Monday, June 5, 2017

Get the Balance Right

Hi everyone! My results came back normal. My colon is perfectly healthy (I actually saw images of it!)  and so it appears that the issues are "functional" problems caused by my pelvic floor dysfunction (aka overactive muscles). This was not a problem for quite some time, but due to many life events, I couldn't get my stress under control and we all know that stress wrecks havoc on our bodies. It has reared its ugly head and manifested itself in other ways that I hadn't previously experienced, especially with unnerving digestive distress.

My symptoms were concerning and although I tend to be a little on the hypochondriac side due to a lot of previous trauma, I didn't want to play roulette with my health.  However, now that I know what is going on, i'm trying to figure out ways to cope. I am going back to physiotherapy and incorporating massage into my routine, along with also dealing with the emotional side of things because there truly is a brain gut connection, which i'll talk about in another blog.

I find that taking photographs is really peaceful and it allows me to get lost in the moment, so here are a few I took recently. I'll update again soon. Thanks for all the support everyone. Enjoy!


Photo by Melissa F. Arditti

Simple beauty

Photo by Melissa F. Arditti

Out for a walk with my Dad and look what we see!

Photo by Melissa F. Arditti

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mother's Day contest entry for Property Mom

Wow, I am really touched that my entry about my mom was chosen as the big winner! She won a lovely gift certificate for Piccolo's here in Windsor, Cineplex movie tickets and a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

This is a great contest that Property Mom is doing and the best part is that every month another mom gets an opportunity to win something awesome!

Click on the link below to find out how to enter!

Property Mom's Contest - Click here!

I decided to do a written entry and so if you're curious, here it is! Many tell me that I really have a way with words. I am really proud of this.  Enjoy!

My Mom

We call her SuperMom. It’s not because she can pull off wearing a cape and still look amazing in tights, but for the simple reason that she embodies so many wonderful qualities that have graced us over the years.

During the hardest times of my life, my mom still has the ability to make me laugh when she tells me zany tales of her youth. Like the time she wore two completely different shoes on her way to a job interview by mistake because she was nervous or the embarrassing moment when she was walking and didn’t realize she was wearing over-sized underwear and they fell right down in the middle of the street.

My mom is like a best friend to everyone she meets. Her smile is contagious and she holds no judgment because she knows what it’s like to be different.  

The devotion over the years to her husband shows that vows still truly mean something with the words “in sickness and in health,” as she has been by my father's side without a moment of hesitation.

True love between partners can last a lifetime, but the love given from a mother certainly does deserve a lifetime of love.

Strolling through Reaume Park

We certainly had beautiful weather yesterday and so after dinner last night, we took a nice stroll around the Reaume Park.

There is a cute little ice cream place that has a plethora of ice cream flavours, slushies, sundaes, etc... When "chocolate peanut butter" is involved, you know Bill has to have it. Kind of nice because they also had dairy-free options, so he treated me to some lemon gelato!

This is considered a "single scoop" by the way. Holy moly!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Awakening the beauties

A few photos that I took while having a leisurely walk around East Gate.
Is Spring finally here?


All photos by Melissa F. Arditti 
Please contact me if you wish to use any of my photos.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

I Wanna Be Sedated: The Colonoscopy Experience

Well another month is almost done and I do apologize for not blogging, but I have had other things to deal with that took priority, including my first colonoscopy.  With March passing by (it was also Colon Cancer month), I am not going to go into all the gory details, but I will write about my personal experience because I know there are so many people who are terrified of this procedure and of course, when you go online, somehow the Google Gods direct you to websites that literally scare the sh!t out of you.

So let’s start with my nagging feeling that I needed to get a second opinion after seeing my first GI doctor.  I thought for a fleeting second that maybe my anxiety was fueling doubt, but with the allotted 5 minutes of time I was granted after results came back from my sigmoid, since my symptoms were not going away and I was just in so much agonizing pain, I decided to go back to my family doctor and ask for a second referral to another GI doctor here in the city.  I am really glad that I did because although this one was not taking any new referrals because he treated me many years ago (gallbladder fun) I was accepted and so it was just about waiting for the doctor to review my file and decide what to do next.

Everyone knows that our health-care system is complicated. Most specialists are booked solid and it can take months to see anyone. Back many years ago when I was first dealing with pelvic pain, the waiting list to see a specialist in London, Ontario was almost a year and a half or longer. Thus, my trip to the States.

