Saturday, May 29, 2010

Want to be outside

The rain outside today looks quite thick. Almost solid. I have more garden to plant but have to keep putting it off. We usually have most of it in by the end of April but were unable to do that this year due to the snow on the ground. We ran out between rains last weekend to get some done, but there are no pauses in the precipitation today to finish up.
I think I pruned the apple trees correctly!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

See you all soon(ish)!

I booked my flight for the houseboat! happy dance. FYI to anyone else looking for flights in Canada, there is a pretty good Air Canada/WestJet seat sale which I think ends tomorrow or on the weekend. So excited to see everyone, especially since life in Guelph is kind of dragging at the moment.

Anyway, I am flying in to Edmonton on the Friday before (Aug 20) and flying out from Kelowna the day after we disembark. Hoping to catch a ride with someone across the mountains and maybe borrow a bed in Kelowna for the Monday night after the boat! I really can't wait.

In aid of this flitting about the country, I am changing my living arrangements for the last two months of the summer. I've agreed to move next door into the shared house there, where I will get free rent (paying bills only) in return for dog-sitting a giant black furry conglomeration of wolf and German Shepherd. I am somewhat nervous about taking this on (Kafka is a lovely dog, but not the brightest, so it's a bit like agreeing to be responsible for a toddler for two months - a toddler who likes to chew other peoples' stuff) but on the other hand cutting my rent significantly will help a lot. It's kind of like a summer job, with housemates.

Half my garden is already there, and I spend a lot of time at the house anyway, so I'm hoping it will go well even though I really like living alone. There will be four people in the house, at least one of whom is known to be very tidy, so I am hopeful.

By the way, the reason my neighbour needs a dog-sitter for two months is that he is driving his motorcycle across Canada! I am kind of jealous - it will be an epic trip.

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Relay for Life

So a few of us from the theatre in Rocky made a team for the Relay for Life this weekend. It would be super if you wanted to sponser me! Here is the link:

Just thought I'd write a quick post letting everyone know I'm back home, and thanking you all for the support. Especially Lisa! writing up that letter and doing all that research was a pretty amazing thing, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate it! Also everyone who facebooked me and visited, it's amazing how uplifting that can be. The good news is that I received approval from my insurance company yesterday around 2:30, and by 5:00 I was receiving my first dose of remicade. Everything went well, and no reactions yet, so things are looking good. I get my next infusion in two weeks, and then every 8 weeks after that for the foreseeable future. Hopefully that means back to work right shortly.
Anyway thanks to everyone again, and by all means sign those letters and spread them around. I would not want anyone to go through what I did, having your entire future boil down to a decision made by an insurance company!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

letter for infliximab

Here's a letter-feel free to distribute, modify as you see fit. I have minister of health's info-but I think it should also be sent to your mla. I have just cut and pasted, as can't add word documents.

May 24, 2010

Honourable Minister of Health Gene Zwozdesky
#208 Legislature Building
10800 97 Ave
Edmonton Alberta T5K 2B6

Dear Minister Zwozdesky,

I am writing to ask that you consider adding infliximab, trade name Remicade, as a Special Authority treatment for ulcerative colitis under the Alberta health care pharmaceutical coverage. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, that can often result in large bowel removal when medical and pharmaceutical interventions are not effective in achieving remission for people living with this life long illness. Initial treatment consists of cortocisteriods and aminosalicylates. However, not all people respond to these drugs and without the use of infliximab, removal of the colon with the resulting need for an ileostomy and exterior bag is the only option once other drug treatments have not worked.

Peak incidence of ulcerative colitis is for people between the ages of 30-50 years of age, affecting approximately 0.1% of the population, and with no known cause, other than a genetic susceptibility. Given that it affects younger people, surgical removal of the colon has significant effects on their psychological and emotional well being. Surgery itself has risks and though effective in disease remission for this disease, is not an option that many would choose if a pharmaceutical option were available.

