Sunday, December 21, 2014

That memorable Christmas of 1963

For some reason, the closer we get to the big day, the crisper my memories of Christmases past (go figure!).
And this year, I can't seem to get images of one particular Christmas out of my mind.
I've told the story here before, but I'll tell it again for recent readers' enlightenment.
It was Christmas, 1963.  I was thirteen years old and I desperately wanted a pair of patterned stockings -- they were all the rage that year.

About a week before Christmas, I was home from school. (I don't recall why; obviously I must have been sick.)
I had the house to myself and decided I should go snooping for gifts.  I just HAD to know if I was getting a pair of those stockings!
Well, I found the cache of presents and eventually identified one that had my name on it that felt like it might be just what I was hoping for.
I oh so carefully opened the package -- and there they were.  They were blue and black with a diamond pattern.  Truly the most beautiful pair of patterned stockings in the whole wide world!
Then I did the unthinkable.  I just HAD to try one on.
I remember shaking as I put the stocking on and pulled it up my leg.  And then I pranced around my parents' bedroom, admiring the sight.
I was still shaking as I took the stocking off and carefully folded it to put it back in the package.
But look!  Now the one I tried on was all stretched out, noticeably bigger than the other one.
So I quickly put the second stocking on and stretched it up my leg so the pair would match again.
Then I very carefully rewrapped the package and returned it to the hidden stash of gifts.
And I remember on Christmas morning being very nervous when it came time to open that gift.
My mother, who knew how badly I wanted those stockings, was watching closely as the package was handed to me.
What was I going to do?  I knew I had to act surprised and excited.  And I figured I could do that easily, since there was so much other commotion going on with our large family.  But would someone notice that the stockings were already stretched?
So I opened the package, let out a squeal of delight, and immediately proceeded to put the stockings on.
There, of course they're stretched, I'm wearing them!
That was the year I learned a very important lesson:  the surprise is so much sweeter if it is shared.
Here we are 51 Christmases later, and I have never again gone snooping for gifts.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Early mornings, coffee, and puzzles

Our days start very early in this household.
For no particular reason other than we are awake.
Now, by early, I mean 3:30 - 4:00 am early.
Once the newspapers are delivered, the coffee is made and our day is officially started.
We retire back to the bedroom with the newspapers, coffee in hand, and John reads the National Post while I read the Ottawa Citizen.  (We switch papers at bedtime.)
I have always enjoyed reading my morning paper with my morning coffee.  Have done so most of my adult life.  Even managed to do it most of my working life.
But without a doubt, the best part of this morning ritual -- for me -- is when I get to the puzzle page.  Nothing relaxes me like sitting with a crossword puzzle to solve.  Don't know what it is about puzzles that brings me so much pleasure but it is truly a pastime that totally relaxes me.  Perhaps it is the fact that solving them requires my total focus, which takes my mind off everything else.
I find working on a jigsaw puzzle has the same calming effect on me.
Perhaps that's why I so love genealogy too.  That is puzzle solving in the extreme!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

My Advent Calendar

Every year on December 1st, I put out an "Advent Calendar" to count down the days 'til Christmas.
I've done it ever since my little chickadee was truly a wee chickadee.
Several years ago, on a lark, as I passed through Starbucks to get to Chapters, I noticed a most intriguing Advent tree.
It was comprised of numbered drawers, arranged in a tree formation, with each drawer containing a small chocolate treat.
As the treat is claimed on each day of December, the drawer is to be turned around before it is returned to its rightful place on the tree.
And when completed, on the 24th day, a winter scene is revealed.
It was perfect!
It could be used year after year, simply by refilling the drawers each year.
I couldn't find the price on the display unit and eventually I found someone to ask.
Turned out I had found the manager.
He told me the price and asked me if I wanted to buy it.
As I hemmed and hawed, not so sure that I wanted to spend quite that much, he made me a deal I couldn't refuse.
He told me that if I bought the tree, which was the last one he had in stock, I could also take the display unit, since he would no longer have use for it.
That made the price so much more reasonable.
So I grabbed them.
One for my little chickadee.
And one for me.
And forever after, we have the same advent tree which we fill with treats to help us count down the days until Santa's arrival.
Last year, I forgot and didn't get the tree filled until December 3rd.  This year, I was ready.  Bought the candy two weeks ago.  Filled the tree today.
We're good to go tomorrow!

Monday, November 24, 2014

I graduated!

I am no longer required to use a cane!
Truth be told, I haven't been using the cane for quite some time, except when I go to physiotherapy.
But today, it's official.
Physiotherapist has given me permission to quit using the cane.
  • When I go out for this first winter, I must take the cane with me for stability in icy conditions (my cane has a pick on it), and I must use creepers on my boots.  We don't want to fall!!
  • If I'm going to be doing a lot of walking, (ie shopping with MLC) I should really take my cane with me for when fatigue sets in.
Otherwise, I'm good to go!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lest we forget

Remember our Veterans
Many gave their lives for us

Percy E. Gibson was an uncle whom I never knew, but I recall hearing his name often.
  His widow, Mary Gibson, was my mother's eldest sister (my Aunt Mamie).

Percy Edward Gibson

My maternal grandfather's older brother (therefore my grand uncle), William Thomas Sharpe (1889-1919) died in Germany as he boarded the ship to take him home to Liverpool where his young wife and almost four year old son waited.  That child would grow up knowing nothing of his father's younger brother, whose name he shared.  In 2004, my family tree research led me to his descendants, many of whom I am in touch with today.


