Sunday, February 28, 2010

Damn These Cursed Hips!

Here it is, 2:15am and I'm blogging when I should be sleeping.
Unfortunately, my hips have other ideas.
We went to the Annual Awards Dinner at John's skeet club last night.
This is an event that we always enjoy; an evening of silly fun and great food when medals are handed out for competitive skeet, trap, and sporting clays.
It's a pot luck dinner so there's always way too much food, but oh what a selection!
John's truck causes me distress; it's a rougher ride than my car and by the time we got to the club, my right hip was quite unhappy.
After about ten minutes of standing around chatting, I had had the biscuit.
Just couldn't bear it any longer.
Time to sit down.
Yeh right! 
Remember, this was day two of the next reduced dose of Cesamet (now at 2.5 mg of the stuff each day).
The party wasn't even officially started and I was already in deep doo-doo.
We quietly got a bag of ice from the freezer and I sat and iced my hip right there in the club.
I did!   "A woman has just got to do what a woman has to do," that's what I always say.
That kept me going for a while.
As I went to take my place in the food line, one of the ladies, seeing my difficulty, asked if I had hurt myself.  When I assured her that I had not, that I simply had 'bad hips,' she asked if I was waiting to have them replaced.
This is a question I am asked far too often, and it depresses me but I once again explained that, no, I'm not a candidate for that because my problem is bursitis rather than degeneration.
But that discussion wasn't nearly as depressing as the exchange that I had with one of the shooters who enthusiastically came over to greet me.
"Bonnie, are you still enjoying retirement?" 
"You bet," I said, "loving every minute of it."
"Me too," he said, "but I took early retirement. I left when I was 62."
 "I retired a lot before that," I said.
"Oh yeh?" he queried, with a really surprised look on his face (he knows I've been retired for a few years).
"Well, yes.  I'm not yet 60 and I've been retired for a while now."
"Oh," he said very quietly, with a really embarrassed look on his face (but he didn't skulk away, to his credit).
So apparently it was assumed that I was 65 years old when I retired four years ago.
Oh oh.
I either looked really good for my assumed age or really awful for my real age back in 2006 (and perhaps still do for all I know).
As an aside, the foregoing leads me to a short discussion John and I had a while back about my cane and a walker and such issues.  The psychological barrier as such.  He asked why I was so reluctant to use my cane and why it was such a difficult step for me to accept the use of a walker.
"Because when I use my cane, people treat me differently and I don't like it.  For some reason, if I have my cane with me, I'm talked to as though I'm my grandmother.  When I don't have my cane, I'm addressed like I used to be when I was working."
It's bizarre, I know.  But it's what I've noticed and I'm not ready to be my grandmother quite yet. 
Anyway, by the time John had finished eating, I asked him to retrieve my cushion from the truck to give me extra padding to sit on.  I use on an extra cushion in the truck and it comes in very handy for just such occasions.  A duplicate cushion lives in my car to be called into duty for restaurant and doctor visits, or anywhere we go that has uncomfortable seating.
As he slid the cushion under me, it was like nirvana; the relief was incredible.
Until that pillow was slid under my butt, I had not been aware of just how uncomfortable I had been.
I mean, I knew I hurt; I just didn't know how badly.
Fortunately for me, the remainder of the evening involved my sitting so I didn't have to reveal to anyone else just how much trouble I was truly experiencing.
The awards were presented and everyone did their bit to prove that the world is a stage and everyone's a comedian.
In fact, someone had brought what I'm told was a delectable dessert, known as 'Sex in a Pan' and I won't repeat some of the lines that were offered in relation to that dish (but they were priceless)!
Then came time to leave.
And my hip decided that it wasn't going to let me walk.
At all.
Pain went shooting down my leg to the tips of my toes.
My cane, of course, is still living in my car (I haven't yet bought that second cane that will live in John's truck).
With John's help, I managed to get to the truck and then I waited there while John went back into the clubhouse for the cushion that I had forgotten to bring with me (my poor cushions have been left behind many places).
The half hour drive home was excruciatingly long.
Both hips were iced immediately that I got home and I broke down and took a Codeine Contin before I hit the sack (I would prefer to be fully off the Cesamet before taking the Codeine Contin again but ...)
That, my friends, was at 10:30pm last night.
And I'm sitting in my living room, icing my hips again, watching Olympic coverage re-runs at 3:00am.
Damn, these cursed hips!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Irresponsible Corporate Behaviour

Rogers Corporation has done it again!
You might know that I'm not a big fan of that outfit (they own my beloved Toronto Blue Jays and they seem to be on a mission to annihilate professional baseball in Canada).
My little chickadee lives in Ottawa and subscribes to Rogers service:  phone, cable and internet.
She recently treated herself to a new laptop.
Brought it home, fired it up, set it up on the wirelss network, got everything going tickety-boo.
Shoots over to the Rogers site to begin setting up the 'included' anti-virus protection that is so necessary in today's world.
Oh look, "We're sorry," the screen tells her, "Rogers is not yet compatible with your operating system."
Windows 7 was released how long ago?
And Rogers doesn't yet have its virus protection ready for it?
What the hell have they been doing?
Rogers wants people to switch to its internet service.
And one of its 'draws' is the fact that you won't have to pay extra for anti-virus protection.
Unless you run Windows 7.
But they don't tell you that until after you buy the computer and try to install the protection.
That is irresponsible corporate behaviour.
My little chickadee tells me that she eventually found reference to the qualifier on their website when she went to the page from her old laptop that is not running Windows 7.  There, buried on the page, is a blurb about the fact that they are not yet ready for the new operating system.
She used their on-line chat feature to discuss the matter.
They're sorry for her frustration.
They don't know when Rogers will be ready.
They know it is being worked on.
She sent an e-mail.
They too are sorry for her frustration.
Rogers is working on it.
It's "in the plan."
No implementation date was offered.
No offer to rebate any portion of what she's paying in light of their failure to provide a contracted service.
She might want to try Windows Essentials in the interim.
She, like I, loves to hate Bill Gates and was reluctant to add another Microsoft application for a temporary solution and then find later that it can never be completely removed.
She's managed a work-around and downloaded a popular virus protection from elsewhere so she's not stuck but that's not the point.
Rogers sells their internet package including virus protection.
But they know that they cannot provide that protection to clients who run Windows 7.
But really, clients don't clearly find that out until they actually connect a computer to the internet and go to the Rogers site, which detects your operating system and up pops the message that they cannot give you what they sold you!
Until such time as they can actually provide the anti-virus protection that they are advertising, they have no business using that as a drawing card in their advertisements!
That is irresponsible corporate behaviour.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Making of Champions

