Food: What can we do?

I don’t know why I didn’t put up my hand.

I don’t know why I didn’t ask the question filling my brain the entire time she was talking.

I’ve rarely been one to shy from asking questions.

I’ve got journalism in my blood for goodness sake; I should have asked the question.

This week I attended the latest installment of the UBC Reads Sustainability series, a program that brings well-known authors to campus to discuss issues of sustainability. It was the first I’d heard of the program, and was intrigued for a few reasons:

1) The speaker, Simran Sethi, is a journalist (see blood above) and her book is called Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love. For those of you who’ve been long-time readers, you already know, but for those of you new to the PoP ways, chocolate might as well BE my blood.

2) I am currently taking a Land, Food, Systems course, which is a year-long prerequisite for the dietetics program all about sustainability, systems-thinking, multifunctionalism, etc., which is, without a doubt, my favourite course. The lecturer is super engaging, and my extensive experience as a newspaper journalist in one of the major farming communities of the province gives me a solid base for the content.

Ms. Sethi’s book is an exploration of the changing lands of agriculture through those beloved foods, and the devastating impact of the homogenization of our food that’s been taking over since the industrial revolution.

She talked about how one third of our soils have been eroded.

You can’t grow good food in eroded soils, she said.

She talked about the global trend towards sameness, about how our crops have become a saturated monoculture, one breed of cow for all dairy and meat products, one type of corn, a handful of apple crops versus thousands that used to be grown.

If disaster strikes, we are potentially at risk, she said.

Diversification ensures we have a back-up plan, she said.

We are losing diversification.

She said we need to change things, that we need to invest in our collections, make sure we have a seed vault containing all our seed systems just in case “dooms day” comes; that we need to preserve our wild growth; and support our small farmers.

But she didn’t say how.

I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say the approximate 50 or so people in that room were interested and invested in making agriculture more sustainable, steering our farms away from the monoculture of the industrial revolution, committed to supporting our local farmers and farmers’ markets. She was already preaching to the choir.

But, in this case, we are the 1%.

What about the vast majority of the population who is so ingrained in shopping at supermarkets, buying the cheapest product available, either because they can’t afford to do otherwise, or because it’s what they’ve always done. How do we get those people on board?

In order to enact change, in order to stop the small farmers from going under, in order to have a country with food options, a world with biodiversity, it is those people we need to educate and support. Until then, I remain cynical and question whether real change will be made.

I mentioned in my last post that I have been working with the Royal City Farmers’ Market since last January to bring about more education on the value (nutrient and monetary) of farmers’ markets. Last spring, I embarked on a $40 challenge where I spend $40 every market on market-fresh product and outline how long it lasts, the tastes, the meals we get out of it, etc.. For our family, both the taste and monetary savings to our vegetable budget has been a huge eye opener.

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When the market went on break for a month between the summer market and winter market, I was so disappointed with every salad I ate in that time. The flavour was just not there.

You can read the posts via the 10th to the Fraser online magazine at www.tenthtothefraser.ca/category/eats-and-drinks/

Pizza, worse than a tequila hangover

Pizza, it is the bane of existence for diabetics the world over.

The taste, a garlic-infused crispy crust, savoury tomatoes and fungi, oozing mozzarella, and the spice of the carefully placed basil tantalizing your taste buds. So savoury. So delectable. A treat that calls out in your dreams, lures you in your wake. But a treat, nonetheless, that makes you look at diabetes in the same manner as organic chemistry.

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More fear calculating this than prepping for a statistics final!

I have had this disease for 29 years, and I have yet to master the skill of calculating the bolus’ and basals for pizza. I can eat baked cheesecake, no problem; cheese oozing quesadillas, no problem; but pizza, it has foiled me nearly every time I partake.

Shame.

Big Ring is a master of the pizza-making skill. Ever since we visited Italy seven years ago, he’s been perfecting the art of Neapolitan-style pizzas.

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Food art at its finest!

