Costs of Raising a Service Dog

It’s taken alot to admit that I’m struggling, and it’s been even harder to reach out for help. But here it is.

I’m struggling alot lately, and part of that is from my loss of independence. Also my eyes. Everything is in GIANT text so it’s clear enough to read it. This is a huge blow, since so much of my day consists of reading, both online and off.

I’ve put a callout for fundraising for a service dog so I can get some of that back freedom back, and find some normalcy in life again. There are some who don’t understand why I’m doing what I am and why we need to raise funds. So hence this post, to try to clear a few things up.

We’re focusing on fundraising efforts to help me find some independence again. We’re getting a puppy to train as a certified service dog! We will be a team more than he will be a pet. The dog will be trained to help stabilize my balance, to increase blood flow to my upper body, retrieve water, pick items off the floor, alert to flare ups and other tasks appropriate to my needs. In public, he will be trained to go get help if needed, safely cross the street, stability and more.

I have lost so much of my independence from this unknown illness that continues to cause issues – debilitating dizziness, tinnitus, blurred and double vision, cognitive malfunction, facial flushing, presyncope, instability, improper digestion, and more. Having that team member with me will help me get some of that independence back again. A fully trained service dog can cost upwards of $20,000. This is an intimidating out-of-pocket expense on a single income. The breeder we have decided to purchase a german shepherd puppy from is set to pair her breeding adults in the spring. We have taken many costly steps to reduce my flare ups,  so we’re looking for a bit of relief from the costs that have already accrued so we can move forward with this goal.

Even though we have a good health coverage plan, there has still been an accumulation of expenses that have impacted our way of life. This has been covered ok, but they are starting to add up.

Hotel rooms for my husband during my hospital visits, medications (both prescription and over-the-counter, several of which are NOT covered by our plan or Alberta Health Care), compression stockings to help increase blood pressure, moisture-wicking clothing for night sweats, thermal clothing for daytime cold flares, hot packs to help raise body temperature and improve digestion, tests that are not covered by plans or health care, supplements. We also recently replaced our windows to help regulate the temperature in the house, since temperature fluctuations cause flare ups, and the furnace will be replaced soon as well. The fuel to get to appointments and treatments. The hot water tank was an unexpected, unrelated expense as well. It’s been an expensive year. And we’re not finished yet.

Not to mention having to close my business, which took away from the income I brought in. I was making mistakes that shouldn’t have been made, and I’m not willing to risk the health of my clients. This was the right thing do, although a hard decision to make.

So now looking at a service dog, we’re looking at even more expenses, which I’ll outline below to give you a general idea of what we’re looking at.

  • Puppy: $1575
  • Neuter: $375
  • Food per year: $950
  • Check up, vaccines, de-worm: $240
  • Microchip: $55
  • Crate: $0 (already owned)
  • Grooming equipment: $0 (already owned)
  • Necessities (leash, collar, food bowl, etc): $150
  • Miscellaneous (toys/treats etc): $100
  • Puppy basics training: $150
  • Manners and basic obedience: $210
  • Online-provided courses: $180
  • Private coaching: $260

We are looking at $4245 minimum for the first year, and extensive training will take place in subsequent years which will cost even more.

To pay for a fully trained dog would be more than double this cost, but Alberta regulations have changed so that individuals can now train their own service dog. There are standards that must be met in order to achieve certification, but self training allows people to bond with their partner immediately, and develop a strong working relationship together. This also means that the animal can be trained according to individual needs, and this is the method we have chosen to pursue. It will be a full time endeavour, and one that will be entirely worth every moment and penny spent.

I have handmade items for sale, proceeds of which will go entirely to the cost of raising and training the puppy. Links are provided below.

You’ll find my malas and other crafts on Conscious Crafties by clicking here.

You’ll find additional items that cannot be posted on Conscious Crafties on my Facebook page.

If you want to help, but aren’t interested in purchasing anything, we’re taking donations – with giant armfuls of gratitude. While we will be focusing on self training,  there will also be puppy classes and one on one coaching as the puppy develops and we establish our working relationship.

Any funding in excess of what we need for the puppy will be donated to Hope Heels, a charitable organization that provides service dogs in Alberta.

I can’t seem to get the Paypal donation button to work in wordpress, but donations can be made via Paypal on my website by clicking here. Scroll down, where you’ll see the “Donate” button.




THANK YOU, so much!

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Finally, a goal I can work towards.

Hello, internet. It’s been awhile.

My surgery has come and gone. I am feeling tremendously better without a uterus, ovary and angry dermoid cyst. And changes are underway. I was told there were no complications, only to find out two days later that my perineum tore, and not just a little. I’d say this is a complication worth mentioning….

My direction has changed again, and is one that I know I can work towards but allow myself the breaks I need when I need them most. And it starts here.

The more I talk about my story, the more people I find out also have endometriosis. There are 1 in 10 women that have endometriosis – and those are only the ones that are known. Many people will go through life with their endo and not suffer any symptoms. Others suffer all of them. Each case is unique.

Most of the time, nothing is done about it because women have been told that it’s just their life now.

