July 2011 archive

Last Visits!

miles of bougainvillea along the main road
highway by the beach

Today was very busy! We drove into Newport Beach to have my dressing changed, which didn’t go to badly. It feels nice afterwards to have a clean dressing, although it stings while it’s being vigorously cleaned with alcohol. Yesterday the lovely Nurse Francis put the line in in one of the consult rooms…just her by herself in about 15 minutes. Then I was whisked off downstairs to make sure that the line was put in the right place (in my chest), which is was, and then I was free to go! That’s the way it should be done! It really is just a glorified IV line, so having lots of people there while it’s put in now seems silly. I’m glad she is so good at her job! My arm is very grateful!

Just saying, my new purple nail polish from WF’s look awesome with the PICC line cover! Now that is coordinated, don’t you think? 

Later this afternoon, Roy came down by train from LA, and we headed to the beach! There were clouds in the sky…probably a first since we’ve been here. It helps to cut some of the glare though, which is nice. My arm was only hurting a very little bit, probably thanks to the strong pain meds I was already on (fentanyl patch). I could enjoy myself on the beach without having to act like I was fine. I feel so strong and have so much energy after the Liberation therapy. Maybe it helps that I am in such a beautiful place…no gray days to bring down my mood 🙂

amigo!

ciao!

We’re leaving in a few days to go home, so I’m so happy to have got to see Roy before then! It is so complicated for him to travel up here, and who knows when that will happen! We went out for Italian food which was super tasty (just my luck they had one GF vegan dish in the whole place…and it was delicious!). All in all, it turned out to be a much better afternoon than morning, obviously.

As excited as I am to be going home in a few days, I will miss the sand between my toes, and seeing friends. Who knows…there just might be a heatwave in Victoria to welcome us home!

Beach Chic ;)

knitting socks at the beach yesterday

At the beach for as long as possible these past few days.The umbrella makes it so Nancy and Mum can sit in the shade while I can bask in the rays (with sunscreen of course! I’m not trying to ask for skin Cancer here!). My arm is healing nicely. Already that 5-day-PICC-line is already a very tiny hole in my arm, which is just fine by me.

just another tourist on a near-empty beach

Walk Long Road

tide rolling on the rocks @ Doheny Beach

We moved a few days ago into another condo in the complex where we were first staying, and this time much closer to the water. I can actually see the ocean! It’s very peaceful.

Brilliantly sunny and warm, blue sky overhead at the beach today. The sun and the water met almost seamlessly at the horizon. It’s very nice not to have my the PICC line in for tanning reasons :P. No more funny lines from the armbands or dressings. I could seriously get used to living here, and coming to the beach every day. I suppose it wasn’t all a bad thing that we have to stay 4 times longer than we intended. It’s like a vacation.

sunning in comfort
I walked from the edge of the picture to the lifeguard post
I feel pretty good today. And strong…being able to feel my legs makes it so much easier to walk, because I know what they are doing! I walked out very far on the beach, in search of the perfect patch of sand to plop down on. My secret goal was the waterline, but I couldn’t make it that far. What I wouldn’t give to put my toes in the water and splash around! Mum and Nancy both say the water is warm, enjoyable, and not too seaweed-y. I am doubtful that I would classify the water as warm, but this is a lot further south than the beaches I remember from living in San Francisco. Who knows! And I guess I won’t be finding out anytime soon. Sigh. I wanted to so badly.

healthy pink toes!

Rolling on the Edge


whale swimming in concrete

In a seaside town, you are never too far from a dreamy vista. Tranquility is a short walk away. The coastline of the Laguna beach area is dotted with rocks, which appear small and insignificant, perched as we were on the top of the cliff. The sky was a perfect baby blue, with low white cloud cover hovering near the horizon. Perhaps it is raining far out to sea? The path we chose was relatively flat and well-paved, a smooth ride.

