Thursday, October 6, 2016

Heading Back to Paris...and The Hague

Hello All (if there are any "All" left!),

I just re-read my last post and have only one thing to add: My cough is now back full force and when I make the mistake of forgetting one of my pills (I take four per day), there's (hack, hack) hell to pay.

I've just had a broncoscopy and, although I don't think there's anything signficantly wrong with my lungs--otherwise I would have seen the doctor as soon as I came out of the anesthetic haze--something has to be done. I'm personally all for going back on the prednisone, but this time for a few months, while weaning myself off the gabapentin. I'm seeing my doctor in less than two weeks and we'll see.

In the meantime, the big news is that I'm once again Paris bound.

A friend of mine in Paris, who is a member of the same professional association that I belong to, told me that our association will be holding a seminar in The Hague this November. The topic fascinating: international humanitarian law. Taking a professional development course is tax deductible, so what better way to go back to Europe! My stay in Paris is entirely on my own dime, but it will be wonderful and well worth it. I'm planning to go to a few movies that I wouldn't be able to see here in Canada, walk around the city I adore, see some friends and just enjoy being in Paris.

I won't be staying at the same apartment I stayed in last time for several reasons. In fact, I'll be staying in a completely different neighbourhood: the 5th arrondissement. I stayed in the 5th the first time I went to Paris in 1977 (so long ago!), so it will really be a new experience for me. I got extremely attached to the 11th, and once attached, I'm loathe to change, but I think this will be good for me.

Stayed tuned for pictures!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hello Again and...What's a Blog For If Not to Complain?

My, my. It's been a long, long time since I've posted. I have written countless posts in my mind since the last one, but none of them have actually been written down and posted. So here goes.

Just in case any of my old readers are still around and wondering how my trip to Europe went last year, the short answer is: fantastic. One month in Paris was definitely not enough. If I had my druthers and at least 10 million dollars, so I could buy an apartment in Paris larger than a shoe box, not have to worry about finding work for myself and my hubby, and also have money to pay for healthcare costs that would inevitably occur since I'm no spring chicken anymore, I would move to Paris in a heartbeat. It is the most beautiful place in the world--for me, not anyone else. I'm not trying to force it down anyone's throat. It's just the place I wish I could live permanently. And I love being able to live in French. It's a hard place to live for a young person, just starting out. That's why I say that if I had the sous (the old French equivalent of pennies--now it's actually Euro cents) to live there without financial worry, I would do so in a heartbeat.

Here's a picture of the entrance to our apartment building. This was the view of the private walkway, leading to the street. It was taken from the doorway to our building. BTW, the place we lived in was tiny. A bit too tiny for my tastes, at least on a long-term basis, and I don't need 2,000 sq. feet to stretch my legs out. Six-hundred would do just fine. We were living in a one-bedroom apartment that measured about 340 sq. feet!

We both had an extraordinary time. Maybe one day, I'll get around to really talking about it. There are so many things to say, even if it's now over a year ago since we were there.

But now, it's time to whine:

I started this blog as a weight loss blog. It has since morphed into a blog to reflect on weight and on health at every size (HAES). Trying to accept myself at the weight I am has been an effort, but not totally impossible until recently. So what has changed?

For the past 12 years or so, I have had a chronic cough. It started with a cold that went away in a short time. But the cough never left. I have gone all the traditional and non-traditional routes to eliminating this cough. My doctors have ruled out allergies, asthma and GERD--the traditional reasons for a cough. I have gone for acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, and probably a bunch of other things I can't remember at this point. My body just forgot how to live without coughing. My throat is extremely sensitive and it is very easy for things to "go down the wrong way," provoking coughing fits that make me sound like I'm about to choke to death, although I'm perfectly fine, aside from the thumping heart beat and sore thorax.

My most recent ENT finally gave up and said that he was going to get me in to see the "cough guru": the doctor of last resort. The cough guru wasn't accepting any more patients but my ENT pulled some strings and I got to see him. He was a small, elderly gentleman with a caustic sense of humour who started me off on the medication that I should have received 11 years ago: prednisone, a very strong, very dangerous drug that is usually only used for short periods of time. A friend of mine went on prednisone for a cough such as mine (though she had only had it for a few months at the time) and it stopped it in its tracks. Prednisone is known for weight gain, but I was only on it for about a month. Yes, I gained a bit of weight but the cough was reduced by 90%. Thing was, I couldn't stay on it forever and the cough came back. So then the cough guru put me on another drug, gabapentin, which is normally used for epilepsy. I don't have epilepsy, but gabapentin has been shown to work well "off label" for coughs. I started taking it, upping the dose every week until things seemed to stabilize. My dosage is not high at all, as compared to what is required for epileptics, but it's high enough to have provoked significant weight gain. And, after several months, the effects on my cough are wearing off. To top it off, the cough guru just retired. I will be seeing his replacement in August.

Rock, meet hard place.

Let me backtrack a bit: After my knee surgery two years ago, I lost some weight. It was not surprising since I quite literally lost most of my normal appetite. It was hard for me to eat more than a small bowl of yoghurt in the morning and my husband had to prod me to eat a tomato sandwich at 3 p.m. Once my appetite returned to normal, my weight returned to what it had been before the surgery. My new normal was maybe about 1-2 pounds above before-surgery levels. Not great but livable. Since going on the gabapentin, though, I'm now almost ten pounds more than I was when I came home from Europe. And that's taking into account that my wine consumption has plummeted. (Hey, how can you live in France without a glass on wine a day? I've never been a big drinker.) And although I'm not walking an average of 10 kms a day as I was in Europe (my best day was 15 kms), I usually walk at least 5 kms a day, and up to 10 kms/day on the weekend.

The long and the short of it is that I keep active and have not changed my eating habits. I've just gained weight. The only change in my life: gabapentin. I refuse to up my dose, although I think the cough suppressant function is going down. I wonder whether the weight gain is going to continue. Being as short as I am (at this point 4'8"--age is against me on this too), 10 pounds is like 25 on an average sized person.

This blog is the only place where I feel comfortable talking about this. Thanks for listening. Maybe my next post will concentrate more on the wonders of Paris...