“Yup. You’re a woman. Pain is now your game. Deal. Haha pain meds? No. You don’t need those. You’re fine. Your pain isn’t THAT bad.”

It’s not ok. More awareness is starting to come up, and more endowarriors are speaking out.

Living in pain is NOT NORMAL. There are options. If your doctor won’t do anything, your CAN ask for another opinion or a referral to a specialist. If they refuse, file a complaint! Unless they have a good reason to deny your request, it is against their code of ethics to deny a requested referral.

Please, don’t let them bully or gaslight you, or convince you that it’s all in your head. YOU know your body, and when you KNOW something isn’t right, speak up. And make sure they listen. It’s not always easy, but stand your ground. Don’t minimize your symptoms or pain. If it hurts, tell them. And keep telling them.

You are responsible for you, and if you won’t stand up for yourself, the fight will only get harder. More women are speaking out with their stories. Is it time for you to reassess your own?

There is so much conflicting information on endometriosis, the etymology of it and the treatment for it. Research it for yourself, because you might be amazed what old school information many physicians and gynecologists live by. I specifically asked my gyne to NOT treat any endo I might have outside of my reproductive organs, because I disagreed with his treatment methods. I was respectful in my request, and he was respectful of my wishes when I showed him my resources.

The best source of information I have come across is Nancy’s Nook Endometriosis Education. Please remember to answer the questions to join the group. It is not a typical discussion forum, but a place to find solid, scientifically backed information on endometriosis and related disorders. It is a research platform to help you advocate for your own health, and it has been invaluable to me.

I left my gynecologist’s surgery table in 2009 believing that he had resolved my endometriosis with the tubal ligation. When he dismissed my severe abdominal pain a few years later, he did me a great disservice, and I’ve been suffering with worsening debilitating pain ever since then, believing that it was normal because I could not get anyone to believe me. So I stopped complaining.

That was not fair for me, and it’s not fair for anyone else. Your doctor doesn’t know what you’re feeling, and if they won’t listen – it’s time for one that will.

Stand up for yourself. Please. No one should ever wake up from surgery feeling immediately better than when they went into it. I did, despite the weakness, shakiness, horrible nausea and groin pain (if you want a REAL picture of what happens and have the stomach and constitution to watch it, look up vaginal hysterectomy with episiotomy on youtube.)

Despite the pain of surgery, I was also acutely aware of the relief from the pain in my right side that’s been there for longer than I could honestly say. I thought it was my hip. Ends up, it was more complicated than that.

I never thought I’d be grateful for organ removal. I have my current complaints from surgery recovery, but it’ll get better. It’s already better than it was before.

Don’t let this story continue for longer than it has to. Be aware of the disease, and the options available.

Sending love.

 

Special shoutout to “Endo and Us” for the beautiful video that shines a light on what endometriosis is, and what it’s like to live with.

No News Isn’t Always Good News

Sometimes, no news is just no news.

In this case, that’s about right. Things have been progressing in a direction I don’t like. I wouldn’t really call this news – it just is.

It is also extraordinarily frustrating. Ontop of the weakness and discomfort I was already feeling, there are now more (most) foods that my body has decided it doesn’t want me to have, and my reactions are getting stronger. More rashing, flushing, dizziness, ear ringing, ear popping, nausea, bowel irregularities. Eating is no longer a comfort. Quite the opposite. Eating is painful and exacerbating. Stress is normally the time of Ben and Jerry’s trials, but now I’d rather just have water. Water doesn’t hurt, and doesn’t cause my entire abdomen to feel like it’s about to violently combust. What used to be safe foods aren’t anymore, and the horrible nutrition I’ve been getting from not being able to eat much is causing even more issues. (Please, no, I don’t want anymore suggestions. If one more person tells me to just eat a clean, vegan diet I will send them the results of that in a Chinese take-out box. It’s been tried.)

In this case, no news is the result of exhaustion so fierce that self care sometimes means having a day in bed. Self care, in a way, sometimes means no care. Just being. Finding space, and filling it with love.

Some days, self care means allowing the anger to rage, the fire to burn and the thoughts to scramble. On those days, self care is allowing what is to be.

I’m not always having good days. I’m not always positive. I’m not always able to smile. “Good days” are not days that I’m feeling better. Good days are simply not being filled with doom and gloom and fear. There is not a day that I have felt physically well since mid-May.

I’ve had all kinds of great advice, but the advice wears thin after awhile. There’s only so much patience anyone has for constant pain, dizziness, ear ringing, nausea, weakness. There’s only so many positive thoughts you can hold before you drop them all and fill with despair. There’s only so many things you can try, only to end up feeling worse and not wanting to do anything without the advice of the specialist you’ve been waiting to see, because all other suggestions have either failed or made things worse.

It’s ok. I’m ok. I’m not despairing, today. Today I feel like I’ve still got fight in me. Today I feel loved and grateful. Today I know that people have my back and I can reach out to them for help, and they’d be happy to step up where I need it. Today is one day closer to getting better – even if that means that I’ll still get worse, first.

Today is ok.

Tomorrow might be. Maybe it won’t. But that’s tomorrow’s problem, and I’ll deal with it then.

