtime to complete the paperwork so that he could fly back to the island by Thursday. Ev found himself in an Uber, searching the city of Miami for a USDA accredited Vet who would stamp our documents without the typically required week's notice. To make matters even more complicated, it was election day and Ev was stuck in traffic, gazing at posters of Trump's tangerine face everywhere (obviously Hollywood, Florida was Trump territory)  There was a bit of pleading, a bit of ass-kissing, and more than one text between us, "Are you F$#**ing kidding me?" Ev and I joked that our wallets were wide open at this point, makin' it rain all over Miami! Yes, Dundee is expected to make a full recovery in 6 weeks. Our wallets, however, may never fully recover. Haha.

In the end, my furry boys (Ev hadn't shaved in a week) returned back to island on Thursday night. I have never been so relieved to kiss that little black nose (That would be Dundee) and feel those comforting arms around me (That would be Evan).

I know that if you are not an animal lover, you will read this blog in dismay, wondering what would possess one to make such an effort for an animal. All I can say is, I consider my pets to be part of my family. They bring so much joy into my life and are completely dependent on me to keep them safe. There was no way that I could sit back and watch my buddy become paralyzed.

So now the fun begins. Dundee is confined to a kennel - puppy jail - for 6 weeks, with short walk breaks throughout the day. His first night in puppy jail was challenging and consisted of him rattling his bars at 4am shouting, "I was framed! I want my lawyer!" (Ok, I made that part up, but I'm sure that's what he would say if he could talk). Just like me, Dundee now has to partake in physio exercises! We can take our Tramadol, do our leg lifts together, and watch "Donut Showdown" - excellent puppy/human bonding time! And somehow Ev is not only graced with a rehabbing wife, but with a rehabbing dog as well.

"Lucky you!" I exclaimed.

"It's a good thing you guys are good-looking and loveable," he joked.

I am so looking forward to some down time here. I presently feel like I'm in a dodgeball game, avoiding balls left and right. I don't dare stand still in fear of being smacked in the face! Since my surgery in September, Evan hasn't been home for more than 10 days at a time. We are celebrating a long weekend on the island and Ev and I are really looking forward to some quiet, UNEVENTFUL time at home with our furry friends.

Cheers Friends!

Dundee is home! hooray!

This is not Dundee. This a random dog at the beach. I thought he looked like Evan because he is handsome and has lots of freckles

Dundee's very unfortunate reverse mohawk. 

Who's a good boy? 

Dundee is allowed out of puppy jail for visits with his friends

Biloxi kept Dundee's bed warm the entire time he was gone. 

I don't know what all the fuss is about…stupid dog. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Seas The Day?

Have you ever wished you could freeze a perfect moment in time? This summer at my Baba and Gido's 70th wedding anniversary, I glanced over at my Baba and Gido as my talented Aunties and cousin performed my Gido's favourite song. My Baba was smiling from ear to ear and my Gido's eyes had welled up with tears. He was obviously touched by their voices and all the family and friends who traveled far and wide to Meath Park, Saskatchewan, to show their love and support. I recall that moment vividly. The love in that room was palpable. I consciously made the effort to take a mental snapshot in my brain, as that moment in time felt so incredibly special. About 3 weeks later, My Gido was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. On October 20, just over 2 months after that special day, my Gido passed away at the age of 90 years.

My Gido loved to farm. He was a very dedicated, hard-working and successful farmer and land owner. Some of my favourite Gido memories include sitting in the combine with him, while he explained and demonstrated the function of the endless display of buttons and levers. Despite his ailing health, my Gido was still farming in mid-September. He wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I picture him now, in his heaven, wandering through the perfect canola field in his rubber boots. We will all miss him very much. My heart breaks for my Baba. She is a very strong, inspiring woman. She told me that she knows it's time to close that chapter of her book and begin a new one, but I can only imagine how difficult that must be after 70 years of marriage. Theirs was a true love story. 

