Discarded Cups…

Sam Clattenburg loves Doctor WhoFresh pot of coffee on a sunny Saturday morning?  Don’t mind if I do.   I have been dragging my ever increasing ass all week.  I have been incredibly tired and have had a lot of pain in my legs, back and neck.  I’ve also been experiencing a lot of inflammation lately.  I’m supposed to be gluten free, dairy free, caffeine, refined sugars, alcohol free but I don’t always follow the rules.   Not because I don’t want to, it’s because I’m poor and would rather eat a sandwich than go hungry.

My partner and I are trying to get by on just her income and it’s just not enough to support all the things I’m supposed to do to try and keep symptoms at bay.  “Have you tried acupuncture?”  “Why don’t you take this?”  “Why not get a massage?”  What part of poor and uninsured do you NOT understand?

It’s being stuck in a situation where you need a job to pay for all the things you need, and are supposed to do but not being well enough to keep a job, even a part time one.  Since 2004, I have been fired from 11 jobs.  Not because I wasn’t a fast learner, fun to work with, a good salesperson or a hard worker.  It was because of illness and calling in sick.  

I have NEVER called in sick unless I physically could not make it to work to do my job- I couldn’t afford that luxury supporting myself.   I don’t have a car so that means walking everywhere to get to bus stops, standing and walking and walking and standing, no matter if it’s pouring rain or minus 30 degree weather.

I am now 43 years old with severe arthritis and ME/CFS, degenerative disc disease in 3 spots on my spine.   I have a hard time some days taking my dog out for a pee.  Days where I spend my shower time laying in the tub absorbing the heat letting the water pound my skin because I can’t stand.

I would love to have a job and be a normal contributing person.  No one chooses disability, illness and poverty.  No one.  I’ve had to resort to doing things like selling my paintings when I was able to paint.  I have dog sat, hemmed pants, blogged for dollars on paid blogging sites that don’t seem to exist anymore.  Currently I do laundry for a neighbor, I offer to walk my neighbors dogs, I have offered to make sales calls for a friend’s husband, I have created a site for my friend’s business and blog for that.  The money is minimal but it makes feel like I’m doing something.  I just need more.

I get depressed and bummed out a lot because I can’t do the things I want or need to do.   Most recently, my dog has gotten fleas.  Now, she is a city dog who is indoors and on sidewalks and always on leash.  I don’t give her regular flea treatments because she doesn’t really need them.  The only thing I can conclude is that my neighbors who have cats coming and going all the time are carrying fleas.  My neighbors, although nice guys are rather irresponsible and dirty.  They also have multiple pets in a one bedroom apartment.  Our apartments are very close and we share a (very dirty and cat sprayed) back hallway that leads to the rape basement and laundry area.   Plus any time my dog comes into contact with the neighbors’ cat, she seems to get fleas on her.  I don’t know, either way, I can’t afford the meds my dog needs to be rid of them.  I had one tube of Advantix left that I put on her after a bath.   I can’t tell you how guilty I feel for not having the things my dog needs.  She also needs a vet check up that I can’t afford.   It makes me feel like a bad dog mom.  

Feeling like a failure is a common theme for my days.  Even if it is beyond my control, I feel like I have failed at life.  A lot of my friends my age have homes, families, cars and go on trips.  Their Instagrams read like travel brochures then there’s mine.

LesGeek on Instagram

Lots of bath, blanket and book pics.  I also commemorate good meals I have enjoyed.

I really want to upgrade my blog and get my own domain.  It costs $60.   I don’t have it.  If we have $60 it usually goes on food and toiletries.   It’s so frustrating.  I always feel like I’m hog tied and told, “Ok, now do life.”  

Discarded CupI don’t even qualify for government services because I live with my partner.  The government says she makes too much for me to get help.  With that and the way my family treats me I feel like a discarded coffee cup that’s been tossed out a window and kicked to the curb.  If you’ve ever driven anywhere in Canada, you’ll see A LOT of discarded Tim Horton’s cups on the highways, streets and overflowing in city trash cans.  I bet for every one of those cups that have been deemed used and useless by someone, there is a disabled person struggling to live.  Discarded Cups

I brew my own coffee at home and use a travel mug.  

I believe everyone has a purpose.  

Maybe mine is providing a voice for others who are suffering.

How do you get by if you suffer from chronic illness/pain?

