Category Archives: Health

A sad anniversary

Four years ago at around this time I was admitted to the psychiatric ward at Saint Luc Hospital in downtown Montreal. Every anniversary that comes around involves a lot of mixed feelings in me. The nice part is realizing I’ve spent four years since then outside of any institutional settings, even though I was told that I would probably have to go back there three more times, or once a year for the rest of my life. Since being told to scale back expectations of what I could accomplish in my life, I’ve gone back to school and finished my BFA. I’ve written a feature screenplay. I’ve become involved in the Crazy Community. I’ve curated programs for queer film festivals. I’ve continued giving artist talks. I’ve made more videos which are being screened internationally. I have so often felt like giving up and giving in, but I keep trying. Sometimes I feel like I’m going nowhere, and then sometimes I feel everything is happening as it should.

The anniversary is hard though. It brings up a lot of feelings about how I was treated during my code red level of crazy. I think what has upset me the most about it is people demanding that I be grateful for being put in there. Sometimes when I try to talk about the abuse that happened there people just go “Ehn, I don’t want to hear about it,” and in the next breath will tell me some bizarre thing I did like try to drink hand cream, which I don’t remember at all. It’s embarrassing. I often wonder what it would be like for people to do that about other health issues, like making fun of a Poz person for the time they lost control of their bowels, or ridiculing an epileptic who has tonic clonic seizures.

The creepiest part of the anniversary is the knowledge that I could be forced to go through that again. I asked my Aunt once who was also hospitalized way back when she finally got over her hospitalization. She said it was just in the last year. That’s at least 30 years of healing. It does take a really long time to heal from psych wards, and that’s why I don’t think they are a good idea as they operate today. I think they should be abolished and a more humane system put into place, like one that involves temporary supervised housing in a residential area. They could still have nurses and orderlies, just make it more like a normal living situation. And those pdocs only ever breeze in for an hour of patient to doctor appointments anyway. Compounding someone’s mental health issues with an additional layer of PTSD is fucked up man. Also, if someone is upset ask them why, even if they are in a mental health crisis they can usually still explain what the trouble is.

I’ve written about what it’s like to be in a locked ward before, but I recently found an amazing description of it from Ballastexistenz’s blog which I think says it all.

In the meantime, this anniversary lasts until around about Valentines Day, so I’m going to be taking it easy (read: smoke more pot). I’m going to use this anniversary to contemplate on my feelings around it and try to come up with a way to do some more advanced healing on the subject. I don’t know any other people with diagnosed M.I.’s in Saskatoon except for family, but it’s different talking to someone outside the family about it. I do have a friend who hears things too though, so at least I have someone to chat with who understands where I’m coming from more than most. We can even laugh about weird things we’ve heard, or ask each other if there really is a noise. She’s pretty cool, it’s true it’s true. I just think she’s tremendous.

She’s also the one who gave me a shit load of health supplements to boost my immune system, which has gone to crap during all of 2006. It started with a two week flu where I actually wondered if I would die, and then after that any cold that came along I would get. ANYTHING. I’d be healthy for a week or two and something else would hit. The last year was pretty stressful, with a bad job, the death of my cousin Chris in an industrial accident, the fact that I was living in Saskatchewan after nine years in Vancouver, being in close proximity to family again (which I hate to say, are overly dramatic, we’re the Desperate Cuthands), on and on.

It was, as the Queen would say, Annus Horriblis. Anyway, right, so she gave me all these health supplements and I have to say they’re working. I’m taking vitamin C, oil of oregano, anti-viral liquidy stuff with Clinically Proven echinamide, multivitamins, and cod liver oil. She is probably the only person in the world who could actually compel me to take cod liver oil. She even made me eat a fish egg sushi roll, which if you know how fussy I am is a remarkable feat. She should get a medal, really. I’ve still picked up about three colds in the month I’ve been taking it, but they go away after a couple days and aren’t nearly so severe. So I’d say it’s working. But this morning I woke up with a sore throat again and got frustrated. So now I’ve added Reishi mushrooms to my regimine. Reishi is supposed to be like, the granddaddy of immune boosting supplements. It’s used in people with Lupus, cancer, and HIV, it’s just that good. So we’ll see what happens. I also have to start eating better, I flake when it comes to the fruits and veggies, and I could use some more legumes too. I’m still sort of worried I have an immune system related illness. I should see my doctor about that. I had my HIV test and sadly I haven’t had sex since, so I know it’s not HIV.