But for years, I’ve been shaking my head more times than not when pizza is suggested for the menu. Irregardless of my love, those middle of the night highs, that inevitably occur following said pizza, overrule the love.

A pizza hangover is worse than a tequila hangover.

It’s not the flour, the farina flour we use is a specialty pizza flour molded into a paper thin crust that I can pretty effectively calculate the bolus for. It’s not the tomatoes or the tomato sauce, even though they are sugar behemoths, they too can be accurately calculated for. Nope, it’s the cheese.

That cheese, the star of the show in some respects, kills us.

You can’t give a huge amount of insulin right off the hop, just before that first bite, because you’ll no doubt suffer lows shortly after. And when you feel that low, you’ll think, oh freaking crud, I gave myself way too much insulin. Nope, no you didn’t.

You see, that cheese, she’s an underhanded deviant. She’s laughing, watching the clock, counting down the hours until she can strike.

Cheese is full of fat. Fat slows digestion. So, an hour or two after you eat your pizza, your body still hasn’t properly digested it, but the insulin you took is shooting so fast through your bloodstream, you’re grabbing every last bit of sugar in your house to bring your blood glucose back up again. And then, midnight, 2 a.m., 3 a.m. hit and BAM! Cheese strikes. Your BG shoots up and you spend all night and well into the next day trying to bring her down again.

Feeling pukey, lethargic, all around gross the entire time.

Not fun.

I’ve tried a big dose up front; I’ve tried doing an assortment of combo boluses; I’ve consulted with the diabetic community, but to little success. And on the rare occasions I do get that A+ in the pizza-diabetes equation, I think, fantastic, I’ve got this – only to do the same thing the next pizza adventure and miserably fail.

Our bodies are not static, our diabetes is ever changing, what worked one day may not work the next.

But I am no quitter my friends…

The winter farmers’ market (which, by the way I’ve been writing regularly for since last January and can be found here: http://www.tenthtothefraser.ca/category/eats-and-drinks/) started back up again last weekend. Among other things, we came home with a bag full of market-fresh arugula, and market-fresh pine mushrooms (hand picked by a local forager!!!), we had mozzarella and prosciutto in the fridge, garlic and tomato sauce in the cupboard, and it was a crazy crummy day outside – the perfect recipe for barbecued pizza!

It was time I stomped that Cheesy Deviant to the ground!

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You will not win this time cheese!

But alas, she had other plans.

My blood sugar before first bite was 7.9 mmol. I tried the advice of a friend and liberally bolused 75% right off the hop, with the remaining 25% slowly seeping into my blood stream over the next half hour. I thought for sure my blood sugars would go low, and I’d be seeing a later high. Nope. They went high.

PIZZA EXPERIMENT:
• BG pre-pizza: 7.9 mmol
• BG one hour post pizza: 10.4 mmol
• BG two hours post pizza: 13.1 mmol (Correction given and 100% temp. basal for 1.5 hours)
• BG four hours post pizza: 9.1 mmol
• BG 10 hours post pizza: 4.1 mmol (It was 4:30 a.m., I gave myself two DEX tabs to get me to breakfast)
• BG 12 hours post pizza: 10.1 mmol
• BG 15 hours post pizza: 11.2
• BG 18 hours post pizza: 6.3… FINALLY!

Needless to say it was a major pizza fail. Next time, I will try for a larger dose up front and a longer combo basal over several hours instead of a half hour and see if that works.

I’m interested to hear, how do all my diabetic readers deal with pizza?

Until next time…

Strategic disengagement

Today I quit.

It’s not a territory I am all that familiar with.

Sure, a couple years ago I quit a career, but that was with a new one in the foreground.

A few years ago I quit a race, but that was the act of Dear Diabetes, completely out of my control.

Speaking of Dear Diabetes, I quit her once too, but my brain wasn’t fully developed so I can’t really be blamed for that.

I’ve had thoughts of quitting other things: my first marathon I had visions of running in front of the tram; my first time up the Grouse Grind, I had urges to hurl myself over the side of the cliff. Chemistry, I thought for sure I’d blow up the lab and be done with it. But never, never, never was there the option of stopping and turning around.

