Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wallowing Wednesday

Boo hoo. Woe is me. Poor me. Life sucks. Why me? I hate this.

That's all I have to say on the subject right now.

[Place wry smile here.]

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday's Thoughts & Not Me...

Brain fog has almost taken over my Being today. It doesn't help that I woke up in the wee hours of the morning with a blazing headache and vomiting. I didn't recognize this as a migraine right away. Mostly because it's not the right time of the month for me to have a migraine. Those people I know that are receptive to weather shifts and migraines weren't affected today...despite the hours of rain that descended upon us. I'm wondering if the wee bit of a Vodka cooler last night precipitated this onset? Or was it the one piece of KFC chicken (that I puked up minutes after eating...)? Foolish mortal.

I tried my best to function today with this pain and puking and horrendous bone pain. I puked up all my Masto meds., several times. So I stopped trying to keep them in. I tried taking Percoset after the regular Tylenol was returned to the world via the loo bowl. However, the Percoset only served to make me dizzy and the sense of spinning and nausea was tenfold worse culminating in yet more vomiting. I tried to sleep. I hurt too much. I tried to keep busy. I hurt too much. I walked around like a Zombie for a few hours, trying to do the dishes, make sure the kids were fed and happy, make the bed...tasks that wouldn't normally take that kind of time, but today did. It wasn't until about 1:30 pm that it occured to me to take a Zomig rapimelt. As Gravol both oral and suppository were returned to the world via the toilet within minutes of utilizing, I sort of thought Zomig was the last line of defense. My problem with taking migraine meds is that IF you don't actually have a migraine, these meds will give you a migraine...I was scared to make it all worse. However, I took it in the end and put myself to bed with a hot bean bag under my aching neck and heat pad on my painfilled stomach, bowl nearby.

The other thing about migraine meds is, IF you wait too long to take them, they take a long time to kick in. Which was the case today. It took almost 2 hours for them to kick in. But they did. And magically, I now feel normal. I've even managed to eat some rice.

Obviously, I feel well enough to look at a computer screen without wincing.

As some of you know, my weight has been an ongoing issue for me. I've spent this past two weeks logging my nourishment and exercise on this fabulous website My Fitness This site is FREE, and helps you keep track of your eating and moving habits, and your progress...or as in my case, NON-progress. What I have learned from this logging is that I'm not actually eating enough. I go to bed most days with a ridiculous 600-2000 calorie deficit. My body thinks it's starving. Unbelievable, actually. I mean, I'm having a REALLY hard time realizing that I'm not eating enough, because I often think that I'm eating TOO much. Trying to fill up the deficit calories past 7pm at night is NOT the answer either. Anything we put into our bodies past this point, pretty much turns to fat. So, I've realized that I need to approach what foods I can eat (and the list is getting smaller and smaller) and attempt to get them into my body during the day, progressively and in small amounts. Since getting that hiatus hernia thingy at the end of April (caused from all that coughing and vomitting) I'm finding it difficult to eat any decent portion sizes.

There is a part of me that thinks ridiculous things like, "what's the point in eating?" because I often puke it back up or have it run right the way through me. You'd think, theoretically, that I'd be a skinny skinny minny by now. However, my over decade of bulimia as a young teen and twenty year old young woman hasn't helped my body any and has set the stage for 'starvation mode.' My body obviously thinks I'm starving it...and is storing whatever I am putting into it as quickly as possible.

I'm going to have to make a real effort to shift this. Somehow.

Planning might be key. Simplicity in meals.

My GP wants to test me for Celiac. I've done some controlled testing on myself with foods in the past few weeks and I'm absolutley gob-smacked by how much pain/vomiting or diahrrea gluten seems to be causing me. Not sure I even need to 'test' for it any further (but will because my good doctor wants to get a definitive answer on this...) because I'm infinitely better and healthier when I don't ingest this stuff. Not even dairy hurts me this much.

What I know is, I don't want to be THIS unhealthy and I feel myself spiralling...this isn't ok.

I'm raw. Emotionally, physically and spiritually. A person can't take this kind of a beating for this length of time and not feel worn down. This weakened human being that I've become in the past 5 or 6 years, maybe longer, is NOT me. I can't believe I barely have time or energy for anyone else these days. This is NOT me. Ready for bed at 5pm. This is NOT me. Barely any thoughts to string together. This is NOT me. No energy for drawing or painting. This is NOT me. No energy to listen to the woes of others. This is NOT me. Grumpy, withdrawn, exhausted and broken. This is NOT me. Too tired for Yoga. This is NOT me. Pain that is so deep that it's often not touchable. This is NOT me. Overweight and burdened. This is NOT me.

How many of us look into the mirror these days and wonder where we've disappared to? Sucked into the vortex of sickness? This is NOT me.

I know it's not you either.

Except...what is, is...and says this IS me. And you. So hang in there, k? I'm trying.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Post Reaction Life

It's Tuesday. The reaction was last Thursday. I am still waking up like I'm a train wreck. Ludicrous. Breathing and lungs and tongue have pretty much returned to for the really sore bit right on the tip of my tongue. My bone pain feels like arthritis pain now, instead of 'omg I want to die pain'...weehoo! Only needed the percoset for a day or two post-reaction. Past this, I don't feel like crying all day long and just hurt instead. And while pain is no fun, I can handle this level of pain. My gut, oh, my poor gut...the swings between severe diarrhea and constipation is NO fun. Not sure which is better. I'm definitely having issues with gluten, and I've come to the conclusion that no pastry, cake, toast or bread is worth this pain, especially when I can avoid it. I'm still paying for eating a bit of pie the other day. Just say no, is the way to go.

I'm exhausted though.

Shattered. Fragile. Dragging my ass.

I'm trying REALLY hard to hide this. For my children. It's summer holidays. What fun is a Mum who hurts and is exhausted? I tell myself I can be exhausted and in pain at night when they go to bed. And, do my best to last that long. Thankfully, yesterday, Erin took the girls over there for a swim so I could nap around 3pm. I totally wouldn't have made it past 5pm without that nap. In all fairness though, I had her girls and mine for a sleepover the night before and most of the day. It is soooooooooooooo nice to have friends over for the girls because then they amuse themselves and I don't need to be on top of events, activities or lots of energy. Energy, that I just don't have right now. I'm hoping that I can find meaningful and fun ways of enjoying the good weather when it's here with them. And using what spurts of energy I get in the best way possible.

I'm thinking maybe later this week, if the weather is nice, of seeing if we can go over to Grammie and Poppa's for the day so that we can visit with them, walk down to Rosseau Beach, meander through the village, etc. It's such a lovley little village. I keep thinking maybe we should move there. That way, everything is in walking distance. Including a pub and a bookstore! I probably wouldn't feel nearly as isolated if we lived IN the village. And, we'd be close to family and the nursing station/fire dept/emerg. responders if needed. Heck, there's even churches AND a liquor store. After this summer, I think I've finally come to the conclusion that farm life ISN'T for me. I like the idea of it. I like the work. But I'm exhausted by whatever ails me, and it knocks me for six. Not very good for farm production at all.

So, up in the air about all kinds of things. Can't even decide what to have for breakfast. See, I'm even waffling over that!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I have to fess up.

Perhaps because this whole Systemic Masto. thing became a LOT more real to me this week, in the wake of a negative c-kit mutation in my bone marrow biopsy and then being told that this negative test does NOT mean I do not have this incurable and ever so frustrating disease. The news that we just sort of have to wait and see which of my vital organs starts shutting down first so that we can tell WHERE these funky mast cells are lurking, hit me pretty hard. Plus, having another very real and ugly reaction AT the hospital, and the fallout from that at the same's been a bit sobering, to say the least.

This whole sense of limbo has shifted in some ways, and not in others.

I sort of mostly do as I'm told to, by these doctors.

Sort of.

Confession: in the four days before I went to St. Michael's hospital for the bmb test results I looked into my bottle of Cromolyn/Gastrocom, that costs $380.00 per month and thought 'is this stuff really making a difference?' and thought, 'we can't afford this' and thought, 'if this is all in my head and I'm just a hypochondriac then I don't really need this'. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that our drug plan, that caps us off at $5000.00 per calendar year is going to say 'no' to the prescriptions at some point in the next coming months. Gastrocom is only ONE of NINE medications that I take daily. So, I did, what some other masto patients do, and cut my four doses per day down to three, then two...and that's about as far as I can stretch it; make it last longer; cost less. There's a price to pay for this cutting though: I flush; have horrendous gut pain, puffy tongue, I itch, and flare up at the hint of an allergen. Turns out that I can't cut down this much at all. I guess Dr. Vadas is right about having to take it ON TIME, PROPERLY...or else, someone's perfume can set you right off.

My past 12 weeks of no hospitalization/emergency crew reactions had me thinking that I was actually immune to this shit. I was starting to believe I'm normal. I was starting to believe I'm ok. I was starting to believe that I don't really need to take all this medication; stay in my house/on my property; starting to believe that somehow, on some level, I just want to be a social dropout and that I'm somehow creating this little bit of 'sick' reality for myself. I was starting to believe that if I just WISH/THINK I'm ok, I will be.


I've mentioned that I'm not the only Masto patient that does this. However, the fallout from this not taking our medicine's properly stupidity is just that...stupidity. It's unecessary. And, it's foolhardy. There is a possibility that HAD I been taking my meds properly, I might not have had such a massive reaction to that woman's perfume. Having said this harshness, I am aware of the internal struggles that we have in coming to terms with this weird disease and its impact on our lives. So this juggling or roller coaster ride is pretty normal, despite being not very healthy or ok. The whole not knowing FOR SURE that you have Masto though and whether or not these drugs are actually helping you or not (for real???) is always present.

I've done this before. And you think I would've learned. Everytime I do this (forget my meds; get slack about the meds; think I don't REALLY need the meds; get into my pocket of medicinal denial and tell myself this is ALL in my head and I am nothing but a big loser for ending up where I am, healthwise, UGH...) I get into trouble. I have a HUGE reaction. I usually end up in hospital. This toll is a large price to pay for my own stupidity and denial. Not just for me, physically. There is my husband, children, family & friends to consider too. This messes with everyone's schedules, and welfare, emotions and concern for me and concern for my children and animals.

So, lots of thought about WHY I do this, has crossed over and over the gray and white matter that fills my skull in the past few recovery's because I want this all to go away and not exist. And, I want to believe that I don't need these drugs. And I don't want to be dependent on medicines to keep me safe and alive and well. Especially Western/Allopathic medicines, that ALWAYS have some kind of side effect that'll catch up with you one day. And, because my diagnosis seems so defined one day and not the next...I don't know whether I'm coming, going, been or gone.

Dr. Vadas is right. KNOWING is better, than not knowing. We were all hoping the bmb would reveal something other than limbo. But here we are...swinging in and out of possibilities, and the fact that the 'markers' for Systemic Mastocystosis still have a long way to go. Hematology at St. Michael's Hospital seems to be under the opinion that the bmb just reveals SM's presence IN your bone marrow and blood, and only that. It can and could be lurking elsewhere. Ask Dawn, of Breaking of Dawn Blog...turns out that hers has been in her stomach this whole time. (You can link to to her story over there on the right...)

So, where is mine?

I had to use Epi spray twice again yesterday to stave off serious fallout from paint fumes at the parental's home (my fault, I shouldn't have gone down to see what Niall, my brotherlinlaw, was creating...) and from some other unknown while we were out grocery shopping. I obviously can't go into stores, despite my unwillingness to accept that I can no longer fulfill this vital family function in our home anymore. There are a few shops that are the exception, thankfully. Mostly wholistic, whole food and organic/natural shops. I'm not sure about what is an ok amount of Epi spray to be taking, as I can't find this info my GP/Family doctor is on this and trying to find out. He couldn't find it on his palm pilot either. I've had Epi spray almost every day for the past two weeks. This can't be good. And, it's a sign that some things need to shift. Taking emergency medicine daily isn't ok.

So, the confession is this: I didn't take my meds properly; I've been in denial AGAIN; I've been stupid AGAIN and there is a price to pay for this. And, it's not ok. So, it has to stop.

Friday, July 17, 2009


I've emailed this post that I wrote for my immediate family (to the ones I didn't actually speak to yesterday) to a few of you already, so I'm sorry to repeat myself. However, after some thought, I think it's important for me to be real about this health chronicling, especially when it gets this dark for a person. When I say that if someone had offered to slice my throat for me and let me bleed to death last night and it would have been less pain than what I experienced post reaction, I mean it. I got about an hours sleep last night, and that was with 2 prescription sleeping pills. My life is good, and I love my kids and husband and friends and community (which includes you) but I was tempted to down the remainder of my full bottles of various anti-depressants (that didn't do a thing for me when I was on them, in the end) and the full bottle of sleeping pills I have and anything else that would help this cocktail...last night I was ready to leave this planet because this pain, physical body pain, was unreal. I forgot, until this morning, that I'm usually in hospital at this point and when I get to the point that I can't stand myself and am crying myself into oblivion because of it (and reeling with self pity) a nurse usually suggests that she give me some morphine or percoset (if I can keep things down.) Today, I've purchased a King Sized wet/dry body heating pad because my regular sized one wasn't big enough for the all over body pain I had last night. I couldn't figure out where to put it because every single bone and joint in this body hurt that bad. I was unbelievably cold too. It's July. I had a heat pad on, blankets, wrapped up AND the space heater on in the family room where I slept so as not to wake the rest of the household. I was frozen. My body temp read 89 degrees farenheit.

Reasons to live are important. Especially in the wake of these kinds of invasive thoughts. It's odd today, to me, to be real about how bad that pain gets and how putting yourself out of misery feels like a better way to get through it. Glad I ignored myself. My husband and children are damned good reasons to keep going. Plus, I guess I should really get to work on finishing the two books I'm writing.

I saw my family physician this morning. He's not impressed with how I was handled (or rather not handled, yesterday) and couldn't believe they let me leave the hospital like that. He's given me Percoset for the bone pain. He knows I'm adverse to taking this stuff. However, for nights like last night...

We've also decided to move back to Orillia for the hysterectomy because the only reason the procedure was being moved to St. Michael's hospital was for this whole anaphylaxis/Masto complication thing. This new gynaecologist didn't listen to me about my not doing well on any kind of hormones, or that the IUD I had installed disintegrated inside me, and refuses to call/speak with my Oby/Gyn in Orillia who's SEEN my uterus and knows what the problem is. The new Oby/Gyn has written a full report of my GP, and my GP asked me what I thought of all this. I said I wasn't comfortable with this new guy OR the fact that he wants me to go down roads that I've already been down in the past few years for the same tests to reap the same results and won't even have a dialogue with my Orillia Oby/Gyn. My GP will speak with my Orillia Oby/Gyn about getting this hysterectomy done soon AND they are going to test the uterus for mast cells because it could be that all this hell is sitting in my uterus. Different, but likely. IF I have mast cell issues lurking in vital organs or body systems, my pain sites tell me it's either my uterus/right ovary/right kidney or right adrenal gland, and my stomach/intestines. My GP thinks there is a possibility that we might see an improvement in this whole mast cell malarky without the uterus. There's DEFINITELY hormonal involvement. Got my period yesterday afternoon, with a vengeance.

Anyway, here's what I sent to my immediate family that I did not speak to personally yesterday.

I'm so sorry that I'm writing this this way again...I'm tired of talking about this shit so I can't bring myself to repeat myself. I don't want to talk about this on the phone either, right now...if that's ok.
No c-kit mutation on my mast cells. No sign of the other even rarer disease. Oncology/Hematology is closing the book on me and I'm back to Dr. Vadas, my Immunologist.
"WEE HOO!" I said, "so I DON'T have Systemic Mastocytosis!!?!?" My enthusiasm (which when you read down you'll understand why this sentiment wasn't exactly easy for me to express at this time...) was met with a definite "No, that's NOT what this means." It just isn't present in my blood or bone marrow. Quite possibly present somewhere else, I was told. Dr. Vadas might have other suggestions, they said, but likely we won't know until one of my vital organs starts shutting down. They don't know enough about the disease to know what all the markers are for it, and this was a stab in the dark. So I was told I probably still have SM despite this test result being what it is. because clinically, I present in every way as if I have Systemic Mastocytosis. And was told to stay on my medications.
Add fuel to an already sensitive fire: I had a reaction in their waiting room before I saw the doctors. I'm pretty sure it was the Polish lady that came in with super strong alcohol-floral based perfume and sat across from me. We can call this a little reaction, or medium. I was fine when I got there, and all the way down to Toronto in the car. Although, now that I think about it, my bones were already hurting and I had a slight headache, which I attributed to possibly being ready to have my period (which hit me dead in the face this afternoon on route home...oh joy.) There is a huge correlation between menstrual cycles and Systemic Masto. in women, they are discovering. However, after about 20 mins in the waiting room, I began coughing, spluttering, getting short of breath, flushed real bad, eyes and nose running. I've had waaaaaaaaaaay worse reactions, but it was unpleasant. No-one came to see if I was ok...I mean, I wasn't coughing when I showed up. Ant went to ask someone to move me after two epi sprays didn't keep it at bay, initially. They fumbled around not really taking him seriously until he yelled at someone "Look, my wife has life threatening allergies and someone has worn stinky perfume or something and set her off, now PLEASE help me!!! She will go into full ugly anaphylaxis if we don't move her out of the allergen!!!! NOW!" I heard them say they had a room, Ant came back to get me. I got up to go with him, and probably shouldn't have because I was feeling super light headed all of a sudden when I was sitting, and the tachycardia (rapid heart beating) I'd had since before I started coughing and the sense of panic/dread/omg, I'm gonna die feeling that had prompted the 'go get someone' nudge, suddenly disappeared seconds before he returned and I felt 'funny' thing I know, I get the all over body tingle and then...I'm on the floor saying, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry..." (and not knowing why I was saying this but aware I was saying it, like it was someone else saying it...) and my head hurt like hell. I have a nice goose egg on my skull where my head, apparently, made contact with the cement floor. A nurse was called, and came over to see me while Ant was holding me on the floor telling I'm ok, "you're ok, I've got you, you're ok, I've got you..." over and over. She asks me what happened. I try to tell her but it hurts to talk and breathe and my tongue is fat.

No-one gave me epinephrine. Or took me to Emerg. or called for help. Not because I didn't need it but because they all just stood there going, "" Not sure where all those people came from but...none of them knew what to do.

I continued to feel like I was going to fall down, even though I was already down...that's a flippin' weird sensation. I've gotten really good at knowing this drop in blood pressure feeling now. It was really fast. And disconcerting.

Someone decided to move me to a room, and collectively they grabbed me and put me in a chair in a nearby examining room. I gave myself more epi spray because this reaction wasn't over.

Doctor came in to check my pupils and they were fine, just a raging headache. I'd given myself one more epi spray by then. And all that breathing, trouble swallowing feeling, pain in my lungs eased up. Then I puked that wonderful ball of allergic foam that I do during reactions. And puked some more.

Then they told me about the bone marrow biopsy results and told me that I could go home. To come to Emerg. if I didn't feel right, started having trouble talking or passed out again.

Don't think Dr. Vadas is going to be very happy about this. I left there with a throbbing head, fat tongue (no -one looked at it and they were afraid to use their instruments to check my breathing, lungs, etc because of the latex issue) and am now in excruciating post reaction bone pain, headache of unbelievable strength, feeling worthless, useless, depressed and super sorry for myself. I should be exhausted, but as usual, I can't sleep now. I'm in so much pain, I, I dunno, I can't even describe it. Thankfully I have a loving husband and children because...I'd let someone shoot me right now otherwise. I'm sooooooooooo frustrated. Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled this isn't in my bone marrow/blood (no ugly genes or gene coding to pass on to my girls) but the two doctors I saw (Dr. Hicks, my Hematologist is about to drop those twins, hasn't yet, and wasn't feeling well enough to come in today, so I had her replacement - Dr. Hicks brought her up to speed on the phone this morning about me - and this other doctor who got called when I passed out...) just said they were sorry, my life must suck. Avoid triggers and stay safe. Maybe 10 years from now they'll understand more about this disease and its markers but for now, it's so new, they don't really know, and obviously bone marrow biopsies are proving not to be all that helpful (THEN WHY, WHY did I have to go through this again!?!?!??!)'s a guessing game. For all they know, I could be the first of something else and this could well be Fiona Smith Disease...oh great, THERE's a legacy that I want to leave on this planet.
I did ask if maybe this was all in my head and was met with a united, "NO! There's no way your body can do all of this psychologically. Impossible. No, there is definitely something wrong; You are definitely sick..."

No shit. All of you know though, that I refuse to define myself this way. I'm not in denial that something is wrong but I can't stuff myself into the 'sick' box and stay there. If there's a box that I'm to be stuck in, I won't stop trying to redecorate it, get out of it, make it more comfortable and find ways of enjoying it or to escape from it, even if temporary. Not today though. I'm raw. And hurt. And angry. You all know too, that I try very hard NOT to be these things. Or to feel sorry for myself. I know it could be worse. I don't have's not my child with this. But fuck, I've had it.

Have gotten home, and there is chicken carnage all over the garden, down the driveway, down the road...and it's too dark to see how many of our 32 hens are left. We've found 4, who are alive but might not make it to morning due to shock. Will reassess in the morning.

I can't do this anymore...I'm so tired. Someone please make this go away. And I'm sitting here asking the rhetorical question: HOW the hell did I manage to invite this crap into my life?

Thank you for your continued love, patience and listening. I love each of you for reasons and for lives that are too enormous to mention.
I know sarcasm is the lowest form of humour but, Wee Hoo, I get to live another day.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Home Safe and Sound...

It was a glorious wedding; it was a glorious trip. Will post photo's and more info. soon. Just so darned tired from all the trekking and visiting. I consider this trip a success but my husband reminds me that I needed epi-spray almost daily and on route home we had an 'almost' trip to the hospital that 4 sprays of epi-spray fixed (plus the normal barrage of meds.) I was doing MORE than I would normally at home and did go places that I wouldn't normally risk. Felt so good to be DOING stuff though. Having said that, we were careful.

See Dr. Hicks on Thursday this week to, I think, go over the bone marrow biopsy results. They called me the day before we left to go to Winnipeg to see if I could come in the next day or the following day. Couldn't as we were leaving. So then they offered the next week but we were still going to be away. So...this week is it. Wonder what this is all about? Her secretary/nurse refused to give me ANY details over the phone...only that Dr. Hicks would talk to me about all this when I saw her. Hmmm....

Hope you are blessedly good.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Explain this to me...I've had this horrendous cold for about 10 days now, and during it all I had total reprieve from bone pain, itching, flushing and minimal digestive disturbance. My cold is now exiting and whammo...I'm right back to the need for new bones and my desire to get out of this body and into a new one. My tongue is puffy again and has those red lines of soreness on the tip that make it impossible to enjoy eating.

Dr. Hahnemann, the Grandfather of Homeopathy, says that it is impossible for two diseases to manifest in the body at the same time - the stronger of the two will manifest first and as it subsides, the second one will begin to manifest. Think about it, have you ever seen anyone with chicken pox AND a cold? Or the flu AND mumps?

Could this be going on?

So tonight, I'm not sure if I'd rather be coughing up a lung sans bone pain; or, bone pain sans coughing up a lung.

Please, please, please don't let me have a reaction tomorrow during the day of this wedding. Wrong kind of drama for a day of such blessed celebration.

And, congratulations to Heather and Julian on tying the knot. Heather's attitude and love of simplicity has made this whole wedding preparation thing wonderful. Mind you, I haven't spent the past three days with her 24/7...

k, must sleep. A full day beginning very early tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

On The Road

So nice to have made it just over 1000 km's today without a serious reaction. Was quite vomitty sick on the road after I ate a sandwich (that I made) but am delighted that I'm ok in a hotel room!!! And have made it this far without being in hospital. We're staying around the corner form Thunder Bay's Hospital. I AM, however, now having skin reactions to my Medic Alert stainless steel watch. Now what do I do? I'm allergic to Nickel.

Dr. Hicks, my Oncologist/Hematologist's office called the other day and she wanted to see me this week but we have this family wedding to get to. Can't go next week either. So, July 16th will be my date. I asked if the results from my bone marrow biopsy were back and her staff said she couldn't discuss that with me. Dr. Hicks wants to see me soon. Not sure what to think about that.

Really looking forward to this wedding. And, will post some photo's. My daughters are flower girls and the bride is my gorgeous cousin Heather. Can't wait!!! I love weddings. AND, I can't wait to dance with my Mum, Heather, Auntie Pam, my brother and cousins. We ALL love to dance and be merry!!!

Happy Birthday Canada. I've been living here 27 years tomorrow. Thank you for being such an amazing country to live in.