Tomorrow I see the Internist I’ve been waiting for. And, maybe, he’ll have some answers. Or maybe not. But at least this part of the waiting is over. Wish me luck.

 

 

Hints and Clues

My energy is lower than ever. I wake up, and all I want to do is go back to bed. Sometimes I do – but when Dave leaves for work I make sure I’m up. It’s my personal sleep limit. I already know that I’d stay in bed all day if I don’t make the effort to get up. It now takes two full litres of fluid before my dizziness reduces to a point where I can walk in a mostly straight line. Until then, my blood pressure stays firmly under 90/60 and I feel like I have the coordination of a toddler. I have a constant inner burn throughout my abdomen, which turns into a pressurised heat in the lower right hip, often radiating through the joint and ass cheek and down to my right knee. From laying down, I have to sit up for a moment, and standing up is done very carefully. Moving too quickly, or looking around while walking, is extremely disorienting. Speaking is another adventure, where I’ll have a thing to say but I can’t seem to make the words I want to come out form properly, if at all. It’s frustrating, sometimes, trying to stammer something out while others try to help me with those words I’m struggling with. A great conversation suddenly turns into a distracting game of charades. I’ll be in a familiar place I know well, but not really know where I am. I stared at my underpants the other day for nearly 5 minutes trying to figure out which way was the front. And when I did, I still put them on the wrong way. (I just no longer do anything until I have my fluids. I’m really useless and dumb until I get that done….). And there are some places, especially in public with background noise, that I actually can’t hear what a person in front of me is saying. I seem to be having a struggle separating conversations, which never used to be a problem, and combined with the ringing in my ears I have a hard time really hearing what someone is trying to say – or I just hear wrong altogether.

A short while ago, what used to be “WHAT the ACTUAL hell am I doing?!” at all my little moments has become just a normal day. And we laugh about it. There are worse things to happen, right? That’s what I keep reminding myself. And so do others.

Which, if you really want to think about it, is actually quite invalidating. I know not to say that to others, because I know those twinges of frustration I feel when they say it to me. But I know they are coming from a place of kindness and concern, and just want to help. I understand that, sometimes, there are just no words that can help and those words which are offered are often awkward ways to say that they just don’t know what to say. I get that, and I’m grateful for them.

Sometimes, they may even feel I’m making it all up. And that’s really ok, too. What they think doesn’t really matter since they can’t really know what’s going on.

I don’t think about it further than letting that thought float away into a thankful smile.

10-Things-TO-SAY-Invisible-Illness-revised-400-72dpio-web

Last weekend I struggled with intense abdominal pain, and I kept saying to myself, “if it doesn’t get better tomorrow, I’m going to emerg.” Finally, when it got worse on Monday, I realized how dumb I was being by waiting and went in.

When there are already so many health issues going on, suffering through intense abdominal pain like I have in the past is not ideal. I’ve really learned to step outside of myself in order to properly make decisions like that. If someone were to come to me with the complaints I have now and ask me what they should do, I’d have suggested going straight to emerg. Well – that’s my answer, then. Why is it so hard for me to do that for myself without arguing?

Funny (not funny) enough, I know the answer to that.

I remember when I was a teenager, and I had what I now believe to be extreme eczema on my fingertips. It hurt so much, and trying to participate in any sports or even holding a pen was painful and would cause my fingers to bleed. I remember begging my dad to bring me to the doctor, because it wasn’t going away. We tried everything – lotions, antibacterial creams, antifungal ointments – anything over the counter. It wasn’t going away. He finally did, but he came into the appointment with me and insisted to the doctor that it was sandpaper I was using in shop class, and I was being a “putz” and not using gloves. He made sure the doctor knew that it wasn’t his idea to be “wasting the doctor’s time” but that he was only doing it so I would stop asking. I was so embarrassed. I remember it so clearly, and how much I hurt (both emotionally and physically), and how much I didn’t want to ever ask to see a doctor again, no matter what it was. The doctor gave me a steroid cream and my fingers cleared up after about a month, but I rarely asked for help because of situations just like that which were, in a way, worse than the complaint I had. Comments such as “suck it up” and “it’s not that bad” were common, and I started to simply ignore pain in general so that I would avoid seeming like a “wuss” to my old man. I wanted to live up to his expectations.

things-not-to-say

When I moved to Edmonton, I had a couple of different doctors that dismissed any complaints I’d mention during yearly physicals, so I didn’t bring them up again. Many of those complaints are now links to a much bigger issue. It makes me wonder if previous physicians had paid attention, if this could have been resolved faster?

But, there’s no point in continuing that thought. There’s no changing it now, just moving forward.

When a person’s complaints are dismissed by others – especially their health care team – it sometimes makes that person push through symptoms that shouldn’t be ignored because they’re not taken seriously enough, and they start to wonder if it’s all in their own head. I’m definitely guilty of that, but this time I can’t ignore it. Nor will I – this idea of minimizing the way a person feels is a nefarious social habit that I would love to never see again. When someone says, “Ow, that hurts” I’d love to never hear the words “Suck it up” again. So what if you have a worse pain that you don’t complain about – pain is subjective, and people feel different things in different ways. That won’t make the pain go away for anyone.

