Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sorry folks ...

Sorry for the lack of posts.
I've been rather preoccupied with Christmas.
Santa brought me such wonderful presents and I've just been basking in the quiet time that the holiday affords me.
I've already finished one of the books I received.
I'm deep into solving a jigsaw puzzle (once I start, I can't pull myself away ...).
So you'll forgive me if you don't see me here for a few days.  The puzzle I'm working on is a bit of a challenge.  But I really do love the escapism that solving puzzles provides me.  (I don't actually need escapism right now but that's what I get from doing jigsaws.)
The 'roids continue to do their magic.  So much so that on Christmas Eve, we delivered chocolates to our neighbours -- on foot.  Yes, you heard me, we walked.  And for the uninitiated, our neighbours  are a ten minute walk down the road!  Now, THAT's progress.
Today, we celebrate my good friend LC's 60th birthday.  LC is my other daughter's mother.  Usually, for her birthday, I go into the city and we go for dinner at a favourite restaurant, then we go back to her place and drink wine.  I spend the night and the next morning I head home.
This year, being her 60th, is a little different.  I will still go into the city and we will still go to our favourite restaurant for dinner.
But, unbeknownst to her, when we get there, she will find that a group of her close friends is also there.  As will be her son and his family, her daughter and boyfriend who have arrived from Toronto earlier than she was expecting, my daughter and her family, and my husband (whom I will have dropped off on my way to get her).
I'm not actually staying overnight either.  After dinner, her daughter and boyfriend are taking her to the Casino for an evening of fun and, hopefully, winnings.  (I don't do Casinos -- it's just not my thing.)
So LC, sure hope you enjoy your surprise!
Happy Birthday to you!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My hair - four months later

Here we are, four months after shaving my head (well, technically, four months plus one day).
This is what it looked like at four months less one day (on Monday of this week):
Then I went to my hairdresser, who "cleaned it up" for me.  Trimmed it all around, fixed the straggly back.
She cut humongous amounts of hair off me. (Unbelievable, really, how much hair was on the floor when she finished -- considering what she started with.)  I was worried she was leaving me with no hair.  Problem is, my hair is very thick at the back and she had to make sure that she left me with something that would grow out properly, for what I want to achieve.
I always hate my hair after a haircut -- any haircut.  But my hair grows so quickly that it has to be cut in such a way as to "assist" the growth pattern.  My hairdresser knows what she's doing and she really knows hair; (she especially knows my hair, given that she's been cutting it for 35 years).
It doesn't look much different in the front since she didn't have to do much with that, but it sure feels different.
So now, this is what I'm left with.
Like I said, my hair grows quickly.  It won't look like this for very long.

Monday, December 17, 2012

'Roids Rock!

Gosh this low-dose steroid is doing wonders for me.
No more pain.
Well, it's not 100% gone but pain is so low that -- for me -- it may as well be all gone.
Only pain I have now is the pain that comes from doing too much.
Yesterday I baked, so my back ached.  But really, doesn't everyone's back ache when they bake?  I remember that mine always did, even when I was younger.  The important thing to note here is that I mixed and stirred with my hands -- without pain!
It's really kind of nice to be tired as a result of being productive, rather than being fatigued from doing nothing at all, which is usually the case for me.
In a nutshell, I'm feeling marvellous.
I'm sleeping well too.  If it weren't for pee breaks, I'd be getting seven hours straight!  Fortunately, I'm only waking for one pee break each night.   And if I could break out of the cycle I'm in, I might even be able to keep civilized hours.  You see, my days seem to start between 3:30 am and 4:00 am -- consequently I'm hitting the sack between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm.   Naturally, by 4:00 am, I've had enough sleep, and the vicious cycle continues.
But, one can't have everything, can one?
I'll take the no pain, and the getting seven hours' sleep, and having energy to do things, over the alternative every time.
Thank you 'roids.  You rock!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mary Jane Gizzard Docker Danaher

