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Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Year In Review

Well, the year started off pretty bad. We found out my mother-in-law had cancer in January and she passed away in March.
 I took a job at the newspaper in Moncton placing ads in the classifieds. The job wasn't hard but the hours sucked (11am – 7pm) and not being with my kids was very hard for me and for them. So I left the job at the end of April so I could be home with my kids and babysit. I've never been more happy. This is where I belong.

Summer hit with a rain storm and cold winds, but we went camping anyway (it's what we do). The kids went to camp this year and while they were there Geoff and I went to Halifax to see Metallica. I have to say they were pretty awesome. The weather sucked though.

Then in August we took the kids on a Mediterranean Disney Cruise. They were so excited when we finally told them. We boarded the ship in Barcelona Spain.
Disney Magic
Barcelona, Spain

We had 5 ports of call but we only got off the ship for 4 of them. Geoff and I got to see Monte Carlo & Monaco.
Le Casino
Palace of the Crown Prince of Monaco

As a family we went to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Rome & Pompeii.

This was definitely the trip of a life time. 
Pirate night on the ship
When we got home we entered a flea infested house. That was a shocker for sure! We had treated our cats before we left and while we were gone the fleas fell off the cats and into the carpets. Not an easy thing to get rid of. However, with constant vacuuming and washing of the stuffed animals and all the bedding we did rid the house of the fleas. BAM! Take that fleas LOL!

We spent Labour Day weekend camping with family & friends in St. Andrews, in our new trailer.  Tons of fun to be had when you camp with great friends and family.

So the kids are back to school, Anna in grade 2 and John in grade 4 (french immersion). Both are doing very well. John is always being told he's the best artist in his class and his math marks are amazing. Anna is already doing grade 3 school work. God has blessed both of my children with the gift of being smart. Thank you Lord!

We have added a new family member this fall. His name is Forrest Gump (we call him Forrest). He's a basset hound/cocker spaniel mix. He has been keeping us busy and on our toes for sure. We put up our artifical Christmas tree last week and I had to call Geoff at work the other day and tell him to get me a small table top tree. The dog refused to leave it alone, he was chewing the lower branches an spinning the bottom half around. We removed the big tree (thank goodness it hadn't been decorated yet) and now have a lovely small tree that Forrest can not reach.

I love that little face
So that has been my year in a nut shell. God bless you all and I pray you all have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.


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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chiari Malformation - According to Wikipedia

I decided to do this for my best friend Joanne.  She has Chiari.

Arnold–Chiari malformation, or often simply Chiari malformation, is a malformation of the brain. It consists of a downward displacement of the cerebellar tonsils through the foramen magnum (the opening at the base of the skull), sometimes causing non-communicating [1] hydrocephalus as a result of obstruction of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) outflow.[2] The cerebrospinal fluid outflow is caused by phase difference in outflow and influx of blood in the vasculature of the brain. It can cause headaches, fatigue, muscle weakness in the head and face, difficulty swallowing, dizziness, nausea, impaired coordination, and, in severe cases, paralysis.[3]