Just because one person is having less struggle than another person does not mean that person isn’t in pain, and the pain that person feels does not deserve to be minimized just because someone else thinks they have it worse.

Seriously, that shit needs to stop. Pain sucks, no matter how much, what kind or who is experiencing it, and no one “deserves” to be in any kind of pain, no matter how stupid the action they take that causes it.

Anyways. Moving on.

While there are definitely some GI issues going on, they also found a cyst or mass on my ovary, as well. I wasn’t entirely surprised, really – I’ve been feeling a lump near my hip anyways, but I guess I had just thought or hoped it was something else. I was diagnosed with minor endometriosis in 2009, my mother had extreme endometriosis before her hysterectomy, there’s a history of ovarian cysts in my family – I guess it’s to be expected that I’d have some troubles with my internal lady bits.

There’s absolutely a reason (or, maybe, many reasons) that my body is rebelling against me. I have ideas and thoughts and suspicions, but there’s no way to know for sure, really, until we get closer to finding out what’s going on. I’m not just sitting idly waiting for a cure to come. I’ve been reading studies and books and publications, and finding out different angles that might be helpful in reducing symptoms. I’ve reduced my eating habits to bare basics to try to find a correlation between the reactions of different foods (and I’m starting to see some patterns, but nothing definitive yet since I am still struggling with my sugar intake… it’s my bane. And the husband doesn’t help with his cookies and danishes he brings home regularly. Curse you, tasty cookies…..)

It’s a lot of experimenting, a lot of patience and a lot of standing my ground in those occasional moments I do feel dismissed. Fortunately, there have been limited dismissals. I feel my family doctor may have not taken me seriously, at first, but he is now after an hour long appointment one day where he realized how far back many of the symptoms go. He has been my attending physician for only a year or so, so we’re playing some catch up. The only other time was the neurologist I saw in ER for a brain CT who tried to tell me I was “more depressed”. I suspect psychology is a little far from the field he specializes in, and I understand that it’s hard to really know how a person is feeling. I understand how he came to that conclusion, but it did not make it less frustrating at the time. Depression is something I feel confident saying I have not experienced for a number of years. It’s in my medical history, to be sure, but is not currently a part of my life.  I didn’t argue, however, since I wasn’t there to see him specifically – I was there on my own doctor’s order in order to get a CT scan faster than they could schedule one for.

Some people may think this is backwards progress, or that news isn’t good or that things aren’t happening.

Some people would (and do) look at the situation I’m in as frustrating and hopeless.

But I’m not that kind of some people. I’m that kind of somebody that sees every hint and clue as a direction to take, or a crumb to follow. So many things have been ruled out – and we have an actual direction to work towards, now. I see an internist soon, I am having an abdominal CT soon, and we’ll move on from there to see what comes.

Being a doctor isn’t easy, and diagnosing even less so. Many of the people I’ve spoken with believe there’s an easy test for everything and it shouldn’t take so long to find out what’s wrong – but the reality is that science hasn’t caught up to those needs. We don’t have the funky body scans like they do in Star Trek, yet. The best way to diagnose something is first to diagnose what that thing IS NOT. This takes time, patience, and sometimes allowing things to get worse in order to find those breadcrumbs to follow to figure out where to start fixing the problem. I understand the frustration of doctors running circles around that thing you know is going on – because sometimes they don’t want you to be right. They don’t want to admit that you know more than they do. But you DO know more. You’ve lived with your body. You know it better than they ever will in the way that you know how it feels, and you know when something is not right. You don’t need to know anatomy and physiology in order to tell someone that something isn’t right (although it certainly helps in order to express how you feel, or to understand why there’s an issue, and possibly how to fix that). Physicians are supposed to help you. Doctors are people too, however, and ego often gets in the way of progress.  There are good ones out there. They exist. They’re not all equal, and sometimes you have to find one that fits. Don’t sell yourself short, and don’t minimize what you’re feeling.

 

Take care of YOU.79fec95aff23e22ca6379a6ad4bc602a

 

Blessed be.

The End of Good Things

The end of the year is nearly here, and it’s now that I normally take reflections on the past year to know what I want to do going forward.

But not this time. This time, it’s already been a year of reflecting, and I already know the direction I’m heading in 2018. The goals are solid, achievable and already laid out. It has been an amazing year that I’m happy to bid farewell to, and look forward next year with excitement.

But not without one last, final achievement that I never excepted.

I know I’ve mentioned my knee before – but for those who don’t know the story…. here’s a run down.

(And for those who do know it and just want the big news, scroll down)

In 2009 I badly broke my left knee, requiring surgery and more hardware than a toaster oven and 6 weeks of non-weight bearing before I was able to rest my toe on the ground. I was on crutches for three or four months and wasn’t able to drive. Something wasn’t right with it, though, and there has been constant, debilitating pain ever since. I had the hardware removed in 2010 which helped a little, but there was still something that felt “stuck”. It collapsed randomly, seized daily, hurt always and has been a constant reminder of the active life I used to lead. The pain extended not only physically, but mentally as well, and I’ve experienced many physical and emotional highs and lows.