“between the devil and the deep blue sea”

The waves roll to the beach in gentle swells, leaving a peaceful cove for the paddle borders to drift. The warmth increases an overwhelming feeling of vacation laziness exponentially.

brilliant status flowers compliment the sea tones

I could seriously get used to all this warmth and overdosing of vitamin D. No wonder the government made the (misguided) decision to put vitamin D in our milk! Coming from the cloudy summer days of Victoria to this weather, I can see that we were seriously lacking the power of the sun up north!

seashore gals!

We haven’t been doing very many touristy things beyond visiting the various beaches, and Whole Foods. I was shocked to see their abundant vegan ice cream section. It wasn’t a dark corner with a few small pints. This was 3 full shelves of flavors and styles I hadn’t even heard of or dreamed of. My immediate reaction was one of surprise and excitement, but after looking a little while longer, it seemed extremely obscene. Do we really need this much selection, that much choice? I miss Planet Organic, where you can hear people talking at the bath and body section in the bulk foods area (or in other words, across the store). Bigger isn’t better, I guess is what I’m thinking.

I miss home very much now. Although the air by the water smells fresh, I know its polluted, and I have to wash off the dirt of city-life each night. 

terraced cliff leading to the beach

Native Foods, a Natural 1st Pick

We had to leave our condo for a few days, as it is not available for a few days. In the intervening time, we went inland to a comfortable hotel. Its hotter and dryer the further you get from the ocean, but this location has other benefits.

Of course, when I e-serached out vegan restaurants in the area, I just about lept from my chair when I saw all the incredible options. There are VEGAN chain restaurants!! Many of them. And other independent bakery, restaurants and cafes, all with the “soul” purpose of being cruelty-free, earth-friendly and delicious. This is heaven. And its proper title is “Native Foods”.

Eager Beavers
thinking…

“Native Foods” is an all vegan, organic restaurant, serving a wide range of sumptuous eats for over 17 years. I have used some of the recipes by the original owner and founder, Tanya Petrovna. I was intrigued by the wide demographic of people eating at “Native Foods”. Forget the stereotype that all vegans are dirty hippies and social misfits. There is no profile for a vegan or vegetarian. Its very telling that a recent study found 3.2% of all adult Americans to be vegetarians, about 7.3 million people, of whom a million are vegans. These figures have nothing on Indian, where 40% of the population are vegetarian. How cool is that?

I was so excited to visit a place where I could eat EVERYTHING on the menu, and without needing to ask 20 questions about the ingredients, its preparations etc. Check out their menu here! It was so impossible to decide what sounded best. But I felt pretty sure I was in a mood for one of their legendary burgers. I have never eaten a conventional Oklahoma bacon cheeseburger, and as this combined so many things I do not eat/have food sensitivities to, I opted for this mother-of-all-burgers. They make their own fake ‘meats’ and some of their cheezes, all the sauces and toppings are house-made too.

for real.

My reaction? NOMNOMNOMYUMMYYYY! It was so tasty!!!!!!!! Out of the world. The “bacon” tasted just like the real thing, and the cheeze was stringy (Daiya) and the vegies crisp and fresh. It was to die for, ironically enough. My aunt, mum and I all shared an ‘Aztec’ salad, which was so beautiful I didn’t want to dig in (almost). 
festival in a bowl
Another exciting bonus of an all vegan restaurant was that I could have a little taste of everyone meal. Mum and I ended up swapping burgers, half and half. Mum ordered the ‘scorpion’ burger, which was a blackened tempeh burger with chipolte sauce. WOW.
sumptuous
Nancy tried their Very Voluptuous Veggie Pizza which is topped with “Creamy pesto, grilled veggies and kale, roasted pumpkin seeds with a balsamic drizzle.” Their house-made Parmesan was dreamy.
perfection on a plate
All in all it was the best meal I have ever had at a restaurant, vegan or otherwise!! What a blissful evening. The burger was so filling that I actually couldn’t finish it. I am not used to eating foods that are so jam-packed with protein (ie: really filling). Heaven between a fluffy bun. If you are ever in the Southern California or Chicago area, this is a MUST stop. It was rated the best veg burger in the area. If you have ever wanted to try something vegetarian, but were worried about how delicious something made from plants could be (do you call vegetables ‘rabbit food?’)…well then this place is for you!
The peanut butter parfait we had for dessert was finished off so quickly that I didn’t take a picture. But rest assured it was beautiful and amazing! I have never had a parfait, so how cool was it that my first parfait was vegan?
I forgot all about my PICC-line-less arm, which is just feeling a bit abused.
It was a perfect evening.