Let us also not forget:

My maternal grandfather, Samuel Sharpe (1896-1964), who served in WWI (photo taken 1915) and loved it so much he re-enlisted for WWII (photo taken 1941).

My paternal grandfather, Thomas Cherryholme, (1896-1960) who also served in WWI.  Although I don't have a photo of him in uniform, here he is c1952.

And my father, Richard Romeo Cherryholme, (1926-1979), who served as a rear gunner in WWII.

My father is seated, second from left.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fibro rears its ugly head

I was doing so well.
Until Sunday when havoc broke out in our home (a severely blocked toilet).  Nothing would solve the problem.
Fortunately we have another downstairs so I was at least able to relieve myself.  Was a pain having to go downstairs during the the night though.
The plumber was able to get here nice and early on Monday morning and he resolved the issue within minutes with his professional snake.  (The one we had bought from the hardware store wasn't nearly up to the job.)
All was well in the Fowler household again.
Except the Mack trucks had invaded the bedroom overnight.
I had obviously done too much with all the ups and downs involved in trying to resolve the bathroom issue, not to mention having to go up and down every time I had to "go."  (Yes, by the end of the day I was using the stair lift!)
Needless to say, I'm in a flare-up and it's having an impact on my ability to rehab.
I went to rehab physio yesterday and the therapist chose not to introduce anything new yet, since I could barely do the minimum as it was.  So she taped me up again and sent me on my way.  (She has been taping my knee to provide extra stability for it and it really makes a difference all around.)
Today, I am still sore as all get-out.
Not at all fun.
But I'm going into Ottawa for my "feel good" physiotherapy (read:  acupuncture).  That'll do the trick for sure.
Getting my hair cut later this afternoon too.  It needs it desperately.  
And I'm staying overnight at my little chickadee's so I won't be making the round trip in one day.  That means I get to have breakfast with my handsome young cadet in the morning.  Bonus!!!!!
Hopefully, I'll be in better shape tomorrow for my rehab physio.

Friday, October 31, 2014


I love Halloween.  It's always been one of my favourite holidays.
Of course, when I was a child, I loved the door-to-door part and collecting candies.
But I especially loved collecting pennies for UNICEF.  Remember UNICEF?
When I lived on my own (in the days before my little chickadee came along), I used to convince my friends to dress up and come with me to go door-knocking.
That didn't always go over very well -- a group of early-twenty-year-olds going around the neighbourhood having fun.  How dare they!?
So then I would "borrow" a child so that I could enjoy the door-knocking part of Halloween.  Or I would tag along with a friend or sibling who had a child.
I just love witnessing the excitement the children exhibit as they see the goodies fill their bags.  It's not unlike the joy of sharing Christmas morning with a child -- another favourite experience of mine.
Of course, once my little chickadee came along, I had licence to go trick or treating again.
Every year, I would dress up to take my little chickadee door knocking.  I always made costumes for both of us; I don't think I ever bought a costume.  Eventually, we went out as mother and daughter witches -- we were very impressive, even if I do say so myself!
It was really fun to see the reaction at the doors as my daughter and I arrived and people would see me all dressed up too.  They always wanted to give me candy!  My little chickadee often got double treats because "her Mom had taken the time to dress up and she deserved some candy too."
Then my little chickadee got too old for me to take her out and I had to borrow my "other daughter" to go trick or treating.  Luckily, my girlfriend had a daughter the right age and we are "other mothers" to each other's children so I just took her daughter out (which got my girlfriend off the hook for that duty).  I dressed up too because of course, that's the whole point of Halloween.  I would arrive at my girlfriend's home already in costume and get the poor child all worked up and excited and make her mother crazy!
Have I mentioned that I love Halloween?
In 1989, my boss at the time knew that I always got dressed up and went door-knocking for Halloween.  How could he not know? If the holiday fell on a weekday, I had to leave early because, well .... He suggested that I should go "door knocking" throughout the building just to see if anyone figured out that it was me.
So I did.

My boss took this photo of me just before I left to collect goodies (the phones never stop in a busy MP's office).  It was fabulous fun going door-to-door -- just like when I was a kid.   But I was all grown up and I was at work and at each office everyone was trying to figure out who I was.  Not even my own sister, who also worked in the building at the time, knew that it was me behind the get-up!  Of course, MPs' offices are not normally canvassed at Halloween time so I collected some very interesting goodies:  staplers; pencils; pens; erasers.  It was, after all, an office building! 
When I finished trick-or-treating, I went down to the in-house Day Care Centre that just happened to be in the basement of my building.  I had pre-arranged with the staff that I would arrive at Circle Time, in costume (they knew what the costume was), to distribute pre-approved treats to the children (boxed raisins that I had bought).  None of the children appeared frightened; they had all been prepared for a Halloween surprise and when "Good Witch Grizelda" arrived, they were pumped! One little guy was jumping out of his skin wanting to help me distribute the treats!
A tradition was established and Good Witch Grizelda became a bit of a legend around the place.
Each year, I dressed up and went trick or treating throughout the building (by now, co-workers were catching on that it was me behind that outfit).  Some offices actually started having candy for me.  The children at the Day Care looked forward to their visit from Good Witch Grizelda as the older children briefed the younger ones.  And the Day Care staff never did find out who I was.
As I said, I loooooooove Halloween.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Another day, another medical appointment

It seems our lives are governed by medical appointments lately.
One or the other of us seems to have something going on every day of the week.
For instance, this week has mapped out like this:
  • Monday:  John to his doctor; both of us to flu clinic; me to physio
  • Tuesday:  John to x-ray at local hospital
  • Wednesday:  John to MRI at Ottawa hospital
  • Thursday:  My Aaaaaaaahday (this is a joy, and at home, so does it count?)
  • Friday:  Both of us to audiologist to get our "repaired" (we hope) hearing aids
And for the next six weeks, at least, my weeks will be as follows:
  • Monday:  Almonte physio (hip rehab)
  • Tuesday:  Ottawa physio (general pain management)
  • Wednesday:  Almonte physio (hip rehab)
  • Thursday:  Aaaaaahday (I know, bonus, but medical nevertheless)
I guess I'll take Friday to do household stuff and perhaps groceries.  I do have to pace myself carefully.