Here in Windsor, I was informed that the length could be a few weeks to a few months because of how backed up he was with patients (no pun intended). I was fortunate to get in for a consult within a few weeks time. Now mind you I was proactive with calling up the office and letting the receptionist know that I was available at ANY possible time that I could be fitted in and to please put me on their cancellation list.  Let me say that having a good staff is so important, as they are pretty much your first contact before seeing the doctor.  This GI’s staff is remarkable and with the volume of patients they deal with on a regular basis, man oh man, they are angels.

So during my consult, the GI doctor decided that a colonoscopy was definitely warranted.  He spent close to half an hour with myself and my fiance going through my whole history and pointing to the poster that showed the whole GI tract and explaining the functionality of different parts and some of the illnesses associated. Scary stuff, I won’t lie.  Towards the end of the appointment, he gave a good analogy that I try to hold onto when I get incredibly health-stressed:  “You don’t get divorced before you get married.”  So I was advised not to self-diagnose, nor jump to conclusions on what could be happening until after we go through the procedure and get the results. Easier said than done, but i'm trying.

I was booked for my colonoscopy in the second week of May, which seemed like an eternity, but it was the earliest he could do.  Then it happened.... I got a call on “Good Friday” asking if I was available to come in on April 18th because there was a sudden cancellation.  Obviously, many people want to celebrate Easter and since it’s personally not important to me to celebrate anything anymore on the given day (that’s what dating a performer teaches you as well when they have to perform on all those special holidays that are usually reserved for family time and just dealing with so many unexpected interruptions in life) so I jumped at the opportunity.

So let’s talk about the prep. I will say that every doctor is different on what they want done, so I am just stating what my instructions were prior to the procedure.

Pharmacy Shopping List:

  • Laxatives  (I opted for Life brand, it’s cheaper than Dulcolax)
  • Pico-Salax (2 sachets)

The day before you need to fast. No solid foods are allowed.  Then you drink...drink and drink. Only clear liquids are allowed, so strained juices without pulp, clear broth, water, coffee/tea (without milk or cream), Gatorade, soft drinks, plain Jello and popsicles. Stay clear of anything that you cannot see through, red or purple juices (these colours could signal inflammation and ulcers during the procedure where this is none), milk and milk products, and yep booze is a definite no-no!!

The morning before the colonoscopy, you’ll take 10 mg of whatever laxative you bought. Then in the late afternoon, you’ll mix one sachet of something called Pico-Salax with cold water. Keep on drinking throughout the day.

Pico-Salax comes in two powdered flavours; cranberry and orange. I opted for orange since I thought okay it may be just like drinking a glass of orange juice.  I had to buy 2 packages since they only came in single formats, but you may be able to find some packages that have 2 sachets, depending on what store you go to. My go-to is always Shoppers Drug Mart and really, who wants to be shopping around for laxatives?!  Just get in and get out. So what’s Pico-Salax. It’s basically a very powerful laxative that will clean you out so the doctor can get a clear view of your entire colon.  If  you are not cleaned out, you may have to redo the procedure (hello anxiety!), so you want to really follow all the instructions well from your GI.  This is a true colon “detox.”  You can read all about it here:

Pico-Salax options

Pico-Salax purchased at Shoppers Drug Mart

The next morning which would be the day of the colonoscopy, you’ll take the second dose of Pico-Salax.  You can drink 3 hours prior to your appointment time. (Ex. 6 am for your dose if your appointment is in the morning, 8 am if your appointment is in the afternoon).

Okay so if you’re with me so far and I haven’t totally grossed you out, this next bit might make you feel a bit squeamish, but this is the joy of being an adult and having to go through health issues.

All you do is pour the entire sachet packet into about 150 ml of water.  It will fizzle up, so then you will want to stir for about 2-3 minutes until completely dissolved. Then you chug chug chug. Follow up with 1.5 – 2 litres of water and wait.  Every person is different so you may start to feel the gurgling in your stomach sooner than others. Make sure you are close to a bathroom because that sudden urge to go will come quickly.  Side note, for me it took about 4 1/2 hours after taking the liquid to start. I actually called the pharmacist because I was concerned that since nothing was happening, I would have to reschedule. Shortly after his advice to drink a lot more water, I was making a bee line for the washroom. Once, twice, three times...and on and on for pretty much on/off for most of the night. An exhausting process considering there is no food in your system, and the Pico-Salax, although is tolerable, still tastes very medicinal. Unfortunately, until they can come up with a more innovative way, this is what one must do. Again, your experience may be totally different, but just warning you to be close to a bathroom, have ample toilet paper, some good sprays like Vipoo, Glade, or Febreeze (these are my top scents).  I also got some Gatorade to replenish any electrolytes lost and to get a bit of energy back, so I wouldn’t be a total zombie. I am happy that I consulted with a couple people beforehand so I knew sort of what to expect.

