Monday, October 31, 2011

Food for thought

For a Crohn's blog, I haven't really talked about Crohn's much in the last few months. Mostly because there was nothing to say. Until yesterday, when the shit hit the fan. My thoughts are a little all over the place due to fatigue and pain associated with a partial blockage so I may divert on a few tangents before arriving at my point, if I arrive there at all. Bear with me.

I've spent a lifetime trying to make sense of the intricate relationship between diet, food, body image, self-esteem, exercise, health and illness. Reconciling what you want (cake, being 'skinny', lounging around) with what you need (balanced diet, healthy body, exercise) knowing that they're almost never complimentary. It's a complex balancing act even before you throw in complications like health conditions, allergies or intolerance's and preconditioned ideas. I'll probably spend the rest of my life trying, in vain, to wrap my head around it.

As a kid I had Asthma. I learnt very early on to associate physical exercise with pain, discomfort and fear since every time I exerted myself I wound up struggling to breathe for hours. Despite the Asthma now long gone, those early lessons are so well ingrained that as an adult I have to consciously and deliberately work at reprogramming my thinking. I almost always choose the path of least exertion.

The party line in the medical world consists of sentiments to the tune of: The cause of IBD is unknown and there is no evidence that dietary factors play a role. No role at all, although "What have you eaten?" is among the first questions medical staff ask in Emergency after a blockage or extreme flare-up and they always wind up referring to a dietician.

Everything you think you know about a healthy lifestyle doesn't apply when you have Crohn's Disease. Fresh fruit, green leafy vegetables, high fibre cereals, three squares a day, these things will kill you or at least make life pretty intolerable. Walking stimulates the bowel and is something you really want to avoid during a flare-up. It's a topsy turvy world where the right thing is all wrong and the wrong thing is ok.

Now that she has started solids, I have to somehow teach Lil' Edges about healthy eating and I am the least qualified person to do this. Aware that she's more likely to take in what she see's rather than what she's told, I've been attempting to role model a more healthy style of eating. Consuming fresh fruit with her in the morning seemed ok for a week or so until the tell tale stomach pain arrived Saturday night.

Sometimes you eat something and you know all about it before you've even put down the fork. It's that way for me with full fat milk. Other times the offending food is a lot more cunning. Fruit for example, eat a peeled apple once, even twice and I'll probably get away with it. Everyday for a week and I find myself here in doubled over town. Then there is food that will be fine this time and completely kick my arse the next time, like eggs or cheese. Other things, which by all rights, should be completely off limits like chocolate and coffe I have no issues with.

There's other stuff that comes from not getting all the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Multiple bowel resections have left me perpetually low in iron and B12. No amount of eating red meat or oily fish will ever replenish the stores and it leaves me with regular headaches and tiredness and difficulty with concentration.

Because none of the normal rules apply and 'diet plays no role' there's no guide to managing Crohn's Disease. Sure, there are books about it and there are individuals stories about their experience but at the end of the day we each have to figure out our own disease management ourselves mostly by trial an error. I learnt most of my lessons the hard way. This week I was reminded that I am not normal and my system will never be normal no matter how much I think I am in remission.

I am (mostly) ok with that.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Driving like an idiot

Last week, someone found my blog using the search term "TatteredEdges Rage" (First 4 entries in google, thank-you very much!) This blog is dedicated to you, whoever you are.

I got road raged today. I was paralel parked and about to leave. I put the indicator on and turned my steering wheel preparing to go, once the oncoming traffic provided a sufficient enough break in the flow to pull out. Enter Bogan Billy Bob, in his rusted out ute complete with bullbar, roof mounted spotlights and a Yosemite Sam gun totin' bumper sticker.

Somehow I suspect my desire to pull out is not his biggest problem.

He swings his wannabe monster truck out into the other lane, narrowly missing an oncoming car, all while staring at me, yelling something I couldn't hear but can only guess was colourfully littered with F and B words and making obscene gestures. Now bear in mind that I haven't actually moved, much less pulled out in front of him. I laughed and then realised this would probably just piss him off more so I tried to pull a straight face.

After slowing down to get a couple more hand gestures in, he planted his foot and sped off around the corner through an amber light in which pedestrians had started to cross. Clearly, it's my driving that's the problem here.