The Austrian pathologist Hans Chiari in the late 19th century described seemingly related anomalies of the hindbrain, the so called Chiari malformations I, II and III. Later, other investigators added a fourth (Chiari IV) malformation. The scale of severity is rated I - IV, with IV being the most severe. Types III and IV are very rare.[4]
Type Presentation Other notes
I A congenital malformation. Is generally asymptomatic during childhood, but often manifests with headaches and cerebellar symptoms. Herniation of cerebellar tonsils.[5][6] The most common form.
Syndrome of occipitoatlantoaxial hypermobility An acquired Chiari I Malformation in patients with hereditary disorders of connective tissue.[7] Patients who exhibit extreme joint hypermobility and connective tissue weakness as a result of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or Marfan Syndrome are susceptible to instabilities of the craniocervical junction and thus acquiring a Chiari Malformation. This type is difficult to diagnose and treat.[8]
II Usually accompanied by a lumbar myelomeningocele[9] leading to partial or complete paralysis below the spinal defect. As opposed to the less pronounced tonsillar herniation seen with Chiari I, there is a larger cerebellar vermian displacement. Low lying torcular herophili, tectal beaking, and hydrocephalus with consequent clival hypoplasia are classic anatomic associations.[10] The position of the torcular herophili is important for distinction from Dandy-Walker syndrome in which it is classically upturned. This is important because the hypoplastic cerebellum of Dandy-Walker may be difficult to distinguish from a Chiari malformation that has herniated or is ectopic on imaging. Colpocephaly may be seen due to the associated neural tube defect.
III Causes severe neurological defects. It is associated with an occipital encephalocele.[11]
IV Characterized by a lack of cerebellar development.[12]
Other conditions sometimes associated with Chiari Malformation include hydrocephalus,[13] syringomyelia, spinal curvature, tethered spinal cord syndrome, and connective tissue disorders[7] such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan Syndrome.
Chiari malformation is the most frequently used term for these types of malformations. The use of the term Arnold–Chiari malformation has fallen somewhat out of favor over time, although it is used to refer to the type II malformation. Current sources use "Chiari malformation" to describe four specific types of the condition, reserving the term "Arnold-Chiari" for type II only.[14] Some sources still use "Arnold-Chiari" for all four types.[15] This article uses the latter convention.
Chiari malformation or Arnold–Chiari malformation should not be confused with Budd-Chiari syndrome,[16] a hepatic condition also named for Hans Chiari.


The blockage of Cerebro-Spinal Fluid (CSF) flow may also cause a syrinx to form, eventually leading to syringomyelia. Central cord symptoms such as hand weakness, dissociated sensory loss, and, in severe cases, paralysis may occur.[20]


Diagnosis is made through a combination of patient history, neurological examination, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The radiographic criteria for diagnosing a congenital Chiari I Malformation is a downward herniation of the cerebellar tonsils greater than 5 mm below the foramen magnum. Other imaging techniques involve the use of 3-D CT imaging of the brain and cine imaging (a movie of the brain) can be used to determine if the brainstem is being compressed by the pulsating arteries that surround it.[21]
In the Syndrome of Occipitoatlantoaxial Hypermobility, cerebellar tonsillar herniation is typically only evident on an up-right MRI, due to the fact that the Chiari Malformation is gravitationally acquired by means of connective tissue weakness.[7] 3-D CT imaging may aid in the diagnosis of related disorders such as retroflexed odontoid. Invasive cranial traction (lifting of the head off the spine) is often used as a confirmation of the diagnosis.[22]
The diagnosis of a Chiari II Malformation can be made prenatally through Ultrasound.[23]


Once symptomatic onset occurs, a common treatment is decompression surgery,[24] in which a neurosurgeon usually removes the lamina of the first and sometimes the second or even third cervical vertebrae and part of the occipital bone of the skull to relieve pressure. The flow of spinal fluid may be accompanied by a shunt. Since this surgery usually involves the opening of the dura mater and the expansion of the space beneath, a dural graft is usually applied to cover the expanded posterior fossa.
A small number of neurological surgeons believe that detethering the spinal cord as an alternate approach relieves the compression of the brain against the skull opening (foramen magnum), obviating the need for decompression surgery and associated trauma. However, this approach is significantly less documented in the medical literature, with reports on only a handful of patients. It should be noted that the alternative spinal surgery is also not without risk.[citation needed]
On April 24, 2009, a young patient with Type 1 Chiari malformation was successfully treated with a minimally invasive endoscopic transnasal procedure by Dr. Richard Anderson at the Columbia University Medical Center Department of Neurosurgery.[25]