My doctors would tell me that I was fine and just to lose weight, which was a struggle when any kind of exercise caused more pain, and pain medications weren’t helping. I was stuck, I was frustrated and entirely discouraged. I was waking up every morning crying in agony and not wanting to move – but not moving made everything hurt even more. Because I was favoring one knee, the other knee suffered for it. As well as my hips, my back, my shoulders, and eventually my neck, which led to chronic headaches and occasional migraines. Everything is connected, and everything was trying to tell me that something was wrong.

I couldn’t help but hear my body screaming in pain, but I didn’t know what else to do about it. My family doctors at the time failed me hugely in that regard. I had specifically asked for a referral to an orthopedic specialist but was denied by three separate physicians because in their opinion, I was “fine”. “All” I had to do was lose weight. I tried, but the pain always won. They had no other suggestions or help to offer. No nutritional counselling, no pain reductions recommendations, no referrals to other specialists.

There was no denying that I had gained a lot of weight. The physical and mental burden of that didn’t help, either.

Massage, acupuncture and chiropractic care helped, but the pain has always persisted through everything.

I finally had enough last year. The pain had reached new levels that I just couldn’t tolerate anymore, and it was when I realized that I was taking handfuls of OTC pain meds several times a day that I knew this wasn’t right. No one should bee taking that much pain relieving medication of any kind just to be able to get out of bed in the morning. I was angry at my physicians for have absolutely no suggestions to help me move forward and decided to prove them wrong. It was the determination I needed to make a change.

I started eating better. I started practicing yoga much more. It wasn’t enough, but it was a start. I set my mind on finding a solution. Late last year I visited Natural Health Services and they offered me a prescription. Yes, I have been a daily weed user since then. I’m not ashamed of this – and why would I be? I’m not high everyday, despite what the common belief is. There are options that don’t give any high, and this is what I use most of all. It is because of medical marijuana that I was able to move past the pain and start a regular exercise regime. My spirits lifted, my determination doubled and I started working on the weight I had piled on for the past seven years. There was a learning curve to be sure, but it was the only thing that helped reduce that relentless pain enough for me to move more. I delved into courses regarding nutrition and fitness in order to help me help myself, since no one else seemed willing to point me in the right direction. I bought a Fitbit. I started logging meals, exercise, weight and body measurements. Sure enough, I started losing weight. It was a lot of work to get into new habits and routines, but these habits and routines are simply part of my daily life now.

The pain was still there, though. Reduced, but always present. I ignored it the best I could, accepted it as part of who I was and didn’t allow it be an excuse anymore.

Early in 2017 I had reached out to a new clinic in Leduc, whose post card came to me in the mail. Despite my deep-seated fear that I would be told the same thing (“I was fine, just lose weight”) I went anyways. I knew I needed a GP, but my anxiety towards visiting them had grown ridiculously high. I wasn’t in the appointment for more than five minutes before I was crying from that anxiety. It was embarrassing, but the physician was the kindest I had ever met and understood that I was struggling and was legitimately looking for help. She gave me the referral I was wanting to the Glen Sather Clinic at the University of Alberta.

It took much less time to see a specialist than I had anticipated, and she had looked over my history and x-rays and agreed with the general physicians that everything “looked” fine, but she knew that there’s always more to the story than what can be seen on x-rays. After the assessment, she agreed with me that everything was “not” fine. There was scar tissue and muscle weakness, and she suspected that this was part of what was causing my problems and sent me to the physiotherapy clinic to strengthen and balance those muscles out.

It was relieving to finally get that validation of the problems I had been faced with for so long. There’s not much more discouraging than doctors trying to peg you as a narcotic user and abusing the health care system when you’re trying to reach out for help. The health care system failed me in so many ways. I hoped this was the break I had been looking so hard for, though. (I wasn’t disappointed.)

My life has changed significantly over the last year. I’ve lost 50 pounds (and am still losing), my muscle toning has increased, I eat healthy as a habit instead of going on diets, I still log my daily food and activities. I practice yoga asanas daily and start yoga teacher-training in a few weeks. I am at the gym every weekday for cardio and twice a week for strength training, plus physio every day. My husband and I have taken up martial arts training once a week, which we try to practice at least a few minutes every day. I use CBD oil daily as a preventative, but I find my need for THC for pain relief has greatly reduced. My energy levels are higher than they have ever been. I’m retaining knowledge from my studies better than ever, my productivity and self-esteem have skyrocketed, as well as my confidence in all areas of my life.  I sleep amazingly well, my mood has improved and I can legitimately say that I have never been happier.

And then something happened last week, that has changed my entire world around again.

The Latest Update

After I walk for awhile, or sit or stand for an extended period of time, I normally have to stretch and bend that knee to relax a specific muscle that always feels like needles are digging deeply behind my knee all the way down my calf. That’s been my normal life for the past 8 years. Last week I decided I was going to start some light jogging again. Nothing huge – just a minute a day, and increase by a minute every week. The rest of my cardio was just walking at different speeds and angle increments. After my cardio I’d need to stretch and go on the bike for a few minutes in order to get my knee to bend properly again, since it would seize up.

During one of my yoga poses on Wednesday, something in my knee slid. I can’t describe it any other way. I have done this pose many times, but it was always modified because I have been unable to do the textbook version due to knee limitations. But this time was different. Something gave, and my knee just slid into place where it was supposed to be.