Baba and Gido at our wedding in 2005

I experienced one of the hardest realities of living so far from home…I couldn't get back in time to be with my family for my Gido's funeral. It sucked. I spent an entire night awake, searching for flights that would get me to Saskatchewan within a few days. There were no flights under $3500 and less than 30 hours in length. The itineraries were ridiculous, with overnights in Cancun and Jamaica. I finally conceded that, given my present health (still dependent on that damn crutch), it just didn't make sense to spend 30 hours traveling each way for 2 days at home. I have never been so homesick in my life. I really wanted to be with my Dad, my Baba, my sister, and my extended family. I am so looking forward to going home for Christmas this year. 

A few months ago, I had booked a cruise for Evan and I during my half-term break. Knowing that getting back to Saskatchewan was off the table, and that the cruise was non-refundable, Evan and I decided to go on the 5 day cruise, hoping to relax and enjoy some quiet time away together. Plus, Evan and I have always wanted to visit Turks and Caicos and this was the only ship that included Turks in its itinerary during my school break. 

I'm not sure why I booked a cruise for us. To be perfectly honest, I find the cruise ship tourists to be quite annoying here on the island. I reasoned that perhaps I find cruise ship tourists annoying  because I am typically driving through them, attempting to get to work on time. Maybe if I was on holidays, I could thoroughly enjoy being an annoying cruise ship tourist as well. I mean, cruisers always look so carefree and oblivious when I almost hit them with my car. I wanted to be carefree and oblivious. I was wrong. I won't go as far  to say that the cruise was a mistake, but well, uh, it wasn't ideal.
I see land - we can make a jump for it!

Within an hour of arriving on the ship, still docked in Fort Lauderdale, I found myself seated in a buffet area, surrounded by intense volume. The people who stood and ate directly from the buffet table ate and spoke LOUDLY. The man who belched rudely from his table belched LOUDLY. The group of party animals who downed shot after shot whilst chanting, "USA! USA!" chanted LOUDLY. Wide-eyed and desperate, I looked across the table at Evan. Could we still get off the ship? We hadn't actually left our port just yet. I could still see the crew untying our ship from the dock. Could we jump? I could jump. Screw the knees! And right there, in the "country comfort buffet," barely 2 hours into our cruise, I began sobbing LOUDLY. 

"I don't want to be here. I want to be with my family. These people are too loud. This is awful!" I choked, chin trembling.

My always calm and cool husband took my hands in his and said, "Kirst. It's OK. This is where the knobs congregate. This is knobville. We will find the calm and quiet part of the ship and we will have a great time together."

He was right. We did find a quiet area of the ship and we did enjoy our time together. I would not; however, choose to go another cruise like that one again. Ever. 

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em? 

For one, everyone on the ship had knee problems. Or so it seemed. One-crutching around the ship was impossible without being stopped by someone who eagerly wanted to share their knee surgery tale. Ugh. Evan joked that I was like one of those bitchy contestants on the Bachelor - I was NOT there to make friends. Instead of stopping when a fellow passenger began sharing his riveting knee surgery story, I would simply snap, "I've had 7 knee surgeries" and angrily one-crutch away. Evan even resorted to holding up 7 fingers mockingly upon my angry exits. Haha. Oh dear. As far as I was concerned, no one on that ship had knees as bad as mine. On one interaction, a LOUD woman bellowed, "Oh honey, I know exactly how you feel!" as I turned to bark back my "7" story, I noticed that her leg was amputated from above the knee. Oops. I smiled meekly. She won. I was officially a cruise ship BIATCH. 