Last night, I woke up at midnight so I HAD to get up to watch the finals of the Olympic figure skating competition.
I had taped it from 11:00pm my time, so I turned on the television, quickly muted it and turned my head so as not to see the screen just in case they were still airing the event and would spoil the news for me, immediately queued the tape to roll and was able to catch the final flight of contenders.
OK, I'll admit it.
By the time I was eight years old, I was a winter rink rat.
That's right.
Through my teen years, I practically lived at the local outdoor skating rinks.
And I loved watching figure skating on television.  I would fantasize that it was me on that ice, wearing those fabulous outfits and gliding around the rink doing all those magnificent jumps and twirls. (If only we hadn't been so poor?)
Practice eventually allowed me to master a good number of tricks but I never did manage jumps and twirls with any kind of grace.
But I was a skater.
I had my little chickadee in skates from the time she could walk (well, OK, she walked at nine months so maybe I waited 'til she was two years old).
By the time my little chickadee had mastered skating, we had established an 'annual event' of seeing if we could skate the length of the Ottawa canal (we did it more than a few times).
Even when I grew bunions and skating became increasingly difficult, I kept at it, incorporating various solutions to deal with the pain.
Following my bunion removal surgery, my wider-foot molded skates didn't allow me to skate for any great length of time but I persevered.
My sister and I used to meet for coffee before taking the bus together for our commute to work, and I recall having convinced her that we should take advantage of our proximity to the canal and perhaps get off the bus and skate the last distance to our offices.
Silly girl.
She agreed.
Trouble was, she hadn't skated in many years.
Fortunately, there are change huts situated along the canal.
We didn't get very far before she had to stop and change back into her boots.
Her heels were bleeding.
Right through the leather skates!
It was not pretty.
So, I skated the distance rather slowly as she limped along.
We didn't attempt it a second time.
But I did then leave my skates at the office and would occasionally meet a friend for a quick skate on the canal at lunchtime if my workday allowed for it.
Eventually, I had to hang up my blades because I simply could no longer tolerate the pressure of the skate on my foot.
Still can't, almost 30 years after the surgery (and obviously, there are now a whole lot of other barriers to my strapping on a pair of skates).
But I still love to watch figure skating.
I guess I'm still living my dream through those young women.
Last week, when the Canadian pair won gold in the ice dancing competition, I watched their skate and saw them bask in their much-deserved glory.
It was especially thrilling to see them belt out the Canadian anthem with such pride during the medal ceremony.  They were truly excited to be there and deservedly so.
Their unabashed joy in their achievement was palpable.
Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue displayed such youthful bubble on their win, I was giddy with joy for them.
And it was delightful to witness the two interact with the press and each other.
Yet when they interviewed on CTV following their win, clutching their coveted gold medals, they displayed the maturity that got them where they were sitting that morning.
And still, the pair's love of fun and having a good time together shone through.
They already know, at such a young age, that you have to work hard and stay focused when it matters, but it's still important to have fun and enjoy what you do.
That's what makes them champions.
Then, two nights ago, I watched Joannie Rochette skate her short program in the Ladies' Figure Skating competition.
The fact that she skated at all is a testament to her focus and commitment to the sport.
But when she finished her program, there wasn't a dry eye in the place because it was evident how very emotional it had been for her to have skated at all.
Her pain was palpable and I and most everyone else cried along with her as the tears streamed down her face.
Last night, I again woke to watch her skate the long program.
Her performance wasn't 'brilliant' by any measure; she in fact failed to land one of her early jumps cleanly.
But she still managed to hang on and complete the rest of the skate flawlessly.
She placed third overall, which is exactly where she had placed after the short program. 
She had a bronze medal and the crowd went wild.
I could not believe her poise and grace as she took her final bows, picked up a stuffed animal that had been thrown on the ice, and waved to the crowd.
What amazes me even more than anything about this young woman, is the television interview she did following her win.
When asked what she was thinking when the Olympic medal was placed around her neck, she said words to the effect of, "I was thinking how happy I was that I had won, but how sad I was that there was one person not in the stands beside my father to see it."
How Joannie Rochette managed to skate both her programs in the days following her loss I truly get.
She is a disciplined athlete and has trained for her Olympic moment all her life.
This was her life's goal and her mother had been her driving force.
She was motivated to complete what she started, both for herself and for her mother's memory.
That I understand.
I couldn't do it but I certainly understand how she did. 
What I don't understand is how she managed to hold herself together to conduct that CTV interview, discussing the joy of the win as well as her great personal loss, without losing her composure.
She talked openly about her close relationship with her mother and how she herself had been too tired to join her parents for dinner the evening they had arrived in Vancouver.  She begged off, saying she was too tired; she would see them the following morning.
"Of course," she said, "that never happened."
I was crying just watching the interview (OK, I cry with Oprah lately but that's a whole other discussion) and she wasn't even holding a kleenex!
Joannie Rochette has learned, at such a tender age, that no matter what life throws your way, you have to stay focused and work hard if you want to achieve your goal.
That she found the personal inner strength to maintain that focus and continue working that hard for a television interview just blows me away.
Obviously, that's what makes her a champion.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hodge Podge Updates

First, let me start by saying what a lovely visit I had last night with my little chickadee and my beatiful boy and his father.  And I've finally come up with a moniker for the man -- he will now be referred to as Pauple.
Quite often when I stay there, Pauple is at work so he's not usually present for the waking part of my visiting time.  By the time he gets in, I'm on my way up to bed and he's not usually up in the morning when I leave.
But this time, it just happened that I was there on a day that he wasn't at work. 
So it was an extra nice visit because Pauple joined us for dinner and its always so much more fun when the four of us are teasing back and forth (and yes, my beautiful boy is up to the challenge; he sometimes leaves us in the dust).
Then this morning, my beautiful boy and I went for breakfast -- just the two of us.
That's "our thing" to do when I stay there.
We've been doing breakfast together since he was very young; still in his infant seat in fact.  Sometimes when I stayed there, I would do the daycare dropoff, but I would stop for breakfast en route (I needed to eat).
The staff greet him by name now.  He assures me that the waitress is not his girlfriend but she sure likes him!

After dropping my beautiful boy off at school (daycare), I headed off to my doctor's appointment.
My pelvic ultrasound is normal.
My MRI shows bursitis and he thinks maybe there is the possiblity that we could try a cortisone injection with imaging on the left bursa (the report suggests a significant fluid sac that he would like to try to reduce).  We batted that idea around for a while because the last time that was attempted, I got there and found out they use contrast dye for the procedure.
My doctor tells me that's crazy. But I know that I went for the injection, found out they used contrast dye, wouldn't let them use it, so the doctor told me he would "wing it" and do his best to get the right spot.
It didn't work.
I reminded my doctor that he himself was upset only a year ago when the rheumatologist convinced me to let him try shots in each hip.
They didn't work either.
But he really thinks that a shot with imaging (without contrast dye) could be beneficial.
Another option to consider.

We also discussed my continuing visits with the physiotherapist.  I told him about her gentle recommendation that, because of the bursitis, I should consider the use of a walker in my home.
"That's not a bad idea," he says, "because the risk of falls is a serious concern with these diagnoses."
"Great!  It took a long time for me to get my head around needing a stair lift," I said.  "I need a while for this one."
"Yes, there's a real psychological barrier to having a walker," he says.  "I run into this a lot with my patients."\
"I'm sure you do," I countered.  "But are they usually just six months shy of their 60th birthday when you're having the discussion?"
"No, they're usually much older and also contending with varying degrees of dementia and don't have the ability to reason out why they need it," he explained. 
I got his point.
I just need time.
Because the underlying message I took from the exchange is this:  "It's only downhill from here girl.  No matter what we do for you, you need help getting around and that is not going to change.  At best, we might find a way to manage the pain."  That's essentially what we've been doing for way too long already!