Record Line

absorbing rays

Although my arm has still been giving us some trouble, we have been to the beach almost every day.  Doheny Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to. Sand oozes serenity. I am starting to get a tan (but its mostly on my right arm, because of the direction of the sun while I’m sitting facing the waves). There is a real community feel by the seaside. Can you imagine how wonderful it would be growing up in a place where the beach was your playground? Oh wait, I kind of did. But the beach in Alameda wasn’t nearly as clean, the water scummy. There is very little seaweed on these beaches, which is nice for the abundant swimmers. In a rhythm as predictable as the waves, children and adults alike scream as the waves crash over them lightly, not strong enough to sweep anyone out. The sea is a puppy, playfully biting at the heels of laughing people.

castles abandoned to the siege of the tide

I want to be out there, splashing in the waves, but its just out of reach. It’s too far for me to walk, especially because the sand hampers my movements. Many beaches have beach-wheelchairs, but this one isn’t one of them. 

strollers, with surfing paraphernalia

People walk around town shirtless and shoeless, and its clear from everyones lack of reaction that its no big deal. People who have clearly just come up from the beach, like girls in sandy skimpy bikini explore the shops casually.

Surfing made its debut on these shores. On this very beach, actually. Building a breakwater and a harbour put an end to these activities, but further up the coast, people still surf on gentle waves. Nothing hard-core or too dangerous, although I can see plenty of rocks just below the surface. It looks like there might be a reef out there, a little ways out, where the water changes abruptly from a bottle green to deep blue.

 My legs are getting stronger, on the plus side. The Liberation treatment (CCSVI) has returned feeling to my legs, something I didn’t realize I was lacking. The problem with my PICC line leaking all sorts of fluid (leading to frequent dressing changes, which means its exposed to more germs, which could lead to infection) is caused from having both the CCSVI procedure and the PICC line put in through the same hole. You need a larger hole to do the angioplasty needed for the Liberation treatment. The doctors were nicely trying to save me another incision – the procedure is usually done through an incision in the groin. Another complicating factor is that I have to be on 2 weeks of blood thinners, to prevent my recently unblocked veins from become blocked again. The PICC line has to come out…shortest time for having an IV device ever; 1 week. Lame! At least when I get another one put in, I can have it put in my Left arm. We have to stay longer, to wait until I am off blood thinners so I can have the line put in without it having complications. So our stay in paradise has been extended.

It could be worse: we are near the beach!

Infinity out to Sea

picking between better and be

A few nights ago we happened upon the best little taqueira in Laguna beach, possibly that I’ve ever eaten. I had a salad last time, which was amazing, but didn’t quite showcase ‘Taco Loco’s’ specialties as much as…well…their tacos. It was a vegan paradise, with blackened tofu, potato, or mushroom, and phish tacos. Don’t worry, I plan on trying them all, and I made a decent effort of it today. Fresh, chunky guacamole and salsa, blue-corn tacos. It was pure bliss. The best taco I have ever had. No question.

After that deliciousness, nothing could be better than eating Taco Loco’s vegan desserts (oh you heard me) at the beach. Chocolate chip cookies and hemp brownies. They were okay, but the fact that they made the effort to serve all vegan desserts is pretty rad.

