Embrace the Curl

Once upon a time in my early 20’s, the majority of my hair fell out. It was devistating. My hair was beautiful, long, and thick. But it didn’t matter because my blood sugar had other plans for me. I no longer had my daddy’s super thick hair.

It took years for it to grow. Years. During those years my hair struggled. I tried to grow it out, but my roots were thicker, making my ends look wispy, unkept, and barren. I went through a series of pixie cuts, bobs, and every other hair hatred in between. I’ve never been much of a girly girl, but my identity and confidence definitely took a hit during the regrowth process.

I got my blood sugar under control and the length came back. My hair was still fairly fine, but I at least had a lot of it again. And then I moved to Canada. My hair was angry for a few months. Oily. Dry. Oily. Dry. Oily. Dry. It would not make up its mind. But here we are about 8 months later and its finally settled on a happy medium. I found a stylist that I liked the sound of and set an appointment for a much needed trim. And. She. Was. Amazing.

I explained to my new stylist the history of my hair and my routine (or lack thereof.) I basically wash my hair a couple of times a week, dry it with the warm and cold settings on my fancy new hair dryer that my husband got me for my birthday, and I call it a day. My hair is usually wavy. Or so I thought. We went to shampoo and condition my hair. After towel drying, my new stylist got really excited. “My god, you have ringlets! I’m so jealous!” In my naive mind, I thought everyone had curly hair when it was wet. She was delighted to find that my fancy new hair dryer is equipped with a diffuser and asked if she could show me how to use it and how to embrace my curl. I nervously obliged. She plopped a handful of oil in my hair, scrunched it, and had me flip my head to the side. A few minutes later, I looked like a different person. It turned out that I did have my daddy’s hair after all, just a bit more fine.

So what about post-stylist appointment? Well, I’m still embracing the curl. Of course it’s not as polished as how she did it, but it still looks pretty damn good. I still have to find a happy balance of how much oil to put into my locks, but I think that’s going to change week by week. And it’s easy too! I don’t have to use a ton of heat (or any at all) to tame the mane! It’s easy to just wash it, throw in some of my home made hair cream concoctions, and either blow dry or air dry. From there I can leave it as is or throw it in a top knot without any care. Lazy and simple, just how I like it.

$57.02

I’ve been sick for a couple of weeks. My reaction to snow mold turned into a full blown sinus infection. I tried everything up my sleeve: inhalers, nasal sprays, OTC meds, humidifiers, changing the settings on our air exchange, I’ve drank my weight in hot tea, numerous eucalyptus baths. Everything. I finally waved white flag and opted to see a doctor.

The next time my American friends are faced with thought of universal healthcare, I want you to think of $57.02 USD. ($76.12 CAD.)

That would have been my out of pocket cost over the weekend if I had zero medical coverage for seeing a PHYSICIAN, not a PA or a RN, but an actual doctor, AND for the cost of my two prescriptions, all combined. That’s it. (For reference, you’ll spend $89-119 at the Kroger Little Clinic to see a RN or LPN, then another $12 and $58 for the prescriptions at Kroger.)

So how was it? Surprisingly not bad. I went to the walk in clinic close to our home. I had a piece of paper stating who I was, my chief complaints, and apologized because it hurt to speak out lout. The gentleman took my information, wrote my name down, told me it’d be a 2 hour wait to be seen, but that I was welcome to leave and come back. Also, it would be $35 for my exam because my Canadian health card was not in my possession yet, but that I could most likely submit that for reimbursement. I picked up a few things from the store and came back later. When I came back, there was still a small wait. Once I got back to the exam room, I still wanted another 25-30 minutes. I wasn’t seen by a nurse beforehand. There was no tech taking my vitals. The doctor walked in and he did all of that himself. We had a quick chat. I understood the wait. Even though this was a walk-in clinic and this doctor was obviously flooded with patients and a thousand things going on at once, he actually took his time and listened. As an EMT, it’s surprising when I feel heard. He confirmed my suspicion of allergy induced sinus infection.

Now here’s the part that surprised me. Due to being from out of the country, not currently working yet, and my health card is still on the way, he had the courtesy to ask about my financial status, albeit in a gentle and professional way. He explained that for what I’m going through, he has a preference of what to prescribe, but that even the generic was a little expensive, and that if I couldn’t afford it or if the cost wasn’t offset by our prescription coverage, he’d give me something different that should at least help. Thankfully our coverage is pretty good and covered most of the cost. But even without coverage, it would have been about $24 CAD / $18 USD here, as opposed to the $58 USD in the states. Regardless, I had the means to cover the cost, but I loved that he had the mind to ask.