I'm not above a bit of road rage. I've been known to rant and rave within the confines of my own car. I've never tried to intimidate or physically attack someone (I'm not a nutcase). I'd even go so far as to say that ranting out loud in the aftermath of a near-miss with a fuckwit could be a good way to release pent up frustration.

So just in case you happen to be driving in my neighbourhood, here are some things you should reconsider because they really annoy the crap out of me. 

1. Slowing down to a crawl and swerving into the gutter/bike lane to go over a speed bumps. Why do people do this? The speed bump is just as high at the edge. Slowing down to a snails pace isn't going to make the bump any less bumpy. Just drive straight, stay in your lane and do 20. Your car can handle it, trust me.

2. Swinging out into the other lane before making a 90 degree turn. This is dangerous and unnecessary. Your car, even if it's a complete shit heap, can make that left hand turn without pulling into the right lane first so knock it off.

3. Not using your indicators. Seriously, am I supposed to intuitively know where you're going or why you've suddenly slowed down? Indicators aren't there for decoration and they're not optional. It's not like turning them on is a vigorous workout, you can activate the magic flashing light with just the flick of a finger. Combine this with number two and my head almost explodes!

4. Driving up my arse because you want me to go faster. Newsflash, that just makes me slow down and flashing your lights at me I interpret as "Thanks for slowing down and being awesome". If the speed limit is 50, I'm going to do 50 not 90. Remember the 'wipe off 5' and 'arrive alive' TAC campaigns? well they totally worked on me. At the very least, you should thank me for saving you demerit points.

What turns you into a raving lunatic on the roads?

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Baby Expo

I've refrained a lot from talking about my parenting choices on this blog, mostly because (and I didn't know this until after I found myself pregnant) everything, and I mean EVERYTHING baby related is controversial. It seems that there are at least two camps on every possible topic, sometimes more, and each side think the other is doing untold physical, psychological and emotional damage to their children by doing whatever it is that they're doing.

It's insane. Don't even go near the topics of formula feeding, co-sleeping, baby training or controlled crying unless you've got some kind of protective head gear. I've seen women almost come to blows over this stuff. Now, I'll admit I have some opinions about how I will raise Lil' Edges and some pretty definite ideas around things such as child restraints/extended rear facing for example but I'm not a psycho. To each, their own. I don't see the point of getting all fired up in a no-win argument since, at the end of the day, we're all just doing whatever works within our respective families. 

So why then, did I want to go to the baby expo, a gathering of single minded fanatics ready to convert or condemn everyone in their sights? I can sum it up in one word: Discounts. Massive fucking discounts. Some of these retailers offer up to 50% off their stuff. 

I went last year. I was only a few months pregnant at the time with absolutely no idea what I was doing, what I needed or even where to start. I wound up feeling so overwhelmed that at the end of that day, I didn't so much as make my way towards the exit, as hastily retreat to the safety of my car and sob uncontrollably for 15 minutes. Fun times.

This time around things are different. With a grand total of 6 months parenting experience under my belt, I knew stuff now. I decided to have another crack at it, but this time, I had a plan. I knew what I needed and what I wanted more information on. I was only going to check out those stalls, the rest I would just pass by. A simple plan really. What could possibly go wrong? Apparently not taking every flyer, brochure and free sample offered to you at these things is like showing up for dinner at your aunt's place and telling her that her food's not fit for the dog. 

A guy shoved a flyer into my hand claiming they had the safest (they weren't) and highest rated (nope) rear facing child restraints on the market. I scoffed and screwed it up. I have bored the pants of my poor partner about the inadequacies of the Australian standards and rear facing. In fact, I may or may not have been bending his ear about it on the way in to the expo this morning.  
"Do you want to go over there and have an argument with them about car seat standards?" Mr Edges teased. Er...(thinking about it) no, let's keep moving.

Another guy tried to give me a brochure on disposable nappies. I waved him away. He chased me and argued with me even after I told him I use cloth nappies. In the end he physically shoved the brochure in my hand and told me to use their online store claiming they were the cheapest. Not cheaper than Coles though.  