Now, somewhere in there will be John's follow-up appointments to get results of his x-ray and MRI tests.  And he will be getting a call at some point for physio at the Almonte CBI as soon as they have room for him (it's a very busy place and he wants a specific therapist so he has to wait his turn).  He also has been promising for months to go back to the eye doctor so he can get new glasses in this calendar year (insurance issue).  He's running out of calendar time!

It isn't lost on me that Christmas is moving in fast.  Most years, by Remembrance Day I've pretty much finished my shopping.
This year?  Haven't even started on the gift list!  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip
Haven't even got the Christmas card in production yet.  Well, I've decided on the photo for the card.  But we have to take the photo.  That's on next week's agenda.  That's progress isn't it?
Gotta put up my Christmas village too.  That will happen some time late November/early December.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Friday, October 24, 2014


Wow, I'm free four weeks earlier than anticipated.
I saw the surgeon on Wednesday and just thought I'd ask him when I get my driving privileges back.
"You can drive any time now," he said.  "Assuming you have a valid drivers' licence."  (Ever the comedian that he is.)
Music to my ears.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
My physiotherapist had been so insistent that it would be eight weeks for the right hip.
Here is was four weeks out and he's giving me permission to drive.
Woo hoo!
He also gave me permission to progress from the walker to the cane, which of course I knew he would do.  What I wasn't expecting was for him to tell me to abandon the cane too, if I wanted.  As long as my balance is OK.  Which it is.
I don't really use any aid around the house but I'll humour my physiotherapist and continue using the cane until she gives the OK on that one.  I can still see the wisdom of having the cane handy during the night if I have to get up because I am quite stiff after not moving for a while.  Same is true after sitting for any length of time.  Those initial steps are quite stiff and wobbly but once I get going I'm fine.  And of course, the cane will be with me whenever I leave the house because if I'm going to be walking any distance, I will need it to help with the fatigue factor.
But the important thing is I CAN DRIVE.
No more being chauffeured around!
And I can resume my weekly physio sessions in Ottawa (which have been booked to the end of the year).
I've got my life back on track, a mere four weeks post surgery.
Oh, and I can do stairs like a big girl too (one step at a time, rather than both feet on each step).  That's huge!  Couldn't do that for months after the left hip was replaced.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I'm gonna graduate

Saw my physiotherapist yesterday.
She is tres pleased with my progress.
Wants to move me from the walker to the cane but she needs the surgeon's OK to do that.  (Since I see him tomorrow, I'm taking him a note from her asking for his approval.  He will give it and next Monday when I see her, she will "instruct" me on that transition.)
Woo hoo.  Freedom.  Sort of.
She is still not happy about my knee, although it too is mending.  Her note to the surgeon is asking him to take a look at it.
Her note is also asking him to assess what she thinks is a haematoma on my inner thigh.  The growth is significantly smaller now than it was, but it is still quite prominent and she is concerned that it hasn't completely dissipated by now.
But, all in all, she is impressed that I am doing as well as I am.
Even some of the exercises I have to do, I can do with relative ease now. 
Such a change in five days!
She tells me that driving is allowed eight weeks post-op for a right hip (it's six weeks for the left hip).  So I'm half way there.
Can't come soon enough for me I tell ya.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

24 Days Post-op

Here I am, 24 days post-op and I am sooooooooooooooo frustrated.
I really really really dislike being dependent on someone else, most especially for my transportation.
Unfortunately, until I get the green light from my surgeon (or the physiotherapist) I cannot drive myself to get groceries.
And that drives me crazy.
I can handle the drives to and from medical appointments.  If I must.
But I really prefer to do the groceries my ownself.
Always have.
And here I am, only three weeks into the dependent role and I've had enough of it.
My recovery is coming along remarkably well, although we've hit a snag because my right knee took a beating during the surgery.  And it is not healing well.  Until it recovers, it is difficult to do most of the exercises I need to do for the hip.
Yesterday, my physiotherapist did ultrasound on my knee to help it along. That gave me some relief, for a while.
This morning, it's right back inflamed and not wanting any pressure being put to bear.
My hip, on the other hand, is perfectly happy with as much pressure as I want to put on it.  It is very stable and if it weren't for the weakness of the knee, I'd be much further along than I am.
All things come to he who waits.
I'm not known for my patience.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

