Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What a good baby! (my car, that is)

Despite almost exactly 2 years of neglect (street parking, under trees, subject to bird poops; tuneups few and far between; almost no mileage/kilometerage) my 1999 Volkswagen Golf passed its biennial emissions test with flying colours. Like, no emissions, well below passing threshold. The jackass at the service centre first told me it had failed ("just kidding!"). Wednesday around noon seems to be the time to do these things. It's a real money-maker for the Ontario government, and as of September 1, 2008 Toronto will start charging $60 for license renewals. Glad I was induced way back in 1956. I think my original due date was September 7.

In 2009 (I think in June) Canadians need to have a passport to get into the US. By non-air transit you can get into the US with photo ID (but my latest driver's license photo will probably look like the woman in "American Gothic").

They made me take off my glasses after the first shot. Couldn't they fix the camera angle so that the spectacles don't cause a spectacle? In over 20 years they've never asked me to take the glasses off, and corrective lenses are a requirement. In fact, I can't find my glasses unless I'm wearing them; I don't even hear as well without them.

My last driver's license photo actually LOOKED like I do most days. Except my face isn't really that big, and my hair is longer. My brother's a Canada Border Services agent and lives on the Canada-US border, so a trip across to get gas, a Thanksgiving turkey, or to his mailbox, or to have dinner, is common. I've had the whole passport package (guarantor and witness signatures, photos, forms completed) ready for almost a year but I don't like to travel (outside my comfort zone) so why bother? Also I'm waiting for the price to go down.

The Colon Diaries -- farewell (sob, sniff)

Dear Diary: Arrived at TEGH (Toronto East General Hospital, to whom I think I might donate a few bucks) at 9:05 am for a 9:25 appointment. I was checked in, gowned up, interviewed, and bedded down with a tube up my nether place by 9:30 am. I was walking out to breakfast by 10 am. Hallelujah! I was cleansed. It took a 37.5 hour fast and a whole lot of laxatives and fluids. Ingrid, my CT tech, stayed with me the whole time and took me step by step through the whole thing. When she came in to turn me over for the second part of the scan, she told me it was going so well other people were coming in to look...

This is just like the machine I was in, except I went in feet first and my CT tech was blonde. And the techs leave the room. Not as comfortable as the colonoscopy (I was under general anaesthetic) or as horribly invasive and uncomfortable and MESSY as the barium enema (don't let ANYONE try to talk you into having that instead of a colonoscopy)---somewhere in between. I might get results in a couple of weeks.

Next: my car passed the drive-clean test! Hallelujah again. Now it's off to get my plate sticker and new driver's license photo. Unfortunately I can't drive there because I might get a ticket for having an expired sticker.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Garden Update

I have two kinds of raspberries and two blue grape varieties. They bloom and fruit despite my neglect. I think one grapevine grows about a foot a day. If I were diligent I'd be cutting them back.

The grapes go from one end of the dividing fence to the other. These berries are about seven feet off the ground and are the size of the top of my thumb.

Dear Diary: 2:15 pm. Ominous rumblings. I am running out of lemon soda already, and don't know if I can make it to the store...

The Colon Diaries -- the next few hours

Here's a picture of the city bins we're all getting (and must get) used to. From left, the new miniature garbage bin (placed incorrectly on the sidewalk; I checked the instructions just now and moved them to the edge). Two garbage bags and two irredeemable litter boxes. The Green Bin for kitchen waste, including disposable diapers, paper towels and tissues, coffee grounds, bones and fats, and---yay!!---used kitty litter. A yard waste bag. I also have a Green Box that holds yard waste.
I chose the smallest garbage bin (holds one bag) 1) to remind myself to keep my consumption down, 2) to get a $10 rebate on my utility bill instead of paying up to $190 a year for the extra-large bin, and 3) to be sure I had some place to put it. What's in it today? About 8 non-recyclable plastic containers for Purina kitty litter.
Speaking of which, I just hauled home about 20 kg of kitty litter from the store. A month or so ago I had cleaned out the equivalent of five litter boxes and put it out for collection. The city worker was heaving everything into the truck, and said, "Christ! How many cats does she have??" One, how did he know I was a "she"? Two, maybe it was ONE cat and FOUR months' worth of litter. (In fact it's four cats and one month's worth.)
Dear Diary: Took the first (noon) dose of Pico-Salax. It didn't taste too bad. I wonder how fast it works... I found some Peach & White Tea popsicles and some sugar-free lemon soda to supplement the bouillon, green tea, and Nestle sports drink (sugar-free). I did take my morning meds with a quarter-cup of soy milk even though that's against the rules, but I had to get those BGs down. Still 16.9 mmol/dl but better than before. I'll take my lunch meds with a popsicle and a lovely cup of green tea.

The Colon Diaries -- the first few hours

First hours of fasting. Last night for dinner I ate a third of a nice grilled t-bone steak (rare) and salad (chunks of red pepper, English cucumber, avocado, and field tomato, with a dressing of plain yogurt, light mayo, fresh-ground salt and pepper, a bit of extra-virgin olive oil, some fresh chopped Italian oregano, and a dash of balsamic vinegar). Oh, yeah---and a 100 g bar of dark chocolate (85% cocoa) and three cups of organic green tea.

I stopped eating at 8:30 pm yesterday, and then remembered I had to run out to the pharmacy and get 2 packages of Pico-Salax (a purgative). I have to drink it twice today (one package), and if I still don't have clear stool tomorrow morning (TMI, sorry!), I have to call the clinic and reschedule for Thursday, and DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN. I might end up fasting (except for clear fluids) for two full days.