A woman selling a baby toy I despise approached me, I put my hand up and said no thanks. She muttered something under her breath as she walked away. Lil' Edges is 6 months old, how does she know we don't already have one? Why assume it's political? Although, I have to admit there was one stall holder who tried to give me something and "Oh fuck no." escaped from my mouth before I could even stop it. 

Some stuff was just not relevant. Pre-natal vitamins, baby swaddles and cord blood banking don't apply when your munchkin's already done a half lap around the sun and yet they still seemed offended when we walked right by. 

And then there is the absolute shit like the overpriced chocolate bar in the personalised wrapper with your baby's name and birthday on it. You either eat the chocolate and are left with something you could have printed out yourself for free or you save the chocolate bar and end up with a mouldy keepsake that gets devoured by ants. Seriously, what is the point?

but I digress... 

I have to question how useful shoving fistfuls of paper at people really is? Last year I came home with reams and reams of flyers on every piece of crap you can imagine. I tried to sift through at home but honestly most of it ended up in the bin unlooked at. One of the things I wanted more information about today, was eczema treatments. One stall just shoved an envelope of samples in my hand and moved on to the next person while another stall holder had a chat with us about Lil' Edges skin, gave me some cream to try on her arm and provided some useful tips. I ended up buying a tube of their cream while the envelope of free samples sits unopened on the table.  

At any rate, I think my baby expo days are over. Next time I want free information and a discount I'll just google it. That noise you can hear is Mr Edges jumping for joy at this news.

* I understand the images to be from this book.

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-changes (Bank fees and Bullshit Part 2)

There are times in my life when I just want to stand in the middle of a paddock and scream out at the heavens, at the top of my lungs "What the fuck?". I doubt the universe would provide any clarity, but I'm sure it'd make me feel better. I just want to close my accounts at the bank. It's not like I am a multi-millionaire with a large portfolio of debentures, term deposits and stock options. I have two accounts, one that hadn't been used in almost two months, and neither with very much money in them.

After walking out of the bank (OldBank) last Friday, I went to the bank (NewBank) with which we have our mortgage. Fired up by my experience at OldBank, the first thing I said to the accounts manager after he ushered me into the little cubicle was "I want to open an account but I'm not paying any bank fees. We have our mortgage with you so you're already getting a good 2 grand a month in interest. I think that's enough don't you?"

"Of course." The accounts manager smiled. I sat silent for a moment, he meant, of course there will be fees, right? Possibly sensing my confusion, no doubt evidenced by a stupefied look on my face, he added "There will be absolutely no fees on this account, other than the other ATM fee, I can't do anything about that one."

"Really?" I said. "I kind of expected a bit more of a fight." He laughed. "No, we value our customers. We aim to keep them happy." Then he offered to get me a cappuccino. Astounded, I took a moment, before double checking that I was actually in the right place. "This is NewBank right?" The accounts manager laughed even harder. He asked me which bank I'd been banking with and I explained to him what had just happened at OldBank. He was horrified. He said they get a lot of people who have left OldBank.

I spent the weekend feeling infuriated and annoyed. What is OldBanks problem? Dealing with them had become so hard and generally unpleasant, so much so, that I actively avoided going into the branch as much as possible. I realised that OldBank treated me like it was doing me a favour by letting me bank with them. Now that I had experienced a little of what NewBank was offering, the uncordial environment of OldBank was even more unsettling.

I wish money wasn't important and that by extension the bank you keep it in wouldn't be important either but money is important (especially if you're a fan of material things like food, clothing, shelter, m&m's), and I don't earn enough of it to be ok with a bank casually taking a good chunk of it every month all while treating me like I'm it's bitch.

I called OldBanks customer service line several times. The first person I spoke to kept repeating "You need to go into a branch", another got really fired up insisting I lodge a formal complaint, in fact he would do it for me if I didn't. Sigh.

It wasn't until today that I was able to clarify the process for closing an account via the customer service line and then actually close the account at a different branch. The experience today wasn't much better than the last, which makes me think that this style of 'customer service' is a symptom of OldBanks  general business philosophy moreso than one isolated employees mentality. I find that sad.