I know a lot of people that equate “free” and universal healthcare to socialism. Prior to coming to Canada, I didn’t have enough information to have an opinion. Now that I’m here? I hope the US adopts this system. Sure it might take a little longer to get care for some things (like the hangnail you called 911 for at 4am,) but it’s a fantastic system!

Nutritional Consistency in Children

A year or two after I received a diagnosis of diabetes and had glucose stability issues, nutrition became a huge part of my life. At the start of my nutrition journey, I went into hardcore keto mode (I’m talking true keto, not just super low carb. I mean perfect macros, a ton of vitamina/supplements, fasting, baking soda in my water, full on anti inflammation insanity.) Why? Because it gave my pancreas time to rest. After some time, the ole girl did some significant healing and I’m much more stable than I was before. Now? Definitely not hardcore keto, but I definitely watch what I eat. I do stick to the lower end of the carbohydrate spectrum, try to eat as few processed foods as possible, and try to choke down a cup of hot tea when I remember to. I feel that just like when working in the medical field, no dietary idea is right for the same two people. Everyone is different. I feel that everyone could benefit from a gluten free, no added sugar, and minimally processed foods diet. Some folks need to follow a keto diet. Some folks need to follow Paleo. Some folks are blessed with amazing metabolism and genetics and don’t have to worry about what they put in their face holes.

But what about kids?
Specifically what about kids who bounce back and forth between more than one home? What of their diets, consistencies, and gut health?

When it comes to co-parenting, my husband had to set some boundaries due to conflicts in communication. We feel the need to live by a strict notion of “what happens in the opposing house is none of your business” (for both parties concerned.) Obviously within reason — for instance when our 7yo kid came home with a huge wound on his chin and said it was because he pulled something out of the oven and got burned, obviously some clarification will be sought out. Most other things like discipline, expectations, routine, diet, etc? None of our business, none of their mother’s business.

Despite it being none of my business, as I’m getting the kids’ room tidied up and the bathroom stocked with extra TP that they usually need, I can’t help but to wonder about the effect of the divorce on the kids’ gut health and how the dietary differences between their homes may have influence their health and well-being. If you ask my step kids about added sugars, they will tell you that at Dad’s house they only have it on special occasions and holidays. My oldest stepson constantly asks if different foods have sugar in them. I asked him why he wonders about it so much. His reply was “I want to make sure it won’t make you sick.” Be still, my beating heart. ❤️ But when the kids say that their desserts at Mom’s is usually ice cream every night, I take that with a grain of salt and chalk it up to trying to get more ice cream. (In which, HA-HAH! Joke’s on them. My husband got me an ice cream maker for Christmas so I can make my own healthy ice cream!) However when they state that a lot of their meals are from McDonald’s and Tim Horton’s, I tend to believe it since old fast food bags can be seen piled up and/or falling out when the kids get out of their mother’s SUV. Or when we are cooking together and they make comments about how they like learning how to make things and helping, that a lot of the things we make, Mom makes them from a box. It makes me cringe, but I take a deep breath and remind myself that it’s none of my business. Or is it?

At what point are dietary consistencies in children after a divorce concerning? The oldest has some attention issues, the middle child has constant UTIs and a chromosome condition in which her weight really needs to be watched. The youngest has eczema issues. And all three of my step kids have digestive issues when they come home here, starting with constipation, and ending with them being cleaned out by Saturday night. All of which could be remedied by dietary changes and consistencies. What does one do?? Do we keep introducing them to different types of whole foods and just deal with the blow outs from the fiber? Feed them probiotics? Because goodness, I don’t think I could bring myself to feed them an unhealthy diet. I’m not saying there’s not a bag of cereal in the closet just for them. Sometimes cereal is just more convenient at 6am when you’ve got to leave in 45 minutes in order to get to a hockey game nearly 3 hours away. But a diet overloaded with convenience foods?? I just can’t do it. I pride myself in meal creativity and food prep. Regardless, I just can’t seem to find much information on how kids fair with dietary inconsistencies or how to deal with them.

Time to stock up on more TP!

Wind Down

Wow, it’s been a hell of a February. We had co-parenting conflicts, financial burden, immigration chaos, car problems, stomach viruses, a light case of depression, everything. If it could go wrong, it did go wrong.

