September was a good month for me.

I got my second, and probably last, tattoo. This one is on my lower leg and is one of Mathew’s creations. The other one is on my back and is the same fairy that Kristen has (a high school graduation gift for her) in the same place on her shoulder. When I get photos of both I will post them before they fade or stretch into some other hellish creation.

I also visited an allergist who identified a health problem I couldn’t put my finger on. Working out at the gym remained a diffcult task for me, as did/does walking around downtown Saint John. From my parking lot I have one little city block walk up to my building but the steepness of that block is scary. In the wintertime when it is covered with ice and snow countless pedestrians have slipped and fallen on those sidewalks. I have skated down the length and onto the busy street below. I bought slip-on ice grips for my boots it gets so bad. All that to say though, that walking UP that hill in the morning continued to leave me out of breath no matter how much working out and walking I did.

Describing my symptoms was difficult and I figured anyone I mentioned it to chalked it up to me being overweight and out of shape.

The first strike towards better health was the family doctor realizing I was on Metoprolol while also having asthma and using a Ventolin inhaler. Recent studies showed the two counteract each other. So he switched me to another drug and the difference was amazing! I could breathe! I didn’t feel so faint walking up the hill! Yes, I didn’t feel so faint but something was still off.

So I decided to get allergy testing done. I’ve never had severe enough symptoms to warrant testing but I thought maybe something had changed over the years. The results were negative though. The allergist took my history and noted that allergies and asthma go together. He suspected that although I tested negative for allergies that I did indeed have them. According to him I represent the 1 in 20 people who don’t react to the test. He diagnosed twitchy lungs and gave me some prescription strength reactine for my allergies and 250 mcg of Flovent (2 puffs twice a day). I laughed his diagnosis off thinking he had conjured some hypothetical name up on his own to describe hysterical women who need placating.

I googled the term for the hell of it and was astonished – no, shocked to find it is a medical condition! It means that your lungs are super sensitive and react to irritating stimulants otherwise known as allergies. It inflames the lung tissues and brings on asthma attacks. Well blow me over with a feather why don’t you? I decided to give his medical regime a shot as he requested over the 6 week period to see if it made a difference.

Well what can I say but THANK YOU! Now I know what was going on! I couldn’t breath or get air through my lungs! No wonder I was do darned tired and slept so much (once the anemia went away)! Within 2 weeks I noticed a huge difference. Now I would beat anyone off of me to make sure I have a supply of those helpful medicines! The feeling I had was a tightening of my chest and restricted airways. I’ve never had a full-blown asthma attack where a doctor said you are having an asthma attack, so what did I know? It never occurred to me I had progressed from exercise-induced asthma to everyday symptoms!

It is not suprising when one considers the environment in downtown Saint John, where I work. It is a seaport. The ships come in and idle their engines constantly or rev them up in preparation for departure. The trains run through the area. There are 2 papermills in the immediate vicinity; one on the east side and the other on the west side (for whichever way the wind blows) PLUS the oil refinery. All in a very small radius. Anyone’s lungs would need some help with that concoction being sucked in on a daily basis.

I am so feeling much more like my old self. More chirpy, lots more energy and not so much sleeping! Maybe we should ask the family though before declaring me back to normal? Their thoughts might differ from mine.

Not only did Mathew start up with the Special Olympics Bowling again, but he joined Best Buddies. To quote from the Best Buddies homepage: Best Buddies is a National charitable organization that helps provide meaningful friendships for people with intellectual disabilities”. University students who volunteer for the program are matched with individuals with disabilities. The group, as a whole, does an activity once a month while the “buddies” get in touch with each other on a weekly basis. The first group meet and greet was a Halloween party and everyone was encouraged to dress up. Mathew went as Domo and his buddy turned out to be dracula. It was a lot of fun but the next time we met with Mathew’s buddy we didn’t recognize him without his costume!! Mathew’s buddy and he go to the movies together. Mathew loves seeing movies and has attended a few alone, with his buddy. This is great for us and shows the program is achieving its goal of reaching across society and helping disabled adults integrate just a little with their peers.

