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Friday, January 27, 2017

The Legend of the Ecuadorian Head Cold

I confess, right off, that there really isn't any such legend. Generally speaking, a cold is a cold is a cold, but every once in a while I come down with what I've deemed "the Ecuadorian Cold". 
Everyone understand this concept

True: suffering from this sciatic-like problem and having a cold at the same time is pretty sucky, but while the Ecuadorian cold takes longer to get rid of, it's a kinder, gentler cold, in its own way. So, what's the difference you say?

Think about your last head cold: the stuffy head, the cough, perhaps the chills and, of course, the sore throat...all at the same time. Nasty. In contrast, the "Ecuadorian" cold comes in stages. Mine started with a sore throat and chills. I felt terrible for a day and then the chills went away and I was just nagged by the sore throat. A week later, my nose  slowly started to fill up, not in an aggressive head pounding way, but in an endless drip that might drive me around the bend. And now, I'm at that icky gummy point that makes it hard to breath through mouth or nose, but this too will pass.

I don't know how long this cold is going to hang in. It's my great wish that it and the sciatica go in short order. As to the later, every week is a little better and for the former, it can make itself scarce immediately.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Lost Season - When Help Isn't Helping

Sunrise in PEI - The beginning of something new
It was a pretty sucky holiday season. Because of my hip and leg, we really didn't get to enjoy any of the usual treats this holiday. No parade, no checking out the monigotes (we'd call them effigies) and the large community installations that they burn with such joie de vivre here. It was pretty bleak, even though we've tried to make the best of it. It feels like we missed the whole thing. I did make shortbread and caramels, but that does not a Christmas make.

This whole sciatica thing has been a long, painful, but educational process. I'm gobsmacked by how long I've been suffering. Granted, I'm partially to blame, as I ignored some of the warning signs for longer than I should have. All that being said, I've come to a crossroads.

After eleven sessions of physiotherapy I was only marginally better, but, by no means, was the progress satisfactory. Because I was suffering so terribly after treatments they called in the big guns and had the owner of the rehabilitation centre evaluate me. So what was his conclusion? The muscles and/or tendons are so horribly inflamed that they are impinging on my nerve and the treatment and all exercise was only making it worse. He decreed that I need to rest for 15 days, meaning limited activity and lots of least as much is comfortable. He's not certain that it's my sciatic nerve that's impinged, but another nearby nerve that mimics sciatic symptoms. Good times.

In summation, what I'd been doing to make myself better was making me worse. Sigh. So here's to hoping that rest will do the trick, even though I did rest for three days in the infancy of my little problem.

Being in pain has given me new insight. The effect is devastating. Not only do you hurt on levels that cannot be understood by those who haven't experienced it, but it's depressing. The thought of being comfortable again is so far distant from reality that it seems like a childhood dream that you can no longer remember in detail. It is soul crushing and spirit killing. There is no room for anything else but the pain and you live in that darkness without hope.

The slightest twinge sends me into a panic, wondering if a full blow episode of agony is coming on. It makes me fearful to even move, lest what little comfort I've found gives way to another bout of throbbing, shocking waves of pain. Even though I know, for a fact, that I'm not suffering as I did in the beginning, it doesn't seem to make any difference; that there is pain, even reduced, is enough to set me to tears and despair.

All that and yet, here I am hoping, once again, that relief might be in sight. I send out huge respect to those of you who are living with chronic pain. I don't know if those around you can even understand the challenges of  your day to day life, but bless you for your courage in going on. I don't know if I'm made of strong enough stuff.

The lesson, for me, in all of this? If your body is telling you that there's something else wrong - something beyond what the doctor has found - listen! Had I been more insistent originally, I might already be out of the woods. I know the road to recovery will be longer than I would like, but at least there is hope.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Zika - the Godzilla that Attacked Tourism

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of all the fear mongering going on out there, and there's a lot of it. Between Daesh (ISIS), the "criminality" of Latinos, the Canadian axis of evil (yeah, that's an actual thing), Russian hackers, coed bathrooms and fake food, one can hardly take a breath anymore.