Craving a quiet and relaxed holiday, I was repelled by the intensity that my fellow cruisers were holidaying. I get it, some people only get 5 days off work to party like it's 1999, and we are incredibly lucky to live in a vacation destination. Maybe I used to vacation like this? On the other hand, even when I had limited vacation time and lived in a frigid climate, I have never been rude to servers on holidays nor have I ever had such little consideration for the people around me. Evan and I watched from a safe distance as each day, for 4-5 hours, the same group of middle-aged partiers guzzled Budweiser, belly flopped into the pool, and chanted "Hell YA WHOOOHOOOO!"(Apparently the universal language for "I am having fun.") Mouths gaping open, Evan and I stared in disbelief. Ev commented, "It's like we're at the zoo…but we're in the cage with the monkeys." Yep. The icing on the cake was when, at 11am, one gregarious partier began yelling insistently at the bartender, "One More!" signalling for a shot. By 1pm, and more than a dozen shots later, her face had officially fallen off. She slurred something incoherent to her spouse from across the pool. When he turned to attend to her, she responded with a…ahem…umm I don't even know how to write this…oral sex gesture. (I'd like to take this moment to apologize to my Baba and Grandma and anyone who has to demonstrate what that gesture looks like to them). That actually happened. Gross. Me. Out. The sideways rain for 4 days straight, along with a good bout of seasickness (puke!) just about finished me off. The grand finale was when the ship, mere miles away from the Turks coastline, had to turn and head back to sea, forgoing the port, due to dangerous weather conditions ("Bye Turks!") 

I'm just going to turn my chair around and pretend that I never saw that

Now I know I've painted a dismal picture, but to be honest, it wasn't ALL bad. There were some wonderfully good moments. I thoroughly enjoyed my tea and fruit on my balcony every morning, peacefully listening to the waves crash against the ship. On an island in the Bahamas, I was able to find a tiny chapel on the beach and silently say a prayer for my Gido and my family. I just wanted to feel close to them and that quiet little chapel was the perfect place for me to seek solace amidst the chaos. Evan and I were also able to spend some much needed time together, bonding over this "unique" experience, people-watching and discussing the disarray around us. Finally, I was so impressed with the service on the ship and was able to meet some amazing people who worked for the cruise line. One waiter stood and talked to me about his life and family in Bali for over an hour. One sweet staff member confided that she had just recently discovered that she was pregnant with her Spanish boyfriend's baby. I listened and nodded as she explained how scared she was to tell her disapproving South African parents. One Dominican bartender, Pedro, had the most contagious smile that I had ever experienced. I have never met someone who appeared to be so genuinely happy, despite the demands he was facing from my fellow passengers. He was inspiring…and he made an amazing margarita. Overall, the crew was phenomenal. If I could have cruised with the crew, it would have been a much different experience.

Our quiet spot - far from "Knobville"

Dinners together were the perfect people-watching experience

Best. Margarita. Ever. Drink until I forget about that nasty gesture. Haha. 

island in the Bahamas - the one beautiful day of sunshine

Our fabulous waitstaff

Pedro, the happiest man in the world!

Our peaceful balcony

Oh well. I realize now that I was not in the right frame of mind for such a vacation. Lesson learned. It felt really nice to return to Cayman, cuddle our pets, and Skype with my family. Despite being back at work, my tranquil little casa on the sea feels like the right "holiday" for me right now. whooohooo (that's my serene version). 

Crutches in paradise

Saturday, October 15, 2016

My Pets are plotting my demise

I awoke with a start, sweat dripping down my face. Panicked, I groped in the dark for the lamp on my night table. The room was still other than the light whirl of the fan and the sound of my anxious breath. I quickly looked to Evan's side of the bed, noting that the covers were still tucked into the corners and the pillows were stacked on one side. Right. Evan was gone. He was in California for business, and had flown out the day before. Although nothing appeared immediately out of place, something felt eerily wrong. I rolled my head on my pillow to investigate the other side. There, staring back at me, mere inches from my face, were the big black eyes of my little white dog, Dundee, and the bright yellow eyes of my cat, Biloxi. This; however, was not the look of love. The animals were not relaxed, gazing at me with admiration. My little furry friends appeared startled, as if I had interrupted a plan. Suddenly it occurred to me - it was obvious. My pets were conspiring against me me. My pets were plotting my demise.