Because my post-dinner BG was very high, I took an extra Gluconorm before bed and shot my usual insulin. Fasting blood glucose this morning: 20.5 mmol/dl. That's 369 in US gallons. I can't attribute it to the chocolate bar---I believe it's stress. Even though I can't eat anything solid or drink anything cloudy I will need to take a bit of NPH insulin and try to get those BGs down. Before the colonoscopy (last month) I was tested at the hospital at over 25 and they gave me a shot of a fast-acting insulin before I left. No appreciable effect.

So far today I have started laundry, taken out almost all the garbage, and dumped the kitty litter. I am going to have a talk with the cats about this new litter brand they seem to like.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My birthday (sigh)

Woke up early, reheated coffee, fed the cats, got the paper. Talked to Mom--we sing each other Happy Birthday every year, kind of fun! She promised I'd probably get my card tomorrow (Monday). Got an e-mail last night from my older brother. He promised he'd send my card tomorrow. On Friday I received an eight-word note from my sister-in-law (younger brother's wife). Younger brother is usually pretty good about sending cards in good time. Maybe he'll call. I sent sis-in-law a cheque for her birthday (last Wed.) but my greedy brother got the money.

One of my co-workers said happy birthday to me on Friday. Maybe tomorrow my boss will remember--usually we get a corporate card from the managers with a gift card for a restaurant. None of my friends remember my birthday. After so many (at least 49!) I could give a darn.

Drank too much and ate potato chips for dinner yesterday--very bad!

Mind you, I'm not complaining...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The saga continues...

BIRTHDAY: My next 49th birthday is tomorrow---I think this is the fourth. I was 39 for a number of years.

MEDICAL: Stopped off at Toronto East General Hospital yesterday to pick up instructions and materials for the next shot at a colon exam (the third) on Wednesday morning. This time there's no anaesthetic (too bad; it was kind of fun). I have to start fasting on Tuesday morning (Last Meal on Monday evening) and drink a number of laxatives. I was told to expect diarrhea for a good part of Tuesday and the whole night. Fun, wow. This is a BASELINE TEST, folks. The barium enema was invasive, uncomfortable (not to say painful), failed miserably, and the guff is that it's nowhere near the most efficient test. So why??

I do want to take issue with the doctor about an item on my chart: Why did he check "severe chronic constipation"? I take Metformin (a diabetes drug; "most common adverse effect of metformin is gastrointestinal upset, including diarrhea..."), and a few times a year I have to work at home because I can't go too far from the toilet. And 9 days out of 10 I have at least one good BM, because I eat lots of whole grains, vegs, and fruit. The only time I get corked up is when I visit my mother... Actually, now that she has had a second bathroom installed I don't even have to deal with that. Also, I have to stop the metformin for a couple of days before and after the test. This is actually a pretty good source of information on it:

BIRTHDAY again: In Ontario, older cars (mine's a 1999 Volkswagen Golf) require an emissions test from a certified garage ($35) every two years before the annual license renewal, which falls on one's birthday. I received the paperwork in June, and naturally I put off going to the MTO (ministry of transportation, ontario) until the day before I would get a ticket for not applying the new sticker by my birthday. I was nabbed once before. The ticket is $90 "plus $20 victim surcharge." I was a victim of procrastination---yeah, that's the ticket! Also I need to get a new DL photo. The last one was five years ago. I have new glasses, I guess that's why. I can't decide whether to get a haircut or not...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Good DM links and newsletters

In my efforts to get better control of my blood glucose and eating habits I have subscribed to a number of newsletters on diabetes management, exercise, and general health and healthy eating:

David Mendosa's site is amazing, though his newsletter is infrequent:

Diabetes Life at has a lively newsletter

Medscape at has news on controlled DM studies has good recipes doesn't serve Canadians but has good information lets you calculate your "real" vs. chronological age and helps you reduce your real age by providing analysis and steps you can take to reduce it. By the YOU doctors Oz and Mehmet

I can't really recommend the Canadian Diabetes Association newsletter---it's very, um, shall we say boring, uninspired, and undynamic? But check their website here:

DM update, freebies, and other interesting items

If anyone's interested, the maker of LifeScan OneTouch blood glucose monitors has a special promotion: call their Canadian customer line at 800.663.5521 and request a free USB interface cable. Mine arrived in about 3 days by Canada Post, but I wasn't home to sign for it so I had to go to my local post office to pick it up. Download the OneTouch software (free) and drivers, and you get a system that allows you to download and print your test results and track your BGs, medical records, etc. I have two UltraSmart meters and a OneTouch mini (but there's no way to download the results from the Mini, you have to enter them manually). I requested something online that I wasn't eligible for and to compensate they sent me samples of Splenda sugar (and coupons) and a pocket sized Aveeno moisturizer. I do love me that free stuff. in Canada.
I got all of these monitors for free, by the way: the Mini and UltraSmart with coupons, and the other Ultra after an interview with a rep from J&J who was also a diabetes educator (very interesting career choice). The test strips, which cost nearly $1 each, are mostly covered by my benefits.

I MAY have found a food that helps control my blood sugar---basil pesto. I disregarded a good AM fasting result I got in the early spring (whole wheat pasta, pesto, broccoli and a bit of extra Parmesan for dinner): around 5.5 mmol/dL or 100. Last Tuesday I was munching on a very sloppy meal of two high fiber wraps with two scrambled eggs, tomato slices, and pesto while I was cleaning up before the cleaning lady came in (yes, I'm one of those---but I want her to CLEAN, not waste her time doing dishes and gathering up recycling and dead clothes). My fasting BG was 2.8 mmol/dL or 54---a real hypo. I thought I was having a caf attack from too much coffee. My usual fasting results are way over 10. After a meal with pesto they've been between 5 and 7. I didn't get that result this morning but I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before bed (14.1 this AM). I'm not asking for a referral to the endo until I think my A1C will be lower...