The prognosis differs dependent on the type of malformation (i.e., type I, II, III, or IV). Type I is generally adult-onset and, while not curable, treatable and rarely fatal.[26] Syndrome of Occipitoatlantoaxial Hypermobility (Ehlers-Danlos syndrome related) is more difficult to treat than the congenital form of the disease. Individuals with this type do not respond well to the decompression surgery and often require an occipitoatlantoaxial fusion for stability.[7] These patients are at risk of experiencing serious heart complications.[27] Types I and II sufferers may also develop syringomyelia. Type II is typically diagnosed at birth or prenatally.[28] Approximately 33% of individuals with Chiari II malformation develop symptoms of brainstem damage within five years; a 1996 study found a mortality rate of 33% or more among symptomatic patients, with death frequently occurring due to respiratory failure.[29] 15% of individuals with Chiari II malformation die within two years of birth.[30] Among children under two who also have myelomeningocele, it is the leading cause of death.[31] Prognosis among children with Chiari II malformation who do not have spina bifida is linked to specific symptoms; the condition may be fatal among symptomatic children when it leads to neurological deterioration, but surgical intervention has shown promise.[32] Types III and IV are extremely rare and patients generally do not survive past the age of two or three.[33]


The prevalence of Chiari 1 malformation, defined as tonsilar herniations of 3 to 5 mm or greater, is estimated to be in the range of one per 1000 to one per 5000 individuals.[7] The incidence of symptomatic Chiari is less but unknown.


An Austrian pathologist, Hans Chiari, first described these hindbrain malformations in the 1890s.[34] A colleague of Professor Chiari, Dr. Julius Arnold, later contributed to the definition of the condition,[35] and students of Dr. Arnold (Schwalbe and Gredig)[36] suggested the term "Arnold-Chiari malformation" to henceforth refer to the condition.[37][38]
Some sources credit the characterization of the condition to Cleland[39][40] or Cruveilhier.[41]

Society and culture

The condition was brought to the mainstream on the series CSI in the tenth season episode "Internal Combustion" on February 4, 2010. Chiari was briefly mentioned in House, MD on the fifth season episode "House Divided" [42][43] and was the focus of the sixth season episode "The Choice." [44]



Notable cases

Rosanne Cash[45]
Bobby Jones [46] - Legendary American golfer
Marissa Irwin[47] -model with Chiari secondary to Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

Father give them strength

Our family was devastated on March 31, 2011 when we lost our dear mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, sister & aunt to cancer. She was so young every one would say. But as of yesterday I've come to realize that cancer doesn't discriminate on age. Tiny babies to 95 year old's can get this horrid disease. Some win and others lose the battle.

My first encounter with cancer was with my sister, she was in her mid 30's. She had breast cancer and the breast had to be removed, then chemotherapy was done.  She is a survivor for almost 20 years now. 

My second encounter was with my mother. She had stomach cancer and the doctors were able to remove ¾ of her stomach and then do radiation. Mum struggled for a few years after that with health issues because she only had a tiny stomach. It was found, 5 years after her first round with it, that she had it again. This time it came back in many of her major organs. I lost my mother at the tender age of 55.

Then we found out that my nephew had a cancer, I think it was skin but I can't remember. He was in his mid 20's when he found out. He is now in his mid 30's and going strong.

My mother-in-law was diagnosed in January of 2011 at the age of 60. She had a massive tumour in her uterus. Doctors started chemotherapy on her. Two weeks after her first round doctors found a staph infection and had to stop treatments. It didn't take long for the cancer to take over.

My most recent blow is now a cousin of my husbands. She's only 25(?) and is now in the process of figuring out what type of cancer she has. I barely know Susan but my heart goes out to her and her family.

So Susan, if you happen to read this, I want you to know that God is with you and I'll keep praying for you. I've enjoyed reading your blogs and hope that you will continue to blog (maybe on the hospital food?) Keep your chin up, shoulders back and take this chapter of your life with the grace and dignity you were given by God. He won't ever give us more than we can't handle and He will never leave your side (even when it feels like there is no one there).

To anyone else reading this, whether you're family is struggling with this disease or not, you will blame God and you will be mad at Him, but ultimately you will figure out that He is going to be the only strength you will need. When the chemotherapy and radiation has drained your physical strength raise your eyes to heaven and say “Father God, please carry me. I can not do this alone”.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Yay Me!

