Hi folks…. How’s your summer going? I can’t believe it’s August already. Feels like Spring was just yesterday (especially if you’re going by my last blog post on here….ha ha).
I’ve had a pretty busy summer so far with lots of events & festivals (esp early summer), launching my new biz (finally) and catching up with friends and enjoying every minute of these hot, hazy days of summer. We gotta enjoy it while it lasts here in Canada as summer is just too darn short. By October, I know I’ll be counting down the days ’til spring again.
I haven’t been travelling much at all this summer but I AM going on a short trip in September which I’m really excited about (will share more deets soon). I can’t wait to get out of dodge for a late summer adventure.
So, yeah…part of the reason I haven’t been on here much is because I’ve been busy trying to get my new bakery biz up n’ running (plus some health news which I’ll share in a bit). Thanks to all of you who have been ordering my treats for your summer festivities etc. You guys rock!!! I really appreciate your support (xo).
Two of my close (& very business-savvy) friends have been helping me get my biz started and they told me that the first thing I need to do is to stop giving my baking away all the time. Apparently it’s hard to make a living when you’re not charging anyone (oops! haha). Now that I’m keeping better track of my costs, I’ve realized just how much I spend on ingredients. Having a menu helps too since folks can now order stuff a little easier as they have some inspiration and a price list. Hurray!
Speaking of baking, who loves this time of year for FRESH PIES? You probably enjoy eating pies more than baking them, of course, but pies are actually my favourite thing to bake. Does that mean I’m officially crazy? (better not answer that).
Any Star Wars fans here? How about this pie…
Fresh blueberry garnished with Darth Vader’s head. Mnn num num..(just one piece of this and you’ll join the dark side). It’s a fresh pie but I baked the letters and Darth Vader’s head alongside with the crust. I made this for a good friend who’s a big Star Wars fan (of course). He said the force is very strong with this pie 😀
Here’s my Canada Day pie. My friends and I felt very patriotic eating it.
Strawberry Balsamic…Super Yummy!! I usually prefer a fresh strawberry pie (not cooked), but this was fabulous. Strawberries and Balsamic are a great match, especially when they’re baked inside a delicious buttery (GF) pastry. YUM! Rest assured, I’ll be making this one again before summer is over.
So… enough about pies (darn!) and onto some rather bad/ scary health news.
As many of you know, I suffered from what may have been a mini-stroke a few years ago (I was only in my mid 30s). The neurologist didn’t really think it was one in the end, though because I was only unable to talk for 5 seconds and I had no other symptoms. Apparently there is usually a few things going on (numb limbs on one side, mouth drooping etc) when it comes to stroke.
What I did discover, though (after a gazillion tests) was that I have a very common, and generally benign, heart defect called PFO ‘Patent Foramen Ovale (‘Hole in the Heart’). Nearly 30% of the population has one but most never know about it because it rarely causes any problems and there aren’t many symptoms. Except for those (like me) who have a ‘bigger hole’, which can cause fatigue.
I’ve always been active and played a lot of sports as a kid but I always wondered why I’d get more tired than other people, especially since I’m fairly fit. So I was glad to find out there was an actual reason for it. Basically if you have a PFO, your blood isn’t oxygenated properly (or as efficiently) because of the hole between the two sides of the heart. This allows blood to get circulated around both sides (and not completely filtered, either—which can increase the risk for clots escaping to other parts of body).
They’ve talked about closing mine (because of its large size) but the surgery is still controversial as studies show that closure is very similar to medical therapy (daily aspirin). I have been thinking about doing it again recently though, just to help with my fatigue.
In any case, while having a PFO can increase your risk for stroke (slightly), fortunately I don’t have too many (other) risk factors. I had another episode a couple of years ago (a PFO diagnosis can make you pretty paranoid!), but luckily it turned out to be nothing.
Anyway, last week I had another strange, more worrisome episode. After being out in the sun for a couple of hours I suddenly felt a bit dizzy and a bit weak in legs too– though only slightly. I guess the best way to put it was that ‘I felt funny’, and it wasn’t just heat-stroke. I was also tired so that was a factor, too– but I knew something was off. I was alone at home at the time so I hadn’t realized that I couldn’t talk. I texted Cowboy who was close by (at work) and fortunately he was able to come home right away.
When he got there I tried to talk but NOTHING came out of my mouth— except for one word ‘hospital’. We took off right away. I managed a word or two en route but nothing I wanted to say was coming out of my mouth. It was very eerie, and quite scary too—as you can probably imagine.
