July 5, 2020

It is the end of another hot and humid day in southern Manitoba.  Storm warnings were in effect this afternoon but have since been cancelled.  We have been fortunate that most of the bad thunderstorms have bypassed Steinbach.  The southeastern and western parts of our province have experienced above-average rainfalls which resulted in serious flooding.  The temperatures for the coming week will be lower than last week.  However, the highs will still reach 28C.  Combine that with the humidity and it feels like you are in a sauna.  Thank goodness for air conditioning.

The constant change in barometric pressure, temperatures as high as 32C and high humidity have certainly impacted my pain issues.  The last few weeks have been miserable.  Another problem I am experiencing is debilitating fatigue.  It is not the kind of fatigue that you get after a day of hard work.  This fatigue is mind-numbing.  This bout of extreme fatigue began shortly after I had to stop taking Cytomel.  (My doctor took me off of Cytomel because I was experiencing a rapid heart rate and my EKG showed PVC’s).  T3 is more potent that T4, which means that one mg of T3 has a greater effect on the body than one mg of T4.  Levothyroxine (Synthroid) is a synthetic version of T4, and liothyronine (Cytomel) is a synthetic version of T3.  I was prescribed Cytomel to give me some relief from extreme fatigue and lack of energy.  Another concern of mine is the dizziness and nausea I experience almost every morning when I wake up.

On April 23rd I had another MRI at the Grace Hospital in Winnipeg.  Two weeks later I got a call from my family doctor telling me that the MRI was once again inconclusive and that I had to go for another Multifocal CT scan. This time both my family doctor and specialist decided that I needed to go to the St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg for the CT scan instead of making use of the Steinbach facilities.  I had the scan on Friday, July 3rd and now the waiting game begins.  It is becoming more and more difficult to be optimistic while waiting for the results of the MRI’s or CT scans.  The odds are that one of these days the result will be bad news.  Enough complaining for today.

We have rented a cottage at the lake for part of the summer.  (A friend will be staying at our house during this time).  We will be joined by our daughter and her family and our grandson and his partner.  Spending time during the summer months at one of Manitoba’s many lake resorts makes for a wonderful holiday.  Sitting under an umbrella on a sandy beach with a good book to read is a wonderful, relaxing experience.  Spending time taking a boat through the tunnels at Caddy Lake is a great way to spend an afternoon.

With all the news reports about racism and discrimination, I have been doing some soul searching.  I have been tempted to write about the discrimination faced by adopted children.  I have decided to give this some more thought so that when I write about this topic I will share my views in a way that is the least disruptive and the least negative in tone.  I would love to hear from my readers who have been adopted or have adopted family members.

Take care and have a great week.  The following pictures were taken at the tunnels at Caddy Lake.

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May 20, 2020

Summer-like temperatures have finally arrived. This afternoon my husband planted the gladiola bulbs from last year. Hopefully, they will do better this year.

Tomorrow we are planning to put in the Hostas which a generous neighbour gave to us. I love Hostas; they are a great filler and come up every year. 

With the state of my health, I have to resort to perennials only. The one exception is two hanging baskets of petunias to place into my planters.  Of course, my preference is purple petunias.   The Hydrangeas I planted 16 years ago still come up every spring.  Because we live in Manitoba, the only Hydrangeas available are those that produce white flowers.

Incredible fatigue continues to plague me.  Going off Cytomel brought my heart rate back to normal and did away with the  Premature ventricular contractions also known as PVCs.  PVCs are extra heartbeats that begin in one of your heart’s two lower pumping chambers (ventricles). These extra beats disrupt your regular heart rhythm, sometimes causing you to feel a fluttering or a skipped beat in your chest.   I, however, need to find a solution for this neverending fatigue.  Any suggestions would be much appreciated.  I am also curious to hear from patients who are taking Desiccated thyroid extract (DTE) instead of Synthroid. DTE is a prescription medication made from the desiccated (dried) thyroid glands of animals.  DTE drugs include the brand names Armour Thyroid, Nature-Throid, NP Thyroid, and WP Thyroid.  Desiccated thyroid extract was first used in the early 1890s.  Natural thyroid preparations, mostly DTE, were the standard treatment for hypothyroidism until the mid-1970s.  