He agreed with my findings with respect to Cesamet and approved the rate at which I am going off it (.5mg reduction in dose every four days).  But he is concerned as to what we will do for the pain because obviously I am already in distress.
My plan is to go back on Codeine Contin (that's the stuff I was abandoning when we started the Oxycontin / Cesamet nightmare) and deal with the bowel issues that will ensue.  The doctor agreed that we don't have many other choices at this point.
He wants me to try the patch but I'm terrified of the patch.  At least we know that if I don't like it, I can rip it off and not put another on.  He is going to find out what 'relaxant' was used on me for the endoscopy/colonoscopy because we know I tolerated whatever it was, and I had no ill effects from it (and I certainly experienced no pain through the procedure).  If they used the stuff they usually use, it is in the same family as what's in the patch so he would have assurances for me that I have no reason to be afraid of it.  I'll await the information before letting him write that prescription.

Then I threw my curveball.
"What would your reaction be if I come in here in the next few months and ask for a referral for a tummy tuck?" I asked.
"I would say, 'Go for it' and give you the names of some damned good surgeons," says he.
I have to be honest.  I wasn't expecting quite that response.
"Excuse me," I hollered quietly, "how come your reaction wasn't, 'Tummy tuck?  What they hell are you doing talking tummy tuck?"
My doctor and I go back a very long way.
He just looked up and said that cosmetic surgery is very acceptable now and if I'm asking about it it's because I want it.  People have these things done because it makes them feel better and anything that makes someone feel better should be encouraged.
"You let me know when you're ready," he said, "and I'll give you the names of people who don't just do this while you're in their office."  He knows me well.
Then I asked if he knew whether these procedures could be done under local anaesthetic.
"Absolutely," was his unequivocal response.  "They use an epidural.  Especially if it's just straight across the tummy, as I expect it would be in your case."  It sounds like he is very familiar with tummy tucks.
When I explained that I wasn't sure I would proceed if it couldn't be done without general anaesthetic, he said that with my history, he didn't blame me and that it was perfectly reasonable under the circumstances for me to request that.
So, stay tuned for news of my tummy tuck plans.
Because, the dye is cast now:  I WILL BE DOING THIS. 
Except I need to get my eating under control before I subject my body to elective surgery.
I mean, really, I dearly want to have a flat tummy but I don't want to be stupid about it!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

British Home Children

Britain is issuing its apology today.
Australia has already apologized.
I've never quite understood the point of government apologies being extended several years after the actual persons responsible for the decisions have long since departed.
Yes, the decisions were made as a government and that I guess is why governments are apologizing.
But really, the elected officials of the day -- the people who actually made those bad decisions -- are long since dead. They are the people who were responsible for the consequences of those decisions -- not the governments that followed.
But historically, governments have found it appropriate to issue apologies, and in some cases, even paying significant compensation to victims' descendants.
I simply don't agree that the government of today is responsible for the consequences of decisions taken by the government of yesterday. The government of today is responsible only if they don't change whatever policies allowed the horrific action to take place in the first instance. Then they would have something for which to apologize.
If today's government didn't commit the injustice, why is today's government apologizing, and in some instances paying out huge amounts of money? Acknowledge the injustice; sympathize, maybe even empathize. But apologize? I just don't get it.
Put in simple terms, do you apologize for something you didn't do?
I don't; I apologize for stuff I've done, and only for stuff I've done.
I can't apologize for something my grandparents have done.
How then do I expect an apology from my grandparents' government?
What their government did may have been horrific; but that government doesn't exist any more.
And the government of today didn't DO it, so what would an apology today really mean?
Today, the British government will apologize for its role in the child-migration scheme. Perhaps that is appropriate, since that is the country that devised the scheme in the first place. Dating as far back as 1816, England would clear its streets of undesireables - including children - by shipping them to the New World, or sending them to penal colonies for misdemeanors.
There is nothing in Canada's history books about the British Home Child scheme; it's what I call Canada's dirty little secret.
Over the past 20 years or so, descendants of British Home Children, as they've come to be known, have been very vocal about their history, or shall we say their lack of history. Websites have cropped up on the Internet; specific sites have been provided for descendants to seek out their genealogical roots. And it's only because descendants of British Home Children have been so vocal that anything is known about the scheme in Canada.
The children themselves never spoke of it; they were ashamed of their backgrounds.
When I first started researching my family tree, I knew that three of my grandparents had originally come from England. What I didn't know 25 years ago was that they all three were British Home Children.

My paternal grandfather was in fact orphaned when he was sent to Canada as a 15 year old farm hand. He was first sent to a farm in Quebec, where he reported having been abused so he was moved to a farm just outside of Ottawa. He never had further contact with his older brother who stayed behind in England (we never knew what had happened to that brother in spite of my uncle's efforts to find him). My British Home Child grandfather eventually married a French Canadian woman and my father was their third child.

 The photos above are (left) my grandfather, Thomas and (right) his older brother John William.
My father longed to find his "Uncle John Willy" whom he never knew. On the other side of the ocean, John William's son, whom he named Tom after his brother who went to Canada longed to know the family that he knew he must have in Canada. My research made the connection in 1999; sadly Tom (John William's son) died in 2001. His widow and family have since visited Canada and we continue to enjoy contact with our British cousins through the Internet.

My Paternal Grandparents c1952

My maternal grandmother was an orphan who was sent to Canada when she too was only 15 and she worked as a domestic in the home of a loving family where she was very well treated. My mother remembered being taken back to that home for visits as a child. My grandmother maintained written contact with her sisters who had stayed in England, so we grew up knowing of this British family. I continue to be in contact with various descendants today through the Internet.
In 1974, my parents took my grandmother back to England where she and her sister were reunited after a 62-year separation; she met her extended family for the first time.
My maternal grandfather was also sent to Canada as a 15 year old farmhand, and he was settled outside Ottawa in the Kingston area. I have yet to prove that he was orphaned when he was brought to Canada. My research only recently turned up proof that he too left an older sibling in England, someone we certainly never heard tell of. Today, I am in touch with descendants of that older brother -- again, they had no idea that they had Canadian relatives until I contacted them with proof of our relationship. My British Home Child grandfather eventually married my British Home Child grandmother, and my mother was their sixth child.

My maternal grandparents, c1961
They both came to Canada as British Home Children
These two couples, my paternal grandparents and my maternal grandparents -- three of whom were British Home Children -- are responsible for over 275 Canadians and several American citizens roaming around today.
I think that's quite an impressive contribution for three young British children who left their families behind for a better life in a better land.
But was it better?
How will we ever know?
They never talked about their pasts.
They were too ashamed of it.
They never told their own descendants about their history.
Child emigration to Canada was discontinued in the 1930s when the Great Depression created a labour surplus in Canada. It is estimated that up to to 100,000 children had been transported to this country. Yet the Canadian government has been so ashamed of the British Home Child scheme that there is no record of it in our history books.
I know.
Twenty-five years ago, I went looking.
I searched everywhere.
Nobody wanted to talk about it.
Even today, very few people have even heard of it.
Try it.
Say "British Home Child" to someone.
Does that person know of what you speak?
So how good a life could it possibly have been to which the government was delivering these children?
The government knew then that it was a bad idea -- that's why there's no record of it!
Canada can't apologize for its part in the child migration scheme because it must first admit that it happened.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Colour of Racism

When I was a child, one of my closest friends had skin that was darker than mine.
But that didn't matter much to me.
Frankly, I was so pale, everybody's skin was darker than mine.
I didn't see skin colour in people; I saw people in people.
The school I went to was the 'inner-city' collector school for the many children who were arriving in Ottawa with no command of the English language.  These newcomers to our country were being thrust into our schools and were expected to assimilate seamlessly.
The Polish girl was my friend, as was the German boy, and the twins from Czechoslovakia ...
We all played together and the Canadian children helped the newcomers to grasp their new language.  I learned at a very early age that everybody is really the same; we all just come from different places.
One of my closest friends was a girl who lived one street over from me, and she was not an immigrant to Canada; she too had been born in Ottawa.
What I didn't realize at the time, because I am people-colour blind, was that her father was black and her mother was white.  I didn't think of her as my black friend.  She was, quite simply, my friend.
Fast forward to my dating years when a dashing young black man asked me out on a date and I had no qualms about accepting.
Why not?  He's a guy and I'm a gal and that's what guys and gals do, after all.
"Not so fast," says society. "That's not allowed!"
"Just watch me," says I (yes, this was a few years before Pierre Trudeau mouthed the famous phrase).
It was then that it was brought home to me in graphic fashion that my good childhood friend was black.  To this day, it amuses me to think that I truly did not realize that that girl was black until I was seventeen years old; I just had never thought of her as anything other than my friend.