Febreeze, Vipoo and Glade sprays

A great brand of toilet paper that is really gentle!

Gatorade Frost
After basically a night of broken sleep, the morning arrived with the birdies chirping by my window and yes, it was time to take my second dose!  Thankfully it wasn’t as exhausting as the evening prep, but still unpleasant nonetheless.

Leaving our place, Bill spotted 2 bunnies! I was pretty nervous, so seeing my cute little friends made me smile and was a positive sign.

I went to MET Hospital this time, which was a great experience. Everyone was friendly and it was like a well-oiled machine in the Endoscopy Unit.  The actual procedure...well I have no idea because I was fully sedated. However, being rolled into the operating room, it reminded me of the tv show, Nip Tuck because they had music going for every procedure they did. I recall having my IV put in and getting some tubes stuck up my nose to breathe. My GI came up to me and asked how I was feeling. Of course I said I was scared to death and he comforted me. Next, he asked me to roll over on my side and that was it. My eyes closed and I woke up about an hour and a half later, given some fluids to drink and when I was ready, I could get on my clothes and see my honey who would take me home. Since biopsies were taken and that takes time to get back,  I would have a follow-up in a few weeks, which will be the middle of May to find out what's going on.

So there you have it.  If you have to go for a colonoscopy, I hope that some of this information will be helpful for you.  Never ignore uncomfortable symptoms that you may have because you are afraid. It’s always a good idea to get checked out and get that clean bill of health, or at least know what you’re dealing with.  Go with someone who you trust because if you're like me, I tend to blank out at medical appointments.  Huge thank you to everyone who has given me so much love and support!

Although colon cancer and other illnesses can be preventable and even very treatable once found, delaying going to see your doctor or foregoing important procedures may just cost you your life.

Feel free to drop me any comments on this blog post or you can always e-mail me privately. 

Bottoms up! :)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Banana-Oatmeal-Flax Peanut-Butter-Chocolate Chip Treats

Another version taken from the original recipe that is really tasty! It's fun to experiment with different toppings.


2-3 ripe bananas
2 cups of oats
1-2 teaspoons of ground flax
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 cup of oil
add your favourite toppings (in this one I used peanut butter, semi-sweet chocolate chips, unsweetened coconut, flax and raisins)


Mash up the bananas well and mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl
Let sit for about 10 minutes.
Grease a baking pan and take a scoop of the mixture, roll into your hand and place on the sheet.
Flatten or leave them as is.
Spread them apart on the baking sheet
Place into the oven at 350 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Virtual Dollars That Make Sense

This next blog will talk about how you can make money from the comfort of your own home. First off, let me say that there are no free lunches in this world, so if you’re hoping that I’ll be telling you how to be a millionaire, go read a Get-Rich-Quick book because this is not the way.

Through my own personal journey, if you’re unable to work outside the home on a regular basis due to illness (this has been my case over the last while), you can still be productive and a valuable asset to a client or company. I’d like to provide tools that I’ve used that will help you gain back your self-confidence and find a new purpose in life. As one of my favourite artists, the Pet Shop Boys would say, “there are a lot of opportunities you just have to know how to make them.”

Developing your online presence:

Okay so I guess I did tell a tiny lie, you do have to invest in some money in order to get started. However, it’s nothing that is unusual to the way the world works now.

1.  A computer is a must!! Desktop, laptop, netbook, Ipad, even your smartphone would work for some tasks. It’s whatever you would be most comfortable to work with.

2. A reliable Internet connection. DSL would be your best option.

3. Other technology add-ons could be a microphone using a system like Skype to actually talk to clients instead of running up high land-line phone bills,  a webcam, if you feel like you want even more interaction and a digital camera, in case your job involves taking photographs and posting them to various e-commerce sites. You can always use your phone since some have excellent camera quality.

So now you’re all hooked up from a technological aspect, so now comes the fun stuff.

1. Getting an e-mail address. It is very important for you to access and keep track of your contacts and sites that you belong to.  Keep the name simple, yet professional. Use a gmail account, yahoo, or one that your ISP provides. Avoid using brand new companies who haven’t yet established themselves because if their site goes down, you’ll be having great difficulty with accessing your mail and that will be detrimental to any potential clients that you contact or who want to reply back to you. Trust me, been there, tried that!