Today I stopped.

But I didn’t turn around.

Today I quit physics.

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Two weeks of physics and this is what I got out of it: a tutorial on how to make paper airplanes, and I didn’t even do those that well! (Little Ring loves them!)

After four straight semesters of chemistry, I thought for sure I was primed for physics (okay, I didn’t really think that), but nope, that was not the case. By second class I could feel the sweat building up in my underarms; I could feel the heat in my face, the shaking of my limbs.

Panic.

I got a tutor, he’s a great tutor, a phenomenal tutor, a tutor that worked so thoroughly with me to understand the concepts, in a really cool way, and at such a shockingly low wage. If I could learn this course through him, I would excel. If I could be one-on-one with the prof, I would excel. But in a class of 300 x 3, I am but a bug on the wall.

Panic.

I went into physics with an open mind. I had no idea what to expect, I don’t recall ever doing physics, but then again I don’t recall much of math, and I shut my ears to anyone who told me it was tough as hell. This past weekend I had two assignments due plus a lab. I spent all night Friday, well into the morning hours, all afternoon and evening Saturday, and all morning Sunday. There were a lot of eff bombs, a lot of distressed exclamations “I don’t understand what it’s asking me!!!” and a lot of unreasonable, I feel cruddy as hell outbursts towards the most I love.

Panic.

This course is not a priority course.

This course is a course that I potentially need, but a course that’s ultimately not going to get me into the program I desire.

When I get into dietetics, there is a core course that requires the foundations of physics, but for those in the dietetics program the prerequisite is waived. Most who don’t have physics struggle.

I was trying to be proactive.

I am taking four courses this semester, three of which are priority courses. I was spending way too much energy, both mentally and emotionally, on a non-priority. A course that if I struggle all the way through who’s to say any of it will take hold in my brain and carry over to that core course? And who’s to say I won’t completely mess up the priority courses that I should actually do quite well in?

There was a lot of soul searching, a lot of weighing the pros and cons, going back and forth, a lot of outside guidance. I don’t like to quit, but it didn’t make sense to disregard the priorities in favour of a non.

So, today I quit.

I quit for the betterment of my goal; the betterment of my grades; the betterment of my mental state; the betterment of my family.

To quote a friend: It as a matter of strategic disengagement.

Dreaming for the glory of glasses

Alright eyes, we got this. Don’t let me down, eyes. This year is our year. Got it. Alright, let’s DO this.

That was the pep talk my lovely, grey eyes got yesterday morning all through breakfast, all through transit, all through the rainy walk, and every step up the five flights of stairs to my opthalmologist’s office.

Yesterday was my annual eye appointment.

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This appointment I dream of for 365 days, hoping, praying, begging for my eyes to finally falter in the presence of my opthalmologist.

I am obsessed with glasses, been so ever since one of my elementary school besties showed up to class in an oversized pair of pink specs. I loved them! I had to have them!

When I was diagnosed with Dear Diabetes shortly after and told my diabetic eyes could be a thing of concern, I swear to you that was one of the happiest days of my life. My parents were near tears and I’m practically jumping for joy. (I was nine, what can I say, glass half full girl!)

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Friends know if they wear glasses, I’ll be trying them. I mean seriously, how could this face NOT be granted the glory of glasses???

But noooooo, year after year, blinding appointment after blinding appointment, they keep regaling the perfection of my eyes, exclaiming they’re getting better with age, no diabetic spots, and that once, majorly noticeable wandering eye, it’s majorly dissipated.

They wait for me to smile, but instead get a grimace.

I. Want. Glasses.

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These eyes NEED glasses!

So yesterday, I’m sitting in the office noticing every seat filled with someone in glasses. Could this be my year, I thought. Surely, everyone in glasses is a sign, I thought. I am getting older, after all. Eyes fail with age, right? Right???

My eyes are dilated. The room starts to blur. One word fills my head over and over: Please. Please. Please. Please. Pleeeeeeeeeeease.