Remicade/infliximab has been shown in studies to be effective in treating refractory ulcerative colitis. Studies by Chey (2006), Gornet, Couve, Hassani et al (2003), Jarnerot, Herterviq, Friis-Liby et al (2006), Rutgeerts, Sandborn, Feagen et al (2005), Lees, Heys, Ho et al (2007) among others show that infliximab is a viable treatment for moderate to severe refractory ulcerative colitis. Unfortunately, treatment with infliximab is prohibitively expensive for people without 3rd party insurance as it costs approximately $24, 000 per year.

Given the cost of infliximab and proven effectiveness in decreasing surgical intervention, I ask that you consider adding this drug to the Special Authority list to allow people living with ulcerative colitis the option to use this effective but costly drug.

I appreciate your time in reading my letter and look forward to hearing your response to this issue.

Yours truly,

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Wow, the weather is very cold and snowy this weekend so we stayed home with the furnace. I was reading the herald and noticed that Mrs. Cassidy passed away. I can't copy and paste the notice but if you go to the herald and look at obits you will find it. the funeral was last week. Even though the weather is not great we sure need the moisture so that is good.

Friday, May 21, 2010


I was thinking....
If I put up a template, would you be interested in signing and sending to Alberta government about covering Remicade for ulcerative colitis? (this means everyone who reads this living in Alberta-or elsewhere, but I don't think the AB gov't cares if we don't live there and vote there)
Government there would be more likely to listen to voters there.
not that I necessarily think it would be a quick process, but it is a tremendous hardship to people who don't have 3rd party insurance, or their insurance doesn't cover it.
Thoughts? People who will do it?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Home again

We just arrived home. We took the Red Arrow bus to Red Deer this afternoon and Grace picked us up when she was done work, then we went over to visit Tim. He says he is doing all right and is feeling a bit better than before. He is attached to an IV pole but wanders around. I haven't been to the Red Deer hospital since Geoff was there. There were renovations going on then which are now done and it is now very nice. Anyway, Tim has to stay in for the week. The doctor wants to try a medication that is very expensive, so Tim has to check with his benefit plan to see if they will cover the cost.
So now back to work for me - Geoff has tomorrow off. Grace seems to have to kept the house together quite well.

Conferencing in Florida

Well, after all those pictures of Costa Rica I figured I should put up some photos of my Florida adventure. I had a great time at the conference - there were some really interesting talks and some good posters, plus lots of other nerds to chat to. The house we stayed at was great (here is a photo of the pool area):

The housemates were awesome too. It was me, a colleague from Guelph who is now living in Texas, and some other members and former member of my former supervisor's lab who I hadn't met. Here is an action shot of some of the housemates:

This is a banyan tree - the most complicated-looking tree I had ever seen. The branches grow down to become roots!

We went on a "Sunset Cruise" and, as promised, saw a sunset:

Also lots of houses - 19 million, 20 million, 24-million dollar houses - that are HOLIDAY HOMES. People only live in these for a few weeks or months during the year. Craziness!

Also we saw lots of dolphins. Apparently they like to play in boat wakes. Hard to get a good photo, though!

It was very windy...

The conference part of the trip was really great, but I had added a few days on the end to go see some stuff in Florida. I wanted to check out Key West or Miami - both very easy to get to from Fort Myers. However, my body had other plans as I got deathly ill as soon as I dropped everyone else off at the airport. Grrr. So I've been hunkering down at the hostel (luckily it's a low-key, friendly one where the owner has provided me with cough syrup and tea) instead. Very sad not to get out more, but really nothing I can do. Now the worst seems to be over (in time to leave tomorrow) although I am still coughing up disgusting stuff - THAT will be fun on the plane! But hey, at least for the moment I can chill in the hammock and watch the lizards run around...


Just Apeing the Last Post...

You Costa Rica people think you're so special! You're not the only ones to see monkeys! These are from when Archdeacon Dhilo took me to Ravanella Falls. The falls are quite nice, and the hills around are incredible!