My maternal grandmother, Sarah Gizzard, was one of eight children born to Mary Elizabeth Docker.
It's quite a convoluted story, the Docker/Gizzard one.
You see, Mary Elizabeth had given birth to five children before she married Richard Henry Gizzard, a barman, the son of a fancy box maker.   
My research has revealed that the first child born to Mary Elizabeth (William, 1883-1928) was not fathered by Richard Henry Gizzard.  William shows up on Census returns living with Thomas Houghton, and he declared Thomas Houghton to be his father on his marriage certificate.  My grandmother knew him only as her big brother, Bill, and he used the Docker name all his life.  (She would have been horrified to learn that he was her half-brother, had she been alive when my research unearthed this information.)
Children number two and three (Amelia, 1886-1972, and James (1888-bef1891) might have been fathered by R H Gizzard but I have no proof of that one way or the other.  I suspect that they were not.
Numbers four through eight (Mary Jane Gizzard, 1890-1946; Ellen 1892-1984; my grandmother, Sarah 1895-1986; Richard Henry, 1896-1897; and George 1898-1914) were apparently all fathered by R H Gizzard but only those born after the marriage could legally use the Gizzard surname.  Hence, some of the children are Dockers, others are Gizzards.  (It should be noted that, from January 1892, RH Gizzard served three years in prison for committing a second larceny offence.)
My grandmother was born a mere two weeks after her parents' marriage, so she was their first child whose birth was registered as Gizzard.  Two boys followed.
After their father's 1899 death, I guess Mary Elizabeth fell on harder times than they were already experiencing.  She was still only 35 years old, a widow, and she had six young mouths to feed.
By 1900, Jane and her younger sister Ellen were admitted to Nazareth House in Isleworth, London, a Home for the Aged, Poor and Children run by Roman Catholic nuns.
The 1901 Census shows the girls still living at the Nazareth House.  Jane was 12 years old, her sister Ellen was nine.  (Mary Elizabeth was at home with her eldest daughter Amelia, who at 15 would have been able to help with the two youngest children.)
Their mother died in May of 1901, leaving two younger children still to be cared for.  It's not clear what happened to Amelia following Mary Elizabeth's death.  She had a child in 1904 and married in 1917.
My grandmother, who was six years old at the time of her mother's death, ended up at St. Mary's Orphanage in Walthamsow, which was the "shipping agency" from which she was sent to Canada as a Home Child in 1911.  She often spoke of how her older sisters would "break out of their orphanage" and go to hers to try to get her out.  They desperately wanted to be together.   My grandmother never saw her siblings again, with the exception of Ellen who was the only one still alive when my parents took her to England in 1974.  It was a wonderful reunion for the two sisters.
The youngest child, George, was sent to a Convalescent Home for Children, at Grosvenor Place, in Margate, Kent.  He died there in 1914, when he was 16 years old.  My grandmother never spoke of her brother George.  I found out about him through my research.
It's assumed that Jane and Ellen remained at Nazareth House until they reached adulthood.  The 1911 Census indicates that Jane is 20 years old, a tin box maker, living in Bethnal Green, London.  I haven't found Ellen on the 1911 Census.  Jane married in 1913; Ellen in 1916.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Trying another approach

Yesterday was beyond horrible.  I felt like one big bruise ... like a wet dish rag.  It was clearly the effects of coming off the steroid and it wasn't fun.  I was as weak as a kitten!
It took everything I had to get through my exercises and stretches.  Biking was out of the question.
John was seeing his doctor for his annual physical yesterday and I had managed to get an appointment with my doctor in the same timeframe (they share office space).  I really wanted to just let her know how pleased I had been with the effect of the steroids -- how wonderful it was to wake up feeling so terrific and be able to do things.   That was my intent when I had called on Monday and requested the appointment.
Our discussion turned to whether or not I'd be able to utilize the same protocol to enable me to go to Spring Training in Florida in March.  Well, that's a no-no.  This really was a one-time deal.
She did suggest, however, that we could try a very  low-dose steroid on a continuous basis.  But if we do that, I will also have to take something to protect my bones from the effect the steroid will have on them.  She gave me a months' supply to try it.  If it gives me relief, I will take the steroid daily, along with yet another drug to protect my bones.  Where does it end?
This approach, she hopes, is temporary.
Because she is confident that my surgeon will agree to perform a bursectomy and then I won't have to take the steroid.  To that end, she gave me a letter to present to the surgeon, in which she requests that he discuss a surgical solution for both hips.  I assured her that the bursectomy of my right hip would not happen until such time as he is actually replacing that hip (I think).
My physiotherapist has also agreed to provide me with a report from her perspective.  I will ask my massage therapist to do the same when I see her today.
Seems to me that if I provide the surgeon with ample evidence of my not being able to benefit from having had my hip replaced, he will be amenable to making that right.  He is, after all, a reasonable man and he wants his patients to enjoy the full benefits of his work.
In the meantime, here's hoping that the low-dose steroid helps get me through the Christmas holiday in relative comfort.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Yesterday was a phenomenal day