My pain levels have increased dramatically in the last three weeks.  The only thing I can link it to is weather changes.  Hopefully, the summer-like temperatures will remain constant and my pain will decrease to a barely tolerable level.   My daughter and daughter-in-law are dealing with incredible pain on a daily basis.  My daughter has finally been diagnosed with a pituitary tumour.  She also has been given the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia a word that doctors love to use when they neglect to come up with the real reason for pain.  The only pain relief she has been offered by her doctors is Tylenol.  There are days when her depression, caused by constant debilitating pain, scares me.  My daughter is extremely creative and manages to cope most days.   She is a well-educated businesswoman.  My daughter-in-law who lives in the USA has doctors who refuse to help her deal with her severe arthritic pain.  Consequently, she is unable to work in her chosen profession.  Doctors’ attitudes will have to change.  How can they allow people to suffer like this on a daily basis?

Well, I will get off my soapbox for today.  Hope all my readers have a great week.  Be back soon.

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April 14, 2020

Easter weekend has come and gone and we survived isolation quite well.  Our daughter dropped by to bring her dad a mask that she had made.  She put the mask in a bag and hung it on the outside door handle.  We shouted our thanks and waved at her through the window.

What I did miss was the family tradition of an Easter basket hunt.   My dad hid Easter baskets every year for as long as I can remember.  They were hidden outside if weather permitted and if not they were hidden in the house.  He continued this tradition even after his daughters were married.  He then included baskets for the sons-in-law and for the grandchildren as they came along.  The baskets included chocolate, candies and a gift or two.  The gift was always something that he knew we really wanted.  To say I miss those times is an understatement.  However, the yearly Easter basket hunts have left me with wonderful memories.

The featured flowers on this page are crocuses, one of my mom’s favourite flowers.  Every spring we would drive out to the Sandilands Forest Reserve and look for the first crocuses that had managed to peek out of the ground.

This virus we are all dealing with has certainly changed many lives.  It has not been an issue for me to stay at home since I am practically a hermit.  My husband has driven away some of the boredom of staying in the house by walking the dogs or taking them for rides.  I just wish that everyone would abide by the guidelines set out by the government and stay home.  There are always idiots who think that they are special snowflakes and can, therefore, ignore the rules and guidelines.   The 1918 flu epidemic had a terrible toll on my dad’s family.  His oldest brother Joseph died at the age of 8 just a few days after my dad was born.  My grandfather had to build the casket and prepare the body of his dear boy without any help from family or friends.  They feared the consequences of the flu.  On the day of the funeral, my grandfather placed his son’s casket on the wagon, hitched up the horses and made his way to the village church about four miles away.  He was unable to enter the church and remained on the wagon with his son.  A church window had been left open so that he could listen to the funeral.   Once the funeral was over he buried his son in the church cemetery.

My daughter is truly an amazingly creative person.  She decided that she would help the health care workers in Winnipeg by sewing surgical hats and masks.  She has never had sewing lessons but through sheer determination to learn has managed to create quite a number of masks and hats.  Natasha is the drop-off point and coordinator for the Seven Oakes Area in Winnipeg.  She posted the following on her website:


Hello everyone, we simply did not anticipate the demand that we would be meeting when the sewing of surgical caps for healthcare workers took off.  I realized too late that there were a couple hundred workers in my area alone. Each person needs at least two to four caps.  I know that not everyone can do this, for a huge variety of reasons and there is NO shame if you choose not to participate.  We all have our own call to help in this pandemic. You do your best with what you feel you need to contribute.  I have been going non-stop for seven days and I am humbled by my limitations. I cannot function today. My body has literally shut down and I cannot make hats today.  It breaks my heart because I have people depending on me. I only have one other person to help sew. We cannot meet our quotas alone.  If you love to sew and you need a project, please consider helping us. You certainly do not need to make it a morning to night commitment. A few caps here and there by many more people would make an enormous difference.

Please pm me if you wish to contribute, even if it is a few caps. The nurses/healthcare workers are desperate for these items and every cap helps.  I am the drop-off point and coordinator for the Seven Oakes Area. I will respond as quickly as I can.  I may not be able to respond instantly.  If you would like to help contact me at widebertha@gmail.com. Thank you so much,  Natasha

Note her bossy bird Nemo is perched where he can be sure to voice detailed instructions and complaints as needed.

