Tuesday, 13 April 2010

If I get knocked down...

...I just get back up again.

I have had a couple of occasions in recent months where I have felt a bit misunderstood. Or perhaps it is more that I have spotted, despite my best efforts to prevent it, that a conversation is spiralling out of control in a negative direction.

The first time it happened was during the Winter Olympics - I was pulled over by local law enforcement after leaving Iona Beach (the public park where I was taking my landscape photographs). Nothing disastrous happened and I did not get a ticket. However, when I spoke to the officer who pulled me over - I just felt like I was trying to communicate with someone in a foreign language. Even though we were both native English speakers. It was a really peculiar experience that left me feeling really uncomfortable. As a result, I am not in any special hurry to encounter another officer from that particular organisation again.

The second time that it happened was during a hospital appointment just over a week ago. I knew in advance that the hospital was going to confirm that I have thyroiditis because I'd been given the tip off by my family doctor. Naturally enough, I had poked around on the internet, spoke to one of my sisters to compare notes (she is being treated for the same thing) and felt quite relieved as thyroiditis would help to explain a number of different symptoms that I have been experiencing over the past year or so.

As my hospital appointment was with a surgeon (long, boring, unnecessary story), I assumed that they would tell me that I was no longer a surgical case, confirm my diagnosis and refer me onto an Endocrinologist for advice and monitoring or treatment.

Not so - it seems that while I do have thyroiditis and I will need treatment in the future, I do not need treatment yet. Apparently, it could be another 6-8 months before I will need treatment. Now, please don't get me wrong, this is excellent news - after all, who wants to be on medication?

However, if I am not to receive treatment yet and I believe that I have been experiencing symptoms consistent with thyroiditis for some time, what do I do to manage them? Will my symptoms stay as they are or will they get worse as my thyroid packs up? How do I go about being monitored, so that I receive treatment when I need it?

When I asked these questions, my consultation started to come off the rails a bit.

I was told to monitor via my family doctor - ok. I received some advice to diet and exercise - Atkins or Weight Watchers and Curves as 'group activities tend to increase the chances of success'.

Although obvious, the advice presumes that I have not been trying to manage my weight. While the lack of exercise is a fair cop, I started to take steps to curb my weight gain before last summer (under strict instructions from my husband not to crash diet or starve myself). There is the occasional slip but we have cut right back on carbs, fats, sugars, dairy and reduced portion sizes. We even banished alcohol to the weekends (only) after Christmas.

To my chagrin (and creating no small amount of panic in my head), my weight has simply continued to increase. In fact, I have gained about 48lbs since I came to Canada. I tried to explain this but it was as though an invisible, inpenetrable 'fat barrier' had sprung up between me and the surgeon in the consultation room - I got that look that suggested that if I had been trying for so hard and for so long? Then why was I sitting there bulging out of my oversized jeans?

After that, things took a further, strange turn for the worse. Contrary to what I had read and heard, the surgeon asserted that some of my symptoms were not indicative of a thyroid problem but instead, were indicative of depression and tried to give me a prescription for anti-depressants.

Frankly, I was a bit gob smacked - I rejected their assertion that I am depressed and I refused the prescription. I pointed out that there is absolutely no history of depression in my medical history.

Yes, I might be fed up about being so tired and forgetful. I might be concerned about my weight gain. I might be missing the UK (friends and family). I might not find life particularly fufilling without a job. I might not enjoy the endless grey and rain (Autumn - Spring). I might not be enjoying the experience of living in Canada 100% but to the point where I am actually, truly depressed about it?

No, I do not think so. There are lots of things here that buoy me up when these other things start to get me down. Amongst them - the Fella, my stepson, photography, the sporadic textile things that I do and the friends that I am starting to make here.

So, things here have been interesting. I sort of felt that I got knocked over by my hospital appointment and I have spent the last week starting to dust myself off and get back up again.