Throughout my dating years, I dared to date a few people ... not all were of colour but the title of this post suggests that I will discuss racism, so ...
I started dating my little chickadee's father when I was the ripe old age of nineteen, and I used to talk about my boyfriend at my workplace.
One day, while my colleagues and I were out for a lunch time stroll, we happened to meet up with my then-boyfriend who was on a stroll with some of his colleagues (our offices were within five blocks of each other).
As we approached, we said 'hi' to each other and we stopped to chat briefly.
He was eating an ice cream cone.
I reached over, took a bite of his cone and handed it back to him.
Then we went on our respective ways.
My colleagues immediately asked who that had been (the meeting had been so fleeting that neither of us had bothered with introductions).
When I told them that it was my boyfriend, they said, "You never told us he's black."
To which I responded, "Did I ever mention that he's Catholic?"
Their next question, of course, was, "What does that have to do with anything?"
"About as much as his colour does," I replied.
To me, the colour of my boyfriend's skin was really not relevant to anything.
Fast forward about ten years, when my little chickadee was about five years old; we were visiting at her aunt's place and she was outside playing.
She came in crying, but she was somewhat embarrassed about it.
Her father asked her what was wrong and she said, "Those kids called me nigger."
She knew she was upset, but she really wasn't sure why.
He hugged her tightly and told her, very matter of factly, that nigger was a really mean word to use.  And if she wanted to, she could go outside and tell them that she was actually black, but they were 'HONKIES.'
And that is exactly what she did, with her head held high.
In one very quick lesson, he taught her to take pride in who she is.
Many years later, I was using a van service to commute to work.  This was a somewhat private service and the same 15 passengers had been riding for several years.  One afternoon, a passenger was opining that the 'value of his neighbourhood' might be under threat because he had heard that some black people might be moving into town.
I said nothing.  I just sat and listened to the discussion.
And then I quietly opened my wallet, and reached for a photo of my little chickadee, about whom they had heard plenty over the years.
As I offered the photo to be passed around, I said, "Have I ever showed you a photo of my daughter?"   
Except for the road noise coming from the van as it rolled along the highway, you could have heard a pin drop.
Until the numb nuts who had started the discussion asked, "How did that happen?  Is there black somewhere way back in your family tree or something?"
So I smiled sweetly and replied, "C'mon, you know how babies are made, don't you?"
That exchange just happened to have occurred on the last day I was using the service; the driver took great pleasure in letting  the others think that I didn't have the stomach to ride with such a bigoted lot as they.
Why am I telling you this?
Because racism, however veiled, really saddens me.
And yesterday, my grandson announced that a boy in his class "was mean to half the world."
My little chickadee thought he was exaggerating just a tad until he explained what he meant.
During history class (this is grade three -- they are learning about the first peoples to inhabit Canada), a child had asked about people "with normal skin" -- and it turned out he was talking about white people.
Fortunately, the teacher handled it well and explained that there are no "normal" skin colours. 
But my beautiful boy was offended by the question because he felt that the other child was being mean to him and to all the other people in the world who don't have white skin.
He was comforted once he talked to his mom about the situation and she was able to reinforce for him that he is just as worthy as anyone else in this world, as are all people -- whatever the colour of their skin.   
This wasn't his first experience with the black/white question, and it surely won't be his last.
The sad part of this story is that the child who asked the question is himself a child of colour -- but he's not of 'black' heritage.
So the lessons of racism are being brought home to roost still at a very early age.
We've not come very far in 50 years --- the bar has just moved a bit I guess.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Aaaccckkkkk, I'm Getting Fat Again!

Oh, alright, that's a bit of an exaggeration.
Just a wee bit of an exaggeration in fact.
But I am up two pounds this morning.
I was up those same two pounds yesterday morning.
If I remain up those two pounds tomorrow morning, it becomes an official two-pound weight gain.
Can't have that!
I like this new svelte body of mine.
OK, that too might be a bit of an exaggeration.
I probably will never again have a 'svelte' body type, given my age and mobility limitations.
But I do like my new slimmer body, if I could just get rid of this damned tummy that has been my nemesis for thirty years.
You see, I've had abdominal surgery on three of the four quadrants of my tummy, leaving me no muscle group to 'tighten' so no number of sit-ups is going to rid me of this excess.  I was given that bad news thirty years ago when I complained about my tummy that I couldn't seem to eliminate, although I was 'rail thin' at the time.
When I see my physiotherapist this week, I will again discuss with her just how the procedure is performed (she has such a wide client base, she has a deep well of recommendations from which to draw).  And I will leave there with the name of the surgeon who has performed successful procedures on her clients.
Then when I talk to my doctor the next morning, I want a referral to that surgeon with whom I will discuss my candidacy for the procedure as well as the specifics of what would/could be done in my case and whether or not he would perform the procedure under local anaesthetic.
I figure that if women can undergo caesarean section deliveries with just local freezing, I can endure something like a tummy tuck without the anaesthetic that I cannot electively subject myself to unless a whole lot of other safeguards are first put in place to ensure that I will awaken from it.
Lots of topics on the plate for this months's discussion with my doctor.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 3 of "Cesamet Removal" Program

Here we are on day three of my self-established "fast but safe" get-off-the-Cesamet-NOW program.
I'm now taking 3.5mg per day (1.5mg in the morning; 2mg in the evening) and I can barely put one leg in front of the other after a mere half hour of very light activity!
Can you imagine what I'll be like when I next reduce the dosage?
That's scheduled to happen again on Monday -- down by a further .5mg so I will be taking 1.5mg both morning and evening for another four days.
Then on Friday of next week, I will again reduce by a further .5mg.  My plan is to continue that reduction schedule (.5mg/day every four days) until on March 17th I take my final .5mg capsule of the stuff.
As I've said earlier, I will be discussing this with my doctor when I see him on the 25th (Thursday) and I'm quite confident that once I show him the documented evidence of my "experiment" he will agree with me as to both my findings and the need for urgency to get off the poison.
Then we will have to deal with what else we can try to manage the pain of what we now know absolutely is bursitis.
As he said at my last visit, we're running out of rabbits to pull from the hat! 
I couldn't agree more, especially since none of the rabbits appear to work for me.
In the meantime, I'll continue doing what I've been doing for the past I-don't-know-how-long to manage both the pain of fibromyalgia and the added aggravation of having bursitis in both hips.
To that end, and notwithstanding all the home therapies that I have implemented over the years, my physiotherapist and massage therapist have become very important members of my health care team.
Weekly physiotherapy and bi-weekly massage sessions are crucial to my pain management regimen.  We don't try to pretend that we are going to cure anything.  We are simply doing what we can to manage what has been dealt to me.  (We are considering increasing the massage sessions to weekly because of the current changes to my medications and the resulting increase in pain.)
The physiotherapy treatment of choice has become acupuncture but that is only one modality available to me at the clinic. The physiotherapist's supervision of my exercise/stretching program and her ongoing advice are invaluable to my ability to conduct my at-home therapy sessions with the success that I enjoy. At each visit, she treats whatever pain is most acute that week and she is able to work in tandem with my massage therapist to “catch” any issues before they worsen.
My physiotherapy treatment pattern is thus:  I lie face down on the treatment table.  Ice packs are placed under my groin; heat packs on my back.  Acupuncture needles are placed from neck to ankle (or ankle to neck, we like to mix it up).
Above, the needles are being placed in (left) my calf which helps keep my cramping at bay, and (right) my thigh which is a "calming" point for hip and sciatic pain.  Needles will also be placed in strategic points in both hips.