I’m in the office. I see an information placard on age-related macular degeneration. Symptoms include yellow-white deposits that mess with photoreceptors causing impaired vision.

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Hmm…

I’ve been experiencing major eye irritation for months. Lots of thin eye goop that causes a burning sensation. I thought it was the circulating dust, or allergies, but maybe it’s AMD.

Squinting my eyes, I put my face right close to the sign, practically nose touching it, and read further.

Oh crud.

This is NOT good.

Abnormal blood vessels growing in my macula!

Leaking blood and other fluids!

Complete vision loss!

Oh crud! Oh crud! Oh crud!

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Found this pic on How the Light Gets In blog. The whole post had me giggling…I could totally relate!

I want glasses. I don’t want diseased eyes.

My specialist walks in, sticks a blinding light through my dead eyes. Looking good, she says.

Erm, I stutter.

Yes??? she waits.

Erm, you don’t see leaking blood?

Noooo??? she queries.

I start talking a mile a minute, telling her about the burning sensation in my eyes, how they get real itchy, and painful, how I’m sticking my fingers in there trying to get what’s causing the pain out practically every minute, and that I think it might be age-related macular degeneration, and that my eyes are gonna fall out, all the while my stomach fluttering with opposing excitement and fear. Hoorah to glasses. Eek to dead eyes.

She pauses. I swear to stop from bursting out laughing. (Note: she knows my great desire for glasses). You have dry eyes, she said. That’s all. They’re not dying. They’re atypical diabetic eyes. She hands me a sample of gel drops.

No glasses for you!

Once again spurned by damn perfect eyesight.

Sigh.

48 months: I am the walrus

Dear Little Ring,

Yesterday I was having an absolute crumb of a day, so blah, so lethargic, so lacking motivation. I couldn’t figure out why, and then, it struck me.

Just hours remained of my baby being a baby.

I love seeing your every growing milestone; I love your wild personality that gets wilder with age; I love the crazy, random conversations your growth has invited me into. But yesterday, the realization that my baby was no longer a baby, no longer a toddler, but a proper, young boy – closer to independence than mama reliance – I’m not going to lie, it stung.

In proper, good, Little Ring fashion you turned that sting into a flutter of love.

To most, you are not much of a hugger (your papsy credits your German roots for that). But every day, multiple times a day, you give mama hugs. Kisses, however, are few and far between. You’ve been wiping those suckers off your face practically from the get-go.

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Been squirming out of mama kisses from day 1.

But yesterday, you planted not one, not two, but seven (yes, I counted them) kisses on your mama – puckered lips, sound effects, and all.

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I❤ you kid!

And so…

Dear Little Ring,

Today you are four years old.

That’s four years of melting my heart; four years of everyday smiles; four years of belly-aching laughs; four years of blowing my mind; four years of the purest love possible.

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Rock of Little Ring Ages: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4.

Every day with you is an adventure, whether I’m trying to convince you not to ride your bicycle down a flight of stairs (we can thank daddy and Road Bike Party for that), or running after you, who is running after all the runners on the boardwalk, trying your mightiest to keep those, tall for a four-year-old but still quite small in the grand scheme of runners, legs of yours moving superhero fast, or saving the world one superman, spiderman, batman dress-up session at a time.

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Ohhh, the things you do for us, hey😉

You are smart, oh my goodness, you are smart. Riding a pedal bike, no training wheels, at three-and-a-half, wow. Calling mamsy and papsy’s bluff multiple times a week, grr. Memorizing book after book after only one quick reading, seriously can I have that brain? Reading off the unit numbers for every suite on our floor like a human abacus, again the brain. Singing “I Am The Walrus” at the top of your lungs.

Yeah, that’s pretty freaking cool!

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Naturally your birthday party was a road bike party, bike decorating, and tour-de-France style technical courses and all!

