It’s Summer! Pies, festivals….and an Update

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…

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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.

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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!

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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  😀

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You’d think they’d know better as we’ve been coming to this for a few years now 😀

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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.

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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!!!

Dana xo

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18 thoughts on “It’s Summer! Pies, festivals….and an Update

  1. Hi Dana:

    I read this in its entirety and wow, what a health roller coaster you’ve been on. I recall you went for some tests when you were here last year.

    Sending loads of love and healing thoughts. Give Bill a big hug too. We haven’t been to Ottawa this year and I’m really missing my Ottawa buddies.

    Lenka

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lenka!! Thanks so much, it was definitely quite the scare but the sorta good news about all this (potentially) is that if it is migraines with aura or seizures causing these weird episodes it’s a lot less dangerous than stroke, which I thought maybe I had (a few times). Wohooo! So in a strange way, I’m actually almost a bit relieved. It was still scary not being able to talk though!
      Hope you guys are having a wonderful summer and got some vacation time in too. Billy says hi back! Hope to see you either in Ottawa or in your neck of the woods soon!
      xo Dana

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  2. Thanks for sharing and I am excited to hear more about your new business. I hope you are okay! Health-wise, it sounds scary, but looks like you are taking care of yourself. I do hope you continue to feel better…keep us posted. Oh…your pies look adorable!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Kristy, I really appreciate it. I’m pretty excited about my new biz, everyone keeps telling me I should start selling my stuff so I figured it was about time 🙂 Yeah it was definitely scary, but thankfully I’m okay and if it was seizure-related, it’s fairly treatable at least. I’m defintely feeling much better, thank you!
      Hope you’re doing great and having a wonderful summer! Keep up the tasty concoctions on your wonderful blog, you inspire me tons! 🙂

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    • Thanks so much Deb! I hope you are well and all is great with you. Thanks so much for your sweet thoughts, I’m doing pretty good and even though the episodes of possible seizures or migraines are scary, I’m almost relieved that I may not be having strokes at my age! lol Will keep you posted. Miss you and hope you’re having a great summer!! Hi to Benny for me. Talk to you soon, my friend 😀

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    • Thanks so much, Nathalie. It sure was, but I’m doing okay and at least if it was seizure related (I go for the EEG in a couple weeks), that’s fairly treatable/preventable with meds. Since Ive had this a couple times and it doesn’t look stroke related, the neurologist thinks its more likely. Thanks for stopping by and your sweet note, I hope you are having a great summer! How is mid-August already? Not a huge fan of fall, but I must admit I’m getting excited for harvest season and fall baking…Whoooohoo! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • It sure has, Nathalie! I’ve found it mostly hot but not AS humid as it usually is…well, for shorter periods anyway. Not much rain either, which I prefer although not great for the gardens. Thanks for the kind words about my new biz, I’m just trying to settle on a name and I’ll be sharing my blog and menu soon. I’m also hoping to try to get into one of the farmer’s markets, but I’ve hard it’s a bit of a long waiting list. I hope you are having a wonderful summer and thanks again for stopping by 😀

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  3. Hi! I’m new to your blog (actually pretty new to blogging in general) so I’m discovering everything right now & getting to know some blogs along the way. Just wanted to say sorry to hear about your health scare! Glad to hear your doing better but I’m sure it was very frightening. Sounds like you have a great network of doctors which is definitely important.
    Also, love the pies, especially the Star Wars one! It made me smile because “use the fork” is what we’d always say to our son when he was a toddler & kept eating with his hands 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there, thanks so much for stopping by and for your sweet comment. Yes, I’m definitely doing much better and it was indeed quite a scare. I guess it’s all part and parcel of getting older, even though I deny it (haha). Having a great doctor/neurologist who is extremely keen to help and figure out what’s going on is definitely key.
      I’m so glad you liked my Star Wars pie, I had fun with that one. That’s too funny that you’d say that to your son when he was little. So cute!
      Looking forward to checking out your blog. I hope you’re enjoying blogging so far, I’ve met so many wonderful people via my blog. It’s a fun networking resource and a great outlet for writing too.
      Cheers 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks so much for checking out my blog! I’m hoping to have more time to work on it once my kids start school. I agree though, meeting new people via all the blogs I’m checking out has been a really nice surprise!

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