Live Humbly, Be Charitable, Live Graciously,

Sam


Images

Tim Horton’s cup on street http://ecofriend.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/tim-hortons-coffee-cup-street_CFUMo_18770.jpg
Trash can full of Tim Horton’s cups https://i.cbc.ca/1.2111753.1382068838!/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_1180/technology-100706-tim-hortons-cups.jpg
Instagram and Doctor Who mugs my own 

New Fall Writing Project

Medical cannabisCannabis.  A personal favorite topic of mine.  I suffer with a few chronic pain conditions (Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Degenerative Disc Disease and Endometriosis) and after trying dozens of prescription medications that offered far more negative side effects than actual relief, I discovered cannabis through a friend of mine.  It worked.  It worked far better than the numerous pills- opiates, benzos, anxiety and sleeping medications, anti inflammatories, Gabapentin, Lyrica and high doses of antidepressants that were slowly killing me.  All I did was sleep.  I was dizzy with vertigo, nauseous and just numb.  At one point I even ballooned up to 260 pounds.  I was also starting to have problems with my liver.  I learned over time that the more cannabis I used, I didn’t need the Gabapentin, the Lyrica, the Amitriptyline,  the benzos and I was even able to reduce my dosage of antidepressants.  I laughed more.  I lost weight.  I enjoyed things more.  I hurt way less, I threw up less, I just felt better.  It took years for me to finally convince my doctor to prescribe it to me legally.  I brought her articles and Post Its with websites and video suggestions, my documented evidence that it indeed worked well for pain without all the side effects.  I have been pro cannabis (used responsibly) for many years.  

A couple of years ago, one of my best friends opened a dispensary in Nova Scotia and I have been a big proponent of hers since.  She helps patients who are dealing with cancer, long term illnesses and chronic pain disorders.  She believes that people have the right to alternative health care and the right to medicate with cannabis.  I tend to agree with her.  We are in the midst of a large scale opiate epidemic that is not only destroying lives, but destroying families and creating a large burden on our health care system.  That epidemic has some sinister roots all leading back to profits.  In all, opiates tend to be over prescribed. Positive features of cannabis

Although here in Canada, we are on the brink of Legalization of Marijuana, there are still many kinks to be worked out, policies to be devised, laws to be developed and bills to be passed.  In the meantime, patients are being left at the mercy of the large corporate Licensed Producers (LPs) who deal in mass quantities, at higher prices and in many cases, poorer quality.  There have even been mass recalls where toxic pesticides were discovered during random testing on crops that were advertised as organic.  These LPs deal in online sales predominantly.  I can’t help but wonder;

Annual Deaths MarijuanaWhat if you’re sick or elderly?  Maybe you can’t afford Internet or don’t have a computer or smartphone.  What if you’ve never tried cannabis and have questions about what strains would work best, or how you can expect to feel?  Maybe you want to try alternatives to smoking.  Maybe you’d prefer to ingest oils and edibles.  What about these people?  This is why the role of dispensaries should be considered a crucial part of Legalization.  To make sure people are being educated on what they are buying.  To make sure there are plenty of options to medicate that don’t include smoking.  To service people who can’t afford large quantities.  

These are the things my friend fights for and why I both support and admire her.  Recently we discussed starting a blog for her shop featuring patient stories so I’m happy to say that is my new job.  Tonight I interviewed my first patient and designed the blog site.  I’m hoping to have it finished and published no later than Friday.  I plan on sharing it once I’m finished and I really hope that some of you check it out if that’s something you are interested in.

Having a new (paid) project gives me a sense of purpose and a pep in my step.  I am really looking forward to doing to the best job I can for her to make it successful.  I am very grateful for the opportunity.

 

Have you tried cannabis?  What’s your story?

 

Live Humbly, Be Charitable, Live Graciously,

 

Sam

 

Images

One of the many exceptional features of cannabis is… https://illegallyhealed.com/millions-of-cannabis-patients-are-frustrating-jerry-are-you-one-of-them/

Annual Deaths  http://medicalcannabiscultivation.com/medical-marijuana-pain-relief/

“Medical Marijuana”  http://lasvegasreleaf.com/nevada-legalized-marijuana-now-faq/

Doctor Who Slippers and Middle Finger Flippers

TARDIS slippers

Well, it’s happening.  Winter is coming.  (Giant groan) I hate winter.  I spent today literally wrapped up in fleece trying to stay warm and dry.   Saint John is such a soggy city.  It rains more than anywhere I’ve ever lived.  

I’ve broke out all my ugly fleece pants.  Today I’m rockin purple ones.  I’ve had the space heater going all day trying to get the dank out of our tiny apartment.   I spent the day flipping between two different books I am reading simultaneously, Doctor Sleep and Revival both by my idol- Stephen King.   The only man I allow in my bed. 

Everything hurts; right down to the joints in my fingers.   FML

To top things off I am in the beginning stages of menopause.  I know it’s menopause because I go from mellow to bitch in under 3 seconds.  I just want to strip off all my clothes no matter where I am and just beat on and berate the next person I see in all my naked glory.  I’m also an emotional mess.   Old episodes of Sex and the City has left me crying all over myself after blowing through two rolls of toilet paper.  When does this stop?  How long will I be a surly, sweaty, crying mess?  