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Friday, May 14, 2010


Our last full day here. We went on a river excursion to see wildlife. We saw lots. Iguanas, birds, crocodiles and monkeys. The driver pulled the boat up to the trees where these monkeys were and we stayed and played with them for a while. It was a great trip. Those are Geoff's hands feeding the banana to the monkey. Sorry about the rest of the video - I didn't know at the time you have to turn the thing off.
Just heard today from Grace that Tim has been admitted to the hospital in Red Deer. He is sick again so they are giving him steroids in the hospital. He was on steroid pills but I guess they were not working. I don't like being so far away.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

This is Don Juan
and a good customer.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The top picture is what a real sloth looks like. I guess kind of like a monkey from this angle.
We spent the last couple of days being unlike sloths. We went on an overnight excursion to see a volcano and the cloud forest with stops at a coffee plantation, a couple of butterfly gardens, hot springs. The group we started out with came back here Monday night so we were handed over to a hotel for the night. Then someone else picked us up after breakfast and handed us over to a guy in a boat who took us down a lake and dropped us to wait for another van, which took us to the wrong place to meet our group. When we did find the right place (Don Juan's coffee plantation) we had to wait for an hour or so for our next van. Then we stuck with that bunch until we got back last night.
The cloud forest was wonderful; we followed a trail up and down hills and over suspension bridges through all these giant houseplants. All of the rest of it was good too. We only had whiners in our group for the first day, everyone on the second day was nice to be with.
Weather is still good. It was raining a bit in the mountains but here is still hot and sunny.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

From Geoff- my company in Costa Rica

As you can see, scintilating conversation with my travelling partners is not an option.
We are NOT Jaguars; Not Badgers- I believe Sloths would be more appropriate.

Saturday, May 08, 2010


No this is not Geoff in a tree, we went on a tour to Nicaragua on Thursday and took a boat trip out on Lake Nicaragua, there are 365 islands on the lake, one of the islands has monkeys living there. It was a really good trip, learned lots about Nicaragua, and most importantly got more stamps for our passports. The day did not start out very well, the bus had a flat tire so was late picking us up. but once that was over the rest of the day went really well. The border crossing is crazy, all these trucks lined up waiting to cross, and here we are in our little mini bus going in and out of traffic, thank goodness for our driver Paulo, he was awesome. Our guide was Luis and he was really knowledgeable. We saw Granada, which is a colonial city in Nicaragua, beautiful architecture, and very pretty. We also went to see a Volcano in a national park. that was very cool, because it is an active volcano you can only stay for 20 minutes at the site. There was black lava all around and it looked it was just dirt that some one dug up, but apparently it can cut through shoes and jeans, though we did not test that out. Some lunch and shopping rounded out the day. There was a little trouble at the border, apparently when we went in to Nicaragua, someone did not stamp the right papers for the bus, but a little time and everything got worked out and were on our way home to the hotel.
Yesterday was spent on the beach recovering from our trip.

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Tuesday, May 04, 2010

New Neighbour

Mom's financing for new pad all went through and her house is up for sale-so we will be neighbours soon.
I hope she is not into loud parties.
The sellers will let us in to do work (nice!) before she moves in-so we can go in and paint and stuff beforehand-which will be so much easier.
She has to pick out colours and flooring now!
Wilf is going to come and help Mom with flooring and countertop which is so nice!
Now she just needs to recover from getting ready for selling.

Monday, May 03, 2010


Greetings from Costa Rica, whether we deserve to be here or not, we are glad we are. It is beautiful here. The hotel is just fine (never mind what those whiners on Trip Advisor say), the grounds are lush and our room is good. It was a long trip to get here. We flew through Toronto, so went east two time zones, then back west to our regular time zone. This is the rainy season and it was raining when we arrived but by the time we went for supper the rain had stopped. It rained last night but not at all in the day and today it was sunny all day. Of course rain or not, it is hot. Last night was beautiful, there were hours of sheet lightning lighting up the hills.
We are all agreed that we do not want to do too much for a few days. Today we spent at the beach. It is a bit of a walk from where the swimming pool is, but is really nice and not too many people seem to go down there. So although it was very hot, there was a bit of a breeze from the water.
We booked a couple of excursions for later so will not be complete slugs.
One thing that is really weird is that when we go outside from an air-conditioned room, our glasses fog up!