I had energy to spare yesterday.  Two million bucks is what I felt like.
Up before 4:30 am, I had baked beans on the go by 5:30 am. (Onions chopped and bacon sliced without pain in hands.)
Put up a batch of Chocolate Peanut Butter Love Bars ... (Ingredients cut and chopped without pain.)
Then baked a batch of Hermit cookies ...  (Both baking jobs mixed by hand, without pain!)
Stripped the bed, did laundry, remade the bed  ...
Ran a load of dishes through the dishwasher ...
Cleaned up the kitchen from the baking frenzy ...
All before noon.
Later, when John commented on my productive day, I told him that it felt wonderful to want to do things again and actually be able to do them.  The only repercussion of course was that my back had objected.  But even that kind of felt good, in an odd sort of way.  
Last evening, I went to bed very tired -- but it was the kind of tired a person should feel after putting in a day like I had. Sort of what a normal person would be like.  (I almost remember when I used to be that way ... many years ago.)
Yesterday I took the last dose of the steroid.  I wonder for how long I will retain the benefit of this therapy?  I'm hoping it lasts at least through to the end of the month, for obvious reasons.  (That long and beyond would be fabulous, to be sure.)
Today, I'm up before 3:00 am and I have to go into the big city this morning for a physio session.  Then we have a Christmas Cheer outing to attend this evening -- a half hour's drive away.  If I don't manage a nap this afternoon, it's going to be a very long day indeed!

Monday, December 10, 2012

It all started with 3 month old Philip

That's what the notation on the photo told me.  A cousin in England e-mailed it to me along with other photos last week.
Cutie pie isn't he?
On the back of the photo is written:  "Philip Nowlan To Aunt Sarah & Uncle Sam with love from Philip aged 3 months Sept 15 1957."
OK, I know that the Aunt Sarah and Uncle Sam were my maternal grandparents.  (They had both come to Canada as British Home Children, leaving older siblings behind in England.)  But who the heck was/is Philip Nowlan?  I've not come across that family name in my research, and I'd certainly not heard it growing up.
Another photo in the group was of my grandmother's sister, Mary Jane, taken in 1940.  It's the first image I've seen of her.  The resemblance to my grandmother is uncanny.
On the back of this photo is written:  "Taken in 1940 died 1946 aged 56. To Aunt Sarah from sister Jane from your niece Joan Nowlan."
OK, now I'm getting somewhere.
Joan (now Nowlan, and apparently the mother of baby Philip) was my Grand Aunt Jane's daughter.  My notes about Joan indicated that I had been told, back in 1997, that she had "gone to Canada in about 1949 to become a nun."    I had not searched any further for her, assuming it would be futile.  I guess that plan didn't pan out for her since she obviously became Mrs. Nowlan and had a son!
Time to start digging.  Gosh the Internet is wonderful.
I found Joan Danaher's passage to Canada in April of 1956 (not 1949).  The passenger who boarded the ship immediately prior to her (according to the assigned passenger numbers) was a man by the name of James Nowlan.  Hmmmmm, I guess they married shortly after arriving here since baby Philip was born in June of 1957.  (Unfortunately, Canadian B/M/D records for those years are not yet publicly available.)
It didn't take long before I found a death record for Joan Nowlan in 2004 -- but in Silver Springs, New York.  Her Social Security Number had been issued in Massachusetts in 1968.  Was this the same Joan Danaher Nowlan?  The birth dates matched.
My next search was for Nowlan children born to mothers with the maiden name Danaher.
Up pops two -- in San Mateo, California in 1962 and 1963.
The public listing for James Nowlan gives an address in California, followed by a move to New York State.
I guess I had the right Joan Nowlan (my 1st cousin once removed).
It would appear that the family lived in Florida at some point too.
I discovered a marriage for Philip in Florida -- and his subsequent divorce in Connecticut, where he appears to remain today (if I have the correct Philip Nowlan).
The older daughter also married (and divorced) in Florida.  She appears to have remained there.
The younger daughter seems to have remained in New York State.  It is her daughter who I managed to track via social networking and to whom I have sent a detailed e-mail asking for contact with this new branch of my family tree.  She is Jane Danaher's great granddaughter (and baby Philip's niece).  That makes her my 2nd cousin once removed (her mother being my 2nd cousin).
It is always so exciting to find new living relatives.  I hope they will be as pleased as I that I've found them!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Today, it's only half a million bucks

