Life With Dawna – The Blog re-imagined & re-done

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I started a blog.  I needed a creative outlet and a way to flex my brain as I was physically recovering from a month-long coma which was the treatment for my body shutting down from complications of H1N1 (a virulent strain of the flu).

I was also psychologically reeling from the trauma of it all.  My life  instantly changed and my physical and cognitive abilities were far from what they were pre-illness.  I needed something to help me make sense of it all.  I needed to tell my story.

Instead of telling me story I worried about sharing too much and breaching my family’s privacy which drew me into the idea of the Blogging Business – thinking that if I could no longer work, I could at least earn some income using what I always did:  writing, business sense, photography and sass.

The trouble is I’m not really Blog Business material – the business promotes  products and influences consumers – making sure you’re on trend, on pointe, en fleek….it ain’t me.  I am also completely flummoxed by the tech of it all.

I’m down to earth, low-maintenance, anti-consumption, non-materialistic,  big word using, environmental, granola, earth loving, outdoorsy, non-brand wearing, feminist, non-judgey, accepting, family loving woman who has a lot of thoughts and ideas but I’m pretty much just over here living what I think is a ho-hum life.

So the day I started thinking about how I could write-up a family outing on the blog – I caught myself and decided to re-evaluate.  I was getting caught up in what other blogs with more followers were doing.  I started trying to follow the industry’s content trends and be more like them but still be myself – but it didn’t feel right.

I’m going back to the beginning.

The articles that get the most feedback are the ones about the hard parts of life, not the shiny happy stuff.   Weight loss and recovering from the crazy train that was my illness and IS my recovery.  So what you can expect from now on are those types of posts.  I am still painting and still yoga-ing and I’m writing.

I have fallen in love with Instagram so if you follow me there you’ll enjoy lots of pictures of my kids, family, garden, cats, art, and travels.


Weight Loss Journey: Shock & Horror

This month I gained weight!  Oh the horror!!!  Actually I’m ok with it, and I’m not sure if that’s the right attitude or not.  Even with the small gain, I am still smaller.   I also know that I can get those pounds back.

My excuse is that I was on a no-exercise restriction for December and January and I have been tired and sore post pacemaker to do the normal healthy food planning and prep that I normally do.

Those sound like good excuses right?  The no-exercise did not come with “abandon healthy eating” instructions.  So that’s on me.

I know that to keep up with the weight loss the most important thing for me is to take time for myself including:  going to weight watchers meeting and spending time writing and creating.

 It creates the space for me to think and when I’m thinking I’m doing all the right things.  

That said – I am feeling recovered from my surgery and in the last week have gone for a swim and a yoga class – which are my fitness goals this year. Tonight I am trying Aerial Yoga for the first time…wish me luck!

For 2017 I have set myself some fresh goals:

  • get down 20 lbs (from my 2017 starting weight) (up 4 lbs!)
  • no sugar in my coffee or tea (so far so good!)
  • 100 yoga classes (1 down 99 to go)
  • 52 swims (1 down 51 to go)
  • maintain my great eating habits (ya..ok – back to that)
  • stick with Weight Watchers (yep yep yep – back at meetings)

Winter Fun Hat Trick – Keeping Warm in the Mountains

Firewood helper

Regular followers will notice a lot of our family photos are taken outside – we are a very outdoorsy family and have tried to stay that way even through my recovery.

This past weekend we had three generations around a campfire and on skis and snowshoes.

This is Tweenboy’s 9th year of snowshoeing and 7th year on X-country skis and I don’t think he realizes how special he is among his peers.

Waiting for lunch

He’s a proficient fire wood chopper, fire builder, skiier, and snowshoer – and all because we do it as a family.

He’s never been in Scouts or taken an outdoor course – he’s learned the old fashioned way from his parents and grandparents and time spent together.

Now that Wildchild is old enough to get in on the action, it’s a beautiful thing to see his older brother showing him how it’s done – albeit begrudgingly at times.

Off to the woods

We have joined  Participaction’s 150 Play List which celebrates our country’s birthday through physical fitness.  I love lists and challenges and I am very sentimental about the part the Participaction played in my childhood (Body Break! Hal & JoAnne!), so signing up to record our fun adventures and maybe win some prizes was a no-brainer.  Click here to check out Participaction’s 150 Play List

Watch for tweets, shares, and posts using hashtags related to the challenge: #sitless #movemore #150playlist


Rehab Life – the next chapter

I no longer have to pace myself – I have a machine to do it for me! My heart was not listening to my brain so it’s under new management.

Last fall, after my epic fun road trip with the kids I started to feel down and thought that my PTDS was flaring because I was dealing with pressure from my long-term disability insurance company to participate in an aggressive physical and psychological therapy program with hopes of getting me back to work.

I mean – for sure it was flaring and on top of that I was forced into this program.  I could have declined, of course, but then I may have lost my benefits and my job security from work.

I made it through five of the eight week program – each week telling my therapist and insurance company that it was too much, but still attending and participating.  At the end of my sessions of week 5, I felt awful – burned out, tired out and in too much pain to sleep.

I went to bed, took Tylenol, used hot water bottles, ice, and slept.  I told Hubs: “Something is wrong with me.”  He wanted me to go get checked out, but I thought I was just worn out.  I was – but more than I knew.