Stay safe and please stay home.

I would love to hear from you after you try the following called “How Smart Is Your Foot?”

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April 7, 2020

Another week in isolation, but, since I consider myself a hermit it really does not bother me.  After making the worst mistake of my life by agreeing to drink Radio Active Iodine, the most common treatment for Graves Disease,  I had to change my lifestyle.    Two ways I keep boredom away is by reading and writing.   I have spent many years researching the Zacharias side of my family and continue to do so.  Thankfully, I have learned how to keep busy without depending on the outside world.   Hopefully, we will soon see an end to this virus.

Yesterday was a day of great accomplishment for me.  I actually managed to iron 15 shirts and 5 pairs of pants.  You would not believe how long those items have been hanging in the laundry room waiting for me to get motivated to iron them.  Sad when one considers this to be a great accomplishment.

I was supposed to go for blood work today, however, I made the decision not to go.  Since the lab is only a few feet away from the waiting room for approximately 20 doctors I felt the risk was not worth it.  Hopefully, I have made the right decision.   The reason for the blood work was to check my potassium levels which have been on the low side and my TSH.   I am sure that my surgery will not be scheduled for quite a while since it is elective surgery.

Our only grandchild, Benjamin, celebrated his 26th birthday on April 5th.  We were unable to celebrate this special day with a family get-together, but we did chat on the phone.  Benjamin and Danika are enjoying their new apartment.

Ever since stopping Cytomel, I have been incredibly tired.  I wake up tired in the morning. Hopefully, once my thyroid levels are back to the level I need to feel good the fatigue will go away.  I believe that the TSH number should not be the only thing that doctors look at.  I feel the best if my thyroid levels are 0.1.  Most doctors would frown on this number and consider it out of the normal range.  However, that is the number I need to function.

My post will be a short one this week.  I have writer’s block.  Hopefully, this too shall pass.  According to Wikipedia, this is the definition of writer’s block:  Writer’s block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown.  The condition ranges from difficulty in coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce work for years.

Author Unknown.  If anyone knows who the author is please let me know.  Thanks.

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March 27, 2020

Free photo 2106866 © Chrisharvey – Dreamstime.com

Time seems to fly by these days and sadly I find that I am neglecting my blog.  I really do make an effort to do better, but what I can say other than I am old and forgetful.

I saw a cardiologist on March 9th and he cleared me for surgery.  Apparently, my EKG was fine and my heart rate was normal.  Hopefully, the surgery will take place within the next four to six months, though I think this virus pandemic might just interfere with that.

My friend Kathy posted the following item on Facebook and I felt it was important to pass it on to my readers here at “Not over Till the Fat Lady Sings.”  The article is as follows:

Individuals like myself, are the ones considered to have “underlying health conditions” A quick lesson about autoimmune diseases. It takes an average of three years and five doctors for a person to get a proper diagnosis of an autoimmune disease. It is a disease where instead of your white blood cells protecting your body from invaders, they turn around and attack your cells, tissues, and organs. Chronic fatigue is another symptom. It is not a cold or the flu, you will never get better, and even a nap will not help. Just eating a salad and hitting the gym won’t slim your face or get the pounds off. Sleeping 10 hours doesn’t leave you well-rested, ever. The last-minute changes in plans because that “just got ran over” feeling never makes appointments, it just walks in whenever you aren’t ready. Painful joints, muscles and bones, dry skin, breaking hair, hair loss, mood swings, and depression are just the tip of the iceberg. You are also prone to having multiple autoimmune diseases; they typically come in pairs of two. You easily catch viral and bacterial infections. You have days where no matter how hard you try; you just can’t smile for anyone.

I urge you to think twice before passing judgment and thinking our nation is overreacting to the extra measures being taken to curb the spread of this virus. YOU might be able to recover from it no problem, however, carry it to someone with an autoimmune disease and that individual won’t be as lucky.

Please, in honor of someone who is fighting Rheumatoid Arthritis, POTS, MCAD, Sjogren’s, Scleroderma, Hashimoto Disease, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Sarcoidosis, Hepatitis, Myasthenia Gravis, Raynauld’s Syndrome, Diabetes, Addison’s, Mold Illness, Celiac, CROHN’S, Ulcerative Colitis, Pemphigus, SPS, MS, PBC, Psoriatic Arthritis, CIDP, MMN, and GPA stay safe and follow isolation rules.  For more information on Autoimmune Diseases, go to Aarda.org.

