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Russell Stover Cookie Dough Confection

This is the first of an eight-part weekly series that I am going to try out unusual foods and review them.

This weeks item is from Russel Stover Cookie Dough in Milk Chocolate. It was about a dollar from Giant Tiger. It consists of one 28g piece of candy. Nutritionally it was (past tense since I have already eaten it 😉)130 calories, has 5g fat, 17g sugar, 3g other carbs, 1g protein, and 2g other.

As I open the package the item is a weird shaped glob without the pre-told story of the packaging is not anything corresponding with Christmas beside reindeer guano.

It was nice and soft to bite into but the glob of cookie dough became overwhelming and hard to finish.

I would not recommend this flavour, I would suggest solid chocolate or marshmallow varieties. As it is a marshmallow world at Christmas time.

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The Path to Freedom

After the Christmas party, I was pumped and the goal wasn’t to just walk but to get out. The next weekend I went to a movie with a friend. The main goal that I needed to go home was to go up my front steps and to transfer onto a shower bench. After lots of practice, I was managing a few steps of various height with the hospital physiotherapist.

The next step was going home for a home visit to see what was needed for me to go home. When I arrived at the house that I hadn’t seen for months, it felt familiar but didn’t seem like home. I couldn’t even see half of it. Waking up the steps into my house was the hard part. My rails were too low to give support.

When I got into the house, I tried sitting on my couch and it was still too low to get up from without help. I also needed a walker still to get around. The walker also didn’t fit well through doors. That night my sister brought me to the Dolan Rd Irving and then went back to the hospital.

The next weekend was my trial overnight. I was really looking forward to it but once home reality kicked in. There was little I could do without help, and I didn’t really have much help. The worst part was at night, my bed was so uncomfortable and I couldn’t get up to go to the bathroom to even pee in the dark. Putting on the ankle brace was hard. The next day I returned to the hospital distressed that the weekend didn’t go that well.

At that point, my hospital release was extended about a month, and I had an idea of what I needed to work on. Unfortunately, being in isolation was impeding the process. It was that week that I ran into infection control checking to see if the sign was on my door while I was having my lunch. They were two very nice ladies. I made it clear to them that the isolation was impending my care and was stupid since I was researching the procedures of other hospitals in dealing with ESBL and that I was probably cured two months earlier.

Later that day, they came back and the Director decided to retest and then maybe decide what could be done. Having no choice I agreed and urinated in a cup and had a swab taken from my but. After two more tests a week apart, the results came back and I was cleared! Since I could solo walk with a walker by this point I did a victory lap.

Up to this point, I had two Physio and one OT session every weekday. The staffing became a bit short and my exercises Physio session was going to be cut. I asked if I could come to the gym and do them solo. (I was motivated at this point.) They agreed so I started doing them myself and then gradually tried doing the harder version that was on the sheet and was excited each time things got better.

Finally, after 5 months and 3 days at the hospital, I was released on March 1st.

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The Life of the Party Must Be At The Party

On the spur of the moment I came up with a wild goal of getting to my work Christmas party on January 21st. I then told my Physio and OT that this was going to be my goal right after the Christmas holiday.

Step 1: The Car Transfer

Up to this point , I was barely able to slide on a varnished board but I gave it my everything to be able to do that. However, in doing that my muscles started to build more rapidly and I was moving on to being able to stand using a two-wheel walker, and walking a little with it with a physiotherapist. We had arranged an afternoon with my step-father that had a higher vehicle to get into to try with Physio to get the okay to go. The day I picked turned out to be a quite warm day for January and in one try I was able to get in and place myself in the sea. I couldn’t get my own seat belt on myself but it looked promising.

Step 2: Arrange tickets

My coworkers were visiting me in the hospital regularly and I got them to arrange to get me a ticket and my parents a ticket as well, and it was to be kept a very tight secret which is almost impossible to do with the closeness of the people I work with.

Step 3: Not arrive naked

Up to this point , I had not needed any clothes so I was just wearing Johnnies and pyjama pants most days. I had to arrange for my sister to bring me clothes. She got me everything I needed. I had also been working for weeks trying to be able to move enough to pull it off.

It was really funny the nurse helping me with the buttons as my fingers were still very week. I was nervous of having to use the bathroom while out.

Step 4: Arrange for my parents to bring me

This should have been the easy part but my anxiety made it the hardest part. Fortunately , they were on board and I arranged for them to be able to go as well, which they enthusiastically agreed to do.

Operation a success!

It then became the night of the party. I arranged to get picked up after dinner as it was the best time to have the nurses get me ready to go out with the limited help I still needed. I was just starting with a walker a bit in therapy, but the most part I was wheelchair bound. With the help of my mother , I made my way down to the waiting car. It was pretty cold and the temperature hit me as I had left the hospital for the first time since September (almost 4 months).

At this point , my tentative release date was just a few weeks away and this was a real challenge to see my progress. We drove around for a bit as I had about 2 hours to kill before the party. So many things had looked different but quite the same. I was so happy to at least be home. If I had stayed in Brampton, or even if I was transferred to rehab at the Stan Cassidy Centre in Fredericton I don’t think I would have been as motivated for this as I was and it was a goal that pushed me forward and gives hope that more was possible.

Me at the Party

I waited fashionably late to arrive, almost a half hour after the doors opened. Mainly to have more people there to get a bigger welcoming. Much of what I do is plotted for maximum effect. The ramp was in the back door and the key people in on the secret met me and I transferred out of the car and into the wheelchair and I entered the legion hall.

So many people came up to me to see how I was doing it was incredible! The buffet began and I waited in line. My mother helped me, and everyone tried to help me. I really wanted to try and see what I could do but no one was letting that happen.

Eventually, I did manage to ditch everyone and made a solo run to the buffet. I had lots of trouble with the nachos and squeezing thongs.

I danced as much as I could in my chair and had a great time. I eventually needed to use the washroom and managed on my own. I wheeled up to the urinal and stood up on my own grabbing the pipe for support, and it took everything I had to do it. I really wasn’t ready but my brain was determined that there must be a way. As I left the washroom I found the handicapped washroom that would have been safer and easier. It was too late for that. I danced a lot more, said some goodbyes and left.

I wanted to let go and fly down the ramp but nobody was going to let that happen. I got frustrated that no one was letting me try things myself. When I got back to the hospital, I wanted to wheel myself back to the room but my mother wouldn’t let me do that and we got into an argument again. I was just so frustrated that so was not being considerate as I should have been. I wanted nothing more than to be independent.

I made it back and the nurse helped me back to bed and after some meds, I fell soundly asleep.

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Starting Rehab

After lunch, on November 23rd I was wheeled down the hall to the next tower. I had escaped the mean nurses and now entered the rehabilitation program floor. I remember the weather was overcast or raining it was dark. This isolation room would be my final prison for the next 3 months. I had remembered being told the ESBL treatments were for a week. I was told within a few days that the isolation was to be permanent due to hospital policies.

The first nurse I saw went through the riot act that made me fear that the poor treatment from the last floor was going to continue. I spent the rest of my night in the room just listening to what I could hear from the hall.

The next day involved being assessed for what I was capable of. It was also more just waiting around doing nothing.

Over the next few weeks, I tried really hard and progressed to sitting up and sliding on a transfer board to a wheelchair with help. It was lots of long nights and days. Typically only a little over an hour of physiotherapy and occupational therapy. I was always excited when the respiratory therapist came four times a day to use this big hand pump thing to keep my lungs expanded.

Sitting in a wheelchair for hours was really hard. My bum would get sore from the pressure on it and it felt weird due to the lack of full feeling. There was one day in December, I made it up to 9 hours in the chair. That day they held a Christmas party and had some good singers.

I was upgraded to a better wheelchair and I started trying to push myself, which at first I could only do a few footsteps in length, but I think it was key to getting my arms stronger. I was eventually able to wheel pretty fast. Since I was in isolation, I was only able to get out with someone gowned up. Considering how busy everyone was, it didn’t happen that much. Partially because of my anxiety I couldn’t bring myself to ask for help.

Just before Christmas, they started me with standing. It hurt a lot using the standing lift, especially when slowly standing. I soon learned that if I stood up myself when almost there it hurt less. After standing a couple of days, I was put in a suspended support and walked a few metres on the first day.

The next time, I considered taking rests but when up I just kept going and walked a good distance, until after Christmas I was able to walk without a standing support and moved on to a two-wheel walker. It was at this time that I came up with the goal of going to my work Christmas party in mid-January, although I had not told anyone yet.

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Planning and Superstition

In August 2015, it was like Christmas! The Summer 2016 flyer came out and I drooled over every page. Vacation planning is not something I do a lot of, it is more of a familiarization of options. As I reviewed my options, let’s face it, maximizing the number of new countries was the main option.

There resulted in one tour that became the only one that worked for dates to take my mother to Europe, and her need to user the Labour Day weekend to make it work, and the need to still hit Oktoberfest with Tony. That tour was the Trail to Rome starting September 9, 2016. It would leave London, then go to in order; Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Krakow, Budapest, Ljubljana, Venice, and Rome. This was it or bust!I have always booked these trips through the tour group directly, as it was just easier. Since the past trips, I took some cruises and booked them through a particular travel agent. As a few weeks passed, the trip date after the one I wanted went completely sold out and my trip was limited availability now. So I went online and booked the trip directly with Contiki. Since the rest of the trip dependent on others, I didn’t get the insurance (later in the story this was a very wise decision), or airfare.

Around the end of the year, some things came up and my mother was going to have to cancel. Then the trip sold out and Tony was only going to do the end week. Come April I needed to buy my airfare and the trip was not firmed up but I knew I was going to take book-end weeks before and after the trip so I planned to fly to London (so I could store my big bag and travel light), then after the trip give half a week to plan later and then fly Rome to Munich for Oktoberfest, spend 3 nights there, and fly home from there.

Now I researched my flights and tweeted the flights to perfection and timings to not be too early, too late, or wait times too long or too short. I also planned to try out Lufthansa to come home. Since this was 3 segments and multi-airline, I determined a travel agent would be my best bet, and I needed to get travel insurance still.

Now since I booked my trip my regular agent didn’t seem pleased that I booked the package directly with Contiki. In addition, I am quite superstitious about things and the two cruises I booked through her using different airlines, both had my luggage delayed. I, therefore, decided to use a different location of the same company to book the flights. I showed up with a post-it note that had dates, flight codes, and airport codes that would confuse most people as a pile of gibberish, but to her, it made perfect sense and I had tickets in no time.

I also bought travel cancellation insurance through her. I thought the price was a little high and later found out it was the plus plan, and that was why. By the time I found that out it was too late to do anything about it.

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More Christmas Foods that Need to Die

After my last article I decided to review a few more items to see it there was something that could top the last two atrocities. Guess what! I found them.

First on the list is Soy Wonderful Noël Nog. This was thicker than the Almond version but had a very bad after taste. In addition after only a week it congealed into a tick lumpy mass of disappointment. Much similar to the beverage version of lumps of coal in the stocking.

The second item was the Gingerbread Man Peeps. These little gems were not only disappointing but the taste like regular Peeps with only a small hint of Gingerbread.

Though I did find a few positive items this time. The first is a local gem Mrs. Dunster’s Candy Cane coated donut bites. These like many other Mrs. Dunster’s products was simply to die for.

The next item that is amazing is from Starbucks. The Cranberry Bliss Bar is an amazing choice to compliment any coffee but the Gingerbread Latte is the best compliment to it.

From Tim Horton’s the biggest disappointment is the Gingerbread Muffin it almost makes you gag from the over strong spice that burns your mouth as you try to eat it.