Well, I'm back at the points system again and it seems to still be working. I did a weigh in last week and lost 3lbs. I'm very proud of myself for that. However this week I decided not to go to the meeting and weigh in because I was very naughty over the weekend. You see, we went camping and it's not easy to stick to a diet of any kind while camping. Think about it, spider dogs, roasted marshmallows, smores, hamburgers etc...So I decided to avoid the disappointment and stay home tonight. I did, however, go for a walk. Took me a whole hour. I feel great after that walk. 

Now since I don't really have too much to report I thought I would share one of my favourite breakfast items as of late. Hope you enjoy!

Elisa's Omelet

2 eggs beaten with a few table spoons of water
veggies of choice
shredded cheese
2 tsp olive oil

Saute veggies in olive oil, I use green peppers, red onion and mushrooms most times. Remove from pan and set aside. Pour egg & water mixture into pan and cook until top isn't raw anymore. Add veggies to one side of eggs and add cheese at this time. Flip other side of egg over the veggies and cheese. Cook until cheese is melted. Remove from pan to plate and enjoy with a cup of coffee or orange juice.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Let's try this again

So, I told you all before that I'm going on a diet.  Well due some tragic events in my life the past few months, the whole diet things hasn't been working out for me.  So, I will be officially starting Weight Watchers tomorrow night.  Now hopefully this will be a good thing and not a "oh crap! what have a I gotten myself into?" kinda thing.

So, today I went to the doctor to get my blood pressure checked and thankfully I don't need medication for it (it's kinda high for my age group and the doc has been following me for a bit now), however the doctor wants me to watch my sodium intake.  So, now I have a bigger challenge ahead of me besides losing weight, I have to read every friggin label I have in my cupboard to see the sodium content. Oy!

So, I will do my best to keep you all up to date on this.  And also, sorry I haven't blogged in a while.


Friday, April 8, 2011

What would I have done without her?

My mother-in-law was always a little overbearing, pushy even. I always complained to my husband about her. She would come to my house and do my laundry and say “You know if you would do a couple loads a day it wouldn't pile up on you”. That would send me over the edge most times. But, I never wanted her to leave, I was always happy to see her and glad that she was there. I enjoyed hearing some of her stories about where she worked (Neonatal ICU nurse for 20 years) and appreciated the advice she would give me, especially when I became a new mother.

When Geoff finally asked me to marry him, she was so happy for us. She was always very helpful with the wedding plans and gave advice. She helped me find someone to do the flowers and she went with me to help pick out the wedding dress. Now keep in mind, after seeing all that she has done, I lost my mom to cancer several years before my wedding AND that she never had a daughter to do all this stuff with. So, even though I didn't have my own mother to do those things with, I had Judy.

The day that we told her we were expecting our first child her face was glowing more than mine! Then she said “well I'll see if Dr. Sanderson will follow your pregnancy, and I'll talk to Dr. Paras about taking care of the baby”. Yet again, she became the mother that I longed to share all these exciting times with. She took care of everything. From helping paint the baby's room to putting the goop in my new baby boys eyes and signing his paperwork, she was there. Then along came my baby girl and yet again, she was so helpful and always doing things to make this an easier time for me...and Geoff.

For years Geoff and I tried to get her to come camping with us, but to no avail. She would say “when I was a Girl Guide we had to sleep in tents with no floors and cook alphaghetti from the can. I'd rather sleep in a bed at a hotel and be comfortable.” Just last year while we were camping at Great Bear campground, she made an effort to come camping, sort of. She spent the day with us, swimming & having a BBQ, but I couldn't convince her to spend the night. I was very proud of her for doing that much.

Oh how she loved Christmas, she had so many decorations that she could have decorated six houses. It didn't end at Christmas either, she would decorate for every occasion. And cook for them too. I loved her pineapple whip and carrot cake (which was banned from her place of work because it brought hectic days with it). I remember her making the candy for her candy apples at Halloween. They were so tasty.

Before she left this world, I promised her that I would take care of Geoff and the kids for her. Those are some big shoes to fill now. I just hope that I can do as good a job as she did.