My recovery is going very well

I cannot believe how well this recovery is going compared to the left hip experience.
At this point with the left hip, I was still very much dependent on the walker for ambulation.
Not this time.
Although the physiotherapist insists that I must use the walker until she tells me I don't need it any longer, I don't actually need the walker around the house at all.   This house is small enough that there are many objects to grab for balance, should I need to do so.  But truth be known, my balance and stability are remarkable.
I will follow my physiotherapist's advice because I know that she knows of what she speaks.  And I don't want to do damage.
We went to Walmart the other day, and John made me agree to use the ride-cart (or I had to agree to sit in the truck while he went in a got what we needed).  John's point was he didn't want me doing that much walking and I have to agree that it would have fatigued me.  So for the first time in my life, I rode in one of those carts and it was downright scary until I got the hang of it.
Fatigue continues to be an issue if I walk too much.
Yesterday, we went to the grocery store and I insisted on walking.  We didn't need much.  Well, by the time we got to the cash, I had walked plenty enough thank you very much!  I was some glad to get home and put ice on my hip.
The exercises I have to do cause me a bit of difficulty because it seems they buggered up my knee during the surgery.  I know, I know, my knee was already bad before the surgery.  But it wasn't this bad.  The physiotherapist says she has to address the knee issue before she can tackle the hip rehab.  So she has me taped up and I have to take my brace to her so she can assess whether I should be using it to help with the hip.  
When they replaced my left hip, they "broke" my SI joint -- a problem that persists to this day.  Now, they replaced my right hip and they "broke" my knee.  Such are the consequences of joint replacement!
In any event, my recovery is going very well and for that I am extremely grateful.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

This is it!

Well, here I go.
My surgery is scheduled for 10:00 a.m.
Wish me luck.
I'll be indisposed for a while.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

One more day!

OMG now there's only one more day.
As it draws ever closer, I have to admit -- I am nervous!
Admittedly, not as nervous as last time, but nervous nevertheless.
It has certainly been affecting my sleep for the past week. But I think I can honestly say the anxiety stems more from worrying that I have forgotten to do something that needs doing (OK, that I want to have done) before I am temporarily sidelined.
My worry wheel is in overdrive!
That all comes to an end today though.
Because whatever I haven't taken care of, won't be taken care of.
Oh well.
Somehow, he'll manage.  I'm sure of it.
On Thursday, my massage therapist arrived bearing gifts for the kitchen to lighten the load while I'm incapacitated.
Earlier that day, our neighbour (Baby Briella's mom) was visiting with her darling daughter and offered to cook for us while I'm rehabbing.
Yes, I think he'll manage just fine.

Monday, September 15, 2014

One week to go!

Well folks, by this time next week, it will all be over but the rehab!
Yep, my right hip will have been replaced and I will be in post-surgical pain.
But I won't be having arthritic hip pain!
People have been asking me if I'm nervous or anxious about this surgery.
No, is the short answer.
Not like last time when I was truly scared about everything associated with the experience.
This time though, I know what to expect and I am more fit than I was then.  I'm also 25 pounds lighter than I was then.  Surely that has to account for something in terms of expected outcome.
I had my pre-admission session last Friday and everything was very positive.  Didn't even have to ask that I be given general anesthesia.  The anesthesiologist suggested it himself.  I quickly agreed of course.
My file has been clearly marked that I am NOT to be given Dilaudid following the surgery.  Morphine in the pump, or Codeine by mouth.  That's it.  
Hopefully they won't try to push any anti-inflammatories at me this time.
They don't always pay attention to the chart but my advocates will be there looking out for my welfare while I can't be.
This time, I also know what to do in preparation for the big day, in terms of packing and getting the various pieces of equipment ready for my arrival home.
The walker is assembled and ready to go.  (We'll put that in the car when we leave to go to the hospital, just so it's there when we need it to bring me home.)
I will put together the bathtub transfer bench later this week.
The reacher, long shoe horn and the sock aid are in place, ready for my use.
So now it's up to me to stay healthy for this last week, and to eat well and stay strong.
Can't have any wine though.  Bummer!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Hearing Aid saga

Saw my audiologist yesterday for the routine follow-up since getting my new digital hearing aids.
And I had issues to discuss!

  • My left hearing aid has what is called a "t-coil" which allows me to use the telephone.  At least it worked with my previous device. Didn't work worth a s**t in the new one.  Kept switching on and off, on and off, on and off the entire time I was on a call.
  • We also discussed the matter of my only having two volume level increases when there should be four.
  • And the fact that John found my comfort level for listening to the television much too loud.  (Now that's a switch!)
  • Plus, switching from one program to the other was very onerous indeed.  Should be much more simple than it is.  The button that allows for the switch just doesn't seem to respond as it should.
It was quickly determined that the unit needed to go back to the lab for repair.  Obviously there was something seriously wrong with it.  Fortunately, I went armed with my old device since I was anticipating exactly that outcome.
As soon as I put the older device in my ear, everybody was talking much too loud for me.  Unbelievable difference!  Took me a while to adjust even to my own voice again.
And when we got home, I found that my comfort level for the television now matches John's lower level.  The level I had been needing is now much too loud.
Go figure!
The repaired hearing aid likely won't be back before I have my surgery so John will be tasked with playing courier for me.  He might have to make a few trips back and forth before we get the programming just right but I'm confident we will get there.
Technology.  So much fun!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Finally, a solution

Looks like the problem of my dry mouth with the CPAP machine has finally been solved.
After all this time!
I went for a pre-surgery check up on Thursday and asked a very specific question:  "What in hell is the trick to putting on the nasal mask anyway?"
I knew there had to be a simple solution but I couldn't figure out what I was supposed to do to get a secure fit.
Some nights I had it.  Others, not.  And even on the nights I did have a good fit, if I moved, I lost the fit and therein set the dry mouth.
I've only been struggling with this nasal mask for nine months!
Anyway, she had me show her how I put it on.  (I had the right process, just the wrong technique.)
Then she told me what I needed to do to correct the technique.
Voila, a secure fit!
I could feel the difference right away.
Now, after only two nights of wearing it with no disruptions to my sleep, I awoke this morning and realized that I've not had the dry mouth issue.
Three years later, problem solved.
Perhaps I'll actually start gaining some benefit from using the drasted machine now.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

For redheads everywhere

From one redhead, to all redheads.
I had no idea we had three days dedicated to us, but whatever.
Here's to us!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Argh the stress of it all!