Ok, Ok. I know this sounds crazy. You might be reading this, wondering just how many painkillers I am on. The answer is...a lot. Yes. But…hear me out. I think I have a legit concern.

When I first returned to the island after my surgery in Philadelphia, the pets watched me gingerly crutch to my bed, where I spent my first week, icing my knee and catching up on my favourite daytime TV. Both the dog and the cat have now witnessed 7 knee surgery recoveries, so none of this was new to them. Biloxi took to his cat duties immediately, sleeping on my bed with his head placed carefully on my knee, steadily purring, and refusing to leave my side. I've always asserted that Biloxi acts as my personal physio, providing ultrasound to my sore knee. Dundee, on the other hand, demonstrated his true feelings about my injury, whining and crying while he watched Evan help me into my bed, and distancing himself from me until I was feeling well enough to get out of bed. Despite the fact that Dundee will actually sit down and watch "Working Dogs" for half an hour on the Fido Network, Dundee would never be selected as a working dog for the sick or injured. Man's best friend, my ass.

My personal ultrasound

Kirstie's crutches make me sad. I'm going to ignore her until they go away.
Someday I'm going to be a working dog…but not with sick people. I don't like sick people. 

Since my surgery, Evan has had to to fly out to London, England and San Diego for 2 separate work trips. This has not been an ideal time to be left alone with my furry friends, as I haven't recovered as quickly as I had hoped. Now, don't get me wrong, I am very proud of my husband. After working for this company for only a few years, he has worked his way up, being promoted several times into, what I imagine, is a very important position. Don't ask me what he does. I know there are spreadsheets, profit margins, and key metrics. And I know that he works very hard. I still recall watching a 19 year old Evan play his 7th straight hour of NHL 99 on the XBOX, questioning if I was in a relationship with a unambitious bum. Jokes on me! He's definitely driven and I am very proud of his success, but I wish he could spreadsheet from home without these frequent work trips. I've been depending heavily on him to help me and provide me with food, massages, and pep talks…you know, the basics.

Once left alone with the pets, they immediately began to turn on me. I detected a look of panic on their furry little faces when Evan wheeled his suitcase to the door, "You're leaving us with her?" "How the hell is SHE going to keep us alive?" I sensed their apprehension and, to be honest, I questioned whether or not I could keep them, as well as myself alive for 7 days, without the help of Evan.

The revolt began with Dundee. He began peeing and pooping on the floor, in various locations, even when left alone for a paltry 2 hours while I was at work. There was no excuse for this behaviour. My lovely neighbour was taking him for multiple walks, my buddy, Monty, was taking him to the beach, and I was crutching to his little food bowl to ensure he was well fed and watered at all times. You know what's worse than working in 90 degree heat, in pain, on crutches with 5 year olds for 8 hours? Returning home after those exhausting days to clean pee and poo off the floor…on crutches!  I was livid! I tried yelling. I tried ignoring. I tried reasoning (yes, reasoning with a dog. I know. I know). Throughout this week of lysol-ing the floor, Biloxi, the cat, watched quietly from a distancing, poising himself for his attack.

I peed on the floor. Again. I feel shame.

Biloxi joined the revolt on day 3. Some background information for you: Biloxi is 14 years old and quite set in his ways. This summer, Biloxi suddenly decided that the dry kibble he had happily enjoyed for 14 years was no longer satisfying his senior needs. Refusing to eat, I desperately tried everything - adding tuna to his kibble and changing his food multiple times until he finally settled on something he liked - Whiskas Seafood Pate. For whatever reason, my little furry orange friend chose the cheapest, non-nutritious food that we had offered. Go figure. Anyway, Biloxi now receives seafood pate twice a day - once at 6:30am and again at 5:30pm. You'd think my little buddy had a tiny little Timex on his hairy paw. If his food does not hit his dish by 5:31pm, He screams, "Seafood Pate!" (well, I imagine that is the translation of his high-pitched demanding meow). On day 4 of the revolt, however, Biloxi decided that he needed to be fed the exact moment that I had laid down for my after-school nap. 4:00pm, 4:30pm - it didn't matter. As soon as I settled in with my ice bag on my knee and my head on my pillow, he began his seafood pate outcry, "Seafood pate! Seafood pate!"