The Olympics in Rio was another theatre for consternation. Who wouldn't come because of fears of Zika? I can think of about a dozen reasons not to have gone, outside of the latest illness outbreak, but what do I know? Oh, yeah, right. I'm in a "Zika" country. And now there was an article on one of the news channels about where to go to avoid Zika. I know that health is important, but I really feel like we're always being led down this path of paranoia; that the media is making mountains out of mole hills, so to speak.

All of Ecuador has been black balled because of some cases on the coast. It doesn't matter that, where I live, high in the Andes, that mosquitoes aren't actually a problem. We don't have malaria, yellow fever or Zika - it's pretty safe to visit, if those are your concerns. Now, if I was an Olympian, I'd have been more worried about the sewage floating around in the ocean and rivers, about the pollution in the city, the dodgy drinking water and the pesky problem of an impoverished country pouring in billions of dollars when it's population is gripped with unrelenting poverty, or its environment being ravished for natural resources, which poisons the water further and adds to climate change. (You know, that thing that doesn't exist.)

El Cajas, Cuenca Ecuador
Don't get me wrong, the affects of Zika can be daunting, especially for those that are pregnant of with weakened immune systems. But, truly, this is a common sense issue. If you're pregnant or wanting to be pregnant - avoid areas with Zika. If you have a weak immune system - avoid areas with Zika, but if you're healthy adult, you'll most likely be okay. Use bug repellent and cover up at high risk times.Think about all the virus outbreaks that have caused panic around the world: SARS, avian flu, Spanish flu etc. What have you heard of them lately? Not much. Malaria has been around forever and people still travel to places that are hot spots, even though there still isn't a cure for it.
English Bay, Vancouver, Canada - No Zika there
I guess I'm biased. The South American countries that are affected rely heavily on tourism. They can little afford to have that stream of income cut off because of mostly unwarranted fear. I concede that nothing is more important than your health. (Trust me, I'm learning a valuable lesson about that as I type!). Yet, there are things that are worth a very educated risk So do your homework...I'm not a doctor, but Zika isn't high on my worry list, to be sure and then get out there and see this amazing continent!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Manufacturing Icons - Tapping into Pop Culture

So, I was watching a documentary on "The Jam", a Mod band from the UK. I'm told that a lot of United Statesers aren't familiar with them, which is a bit sad, but I remember the Jam being the forefathers and lingering part of the alt-rock movement that I thrived on in the 80's. They are practically a religion in the UK, because they bridged the gap between punk and "progressive" rock that came before them.
The Jam
There was a lot of talk about the punk movement including "the Clash", whom I love and "the Sex Pistols", for whom I don't have a passion for, but appreciate what they were rebelling against. This led to a conversation about how the Sex Pistols really had no talent and that was their hook. My husband talked about how their producer didn't care that they didn't have any real musical background and all they really made was noise...angry noise. They were amongst the group of commercially designed bands. (Okay, I know some people don't see it that way, but how else can you explain the popularity of...let's say...such a "raw" style?) That they didn't know what the hell they were doing, nor did it matter, was what sold them. They spoke to a generation of disenfranchised, violent, misunderstood youth. 
The Clash
This thought brought me to the thought that the Sex Pistols were the Spice Girls of their time and the juxtaposition made me laugh. That something so raw and angst ridden could be compared to the manipulated, smooth, perky sounds of what I'd always considered "sugar pop" of a generation of kids I didn't understand...yup, I was already "old" when the Girls came around.
The Sex Pistols weren't the first "corporate" designed band, or, maybe more fairly they got caught up in the machinery that they railed against. That might be why they didn't really last all that long (or perhaps it was the heroin). On the other hand, the Jam had a solid music background and the trio had some serious skills. (Don't get me wrong..."God Save the Queen" is iconic, to be sure!)`
The Sex Pistols...yup, real blood.
So, if you have a chance, check out some of the Jam's music (you might recognize the song "A Town Called Malice") and try to get your head around the idea of the one degree of separation between the (notorious) Sex Pistols and the Spice Girls.