All posts by Teresa Cavanaugh

I am a mother, grandmother, and witch with a capital B. I live in Prince George, BC with my partner Andrew, a cat and a bunch of ferrets.

Why I decided to try the HCG diet

When I first heard of the HCG diet I thought that anyone doing it had to be insane. So, what made me change my mind?

In 2002 I had the first half of my thyroid removed, less than two years later they took the rest of it. Prior to that I had always been able to keep my weight under control. Occasionally it would creep up, but a month or so of dieting and exercise and I was fine, suddenly I was gaining weight no matter how much I dieted. At first the doctor wasn’t concerned. You look fine he said, but I didn’t feel fine. As the pounds crept up my joints hurt more. Finally we added cytomel, another thyroid hormone, to the synthroid I was taking and I stopped gaining. Unfortunately by that point I had gained 60lbs.

My feet started causing me major problems. At first the doctors thought plantar fasciitis, then neuropathy, then eventually they realized that the ligaments and structure of my feet and ankles were collapsing under the weight. My joints couldn’t take the additional strain. After a life threating reaction to a drug prescribed for pain I had enough. I talked to my doctor about my belief that the only way I was going to get some pain relief was to get rid of the excess weight. However, the Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and pain made it difficult to exercise without causing more pain.

The doctor suggested I consider the HCG diet. She said that usually she wouldn’t suggest it, but given my issues it seemed a viable alternative. If I was to do it, it needed to be under a doctor’s supervision. She referred me to a doctor who was experienced and prescribed the hormone. He had a three to six month waiting list and while I was waiting for my appointment with him, I researched the diet, I talked to some people who had tried the HCG diet, most had gained the weight back, but also hadn’t really worked at keeping it off.

I finally got to see the doctor just before we went to New York. He stressed that this would take the weight off, but I must work to keep it off. He estimated it would take two courses of four to lose the weight I wanted to. That is three weeks of injections, a week of maintenance, a six week break and then the injections again. I made an appointment to see him the day after we got back to get the prescriptions and learn how to inject myself with HCG.

So, here I am. Today is day three of the diet, and the day I begin eating only 500 calories a day. If you want to follow along I will be keeping a daily account here.

Ian Tyson

In 2002 Andrew and I saw Ian Tyson at the Winnipeg Folkfest. I was so excited because I had grown up listening to Ian, and Sylvia, on televsion. That night we snuggled under a mexican blanket, while on stage Ian sang about a Navajo rug. Overhead was an endless prairie sky, a perfect experience.

A couple of years later Andrew and I, along with my parents, attended a concert of Ian’s at the Civic Centre in Prince George. The chair wasn’t as comfortable as the mexican blanket, but I enjoyed the performance.

This year Ian Tyson celebrates 50 years of performing. He will be performing at Vanier Hall on May 9th. I so want to be there. I don’t know how many more opportunities we will have to see Ian Tyson live. CBC is holding a poetry contest for two tickets. Andrew has submitted a poem for it. It was the first submission they received, and it aired yesterday morning on the radio.

The Last Song

Old Buck never made it from the stage
He fell still clutching his guitar
That ancient Gibson with the pick scarred top
And the beaded smoked hide strap
Hand made by a kookum in Saskatoon
He fell to the sound of the crowd
A field of people still cheering his last song
Still cuddling under the stars
Dreaming of trail rides
Tales told around a camp fire
Herds of red eyed cows
And Navajo blankets
His battered Stetson caught in the summer breeze
Wheeling off across the prairie
Fetching up against a patch of willows
To grieve its loss alone
Old Buck’s last song ended as he wanted
Ended the cowboy way
– Copyright 2012, Andrew Burton

When he first read me the poem I didn’t now it was for a contest. I told him I loved the poem, although I am admittedly biased, and it reminded me of Winnipeg. Then he told me about the contest.

Andrew: CBC is having a poetry contest. They wanted a cowboy poem.
Me: Makes me think of Ian Tyson
Andrew: The prize is two tickets to see Ian Tyson.
Me: Ooooh, I really want to go to that concert.
Andrew: Oh? If I win maybe I will take you.
Me: You were planning to take someone else?
Andrew: Just keeping my options open.
Me: ….. (hmmmmmm)

That is why I love this man..

Me: I am so tired of hurting on all the time.
Andrew: That’s why we need space travel.
Me: Space travel?
Andrew: Yes, so we can go to the Mermaid plant.
Me: There’s a mermaid planet?
Andrew: Yes, that is where your ancestors came from.
Me: So…the Adaptive Mermaid Syndrome?
Andrew: Yes, Aristotelian logic.
Me: Which is?
Andrew: In an infinite universe, where everything is random, whatever can exist does exist. Therefore, if Adaptive Mermaid Syndrome exists, then somewhere there is a planet where mermaids exist and they have figured out how to deal with it. We just have to figure out how to get there.
Me: So, space travel?
Andrew: Exactly.

Unless of course you believe Professor Mandelhoff…

The Bloggess Rocks And Writes A Book!

If you don’t know who Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess is, you really should.  I have been stalking following her online antics for awhile now.  This is a video she made for her fans about her new book.   Personally I am looking forward to reading it.  If you check out her blog you will find an excerpt. Let me know what you think.



This is what I get for being a water sign…

On March 21, 2012 I woke up with a low grade headache.  It wasn’t a bad headache, just a dull ache behind my eyes.  As my day progressed the headache got worse.  I tried taking some Ibuprofen, and then some Tramadol, but nothing seemed to touch it.  Finally by later afternoon light was painful, I was nauseous and it was time for the emergency room.  By this time I was thinking maybe I had a migraine.  The last one I had was 20 years ago.

I got Andrew to drop me off at the hospital and sent him home.  I knew it would probably be a long wait.  They gave me a bed to lay on in the hallway and I put my coat over my head to block out the light.  Finally I was called to go to minor treatment where a wonderful nurse put me in a room and turned out the lights.

Eventually a student doctor came in to do an examine. After she was done, her supervisor came in to check a few more things.  At this point they told me they weren’t sure what was causing the headache and light sensitivity.  It wasn’t a migraine or tension headache.  It was possible that a new drug I was taking, Tegretol, was causing the headaches, but she didn’t want me to stop taking it.  She debated ordering a ct scan, but by this time it was 8pm and the ER was packed.  She decided to give me some IV fluids, along with Toredol and Maxeran to alleviate some of the pain.  They warned me at this time that due to drug shortages, I was getting one of their last two vials of Toredol.  Bad news for me, since I can’t have opiates.  Once the pain was eased they said I could go home.  The doctor told me I needed to see my doctor for follow up.

The next morning I didn’t have a headache, but I called my doctor to make an appointment for the following week.   Friday night we went to see “The Hunger Games”, halfway through the movie it felt like a knife went into the corner of my left eye.  By the time the movie was over I had a headache, couldn’t stand light and was having stabbing pains in the corner of my eye.  I didn’t see any point in the ER so we went home.  At home I swallowed a Tramadol, two extra strength Ibuprofen, a couple of Robaxacet, and a Gravol tablet.  Then I wrapped a towel around my head and went to bed for a couple of hours.  The headache eventually eased, but over the next few days I continued to get them.   I still went to work on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, but I was finding the flourescent lights way too bright.

Finally I had my doctor’s appointment on Tuesday afternoon and saw one of the young residents.  By this point I was noticing a difference in my left eye, it seemed to be further forward and there was a constant feeling of pressure behind it.  I was also having blurred vision on that side. It was decided that a ct scan was needed to see what was going on.  She didn’t feel it had anything to do with the Tegretol, but that I could discontinue it if I wanted to at this point.  They told me to make an appointment as soon as the ct scan was done.  Thursday morning I had the ct scan and phoned my doctor’s office in the afternoon to make an appointment.  They were just downloading the report and told me they wanted to see me at 9:15 am Friday morning.

Friday morning I once again saw the young resident who had ordered the ct scan.  She asked a few questions about the headaches and then told me the ct scan had shown a problem.  I had “water on the brain” or hydrocephalus.  Something was causing a build up of fluid in one of the ventricles.  The headaches and vision problems were because of pressure from the excess fluid.  The ct scan hadn’t shown what was causing the blockage, but they didn’t see any tumours or bleeds.  Dr. Carlson, the resident, kept telling me how sorry she was.  That I had already been through so much and this latest development must be very overwhelming.  An order was writtien for an MRI with constrast and marked urgent, and I was told if the headaches worsened or changed to go into emegency,  otherwise they wanted to see me after the MRI.  I was also being referred to a neurologist and would be having surgery to relieve the pressure when all the tests were done.

Friday night there was a couple of stabbing pains in my right eye, and suddenly the vision on that side blurred.  A few minutes later the headache kicked in.  I swallowed some Ibuprofen, which did nothing, so off to the ER we went.  At the ER I was seen by Dr Roe who reviewed the ct scan results.  He was concerned that the pressure was possibley starting to damage my optic nerves.  He managed to get me some Toredol, they had gotten a bit more, and told me he wanted me to come back in the morning to see an opthamologist.  We finally got home at 1:30 am.

Saturday morning I was back at the hospital to see Dr. Roche.  She did some vision tests and assured me that so far my optic nerves were undamaged.  The blurred vision should improve once the pressure in my brain is relieved.  She did feel I had some changes in colour perception and field of vision and wanted more tests on Monday or Tuesday.  I was to call the hospital Monday morning to see when my MRI was, and then I was to call her office to book more vision tests.

So here I am.  My life once again on hold waiting for doctor’s to decide my fate.   I told Andrew that apparently my brain shares my love of baths.  We decided that the real problem though is that I am an Aquarian, and of course there is the whole Adaptive Mermaid Sydrome thing.






Sports Solve Everything.

I just to the “UBC – Chronic Pain Needs Assessment” survey, and now I am pissed off.  It is obvious whoever wrote the survery doesn’t get it.   The questions are of the type where you can disagree, partly agree, etc.   I have Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Lupus and/or Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder, and an opiate intolerance.  These are some of the questions, or rather statements,  they want an opinion on.  I am going to give what I would like to answer, but they just want you to check a box on whether or not you agree.
I worry all the time about whether the pain will end

Actually I know the pain won’t end, so there is no point worrying about that.

I feel like I can’t go on

Well the options are go on or…..and I am not there yet.

It’s terrible and I think it’s never going to end

It isn’t going to end.  There is no “think” about it.

It’s awful and I feel that it overwhelms me

Sometimes, but the choices are put up with it, or……

I feel I can’t stand it any more

How many different ways do you want to state this one? Read the above response.

I become afraid that the pain will get worse

Considering the fact that the pain has increased every year I have lived, I think this one is kind of moot.

I keep thinking of other painful events

Try not to actually.  Just too depressing.

I anxiously want the pain to go away

Wtf? I would like it to go away. Is it causing me anxiety? Not really, I know it isn’t going to so……

I can’t seem to keep it out of my mind

Considering every step I take is painful, that any repetitive movements cause inflammation and pain….I am aware of it, does it keep me from doing some things no.  Is it possible to completely ignor it, no.

I keep thinking about how badly I want the pain to stop

Considering the definition of “chronic” I don’t think this is likely, so not something I usually think about.

There’s nothing I can do to reduce the intensity of the pain

Actually hot baths help, but I haven’t figured out how to live in a bathtub yet.

 I wonder whether something serious might happen

WTF? Chronic pain isn’t serious?  I don’t have to wonder, I am already there.


And of course I just love some of the yes and no questions

During your lifetime have you experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse?        

Somehow I dont’ think sexual abuse had anything to do with a genetic disorder.  I come from a crappy gene pool, and hurt long before the sexual abuse.


So after I finished taking the survery I decided to take a look at their resources, and got even more pissed.  I listened to one arrogant, condescending doctor talk about the need for physical activity, because inactivity makes the pain worse you know.  Everybody experiences pain you know, 80 year olds hurt all the time.  They just ignore it.

The videos and resources have lovely titles that imply the pain is all in your head.   You just need to ignore it, reduce your stress, get physically fit.  Sports solve everything.  Tell that to my feet.

I was removed from Phys Ed way back in 8th grade because of injuries caused by the physical activity.  Jumping rope caused my first knee dislocation at 5 years old.  I had operations on the right knee at 6 and 8, on the left at 10 and 12.  I have a leak in the synovial on the left knee which means it goes dry if I am on it too much.  Both feet have nerve damage that results in constant pain.   Then of course there is the hypermobile pubic symphysis.  The ligaments holding my pubic bone together are too lax.  That means it somes causes me to be off balance. Oh yes, physical activity is going to make it all better.

I ride my bike when I can, while wearing a belt that holds my pelvic bones in place.  Can’t ride up hills though, and have to be careful not to twist my knees.  Water feels good, but when you have unstable joints swimming is difficult.  I just enjoy the weightlessness that renders me almost pain free for a time.