Other things I could do without are as follows:

Cruise Ship Horns–  We live in a port city and all the big cruise ships park just a couple of streets down from where we live.  I can actually see the ships in great detail from my bedroom window.  You can only imagine how loud those horns are or how many teas I’ve spilled down the front of my shirt when they unexpectedly blow at any random time of day.

Slipping on Wet Leaves– It has begun. I slipped yesterday on a yellow maple leaf.  It’s much like slipping on a banana peel only far less amusing.

Everything Looks Dirty– It’s amazing how sunshine and greenery can clean up a city.  I love where I live in the summers, but come the fall everything looks dirty, ugly and depressing.  I am ready for Arizona.  Oh God I wish I could winter there. 

Even the People Start to Look Dirty– In the summer, people walk by smiling, carrying their summer beverages, giddy and laughing.  I have developed “street friendships” with many of the other dog owners so it’s normal to stop and chat.  Now it’s people trying to stay warm and dry.  They quickly shuffle past you, no smiles, no Hellos, just a person trying to get where they gotta go dragging an unwilling dog behind them.  It’s like everyone gets a little less friendly as the weather changes.

Pain, Pain and more Pain– I have crippling arthritis and Fibromyalgia.   I’m like Dr. Jekyll/ Mr. Hyde comparing summers to winters.   I know it’s not winter yet but the “in between” seasons in Eastern Canada is basically our rainy seasons.   When winter ends, it rains until summer, when summer ends, it rains until winter.  Our year looks like this:

Rain > 2 weeks of a “Spring” > Rain > A little “Summer” > Rain > Cold as shit > Rain > Winter (also cold as shit)

I’m going to need more Tylenol.  Also, why don’t they make heating pads larger?  Like full body length?  

The season changes always result in a week or two of insomnia, headaches and bouts of crying.   How do you deal where you live?  Is it warm where you are?  Can I come live with you until our 2 weeks of Spring arrives?  

In the meantime,

Live Humbly, Be Charitable, Live Graciously,
Sam

Germain Street
Dreary Saint John
*Photos are my own

Summer Road Trips and the Perfect Place “To Go”

A guest blog post by Ocean Hayward

Road trip

It’s summer road trip season, and I’ve been partaking all summer long so far.  My husband and I have been driving back and forth around the Maritimes visiting friends and family.  Yes, summer road trips- those long trips in the car filled with highways lined with nothing but trees for miles and miles, rest-stops, gas stations, fast food and sitting in the same position for hours on end, squirming around in the seat trying to find that sweet spot where your legs, neck and back don’t ache.  And, of course, holding in your business until the next rest-stop or exit.

Growing up, I went on a lot of family road trips in the summer.  My father generally drove and one thing about my father is he is always in a hurry.  He hates traveling, so whenever we went on our trips, he wanted to get there and back home as quickly as possible.  It’s because my father is not a public pooper.  The only place he will drop anchor is at home.  We’ve been out at stores, restaurants or family get-togethers and my dad will rush us all out to take us home because he has to shit.  I, too, suffered from the same shame about public pooping, (either a learned behaviour or inherited one, I’m not sure which) for years until the “Best Buy” incident. 

My husband and I were on a road trip of our own to visit his brother in Ontario and we drove through the U.S. because the gasoline is much cheaper there.  On the way, my husband wanted to look at laptops at Best Buy because electronics are also much cheaper, even with the exchange rate.  When traveling, I would always hold in my bowel movements because the shame, oh, the shame of shitting in a public restroom.  But when you’re on a road trip, you don’t have the luxury of driving home to use the toilet.  So there we were, my husband and I, in Best Buy, and that’s when the poop pangs hit me- my bowels weren’t going to allow me to wait to use the bathroom until our next stay in a hotel.  So I didn’t walk, I literally RAN to the Best Buy bathroom, without even saying a word to my husband who was examining each electronic item, the prices and doing the math for exchange rates in his head.  He didn’t even realize that I had disappeared.

The nice thing about the Best Buy bathrooms is that usually they are empty.  I was so relieved (Pun intended) when I got into the bathroom and there wasn’t a single other person in there.  I think that people don’t generally need to use the bathroom when shopping for electronics like they do at gas stations or rest stops off of the highway.  Probably because most people shopping for electronics are not that far from home, and they probably don’t stay in the store long enough to feel the urge.  So I had the WHOLE bathroom to myself.  I checked under each stall to ensure I was indeed truly alone, and I was.  It was quiet and clean, and I let it all out!  Afterwards, I felt empty in a beautiful way that only people who have held in their shit for more than a day can understand.  I was in there for a very long time.  When I came out, my husband immediately looked up to see me come out of the bathroom.  “Was that you?” Apparently the smell of my “brand” had emanated out into the TV department where my husband had moved to do more price comparisons just outside of the bathroom.  He was actually puzzling about the smell and wondering if the Best Buy had an issue with their sewage system. It didn’t.  It was ME!  But you know even though I stunk up the entire Best Buy bathroom and surrounding TV department, I didn’t care.  No one in that Best Buy in New Hampshire knew me and I felt so good to have it all out.

