A reprieve

I was quietly enjoying a vacation day earlier this week when I received a call from the neurologist’s office, offering me an appointment 18 hours later – a cancellation they had. I eagerly took it, informed my boss and drove out to the country hospital the next morning. The irony of both the neurologist and me driving from our city to a hospital in a small town south of the city to meet was not lost on me.

She asked me for the history of my prickling-tingling sensation, my family medical history, habits, and impressions. Then she ran some tests on me – balance, vision, body weakness. She pricked me with a pin, and brushed me with a tissue.

I don’t have multiple sclerosis.

She poked several spots on my neck and face and back. That was… Uncomfortable.

Our working diagnosis is tight muscles in my neck and face that are pinching the nerves, causing the prickling sensation. For the time being, we’re increasing my muscle relaxants over the next eight weeks and I’m to increase my yoga and meditation, and keep getting massage therapy. If that doesn’t help, I’m to call her and we’ll see what other tests we can do.

Thankfully, the stars aligned and I was able to get in now. When I had called her office to follow up on my family doctor’s referral, they were saying I might not get in until November. That gutted me. But because I called, the admin knew I would take any cancellation and make it work. It really does pay to be your own advocate, despite being tired and overwhelmed. 

A reprieve for part of the summer. A plan and an assurance from a neurologist that it isn’t something scarier. I’ll take it.

And try to relax…

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To Nantes

I was fortunate enough to be sent to the SETAC Europe conference in Nantes, France, the week before last to present some of the Arctic work from the past two years to about 2000 scientists. I was definitely the odd man out, being one of the only people presenting human related data but it was definitely a fruitful conference for me both personally and professionally. 

Not to be confused with “without negative impacts”, mind you. It was a lot of pushing myself outside of my comfort zone in terms of overcoming my introversion to make connections. I tried to approach my presentation of my poster in a “me” way, being open, available for discussion, engaged and interested in creating a further network.
However, there were 2000 people at the conference and I had a claustrophobic moment on the first day of sessions that made me change my approach to moving about in the conference. And I’m definitely still suffering from introvert exhaustion.

Nantes itself was lovely. I wouldn’t mind going back to be a tourist there sometime.


First day, after checking into my hotel, I walked in the sun to try to get my body clock turned around. This is a part of the cathedral, and where a tower used to be in the city’s ramparts, except that they pulled parts of them down to make a grand boulevard (which is to the right).


Hanging out in the sun in the “moat” area of the Chateau des ducs de Bretagne on Saturday afternoon (the first day).


Sunday – I picked up my registration package at the conference and since I hadn’t signed up for any of the short courses (which would have made my conference fee even higher), I again wandered to try to adjust my body clock. I toured the Chateau des ducs de Bretagne and learned about the history of Nantes. The castle has undergone many renovations and styles have been mixed.


Unfortunately, Sunday was pretty rainy (downpours with hail). Fortunately, Les Oubliettes restaurant at the chateau was open and I got to eat delicious galette and a crepe caramel beurre salé maison with café creme during this particular downpour.


I went for a small walk after a lovely dinner at Sale e Pepe on Monday, and enjoyed the canal and its inhabitants.


Tuesday, once I was finished talking to people, I went into centre ville and had a fabulous dinner at Le Fou du Roi. On my way back, Le Miroir started doing its cycle of fun fountain stuff.


On Wednesday, after the conference, I tried to make it to the Musée d’Imprimerie and les Machines de l’Île before they closed and failed. But I did get to see this awesome carousel. I also got to see the end of the run for the Grand Elephant.


Wednesday night was the conference banquet, which my colleague termed her worst nightmare – to be stuck on a river cruise boat filled with people she didn’t know and not to be able to leave when she wanted. I lucked out with my table mates and the cruise on the Erdre was pretty. This is the major chateau we passed.


Thursday was the day that the greve was happening and my concierge recommended that I stay put at the hotel. The conference was done at 3:30 so I ran across to the boulangerie to grab a snack since I hadn’t had adequate lunch (a running theme problem for that conference – certain days, I just went and bought lunch from a nearby place because the conference offerings were insufficient), and then went to my room and had wine and baguette. The riot police had been standing across the street from my hotel with their shields and helmets on looking serious.


On Friday, I had to go to the airport. The protesters had blockaded the road so I was dropped off on the off ramp from the highway and I trundled my suitcase 2.4 km through two blockades to get to my first flight. The protesters didn’t interfere with me and one lady at the second blockade assured me that no one would. I was glad to get to the airport though.


The flight back across the Atlantic was pretty easy. And off the coast of Labrador, we saw the ice breaking up and blowing out into the ocean. It was really cool.

I am glad to be home though. :)