So, I finally got that call from the hospital.
Nancy was very pleasant as she advised me what I need to do on September 12th, for my 1:15 pm appointment at the pre-admitting department.
  • Go to Admitting to sign forms (re Insurance etc)
  • Then go to Pre-Admitting.  Bring Health Card and Green Hospital Card as well as any medications I'm taking -- in original prescription bottles.  (Yeh right, I always bring my very detailed list of meds and they love it!)
  • No fasting is required for the appointment (Phew!)
  • If I have questions, prepare them in advance.  (Oh, you bet I'll be ready with my questions!)
Would I want the TV and phone connected?  Yes
I will be asked for a credit card # to secure payment.  Of course.
What type of room did I want for my stay?  Private room please (I'll pay extra!)  
A discussion ensued about it being "a cold day in hell" before I'd actually get a private room and Nancy suggested that sometimes it actually happens.  (That has not been my experience.)  She did have to warn me tough that rooms are now "mixed," meaning I could end up with a member of the opposite sex.  I asked her to please indicate that if there was any way to avoid that, please do.  After my experience in the "Apnea Room" following my tummy tuck, I really don't want to be in a room with a man!  Nothing against men, I just don't want to share my room with a strange one.  Or, not any stranger than my husband anyway.  Nancy recorded my preference.  I have no idea if it will be respected.
Was it OK for switchboard to give information to callers, should there be any?  Yes, only those who know me will be calling.   (Now, here's a hint folks.  If you do call, you must ask for me by my legal first name!  This is the health care world you know.)
The hospital will call me the day before the surgery to let me know what time my surgery is scheduled (I have to arrive at hospital two hours before the scheduled time).
Then I asked if I'm allowed to request the first surgery of the day.  "That's up to the surgeon," Nancy told me.  "Did I have his number?"  (Yes, and I have already left a message there with respect to the same matter.)
Nancy then gave me her number if I had any further questions about the process, and she wished me luck with my surgery.
Very nice lady indeed.
Later, Samantha from my surgeon's office returned my call.
While the surgeon has some say in the order of his surgeries, it is actually the OR that does the scheduling.  My surgeon prefers his longer surgeries be scheduled first and it just happens that there is a revision surgery slotted for the same date as my surgery.  Revisions take longer than replacements.  Hence, Dr. Kim would prefer that it be performed first.  That would put my best hope as second surgery which is at 10:00 am.
Samantha said she would speak to Dr. Kim on my behalf.  (Please do.  Tell him I'm a very nice lady.  I just have a really hard time going without my coffee in the morning!  Food I can manage, but coffee?)  She feels my pain.
While she can't make any promises, she will speak to him.
So, it would seem the stars are not aligning very well for me this time.
  • I may or may not get first surgery on the 22nd.
  • I may or may not get a private room.
  • If I don't get a private room, my roommate may or may not be a woman.
I love the uncertainty of it all.  (Not!  Do they not realize I'm a details person?)
I think our health care system has evolved into one of total lack of concern for the patient's comfort and well-being.
It's all about the bottom line.
And motivating the patient to get the hell out of Dodge as soon as possible!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hospital Inefficiency

Twenty days to go, and still no word from the hospital.
Should have heard from them by now about all the pre-admission stuff that has to happen prior to a surgery.
I called the surgeon's office last week to question why I hadn't heard yet.
They were stymied.  A check with the Admissions Office revealed that my referral was missing one of the forms, so they hadn't bothered following up.
Ummmmm, you think maybe you should have?
Turns out my file had "fallen between the cracks," as it were.
So, the surgeon's assistant completed the form with me over the telephone.  Said she was taking it down to Admissions right then and I should hear from someone pronto.
That was last Thursday afternoon.
Still waiting.
Of course, it was a long week-end.
But really, if things don't get done soon, my surgery is at risk of being cancelled for lack of proper documentation.
Now, I know that they can get the ball rolling fairly quickly (some people are called very last minute when cancellations occur, and their surgery happens with only a week's notice).
But I prefer to have all my ducks in a row.
Gosh inefficiency annoys me!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Uh oh, my weight conundrum

Uh oh, in spite of my best efforts, my weight continues to drop beyond what I set for my goal.
Apparently I'm supposed to eat at least 1700 calories a day in order to maintain. 
And therein lies the problem for me. You'll recall that I struggled to eat a minimum of 1200 calories a day while I was deliberately losing weight.
Do you know how difficult it is for me to hit that 1700 calorie threshold each day?
I haven't done it one day this past week.  I've barely hit 1300!  Of course, I've been on antibiotics for the past week so I haven't been able to enjoy my daily wine intake.  And that wine usually helps me get close to the prescribed daily caloric level. 
Now, with the higher caloric need in order to maintain my weight, I really really need that wine.
I know, I know, many of you wish you had my problem.
Be careful what you wish for!
Perhaps, over the next ten days, while I'm able to have wine again, I'll get back on track.  (By "on track," I mean I might manage to ingest about 1400-1500 calories a day, including the wine!)
But for the week before my surgery I again won't be able to have wine.
And naturally, I won't be imbibing whilst I'm in hospital, however long that might be (was a full week last time).
So conceivably I could be going another two weeks without wine.
Then as I recall from the last rehab stint, using that walker really burned the energy and I lost weight through that period.
Uh oh, I could be in deep do-do for a while insofar as my weight is concerned!