I feel like I’ve hardly been able to keep my feet on the ground this past month. In turn, that made me take a step away from a lot of online presences in order to help recoup my sense of self. Car problems led to being cooped up in the house, which led to cabin fever, which led to feeling very bleh, like I had no sense of purpose at that moment. From there, I spent a couple weeks criticizing every little thing about myself, from the little bit weight I’ve gained to how gross my hair and skin feel from climate change, to . Which is peculiar because, well, I’m pretty awesome and since my early to mid 20’s, have always loved myself no matter my shape, size, mood, or anything. I rock!

Winding down and decompressing has been a priority. I took the liberty of prepping my bullet journal so that I can set myself up for success in journaling in March. After a multitude of different types and styles, I’ve finally found a hot tea that I enjoy and can wind down with. I’ve also gotten all of my crocheting and knitting projects competed (for the moment.) Spring cleaning has been a thing, getting everything organized and tidied up.

What things do you guys do to wind down and recoup?

We Don’t Deserve Dogs

Today, a previous coworker of mine announced a heartbreaking tragedy. Her dog of 9 years passed away. They had been working with a vet to treat her for back pain, but turned out that she had cancer. Tears streamed down my face and into my coffee as I wept over the loss of a dog I hadn’t even met before.

My own dog jumped into my lap and licked my nose.

Alas, I should probably write an ode to Hannah, but I didn’t know her. I did, however, know her love. Because the love of a dog is like no other.

We don’t deserve dogs.

There are no words for how much I love my dog, Jack. He’s somewhere around 5 years old right now, and with any luck, I’ll won’t have to say goodbye for a decade. You see, this dog has literally saved my life.

“Do you want a dog?” I really didn’t at the time. I was close to graduating from college, life was a bit wishy-washy, and I felt like garbage all the time. But, out of pity, I asked if I could do a trial run to see if he would have been a good fit for my lifestyle. The moment Jack entered my arms, I knew I wasn’t going to let him go.

He smelled. Bad. His bath water was black by the time I was done washing him. He was barely 6 pounds and at over a year old, he still had baby teeth that had to be surgically removed. To say he was skittish was an understatement.

Jack and I took some puppy training classes together in order to get him to trust me. I got him into a vet to fix his teeth, remove a deformed dewclaw, and put some meat on his bones. Within a few weeks, I became this dog’s person.

Little did I know that his nose knows. I had a diabetic episode in the middle of the night. Jack did everything he could to alert me, despite being terrified of EVERYTHING. And thus a service dog was born. We expanded our obedience training into scent training as well. I applied what I knew from cadaver dog training and EMS into Jack. He became my new glucometer!

As years passed, Jack became my best friend and became my travel companion too. My husband was the first person he felt comfortable around aside from me, which in a way, helped seal our fates. Jack even moved to Canada with me. ❤️ And he extended his love to my husband’s kids too, becoming the greatest early morning babysitter in the world, spinning in circle chasing his tail endlessly, to make our youngest giggle.

So Hannah, rear easy dear girl. Though I didn’t know you, I’m glad to know that you’re no longer suffering. I’ll miss seeing your sweet face on social media. Thanks for reminder to show my dog a little extra love.

Tis the Season!

And I don’t mean the jolly kind.

Once upon a time, I used to pick on a friend of mine a little bit, encouraging her to try to lighten up. She’s a germophobe. With a household of four kids, I could understand some of her concerns. I used to think she was a little over the top, though. Now? Pass the can of Lysol, I’m on board!

My three stepkids have been sick. They’ve had snotty noses, been sneezing, and have crud in their chests. In addition to this, they’re been getting over a stomach virus. Before they came back to our house, we thought the stomach virus was over at least. Noooooope. I dodged the snots, but that stomach bug… It hit me, and it hit me hard. And of course, as soon as I start feeling a little less like death warmed over, the youngest starts shrieking from his bed. It’s round 2 for him. Odd though, he screamed through a bath, had a cup of Pedialyte, and a little bit of snuggles and he was smiling and giggling again. I wish I could have been the same.

And my poor husband to be. We are a week away from our wedding. He’s certainly proven the whole”in sickness and in health” thing, that’s for sure. He tackled household management like a champ, AND took care of me in the process without a single complaint. Bless his heart. I’d be lost without him.

Stay safe out there guys! Lots of vitamin c and hand washing!!

Molded Misery

My apartment tried to kill me.