The steroids would appear to interfere with sleep.
On day one, I was awake 'til 2:30am and up by 5:00am for the day -- barely three hours sleep.
Fortunately, I managed a nap that afternoon and caught some much needed z's.
Had a good night of seven hours' straight through sleep on night two though.
But last night?
Went to bed quite exhausted at around 9:00pm after a very demanding day of completing the challenge of putting together my Christmas village.  (It's lovely but the photo will have to wait.  The photographer was asleep by the time I finished.  He'll take a shot at twilight tonight when the lights on the village can be viewed properly.)  I tossed and turned 'til about 11:00pm and now I'm up at 3:00am -- looks like for the day!
The good thing though is that there's still no pain.
So why do I say that it's only half a million bucks today?
Because while I feel physically wonderful, I am really quite fatigued.
The physically improved me wants to do - do - do.  But the fatigued me can't quite keep up with the physically improved me.  Difficult to reconcile that!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Wow, I feel like a million bucks!

What a treat to wake up without pain.
And this after only two doses of the steroid.
Yesterday, I managed to put up most of the Christmas village. I've added a second level this year.  I don't know how I ever put all that stuff on just one level in previous years.  That village sure had some condensed living going on!!!!!  I had to take frequent breaks throughout the project; it's a physically demanding undertaking.  It's looking pretty good though.  I'll post a photo here when it's all done. 
Today, I'll finish with that part of the decorating and I'll also put up Santa's corner in my sanctuary.  That's where he'll deliver our presents at Christmas time.  (Yes, I still leave milk and cookies for him!)
But the important thing for you to know is this:  I feel like a million bucks this morning, and I still have three doses of that steroid to take.  Watch out world!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Damned Bursitis!

On Tuesday, my physiotherapist put me through the paces and confirmed that my new hip is functioning well.   (I have wonderful range of motion.)
My trouble is definitely coming from a badly inflamed bursa and a correspondingly tight IT band.  She added a couple of extra acupuncture points. (I think we're up to 50 needles now.)  Then she gave me a laser treatment around the most inflamed area of the bursa.  She'll continue those efforts each week until we see improvement.
On Wednesday, I saw my doctor to let her know that the cortisone shot didn't work.
She was almost not surprised.  Disappointed, but not greatly surprised.
I told her of my physiotherapist's findings and she was pleased to hear that we'll be doing laser treatments because it will help reduce the scar tissue.  We discussed all the therapies that have been tried over the years and she said that I'm taxing her ability to come up with solutions.  (I thanked her for so graciously taking up the challenge.)
It's amazing to me that the cortisone shots worked as well as they did when administered directly into my hip joints, yet they've never worked in the bursa.  I just don't get it!
I told her about the discussion I had had with the surgeon at an earlier visit around the matter of his not having removed the bursa when he did the hip replacement.  I had asked him then if he would go back in and get it, and he asked me if I really wanted to go through that again.  As I was telling her the story, she was nodding "yes" and said, "You want to have that discussion with him again because he needs to go back and take it out."
I was pleased to see that she is on the same page as I.
Her remedy in the interim?
Try a five-day steroid therapy.
Yes, I'm taking steroids. Prednisone - 50 mg - one tablet a day.
But only for five days.
That should be long enough to bring down the inflammation but it's not long enough to cause any negative effects.
Apparently, since the steroids have a systemic effect they will make me feel good all over.  Even help with the inflammation in my finger.  Make my hands stop hurting.  My knees won't hurt.  My lungs won't wheeze.
As the doctor put it, "You'll feel so good for the next five days, when you come off it you'll be upset with me that you can't stay on it."  What she can't tell me, of course, is how long it will be before the inflammation  rears its ugly head again.  But we cannot keep using steroids to bring it under control.  This is a one-off.  Which is why I have to have that discussion with the surgeon.
The pharmacist warned me that I'll have lots of energy while I'm taking the steroid, so if there's something I want done, this will be the time to do it.
Couldn't have picked a better five days to take this journey.  This is the weekend I mapped out to put up my Christmas Village.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A recent e-mail I received and loved

The Charles Schulz Philosophy

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schulz, the creator of the 'Peanuts' comic strip.  You don't have to actually answer the questions. Just ponder on them.  Read to the end, and you'll get the point. 
  1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world. 
  2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners. 
  3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant. 
  4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize. 
  5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress. 
  6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?  The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday.  These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. 