2. Set up an online payment account. Personally I think Paypal is the best. It’s quick, easy and most people use it as a method of payment for those who do work in other cities and even countries.

3. Make a list of skills that you possess. Everything from your typing speed and ability to write cohesive letters, to using programs like Excel to make spreadsheets or your knack for capturing a beautiful photo. Refer to a previous resume or if you’re having a self-deprecating day, ask friends or family to help you with this task.

4. Go to free classifieds ad sites such as Craigslist and Kijiji as a starting point. Begin to look at the jobs wanted/services sections and you’ll be amazed at how many postings are up. Browse through each category too. Note that you don’t want to just look at your city, search through other cities, and other countries too.  You’ll find clients who have no issue with hiring someone to “work from home” that can cut and paste text into a document to more complex tasks like web design. Respond to any that you want to try out and write a brief email about what you’d bring to the table, well the virtual table, so to speak. Also mention that you would be more than happy to work from your home computer to do this job/task.

5. Be realistic on your availability. If you have a lot of doctor’s appointments, take medication that makes you drowsy, or just can’t sit for long periods of time at a computer, you can say that you have a flexible schedule and can work a certain number a week (you have to determine what you think you can handle). If you can work more than the regular 9-5 pm, even better as a lot of companies have no problem outsourcing work at various hours, depending on the time zone.

6. Can you “like” or “tweet?” Learn social networking! A lot of clients cannot spend the time going through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and various other sites updating statuses or doing repetitive tasks. This is where you come in and learn the ropes. If you can navigate the site and send a message, use the search feature, upload pictures, you’re on your way. One great job that is sought out is for someone to compile a list and send out a standard form letter to certain demographics using a site like Facebook, in order to gain more popularity for a business/product/service.

What kinds of online tasks are available?

Writing tasks. You’d be shocked at how many sites have spelling mistakes and never even notice it until someone points it out. If you like grammar, why not offer to be a proofreader? So many businesses hire people to be a second-eye. Many professionals also want someone to look over his/her work before an important presentation. Can you make sure the data is correct by cross-referencing with another site provided? If you’re fond of academia, students are constantly posting for help with essays and other school-related materials.  If you have a good grasp of the English language (or another language that is required) offer assistance. If you’re the creative type, there are tons of aspiring novelists who go on these classified sites seeking out editors and proofreaders, who won’t charge them the price that a publishing company would. As a freelance editor, you’re providing professional service at a fraction of the price. If you charge as an example $2-3 per page, and the person has 300 pages, that’s not too bad for doing something that you enjoy and will help them out.

Translation services. This one is HUGE! If you know a second or third language, you’re rolling in dough. Seriously, there are so many people who want documents translated in a variety of languages. They are willing to pay a decent amount too since you would be a real person fluent in the desired language and not just a translation software program that they would have to double-check to make sure there were no additional errors.

Next is a big one: Survey companies!

Get your voice heard! There are so many awesome sites that you can join up and earn money from. Many are legit, you just have to be cautious about which ones payout and also whether your country is allowed to participate. Some have Canadian or US only, others are broader. I’ve become quite the expert at it, so I’m always willing to help out if you’re unsure of who to join up with. Best of all, these are all FREE!!! You should never join a survey club that asks you to pay money. The surveys range from 5 minutes to the most an hour. If it’s longer than that time-frame, they will often compensate you more. Companies always want your opinion on new products and based on your demographics, you can be eligible to participate. Again, this is all done online. Some even have communities where you can chat with other people and make new friends. They are called online focus groups and forums. If you’re okay with giving feedback on a variety of topics from health to technology, this is a great way to earn some extra bucks or gift cards. You can even donate your money to charity if you wish to.

A few things to note:
  • Be honest in your responses.
  • Only give out information that you feel comfortable with. Many surveys will include a -ine of “prefer not to say” so there is that option and they will never ask you things like credit card number, social insurance number, etc… If they do, immediately exit that site and delete your account.
  • Make sure to claim any earnings on your taxes. It may not be a lot, but it's just the right thing to do.
The fun and easy referral process:

Many survey companies often ask you to “refer a friend.”  This is always a great incentive too because if a friend joins up on your referral, you are both compensated. Just make sure to follow the instructions so your friend doesn’t go directly to sign up and eliminates your chance at earning more.