I don’t mean that in a funny sort of lighthearted manner. Sometime back in the spring, the maintenance manager showed up at my apartment while I was at work. He told my fiance that there was a leak downstairs and that it was coming from my shower. He simply put new sealant around everything. Good as new. Sorta.

Fast forward to early summer. Mr. Maintenance Man comes back again. Leaking again. Re-seal. Good as new. Sorta.

Fast forward to late summer. Email from Mr. Property Manager. Leak is really bad. They’ll have to tear out part of my bathroom to fix it. When can it be done? Oh, next week the apartment will be empty for nearly two weeks? Perfect.

I arrived to my humble abode after my summer trip to Canada to find that my bathroom’s repairs were not completed while I was gone. My bathroom wasn’t even touched. Needless to say, I was angry. After bantering back and forth with the property manager for almost 2 weeks, someone was hired to make the repairs. Years ago apparently a pipe in my wall had a leak. Instead of repairing the pipe, a clamp was put around it and a nail into the hole. Eventually the clamp failed. So it’s been slowly leaking for YEARS. A few more weeks pass. Come to find out, the apartment below me was the same apartment that a friend of mine rented years upon years ago before she moved out of state. They had to move her out of her apartment. For what reason, you may ask? Because the apartment above hers had a leak, flooding her apartment and causing her ceiling to cave in. Years. They finally start on the repair work needed in the apartment below mine. The years of leaks reared their ugly heads. A ton of mold spores were released with great fury.

Most of this year, I’d been getting unexplained migraines that were getting progressively worse. I double checked ailments, diabetes was still under control, there wasn’t any explanation that jumped out to anyone. Cutting out the caffeine perhaps? But I didn’t consume enough caffeine to warrant withdrawal migraines….. and the migraines took ages to get rid of. Then came the allergy symptoms. That got worse. And worse. And worse. Everyone in Kentucky gets the crud. It’s inevitable. Mine usually went away within a few days. But a few weeks passed. Weeks turned into a few months. It wasn’t going away. Then the ick really hit me. One Sunday morning I woke up and I couldn’t breathe.

As an EMT, it takes a lot for me to consider going to an Emergency Department. Like. I have to be almost dying for me to step foot in there unless it’s someone else that’s close to dying. I compromised with myself and opted for the fancy new walk-in clinic associated with my regular doctor’s office. “Honey…. you look pretty bad…. we may need to call an ambulance….” NOPE. Nope. Nope. I had an EKG, chest x-ray, breathing treatments, and a slew of other just-in-case tests. Due to the results of the EKG, they were concerned with a pulmonary embolism. Why? Because there’s a type of black mold that can cause blood clots, and my EKG reading + symptoms = a dead ringer for it. After everything was said and done and I improved with a breathing treatment, they at least released me instead of sending me to the hospital, so long as I followed up with my regular physician in the morning. I was sent home with a handful of prescriptions to deal with the mold-induced asthma and fungal pneumonia. Steroids! Inhalers! Antibiotics! Oh boy!

I was cleared from the pulmonary embolism fear. Thank goodness. I was, however, told to get out of my apartment asap. Mr. Property Manager didn’t have another unit available to move me in to. According to Mr. Maintenance Man there were open units…..just none that didn’t also have complaints of mold. My temporary residences weren’t working out one by one. Trying to find a short-term rental was nearly impossible. My renter’s insurance was only going to cover so much. So I arranged to go back to Canada as a visitor for an undetermined amount of time until everything got sorted out. It was a damn long drive, and a terrifying craps shoot on if the Canadian Border Patrol would be satisfied that I’d leave at the end of my unplanned stay, especially since it was so close to when I was originally supposed to move to Canada anyways. Whelp. Here I am.

Now that I’ve been out of my apartment for almost a month, I’ve noticed a significant difference in my health. Within days, I could breathe again and was able to clear out the infection in my lungs. I’ve had two headaches since I left my apartment, But there are other weird things that I’ve noticed as well. My hair isn’t falling out anymore. I thought that perhaps I was just shedding quite a bit at the apartment, but over the past month, I’ve been experiencing significantly less hair loss. My fingernails haven’t been splitting and have actually been growing. They’re stronger and less bendy. I’m sleeping better (which can also be attributed to being with the fiance instead of being 1500 miles away.) I systematically feel better. And I can breathe again!!!

Moral of the story: If you’re feeling like crap and can’t figure out why, you might be in a mold induced misery as well.