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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Deleted diaries and dodgy discussions

Sometime ago (possibly years, but who’s counting) I had a blog on 501 Words. I’d fallen out of the habit of writing and thought writing 501 words a day on whatever random word they threw at me might be a good way to not only get back my mojo but improve the quality and quantity of stuff I pen. The fact that my writing on here remains sporadic at best and of questionable quality would indicate just how well that worked out. Anyway, I discovered a month or so ago those 501 words blogs weren’t really working out for anyone and the owner shut it down.

Without warning.

Now, since the dawn of the interwebs, I’ve been told to be careful about what I put out there because once you put something on the internet IT’S THERE FOREVER! With this in mind, I didn’t bother to back it up or keep copies of my written pieces. There was no need.


It seems that not everything you put on the Internet is actually there forever. Pictures of the time you were caught dancing on a tabletop, drunk, with your boobs hanging out at Aunty Silvia’s 50th and ranty tweets about the dodgy real estate agent you rent through are there forever but blogs, meh, they’re not important. Deleted.

I think I’d written about 50 or so vignettes, I was able to recover about seven from Google’s cached pages. Seven. I’m pretty sure nothing I wrote over at 501 was a master… (wait, they’re gone forever so you’ll never know if they were the next War and Peace) … I’ve been robbed of a Nobel Prize.

Yeah ok, let's not get carried away. So what’s the lesson here? Back shit up? Quite possibly should be although a better question might be: What will I actually take away from this? Shit doesn't stay online forever go ahead and post whatever you want? Probably. (FYI: I wouldn't hold your breath waiting on those aforementioned pics, I don't have an Aunt Silvia).

because I just KNOW you’re desperate to read a sample of my 501 brilliance. Here’s one of the recovered pieces. The word of the day was Articulate.

06 May 2010

Recently I was witness to the most infuriating “who’s on first” type conversation between my mother and one of her nurses. My mother was admitted to hospital where she underwent an angiogram, among other tests. Following the angiogram, she had to lie still for 7 hours so the area where they cut into the artery would clot properly and heal over. If you move too soon afterwards, you run the risk of blowing the clot and bleeding out.

For whatever reason, this hadn’t been explained clearly to my mum. Unfortunately, they had allowed my mum to eat her lunch and drink a cup of tea during this 7 hour wait. She had to lie flat on her back, so how she managed to eat an entire meal and drink a hot cup of tea I’m not entirely clear on, but she did. I arrived about an hour after she’d finished her lunch, when, as you might imagine, nature was calling. My mother called a nurse so that she could… well go. The nurse smiled and nodded as my mother explained that she had to go. The nurse looked puzzled and informed her that she couldn’t go, she was staying overnight.

 “No. I need to go.” My mum said.

 “Uh-huh. You have to stay.” The Nurse replied politely.

 “I’m not talking about leaving.” My mum answered.

 “Oh good. Why do you want to go?” The nurse asked kind of puzzled.

 “Because of the tea.” My mum stated.

 “You can have tea here.” The nurse smiled.

 “I’ve had tea. That’s why I need to go.” At this point my mother was pulling the blankets off her, preparing to get up.

 “I think they bring the tea around in the evening.” The nurse said, checking her watch and then promptly pulling the blankets back up over my mum.

 “No, just before.” My mum had on her irritated voice now. As her daughter, I knew it well.

 “It’s still a little while off.” The nurse said, checking her watch again.

 “What is?” Mum had stopped struggling with the blankets.

 “Afternoon tea.” The nurse smiled triumphantly.

 “I’ve already had tea.” the words were coming out slowly and purposefully, as though she were talking to a child.

 “Ok then, so you’re all set.” If the nurse was aware of my mother’s growing irritation, she did not show it.

 “No, I need to go.” My brother arrived at some point during this exchange and he, like myself, stood by in a kind of stunned silence and mild amusement. My mother and the nurse went on like this for another 10 or so minutes, when a male nurse poked his head in, presumably to see what all the commotion was about.

 “For Christ sake, get out of the bloody way.” My mum said through clenched teeth. “I need to go now”

 “Oh no, ma’am” he said with great concern. “You can’t leave.” He nodded in agreement with the first nurse. It was at this point I realised that if I didn’t intervene they might actually come to blows. I was able to resolve the whole misunderstanding by saying she needs to go to the toilet. If only Abbot had just said “The guys name is Who.”


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