I thought it odd and decided to keep an eye on it without much further thought.

After my cardio at the gym I was doing my normal stretches… except I didn’t need to. The pain wasn’t there. It was just gone. And I cried, and cried some more, because that relief was the most amazing thing that I ever could have felt.

On Friday I wanted to really test this new feeling out. Smart? Maybe not, but I can’t possibly convey how hard it was to not just go running. It felt so good and that’s all I wanted to do. On Friday I kept bumping the speed up more and more until I didn’t think I could run any faster…. and then bumped it up a little more…

I wasn’t just jogging. I was RUNNING. For the first time since I broke my knee, I was running as fast I my legs could pump. And it felt amazing. No pain, no instability, no grinding joints…..

And I pulled a groin muscle in the process. And it was 100% worth it. That muscle is already fine, and I am elated. I can jump. I can bend in ways I couldn’t before. I can do so many more things I wasn’t able to do before, because either my knee just wouldn’t bend enough or it hurt too much to do.

Even if the rest of the year hadn’t already been so amazing, this development would have made it the best year I’ve ever experienced. As it stands, it HAS been an amazing year, and I feel like I’ve won the lottery with this latest gift. If there is anything I ever could have wanted for myself, it would be this – to be pain free. Of course, I didn’t ask for it, because it’s not something anyone could really give me. Nor is it something I ever thought I’d get.

There is still one muscle that gives me pain, and I’m working on that. It’s the lesser of evils, however, and I don’t know that I will ever feel as full of gratitude as I do right now.

I thought my life was already full of amazement, but I was wrong. Something had to give – and it finally did. I have never been in such amazing health before, and that will only improve.

By doing the research and work needed, I was determined not to let myself make excuses anymore. I found every excuse to be successful instead of allow myself to fail. Finding that mindset was hard, and admitting my to my own setbacks and sabotaging was harder…. but worth facing.

I don’t believe there’s any one thing that encouraged this more than any other, but a combination of everything from complementary therapies, strength training, adjustments, mindsets and so much more. This is my shoutout to all of the caregivers that had a hand in making this happen, and I hope I didn’t miss anything or anyone! I am so, so thankful for all of you!

(And don’t worry – I won’t always run so hard that I hurt myself again. I’ll take it easy. I just really wanted to feel what it was like to really RUN again!!)

Vanessa Groshong (Acupuncture)

Amy Phelps (Massage)

Cure MD (Dr Sam O, Dr Lynzie Hawman, and the entire staff)

Pipestone Creek Pain and Health Center (Dr Dave Hewko and entire staff)

Natural Health Services (Dr Ferrari)

Glen Sather Sport Health Center (Dr. Olesia Markevych, Jessie Gill)

All my love, always. Merry Christmas!

 

Krystal

 

DIY Facial Instructions

There are so many one-step facial products that I’ve seen – and some that I’ve tried – that have really not impressed me. People are busy and hectic, and find shortcuts to get things done quickly.

I believe this isn’t fair. We all owe it to ourselves to take the time out to pamper our needs, and do it properly. The value-added single step facial products are taking away valuable time needed for you. By giving yourself the real-deal, you are focusing on yourself, you are spending time with yourself, and you are giving your face the proper treatment to glow. Naturally.

Things to keep in mind

Redness

Many of the same facial treatments boast that there is no redness after the treatment, but the redness that comes from a proper facial is more normal than it’s not. The heat, steam and cleanse work the skin, increase the circulation and help to remove impurities lying beneath the surface, which leaves you with clean, smooth, healthy skin. The redness tends to abate after a few hours, but for some people it could take a day or more. If you are planning on performing a facial prior to a big event, plan ahead and perform the facial a week in advance to allow for the skin to calm.

Post Facial Breakouts

Another common issue is breakouts after facials. While in theory, there should be no breakout in blemishes after a facial is performed, it’s also normal if it does happen.

Breakouts from Bacteria

A facial can stir up bacteria lying underneath the skin surface, and once the facial treatment is completed, any bacteria left behind can cause a breakout.

Detox Breakouts

There are also instances where there are layers of built up sebum, dead skin and more in the pores, which the skin will detox post-facial. This is a case where the skin may seem to get worse before it gets better. Regular facial treatments and a regular cleansing routine will help to prevent a recurrence.

Ingredient Breakout

Other times, the skin make be reactive to an ingredient.

Breakouts from Over-eagerness

Over eagerness in the massage and exfoliation phase can cause extra irritation to the skin. Also remember to be gentle. More is not always better, and this is the case with facials. It is recommended to repeat a facial another day if required rather than go overboard in one day.