So now to find the right job for you:

Find your passion. As an example, if you love watching movies, find someone who wants what is termed as a “ghostwriter” (an individual who posts online anonymously on behalf of a client/company) to post reviews.  Mention that you would be happy to write a sample review, this will entice and see if you are a good fit for the job. You can make excellent money posting film reviews for various sites and also get free dvds at the same time.  Just make sure you find out what kinds of movies you’d be responsible for as some may be along the lines of adult-related material.

Those are just some tips that can help you earn some extra cash and keep you feeling productive!

Please send me a note by replying to this blog or you can e-mail me,  if you’d like to know some of the sites I belong to that do pay out and I’ll be happy to send you referral links.

Everything Counts In Large Amounts

I’ve been through a lot in 30+ years of life. I’ve been scared not knowing what was happening to me, I’ve felt pain, utter sadness, anger at those who would not take me seriously and countless disappointment in those who I did trust. I have been assaulted multiple times, and i’m the person who can’t always find a reason to wake up in the morning. However, i’m still here writing this blog and so if you do want to, please continue reading.

Let me just say that it seems throughout my life I have suffered from a few “weird” illnesses. I quote the term weird because incidents have boggled the minds of many doctors and the worst part, they happen out of nowhere. The two most profound medical incidents that changed my life were being paralyzed for 6 months from the legs down without any warning. No doctor could even fathom what was happening. Fortunately, my Dad did some searching on the Internet and came up with a possible diagnosis and we returned to the doctor and it was confirmed that it was likely erythema nodosum. I did recover but the toll it took on my inner core took a long time to go away.

A few years later, I had a spontaneous gallbladder operation. All of a sudden, while on vacation (while Bill was performing and I came along) out in Digby, Nova Scotia, I got horribly sick. The pain in my side was excruciating and I was sweating bullets. I was rushed to emergency by ambulance in the middle of the night. Oh keep in mind, no one tells you that out of province ambulance costs are several hundred dollars (at least it was at that time). I received a bill several months later with the sticker shock. Fortunately, my dad being a lawyer dealt with that situation promptly and I didn't have to pay anything. I have no idea how I travelled so many hours back home to Windsor, but somehow with the love and support of Bill saying I was going to be okay and distracting me, plus Skyping with my parents.

I immediately went to my doctor, where I was pretty much as pale as a vampire and frail. She took one look at me and immediately ordered a Hidascan.  If you’ve ever gone through a Hidascan, you’ll know how terrifying it is. Initial thought was the big C. Oh fun. Thankfully, no cancer, but a very angry gallbladder that needed to come out right away. The operation went smoothly, but I couldn’t move much, so here I was back in bed.  I don’t know what happened to me once my gallbladder was out but I started to develop more pain that was not-related. It was debilitating pain where I just couldn’t seem to get out of bed.

My urology appointment now (all these fun new specialists - note sarcasm) was the scariest time for me, as I had to go through my first ever cystoscopy. You’d think I’d be used to procedures as I was given cat scans, mri's, ultrasounds and even an endoscopy. Ultimately, I was diagnosed with what was considered by many to be an incurable and debilitating illness called IC, yet I given no instructions on how to deal with it. When someone phones you up at home and says as a professional that he will take care of me, one may believe there is some hope on the situation. Sadly, that was anything but the case. When you try and stand up for your rights and ask questions, you get dismissed not discharged. He figuratively shoved me out of his office and wiped his hands clean.  I even did a presentation to Windsor Regional  with the head of Urology, discussing their motto of "outstanding care - no exceptions" and how through this ordeal, how crucial it is that doctors get extra training in learning how to talk to patients, helping them navigate diagnoses and most of all, showing compassion. Being skilled at your profession is not enough. Not when you're dealing with people's fragile lives. My presentation was applauded.

Onto a second referral and at least this time I felt like I was being taken seriously about my pain. This professional was caring and respected me, but in my heart, I did not believe that he had the answers either. I went through a second cystoscopy and other painful procedures. By the 6th treatment, I was in agony and so my course of treatment was ended. I was told that there is nothing more that could be done. I could take painkillers and perhaps try a holistic way, such as a naturopath.

I was devastated but desperate. To be blunt, I was taken for a ride and lost a shitload of money on useless remedies that not only didn’t work (Panax Gingsing to rev up my energy levels and align my mental chi, whatever that meant), a homeopathic solution that when I went to the pharmacist to get it, the person was very adamant about me not taking it. When I questioned my naturopath, she was livid and told me the pharmacist had no idea what he was talking about and this would be helpful. I returned to the pharmacist and he said that he got a call blasting him for not filling the order.