Mother nature planned an even more awesome finale to the day; the sunset. Have you ever seen an ugly sunset? Each sunset reminds me of the importance of nature, and that every and any sacrifice is worth it to protect it. I miss all of the forests of home, the lush greens, the crystal clear skies and waters. When the half-light glances off of a bare California Coastal beach, you can almost forget that this state has way more licensed drivers than the population of Canada. Or that the orange glow of the dying sun is masking the smudge of taupe pollution just at the edge of the cloud cover. Gone are the 16 lane freeways and cities of strip-malls. Nature isn’t fighting for its place in the concrete desert. All that exists is the coastline, and you when you look straight out to sea, you can’t see a damn thing. It’s beautiful. With this view as my inspiration, I feel as though I can reconstruct in my mind this continent, 350 years ago.

Combining my love of the dreamy music of Satie and the enchanted sunset, I put together this little slideshow, complete with authentic movies of a wave on a beach in California!

Clean, Cleaner, Cleanest


clean-up

Finally my dressing was cleaned up yesterday. Its so nice to not have to feel faint and nausea every time I look at my left arm. The lovely office manager used to be a PICC line nurse, so she has been wonderful. A record fast dressing change this afternoon.

Its not that long of a drive to the office in New Port Beach. The traffic isn’t even that bad. The view is beautiful…the highway follows the coast all the way, so the views are spectacular. Ever few miles, we seem to hit a town center, but the rest is houses, tucked into planted lush oasis’. Elaborate sprinkler systems snake through tangles of exotic plants, bringing a welcome drink to the thirsty foreigners. I’m sure the local fancy cacti snub such plants, looking down on the vegetation that can’t survive without water from their masters, the gardeners.

freeway-side beaches

Waiting in many doctors offices in states and provinces is the perfect opportunity to strike up a conversation with other patients who understand what you are going through. In the earlier days, we had many questions for the veterans of Chronic Lyme, trying to use as much of the hard-earned information as we can. I kind of consider myself a Lyme-life warrior, not yet home from the war, but battle-fatigued, in a Babesia-induced sweat, ready to bare my teeth again at the sign of another Herx, or some other fresh terror Lyme is ready to offer. I met a lovely young woman in the Synergy Health waiting room. She was from Windsor, Ontario, of all places, suffering from what was diagnosed as MS. Aiisha is her mid-twenties. We struck up a conversation, and instantly connected because I had had the CCSVI (and she was hoping to have it), we were both young and in a wheelchairs. Her speech and movement was shaky, and reminded my mum of how I sounded at my worst. After meeting so many people sick with Lyme disease, it becomes easier to spot people who could have Lyme disease. The way someone holds themselves, the lines in their face, tensions in their hands, a haggard look in their eyes, their story that begins with confusion and a long illness and many doctors visits until the MD’s pull a diagnosis out of the pocket of their white coats. I hope this procedure (CCSVI) helps her. Hopefully they can look into whether she has Lyme disease. Wouldn’t it be nice to have something treatable like Lyme, versus MS?

Shortly after leaving the doctors office, I noticed my arm was wet. There was yellowish fluid leaking out of the dressing (presumably from the site). It even got all over my new knitted armband!! If there could be anything worse than blood, it would be icky fluid (hmm…perhaps this is a close second). We tried calling the office, but, just as our luck would have it, they had just closed. After some debating, we went to the ER at a nearby hospital, where we waited for a long while, before getting a call from the clinic’s office, advising us to go home. I wasn’t looking forward to having a very expensive ER visit for a problem that could probably be fixed at the doctors office.