I said SEAFOOD PATE, biatch!

By day 5 I was exasperated. Returning home sweaty and in tremendous pain, still shocked that the last words I had uttered to a student were, "Put that iguana down now!" I just wanted to pop a painkiller, throw on a little "Say yes to the dress," and have a nap. Using 1 crutch indoors, I set down my other crutch on the floor while I went to change out of my work clothes. When I returned from the bedroom, Dundee and Biloxi sat side by side on the couch staring at me spitefully. Something was up. I looked down to discover that my lovely little white dog had pissed ON my crutch. ON MY CRUTCH. Why? Why would he do that to me? Sniffling back my tears of frustration, I wiped the dog pee off the crutch.

Evidence of the horrid act. 



I turned away from my pissy crutch to locate the source of the loud banging. To my astonishment, Biloxi was now throwing his paws against the dryer in protest. Yes, it was 5:31 and Biloxi was hangry. While creating the loud banging noise on the dryer, he was simultaneously screaming, "SEAFOOD PATE! SEAFOOD PATE!"

As I listened to my hangry cat and addressed my dog's dissatisfaction with my crutches, it suddenly occurred to me: I am not their owner. The dog and the cat OWN ME.

So that brings me back to the evil murder plot. I believe that Dundee and Biloxi regard me as their peer. I am a member of their pack. I know that Caesar Milan would scold me for being a member of my pets' pack, as opposed to their leader. I know, Caesar. I screwed up. To make matters worse, I am a sick and wounded member of their pack. I was a science major in University so I know the deal - I understand survival of the fittest, natural selection, etc. I have been less than "useful" to my furry friends as of late, making few contributions to the pack. In fact, I have been dominating the leader of the pack's attention (obviously the leader of the pack is Evan). These animals have motive. When I awoke suddenly that night, in a panic, I believe my furry little friends were huddled on my pillow, quietly watching my rhythmic breathing, and plotting my demise.

Or…I could be on too many painkillers. That is also a plausible explanation.

Wish me luck. If anything happens to me, look to the dog first. He's shifty-eyed today.

Is she still breathing? Yep, yes, she is. We will try again tonight. 

PS: Check out my blog post on Women Who Live On Rocks:

Monday, September 19, 2016

Just taking a break from awesomeness

I gazed out at the calm turquoise waters and inhaled the salty sea air.

"Can I help you?"

"Yes, I will have a margarita. On the rocks, please" I replied as I leaned against the marble counter at the Marriott beach bar.

"Kirsten. Stop bending your knee!"

Excuse me? I turned my head to locate the rude woman who was shouting out commands - and referring to me by my formal "birth certificate name," nevertheless.  Unable to locate the source, I turned back to the bar to wait for my margarita.

"Salt the rim please," I continued, smiling at my friendly Mixologist. My throat was hoarse and dry.

"Kirsten. You need to keep that knee straight!"

Someone needed to shut this woman up! I pivoted quickly and a sharp pain radiated down my leg. Ouch! I really needed that margarita.

"Kirsten. You just had surgery. You need to keep your knee straight."

Dammit. Jolted back to reality, I realized that I was not at the Marriott beach bar on Seven Mile Beach. I was not about to lick the salt off the rim and sip that icy beverage. I was on a hospital gurney being wheeled into recovery at the Penn Medicine Surgical Centre in Philadelphia.