And the things that come out of your mouth. Oh my goodness, so random, so funny. Like at breakfast this morning, out of the blue, you said: “When I was one, I was a bear; when I was two, I was a crocodile; when I was three, I was a dog, now I’m a cat.” And apparently when you’re five, you’ll be a penguin! Seriously, where do you get this stuff???

The big words you’ve started using in your sentences: ferocious, apparently, frustrated…

Regaling us with your dreams in great detail every morning, sometimes happy, sometimes scary, most often with dinosaurs….

The times you sense frustration and you tell mummy or daddy to take a deep breath and breathe – the very thing I tell you in the midst of a 10.0 meltdown. Which, by the way, you do have. We need to work on those…

The times you want nothing to do with our words and look us straight in the eye as you put your pudgy little index finger up to your mouth and express an emphatic “shhhh…” Or just blatantly tune us out and continue on your merry way…

All of that is the greatness of you.

There is no other adventure I’d rather be on than the adventure of Little Ring.

Ps. Today was GREAT day! xoxo

Love mama

“My dear young fellow,’ the Old-Green-Grasshopper said gently, ‘there are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven’t started wondering about yet.”
~ Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach

29 years: “Perfect storm for an eating disorder”

Apparently furniture is to be given for the 29th anniversary, but for me, all I got was guilt.

There’s a part of me I am not fond of; a part of me that scares me; a part of me I’ve feared, hated, fought and succumbed to; a part of me I don’t like discussing much, but a part that is very much there – always. It is something I have lived with for 29 years.

My relationship with food.

The other day I was chatting with a pediatric dietitian who works with young diabetics at a local hospital, and so much of what she said to me resonated. We were talking about the different methods of treatment specifically with diet, post diagnosis. There’s the Nazi-like conventional method: no sweets, no treats, you best be perfect or you’ll die. And then there’s the flexible method: make it personal, make it healthy, do what works for your child and the family as a whole, no labels.

When I was diagnosed it was Nazi style only.

As this dietitian said so perfectly: It’s a perfect storm for an eating disorder. Unrealistic expectations are being put on a child who just yesterday could eat what they wanted, when they wanted, how they wanted, and now you’re telling them nope, you can’t eat that, you can’t do that, eat more, eat less, if you don’t listen, you’re doomed.

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My first trip to the hospital courtesy of Dear Diabetes.

So, my story.

For over two decades my moms has been telling people I was malnourished Ethiopian child thin for the first four or five years of the disease, so thin the doctors kept adding to my diet, telling my parents I needed to eat more, they had me on a 2,700 calorie diet, and when I did start gaining weight, they didn’t take me off, so by the time I was 15, I was hiding my suddenly soft frame behind baggy clothes.

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My 15th birthday. Look closely and you’ll see the low self-esteem.

And sure, yeah, that happened. But what also happened is I became the child who would throw her “healthy” lunches in the bushes; I became the child who hid under her bed eating Halloween candy after Halloween candy; I became the child who would sneak spoonfuls of ice cream every chance I got, and one time hid under the table with the whole bucket thinking no one would see me there; I became the child who found bakers chocolate in the cupboard and ran to my room, crawled under my covers and took a nasty chomp. I didn’t learn from that. I hid in my room with a mixing bowl full of raw cookie dough; I ate Christmas chocolates in the bathroom; and something I am so not proud of and have never told anyone, but am now telling all of you, I used to snake my way into my parent’s room, on my stomach, in the early hours of the morning, when my moms was having a bath, getting ready for work, and would steal money from her purse – to buy chips and chocolate at the high school canteen.

Seriously, I am so sorry moms.

My relationship with food was not a good one.

For me, when they closed the door on all things sweet, when they took my control away in what I could eat, when they forced me to drink milk, something I had loathed my entire life, and something I was allergic to up until I got diabetes, and something I still very much dislike, they took my personal power away.

They took a part of me away.

My only control was a full-throttle diabetes/me revolt.

Did I have an eating disorder?

Yes, I believe I did.