DIY Home Facial

  • 1. Cleanse (1 minute) – If applicable, remove makeup with damp cotton pad. Use about 1 tsp cleanser (milk, milk soap, cleansing cream, etc) on moist fingertips and apply to neck and face, moving upwards. Remove with a warm face cloth or towel. Click here for a FREE moisturizing cream recipe!
  • 2. Exfoliate (1 minute) – Apply exfoliant to damp fingertips and rub gently onto neck and face, moving upwards. Avoid the eyes. Add extra drops of water if needed.
  • 3. Steam (5 minutes) – pour 2-3 cups of steaming water into a bowl with 1 tablespoon of your herbal blend. Place your face over the bowl and drape a towel over your head. 3-5 drops of essential oil can also be used. To cleanse and relax, steam for 3-5 minutes. For a deeper cleanse, steam for 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can dip a cloth or towel into the basin and place directly on the face, wrapping to keep nose and mouth exposed. You may need to dip the towel 2-3 times, as it can cool quickly.
  • 4. Massage (15 minutes)
    • a. starting at the middle of the forehead, place finger tips along the hair line. Keeping them in place, rotate them gently three times. Move down a little and repeat. Continue until the entire forehead has been massaged.
      b. At the temples, rotate the fingertips in a slow, smooth up-and-out motion. Repeat several times.
    • c. Lightly pinch the eyebrows between thumb and forefinger and slowly and lightly move along the eyebrow. repeat several times.
    • d. just beneath the eyebrow, press up and in lightly with the middle finger. Continue this motion, following the ocular orbit, until you reach the end of the eye brow. Then gently sweep your fingers under the eyes and back to the starting position. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat three times.
    • e. Next place your fingers along your cheekbones. Use small, slow movements and gently use circular movements and move down your face until the rest of the face has been covered. Repeat three times.
    • f. Starting at the bridge of the nose, use your middle finger of each hand to gently and slowly rotate three times, then move down along the next point until you get to the base of the nostril. Once there, press in and hold for 10 seconds.
    • g. Use the fingertips to gently rotate in stationary circles around the mouth. Repeat three times.
    • h. Massage under the jaw line by rotating the fingers in small circles from the center of the chin towards the ears. Repeat three times.
    • i. Draw hands down to the base of the neck. Starting at one side of the neck, one finger at a time, slowly slide each finger up the neck the to chinline. Repeat with the middle of the neck, then the other side. Repeat several times.
  • 5. Mask (15 minutes) – The mask we’re using is a cleansing and drawing mask. Remove 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of powder from the tin and into a separate small bowl. Add half as much water (or flower water), yogurt, honey or any other “wet” ingredient and mix well, adding more as needed to make a spreadable mixture. Start at the base of the neck and cover all areas, leaving the lips and around the eyes. You can use floral water on cotton pads on the eyes while you wait. Do not use essential oils. Relax for 10-15 minutes. You can use cucumber slices or green tea bags over the eyes while you relax. Remove the mask by using a face towel and dab softly with warm water, then rinse with cool water and mist liberally with a toner. Let your face air dry. (For a free toner recipe, click here!)
  • 6. Moisturize – The moisturizer can be applied using short, massaging strokes. Be careful not to pull or drag the skin.

After your facial….

 

Once your facial is finished, there are some things to be careful of in order to reduce redness and keep your glowing skin.

    • Cold Compress
      Apply a cold compress. Using herbal compress or green tea bags are an excellent way to reduce the warm and redness after a facial.
    • Heat
      Avoid saunas (or other way to heat your face), massages and working out immediately after your facial.
    • Don’t Touch It!
      Avoid touching your face. Although you now have baby-smooth skin, it is also vulnerable to bacteria. You’ve just spend all of this time cleaning it and pulling all that out, so avoid adding to it by keeping your hands away from your face. Also skip your skin washing routine at the end of the day and avoid vigorous scrubbing for 48 hours.
    • Moisturise
      Use a gentle non-comedogenic cream or cleanser using your fingertips. Sponges and cloths could contain bacteria and feel too harsh. Skip the toner for the first few washes.
    • Avoid face peels
      Avoid at-home peels for at least 72 hours.
    • There might be pimples
      If you notice there are still pimples that were too deep to be affected by the facial, leave them alone. See #2.

The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to test, treat or diagnose health problems or diseases. This information is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional.

One path, all paths or no path?

cornwallsImagine Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Less Travelled”. There’s a path in front of you – nice and clear and safe, and headed exactly to where you are wanting to go. Along it, there are branches off that seem to go in the same direction – some are shortcuts, some are dead ends, some extend the original path but eventually reconnect, some will take you back to the start of the path and others yet will take you to a new destination, or another road with other branches. There’s also a river that runs alongside the path heading in the same direction.

There’s no way to know which branches go where, or how, or if there are obstacles or waterfalls or rocks or wolves.

What do you do?

There are some people who go through high school without a real idea of what they want do next. They have a career path because they have to. That’s what high school is all about, after all – preparing us to be adults. I’m sure it’s every parent’s dream to see their kids grow into successful, strong, independent and upstanding members of society.

I clearly remember the frustration of being that kid who made a goal…. but my heart wasn’t actually in it. I wasn’t ready to make a path or choose a direction at that time. How could I? There is SO much to know and do and experience, and I was just starting to see outside of the world I had grown up in. How can a person reasonably decide what they want to do with such a huge variety to choose from? I wanted to do it all!