Friday, August 29, 2014

It's my baby's birthday!

Today marks my little chickadee's 39th birthday.   (Yes, I can admit to having a 39 year old daughter, although I myself am still only 29!)
My daughter entered the world at 1:16 pm on this date back in 1975, and what a terrific addition to this world she has proven to be.
She has become a truly marvelous young woman of whom I am extremely proud.
She is a terrific daughter and a fabulous mother.
But most of all, my daughter has become a wonderful friend.
She was an early talker, and has been bending my ear non-stop ever since.  In her early years, I can remember wishing she had never learned to talk, she did so much of it!  Now, I look forward to her daily telephone calls, and miss the days that we can't fit one in. One would think we'd run out of things to talk about but somehow, that never seems to happen.
She was an adorable toddler ...

... blossomed into a truly stunning young lady ...

... and matured into a beautiful woman, inside and out.

She fills my heart with love and pride.
Happy birthday Natalie, my beauty queen daughter! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Four weeks to go ...

My right hip replacement surgery (total hip arthroplasty) is scheduled for four weeks from today.
That's going to be here before I know it.
So much to do.  So little time.
I've mapped out on a calendar what I think needs attention before the big day, so I can pace myself as I take care of the important stuff.  And to ensure that I don't forget anything that really needs doing.  Like paying bills at the appropriate times.  Have to make sure I queue all the ones that need to be paid while I might be laid up, away from the computer.
I've mentally made my "packing" lists and over the next couple of days I guess I'll actually put them to paper.  One for the short hospital stay, another in the event that I am again sent to rehab (which I expect will happen).  Last time, I was caught off guard when I went to the rehab centre and I had to talk John through finding the clothing that I needed.  This time, I'll have a bag already packed for him to grab!

But four weeks until I'm back to using a walker?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Such a homebody I am

Am I really the only person in the world who doesn't have "travel" on her bucket list?
I mean, seriously, I simply don't have any interest in travelling.
My daughter recently took a mini vacation to St. John's, Newfoundland.
She took some fabulous pictures and posted them on Facebook.
Comment after comment referred to the locale as being on their bucket list, or they had been there and the photos made them want to go back real soon.
When I look at the photos, I see the beauty of the place for sure.
But there is no stirring within me to visit the place.
There's one shot I'd love to have enlarged and framed because it's the kind of photo that appeals to me.

A couple of the images would make fabulous jigsaw puzzles.

And time after time, when someone shows me their travel photos, that's what I see:  potential jigsaw puzzles!
But in all my 64 years, I have never experienced that burning need to travel.  In fact, I can recall being absolutely bored to tears when people showed me their travel photos.  (I can still experience that response.)
As a result of my employment, I've seen Canada's west coast -- as west as Vancouver. (I've toured BC's southern interior and portions of Alberta by car.  I've also seen the route by train -- Rocky Mountaineer Rail Tour -- now that's an experience that should be on everyone's bucket list!)
I've also seen Canada's east coast -- as east as Prince Edward Island.  (I've done Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, excluding Newfoundland, by car.)
I've not touched down in Saskatchewan or Manitoba.  And I've not visited the far North.
I live in Ontario and while I've never seen the northern parts of this beautiful province, I have driven the southern portions numerous times.
I've been into the United States but not very far from the border.  Seen Maine, Vermont, and northern parts of New York State.  That's about it.
And truly, I don't feel cheated by any measure.
To me, travel is more stress than relaxation.  Just not worth it.
I know, I know, some people really thrive on travel.  As soon as they return from one trip, they are itching for the next.
But me?  If I must travel, I have a three-day limit before I'm itching to get home again.  And I truly have no desire to get on the road again once I am home.
Guess I'm the epitome of a homebody.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Happy Anniversary Sis!

Forty-one years ago today my baby sister married her childhood sweetheart.
My family took advantage of the opportunity to take a photo of all of us because it was the first time in many years that we were all together (and it has never happened again since).  We are arranged, from left to right, in order of age from youngest to eldest.  Our parents are seated in front of us.
Today, Susan and Dan are parents to five (two sons and three daughters) and grandparents to three beautiful little girls.
Next year, Susan will celebrate her 60th birthday.
But she will still be my "baby sister."
Happy Anniversary Sue & Dan!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A good time was had by all

My birthday celebration was a deliberately quiet one this year, in deference to the recent passing of my beautiful Suzanne.
Three invitees were unable to join me, one due to illness, two because they had made other plans after I had earlier said I was doing "nothing" to mark the day this year.  (They believed me!)
And my grandson wasn't here because he's away at cadet camp for two weeks.
But we had a birthday meal of lasagna and salad, 

followed by "birthday cake" in the the form of MLC's current specialty:  funnel cake.  (OMG, it's good!)

We posed for a group photo before my guests headed home.

Later in the evening, I had a surprise visit from Baby Briella who brought her parents over so she could give me a birthday kiss.  They also gifted me a lovely bird-motif wooden coat hook and some fresh-baked butter tarts (that are absolutely yummy!).  I think these new neighbours are keepers!
Like I said, nice quiet celebration.  Just as I ordered.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

I'm 29 (again!)