John went to Phoenix, Arizona for a work training course. He took a few extra days off after the course was over to hike in the Grand Canyon. He had visions of me accompanying him when he recounted a walk with another hiker, a woman. I asked if he enjoyed the conversation to which he replied that he did. I then told him OUR conversation would have been like this:

Me, “Who’s fucking bright idea was this?”
John, “mumble, mumble”
Me, “It’s fucking hot and I’m thirsty! How far is the nearest pool or mall? When is this shitty walk going to be OVER?”
John, “mumble, hate, mumble, kill….”

Yes, he was lucky to enjoy walking with another enthusiast. My idea of a vacation in Phoenix, Arizona is hitting the shops, the pool, anything cool until evening then admiring sights all lit with beautiful twinkling lights.

John brought back some beautiful pictures of the one of the Wonders of the World.
Please scroll down through just a few of snapshots he took.

John at the top of the canyon getting ready to walk down.

John at the top of the Grand Canyon

John at the top of the Grand Canyon

Looking closely you can see the long, long trail down that the hikers use to get to the bottom of the canyon.
Have fun dear!
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Below another beautiful shot of the canyon…
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Now take that same picture and insert one husband!
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John making a pit stop on his way down into the canyon
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The day’s hiking destination is the bottom of the canyon where the green river flows.  All the way down there. In one day. There are insane people out there who can – and do this for fun people and John is one of them!

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It is truly beautiful at the bottom.IMG_0061

Now let me show you John’s 5 star accommodations for the night:IMG_0067

This great sturdy bunkhouse with…wait for it… wait…

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All these awesome bedmates! John’s bunk is the one at the back ~ the bottom bunk. John is 6 feet tall. I doubt I would fit very well and I’m only 5’7″! People bunked down, repacked and came and went at all hours. It was not a great night’s sleep.

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John snapped a photo of a little friend who crossed his path. Those are John’s sunglasses beside the spider…say, I wouldn’t put my hand that close to a creature I’m not familiar with! What if this creepy-crawly could JUMP??IMG_0090

Following are more stunning shots from John’s journeys the next day. The walk back UP and out of the canyon.IMG_0121

Ha ha ha – ho ho ho- hee hee hee….did he really believe I could walk this kind of distance? Even with all my puffers? I love his enthusiasm! I hope he finds a hiking buddy or two to keep him company while I keep the home fires burning.IMG_0131

I’m like a hobbit. I’ve had my adventures and now I like my creature comforts of home! It takes a lot to drag me away from my comfy bed and cozy house sitting on a pretty little lake.

See that lower rock shelf on the right there? Look closely and you can see little blobs on the top. Look c-l-o-s-e-r…..IMG_0159

Those are goats! How the heck did they get there? More importantly what kind of skills do they have to get them off of that cliff? Not many predators will chase them out on that thing ~ to say nothing about seeing the other guys coming for days and days and days!IMG_0155

John found his walking/climbing sticks very helpful. He found the dry Arizona air relieved him of all his arthritis symptoms. Which was a good thing as he forgot all his medication at home! All the walking and climbing didn’t seem to bother his knees or ankles much although he is sure going to the gym made him better able to manage this kind of exercise. (yeah buddy, I hear you. I’ve been going too but my 2 lb weights and 2.5 km/hr treadmill won’t power me up the same hill you just climbed!)IMG_0160

A handy little “did-you-know” information display for your reading pleasure.IMG_0187

John rented a car and travelled away from Phoenix for a couple of days to check out the surrounding area. The landscape changes drastically as shown in these next photos:

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After driving by that gorgeous scenery imagine seeing this bright spot of colour!IMG_0233 It is autumn in Arizona just as it is here.

Next is the white house at Canyon de Chelly. This a National Monument located on the Navajo reservation. Sources state the Anasazi people lived here. John was able to walk fairly close to the area but the fence restricts you from getting too close.

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John stopped in Winslow, Arizona and came across this tongue-in-cheek place.IMG_0280
Someone has a sense of humour check out the dude leaning against the sign!IMG_0277

One of the last places John visited was to the Meteor Crater. A meteor hit this spot around 50,000 years ago and made a hole over 2 miles wide and 550 feet deep in its wake. This is a major tourist attraction and as such, has an air-conditioned building to view the crater plus obervation points.
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Some poor dinosaur was trodding along minding his own business when *POW* ~
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he, along with everything else in the surrounding area was incinerated… just.like.that.
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Goodbye Arizona! See you next time.
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