Howdy Hydrocephalus

Understanding my unique gyroscope

The Summer of Milestones

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This summer has been amazing. Because I have been on my pituitary meds and energy medicine for almost a year, I have gained ten pounds, built a little muscle and endurance back.  Because of this I pushed the physical side more than I have since my brain surgery five years ago. 

Last summer I started with some easy flat hikes; paddle boarding more  and just flat easy biking. This year we have not hiked much but instead took to my old passion mountain biking. It was a spur of the moment when I bought my new to me Marin at a local bike swap. We went there to get the Wy, D & Mr. C new to them bikes.  We started the boys on flat trails, then logging roads and then to some trail riding. Well it was a test on my patience because every ride there would be one frustrated boy in tears because he fell one too many times or sacked themselves from not listening to me about riding the trail off their seats. Being the mean mom I am, I would say falling is apart of the experience. The bruises and cuts are stories to tell. I would say they are building balance and muscles that will help for hockey. We did 20km flat rides but shorter trail rides but often there teary statements of “I am never riding a bike again” to only ask to go biking the next day. Wy gave me the best compliment the other day. He called me a ” mountain bike expert”. I laughed and said “I am far from an expert. The last 50km ride I did was a long long time ago.” But It made my day and said “thanks”.

The biggest milestone took place when my brother, R-man and his two kidlets, C & M visited.  When I lived in the Kootenays many moons ago I spent a winter travelling 50km each way to learn how to kayak in the Nelson, BC swimming pool at night. I kayaked until I moved to Manning, Alberta. Six years ago, I bought a white water kayak again. I think I only used a few times before I was too sick to. Then the spring after my surgery I liquidated all my fun stuff I couldn’t do anymore; camera, studio equipment, kayak, TKD equipment, running shoes, cruise vest, soil probe, and identification books for work. I kept my Giant & golf clubs.

 Last summer we wanted to go white water rafting but we ran out of time. So after we were all together I called Canyon Raft Company located in Fernie, BC. I booked us all. I showed the kids pics and when I saw the looks of terror on two of their faces, I said that the pics were taken at higher water levels. We were rafting at low water levels knowing that I was telling a small fib. 

So we drive to Fernie Alpine Resort where we are picked up on the bus. The driver, who is one of the two owners, let us know about some Great Lakes nearby and hiking. In Elko, we got to see where there is a 40ft waterfall where some very experienced kayakers like to drop off of only at low water because even then it is dangerous. It was beautiful. We then drove to our starting point.

But before we got into the rafts, we got our gear on, wetsuit, helmet & paddle for most but not for someone like me that has body regulation issues. When I get cold my fingers and toes can turn white or purple. But I was prepared. I brought my swimsuit, on top of that I had my thin one piece thin outfit for paddle boarding, next the wetsuit, then water socks, I also grabbed a spray jacket and eye Glass band. We received a lecture about the gear and our hike down to the boats.

The hike down was beautiful. Sport sandals or shoes that can get wet mandatory!!!

At the bottom we met all the guides and the photographer. We received a very thorough safety briefing and then were broken into our groups for the paddle. Our guide has been in Canada six years. She left Melbourne for the mountains – water in summer and powder in winter. Along with us is the owner of the company and the seven of us. M is too nervous to paddle so she rides the trip but gives us all the best facial expressions that we see in later photographs. I am grateful to have an extra adult because I am not too sure how the three boys in the back are going to do….mmm…slack it and watch the adults work…I am almost 100% sure. R-man and me are in the front. With Mr. C behind me.  Once settled with the group photo taken we are off first down the river.  Whoa…hold it….we are the last boat in the line. I picked it because I thought we would be last….oh but no..here we go with the first two sets of Rapids back to back. All I remember is one is called something about marbles.

It is a weird feeling. Trying to coordinate paddling with R-man while trying to keep an eye ahead and listen to our guide’s directions. All I could think of was am I dong this right, trying to have myself breathe to calm down and not get overwhelmed and not to get distracted by the scenery or water.  Around the bend we go and wow the adrenaline is kicking. Once we finished we relax and wait for the other three boats. We have two fall out from one of the three boats but everyone is safe and put back in. During our waiting my right side is going all twitchy and my right arm feels weak. The thoughts that go through my head are “oh no…am I done. We just started. Can I paddle the entire  What is going on. Am I dehydrated?” I have some water and it was the right thing to have. Then we forward paddle into our third rapid…something about a shoe. 