Today I would like to focus on Addison’s disease.  A dear friend of mine deals with this disease on a daily basis.  Jan has fought for her life many times during an Addison’s crisis.  The following charts and graphs may help to explain this disease.

Mayo Clinic gives this definition of Addison’s disease:   Addison’s disease, also called adrenal insufficiency, is an uncommon disorder that occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough of certain hormones. In Addison’s disease, your adrenal glands, located just above your kidneys, produce too little cortisol and, often, too little aldosterone. Addison’s disease occurs in all age groups and both sexes and can be life-threatening. Treatment involves taking hormones to replace those that are missing.

Symptoms – The following information comes from the Mayo Clinic’s website at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/addisons-disease

Addison’s disease symptoms usually develop slowly, often over several months. Often, the disease progresses so slowly that symptoms are ignored until stress, such as illness or injury, occurs and makes symptoms worse. Signs and symptoms may include:

Extreme fatigue

Weight loss and decreased appetite

Darkening of your skin (hyperpigmentation)

Low blood pressure, even fainting

Salt craving

Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

Nausea, diarrhea or vomiting (gastrointestinal symptoms)

Abdominal pain

Muscle or joint pains


Depression or other behavioral symptoms

Body hair loss or sexual dysfunction in women

Acute adrenal failure (addisonian crisis)  

Sometimes the signs and symptoms of Addison’s disease may appear suddenly.  Acute adrenal failure (addisonian crisis) can lead to life-threatening shock.  Seek emergency medical treatment if you experience the following signs and symptoms:

Severe weakness


Pain in your lower back or legs

Severe abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea, leading to dehydration

Reduced consciousness or delirium

In an Addison’s crisis you will also have:

Low blood pressure

High potassium (hyperkalemia) and low sodium (hyponatremia)

When to see a doctor:

See your doctor if you have common signs and symptoms of Addison’s disease, such as:

Darkening areas of skin (hyperpigmentation)

Severe fatigue

Unintentional weight loss

Gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain

Lightheadedness or fainting

Salt cravings

Muscle or joint pains



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February 8, 2020

Before I begin my post I would like to wish all my readers a Very Happy New Year; one filled with much joy, many blessings, good health and a wealth of wonderful memories.  Please forgive my negligence when it comes to keeping my blog up to date.  I hope I still have some followers left who have not given up on me.

Christmas was rather a low key event this year.  We spent Christmas day at home with our grandson, Benjamin and his partner, Danika, our daughter Natasha, and her partner Mike with his daughter Melissa, and our son Prescott.  First Choice provided us with another delicious Christmas dinner, which included turkey, gravy, meatballs, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn, broccoli salad, cranberry sauce, and buns.  It is such a treat to be able to sit down to a wonderful Christmas dinner without having to plan and cook the meal.

Weather-wise January and February were strange.  The temperature fluctuated from as warm as -2C to -30 C.  These fluctuations play havoc with my poor old bones.  Of course, once the temperature hits -2C the humidity becomes very noticeable.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Manitoba Health has approved my surgery.  The surgery will include a breast reduction and modified Panniculus.   Panniculus is a medical term, describing a dense layer of fatty tissue, consisting of excess subcutaneous fat within the lower abdominal region.  Abdominal Panniculus can be removed during abdominal panniculectomy, a type of Abdominoplasty.   My pre-surgery exam with my family doctor was scheduled for December 13th at which time he discovered that I had a resting heart rate of 129.  I mentioned to him that ever since the fall of 2019 I had been very nauseous and tired when I woke up in the morning.  Extreme fatigue continued all day.  I often would have episodes when I found it hard to catch my breath.  My family doctor told me that this could be a result of a high heart rate and he ordered an EKG and blood work.  The next morning was a Saturday and upon waking my resting heart rate was 140.  Since my heart rate was higher than the day before my husband and I decided that we would go to the hospital to see if I could get an EKG that morning instead of waiting until Monday.   I had the EKG in Emergency at the local hospital since the lab does not take walk-ins during the weekend.  The blood work was done at the same time.  The EKG registered my heart rate at 142.  We had a conversation with a nurse practitioner in Emergency and he told us that the heart rate problem might well be the result of the drug Cytomel, a thyroid medication I had been taking since 1999.  Apparently, our bodies change as we age and medications can begin to affect us differently.   We waited for nearly seven hours to see the emergency doctor.  When no doctor showed up after all this time we decided that I needed to get home so we left.