You can see that the needles across my lower back are angled downward (as will be the ones that will be placed across my upper mid-back).  This is done to allow a heat pack to be carefully placed over top which helps enhance the effect of the treatment.

Here you can see that the needles are placed directly straight into the desired points across my neck and shoulders (the normal orientation for acupuncture needles).  You can also see the heat pack that has been placed over the angled needles.  At last count, I believe we were up to a count of 44 needles total (the call me the needle queen in that clinic).
Once all the needles are in place, I lie there for 25 minutes to a half hour and let the treatment take effect.  Invariably, just as the end of my time is approaching, I hit the "fall asleep" stage that I'm told most people get to at about the 15 minute mark.  Why oh why can't I be 'normal' at this like all my medical tests always show?
After the needles are removed, my therapist performs gentle traction on both legs before I get up from the table.  Throughout the placement/removal of needles time, we are usually discussing other ideas and options that I might try for even more pain relief.
There have been times, especially more recently since I've been reducing the Cesamet dosage, that I have arrived at the physiotherapist's office literally unable to put one leg in front of the other.  I leave there with almost a bounce in my step (OK, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my drift).  If only its effects would last for the week!

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Truth Emerges ...

For as long as I've known John, one of his favourite sayings has been, "A woman can't be too thin or too rich."
We've had lots of fun with it over the years.
Though John liked to tell his friends that he "married a rich woman," I was neither rich nor thin.
And as the years progressed, I got progressively 'not thinner.'
But he continued to love me anyway.
And he continued to assert that a woman could be neither too thin nor too rich.
He could never tell me who he was quoting (or misquoting).
Eventually, I took the time to research it and properly attribute it to Wallis Warfield Simpson, the former Duchess of Windsor (who was certainly very thin; and by our standards would have been very rich to be sure).  I always loved their story.  One of my favourite biographical histories is "The Woman He Loved, The Story of the Duke & Duchess of Windsor" by Ralph G. Martin.  It's the story about the king who abdicated for the woman he loved and it kind of helped me set the bar to hold out until I met someone who loved me enough to "give up his throne" for me, so to speak. 
When I met John, I was his Wallis Warfield Simpson and he was my Prince Charming.  (Except I wasn't rich, and I wasn't thin and he didn't have a throne to give up; we compromised!)
Anyway, this morning, I announced that I have now, officially, hit the 30-pound weight loss mark.  My policy has been to not consider a weight loss until the number holds for three days.  And this morning, for the third morning running, my weight is coming in at precisely 30 pounds less than had been my "norm" for way too many years.
John commented, "Well, you certainly don't need to lose any more."
My immediate reaction to that was, "That's what my little chickadee said.  She thinks I'm already way too thin and told me that there's no way I'm having surgery to get rid of my tummy!"
And then, "Hey, I thought you said a woman could never be too rich or too thin!  Ummmm, perhaps I can be too thin?"
I believe that I am now about ten pounds smaller than I was when we met fifteen years ago, although I am still a lot heavier than I was in my youth (I was quite anorexic-looking pre-25 years old).
So I guess it doesn't matter now that I'm not really rich, because apparently I am now too thin.
One out of two ain't bad, is it?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

MRI Results are IN

Arrived home from my Ottawa trip this morning (had to see the neurologist) and there was a message to call my doctor.
"Oh. Oh. I don't like the sounds of that," said I.  "Must be bad news about my MRI results."
Well, I was half right.
They had the results of the MRI and it would seem that the problem with my hips is ...
Are you ready for this?
"So I should just take pain killers whenever I need them," she tells me.
I thanked her and asked her to fax the report to me because my physiotherapist would be interested in the specifics.
She faxed it.  I guess my massage therapist will appreciate having a copy too.
I'll discuss the matter further with my doctor when I see him next week.
The matter being, of course ... what exactly shall I take for the painThat's what we've been using Cesamet for, remember?

As to my visit with the neurologist, it was most enlightening indeed.
Based on the history he took today, and his examination of me, and the EEG results, he agrees with my doctor's assessment that the incident last October was a one-off event, brought on by a collection of circumstances that would not normally occur again.
But, he can do nothing without knowing what my potassium and sodium levels were when I had those seizures.  That information is crucial in determining how he proceeds now.
So I signed a consent form for him to get that information from the treating hospital; once he gets the numbers, he will call me and let me know what they were.
And then we will pursue further treatment, if any further treatment is necessary.
He doesn't think we need do anything differently at this time. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Suggestion from my Physiotherapist

Had a very interesting (if you want to call it that) visit with my physiotherapist today.
She always starts with, "How have you been?"
Of course lately the answer is usually, "Not much change, my hips hurt like a bugger."
Every so often, she asks me to describe, in detail, what hurts, where it hurts, when it hurts the most, yada, yada, yada (the usual medic/patient exchange).
Today, when I told her that my first waking realization is the burning pain in my hips, she asked me to show her where on my body that fire was located.
Once again, I clutched my hip joints and assured her that the fire was coming from my hips.
From which she determined that, usually, in her experience (and she is a mere three months my junior so she has been in her profession for more than a few years) when someone describes that kind of pain they are describing bursitis.
Hey, that's what my doctor suggested was the problem ... oh ... I don't know... about 22 years ago when we first started struggling with this issue.
Let's not forget that the pain in my groin that I have also enjoyed for the past few years is indicative of something other than bursitis!  We'll wait for the MRI results to suggest the cause for that discomfort.
Back to my physiotherapist and the suggestions that emanated from her "bursitis" diagnosis.
I asked, then, what one does if bursitis of the hip is in fact what we are dealing with (let's face it, we've known for 22 years ...)
She assured me that thus far, in the years she has been treating me, there is nothing that we haven't tried and discounted for one reason or another, or that we are not already doing for it.
Short of taking anti-inflammatory drugs (which I cannot use because of my asthma), there is virtually nothing else we can do.
I mean, really, how the heck do you not use your hip joint long enough for it to recover from having been inflamed? We've already tried the injections, which we know don't work. 
Her suggestion to help deal with the increased lack of mobility and the increased pain (in spite of the weight loss) that I am noticing?
She was hesitant to mention it to me because she knows how difficult it was on my psyche when I was forced to break down and have a stair lift installed in our home (also her suggestion).
But, she says, for those situations when I get up from bed and I am so stiff that I absolutely cannot walk from the bed to the bathroom (and, without my telling her how bad it was, she managed to portray an excellent rendition of exactly what I look like as I rise from my bed each morning) without risking falling and doing serious injury to myself, I should really consider having a walker for use in my home.
And she has one to lend me if I want to try one first.
She wanted to stress that, at this pont, a walker would only be necessary while I'm in my home.
But it's a slippery slope.