Confusion bestowed me and I decided not to take it. Returning back for my next appointment, I could sense her frustration. I was advised to come see her now 3 times per week (I was only seeing her once every week at this point) and add in a bunch of additional treatments. Aside from one relaxing Mayan massage that was supposed to cure my pelvic pain (it didn’t) it was apparent that all I was to her was a blank cheque waiting to be filled. I was also further scarred when she said that I shouldn’t have had any of the medical procedures done because they actually harmed me more.

Back to bed I went. Unable to really do much of anything because my pain was just so terrible. It was like knives stabbing me. The wait to see any specialist in another city was approximately 2 to 3 years at the time, so I felt like this was the end of the road.

While I was driving with my family, we always hear the commercial of  “Do you have a Beaumont doctor?” Usually they are mentioning their superior cardiac center. However, this time, it mentioned if you were a female and had pelvic pain that they had a new women-focused urology center. It made me cry because I felt like there was help that I could get but it was just not possible.

A miracle happened one day and I was told that I would be getting into seeing the top urologist in women’s pelvic pain Dr. Peters. My parents and I went online to check out the center and also the video. Amazing! We were all in awe yet still skeptical though but at least this time, hopeful that this would be a place where I could begin healing, in an environment that was spiritually uplifting. I was scared out of my mind yet also filled with joy because I thought maybe this time I’d be told what was wrong with me. The day of, my anxiety was at an all-time high. He took the time to sit down and really figure out what was going on with me. He asked me a number of questions and gave me a vaginal examination. I told him my fears and without completely breaking down into an emotional mess, (I thank my parents for being there with me for support) I told him the story of what I’ve gone through. He told me that I was suffering from what is known as pelvic floor dysfunction. When he touched certain parts, he felt my muscles spasm and a lot of the tightness that was a cause of my pain. He said he has seen at least 10 women a day with my problem who have been to countless doctors and have been diagnosed with all sorts of other illnesses, including IC and given medication that wasn’t helping the problem at all. He told me that I would get better. He set out a plan for me with something called Myofascial release physical therapy along with inserting a low-dose of Valium to ease the muscles inside. He told me that at Beaumont, they take an integrated approach to treating a patient. You don’t just deal with the physical, you have to address their emotional state too. Before I could even ask him about seeing someone to talk to because of how traumatized I’ve been throughout this ordeal, he said that he would also like me to also see Dr. Jan who dealt with women who have chronic pelvic pain and other issues.  Again, he felt out of many other choices, she would be best suited for me.

After commuting back and forth from Windsor to Detroit every week for close to a year, I was seeing a lot of improvement both physically and emotionally.  My time came to an end where we reached a point where my muscles were working again and I felt like I was ready to move on and if needed, find a therapist in Windsor to see occasionally.  I had gone for Neuro Bio-feedback on/off for many years. Note that "Lucy" is me, I just didn't feel confident at the time to be open about my experience, so I introduced a fictional person.

I did go back to my Urologist to tell him about my progress. He was kind of weirded out that I was taking Valium internally and when I tried to share with him information on pelvic floor dysfunction, he seemed uninterested. He was happy I was doing better and if I needed to see him again, just book an appointment.  A bit disappointed but at least a better response.

I started to rebuild my life. I had hope to continue working on my tutoring business, and getting out again into the world. I was trying to cultivate new friendships and let go of the old wounds from those who abandoned me during my illness. I felt more confident and that even though this pain would most likely stay with me for the rest of my life, I could control it. I even attempted to go back to University of Windsor (third times a charm!) again after bailing out twice before due to illness, because I wanted to finish my Psychology degree, as I had over 20 courses completed.   What a joke. It’s amazing the looks you get when you walk into the disability office and sit down and ask for some assistance with your schooling (extra test time, someone to help with writing notes if I got overwhelmed in the classroom). Even after getting written documentation from my family physician, and psychologist, it wasn’t enough. I was turned away because I am not severe enough (basically I haven’t been committed and I can still resume most daily functions). Oh and the kicker, because there was no “definite” date listed when I would be fully recovered (duh, if I knew that, I would be a millionaire) I was not considered a priority. The problem with mental illness is that often it waxes and wanes. I could be fine for a while and then relapse. Welcome to life of a PTSD'er asshole. If I had a physical disability, there would be no issues. However, mental health is not enough.  Obviously, the rejection I felt was awful and so I decided that I wouldn’t go back to school.

I had a short break of happiness. And then it happened. Out of nowhere. The way life often does.