I didn’t starve myself, I didn’t regurgitate what I ate, but I binged. I struggled for years to get my eating under control, and ultimately to get my diabetes in control – on my terms. And even now, although I am now crazy healthy, and in complete control, I still struggle. I don’t gorge out on sweets and treats like I did years ago, but I question nearly everything I eat now as a result; I worry about the softening of my body; and sometimes I berate myself of indulgences. Not always, but it is there.

It doesn’t go away.

Dear Diabetes gets the thanks for that.

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My relationship with food hasn’t always been a confident one.

Today, Aug. 23, is my diaversary. I have had this disease for 29 years.

Smurfette Part 2: The Bone Scan

Ohhhh, the déjà vu.

2011: I was training for my second marathon, and struggling with a sore ankle every time I ran. I spent months in physiotherapy with no relief. Dear Physio was getting frustrated; I was beyond frustrated.

2016: I haven’t run in 9 months. I’ve suffered horrid pain that’s become more a dull ache in my left foot for 12 months. I’ve spent thousands (note the plural) on physio, chiro, acupuncture, essential oils, and more with no relief. Frustrated. Desperate. Moody. Sad and envious as bloody hell.

Both outcomes resulted in bone scans. In 2011, it turned out I had stress fractures in both ankles. In 2016, well, as I’m currently writing this post in the waiting area of nuclear medicine, I don’t yet know the results.

What I do know:

At 9 a.m. I was injected with a blue radioactive tracer containing phosphate and technetium. The phosphate is treated by the body as a building block; anything broken, stressed, out of alignment, not as it should be is a hot spot trigger for the phosphate and will glow brightly under the scanning camera. They took a few pictures right off the hop to see how the body reacted to the dye, if there were any blood irregularities, etc. These pics, which I could see forming on the screen, made my feet look like sparkly glass slippers.

Cinderella! Cinderella!

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From 2011: Injecting the blue dye

Then I waited… and waited… and waited. Waiting, pretty much an apt description of getting bone scans done. Because you’re injected with such a small amount of the radioactive tracer, and because it’s got to travel all the way down to the feet, you’ve got to give it sufficient time. The injection was at 9 a.m. and the scans didn’t start until 2:40 p.m.. In between, there was a whole lot of water drinking (to flush out the kidneys) and tea drinking (because, well, I love tea) and studying (same thing for 2011, except this time it’s for college chemistry and last time it was high school chemistry).

The scan itself was only about 20 minutes!

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From 2016: The masking tape chronicles

The fellow doing my scan was great. As soon as he saw my insulin pump, he started telling me about how all four of his sisters have type-2, and his brother-in-law in Finland has type-1 and takes daily pen injections. We talked about Canada’s medical system (which by no means is as free as many in our country and others believe it to be) vs. Finland’s. This came as a shocker to me given how great the country is with its educational system, but apparently in Finland, the cost of diabetes is based on a weigh scale; those overweight pay way more than those not. This man’s brother-in-law pays in the thousands (Canadian equivalent) every week!!!

“He likes his sweets,” the tech said.

Don’t we all!

He took three photos of both feet (to compare the two): one of the top of the foot, one of the bottom, and one of the side. The photos took five minutes each and you had to stay still for the full five minutes. I was good for the first two photos; I think because we were talking so much it took my mind off it (plus, for one of the photos, my feet were taped with masking tape). But the last photo, I don’t know. You know when you’re told to stay still, but try as you might, all your body wants to do is move. That’s how I was! The last two minutes of that last photo, I could feel my feet and knees starting to twitch, and I kept thinking no, no, no, be good, be perfect, follow the instructions, don’t you dare move, dammit, stop, stop, stop. I tried taking my mind off what was going on by looking at the skeleton feet forming on the screens and trying to figure out which ones belonged to which foot, and wondering if that glowing line was normal foot bones or Princess problems. When the musical ding finally rang, I nearly shouted Hallelujah!

Apparently my doc will have the results in a week’s time.

Hopefully there will be some answers, something that will get the recovery process on the right track. Because seriously, I just want to bloody fricken well run!