Monday, February 15, 2010

End of the Experiment

Well, the results of my experiment are now clearly known.
Cesamet is without a doubt the cause of my "eating disorder."
Won't my doctor be pleased to learn that I have solved yet another medical mystery that is me?
As I posted earlier, I figured it would have taken about five days on the higher dose (I increased back up to 4mg per day on Monday, February 8th) to find out if there were any indications of eating difficulties.
I guess my post on Friday, February 5th was a little prematurely optimistic (or was it optimistically premature?) when I said that I hadn't yet seen those signs.
After putting up that post, we went into Carleton Place to take care of a few shopping errands that needed doing.  
John dropped me off at one shop while he went on to another across the street.  When I finished, I walked across the small parking lot (estimated to be less than 150 yards) to another shop to browse while I waited for John to return.  By the time I got to that second shop, my hips wouldn't let me walk another step.  The manager greeted me with quite a level of concern;  the first words out of her mouth were, "Where is your cane?" (OK, so I shop there frequently.)  We had taken John's truck rather than my car and my cane happens to 'live' in my car.  I will be getting a second cane that will 'live' in John's truck!
It was pretty evident by the time we got home that I was definitely not enjoying any bump in pain relief from that higher dose of Cesamet.
That evening, we sat down to a lovely meal of what has been dubbed by some as my "famous" meat loaf.  Less than half way through the meal, that discomfort that I hadn't felt for some two weeks was back.  And I couldn't eat!
The next morning, I went into Ottawa to meet my sister (and best friend) for breakfast.  I managed to eat some fruit and one piece of toast. 
And the pain was back.
Without having another piece of food all day, I tried to eat dinner that evening.
No can do.  And the baked beans that John had made earlier in the week were awesome too!  I simply could not get them down.
Naturally, I was also dog-tired from the long day in Ottawa and that combined with the no-food led to a nice fun nauseous bed-time.
Sunday -- Valentine's Day -- I tried having a bagel with honey for breakfast.
Got half of it into me, with a lot of work.
Didn't eat another thing all day until dinner.
John makes an awesome onion soup.  I managed it.  But the old familiar pain was back!
This morning again, I couldn't get even half my baked oatmeal into me.
Here it is approaching 1:00pm as I write this, and I'm not the least bit hungry.
So I don't need to continue this experiment any longer.
Problem is, I have to go into Ottawa tomorrow and again on Wednesday.
Tomorrow, after my physio session, we're having lunch with my former boss-man and still very good friend.  Since John is coming with me, he'll be able to do the driving but I'm finding that it doesn't really matter much if I drive or I'm the passenger -- a car trip is a car trip is a car trip.  And if I'm in a vehicle for a time, be it driver or passenger, it takes a toll on me.
Then on Wednesday, I have to get up and leave here bright and early (I'm retired, so anything before noon qualifies as bright and early) to go back into Ottawa to see the neurologist whom I asked to see after my incident last October.
Back-to-back days of trips into Ottawa.  Major no-no for me.
So, there is no way I can drop back on the Cesamet before Thursday of this week because I can't risk, before then, the increase in hip pain that I think I can reasonably expect will occur.
However, (remember that silver lining?), I can't deny that I'm pleased with my new "svelte" body that came from the experience.  Too bad I don't enjoy shopping because I do have to subject myself to a clothes finding trip.
My little chickaee tells me that I'm now almost too thin.  She's concerned and I understand that.
I thought I could still use another ten pound drop; that anything more than that would be too much (I tease that a tummy tuck will take care of that final weight).
I thought the charts would have suggested perhaps another fifteen pound loss to reach my ideal weight.  But according to Dr. Oz, my current weight puts me to within five pounds of being "perfect" (his words) for my height.  So apparently, a tummy tuck might make me too thin?  Guess I shouldn't go that route!
Today, the TENs machine has been called into action because my hips are in their "burning pain" mode; my first waking realization this morning was the fire on either side of my body.
Obviously, Cesamet at 4mg per day is not giving me adequate hip pain relief.  But if I reduce the dosage, my hip pain will get worse because Cesamet is giving me some relief, just not enough relief. 
But as of Thursday, it is my intention to start getting off the Cesamet as quickly as I possibly can.
Which means I will decrease by faster than .5mg at a time (the doctor originally wanted me to go down at the rate of 1 mg per day per week).
And I will go back to the weekly decrease schedule that the doctor first suggested, rather than the bi-weekly schedule that I was using for this experiment.
Why the rush to get off it now?
Because now that I know absolutely that Cesamet is causing the turmoil with my gut, I can't be sure what all else it might be doing inside.
My doctor has already expressed how "especially well tuned" I am to my body. Perhaps this is another incidence of my body warning me of a danger before it's too late to turn back.
By the time I am off Cesamet entirely, I will have been on it at varying doses for a just less than a year.  Let's hope it hasn't wreaked too much havoc in that time.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


OK, so I love my husband in a romantic way suitable for Valentine's Day-like sentiments.
But nothing can compare to the love I have for the first person who came into my life and taught me what it really means to love and be loved unconditionally.
Perhaps the fact that I raised her on my own (and when I say that I raised her on my own, I mean I raised her on my own) helped develop a stronger bond between us than some mothers and daughters have, I don't know.  Not having an abundance of other mother/daughter relationships to which I can compare ours, I don't think I can fairly make a blanket statement about ours vs all others. 
But my little chickadee and of course now my beautiful boy are undoubtedly the two people in my life who can bring out my "Mama Bear" instinct still.
My little Chickadee with her Mom, 1980

My Little Chickadee with her new Stepfather and her Mom, 1997

My Little Chickadee meets Her Son (My Beautiful Boy), 2001

My Little Chickadee with her Mom and Son, 2009


Friday, February 12, 2010

Cesamet Experiment - Progress Report

Well, I don't have much to report, really.
I'm still eating, without abdominal discomfort or pain.
And my intake at each sitting has now become "acceptable."
"And that's a good thing," to quote someone who kind of tends to make me gag.
My hips feel marginally better.
And that, too, is promsing.
So, what am I learning thus far?
I'm learning that maybe, just maybe, the Cesamet had nothing to do with my eating disorder.
Maybe I didn't have an eating disorder at all.
Maybe I just wanted to drop thirty pounds from some inexplicable cause (but not without a 'need,' of course).
And maybe I just wanted to have excruciating pain every time I tried to consume food (my brain's way of telling me to drop those extra pounds perhaps?)
And now, maybe my body simply got tired of all the stupidity so it called a halt and "just turned around and went home" as it were.  Kind of like Forrest Gump when he got to the end of his walk (I loved that scene -- didn't you?)
Anyway, I'm still going to continue with my experiment and will stay at this level (4mg per day) through next week to see if anything changes.
My next adjustment is scheduled to happen on the 22nd and I see my medic on the 25th of this month so perhaps by then, I'll have a clearer indication of whether or not Cesamet is/was indicated in the problem.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

"If Only They Hadn't Been So Poor"

My Aunt Catherine was my mother's older sister by five years.
She was born on May 4, 1920 but sadly, neither I nor any of my siblings ever got to know her; she died before her sixteenth birthday.
I was actually named after her -- my first given name is Catherine.  It was my godmother (my mother's youngest sister) who chose Catherine as part of my name.  My godmother would not have had much memory of her older sister since she would have only celebrated her second birthday the day after the funeral.   My mother agreed to my carrying the name, but refused to allow me to be known as Catherine because she felt that it would be a harbinger of bad omens because of what had befallen her sister.  Hence, I am forever known as C. Bonnie whatever!
It was fascinating for me to stumble across this baptism record just the other day (I love those on-line indices!) and discover that my aunt's middle name was Brigid -- giving us both the same forename initials. The document also revealed that the man who would become my paternal grandfather, Thomas Cherryholme, was her godfather -- another new fact for my genealogical records!