The dressing was just disgusting by this afternoon, but I wasn’t terribly worried. I mean, it was all covered up with a foamy wrap, putting pressure on the site. So I couldn’t see it, which to my very irrational brain meant everything was fine, fine enough to go to a used store in Laguna Beach and browse the racks. ‘Looking gross’ isn’t really a medical problem, and besides, I figured shopping would be a welcome distraction. I was just trying on some clothes when I became aware of the wetness of my arm. It was a very unnatural feeling, and when I removed my armband, I realized with a trill of terror that my arm was covered in blood. WHY does this sort of thing happen to me? It was all I could do not to scream right there in the crowded store. Paper-towels, rolling to the car, pressure on the site. It is difficult to breath or think when there is blood anywhere near me, least of all coming out of me, smelling of dirty pennies and heat.

We went back to the ER (did they miss me? clearly I was missing their company 😛 ) and had a doctor check out my arm. It is easier for me to remain rational in such a clean space as a hospital, surrounded by cleaning supplies, a pleasant distraction from the mess. It was strange, but the site of the incision, where I had the CCSVI procedure and then the PICC line inserted, was clean, and the blood was down my arm, caught in the gauze ring of my dressing. It was as though it leaked from no where. This is preposterous, but still, we couldn’t figure it out. So now I have a moderately sterile dressing on my arm, awaiting another dressing change tomorrow. Missing the beach right now.

All that the tide brings…


PINK!

Last night, instead of going to bed with cold-to-the-touch-numb-to-me feet, they were a shockingly normal color. We have taken pictures of my feet when they are a purple-bluish or red color, which usually doesn’t show up in a photo well. My feet started turning strange colors when I first became ill with bronchitis/pneumonia in 2008, at the very beginning of my serious Lyme illness. There was some talk about Renaud’s syndrome, but my feet weren’t turning colors in the right order, so that was quickly ruled out. My hands and feet were always cold, but now, just 2 days after the CCSVI procedure, with unblocked veins, the warmth and feeling are returning to my limbs. It is kind of exciting…I hadn’t realize I had lost so much sensation in my limbs, if not all of the feeling in my legs. Maybe sooner it will be easier to walk. Who can say…?

It is going to be a brilliant full moon tonight. The tide is very high. Most people have seen scientists projections of what the future water-levels will look like. Its not very promising for shore-dwellers, and the major cities set by the sea. At around 5 o’clock, at the busy Aliso Beach, 20 minutes from where we were staying, the waves were coming in so fast and furious that picnickers and sunbathers had to jump up and flee the tide. It all happened so fast; one minute the sea was a few hundred feet away, and over the course of what felt like a few minutes, it was up to the sidewalk. The water came up and over into the parking-lot, leaving behind much debris and sand.

there goes the picnic

Another thing we have noticed here is how much erosion there is. It is very dry at this time of year, and although bougainvillea and cacti cling to sandy banks, not much is holding back a slide in the wet-season, or preventing the houses perched precariously at the hill top from falling into the sea. Cement and mesh is often tacked to the sheer ‘sand-faces’ (what probably was a rock face a few years ago). I am used to drought from living in both Northern California and then Vancouver Island summers, but because the landscape isn’t ‘green’, it feels so much more serious. I suppose it is just as well that less people live down here; less demand on limited water resources. But I guess flooding fields to grow almonds and other veggies use up plenty of water in the region. Maybe its the warm weather coming into play, but everyone here seems very ‘relaxed’ for California. The pace of life doesn’t seem to hectic. There aren’t that many people living here, the congestion no where near as much as San Francisco. The air is cleaner down South too, which I only hope lasts.

pelicans riding the (air) waves

There really is something to the saying that a sea breeze cures sickness. Maybe its just that it feels so damn good listening to the waves, letting them lull you to sleep. I think I read something about the fact that minerals are beaten out of the rocks by the waves are released into the air, which makes the air feel so good to us. When we realized that all of the sand (and parking lot!) at Aliso Beach were quickly flooded by the waves, we decided to head to another spot. It is fast becoming my local favorite. The beach is nearly deserted, and pelicans swoop by every now and again, landing with a ‘plop’ on the waves, ungraceful sitting as they are delicate in flight. Pelicans look so large close up, because they shrunk in size in my memory. They are practically the size of Condors!