Towards the end of 2014 during the holidays, my dad fell ill with a terrible Encephalitis virus that severely attacked his brain. I knew something was wrong when I talked to him on the phone and he was saying he had to go pick up my brother (who lived downtown at the time) and go look for raisins.  What?! I told my mom to take my dad to the hospital, as he was sounding very incoherent.

Within the next day or two, his situation was looking grim and I was devastated that I was going to lose my father. Fortunately, the doctors at Hotel Dieu saved his life. However,  phoning up funeral homes and trying to get power of attorney issues sorted out was hell. We didn’t have any of this really planned out ahead of time because my dad always said “we’ll do it later.”  Obviously, planning one’s funeral is not the most pleasant of activities.  However, my dad had a habitual way of always putting these things off.

I was losing my father bit by bit. He would call me continuously in the early morning hours from the hospital to ask how I was doing and when I was coming down, then talked incoherently for a while more before hanging up. I would wake up with panic attacks. It got to the point where I needed to tell the hospital to take away the phone from his room or just block my number.  I knew he was scared, I was too.

Thankfully, as days passed by, my Dad survived. His inflammation subsided with life-saving medication and a wonderful team of doctors who worked around the clock on his case were confident enough to send him home for further recovery. If you compare my Dad in the hospital to how he is today, it’s like night and day.

I am also happy that all the things that were left “until later” are now dealt with.

Sadly I’ve started to experience some health problems again. Through blood work, my B12 levels were low, so I was advised to take a daily supplement. I freaked out because I read things online about low B12 and what that could mean. I need to slap myself in the face and not look things up. I read horror stories.

In many ways, things are starting to get better, After searching high and low in the city, I found a pelvic floor therapist, highly recommended by my doctor, and had my first consultation and internal treatment, which I felt quite a bit of improvement in my pain and overall well-being.  I also started going to counselling again because I think it's a really healthy way to progress and learn more coping techniques on a daily basis from everyday stressors to more of the bigger things that happen.

I was rushed to Hotel Dieu emergency by ambulance on my 36th birthday, which was terrifying. I was having horrible pain and obviously my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder activated and I was panicking badly.  Shortly after that, I was in ER again, this time with a new problem. They did a plethora of tests and I was advised to go see a Gastroenterologist for a follow-up. Adding to the procedures I’ve gone through, I had my first sigmoidoscopy recently. I had never heard of it before, only a colonoscopy, but this procedure involves just looking at the lower part of the colon. The prep is the most taxing part, as the procedure itself was very short. Waiting on the test results were agonizing. Thankfully, I don’t have cancer. A small “inflammatory” polyp was found and there is a little bit of inflammation in my colon - thus my abdomen swelling. Not worthy of a full colonoscopy according to the GI doctor. He said to add more fibre and I may have a sensitivity to gluten, so try reducing the amount and see what happens. He didn’t seem very concerned at all.

So where do I go from here?

There’s so much more to my story but the mask is pretty much off of why I have been rather absent and quiet, aside from social media postings on The Bachelor and stuff that distracts me from real life. For a while I was very hesitant to share this, due to the stigma of what people may see me as, the possibility of some future employer coming across my story and not wanting to hire me or finding a reason to fire me because i'm viewed as as a liability, but I would hope they would see all my other great qualities and see how far I've come. Writing is a cathartic process. I will update with any progress.

The one thing that really keeps me smiling is that I’m engaged to the most wonderful man ever. When I wear  my ring, I feel more at ease. He knows my history and has worked hard with my family to figure out problems and find solutions. No conditions, just unconditional love and support. He takes me to my appointments and goes into the doctor’s office with me because I pretty much blank out.  He strives for me to become an advocate for my health and take charge of it. He also has no problem fighting for me when I’m feeling too weak, and has proven time and time again that he is in this for the long-run.  He’s my rational rock!

Other things that are personally helping me:

-Mindful meditation tapes before bed
-Focusing on positive things that are going well for me
-Watching movies
-Work outs (gentle ones and I have a new app for my phone from Carrot Rewards that tracks my steps to keep moving and I earn Scene points)
-Spending time with family (eventually friends when I feel up to it - thank you to those who are still there for me and check in to see how i'm doing!)
-Positive affirmations
-Massages from Carrie – she is so kind and really can work out the knots!
-Physio for pelvic health pain
-Volunteering my time for a mental health advisory committee

So sharing this part of me is part of the healing and where I’m aiming to be. You just have to as my family motto states ‘never give up.’