Yup,  it's the 9th of August again.
So again I celebrate my 29th birthday.
I promise, next year when my 65th comes, I will own up to my true age (as I did on my 60th).
But in 2016, it's back to being 29 again.
Not because I think anyone actually believes me.
I mean, really!
Just because it's become such fun.
And besides, that's what my jersey and cap say I am!

Anyway, happy birthday to me.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

My new hearing world

I am so enjoying my new hearing world.
This streamer/mic combo is working really well.
Last week I was putting the combo to many tests.
A friend from the Stratford area had visited for the weekend and on her last day, she insisted on taking me out for lunch.  At the restaurant, I wore the streamer and we placed the mic on the table between us.  Every word she spoke came directly to my ears with amazing clarity, in spite of the buzz of the busy establishment. When the waitress approached to take our orders, she pointed to the mic and said, "What's that?" in the most quizzical of voices.  I explained that it was a microphone which allowed my dining partner's voice to be directed at my ears, she bent into the mic and said, "OK, I'll speak directly into it then."  We all three had a chuckle!
Later that day, MLC and MHYC and I were at Wendy's Restaurant for dinner.  This would be a good test!  With the mic again placed on the table between us, MLC -- ever the comedienne (and brat extraordinaire!) -- says, "Can you hear me now?"
In a softer voice, "Can you hear me now?"
Leaning back into her seat, "Can you hear me now?"
Turning her head away, "Can you hear me now?" 
Picking up the mic and almost shouting, "CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?"
YES, stop that!!!!!!!! OUCH!
She really can be such a brat sometimes.
Later that evening, I placed the mic in front of her television speaker and was actually able to hear the show we were watching.  The downside?   I couldn't hear when she or Pauple were speaking to me.
"You mean now, when I need to speak to you, I have to mute the TV?" she asked in frustration.
"Guess it's either that or constantly repeat for me what is said during the show," I replied.
The icing on the cake though was the next morning when MHYC and I went for breakfast.  He wore the mic around his neck.  Again I wore the streamer.  We were able to converse during the drive to the restaurant.  I was able to clearly hear him place his order.  And when I asked a question during our breakfast, I could actually hear his response.  The first time.  What a joy!  I'm sure he appreciated the fact that he didn't have to repeat everything for me.
I have paired the streamer with my cell phone and tested it in action.  Makes talking on the phone much easier.  The clarity is amazing.  Based on those results, I was able to give John a suggestion for a birthday gift for me.  He will be taking delivery of the unit that connects with the home phone on time for the big day.  Once connected, I will be able to take calls without picking up a handset.  And I'll be able to hear what's being said.  Can't wait.  Hands-free wireless telephone access!
I've also paired the streamer with my iPad.  That allows me to play music (or any sound actually) and hear it as though I'm wearing headphones.  My iPad can be anywhere in the house.  Don't have to carry it with me, attached to a wire.  That's not a feature I'll use often, but it's there should I wish to.
When I tested the mic-at-the-TV-speaker setup at home during a ballgame, I discovered that I can wander pretty much all over my home during a game and and not miss a play.  The other night, I spent time in the kitchen cleaning up from dinner and could hear the game over the din of packing the dishwasher; I went downstairs to the laundry room (just to test its range); I went out on the porch; I even went to the washroom and peed!  Never missed a play.
Suffice to say, I am very much enjoying the wonderful freedom these new ears are giving me.  Guess I should have bitten the bullet sooner.  But, I have them now and my hearing world is good!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

My beautiful Suzanne

My heart is heavy.
My beautiful Suzanne left us on Thursday evening.
She and John had marked their fifth wedding anniversary a week earlier.

Suzanne was in our lives for far too short a time, but it seems like she had been with us much longer, such a perfect fit was she in our family.
I will miss her terribly.

Marie Marguerite Suzanne Ally Fowler
25 Oct 1949 - 24 July 2014
Mother of two; Grandmother of four
Loved by many

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A new era of hearing for me

I'm getting my new hearing aids today.
Digital ones.
The technology has come so far in the six years since I started wearing bilateral aids.
Along with these new fangled ones (which will look much like my old ones), I am getting a streamer/remote which I will wear around my neck.  

"Streamer Pro is the gateway to the ConnectLine system and is worn around the neck. When hearing aids are linked to Streamer Pro, practically any audio source can be transmitted through Streamer Pro to the hearing aids using a wireless Bluetooth connection or a mini jack cable."  With it I will be able to connect via bluetooth with my cell phone, should I choose to do so.  That will enable me to answer my cellphone with the touch of a button, without digging the phone out of my purse!
But the more exciting news about this acquisition is the microphone accessory that I ordered.  "The discreet microphone is worn by your conversation partner and connects wirelessly to Streamer Pro, allowing you to hear the other person’s voice clear and loud directly through your hearing aid.  ConnectLine microphone picks up your partner’s voice, filters out surrounding noise and transmits wirelessly, directly to the Streamer at a distance of up to 15 meters."
The applications are many for my use of the microphone.
When I meet a friend for lunch at a restaurant, my dining partner can wear the microphone and it won't matter how noisy the blasted place is.  I'll be able to have a conversation!
And in the car, for instance, MHYC can wear the microphone and I just might be able to hear him when he talks to me from the back seat.  Or, MLC (or my husband or whoever it is sitting beside me) can wear the microphone and maybe -- just maybe -- I won't have to constantly ask them to repeat themselves.
Imagine the reduced frustration level on everyone's part!
The audiologist tells me that I can also place the microphone in front of the television speakers and voila -- sound directly to my ears.  Not necessary to have the volume as high.  (Well, OK, in our household my husband might want to hear the program too!)  But it will certainly be a nice change when I'm overnighting at MLC's!  She won't have to constantly be telling me what is being muttered during whatever program we're watching. What a treat that will be!
Can you tell I'm looking forward to this new era of hearing?