I’ve begun knitting my PICC line cover. How deliciously normal it was to sit on a lounge chair on the beach, knitting, while the sun glares off very pale Canadian skin. I was a little cooler than I’d be willing to admit in the auditory world (e-confessions are fine of this nature…), hence the sweater, scarf, and sarong. But undaunted as the good little Canadian spirit and pride in me can be, I was determined to bury my feet in the sand, and watch the sun twinkle behind a cloud. Hey! – a twinkle is more than we can get in Victoria for several weeks…I’m not complaining!

Watch out!

I feel like a 4-year-old when it’s time to leave the beach. “But I don’t wanna go” *insert a pout here Amy – my cuz – would be proud of*. The beach has a kind of magic that I am wont to give up. It seems like as soon as a plunk down in the car and start brushing sand from between my lime green toes that I have returned to another plane in the universe where I am very ill, and people have to take care of me. On the beach, my imagination is free.

Post-Procedural Knitting :P

Well, I feel A LOT better today, or more specifically, I don’t feel as horrible as I thought. My arm doesn’t (hardly) hurt at all -yay!- and I feel undeniably good, although I can’t say exactly what that ‘goodness’ is, only that it is a new kind of feeling for me. I can get USED to this :P.

I had the idea of making stylish PICC line covers. Burn gauze is u-g-l-y, no matter how well it does the job. Of course, I did want to visit a yarn shop anyways, so going to ‘Strands’ today was perfect. It was kind of hard for me to pick up and examine all the colors with just one hand (i know!! 2 hands are better for stroking zee soft yarns!), and I might have used my sore arm a bit more than I meant to.

Browsing through the rainbow

I found the most dizzying array of colors, and a cotton/elastic yarn perfect for making bands that stay up. Its an aquamarine-green color that reminds me of Saturna Island’s legendary bottle-green coves. I also fell head-over-heels in love with this blueberry-frozen-yogurt colored yarn, made from sugar fibers (the plant!). It was silky soft, but cool to wear like cotton. Perfect yarn for a tank-top! The lovely lady who owned and worked in the shop put the skeins onto the swift (kind of a cross between an umbrella and a clothes line, for holding yarn) and then using a baller put it into a nice squarish ball for me, easier to knit with. Have to wait til I get home tho, for needles in a lacy size.


deserted

Driving along the water to the mission town where the yarn shop was, we saw the most beautiful and uncrowded beach next to the train tracks. Of course, being so close to the road, we thought the car noise would be way too loud for us to suntan (I was tanning) on the beach. But the proximity to the loud waves meant that the sound was drowning out, or complemented, the waves crashing against the rocks. The ‘SHHHHEEEE OUSH‘ sound of the water pulling rocks back towards the sea, like a greedy monster, is such a tranquil noise. Its like the sea and rocks are in deep conversation. It is enough just to sit on the warm sand in the late afternoon, although yesterday I wouldn’t have said no if we could have figured out a way to get me closer to the ocean.

so close to the waves…

Willows’, My favorite beach in Victoria (and the largest patch of sand for miles around) looks quite minuscule next to the thousand miles of coast line. I know not all of it is white sand, but usually there is a patch of pristine, if populated, beach between high cliffs and rocky shores. I do miss Victoria very much, even though this sunshine makes a very welcome change from cool cloudy days of summer at home. It is exhausting to lie in the sun, the rays beating the energy from me, but I love the feeling of the warmth on me. Its very peaceful while I am sitting with my toes in the sand…its only later that I feel like the strength has been sucked from me. It would be difficult living here all the time (not that I want to). I miss home, and my friends.

relaxing

Because the clinic is closed on the weekend, I couldn’t have my fresh PICC line dressing changed. It should be changed the day after, but now it’s not going to happen til Monday. There is a little blood, which I am worried about. Can’t wait for it to be made all sterile and white again.

1 2

%d bloggers like this: