Monday, August 29, 2016

Pet peeves

I have decided that it is time for me to write about a couple of my pet peeves that I have been seeing while living in an apartment building.  Of course, there are a number of pet peeves that I could write about but I am going to focus on two of them for this blog entry.

Air conditioners
Air conditioner installed wrong
One of the issues that is starting to really bother me is the number of air conditioners that are incorrectly installed.  I have so far too many air conditioners just put into a window and then left just like that.  The picture is showing one such installation where the air conditioner is put into the window but the window is left wide open therefore not providing some support to the side of the unit.  Actually in this case it looks like there may be a little bit of support at the top of the air conditioner but that is it.  Imagine if someone banged this unit, I have a feeling it would probably fall out of the window without too much of an issue.

If this unit was to fall out of the window it would fall around 19 floors to the ground if it is unplugged or if it is plugged in it would dangle for a while until the weight of the air conditioner either pulled the plug or the cord broke.  In either case the air conditioner would again fall and possibly hurt someone on the ground.

Another issue with the window not being closed is this is an ideal spot for a child to decide to look out the open window again possibly causing some issues.  Now we have a spot where the child could fall out the window themselves or bang the air conditioner and both the child and air conditioner falling out.

So many people don't think the entire installation through when they are putting the air conditioning unit in the window.  If you want the room to cool down you need to be preventing the warm air from coming in.  You also need to ensure that the air conditioner is properly installed for the safety of others around you.
Rug hung off balcony

Items hanging off balcony railings

Another thing that we quite often see is items such as rugs, blankets or sheets being hung off the balcony railing. In some cases the item is just a little bit over the railing and it isn't interfering with anyone else.

Now there are cases such as in the picture where the rug is hanging and interfering with the people that live belong. This is going to possibly cause some problems because I know that I wouldn't want something hanging in front of my balcony.

The people in the until below can do a few different things and it would really depend on the people.  I know that I would be pretty upset and would either contact my Property Management and let them know that there was something hanging from a balcony above and it was interfering with my enjoyment of my own balcony or I would go upstairs and see if I could nicely talk to the tenants and let them know that their rug, etc was bothering me.  In the case of our building, there is a rule that nothing can be hung over the railing so it would be best if I contacted the Property Management/Superintendent to resolve the issue.

There are probably some other people who would say just to say nothing because each tenant has the right to use their balcony their way.  There is also another group of people, as I know I have thought about it and it would be the people that would just pull on the item and let it fall to the ground or then there is the group that would damage the item because it is interfering with their enjoyment of their own unit.

View point
I understand that there are a lot of different views on what is right and what is wrong with both of these issues that I have shown here.  Both of these issues are things that bother me and thankfully do not happen in our building.  These are both pictures that were taken from our own balcony when we were enjoying it. Of course, if you don't or have never lived in an apartment or condo building you wouldn't have encountered either of these issues.

Everyone has things that bother them and these are just two of the things that I have seen while sitting on our balcony that  either bother me or concern me.  The incorrectly installed air conditioner concerns me because I can concerned about someone getting injured if the unit was to fall out of the window.  The rug or item hanging from the balcony railing bothers me because it is showing a lack of respect to others around you.

If you do live in a highrise remember that there are others around you and what you do could either bother someone else or endanger them.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Wrist Braces

Capral tunnel brace
Have you noticed that there seems to be more people wearing braces on their wrists now?

I understand that wrist problems are on the rise and yes there are a lot of people that are suffering from the various different issues that can occur with the wrists or hands in general. I for one have already had two different surgeries because of an issue with my thumb tendon tunnel. I was one of those people that didn’t think anything like a wrist issue was going to impact me but I found out the hard way that it can.

For me, the first issue was with my right thumb and it was pretty painful and it got to the point that I couldn’t hold anything with my right hand because the pain was so bad. After a number of tests for what was thought to be carpal tunnel a specialist told me that no it wasn’t carpal tunnel but it was something called De quervain’s tenosynovitis and yes it is extremely painful. The worst test is what is referred to as the Finkelstein test and you bend your wrist thumb down towards your little finger. This is the test were I thought I was going to hit the specialist because it was so painful. The process I went through was to wear a special molded brace for four weeks to see if it would help reduce the pain. It didn’t so the next step was the corticosteroid injections into the area to see if that helped. The area is frozen and the injection is done and it is only after the freezing wears off that the pain really starts as the corticosteroid is absorbed into your body. I thought everything was going to be good after this but no it ended up I had to have surgery to open up the sheath to release the pressure. It was during this surgery that the specialist informed me that I have small tunnels so he figured he would see me again either for the left hand or for carpal tunnel surgery.

After having this first surgery I knew that I was going to have to be very careful with both of my hands to ensure that I didn’t have another surgery but it didn’t work. Even after being extremely careful and watching everything I ended up having the same surgery on the left hand. The process was a lot faster with the second hand because I knew what the pain was and was immediately referred back to the same specialist who did the same tests and injections with no improvement so once again it was surgery.

Now what this has shown me is that for some people no matter how they try to avoid the repetitive movements they may still have to deal with the surgery because of the tunnels that they have. I have really tried to be extremely careful with my wrists because no I do not want to have the carpal tunnel surgery on either of my hands. I have learned the warning signs that when my wrists start to bother me even the slightest bit I will change what I am doing and I will also wear the wrist braces that I have to ensure I give the wrists a chance to at least improve.

Yes, the repetitive motions such as typing in certain positions don’t help us when it comes to our wrists. I have found that I do change up how I do my typing to ensure that I am not always in the same position because I know that I am one of those that has to be extremely careful otherwise I will be in for another surgery on my wrists.

Wearing a brace when the pain is even very low can make the world of difference and it can mean that you could even avoid the surgery or the corticosteroid injections because they are painful. Knowing your own body and being able to be proactive is very important because it can make the world of difference. I have so far been able to avoid any of the other tendon tunnel surgeries that could happen. I know that in my wrists my tunnels are extremely small so even the slightest issue could result in surgery and I don’t want any more.

If you are experiencing pain in your wrists don’t be embarrassed to wear a brace because it can help. Also if you do have the pain look at what you are doing and see if you can either modify what you are doing or take a break from it. A hobby could be the cause of the pain so changing how you do it or taking a break can make a difference. I still modify all the difference activities that I do because like a lot of people I spend a great deal of time on the computer and I don’t want to be told that I need surgery because of how much typing I have done.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


How many people look back at the end of the day and say where did some of my time go?

I think a lot of people do that and there are a number of reasons why we lose part of our day and don’t realize where it goes. The availability of social media now is making it so easy to stay that I am just going to get something quickly and then get back to work. The quick check really isn’t that quick a check because you can end up wasting a great deal of time either following the articles on Facebook and the various links on Twitter. Yes, there two social media platforms can really take a to of your day away from you without you realizing where the time has gone.

There are a number of companies that block both Facebook and Twitter from being accessible through the business internet and it is only available to those that there are part of their job. I have heard some people complain because they think that they should be able to connect to their social media at any time they want not realizing that it is really taking away from their work time. There are even companies that fawn on the use of a personal smart phone during the work day and that is because that is another way of checking the various social media platforms.

Another distraction that is in the work place is the social conversations that go on either around you and with you involved. These are interruptions that take you away from your actual work and then it takes me some time to get back to what you were doing. Yes, a conversation may only be 5 or 10 minutes but then how long does it take for you to get back and remember exactly what you were doing before that conversation.

Email can be considered a distraction as well as part of your job. What is important is not getting distracted too often when you see that you have a new message. In some cases the best thing to do is not have the notify icon on your desktop so that it isn’t flashing and letting you know that you have new email. If you can get into a routine of checking email at various times during the day and then dealing with all the messages at once you will find you will be able to get more done throughout the day.

Yes there are tons of distractions that can interfere with our work day and we just need to figure out how to manage them. The social media is one thing that really needs to be handled because that can really distract you for a lot of time so if you are at work even if it is allowed through the internet make it your own personal practice to either not check it at all until you are home or only check it during your lunch. Managing the distractions can be a challenge but understanding what they are can make a big difference.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Gym Renewal

It has now been one year since we starting to go to the gym and work out as often as we can. For the last little while we haven’t been going very often but hopefully once the weather cools down a little bit we will get back to going.

Membership tag
Our membership was for one year so we figured that considering we joined on August 12th it was time to go and renew our membership. I am glad that we knew the date that we joined because we didn’t receive any type of notification letting us know that our membership was coming to an end. Yes, there is an option where Fit4Less will take money out of your bank account every two weeks if you select that option but we didn’t do that. We paid the up front membership for a year and that included a joining fee.

We went into the gym on the 12th of August again this year to renew our membership only to discover a few things that seem to be inefficient for a company like Fit4Less. For the first thing not letting members know that their membership is about to elapse wasn’t good and something that I feel they need to improve on. Now when we went into our local gym there were a few more issues that I don’t blame the local gym about but the business as a whole.

To renew our membership we were required to complete the paper work that we did a year ago all over again. Yes, this is like joining the gym for a second time. The system doesn’t even allow the employees to just click a renew button on a membership but they have to re-enter all the information all over again. Yes, this is now a new membership because we paid our balance all at once. The new membership includes a joining fee because that is the cost of the key tag and being set up in the system. I cannot believe that after being with a gym for a year we were charged the joining fee for a second time. If this is the way that the gym operates it means that they will be losing members because people will either forget to renew or refuse to pay the joining fee each year.

The two of us have paid our membership for the year up front so that it means that if we decide not to go Fit4Less doesn’t have to collect the cancellation fee for the remainder of the year commitment. Fit4Less also has the reduced cost of not having to set up a process where the transaction is done on a bi-weekly schedule increasing their costs. The only benefit of doing the bi-weekly transaction would have been that we didn’t have the joining fee but have the increased our banking fees.

I am extremely disappointed about how the renewal of the gym membership was handled by Fit4Less but don’t blame the local gym. They can only do what the corporation tells them they can do. The process needs to improve otherwise Fit4Less is going to have some extremely upset former members.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Return to the Muskoka Chair

An inviting Muskoka chair
I wrote quite a while ago about sitting in the Muskoka chair and that I would return to it soon. I have returned to the chairs since then but never sat down and wrote about it again and not sure why.

The Muskoka chair is a very comfortable chair where you can sit back and let the world go by around you and let all the things that are bothering you just disappear. Of course, the things that are bothering you don’t disappear really but it gives you the tie to relax and think about the activity that is going on around you instead of everything else. The best spots for a Muskoka chair is either on a dock or at least facing some water.

The chair when it is sitting there empty looks so inviting and of course how can I refuse that invitation. The chair this time was in Huntsville, Ontario in Town Dock Park and it was overlooking Muskoka River which meant for some nice relaxing time. Being able to sit and watch some of the various water vessels go by was nice and something that we both enjoyed. The chair is very welcoming and it gives you the break from the rest of the world even if it is only for a little while.

The view 
My Muskoka chair gave me a little bit of time where I could just sit and relax and dream. I dreamt of being able to sit and write for hours while looking at the view that I had. Maybe one day soon I will return to this very chair and write for hours and let the world go on around me while I sit and dream. The view is something that is also important because a Muskoka chair can be in a lot of different places but over looking a lake or river gives you a view and a place where you can escape from all the normal things we see.

The Muskoka chair is now empty again and I am back working on my projects that need my attention. I will return to that Muskoka chair to dream very soon,.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

I'm Special, Not Odd

Originally published in “Allergy & Asthma News, Issue 3, 2005” and on

Everyone used to tell me allergies were a kid's thing. Boy, were they wrong about this!

I was 21 when I was first tested for allergies and since then I have had more surprises. At first, being told I had allergies wasn't too bad because they were the typical environment allergies... dust, mold, ragweed, cats, dogs, etc. - nothing that I couldn't deal with without any problems for 14 years.

During a visit to my allergist at age 35 I mentioned that when I ate certain foods half my face would swell. My allergist asked me what my favourite food was and I said donuts and French fries and that this was when my face reacted. This visit changed a lot of things for me as I left my allergist's office with my first epinephrine auto-injector, having been told that I was anaphylactic to "cottonseed". What an eye opener, considering that I didn't know anyone who carried epinephrine and I really didn't understand what this was going to mean to my life.

Thank goodness I had very supportive people around me who helped me deal with this new situation. They helped me find out more about anaphylaxis and how to eliminate "cottonseed" from my diet. Cottonseed is one of those items that was hard to find on ingredient lists but now I am seeing it more and more which means more and more items that I have to avoid. Cottonseed can be found in some 100% pure vegetable oils and can also be found in steak seasonings and other foods. Living with this allergy has been very difficult because I felt I was the only one with it. I have since found out that I'm not alone with this allergy and it's something that is becoming more common.

I still go out to restaurants and have meals but have to admit that it's sometimes hard explaining this allergy to restaurant staff because they figure the common allergies are the only allergies. It's amazing how many times people have assumed it's a peanut allergy as soon as I say I have a food allergy. Once I find a restaurant that knows how to deal with my allergy I end up going to it more often and get to know all the staff pretty well.

I am an example of adult onset anaphylaxis and am still getting used to dealing with this change to my way of eating. I travel for my work and it means that I leave a comfort zone but I always know that I just have to ask about ingredients and when I don't get an answer that I'm comfortable with I avoid the food. Whenever I travel even just short distances I always ensure that I have safe snacks with me.

Since developing this anaphylactic reaction 6 years ago, I have developed three other severe allergies, codeine, pineapple and raspberries. Once again, I am searching to find out where pineapple and raspberries can be hidden in various foods.

My husband is always there to support me even when sometimes I get tired of mentioning that I am anaphylactic. Having a wonderful support person has really made dealing with my food allergies a lot easier. He is always there to help me deal with this allergy and the occasional reaction. He is always willing to train others on how to use the auto-injector and also talk about dealing with food allergies. Having a good support person really makes a difference because knowing someone is on your side makes dealing with these allergies a little easier. I don't know how many restaurants he has gone into when I'm not there to see what oil they fry their food in but I do hear when he finds a restaurant that, as he says, is "Darlene friendly".

For the last four years I have been attending the AAIA allergy conferences here in Ontario and it's a wonderful feeling where for one day I feel I'm part of a majority instead of a minority. Seeing all the different people who are dealing with anaphylaxis and being able to share stories makes it so nice, as I know I'm not alone. There are lots of us out there.

I am a lot more vocal about being anaphylactic because I know being adult onset I am dealing with the same feelings a child goes through – just all at once instead of at different stages. No I'm not peanut allergic, but I'm special! I have an uncommon food allergy and know that with some effort people will see there are a lot of others just like me.

Life still goes on for me but it is a challenge that I live with every day. I am a lot more vocal about my allergies now. I volunteer with the AAIA and am glad that they have been around to help me deal with my allergies, asthma and anaphylaxis. Now I know I'm not alone and I simply tell people, when I talk about my allergies "I'm not odd, I'm special".

Here are some updates since I wrote this article 11 years ago.

I was very lucky and AAIA asked if I could assist them with some of their office duties and I became their part-time National Administrator and have been working with them for the last 5 years. It is something that I have enjoyed doing because of how much AAIA has helped me learn to deal with my allergies. I assisted in organizing their EpiPen Take Action events which helped raise funds for research and education on allergies and anaphylaxis. Through working with AAIA, I have found others that were allergic to cottonseed and that was something I didn’t think I would.

I have gained (“lucky me”) another food allergy to the list and that is shellfish so that means a lot of fried foods out in restaurants have had to be eliminated. I haven’t found it too difficult except when I really want french fries and can’t have them because of the otherwise safe oil is also used for their deep fried calamari.

I remain vocal about my allergies because I know it is something that a lot of people still don’t understand or aren’t willing to make accommodations. My allergies are part of who I am and no matter what anyone else says I have to live with them and the impact they have on my life. I do my best to deal with my allergies alone with the assistance of my wonderful husband, but I still need to talk about them to others. Whenever I go to someone’s house I have to let them know that I have food allergies if I will be having a meal there. We have some wonderful friends that have been able to understand and deal with the allergies without any issues. Whenever we are going over to their house they simply request an updated allergy list to ensure that I will be safe at their house which I appreciate.

Early on as a volunteer for AAIA I enjoyed the opportunity of doing presentations on allergies, asthma, and/or anaphylaxis in the Toronto area. I always enjoyed the chance to help educate others and talk about some of my own personal challenges. Over the last few years I haven’t been given the chance to do these presentations and I miss doing them. Part of me isn’t sure why I have been blocked from doing the various presentations, maybe it’s because I am not peanut allergic or I am not a mother of an allergic child, as if that matters as I do live with all of these issues. If there are presentations that need to be done I would love the opportunity to either do them or at least discuss them.

I continue to help educate others about allergies and anaphylaxis my own way and I always say “I’m special, not odd.”

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Your music

As someone that writes, quite a bit, my music is something that is extremely important to me.

I have known people that like listen to heavy metal when they are writing and then there are a lot of people that don’t want to hear anything so that they can focus on getting the words down. For me, I am one of those that likes listen to easy listening music such as The Tenors and Il Divo. I have a bunch of the music as mp3’s on my computer so that if I am somewhere that I don’t have my entire collection I have at least some of my music so that I can lose myself in writing. The other thing that is very important to me is having a good pair of headphones that blocks out a lot of the noises around me.

The type of music that works for you is very important and may even vary depending on the task. Knowing if it works or not can make a big difference when you are trying to do something. For me, listening to a radio when I am trying to write doesn’t work as I find the voices can be extremely distracting when I am trying to write. If I want to just sit and listen to music and browse on the internet the radio is something that does work for me.

The music that works for each person varies and it can also vary depending your mood. I know that there are even times when I will sit and listen to some of my country music because that is what helps me focus on the tasks that I want to complete. The tasks can also help you figure out the type of music that will work for you on a given day.

Making sure that when you are in the mood to do something, that you have the right music for that task, is important. There is music that is great for exercising, some good for working to and then there is the music that is just great for relaxing with. The music can set the mood that will help you accomplish what you are needing to do and can make a big difference to the environment that you want to establish.

Having music available can be very important especially when you work in various locations. I have found that making sure that I have my music and some headphones with me can mean the difference between getting something done and not getting anything done. Sitting and being able to enjoy some of the various bits of music can be such a good thing. If you have music that you like and it can help you get various tasks done then it is worth making sure that you have it available when you have that task to do. Your music is for you and knowing what works for you is important and not letting what others say impact you.  If you listen to your music when you are doing your work as long as your music isn’t impacting what other people are trying to do than it is your music.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Different environments

Having different locations where you can do some of your work can make such a difference.

I am one of those individuals that can really benefit from having different environments sometimes to do my writing. The environment doesn’t have to be that different but it can make such a difference to me when I want to accomplish something. Normally I have a couple of spots where I do most of my writing and they normally work which is great.

What I have found is that there are times that a different environment can recharge me and get me back to where I am very happy. The different environment can also assist me in getting blog entries written or at least ideas written down. The environment can vary from an office area to a hotel room to even sitting on a patio or balcony. Any of these areas can give me the change that I didn’t know that I needed.

There are some authors that say that they need the different spots to help them get their writing done. It does make sense because always dealing with the familiar surroundings can make things just the same and then nothing happens for a while. Yes, as a writer there are times when the familiar surroundings are great but then having even different sounds around you can make such a difference. The different environment can even be just sitting in a little different area in your office or home. It doesn’t have to be a major difference but even a little change can make a big difference.

I am fortunate that with my job, it means that I am in different locations sometimes. I have noticed that there are times that my writing seems to be so much better in these different locations. I have even found that there are times when we are at a conference that I can sit and write and lose myself. Conferences can be some of the busiest locations but there seems to be something about them that helps me find a focus and get thoughts down that I couldn’t do in the quieter environments.

Different environments can sure make a difference when you are trying to get something done. As a writer of various things, I am finding that the different locations can really help. I am not saying that this would work for everyone but at least I know that it works for me and that is what is nice. Of course, other people can’t work in the different environments because of needing various tools that are only available at one location. Being someone that can work as long as I have something to write on does help. The various little notebooks are always around when I am out and about and then there are the various tablets and computers that are also used for m writing.

Different environments can make a difference and knowing what works best for you is important. If different environments don’t work then you stick with what works for you. For me, my writing is something that I can do in a lot of different locations and I am happy about that.