Saturday, July 28, 2012

Leaflets Three - Let it be!

This past week was Bob's vacation week and instead of having a great holiday or getting anything done I have been just miserable! 

We were at our cottage about three weeks ago when Bob cleaned out a small patch of poison ivy from the trail and wound up with a horrible rash up and down his arms. It is not like we have never been exposed to poison ivy before -- that's why we make the effort to eradicate it when a patch pops up. It has to be 10 years since we had any real problems. Horrible itching, rawness, oozing... yup we avoid it. Poison Ivy produces urushiol, an oily resin that it happily spreads on to your skin, shoes, clothes, boots, and tools.  The oil does not degrade rapidly and can lay dormant for years on objects. Quick washing with strong detergent can help break down the oil and prevent reactions, but you have to realize that you have been exposed. Some people, like Bob and me, have an allergic reaction to that oil. It is not even safe to burn the dead leaves because the smoke can affect the lungs of susceptible people.

Maybe I walked through it too and got it on my clothes, maybe Bob got it on our sheets. A week and a half ago I had a touch of rash on my side, and within a day had a massive reaction. Half my torso was covered with some of the typical blisters but mainly a hot raised inflamed area. The topical creams did nothing.  I wound up with it spreading rapidly further and further every day.

 My right and left sides do not have the same sense of feeling.   My left side was numb after I had the brain injury, but gradually it started to feel similar to when the freezing comes out after a dentist visit. Lately it has been even better with mainly a kind of duller sensation on the one side with fewer pins and needles kind of areas. My left side has had LOTS of sensation this past week but not itching or even burning like it should be, instead I have had .... serious excruciating pain as the sensation my brain was reading. I felt a lot like I had heat stroke with a fever, and nausea. My ever-present nausea was completely out of control and I was vomiting with the pain.

 I spent a lot of time crying and standing or sitting upright near a fan because there were no sides of my body left that I could comfortably lie down on.  My birthday was in the past week and dinner out was challenging. Hugs from the grandchildren hurt. I even had to go buy some clothes that were extra loose and not touching too many of the painful spots.

I saw my doctor on Monday and got put on:
  • Prednisone
  • Lots of Benadryl ( He said was probably a good thing that it knocks me out so I could get some sleep- don't drive or operate equipment)
  • A extra heavy duty strength cortisone cream
  • Calamine lotion to cover the cortisone cream and try to sooth the skin

I had to go back in five days because he was concerned I might have in infection or something else going on. Adults are not supposed to scream in pain with poison ivy-- it is supposed to itch miserably.
Things were better by my Friday doctor appointment and I got sent home with a prescription for more of the topical creams and my regular medications. I am on the mend with only a couple of minor newer spots in the past day.

We are going to the lake again this weekend. I am taking new sheets and we will be soaping anything down that Bob or I may have touched. We will be bringing home anything I can throw in the washing machine.... just in case.

I really do love being at the lake.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Summer Events with Independent Living Resource Center.

sunset at Fort Whyte

Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC) in Winnipeg is a wonderful and interesting organization that functions to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities. They have many many functions in our community but I have only been involved in a few of their more recreational functions so far. They host one or two seminars a month about safety and life issues. They also host a conference, some workshops and a variety of summer events.

Their summer events this year include a guided walk in Historic Downtown Winnipeg, an overnight camp at Fort Whyte Alive nature center, an adventure activity day also held at Fort Whyte and there will be a picnic at a different park in August. As well there is individual sailing for people with disabilities that can be booked through the organization.

I was not available to go on the waking tour but I have made it to the two events held at Fort Whyte.

The camp was as much fun this year as it was last year. My good friend Shawn came along and we had a great time together. We made new friends, ate good food and enjoyed the lovely surroundings; we went on some long walks and had a campfire. The highlight for both Shawn and myself was going sailing. Twice each!!!!

There were a couple of problems with the event. The fact that the organization's annual general meeting was the same night obviously put a lot of stress on the staff. They arranged to have streaming video into the camp common room so that everyone at camp could still participate in the meeting. That was a wonderful use of technology.

The most serious problem was the low number of people attending this year. I think there were only 9 participants plus the staff. At the opening of the camp it was announced that they had already made a decision to not have an overnight next year but have only a day camp. There is still the possibility that it could be done if they had the demand for about 30 people staying over. I could probably convince several other people to attend but how can I promote it and get my friends excited about an event that might not happen?

   The camp was seriously under-advertised.  I phoned inquiring about the camp because I had such a good time the year before. The person told me that there was no information available about such an event.  The first time I saw the poster and realized it was indeed happening was at their conference only a couple of weeks before the camp. Other people who attended the camp also complained that they had been unsuccessful in finding information earlier.  What about any new people who might have wanted to attend? There was no information or posters about the camp at any of the other organizations I attend either.
All these things can be fixed, so I am hoping it will all still come together for next year. An event like this is expensive to operate and no doubt is a stress on staff that only organizes something like this once a year. Accessible camping is a wonderful opportunity for making friends, and enjoying a variety of activities. Through Guiding I have attended a ton of camps and find that they are always stressful in certain ways but the benefits in learning, skill building and gaining independence are huge. At the same time fun, friendship, and team development are enjoyed. ILRC has a truly great location and good program already going and it will be a shame it this was the last overnight camp. 
I wonder what I can do to help with this camp and I am really not sure. I have lots of experience and I have lots of resources available and people who would volunteer to help at an actual camp, but how do you convince people that they should attend as a "camper"? How can you show people that camping can indeed be an activity almost everyone can participate in?

 I attended the Adventure Day last Friday and I brought 3 friends with me. We met at Stroke Recovery, did an hour of Tai-Ji and then my friend Sue was kind enough to load up her car with people, a walker and a wheelchair and drive all the way across the city to Fort Whyte. We got there in time to have the BBQ lunch. Hiking, sailing, canoeing, powerboat rides and museum tours were all available. One highlight was going bumping along the trails for rides on a Bison Buggy ... kind of a 6-seater golf cart. The problem was the heat! Oh my goodness the heat was unbelievable for Winnipeg and everyone was trying to find shade or go in the air-conditioned building. Sailing was a bit of a bust too because there was not even a breeze to move all that heat around. I got a bit of a sunburn but it was worth it to have a day out with nice people.  My friends agreed it was a good time, and would love to do it again.... on a cooler day!

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