But the applause dies... Awards tarnish... Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz.  See how you do on this one:

  1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school. 
  2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time. 
  3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile. 
  4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
  5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.


The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money ... or the most awards.  They simply are the ones who care the most.

             Wise man, that Charles Schulz!

Monday, December 3, 2012

It's baaaaaaack!

The very thing I feared has happened.
Prior to undergoing my left hip replacement, I had a discussion with my then-family doctor.  I was concerned that with my history of bursitis, I would go through the journey of hip replacement (which is not to be taken lightly!) only to come out the other end still plagued with bursitis.
My doctor assured me that that would not happen.  He even drew me a picture.  "When they remove the hip joint, they also take the bursa.  So you can't have bursitis after a hip replacement," he said.
With that understanding, I underwent the surgery without having a similar discussion with the surgeon (or any of the aides involved along the way).
Turns out it's a discussion that should have happened.
Within eight weeks of my having had the surgery, the physiotherapist noticed that I had "a bit of bursitis going on there."  How could that be?  My bursa was supposed to have been removed.  She encouraged me to speak to my surgeon because she was fairly certain that what she was seeing was bursitis.
When next I saw the surgeon, I asked if he had removed my bursa.  "No," he replied.  "I incise through the bursa, but I don't excise it unless it is highly inflamed."
I asked him if I had expressed my concern about bursitis with him prior to the surgery, would he have removed the bursa?  "Yes," he answered, "but yours was not inflamed when I saw it."
"Will you go back in and remove it now?" I queried.
"You really want to go through that again?" he asked.  We left the discussion at that.
Well, I am now at a point that my response to that last question is a resounding, "YES!"
The cortisone shot that my doctor gave me on November 21st has now had its ten days to do its work.  And it hasn't worked.  In fact, the pain is worse than it was prior to having had the injection.
On day ten (Saturday), I accompanied John into Ottawa to attend a photo show.  We ended up parking about a block and a half away from the event.  By the time we got there, my hip was screaming at me.  It wasn't long before I had to sit out the visit and simply wait for John to let me know when he was ready to leave.
Yesterday, I was aware of the pain with every step I took just going about my business around the house.
Last night, I got very little sleep.  I saw every hour and was delighted when it was finally 5:00 am and I could declare it a respectable hour to start my day.
Naturally, because my hip is hurting, it's affecting my gait.
Which is in turn affecting my SI joint.
Which is further affecting my gait.
Which is causing further inflammation of the bursitis in my right hip.
I'm back to having to resort to my "waddle" walk.
Which is all to say that I am definitely not enjoying the full benefit of having had my right hip replaced ten months ago. (I do have much better range of motion in that hip so the surgery wasn't all for naught.)
So, do I really want to go through that again?  Just to remove my bursa?
You bet I do!  And that is precisely what I will ask the surgeon when I see him again.
My next scheduled appointment is February 6th of next year.
I'm thinking I might call to see if that can be moved up.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What a lousy friend I am!

Two years in a row now I've missed a good friend's birthday.
For which I am extremely sorry, I might add.
I have no excuse, so I won't try to offer one.
All I can say is, mea culpa -- mea culpa -- mea maxima culpa.
So, MET, I'll honour you here today -- just one day late.

Sure hope you had a wonderful day!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Grammar Nerds?

I've talked here before about my penchant for correct grammar.
My poor little chickadee was drilled incessantly while she was growing up.  It was so bad that when a friend stayed for dinner (or an overnight visit), she would warn them, "Careful how you speak, my Mom will give you a grammar lesson."
The favourite of course was, "Jenn and I were ..." (not "Me and Jenn were ...").  As she caught on to the correction, I would simply have to say, "Would you like to try that one again?"  Then as she got older, she would say, with a grin on her face, "You weren't even there Mom!"
Anyway, all this to say that my little chickadee has blossomed into just as much a grammar nerd as her mother. How do I know this?  Because she does the same thing to her son as I did to her.  And he is getting very good with the rules too.
My only hope is that my striking young man grows up to be a grammar nerd too.  Because when he reaches high school, I would like to believe that he'll be able to appreciate the humour in this poster that my daughter found, courtesy of  Vintage Books & Anchor Books.
I love it!
Grammar nerds?  You bet!  And proud of it too!