 Here we are heading into the third set. We hit a rock with a jar and all stay in.  I go ass over tea kettle after we hit a second rock right when I am leaning out to paddle a wave. My paddle stays with me in a death grip. Mr. C see me go in and reaches for me and he goes in. When I fell out I couldn’t see a thing. I wanted to swim to boat but then was told to put feet up and cruise and that is what I did. I flew. It was awesome, you can see they had to throw the rope float bag at me. While Mr. C got to hang onto the outside of boat. I grabbed C’s paddle as it floated by me. When I get in, we are all laughing. Wy said he flew into C, C lost a paddle and D was flying and was heading for the water but was saved by our amazing guides. What a rush!!!Mr. C goes up front for the rest of the trip and we go have more rafting fun….brrrr. I am working so hard that I am still keeping warm. Win for me!!!

We make it through the rapids to an amazing float section with pristine coloured water. Then we have lunch. After lunch before we hit the canyon we get to try our hand at cliff jumping. There are three choices low, medium and high jumps. Of course Wy & C start the trend with the medium jump.  Mr. C does the large jump, I do the medium jump & M does the small jump.

Here they are jumping.then all our guides show us how it is really done.After this we hit the canyon with a waterfall, lots of whitewater, surfing a hole…during lunch I got really cold with purple fingers. I ended up lying on warm roaches trying to stop my teeth chattering. I ended up putting on the spray jacket for rest of trip, except cliff jumping and it saved me. there was so many much action that everyone was hooting, hollering, screaming and laughing.  We had to avoid a big rock by turning and hitting a rapid. It was the best rapid of the day….okay hard to choose favourites but I think the adults in the group agreed with this.D raises his arms in glory. We missed the rock. But the best fun for Wy, D & M was….riding the bull. When we hit the landing place, I barely could get out of Raft, my coordination, balance from my whacked internal gyroscope was completely off. I was shaky and didn’t clue how dehydrated that I had become because I was cold, I didn’t drink. Mr. C helps me get dressed in dry clothes by holding up towels. I was riding on a high that I had completed this milestone. I knew that I had used up all my spoons and would need recovery time but it was so worth it. We will be doing this every year from now on.

I was not the only one beat. R-man & Mr. C were sore; the kidlets fell asleep on bus ride and in car ride to Coleman. 

Mr. C always gives me crap that I push myself too hard. I say that if I didn’t push myself as hard as I do, I would still be shuffling my right foot and having a right hand that accidentally drops or throws things. I know self care is mandatory but so is also living and having fun.

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Water Deprivation & Glucagon Stimulation Tests

I had started this post at least three times. I had even started writing but then there was a glitch and my iPad shut down. I lost what I had written. Then I couldn’t even access what I had started. Duh…Wordpress updates created new menu layout. Crud talk about not reading what is right infront of my eyes.

So the lowdown is that for me the water deprivation test was easy peasy compared to the glucagon stimulation test. Going without food and water was not an issue. What was an issue for both test was me forgetting my sleeping pills so I was up peeing until 3 each night before I passed out from exhaustion.

I had to do the long haul water depreviation test from 7am until 4:45pm. I had to pee and give blood every hour. I was given a saline solution interveniously around 3pm because I wasn’t dehydrated enough. The weird things throughout this testing process is that my urine didn’t darken and that the amount didn’t decrease. So what did I do all day? Sleep mostly, my vision was acting a little wonky so I really couldn’t read. I played unblock me and look at my pictures maybe for ten minutes each hour. The lights in the room were out for most of the day becausee my head hurt like hell. Chris came for 4:30pm with two smoothies that I had to wait to drink until my last pee and blood sample time. Then I drank  quickly and had to wait to see if I had some sort of reaction. I then had my final blood pressure test 113/75 and was sprung for the night. 

The next day was awesome. I arrived before nine and led to a nice warm room with two unique reclining cushy chairs. I was given warm blankets and heating pads. It was like being at the spa. Then I was set up again to be able to draw blood again. This time it went really quick because we used heating pads to warm up my arms so my wobbly evasive veins cooperated. I felt that this was going to be an easy test like yesterday. I was injected with Glucagon. The nurse warned it would hurt or burn. No didn’t feel that and was positive that all was going well. I dozed off. I felt my arm getting eaves and then of course about  an hour after the injection I had to go pee. In the bathroom I felt a little off. When I got back the nurse took more blood and commented that I didn’t drink that much water. I told her I drink much because I didn’t want to be sick to my stomach.  Then it was like a switch, I felt really sick to my stomach. Chris grabbed a garbage can and the nurse came running with one of those tiny paper containers. Thank goodness there wasn’t much to come up.Then I broke out in a sweat and I got dizzy and really hot. We had to get all the blankets off and my hoodie off with keeping IV in. Then I felt like I had to got the the bathroom. The nurse and Chris tried to stand me up but I couldn’t stand. The stomach cramping started and I started to shiver. The bathroom was not a priority anymore. I curled up in a ball and was covered in blankets again then I passed out. All these sick things didn’t happen over a period of time but instead minutes. I felt like I was hit with a bad stomach flu or food poisoning. 