I went to see my family doctor yesterday to find out what monitoring might involve. I outlined what happened at the hospital and I have been referred to an Endocrinologist. At the very least, I hope to understand more about what is happening to me and obtain some answers to my questions. The extremely good news is that there was no mention of depression in the report that my family doctor received back from the hospital. So, if nothing else, the surgeon listened to me on that point.

I am not going to hang my hat entirely on the referral though.

The lack of exercise is a fair point. So I am now walking 2-4km per day and I am waiting for a call back from a fitness trainer to confirm when they can fit me into their schedule at the local community centre (now confirmed for next Monday). As I have a medical condition that is very likely to be slowing down my metabolic rate, then I guess that exercise has to be an important part of trying to keep it going. I am hoping that the discipline of having a trainer for a while will help me get back into the exercise habit. I am also hoping that it will help me slow the scales down.

I am in the process of reviewing meal plans with the Fella to see if we can manage to go completely gluten and dairy free on top of the changes that we have already made. From what I have read and heard, this can help combat fatigue and tiredness. So, if anyone has any good information resources on this topic and/or any gluten-dairy free recipes that won't make the Fella feel that his culinary life has ended, then please let me know!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

This is what it looks like...

...when someone tries to steal your car from outside your house during the night.




It's not very impressive looking, but then, it is not a very impressive or interesting crime. My car was parked about 12 metres from our bedroom, we did not hear a sound and the car alarm did not go off. I found the damage when I popped outside to grab my raincoat from the car's boot the next morning. I found the car unlocked, with the above damage and all its windows stuck partially open. I assume that the car was saved by its immobiliser or its electronic coded key system. We duly reported the incident to the police over the phone and our insurers towed the car away last night to be fixed.

While we were putting polythene over the open car windows, a police woman happened to pass by (canvassing the neighbourhood about an unrelated incident) and stopped to speak to us,

'Yeah', she said, 'my car has been broken into 3 times so far - once while it was parked in the car park at the police station. I have stopped changing the car door lock because it has cost me over $1000 in repairs so far. If I decide to sell the car, I'll deal with the lock.

I see that all of your windows are stuck part-way down. They take advantage of a programmed feature on this make of car that means that when they punch out the door lock, it causes the windows to go down and the alarm (or its motion sensor?) to become disabled. Then it's low risk for them to get into the car and try to drive it away...

...at least it didn't rain too much last night.

These people don't usually have cars of their own. It the Easter weekend and lots of people are away. They probably intended to take your car, use it for a couple of days to commit crime - like some break-ins nearby or something - and then dump it.

I would recommend a wheel lock as a visual deterrent and possibly an after-market alarm with a different coloured light to the factory fitted alarm - just something to make them hesitate and move on without damaging your car.'

This matter-of-fact information imparted, she said goodbye and continued on her way.

Inside my head, the good news - to me - was that the thief only seemed to be interested in the car (and a pair of sunglasses that I had left inside the arm rest). Nothing else was taken (although the glove box was rifled through) and the economy of effort/damage needed to get into the car and try to start it was quite impressive. Naively, I assumed this was because they wanted the car intact to sell on or strip down.

As I watched the police officer walk away, I realised that she was probably right. Their only interest in having my car in one piece was probably just so that it remained unremarkable and retained its ability to blend in. Oh, I guess that its decent load capacity and engine size probably made it attractive too.

For some reason, this made me realise how fond I have become of my faceless, comfortable, capacious car and how lucky I was that they did not manage to steal it. I am also happy that something of mine was not used in any sort of crime and then dumped. Or worse.

Apart from the obvious damage, which will be fixed, the only other indicator that some nasty, grimy stranger sat in my car and tried to steal it..?

Lots of cigarette ash scattered around the front seat areas, like this bit left on the passenger seat. I do not smoke. For some reason, this upsets me more than the door lock and ignition damage.


When the car comes back from the garage, perhaps I should install two signs on it, 'Don't bother - this car is fitted with a very effective immobiliser.' and 'Please refrain from smoking when attempting to steal this vehicle.'