If I was still on the West Coast I know a Coast Salish person would probably chase me around trying to get me to eat Oolican grease to fix what ails me. And then I would have to eat it and make yummy faces so as not to offend. I’ve avoided the Oolican issue the entire time I was in BC, so I hope it doesn’t come up. Oolicans are sardine like fish which have a VERY strong taste, anyone who can eat Oolican grease is like, so brave. Even braver than the most hardcore SM bottom.

Oolican grease BDSM. Wow, that would be bizarre.

Life Expectancy

There’s this amazing thing I found on the internet last night, a Life Expectancy calculator. I will live to be 81, barring any unforeseen events occurring. And actually, that should read 91, if you believe lesbian HIV transmission stats. I answered one question admitting yes, I have unsafe sex, but it didn’t ask if it was lesbian unsafe sex.

There’s a huge debate about women to women HIV transmission. The statistics are misleading, because of considerations like sex work, bloodplay, occasional hetero experiments, artificial insemination, rape, dildos used on multiple partners within the space of a few hours without putting on a new condom, and I’m sure even more than I’m thinking of at the moment. It makes things very complicated, because at least two of the above risks lesbians face are completely written out of the statistics by researchers defining lesbianism in a really really specific way that cuts out a huge proportion of the lesbian community, like having a penis in your body at some point in your life automatically transfers you to the bisexual stats. And even then certain issues are not ever considered, like bloodplay. And if you’ve gone to a lesbian sex show recently, you know at some point something sharp and pointy is going into someone’s body.

So my risks for HIV transmission are basically that I don’t use barriers in oral sex and I rarely use gloves unless I’m doing something that might scratch my partner. I always use a disinfected dildo and/or condoms, I never use the same condom with two people or her and myself. I also never touch myself and then her without a change of gloves or otherwise making sure fluids aren’t getting mixed. Some people aren’t smart enough about that last one, which is why I ended up with a dumb STD that pissed me off. But I would drink blood should the occasion arise, and I’m trying to lower my risks around that should it happen. Oh yeah, it’s totally risky, I’m just considering the circumstances. Anyway.

So back to the Life Expectancy Calculator. It’s pretty amazing because it goes through all aspects of your health and then evaluates your lifestyle and gives you advice on improving and extending your life. So I’ve started trying to incorporate some of those things into my life.

One was to eliminate coffee from your diet. This is pretty interesting, because I do notice it makes me feel weird. They suggest tea instead, which is way healthier and has antioxidants in it besides. I also have to exercise more, which I tried today.

I took my cross country skis to the park today. I am so out of practice, it embarrasses me. I had a pretty good clip going on for about fifteen minutes when my cuz Deanna saw me from the alley and waved hello and I did a major pratfall. Getting up with skis on is also really awful. I kept falling until I just took the skis off. I was also in a foot and a half of snow, which didn’t make things any better. The experience of skiing was really interesting though. I felt muscles in my calves and feet that I didn’t know I had. And some shoulder, upper back, and arm muscles were saying hello and I hadn’t remembered their existence. I hope I get muscly again. When I did weightlifting a few years ago I started getting nice upper arm/shoulder definition, it’s still there. Anyway, I do like skiing. And I know I need the exercise. It’s not fat shame that’s making me do it either, I just want to feel more powerful in my body, like I’d have the health necessary to defend myself physically.

Another suggestion for keeping your brain healthy is to learn either a language or a musical instrument. The second best thing for you brain is puzzles. Puzzles are okay, but I really like learning. And learning Cree has been really interesting and just on it’s own has opened my thinking to new concepts specific to Cree and explainable only in the language itself. The etymology of words from pre-colonial to colonial language is fascinating. Literal translations illuminate so much of what Crees consider our current state of affairs. Even something like America in Cree meaning Land of the Long Knives is amazing. I’m thinking about the world in new ways, and I will even more once I’m fluent.

But why stop there? You have to keep your brain active your whole life. And I think especially for someone like me who does have brain centered health issues, I need to keep myself busy working with my mind. I’d like to learn more languages. I want to learn French, for sure, because we are in a bilingual country and even though their psych wards suck and they attack aboriginals, Quebec is a nice place. Never mind the holes in that last sentence, I’m not even going to bother explaining all my critiques of Quebec. Also if you learn French you can get government jobs. I also want to learn German, for various reasons. It’s a pretty funny language, some people hate it, but I actually like the way it sounds. And since world politics is currently dominated by fundamentalist Christians versus Fundamentalist Islamics, I feel a need to learn Arabic so that I can understand the world in a different way. For one thing, I really feel uncomfortable depending on translation and translators in negotiating discourse between groups speaking different languages. I don’t know that a right wing dominated media is going to accurately translate Arabic speaking Muslims. I also just wonder if the structure and words of Arabic lead to new ways of thinking the way Cree does. I’m sure it does.