I wasn’t slurring, like you’d see with someone having a full-on stroke, it was more like mumbling and a word here and there managed to escape my lips. When I got to the hospital I realized I couldn’t even tell the nurse why I was there (Cowboy was parking at the time). Luckily I got the most important word out– ‘Stroke’— and suddenly I was whisked away at lightening speed. Within seconds I was hooked up to an IV as well as the machines that track blood pressure & heart rate. This was in case they had to give me the meds that they give to someone having a stoke as there’s only a small window of time that they have to do this (I believe it’s 3 hours).
The staff was fast, efficient, and just overall amazing. Everyone was a bit surprised because of my age, and the fact that some of them thought I was MUCH younger than I was (hehe).
My blood pressure was fine though and my blood tests were all normal. The CAT scan was clear (to check for blockages in the neck etc) so they were starting to worry less at least. The emergency doctor was incredible, I couldn’t have been in better hands! He was very efficient but also so friendly and made me relax (considering my anxiety level–I’ve hardly ever been in a hospital and sorta doctor-phobic). He was doing everything he could to make sure I was okay, and I could tell he genuinely cared as well.
I passed all the coordination tests (to check for weakness, numb limbs etc) and also all the vocabulary tests where they check to see if you can read a bunch of words out loud (I guess I had improved slightly since I got there). I got an A+ in every test. He was still thinking I had a TIA (mini-stroke) but wasn’t completely sure at that point. He later chatted with Cowboy to get a better idea of how I was when he first saw me in this state.
I was there for most of the day getting a gazillion tests and just waiting around. But at least I was taken off the machines after about an hour when the doc was confidant I wasn’t having a full stroke. Surprisingly, I still couldn’t talk very well even hours later. When I tried to tell the front desk attendant I was going outside (about 2 or 3 hours after I’d arrived), I barely got two words out and the sentence made no sense. I think she thought that I was drunk actually (I only had coffee that day).
After chatting with the neurologist, she thought that I probably didn’t have a TIA or stroke after all because it’s VERY unlikely that someone my age (and in a low-risk bracket) would have even 1 stroke, let alone 3 of them–especially without ANY other symptoms. I’ll be going for another MRI to be sure (I’d had one after my first episode in 2011) as well as an EKG. That one measures brain activity, so I guess I’d better warn them that I’ll probably blow up the machines when they attach the cables to my head from all my excessive brain power (ha ha!).
So…..the neurologist thinks what I may have had instead was a mild seizure or, possibly an aura-migraine (which is a migraine without the headache). I’ve had that before, but only a few times. Those are the ones where you get the weird zig zag lights and you have to sit in the dark for about 20 min until they go away. Interestingly, people with PFO’s are very susceptible to aura migraines and many do opt for the surgery to close their holes JUST to stop the migraines. Again, I’m fortunate that I rarely ever get them so not sure if that’s the problem.
While researching seizures, I learned that there are actually many different types and some can affect speech. The good news is that if it IS seizure related, while seizures can be dangerous (falling, driving etc) they are usually temporary at least and not AS damaging as stroke (most of the time, I believe). Hopefully they are somewhat treatable/preventable as well.
Okay, enough yattering about my scary health woes. I’m doing much better now. Let’s talk about some of the fun festivals I’ve gone to this summer!!
To start summer off right, we celebrated Summer Solstice with ‘Glow Fest’, a street festival in downtown Ottawa. It was a blast!
I even helped out by working at my friend’s store, as she was one of the organizers for the festival.
Because that weekend was also Father’s Day AND my dad’s birthday, I was glad to have this event to distract me. And a couple of my very thoughtful friends took me out for dinner too because they knew it was a bit of a tough weekend for me! I’m so very blessed with wonderful friends xo.
In early June, my good friend Kat and I did our annual road trip to Merrickville for the Medieval Fest. We’ve gone for the past few years and we always have a fabulous time. We essentially get to go back in time and watch Knights jousting and tons of other medieval fun.
Plus they let us play with swords. I’m not sure if this is really such a great idea 😀
You’d think they’d know better as we’ve been coming to this for a few years now 😀
I also went to the Aboriginal Summer Solstice Pow Wow after missing it the last few years. And Cowboy came with me this time, which made it even more fun. This was his first Pow WOW and he got to try Bannock.
That’s it for now, because if this post is any longer you may have to quit your full-time job to read it. But don’t worry, you’ve got 2 months before I post again (haha). Oh wait, too late if you’re down to this part. Mwuahahaha. I promise, though…new post coming up very soon and won’t be nearly as long (well, maybe).
Have a great rest of summer and thanks for reading, friends. Hope you’re doing great!!!