So I survived another knee surgery. Number seven to be exact. Number seven was different than the first six in many respects. For one, it took place in Philadelphia, at a surgical centre (as opposed to a traditional hospital). Also, this surgery was with an Orthopedic Surgeon who is new to me. This Ortho specializes in cartilage repair - his research is published in journal articles, and he performs surgeries for patients with my rare condition, Osteochondrial Dissecans. Also, I wasn't awake for this surgery. All patients are given general anesthetic at the surgical centre. I have a fear of anesthetic, as I "went under" in the middle of a panic attack once, so my previous knee surgeries have all been spinals, at my request. In addition, since Philadelphia isn't exactly a hub for us, my mom flew in from Canada. Evan, my mom, and I spent 5 days in a rental apartment in downtown Philadelphia. Ev and I flew back to the island 4 days after my surgery. I was really grateful to have my mom there with me, as those first few days post surgery were harder than I anticipated. I guess I'm not as "good" at surgery as I thought!

(Aside: I do not recommend flying 4 days after surgery - "Ma'am, it looks like there is no ramp for deplaning. There's about 30 stairs. How would you like to get down those?" "Ummm, forward f'n roll?"

Overall, it was pretty OK. I was impressed with the Penn Medicine Surgical Centre. My previous experience in Canada has entailed waiting for hours with a dozen other terrified patients, all donned in hospital gowns and booties ("So…what are you in for?") I've always thought it's cruel to make people wait for hours in a communal room in such a vulnerable state. Like at least throw me an Ativan and a curtain so I can freak out alone! In contrast, I arrived at the surgical centre at 6am, immediately escorted to my own space, had an IV and anti-anxiety meds by 6:30, and was in surgery by 7am. I didn't even have time to spazz out (Just look at that dopey unsuspecting smile on my face). Plus…I scored a very nice Penn Medicine garment bag. Nice. I did miss seeing familiar faces. Previously, all of my surgeries have taken place at the Prince Albert hospital where I used to work. It was always comforting to chat with the Nurses and the Doctors in the OR, who were also my friends. Although the surgical staff at Penn Medicine were excellent, I did miss being cared for by people who know me personally.

Just what I need! I will put my post surgery formal attire in here for safe keeping!

Other than the fact that my knee was in worse shape than the MRI depicted, all went well. The surgeon "cleaned" all the torn cartilage and my cartilage was biopsied, Fed Ex'd to Boston (I warned them that Fed EX sucks and loses packages!), where my cartilage will be grown in a lab. When I am ready for the next surgery, the Ortho will implant the millions of cartilage cells into the holes in my knee where my sucky cartilage has failed to survive. He will also replace my meniscus, which apparently is torn (I always bragged that at least my meniscus was fine. Oops) And then, you know, repeat on the other knee. Easy peasy, right? Well, not so much, but at least it's a plan.

Does this bandage make my leg look fat?

So I find myself in a place where I've been approximately 6 times before - rehabbing and recovering. Typically when I get the green light to start my exercises, I crank my motivational music, put on my Nikes, and start doing laps of my living room. This time; however, I find myself horizontal on the couch, drooling out of one side of my face, and critiquing Emmy gowns, "Ugh! That dress is hideous!" I just don't feel like it. I just don't give a care. I am supposed to be back at work, full time, in 7 days, and I just don't presently possess the motivation to "learn" how to walk. Again. It's discouraging that there are still many more surgeries in my future. Big sigh. Yes, I feel sorry for myself. Call me a WHAAAAAmbulance. Order me a WHAAAAmburger and french cries.

My mom attempted to describe my situation:  She told me that I'm awesome, but right now, I'm taking a break from awesomeness. You can't be awesome all the time. I like that. Thanks mom. She "gets" me and loves me!

"Hi there. You've reached the voicemail of Kirstie Lindsay. I've taken a break from awesomeness this week. I will get back to you when I'm ready to be awesome again."

Cheers to a gripping "Cupcake Wars" marathon that has been captivating my attention for hours.