I was still feeling awful for the next few days and when I went to a regularly scheduled appointment  with my cardiologist.   What was supposed to be the same old, same old annual visit turned into  so much more.

A routine test showed that I had heart block which means that the electrical system in my heart was not working properly.  They put me on a treadmill to see how serious it was and how long I could wait for a pacemaker (the only treatment option).  Two minutes on the treadmill and the answer was that I needed a pacemaker that day – I wasn’t leaving the hospital. (Third degree heart block and polymorphic v-tach.)

Poor Hubs, one more distress call from me that he’ll probably hear over and over in his head.  “What happened?  Why now?” he asked.  We still don’t know the answer to that.  Each hour I was getting weaker and my heart function was declining.

my accomodation

I got checked in (aka admitted) to my room – a palatial suite with a mountain view! Called and texted my family and friends.  The funny thing was nurses kept coming in and asking where the patient was.  I was in my street clothes and looked so young to them – they thought I was there with my mother.  Really I put the hospital gown on just to keep things straight.

Hubs and kids came by, as did Aunty and one of my besties KSO and her mom.  She missed out on the coma action and her mom said wild horses were not keeping her away from me this time.  I was glad to have the company so I didn’t have time to think about the state of things.  Just keep moving forward!

Victory in the post-op

Surgery went well the next morning – my side kick and previous coma attendant met me in the pre-op area – Hubs stayed home with the kids who needed his comfort.  I had my girl and we were doing our comedy shtick asking for a hot pink pacemaker, trying to sneak into surgery wearing my own pyjamas, and making friends with all the staff.

Did you know that most pacemaker surgeries are done with local anaesthetic?  That’s right I was awake for the whole thing!  Got to hear more than I wanted while the surgeon guided the surgical resident through some parts.  “No don’t cut that” is not something you want to hear! I’ll spare you the details on how often the “freezing” wore off.

I had a wonderful anaesthesiologist who, as it turns out, was part of the team that put me on ECMO in 2013.  He saved my life once, so I felt so calm knowing he  was taking care of me again. We had a great pre-op chat and I knew I was in good hands.

Recovery feels like someone drilled a big whole through your shoulder to your back and left a rock behind.  I said that to my surgeon and she said it was a pretty accurate description.

proof of life

Immediately after the surgery my skin tone changed to my youthful pink – I now matched my sister again – hadn’t really noticed how bad it was until it was good again.  I also could walk and talk with full breath.

Now five weeks into my recovery I feel like going for a walk and running a few errands.  One thing a day tires me out from now.  I have hope – even though some days I feel very fragile and breakable and hubs would like to wrap me in bubble wrap.

I’m looking forward to  returning to yoga next month and getting in the pool.

resting up with my buddy

I am thankful that I live in Canada where this whole episode cost me zero dollars.  The cost of my pacemaker is about $30K USD and then add on the surgery and hospital stay.

My one regret is that I allowed myself to be bullied by the insurance company.  Before their return to work program I had adjusted to my life of reduced activity and was figuring things out – now I’ve got a pacemaker.

There is an unequal relationship between the insured and insurer – one needs the money and the other has the money.  To say no to them is difficult and scary.  I did call them from the hospital to tell them what happened and I’m hoping that from now on I will be in charge of my activity level and not them.  That is my new challenge – stand up for myself.

When you are living with an invisible disability and are a positive, happy person it often confuses people why I can’t go back to work.  Explaining and justifying my situation has become exhausting and annoying.

I came back from the brink of death in 2014 and if I didn’t go to my cardiologist in time, I would have died in my sleep.  The only person who knows my capabilities is me and I need to find someway to express that and shut down the pressure to be better.

“I have always lived life on the edge of my abilities – pushing myself as far as I can.  I am and always will be as good as I can be.”

Sidebar:  I had heart surgery as a kid and I see my cardiologist each year to make sure everything is still ticking as it should be.  My heart has been stable since I had my surgery – no changes no trouble as long as I don’t try to run or other high exertion activities.




Weight Loss Journey – Goals We Set Are Goals We Get

Don’t you just love that title?  I can’t take credit tho – it’s a motto of a friend of mine named Luke who is in grade 2.  (I love that my BFF’s kids have mottos to live by!)  As Luke wisely knows you gotta set a goal to achieve a goal.

I left 2016 with 20 lbs less than I started and I fought for every one of those pounds and lost some of them 2 or 3 times!  I was 20 lbs down by July and then went up and down a few pounds at a time while I went through some struggles with my health but my last weigh in of the year showed that 20 lbs was gone!

For 2017 I have set myself some fresh goals:

  • get down 20 lbs (from my 2017 starting weight)
  • no sugar in my coffee or tea (so far so good!)
  • 100 yoga classes
  • 52 swims
  • maintain my great eating habits
  • stick with Weight Watchers

In 2016 my journey was about changing what I ate: increasing vegetables and fruit and decreasing portion size.  I was eating too much.  My health was poor and I lost that 20 lbs without doing any cardio exercise.

This year, with improved health (thanks pacemaker) I will add swimming to the mix and increase my fitness.