Early Christmas Present

I guess five days early isn’t so bad. My big present this christmas is a cross country ski package with fancy skis boots and poles. I haven’t tried them out yet, because I got all tired after work and slept and then we had to go buy presents. MORE PRESENTS. I bought 30.00 of candy. I actually bought it for a diabetic and now I have to think of someone else to give it to.

I haven’t cross country skied in years, at least thirteen years. I used to be really adept at it, terribly fast, able to go up and down hills. I once ended up on a black diamond trail when I was fourteen, I didn’t realize it was black diamond but it was suddenly really fucking hard with twists and turns and hills and steep slopes and I thought I was going to die halfway through. Then I finally stumbled back with my dazed dog to the cabin. He spent the rest of the night eating balls of packed snow out from between his paws.

The one embarrassing thing that sucks is when you take a spill and end up with a tangle of skis and poles and legs, all at terrible angles.

I found out it’s the best aerobic workout there is. I had no idea. It’s really fun, I could hardly think of it as exercise. So meditative. Even if you ski with someone it’s just not feasible to natter at each other. Anyway, I need some kind of winter sport because I hate just sitting around feeling lazy. And skating freaks me out because every time I go out on the rink I end up skating past a blood splot and get all woozy.

Valproic Acid Toxicity, Oh Crumbs!

I called my nurse back finally about whatever she wanted to talk about. I was paranoid I was dying. I was kind of right about that. It turns out my Valproic Acid levels are terribly high and I’m heading into toxicity. Among the fun things that could happen to me are respiratory failure, coronary events, renal failure, coma, seizures, etc etc etc. Fuck me. Soooo, I’m going down to 1000mg a day instead of 1500mg. I thought this might happen because Lamictal ups Epival levels. And it also explains why I’ve felt kind of fucked recently. For one thing I’m starting to get totally nauseous and not being able to eat properly. I can’t sleep. I’m crabby as hell and I keep being mean to my mom. I feel tired and just generally run down.

Oh the joys of early onset of toxicity. Lucky for me in about three days of a lower dosage I should be fine. It’s 3:00. I’m at work. I’m confused and unable to concentrate. At least I know why now. Poop. I’m in one of those weird transitional states at the moment because I’m going through a long ongoing med change, Lamictal is going to be replacing my antidepressant, I’m down to 10mg of Celexa and I’m scared of stopping it because SSRI withdrawals are physically painful and fuck you up for a week. My last Cree class is tonight but I think I have to skip it because I really do feel like shit. Not even shit, like if shit took a shit. I need to sleep. I tried to call mom to come pick me up but she wasn’t around. Sadness! I have no bus fare either.

It’s weird being a chemically altered human being. According to Donna Haraway this makes me a cyborg. I kind of like that, Cyborg Thirza. Resistence is Futile. I will adapt.

Poo Cock

I broke my tailbone this morning and my mum laughed at me for five minutes and then took me to work, where I am now. And where I am leaving momentarily. This pain is WAAAAAY too excruciating for me to even contemplate doing any kind of work, and I think I’m just going to go to bed for the next two days. Ow, fuck, I can’t even tell you how much this fucking hurts. Okay.

This is stuff I had been saving up for a blog. I just love French and Saunders that much. I have an intellectual crush on Jennifer Saunders, too bad she’s married. Anyway, here is them looking up innocuous words on the internet.

“Your mother sucks Jelly-Babies in Hell!”
“No she doesn’t.”
A good exorcist spoof to bring you down from Halloween.

I found this JUST this morning. It’s a trailer for a movie that will never be made. It was originally made for the Venice Biennale. Courtney Love as Caligula? Whatev, it’s sexy. I would rent this movie just for the dildo cocksucking scenes itself. I never understand straight people who don’t realize what girl on girl action involves. Yes, some of us like sucking each other’s cocks. No, it doesn’t have to make someone actually have an orgasm to be fun.
Okay, fuck, my ass hurts. Hope you enjoy.