"Look Biloxi! They added too much absinthe to those cupcakes! Stupidheads. "

Monday, August 22, 2016

Another epic summer in the books

Wow. Those were the fastest six weeks ever. Ever!
I can't believe our Canadian summer has come to an end. But, wow, it was so good.
My goal this summer was to surround myself with people who make me happy. I wanted to laugh until I snorted, reminisce with and enjoy all my Canadian buddies, spend more time with my family, and leave the worries to the worry box. Mission accomplished. I feel so full! I am full of happiness, full of strength, and full of love. I was feeling full of energy - until we took the red eye back to Cayman - I presently feel like I'm recovering from a 6 week hangover (Note to self: Don't do the red eye with the pets again. You, and the pets, are too old for that crap). Nevertheless, for the most part, I feel recharged and ready to tackle another school year and conquer the first knee surgery in September.

Back to the "grind"

I've compiled my top 11 list (10 was not enough) of "favourites" this summer (in no particular order, so I don't want to see Grandma and Baba fighting for top spot or anything like that :)

1) Spending time with Kayla. My sister, Kayla, is awesome. She picked us up from the airport at 3am, always showed up for happy hour, and managed to get through the summer without ever wearing pants! She just graduated from the College of Commerce at the University of Saskatchewan and has signed a 6 month contract with a company in the Netherlands! Way to go, buddy! I am so proud of her. We had some great days this summer and it wouldn't have been the same without Kayla and her YOLO floaty.

well this is right up Kayla's alley!

  2) Baba and Gido's 70th Wedding Anniversary.  How many people have the opportunity to celebrate 70 years of marriage? It was wonderful to catch up with so many relatives that I haven't seen in years, as well as party around the campfire at the farm with my dad, cousins, aunts and uncles, who arrived from all over the world! It warms my heart to see my Baba and Gido enjoying all of their family, together at their home, celebrating them!

My beautiful Baba

3) Regular Tea dates with Grandma. I don't know what Grandma puts in her teapot, but her tea makes my heart happy! I love sitting at grandma's kitchen table, sipping tea, eating her delicious cookies, and catching up. Grandma's house is also the hub of family activity, so it was nice to reconnect with aunties, uncles, and cousins at Grandma's house. I am so proud of my Grandma. At age 85 she and her kitty cat live in the same home that Grandma has lived in for over 30 years. Despite a few health challenges over the years, my Grandma is strong, positive, and makes the best cookies, jam, and buns. Plus, she has a kick ass chair lift, which means no stairs to climb for bathroom breaks. Drink as much tea as you want!
I love Grandma and her chair lift!
4) Quality time with my mom. When I say "quality" time, I mean catching up on every "Real Housewife" and "Married at first sight" episode, whilst mocking every ridiculous scene. I just like being with my mom, whether we are chilling on the boat, drinking wine at Lani's deck party, or laying in front of the TV. One morning in July, my mom and I were texting, and I was like, "This is ridiculous. You are a 10 minute drive away. Be right there!" There are many days on island where it is difficult for me to be so far away from my mom, so I took advantage of our time this summer.

Real Housewives of Candle Lake?

5) Sleepovers with the Hunters. When our buddies, Darren and Allicia, have a few wobbly pops and can't make the trek back to their cabin on the other side of the lake, they sleep over. Needless to say, we got quite a few Hunter sleepovers in this summer. I love waking up and drinking our coffee on the deck while reliving the night's events (We will never forget the Karaoke version of "More Than Words") The Hunters are like extended relatives - but the relatives that you actually really like! I miss their faces already!

Cheers to the Hunters!

6) Wearing my veil on our anniversary.  Ev and I celebrated 11 years of marriage this year. I decided that the only way to truly express my undying love for Evan was to don my veil for the day…whilst celebrating on the boat. My beautiful veil brings me so much joy and my friends made me feel like it was totally appropriate to rock the sparkly veil with my bikini for our special day (I think they would have committed me if I had showed up with the veil on any other day). I even got a photo op with my Maid of Honour, Janna! I didn't realize it was slightly kooky until I overheard a guy at the islands say, "Is she wearing her veil? That's…weird." haha. Oh well. It felt right.
Ev has his, "She's kinda crazy" look

Pure. Joy. Love this veil

The Maid of Honour humoured me.