I will sign off now because my tears are blurring my vision.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

It just seems impossible

Eating right has never been so hard as it has been the past week and half or so. We have been running back and forth from Salisbury to Saint John. There just isn't time to eat healthy.

We have a family member in the hospital right now and trying to get a healthy meal at the Saint John Regional Hospital cafeteria shouldn't be too hard. Or so I thought. Now I know they have salads and stuff like that but when you smell the deep fryer and see the fries, oh man I go week. It's just so easy to grab a coffee and a muffin and get back to the family member. It has to be quick and easy.

On the plus side though, after having ate the fries I felt horrible. It's like my body was saying “what the heck is the matter with you? How could you feed me that stuff?” I (and my body) were not happy campers.

So, I've been doing my very best to get my salads back into me and get back on the straight path to healthy living and eating.

I haven't done a weigh in because I know it won't be pretty. So, next week I will hopefully be able to give better news and positive results.


Monday, March 7, 2011

I cheat!

I hate dieting. I've never been very successful with it, as the title goes, I'm sure you know why. The thought of being told “you can't have that!” pisses me off. Drives me nuts to be honest. It's food, I should be allowed to have it if I want it. And as much of it as I want. And that is why I cheat.

However; I finally understand that it's not that I can't have it, I just need to make sure I don't over do it. That's not going to be easy for me, at all! But now that I'm getting older, and I'm not ashamed to say that my 40th birthday is only two years away, I really do need to practice self control with my food. I have set a goal for myself. On my 40th birthday, I will have reached and maintained my goal weight. I'm also not ashamed to say that my goal weight is 150 lbs. I want to be able to go and buy a little black dress and feel good in it, confident even.

Now that I've said what my goal weight is, I'm holding myself accountable to you. You, the person reading this blog. To my friends and family who, I hope, are reading this blog. You and a few very close friends (Joanne & Kim) are my support system (and my husband too). This is a very big step for me. I'm letting you into my life, not to judge me, not to tell me “Don't eat that doughnut!”, but to help me and encourage me. To say “cut the doughnut into four pieces and only eat one piece”.

Now, having said all of this, I will tell you what I plan to do to remove the extra weight and become healthy. I am going to be following a points system, I won't say what system it is, however I'm sure you can all figure it out because it's a world wide system. I do believe Duchess Sarah Ferguson is a member of this system. I am going to write at least once a week, I'll give a weigh in, give my thoughts and feelings on the whole thing etc.

What I want, no what I need from all of you are your comments. Positive or negative it doesn't matter to me, just try to be kind. The other thing is I will need your prayers. Please, don't let me be a cheater, because cheaters never win.


PS: Just so you know, even though I've cheated on this point system I have lost a total of five pounds in the past month or so.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A little history on me

I was adopted.  I was first taken from my biologicals (that's what I will refer to them as from now on, it's just easier) when I was six months old and from that time I was placed into 21 different foster homes by the time I was three.  My parents got me when I was three and my adoption was final when I was six.

Now the stories that I've heard have been some what horrifying, to say the least.  Such as, I was pushed down a flight of stairs and that is how I dislocated my left hip (I now have problems with my left hip, x-rays show that the ball is wide and flat instead of round).  Stories of neglect and abuse.  Now I don't know what's true and what isn't so I refuse to place blame or make judgments (that's not my call).

One of the stories that I've been told was about how the female biological loved her dogs more than her children (there were four of us in total).  She fed her dogs and took care of them, she loved them.  When my mom and dad got me they say that I was so malnourished they could count all my ribs from a short distance away.  They also say that I used to go to the fridge, open the door and just stare into it for a few minutes.  When asked what I was doing I would just say "just making sure it isn't all gone" or something along those lines.

Here I am, 34 years later.  I'm over weight and I have issues with food.  I have a six year old daughter that isn't fat, but she's solid as a rock (and sneaks candy and food).  I have my fears for her.

I have been eating healthier, making better food choices in hopes to shed a few pounds and be an example to my children.  The next few blogs will be about my struggle and my journey with food.