Monday, March 6, 2017

SKIN-tastic: La Roche Posay Ultra Micellar Water for Dry/Reactive Skin

La Roche Posay’s Ultra Micellar Water for Dry/Reactive Skin
Photo by Melissa F. Arditti

La Roche Posay’s Ultra Micellar Water for Dry/Reactive Skin is probably the best product out there on the market right now due to its gentle formula. I #gotitfree from ChickAdvisor for providing an honest product review.

This is a great makeup remover. After soaking a cotton pad (you may need a couple of them if you’re removing a full face of makeup) with the Micellar Water, you can definitely see the amount of makeup that comes off right away without using much pressure at all. My skin was left feeling very refreshed, hydrated and moisturized, probably because of the high amount of glycerin. It also felt so soft and smooth, almost as if I did an exfoliating mask. I'm not really sure about the anti-redness claim since my complexion is naturally rosy at times, but I did notice a reduction in that awkward tightness feel, which was positive.

400 ML seems like a generous amount and not badly priced. You can also opt out for smaller sizes which would be great if you’re travelling. The only extra cost would be the cotton pads. I would have liked if this product could be used like a cleanser with my hands, but a small price to pay for an effective makeup remover like this one.

I’ve been using this all week long and it seems to be working very well. I would say this is a great addition to my skincare routine. I wouldn't toss out my cleanser just yet though because on the days where I don't wear a lot of makeup, I wouldn't reach for the Micellar Water, as I think it is more suitable for the purpose of what it states as a "makeup remover."

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Get Me To the Greek: Etta’s Greeklish Eatery

I’ve been out of the loop for the last while with all the new restaurants opening up. I admit that i’m a bit of a creature of habit going to the same places over and over again, so I decided that every once in a while, i’ll try somewhere new.  My lovely fiancĂ©, Bill, usually is my partner in cuisine and so he’s pretty easy-going. When I rattle off a list of restaurants, if he is particularly hangry, the one syllable “food” is usually the response, which means, I'm open to just about anywhere as long as they feed me good food!

Last night, we decided to check out Etta’s Greeklish Eatery located at 5975 Wyandotte St E, here in Windsor, Ontario. The one problem is that there isn’t a lot of parking on the street, so be forewarned, you may want to plan ahead or be prepared to walk. Luckily, we got a spot right in front! Most people don’t eat at 4 pm on a Saturday night, but hey, when you’re hungry, time means nothing, right?

Walking in, the restaurant was pretty empty, which again was to be expected at the time we arrived. We were greeted by a rather enthusiastic waiter and he told us to sit wherever we wanted.

So let’s just jump right into it.  The dinner menu was plentiful, so you have a good variety of dishes from pork, beef or chicken souvlaki, all the way to the well-known gyro pita.

On special that evening was Kokkinisto, which was chunks of beef with an aromatic tomato sauce and pasta. We’ll take 2!

I also wanted to start with a Greek salad. How can you go to a Greek restaurant and not have at least a little feta cheese? Mmmm!

Greek salad
Photo by Melissa F. Arditti

Kokkinisto (looks are deceiving, there was SO much pasta underneath!)
Photo by Melissa F. Arditti

Well the waiter wasn’t wrong when I overheard him tell another table (as we started our meal, more and more people started to stroll in) that they don’t “scrimp on the portions here.” Our meal as you can see above was pretty large.  Lots of deliciously tender beef, tons of pasta and just the right amount of such a flavourful tomato sauce.  No complaints, except that the menu was a bit confusing saying we were entitled to potatoes, rice and veggies and we never received any. I think there was some confusion due to this being a “special.” However, the food was amazing that our starter salads took care of the veggie part and the mound of spaghetti took care of the carbs.

For dessert (sorry no pic), I was awaiting to hear the choices but I guess they were feeling generous and were offering everyone a free slice of dessert, something we endearingly called “galatic bootycall” with a chuckle from our waiter. Okay, so that’s the non-Greek wording for it, but if you ask for that, i’m sure they’ll be able to tell you the actual pronunciation and realize it is called ghalaktobouriko. It had some kind of custard in it, with a honey wrapped filo dough. It felt a bit similar to baklava.  A nice little touch to show appreciation to your customers! It was very tasty and a good way to end the meal.

Overall, we had a great dining experience! Excellent food, bright atmosphere, and friendly and quick service.  By the time we were getting our coats on, the restaurant was pretty packed. Etta’s is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so there’s no doubt that we’ll be stopping in again. Opa!

Go check them out on Facebook: Etta's Greeklish Eatery

Etta's Greeklish Eatery gets 4/4 Purple Muse's