After doing some research online and thinking about the situation, I decided to quit taking Cytomel to see if my heart rate would settle down.  I was taking 200 mcg of Synthroid and 25 mcg of Cytomel.   My heart rate slowly went back to normal.  After being off Cytomel for nearly two weeks restless leg syndrome struck.  What a nightmare!   My legs jerked and crawled for three days and three nights.  I was ready to jump off the nearest bridge.  Finally, I got my husband to take me to the Emergency department at a small country hospital just twelve miles from the town we live in.  By the time I got to this emergency, my blood pressure was 179/119 and my heart rate was at 150.  The only help the doctor could give me was sleeping pills in the hope that I might be able to get some sleep.  The sleeping pills worked and I slept.   Sadly, upon waking the next morning the restless leg syndrome was still there.  Thankfully, we finally found our own solution later that day that miraculously took away the restless leg syndrome within minutes.   It truly felt like a miracle.  I must also mention here that our visit to the Emergency Department at the country hospital was a wonderful experience compared to the visit to the Emergency Department at our local hospital.  At the local emergency, I waited for nearly 7 hours and did not see a doctor.  At the country hospital emergency I was registered, questioned by a nurse, seen by a doctor and on my way home within an hour and a half.  Amazing difference in service.

After this horrendous episode, I decided to give the Cytomel another try.  The rapid heart rate returned within a few hours.  Of course, these problems caused the surgeon some concern and my surgery was put on hold until the heart issues could be resolved.  I saw my family doctor on January 31st and he told me that PVCs at irregular intervals had shown up on my EKG.  Premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) are extra heartbeats that begin in one of your heart’s two lower pumping chambers (ventricles). These extra beats disrupt your regular heart rhythm, sometimes causing you to feel a fluttering or a skipped beat in your chest.  However, my family doctor said that this too could be a result of Cytomel.  He ordered an EKG and blood work to be done on February 3rd and told me to discontinue taking Cytomel immediately.  He has ordered another EKG and blood work to be done on March 5th.  Hopefully, my heart issues will be resolved by then and the surgeon can go ahead and schedule my surgery.

At my January 31st appointment with my family doctor, I was surprised to learn that my potassium levels were a bit too low.  I have discontinued Elival which is a potassium leaching drug and have been eating at least one banana a day.

My friend Marina picked me up on Friday and we spent a lovely afternoon together.  I had not been out for coffee in ages.

We had a lovely visit today with our grandson, Benjamin and his partner, Danika.  They came for supper and shared with us the particulars of their upcoming move.  We are so excited for them and hopefully, this will be a wonderful new adventure for them.

Again, I promise to try to do a better job of keeping up with regular contributions to my blog.  I really do have good intentions, but for some reason, they disappear and it seems to take forever before I realize they are gone.

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December 1, 2019

The following statement made by Dr. Oz is something every woman should know about. I do not necessarily agree with all of Dr. Oz’s medical advice, but the following information he presented is very important. I was diagnosed with Graves disease in 1998 yet I have never heard about the correlation between thyroid cancer and mammograms or dental x-rays. Since my lumpectomy in 1997, I have had a mammogram every two years. I never saw any evidence of a “thyroid guard.   A “thyroid guard” will be used during my next mammogram.

Christmas will be here in 25 days and I have yet to start my shopping.  During the last two weeks, my nights have been miserable, but instead of moaning and groaning about this situation, I have spent the time thinking about what I would like to give each member of my family for Christmas.  I have managed to come up with a few ideas.

After the last Multifocal CT Scan of my liver, I thought I was in the clear for at least another six months.  My very vigilant family doctor, Dr. Goldberg, sent the results of my blood work, MRI and CT Scan to my liver specialist, Dr. Steven Wong.  Dr.  Wong, also a vigilant doctor, has scheduled me for more blood work and another Multifocal CT Scan at the end of January.