I guess it's because I was named after this person that I've always had a certain fascination for her story.
But details have always been very fuzzy; there's not even very many photos of her.
My mother witnessed the accident but she was only ten years old at the time.  Following is her report of the incident, as she wrote to Uncle Ray and the Corner Cousins less than one month after the funeral:
1936 March 7:  Another Beloved Member Goes to Far Country.  "Dear Uncle Ray,  This will be my fifth letter to your corner.  Uncle Ray, I have some bad news for you about my sister.  The day the king got buried, she broke her collar bone and was in the hospital for three days, then she came home.  She had to go back to the hospital and after a couple of days she had an operation.  She died February 11th.  Her name was Catherine and she was fifteen years old.  She would be sixteen on May 4th.  Please take her birthday out of your page.  Also take my big sister out of your page.  Her name is Mamie.
I put a couple of riddles in my last letter and you put my letter in but did not put the riddles in.  I will give you them now hoping to see them in your page.
1.  Which insect is best educated?  The spelling bee.
2.  When is wood like a king?  When made into a rule.
3.  When is a farmer mean to his corn?  When he pulls its ears.
4.  When is a house like a bird?  When it has two wings.
Attention.  Miss Mystery.  Can Miss Mystery send me the song, The Man On the Flying Trapeze?
Well, I guess I will be writing soon again.  Your loving niece, DOROTHY SHARPE, 5 Bertrand Street, Ottawa."
Uncle Ray responds:  "It was a great sorrow to Uncle Ray to hear of the loss of his niece, Catherine, your sister, Dorothy.  And all the corner cousins will sympathize very deeply with you and your family.  It is with great regret that names are taken from our birthday book for such a reason. Such a shining band of our bright boys and girls have gone to the far away country since we opened our Mail Bag club almost nine years ago! ..."
You can see how quickly the ten year old child shifted gears in her thinking, going from news of her sister's tragic death to telling riddles to asking for words to a song.  I know that my mother never forgot what she witnessed that day; nor did she ever forget her beloved sister, Catherine.  The story she told me had a little more detail than that letter.  But almost more intriguing to me today is that a ten year old child related the accident as having happened on "the day the king got buried" -- fascinating indeed!
There's no accounting for how errors occur in genealogical research but the following report is certainly one glaring example.  The Citizen article is clearly talking about my aunt, whose name was actually spelled Catherine, and she had died on the 11th of February (not the 10th as claimed in the article). 
1936 February 11 - Katherine Sharpe  "The funeral of Katherine Sharpe, 15-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Sharpe, 5 Bertrand street, who died yesterday as the result of injuries received in a sliding accident on January 28th, will be held on Friday at 7:45am from her late home to St. Brigid's church for requiem high mass at eight o'clock.  Interment will be in Notre Dame cemetery."  
Following is a copy of the obituary notice that was in amongst my grandmother's papers, clipped from the Citizen at the time (sorry for the truncated copy, but I have to work with what I have):
There was even an inquest into the accident.  It took a mere three days to report the findings and it continued the misspelling of her name!
1936 February 14:  Finds No One To Blame For Death:  Coroner's Jury Investigates Death of Miss Katherine Sharpe  "That Katherine Sharpe, 15-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Sharpe, 5 Bertrand street, came to her death from pneumonia probably brought on by injuries received while playing on a slide at the end of Vaughan street on January 28, and that no blame could be attached to anyone, was the verdict rendered last night by a coroner's jury investigating the girl's unfortunate death.  Dr. Harry Dover, coroner, presided at the inquest, which was held at the police station.
Miss Sharpe suffered a fractured collar bone when she fell at the bottom of a long slide constructed at the end of Vaughan street.  She was taken to the Civic Hospital where she was treated for this injury and on January 31, was discharged.  On February 4 she was again admitted suffering from pains in the stomach.  She was operated on on February 8th and died on the 11th.
Dr. H. T. C. Whitley gave evidence to the effect that when admitted to the hospital the second time Miss Sharpe appeared to be in a "nervous" condition which could have been caused by the shock of her injuries.  He said that he did not believe there was any direct connection between the girl's injuries and her death, however.
Roland Bernard, 4 Putman avenue, a youth who was also playing on the slide, said that he had followed Miss Sharpe down the slide, sliding on his feet.  He had waited until she had reached the bottom before starting.  Half way down the slide he noticed that she was still standing at the bottom and shouted a warning.  When he saw that he might strike her he sat down and slid to one side of her.  He did not know she had fallen until he had turned around."
I've enjoyed re-reading these documents over the past couple of days.  Finding my mother's letters to the Uncle Ray and the Corner Cousins column has certainly given me a renewed interest in the stories she told about the incident.  Because now I can make sense of what she was telling me and what the documents I have had in my possession for over twenty years actually reveal (had I just sat down and really read them ...).
Also among my grandmother's papers were a series of letters addressed to my grandfather:

The first letter, dated February 17th, 1936, was from the City of Ottawa.  That is my grandmother's writing in the upper right corner, "Our Inquiry into the Death of Catherine refusing her admission into hospital when we called them."  The letter reads:
"Dear Mr. Sharpe:  As promised you in our interview this morning I now beg to enclose herewith copy of letter which I forwarded to Doctor Robertson, Superintendent of the Ottawa Civic Hospital, and will again advise you as soon as I have his report before me.
Thanking you for bringing this matter to my attention and assuring you it is receiving my careful attention, I am, Yours faithfully, (Signed) J. EDWARD McVEIGH, Controller"
The enclosure, also dated February 17th, 1936, reads:
"Dear Doctor Robertson:  Mr. Samuel Sharpe, of 5 Bertrand Street, has requested me to call to your attention the case of the untimely death of his daughter, age sixteen years, who was admitted to the Ottawa Civic Hospital as a Public Ward patient on the 28th ultime with a fractured collar-bone and subsequently placed in a cast.
The child was discharged on the 31st ultime and, after reaching her home, I am advised that she had a very violent reaction and vomited almost continually and suffered severe stomach pains.
On the advice of a private practitioner her father appealed to the Hospital to re-admit the child but this was refused and finally, on February 4th, last, Miss Sharpe was again admitted from the clinic where she remained as a patient until her death on the 11th  instant.  I understand that pneumonia was designated as the cause of death.
Mr. Sharpe has interviewed me with regard to the matter and requested me to call same to your attention as Superintendent of the Hospital since he feels that the Hospital authorities exercised poor judgment in prematurely discharging his late daughter and he feels that it is possible that all the facts in connection with the case as he outlined them to me have not already been presented to you.
I should appreciate it, therefore, if you would communicate with me in writing on this subject after you have investigated this case.
Thanking you for your usual courteous consideration and prompt action in this matter, I am, Cordially yours, J. EDWARD McVEIGH, Controller"
A mere two days later, February 19th, 1936, another letter addressed to my grandfather from the City of Ottawa:
"Dear Mr. Sharpe:  In pursuance of my letter to you of the 17th instant with regard to the case of your late daughter, Catherine Sharpe, of the Ottawa Civic Hospital I am enclosing herewith copies of the report of the Superintendent, Doctor D. M. Robertson, together with copies of the reports of the Admitting Officer and the Nursing Supervisor of the Second Floor East in which part of the Institution your daughter was a patient.
Trusting you will find this information in order, I am, Yours very truly, (signed) J. EDWARD McVEIGH, Controller"
Enclosed with that letter were copies of three reports:
1) Dated February 19th, 1936, from Donald M. Robertson, M.D., Superintendent, Ottawa Civic Hospital:
"Dear Sir: Attached are statements re admission of Katherine Sharpe. As you can see by these, she was not refused admission, but her father was asked to make the usual arrangements. As it was, he called up about 6:45 Monday evening, and patient was admitted Tuesday morning. Sincerely yours, DONALD M. ROBERTSON"
2) Dated February 19th, 1936, from M.R. Downey, Supervisor 2nd Floor East, Ottawa Civic Hospital addressed "To Whom it May Concern" re Miss Catherine Sharpe:
"MONDAY, FEBRUARY the THIRD, sometime after six P.M., Mr. Sharpe called me on Second Floor East stating that his daughter, Catherine, who had been a patient on the Ward January twenty-eighth to January thirty-first with a fractured clavicle, had been vomiting since the day following her discharge and appeared quite ill. He asked that we send Dr. Whitley, the Attending Surgeon, who set her fractured clavicle to see her, but we explained that Doctors were not sent from the hospital and advised him, if worried and anxious about his daughter to call the Doctor who had sent her to hospital at the time of her first admission. Mr Sharpe was also told that if his daughter's condition was not sufficiently acute to require immediate medical attention, he was to bring her to the fracture Clinic the next morning, as previously instructed and that Dr. Whitley would see her there.
Following this conversation I then called Dr. Edwards, Admitting Officer, gave him the details of the case and told him of the possibility of it being referred to the hospital that night for admission.
Miss Sharpe came to the Clinic the next morning and was again admitted under Dr. Whitley.  Signed:  M. R. DOWNEY Supervisor 2nd Floor East"

3)  Undated, from W.M.J. Edward, Admitting Officer, Ottawa Civic Hospital:
"Dear Sir:  Shortly after 6:30 P.M. on Monday, February 3rd, 1936, I was called by Miss Downey, Supervising nurse 2E, telling me of a conversation she had had with Mr. Sharpe, whose daughter had been in the Hospital.
Miss Downey stated that Mr. Sharpe had called her and asked that Dr. Whitley be sent to his house.  Miss Downey said that she explained to him that the Hospital had no authority to ask the Attending Surgeon on service to visit any home and advised him to call in a doctor (he being on relief it would not cost him anything) and ask him to make arrangements for admission, and if not urgent, to bring the girl to the Hospital the next morning where she would be seen at Dr. Whitley's Clinic.
Miss Downey said she gave me this information in case I was called up regarding that patient.  I do not remember having any conversation with Mr. Sharpe about the matter at that time.
Miss Sharpe was brought to the Clinic the next morning, and after she was examined, I admitted her to the ward.       W.M.J. EDWARD  Admitting Officer"
Now, I am beyond amazed at how fast the wheels turned back then!  This accident happened on January 28th, the child died on February 11th, the inquest was held, completed and had reported by February 14th; my grandfather requested an inquiry on February 17th and said inquiry was compete two days later. 
Someone, somewhere could learn something today methinks!
Anyway, back to the story of my Aunt Catherine.
Also among my grandmother's papers was a most interesting document.  And until now, I hadn't a clue of its import.
It's a very delicate document -- measures 5" x 5 1/2".  The front, as seen on the left, is clearly a receipt for "Private Ambulance Service" made out to Mrs. Sharpe, to take her from 99 Vaughan Street to the Civic Hospital, ordered by a Dr. Howard on January 28th, 1936 at 4:30pm (the time and place of the original accident).  The back, as seen on the right, is what is interesting because it would appear to be someone's detailed accounting (I don't recognize the handwriting) of the "care" she received and then the difficulty she experienced immediately following her discharge from the hospital three days later:
"Cast placed to injurie - Wed Jan 29th
Discharged from Hospital - Frid - Jan 31st :  Arrived home about 8:30 PM.  Child was taken from bed to put another Patient in and sat in a Chair till she was called for.  Complained of Pains in Stomach, and started Vomiting at Home within 15 mts from time she reached the House"
Clearly, from the description above, a bed was needed so Catherine was sent home.  But just as is done in our hospitals today --  if your ride doesn't show up on time, you sit in a chair and wait until you are "called for" -- the child had to first sit and wait.  She didn't get home until 8:30pm and she started vomiting within fifteen minutes.  It would take my grandparents another four days to get their daughter the medical care she urgently needed; but by then it would be too late because ultimately she died as a result of her internal injuries.
My grandparents launched the inquiry into the hospital's failure to re-admit their daughter because they truly believed that she didn't have to die.  I can read this file today and know that she would not likely have died today, if she presented at a hospital with a similar injury and/or symptoms.  Hell, I'm not a doctor and I know what continuous vomiting means following a head / neck injury!  But this is now, and that was then.
What I truly marvel at though is the speed at which both the inquest and the inquiry were held. 
You see, the way I recall the story of my Aunt Catherine (and remember, I'm this person's namesake so I was enthralled; I listened very carefully, and I asked very often):
"She died as a result of an accident at a local playground where there was a huge ice slide.  She had gone down and the boy who followed her, who was wearing skates, didn't wait for her to get out of the way before he went down.  He ran into her back and knocked her over and she couldn't breathe.  I ran home and got my mother.  They went to the hospital and then she was sent home after a few days but she shouldn't have been.  My mother tried to tell them that she was still really sick but they wouldn't believe her.  My mother wanted to fight the hospital over it but we didn't have the money to fight them." 
It all makes so much sense now that I've actually read the file!
But none of the official reports of the accident makes mention of the other child having been wearing ice skates.  I clearly remember my mother including that point as a serious contributing factor to her sister's death (she always insisted that the skates had pierced her sister's back).  She never left that point out when she told the story. 
Did nobody ask her at the time of the incident?  At the time of the "inquest" that took all of three days to deliver its report?  She was a witness. They did talk to the other child who went down the slide; he admits to having gone down standing up and only sitting down when he realized that Catherine was in the way and at risk of being hit.
I've heard my mother tell the story so many times, sometimes I think I was there.
And I don't have to be a doctor to know that if a child is knocked to the ground by having been impacted in the back with enough force to have broken a collar bone, there may well be other injuries.  Perhaps an internal bleed or two?  But again, this is now and that was then.  Since the hospital report makes no mention of any injuries other than the broken collar-bone, obviously the skates did not "pierce" her back as my mother had worried.
My mother often said that her sister might have lived -- if only they hadn't been so poor -- obviously echoing her own mother's sentiments, but I wonder now if what she was really saying was, perhaps someone might have listened more closely, if only they hadn't been so poor.
The photos below show Catherine as an infant with her father; as a six year old in the only "school" photo that my grandmother had of her; and as a fifteen year old, obviously in the summer of the year before her untimely death.