But back to my dad, where I learned to become a dysfunctional pooper in the first place, (Hey, Dad, EVERYBODY POOPS!) and his mad rush to get the family road trips over as quickly as possible.  Our most memorable road trip as a family was when I was 17 and had just finished the eleventh grade.  My brother was 12 at the time.  We lived in Nova Scotia, on the eastern coast of Canada.  My mother wanted us to visit her sister who lives in British Columbia (BC) on the west coast of Canada and instead of flying, my parents decided to drive to Campbell River on Vancouver Island, BC because supposedly they wanted us to have a learning experience out of it by seeing all of Canada.  (FUN FACTOID: Canada is the second largest country in the world!) As the trip progressed, I began to see that the learning experience part was more my mother’s idea. My dad, on the other hand, saw driving as a way to save money instead buying plane tickets for the four of us (which would have been very expensive and may have caused my father anxiety about the possibility of having to have a shit in the tiny airplane bathroom.)

The funny thing is we didn’t actually see much of Canada at all.  I mean, we saw it.  Some of it.  On the way up, we drove by the “Big Nickel” at the Canadian Mint in Sudbury, Ontario.  Then, in my dad’s rush, we skipped Manitoba and Saskatchewan altogether and drove through Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana instead.  We even passed by the site of Custer’s Last Stand.  We drove through the beautiful Rocky Mountains.  Thing is, although we saw all of these things, we didn’t really SEE them.  We saw them through the car window, yes.  Whenever we asked to stop to actually SEE any of these things, you know, as in get out of the actual car and walk around, my dad said, “You can see it from here just fine.”  So our photo album of our trip to BC consists of blurred photos of mountains, plains and the Big Nickel with the edge of the car window bordering each scenic panavista and landmark.  An important lesson I learned from driving across Canada is that it’s very difficult to get good photos from a car window.

Another thing I learned is that families should not take road trips across an entire continent together.  My brother and I fought with each other the entire trip.  My parents had to separate us by having one of us sitting up front with Dad while the other sat in the back with our mom.  We still managed to annoy each other diagonally from time to time.  And we constantly fought over who would drive “shot-gun.” Remember shot-gun?  Running and trying to call out shot-gun at the first sight of the car so you would be the passenger in the front seat?  This was back in 1991 too, so we didn’t have any smart-phones or even hand-held video games like a Game-boy to distract us from the long drive.  There may have been Game-boys available but my parents wouldn’t have bought us both one, so we would have just fought over that too.  Smart-phones would have been a blessing for us.  It’s not like we could really see much of the country anyway, since my dad was speeding across Canada in a mad rush to get back to his beloved porcelain throne in the sanctity of his own home. So a smart-phone would have really made things a lot easier for all of us.  Today, families can go on road-trips and not even talk to each other for the entire trip.  In fact, maybe another part of my father’s rush was to just get some peace and quiet from the constant bickering between my brother and I…  in the bathroom, of course.

We also had to use maps.  There was not GPS or Google Maps to direct us.  So we had all these road maps- they folded up into the size of a pamphlet but when you unfolded them, they took up the entire front seat.  Then one of us, usually my mother or I, would read out the directions to my father.  We didn’t have computerized voices, but it didn’t matter because we were quite capable of mispronouncing place names.  Then there would be arguments over which way we were supposed to be going, and points where we would get lost.  My father was surprisingly willing to stop for directions when we would get lost, unlike the usual stereotypical man.  I think it was because of how he was always in a hurry to get the trip over with.  He was happy to get directions so he could get to his “home bowl” a little bit quicker.

I feel truly sad for my father, who at 70 still hasn’t learned the wonderful lesson I learned at the Best Buy that day with my husband in New Hampshire: if you have to go number two in public, you should just go do it, because it feels a lot better after and it doesn’t create as much of a stink as it does after holding it in for 2 days.  And no matter how fast you try to drive across Canada and back, you’re still going to have to poop at some point before you make it home.  So to anyone else who’s ever had anxiety about being a public pooper, I say take the advice of the Nike ads, find yourself a Best Buy bathroom and “Just Do It!” 

~ Ocean 

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net  “Cars Traveling With A Blurred Image” by RK008