Monday, July 21, 2014

It's called "Dermatochalasis"

Today, I received a copy of the letter my opthalmologist sent to my plastic surgeon asking him to undertake my case for blepharoplasty.
Apparently, the condition is known as dermatochalasis, which is defined as "sagging of the eyelid skin and underlying muscle that occurs commonly during the aging process.  Symptoms may be absent or include brow ache, reduction of superior peripheral vision, sensation of the lid skin resting on the eyelashes, and interference of vision by the eyelashes.  Forward displacement of orbital fat may exacerbate this condition.  Treatment is predominantly surgical."  The surgical treatment is called blepharoplasty.
Here are photos of my eyes, clearly showing the "sagging eyelids."

As the letter states, "She is noticing some heaviness in her lids and also some neck and upper back strain as she lifts her head for viewing."
Ya think?
Anyway, when I received the September 22nd date for my hip replacement surgery (arthroplasty), I called the plastic surgeon's office to get a timeline on the blepharoplasty procedure.
Apparently, OHIP approval takes two to three months and that application was only sent on June 20th.  So I might not hear from the plastic surgeon again until mid-September.
Obviously, the blepharoplasty will have to take second priority to the arthroplasty since it is clearly more pressing that my hip get fixed than my eyes.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

New Surgery Date

Got a call from my orthopedic surgeon's office on Thursday.
I am scheduled to have my right hip replaced on Monday, September 22nd.
Yikes, that's only two months away!
Am I nervous?
You bet I am.
But I'm not nearly as nervous this time as I was last.
I now have the experience of the left hip under my belt so I know full well what to expect.  (OK, rehab won't be fun but it will be so worth it at the other end of the journey!).
The first surgery was done under spinal anesthesia and used propofol to "put me under."  It is assumed that I experienced an apnea event and that is what woke me.  They had to resort to general anesthesia from that point on (about five minutes into the surgery) so I'm thinking they may as well use it right from the get go.  I really would prefer not to wake up again!
I also have the experience of my tummy tuck behind me so I know I can tolerate general anesthesia as long as the required protocols are followed.  (And the tummy tuck surgery was twice as long as the hip replacement surgery.)
I will request general anesthesia for this surgery and can cover that territory when I meet with the anesthesiologist prior to the surgery.  As I said, I really don't want to wake up during the surgery!
I've reviewed my file from the first surgery and confirmed that I have been doing a version of the pre-surgery exercises while waiting for this call.  Now, I will more formally follow the protocol for readying myself for the surgery.
And the next two months are gonna fly by as I attend to various and sundry chores to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible around here during my down time.  Things went relatively well last time so we don't anticipate too many problems -- other than my absolute boredom with not being able to be active.
But I did it once and lived to talk about, so I'm sure I can do it again.
Two months you say?
YIKES!!!!!!!!!!  I better get crackin'!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Too close for comfort

A while back, our suet feeder mysteriously disappeared and we suspected that a bear had absconded with it.  Had no definitive proof mind you, although there was some bear poop in the vicinity so I guess we had circumstantial evidence.
This morning, the new suet feeder disappeared.  I had put it out, newly refilled, at about 6:30 am.  Some time around 10:30 am I noticed that it wasn't there.  And the birds didn't seem to be able to find it on the ground so I suspected that it hadn't simply been knocked off the hook by a squirrel.
John went out to look and it was nowhere to be found.
He meandered back through the woods to see if he could find anything and decided that it must have been a raccoon.
At that time of day?  I don't think so.
Not ten minutes later, what does he see out the bathroom window?
A bear, making his way back to find more suet.  He came directly to the suet location, and foraged around long enough for me to take numerous photos of him.
This photo was taken out the window of my sanctuary.  Way too close for comfort if you ask me.
You can be sure there won't be a replacement suet feeder going up until this guy is disposed of, however we're going to manage that.  John has put in a call to our local trapper guy.
Poor birds.
First they have to fend off all the chipmunks and squirrels for their goodies, and now they have to wait out a bear.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

My new best friend

Our new neighbours (OK, they've been here almost a year now) are a delightful young couple.
They had their first baby this past April.
And she has become the newest love of my life.
I quickly taught her that she loves to have her temple massaged when she's going to sleep (but apparently only by me!).  She comes to me and just curls up and relaxes and off she goes.
Last week, her Mom had stuff to do so she left the baby with me for a while.  When I texted MLC to say that I was "babysitting" she responded, "As the cool kids say, it didn't happen without a pic."  
So I took my first selfie with the baby and sent the photo to MLC.  (I also sent it to the baby's Mom.)

Yesterday, the family was spending a rare weekend at home (they are cottagers) so I invited them to join us for burgers on the BBQ.  We had a delightful visit.
And of course the baby spent most of their visit in my arms.  Sleeping.
But when she wasn't sleeping, she was just being cute!
Because cute is what three-month-olds do best!  That, and capturing your heart.