Early last week I received some really wonderful news.  Since I lost weight I have had really nasty problems with yeast infections.   They occur under the flap on my abdomen that was left after my weight loss and under my breasts.  My family doctor sent me to a plastic surgeon to see if it was possible to have this surgery, which would include a breast reduction and tummy tuck (actually called “removal of abdomen fat flap) paid for by Manitoba Health.    The news is that Manitoba Health will be paying for both surgeries.

My family doctor referred me to the local physiotherapy clinic just over a year ago.  Last week I finally saw a physiotherapist.  However, the appointment was held in my home.  The physiotherapist spent an hour with me discussing my various health issues, had me walk up and down my hall and sit on a chair and move my arms and legs up and down.  He told me that they were much too busy to see patients at their location in the hospital.  He gave me a sheet of simple exercises to do and said that if he had the time he would call me just before Christmas to see how I was doing.

The highlight of last week would be the arrival of the Franz Isaak Journal.  Franz Isaak was married to Helena Zacharias, my great-great-grandfather, Wilhlem Zacharias’s sister.   I knew that Wilhelm had a sister.  I had received her death certificate from the Saskatchewan Department of Vital Statistics.   The journal provides the names and important dates of Helena’s ancestors, Franz’s ancestors, Franz and Helena’s children, and Franz and Helena’s siblings.  Included in the journal is a diary written in the old Gothic script dating back to the early 1700s.   It will take me a while to translate.  When I need to translate letters and journals in the Gothic script, I will work on one page while my husband Peter works on another page.  We then exchange pages and review each other’s translations.   In this way, we are often able to translate missing words, make changes if need be and end up with a good end product.

Hope you all have a great week.

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October 30, 2019

It has been many years since my grandson and I dressed up for Halloween.   We sure had a lot of fun in those days.  Grandmas enjoy Halloween with your grandkids because before you know it, they are too old to dress up or take “trick or treating”.

As I mentioned in my last post, October was a rather stressful month for me.  On October 7th, a week or so after my last six month MRI my family doctor called me to tell me that four lesions were visible on the images.  Knowing that I was more susceptible to get liver cancer than others because of liver disease I was terrified.  All my previous MRI’s had come back normal.

I had an October 10th appointment with my family doctor at which time we discussed the ramifications these lesions could cause and what other diagnostic measures we could take.  He ordered blood work which included an Alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP), Tumor Marker.  Medline Plus describes this blood test as follows:  An AFP tumor marker test is a blood test that measures the levels of AFP in adults. Tumor markers are substances made by cancer cells or by normal cells in response to cancer in the body. High levels of AFP can be diseases such as cirrhosis and hepatitis.  High AFP levels don’t always mean cancer, and normal levels don’t always rule out cancer. So an AFP tumor marker test is not usually used by itself to screen for or diagnose cancer. But it can help diagnose cancer when used with other tests. The test may also be used to help monitor the effectiveness of cancer treatment and to see if cancer has returned after you’ve finished treatment.

The other test he ordered was a Multifocal CT scan which I had on October 24th.  My family doctor called me on Saturday, October 26, around 5:30 PM to tell me that no lesions were seen on the Multifocal CT scan and that the tumor marker blood test was only slightly elevated.  The conclusion by the radiologist and my liver specialist was that the MRI image was flawed.  I cannot express the immense relief and joy I felt upon hearing this news.  I was finally able to relax and get a few hours of sleep at night.  The boogeymen left for parts unknown and I hope they never come back.

I received with my doctor’s call what seems like a new lease on life.  In the coming winter I hope to complete or at least work on some of the projects I have been neglecting.  My goal is to finish in cross stitch two pictures of Ukrainian dancers for my grandson.  He was a Ukrainian dancer for eight years.  I would like to smock a dress for a little girl we know.  I need to complete a website I have dedicated to my dad  https://worldwar2conscientiousobjectors.com and of course, continue work on my https://zachariasfamilytree.com site.

I wish you all a great and spooky Halloween.  May the ghosts and goblins fly swiftly past your front doors and may the witches be deterred from peeking into your windows.

Until next time………

Our six foot blow up pumpkin.

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October 24, 2019

Peter2My husband celebrated his 73rd birthday today.  It seems that the older you get, the faster time goes by.  We celebrated, just the two of us, with a store-bought shepherd’s pie and cheesecake.   After supper, we watched the current episode of “Doc Martin”, his favourite TV show.