Instead, I floundered from job to job trying to figure out what I wanted to do. When I went through my Unit Clerk course something felt right. Something, but not quite everything. I was heading in the right direction at least, but I knew I still wasn’t there. I had taken the course to get into the medical field to decide if nursing was for me. After working at the hospital for a number of years, however, I decided it wasn’t. The environment isn’t mentally healthy and stable, the pressures are high and while patients were getting cared for, no one actually seemed to care about them. The staff seemed to forget that patients are people, and I was constantly being reminded not to care for the people by my superiors.

But I thought that’s what patient care was all about? Wasn’t it?

It apparently wasn’t (and still isn’t). Diseases and conditions are what are being treated at the hospital, and not necessarily prevention. And definitely not the overall well being of a person. If patients had someone that cared and who listened to them and their problems, many of the treatments they received might be able to be reduced by preventing the conditions in the first place. There is an over abundance of information available and it’s so hard to know where to start. No one has time for that, whether they mean to be helping others, or helping themselves. Sometimes some gentle guidance is all that’s needed to take control of one’s life, but finding the right guidance can sometimes lead a person the wrong way.

What I experienced while working at the hospital was heartbreaking. The nurses were overworked, underpaid, often connected with patients better than attending physicians and many lost their compassionate side and any kind of sympathy or empathy. Patients were judged and received care based on those judgements, and yet other nurses were only there for the paycheque and had no compassion to begin with, or resented the position they had or the choices they had made. And those nurses were the ones who excelled – they did their job and moved on. The nurses who didn’t were the ones who cared and wanted to give people more. They were run ragged, hearts were worn and tired and they were in a constant state of frustration at having to fight for those under their care.

And so that idea of nursing was dropped hard. I’m a person who likes to help people in all ways, not just minimal effort to get the job done.

Fast forward to today. I have entered a rabbit hole of health information and have been studying texts and research papers on many topics, and constantly asking “why”. Why does the western world consider itself to have superior medical care but some of the highest rates of illness? Why is nutritional data lacking some of the important information needed for properly informed decisions? The western way of living has become self destructive, and it seems to be a leader in trends. Sure, we have top access and resources for health care and disease treatment – but what about prevention? Where are the resources for that? The fad diets, the “healthy” food trends and advertising campaigns are actually doing us more harm than any of them are doing good – but that’s hard to see unless you take the plunge and ask why. The answers are there – but they’re not answers I’ve been happy at finding.

Why is the recommended daily sugar intake not listed on food packaging?
Why are more and more children being diagnosed with diabetes every day?
Why has the maximum allowed sodium and sugar intake more than doubled over the years?
Why are natural health treatments frowned on by many doctors?
Why can we not get better advice on weight loss from our physicians?

These are all questions I’ve asked, and more. I’ve been more frustrated with our health system lately than never before.

I’ve been finding more and more answers to my questions in the past little while, and I’m not thrilled with the answers I’m finding. This year has been exceptionally enlightening for me, because I’m READY now. I’m ready to know, ready to learn and ready to finally make my move. My path of aromatherapy was one more step into a direction I didn’t know I was heading, and I’m absolutely in love with what I do. I’ve been helping people succeed in their goals and healthy habit forming, and it feels so great to see people happy with their success. This, too me, makes me the most successful person I’ve ever been. And I want more!

I’ve been trying to decide on what to do next. Nutrition and herbalism are two subjects that have been strongly calling to me, as well as yoga, reflexology and acupressure. How to choose?

In several of my courses I’ve taken there have been fragments of Ayurevedic principles and treatments, and they not only fascinated me, but have drawn me in. The concepts of Ayurvedic doshas are amazing – there is a simple mathematical and scientific equation that outlines a person’s health and balance, and while I don’t fully understand how it works yet, I’ve been seeing through my case studies that it DOES work. In doing some self-studies on Ayurvedic principles I finally came across it…..

My direction.elements

My goal.

My life purpose.

Ayurvedic medicine.

Five years ago, this isn’t something I would have considered. I wasn’t ready. It wasn’t the book knowledge, but my mental and emotional state. I needed to grow those, stabilise them, and do some healing of my own. This year has been one of extreme progress. I’m ready now. I know it, and the universe has gently led me in the direction I needed to go in order to prepare myself to dedicate myself to others. (Admittedly, there have been a few cliffs that I was thrown off along the way because of my headstrong persistence to always go the hard way….. I guess it wasn’t always so gentle.)

I’ve found an institution in California that offers online and distant Ayurvedic studies and is highly recommended by past and current students. It is also recognised as the leading Western Ayurvedic training institute by the top Eastern institution. I have to further my current aromatherapy studies before I can consider starting this path, but I’m elated. It feels right, and perfect. And I’m so excited.

I’ll still be continuing doing what I’m doing. My course work will be done via live class, which will allow me the flexibility to continue working from home and seeing clients as needed. There is so much more I will be able to offer, and I hope too combat the need for treatments to begin with. Let’s get to the root of the problem so it doesn’t recur!

Bohemian Alchemist is still carrying on. You’ll find updates online, and will be able to shop at the Painted Door on Main in Beaumont. I can’t wait to share what I learn along this latest journey! Wish me luck!

 

Always in kindness,

Krystal

The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to test, treat or diagnose health problems or diseases. This information is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional.