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Go to Kitty Reflects11/27/02

Well, I didn't get the flu and Paul (Tom) has recovered from it - and then whatever it was that plagued him for several more days creating terrible urticaria, mostly on his arms. That episode and the past 2 days of dread at dealing with a required border crossing were quite taxing on my nerves. But now both are over and the relief is significant.

The wheals that Paul (Tom) developed along with flu-like symtoms (see Nov 14 2002 entry) became the dominant physical problem after 11/16. Fever, malaise, and anorexia were gone but the strange redness and swelling accompanied by extreme itching in many places on both his trunk and extremities lingered. We tried various remedies to reduce the itching - assorted sprays, lotions, or creams that Paul (Tom) had collected over several years. One was even a vetinary itch spray we'd kept after Moose died, not knowing if it might prove useful. None of these had more than minimal temporary effect, leaving him on edge, unable to relax enough to sleep, and unable to keep from rubbing the worst of the areas. I searched the Web for remedies to reduce itching so that he could sleep, and therefore I would be able to sleep.

For the entire 5 day period after the flu-like symtoms disappeared, much of Paul's (Tom's) body resembled an exaggerated allergic reaction. The oral and topical treatments we used were based on anti-inflammatory and antihistamine substances we had on hand (Claritin (loratadine), Celebrex, Vioxx (both left-over from my old shoulder injury), Quercetin, and aspirin). I also found information on the neural mechanisms of itch that contained use of capsaicin (hot pepper) for its relief. With added information on applying this information (from a website I can't locate now or possibly has removed this detail), I concocted a paste of emu oil (capsaicin is *not* water soluble) and cayenne powder (the highest capsaicin level ingredient we had on hand). The oily goo did provide some relief for the worst of the areas and cold compresses helped in some others. How much all of these substances contributed to the final disappearance of Paul's widespread wheals and the blisters that developed on his wrists, we do not know. We're glad that they are gone and his original vigor is back. We will however, keep these measures in mind should they ever be needed again - hopefully that will never occur.

During the time that Paul (Tom) was plagued with the "flu" and then the urticaria, my sleep quality was far less than optimum. When the end of last week rolled around and Paul was fully recovered (dancing was very good both Friday and Saturday nights - first in 2 weeks), I now had the time to focus on the fact that my passport was stamped requiring departure on or before December 1. Paul and I had decided, soon after the unpleasant entry at Windsor, that we would take a trip across the border at Niagara Falls in the last week of November. That time was now approaching and I found myself envisioning similar problems on the return or even when I presented myself before leaving. These nightmarish thoughts kept me from falling asleep and often resulted in poor quality of the sleep I did get.

Monday morning my intestines were in knots. Either that day or the next we'd need to make the drive and face the border. (Our 28 hour schedule didn't support a trip later in the week and the weather prediction for the Niagara peninsula was a deteriorating one as the week progressed.) What if I wasn't allowed back into Canada? Although Paul insisted that this likelihood was virtually non-existent, even if it did, it wasn't the end of the world. We'd just spend the night in the US and try another entry point the next day. One of them was sure to just let us pass without detailed questioning by an individual with an attitude like the agent in Windsor. As long as I kept myself busy, my mind didn't have the opportunity to wander to the "what if".

Tuesday noon arrived - my intestines again in knots - and with it our mail, containing the permanent license plates for the new car we'd purchased while in the US. We'd considered it important to delay the cross over and back until they were on the car, thereby eliminating a possible question from a Canadian border officer. The fewer the unusual facts about us, the better. We already were untypical in that I as a US citizen was a US resident - not a landed immigrant - while married to a Canadian citizen and resident.

So with the plates on the car, we set off about 2:30pm for the Queenston/Lewiston crossing, after eating lunch, though I could only tolerate half my usual amount. I managed to keep my mind off lingering images of vengeful border guards forcing myself to listen to the music, chat with Paul, and hope that the cold cloudy skies would not drop snow on us.

We arrived at the Queenston Customs/Immigration point and Paul parked the car at the nearest point, not visible from the front where the inspection officers collect to search selected cars that have been detained after crossing from the US. I entered the building from the rear and waited in the Immigration Office while the lone officer dealt with a US family which had been sent for further questioning because the parents did not have identification papers for the 2 youngest of their 3 children. (They were doing what they'd done 2 years ago when also just travelling through to Detroit.) After about 5 minutes, during which time I was distracted by this family's difficulty, the officer was then available and I passed him (he was behind glass) my passport opened to the page with the form stapled into it. After looking at it with a puzzled expression, he asked "what's this all about?" Almost immediately he turned to his computer keyboard, typed an entry, and then said "You're an American married to a Canadian, right?" I replied, "Yes. I visit my husband here and he visits me in the US." His retort with a shrug was "So?" I responded by telling him what the Windsor Immigration agent told me was the reason she was only giving me a month's permission to stay in Canada - because we as a couple had to have a common residence. He shook his head and said he sees people all the time who spend 6 months in the US and 6 months "here". "What's the big deal?", he added. As he made some entries into the computer and removed the form from my passport, I replied, "I wish I knew. Maybe she was having a bad day or just didn't like that a Canadian man had married a USer." He shrugged and shook his head again. Then he pointed to the number at the left bottom of the Windsor stamp in my passport, saying "This is that agent's ID number. You can write a letter to the Windsor Immigration manager complaining about this." When I asked how I should address the letter for delivery, he suggested that I could leave it there at the Queenston, or any exit point, the next time I crossed and the Immigration office would see that it was delivered to Windsor. I thanked him sincerely after which he told me he was done as far as he was concerned and I was free to go.

Mentally I breathed a sigh of relief and headed back to the car making a much needed stop first at the restroom I'd spied situated at the end of the building.

As I approached the car, Paul indicated I should get back in the passenger side, saying as I opened the door that he wanted to talk first. When I responded affirmatively to his question if I had my passport, he said, "Let's just go home." We had no need to go the US now; the paper work regarding "departure" was completed. He was right! There was no need to exit now. No need for Paul to "challenge" the American border authorities until we'd originally planned for the first week in January and no need for me to challenge the Canadian border again till early April.

We drove around the Customs/Immigration building and entered back onto the highway at the bridge toll booth and cheerfully paid the toll for a bridge we'd never crossed. Since I'd made that quick pit stop in the restroom at the Customs/Immigration building before returning to the car, my intestines were now at peace. The drive back to Toronto was a pleasure - let it snow if it must, I thought, "I don't care now". My mind was relaxed after almost 2 weeks; the solid sleep I had last night, lasting more than 10 hours was clear evidence of that.


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