Ever since I was diagnosed with an autoimmune liver disease I have had an MRI done every six months.  According to the Liver Foundation, autoimmune hepatitis is liver inflammation that occurs when your body’s immune system turns against liver cells. The exact cause of autoimmune hepatitis is unclear, but genetics and environmental factors appear to interact over time in triggering the disease.  I am sure that the inflammatory medications I took for years prior to my back surgery in 1983 complicated the issue.   Today I had a Multifocal CT Scan and hope the results come back sooner than later.  I find that waiting for test results can be very stressful.

We had more rain this week.  It seems that it has rained or snowed on most days in September and so far in October.  Hopefully, the rain will stop so that the water levels can drop back down to normal.

Last night I woke up at 3:00 AM, that awful time when the boogeymen come out and my brain does not stop the continuous slide show featuring all of my failures and disappointments.  I can tell my brain to shut up and shut down.  I can cry, count sheep, pray for relief, but nothing seems to help.  Last night the slide show played scenes from my life, beginning from 1981 to 1983 and 1988 to 1998.  The slide show began with me trying to explain to my doctors what it feels like to deal with constant debilitating pain.  As the slide show reminded me trying to explain is incredibly difficult, especially when the doctor does not believe you.  On March 6, 1981, I woke up with the most awful back pain.  The doctors I saw would not believe me.  After all, I was 32 years old and there were no outward signs of illness.  One of the doctors I saw asked me what my husband did for a living.  I told her he worked for one of the major computer companies.  She asked me if he travelled.  I said yes.  She then told me in no uncertain terms that she knew what was wrong with me.  I had VD, either gonorrhea or syphilis.  She went on to tell me that all American men who travelled for their jobs had sex with other women.   I was left speechless.  She insisted on doing the blood work that would prove her diagnosis.  Needless to say at that point I fired her and found a new family doctor.  The problem with finding a new doctor is that you are accused of “doctor hopping”.  Anyone with half a brain would know that if someone has excruciating pain the last thing on their agenda is “doctor hopping.”

The next doctor I saw with regards to my back problem accused me of being crazy and depressed.   I pleaded with this doctor to send me to a specialist, but of course, the answer was no.  At my last appointment with this megalomaniac, I again begged her to refer me.  She told me that I had mental problems and did not need to see a specialist.  I finally reached my limit.  I asked her, “Do you want to see crazy?  I will show you crazy” at which point I grabbed my cane and used it to push all the items off her desk.  When I headed to her shelving unit to continue my rampage she yelled, “Stop, stop I will send you to a specialist.”  A few months after I last saw her, it was reported on the evening news that she had neglected to listen to and properly treat a young man barely out of his teens.  The young man died of stomach cancer.  After her neglect became common knowledge she promptly left Canada to go back to the country of her birth.  Before she left, she did refer me to a great orthopedic surgeon and I had back surgery for a ruptured disc in April 1983.  When I first hobbled into the orthopedic surgeon’s office, he asked me how it was possible that I could walk into his office.  I told him it was with great difficulty.  The orthopedic surgeon told me that there was a 50% chance that I would be paralyzed from my lower back down to my toes.  You know what?  At that point the pain was so severe I did not care.  After my surgery, it took six months to get the feeling back in my left leg.  Since the surgery in 1983, I have never again had a problem with my back.   After the six months passed, I could walk, run up and down my stairs, skate, downhill ski, etc.

It took ten years of weird symptoms before a country doctor in Manitoba finally diagnosed me with Graves disease.  I received the diagnosis in December 1997 and drank radioactive iodine in April 1998.   The delay in diagnosis was partly my fault.  After my previous experiences, I did not trust doctors.  I did not believe that they would take my weird symptoms seriously.  Some of my symptoms included extreme anxiety, depression, fast heart rate, high blood pressure, inability to sleep properly and migraines from hell.  I had another reason for not sharing my symptoms.  Two close family members, nurses, told my husband and children that I was crazy, probably taking illegal drugs and should be committed to the nearest hospital.   They told my children that their mother was crazy.  I cannot describe how this betrayal felt.  These two nurses, who were trusted members of my family made no effort to help me.  Even after I was diagnosed they continued with their pathetic ideas.  One of the nurses prides herself on never having to say I’m sorry.  Life after radioactive iodine has not been easy and if I could do it over again I would opt for surgery.  At that time I did not have a choice.   One of the lessons I learned from my experiences was never to doubt myself and to listen to my gut feelings.  We know our bodies better than anyone else.  Another lesson was to realize that doctors are only human and that they do make mistakes.   Most of us have to own up to our mistakes, but doctors get to bury their mistakes.