When I woke up I felt better but tired. The test was almost over so I guess I was out for a couple hours. Then the last blood draw down and was allowed to eat. I ate  what we brought two Apple juices. I really had to go the bathroom but before I could stand I had to get my blood pressure taken again. It was down to 90/50 so I was not allowed to stand. I was offered a bedpan that I declined. So I waited and continued to eat more food. After I ate two packs of cookies my blood pressure was taken again. It had risen enough hat the nurse let me stand but accompanied me to the washroom. I started to get the shakes. When we got back to the room I had to stay a bit more then had my blood pressure again. When she took it again my blood pressure had risen to 110/70 and I was able to leave. Chris had parked down the street and it took a bit of slow walking to get there then we went to a nearby baker to get treats and went back to Medicine Hat.

My stomach felt sore and I had even less of an appetite for almost two weeks after. I couldn’t even stand the smell of meat.  I have not received my test results. One of the tests had to be sent to the Mayo clinic in the US because there is no labe in Canada that does the testing. 

In the meantime my brain injury Doctor prescribed me a short term/acting energy prescription that has been working.  I had the best birthday in four years. I have been on it for two weeks and this morning I needed. A body rest day so I didn’t take any pills.

Here is to hopefully long term positive solutions!


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Bringing back the Food!

_MG_0069aOkay I survived the elimination food diet. It really wasn’t that bad. There are so many options to eat. You get to re-discover the real tastes of foods again. I also was able to experiment with foods I haven’t eaten in a long time or ever. Although I travelled in the southern United States and I tried grits (didn’t like), fresh beady eyed shrimp (good); I didn’t have the opportunity to try okra. (given that were were on a young person’s budget which meant we lived in tent and cooked our own food).  I finally was able to try okra and I loved it. I just need to learn how to cook it at home. I just hope it is not part of the nightshade family. I experimented with recipies. I made a bean and sweet potato soup, or what the boys call a stew. It was yummy and the boys even liked it (score!) The boys have loved the granola too! So much I am making it from scratch (easy peasy) as soon as I was able to find GF oat as the tiny bags as store are ridiculously priced. I saw a funny video and thought here I am writing about my experiences.  How to become gluten intolerant I know that there are plenty of books on this. I only read one (forget title) based on food intolerances and I never finished it as it ended up being a diet to lose weight book. What a crock. The book sparked my memory of allergy testing eons ago and gave me courage with food recipies (along with Internet) to move forward to see if my tap of a nose, rash, snots & bubbles were caused by food or other external factors. The only way you could lose weight by doing the elimination diet is really like any other diet is to cut calories and starve yourself. There really are endless good food items to indulge in.

I was so excited to bring back the food, I kind of forgot the second part of the elimination diet and went full bore into eating. Never trust a brain injured person (okay just me) to get it right the first time. I ordered a fast food burger and french fries (hey I am human) then ate/devoured it without thinking (can’t remember if I breathed at all during the feast). Of course I still have no idea which items of food were bugging my chest and nose as I ate wheat, dairy, tomato. Oops.. all I know is that my face felt tingly, I got phlegmy and my nose ran. Great.  What was I supposed to do again. Oh yeah…add back one food item every four or five days. Mmmm what to do…carry on like all is normal. and try, try again.

_MG_0060aSo after another food kafuffle or two or four, I have found out that I am able to eat corn, peanuts (not a big fan of peanut butter but fell in love with almond butter in this process), and soy. I will continue being gluten free for a bit. However I miss having a beer (nose runs almost immediately when drink it). I love cheese and have been dreaming about when I could re-introduce cheese. I went out and bought brie and herbed goat cheese to test dairy this week. I am a little dis-heartened as I had a fruit smoothie for dinner at a restaurant as the boys had burgers & ice cream for dinner (a treat from surviving their yearly check up at our family doctor). About 30 minutes after drinking my mango/pineapple smoothie, I was given a treat of some nice belly pains. So instead of calling off all dairy for the evening, I instead bring out my wonderful cheese, rice crackers and a glass of red wine after the  boys go to bed. Mmmmm the brie was soft and rich, while the tangy goat cheese went awesome with the wine. All went down smoothly. I went to bed and woke up coughing from a phlegmy choking feeling. Damn…not the cheese…I love the cheese. So I made a compromise with myself. I will try not to eat cheese daily but will allow myself to indulge once in a while. I do this as I working out food options for when my friend , Manj, the four kids and I take off to a cabin in Cypress Hills for a few days during spring break. Life isn’t black & white so my food choices will not be either. I will just have to live with the consequences.