7) Celebrating an engagement and shark week all in one day!  Anyone who has followed our shenanigans over the past summers know that we have a fantastic tradition of celebrating shark week. By "celebrating," I mean wearing shark paraphernalia, carrying blow-up sharks, and well…drinking margaritas…because we all know that sharks LOVE margaritas. This summer, we celebrated the engagement of our awesome friends, Brad and Lindsey, with an engagement party brunch, and quickly transitioned into shark week festivities. It was an action packed day. My face hurt from smiling so much. I remember looking back on the boat and seeing all my friends dancing, laughing, and hoisting their sharks in the air. I took a mental snapshot of that epic moment and stored it in my memory bank. That memory will come in handy some crappy day when I'm being chased by the chickens.

From engagement party...


Such a super day with the best people!

8) Hanging with my dad and Farm time. My Baba and Gido's farm is about a half hour drive from our cabin at Candle Lake. I love stopping in for visits! Often I ended up searching the bushes for my very spry Baba who is picking mushrooms or tending to her garden. My dad is there frequently in the summer as well, fixing equipment and preparing for harvest. I was able hang out in the shed and have some visits with him. Last summer I couldn't drive for most of the summer (post surgery) and I really missed the ability to take road trips to the farm and see what is going on (and eat Baba's food - I would pay $100 for a Baba pickle right about now) My dad has been so helpful in letting us store furniture and our truck at the farm over the winter. I really enjoyed spending time with him this summer and (hopefully) expressing how grateful we are for all of his help.
Baba patrolling the farm

My dad and I - visits on the deck

9) Our wake surf montage. I haven't been able to wake surf many summers due to those pesky knee surgeries. Although my knees were far from "in working order" this summer, I made an executive decision to say, "screw it!" My first surgery is in September, so if I rattle a little cartilage making myself deliriously happy then who gives a care! My surfs were short and responsible (no 360 attempts), but I enjoyed each and every second out on that board. It's nice to participate in an activity that makes me feel like "me" again. We decided it would be incredibly clever to incorporate activities of daily living into our surf sessions..and take pictures. Best idea ever.

Julia's getting divorced?

Ev's taking his vitamins

Allicia can't even stop to eat her burger!

Stacey loves Cheezies

Darren is bananas

10) Camping with Ev's family in the mountains. We rented a trailer and along with Ev's mom, brother, and our nephew, Kyson, we "glamped" in Kananaskis country (the Rocky Mountains). Despite most of the trails being closed due to an abundance of bear sightings, we had a great time. We had nightly campfires, played games (knock the beer can over with a rock - much more exciting than it sounds), took bike rides, and ate Peg's awesome homemade food. It was great to spend time with Kyson, who is now 9 years old. Every year he, and his interests, change so much! Last time I saw him he was in to lego and Pokemon. Now he's whittling sticks with his Swiss army knife and fishing! We don't get to see him often, but I hope he always has good memories of spending time with his Aunty and Uncle.

The bears must have eaten all the fish!

11) Catching up with "old" friends. Now that we've been living away for 2 years, I'm realizing that it's much more difficult to stay connected with everyone. I know it's difficult, especially in the summer, to make the time to organize visits with friends. I was super pumped this summer to reconnect with the friends that I used to work with at the Victoria Hospital. I even scored a short visit with my old office-mate, Heidi, who now lives in Alaska! Miss you girls! We were a great team.

Therapies crew!

Summertime at Candle Lake will forever be my "happy place." I love the calm cool mornings sipping tea on the deck, the busy fun-filled afternoons with lots of friends and family, and the amazing night skies (complete with Northern lights and stars for as far as you can see!) I love opening our bedroom window at night and falling asleep to the sound of the wind in the trees and the waves lapping on shore. Candle Lake is a magical place! I am so grateful for the ability to spend time there every summer.

My happy place

Candle Lake makes us awesome!

Cheers to an awesome summer! Thanks to everyone who made it possible!