When you are in Pain and Nobody Believes You

Go to your appointment with extra information about your condition.  Research credible online sites such as the Mayo Clinic and research universities.  Do not give up even if you have to repeat yourself over and over again.  Give doctors copies of your research.

Find conferences and support groups dealing with the same issues as you.

Keep talking about your concern with someone until they will listen.  Do not give up.

Believe in yourself.  Do not let anyone tell you what you should feel.  If a doctor tells you he does not believe you, walk away.  Do not let anyone diminish how you feel.

Keep a journal documenting how you feel and how you cope.

Ask for copies of the results of all your tests and procedures.  It is your body and your right to get copies.

Bring your advocate along with you to your appointments.  They can help you remember what was said.

Keep a concise list of your symptoms and treatments.  I had a doctor accuse me of lying because I could not remember the date I had seen a certain specialist.

Make sure your doctor will deal with your pain.  Also, make sure that your doctor wants to find the cause of your pain.

Fire your doctor if they do not take your pain seriously.

Hope you all have a great weekend.  I would love to hear your comments on the issues I write about.

Posted in Autoimmune disease | 2 Comments

October 14, 2019


Wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

Last week Thursday and Friday we were hit with a snowstorm caused by a Colorado Low.  Western Canada was hit with a blizzard the previous week so I guess this week it was our turn.

Thankfully, we did not get as much snow as Western Manitoba.  The picture below is not a river but a road in southeastern Manitoba.  We have had enormous amounts of rain in the last few weeks.  Roads are washed out and flooding has occurred in many areas.  The ground in many areas of Manitoba is saturated and the water has no place to go.  This includes our backyard.  I noticed that the geese were flying south much earlier this fall.  I guess they knew something we did not know.   Apparently, there is another storm heading our way from the West.


The above snow pictures were taken on Friday, October 11th.

I found some interesting facts about Chronic pain.  Chronic pain is a sure-fire way to disrupt one’s mental health and perhaps lead to a change in character. It will change moods, behaviors, and personality characteristics, and it will not take long. … Notice your mental health suffer as your life continues to grow isolated. – https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com.

If you have painyou may also have anxiety, irritability, and agitation. … Usually, as the pain subsides, so does the stressful response. But with chronic painyou may feel constantly tense and stressed. Over time, stress can result in different emotional problems associated with depression. – https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com.

When the body experiences the latter, it can change the central nervous system (CNS), and influence sensory, emotional, and modular circuits that would otherwise inhibit painChronic pain is now looked at as a neurological disease of its own with symptoms of anxiety and depression. – https://www.webmd.com

Approximately 70% of chronic pain patients have reported feeling angry at themselves and at healthcare professionals,  but this may be an underestimation. Among individuals with chronic pain, high levels of anger are often associated with greater muscle tension, pain severity, and pain behaviors. – https://www.practicalpainmanagement.com

At present, I am still working on my genealogy project.   I took two weeks off because my pain was such that I could no longer concentrate.    However, we must preserve and keep going no matter what the cost.  I am hoping that the research and writing that I am doing will keep my brain functioning.

This week I have spent my time researching Holodomor.  Holodomor was a man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine from 1930 to 1934 that killed millions of Ukrainians and other ethnic groups.  In the Ukraine it is also known as the Terror-Famine and Famine-Genocide and sometimes referred to as the Great Famine or the Ukrainian Genocide of 1930–34. Wikipedia  My great grandparents, Bernhard and Helena (nee Zacharias) Giesbrecht both starved to death during this horrendous time in Soviet Russia.  Throughout Canada, in each and every year, the fourth Saturday in November shall be known as “Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (“Holodomor”) Memorial Day”.  I will remember my great grandparents.

The funeral of my great grandmother, Helena (nee Zacharias) Giesbrecht. Cause of death was Stalin’s man-made famine.


Posted in Autoimmune disease | 4 Comments