Thursday, 31 October 2013


Miss KT is having a hard time. Actually, she's been having a hard time since she turned eleven, ten years ago.  Puberty grabbed hold of my little girl and made her more fearful and more aggressive.  When Katie was fifteen and a half, we could no longer care for her and she moved into a group home.  When she was seventeen she was evicted from her group home because of her behavior;  my ex-husband and I brought her home to live, against his wishes.  Six months after that, we found an agency that would care for her.




For the most part, the agency has done very well in dealing with Katie's difficult behaviors.  But Katie's life is smaller now than it was when she lived at home.  It continues to shrink because of her behaviors.  She is now in a wheelchair, to keep those around her safe.  She also has to wear a cape around her and the wheelchair, to keep her from pinching people or pulling their hair.




We received a warning from horseback riding a few weeks ago that Katie would not be allowed to continue riding unless we supplied the volunteers to walk with her, because of her behaviors.  I don't like visiting Katie much either.  She has so much anxiety and with it, the behaviors.  She can be happy and a second later, scared and unhappy.  I walked beside her on Sunday while she rode, she pulled my hair, she scratched me, she screamed, she cried, she slapped her head and finally started hurting the horse.  We pulled her off the horse.

Katie has been riding for close to ten years.  She loves horseback riding but even that causes her anxiety now.  I don't know what to do.  She sees a new psychiatrist in two weeks.  This doctors deals with people with mental disabilities and behavioral problems.  I'm hoping she can help because right now I see a bleak future for KT and I don't want that.  KT is an amazing young woman and I want her to have a good life, not just an existence.


Saturday, 26 October 2013

Things I'm thankful for today.

Helped out a patient yesterday, didn't make him feel stupid for doing what he did (even though it was a stupid thing to do), saved him hours in emergency at a different hospital.  He's dying, he has better things to do than ricochet between hospitals.

Tried to practice my assertiveness skills with my co-worker but was only marginally successful.  But I did try and I protected my patient which was the important part.

Spoke with another young patient, a nurse, just diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.  We spoke about the randomness of life.  I couldn't have faced my own death with such equanimity when I was her age.

Our lovely fall weather continues to hold.  The windows are all open and I can hear a magpie talking outside.

Homemade Thai coconut curry chicken soup.  OMG!

Hugs from the big guy.

The week, a rather difficult week, is over. 

Read a wonderful book, "The Signature of All Things" by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I enjoyed it immensely.

Slept for eleven hours last night.  I do love to sleep.

Get to see Miss KT tomorrow.

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, 21 October 2013


My mother would be horrified by my previous post.  I know my mum loved me and I loved my mum.  She was deeply imperfect, as am I.  For all of the negatives, there were positives as well.  It seems I forget that so easily, part of my nature sadly, or just part of being human. 

My mother taught me to laugh and to find humor in most everything.  When she was child she was often sent out of the room for laughing.

She was the black sheep of the family, leaving England to follow a Canadian she fell in love with.  She didn't fit in anymore after she left England.  In Canada, she was English and in England, she was Canadian.   We have that in common, being the misfit in our families.

She loved animals, especially dogs and had a dog until she couldn't live in her own home anymore.

She taught me not just to garden but to love gardening.  I never did love roses the way she did though.  I think they reminded her of home in England and to me they're just thorny bushes, although I do love the smell of rugosa roses.

Mum taught me to love walking as well, probably part of being English as well.  She was a great believer in the health benefits of fresh air and walks.  She hated not being able to walk like she used to. 

Mum also taught me that family is everything, that you take care of each other.    All of mum's kids moved back home at some time in our adult lives, sometimes bringing with us children, husbands or girlfriends.  When Mum was my age she had a thirteen year old and an eleven year old at home as well as her grown daughter and her three year old grandson.  She wanted to keep her family close to her, maybe because her own family was so far away.

Mum taught me to bake, to knit, to sew and to can.  I helped her make jams, jellies, pickled beets and pickled onions.  I could never knit as well as she could.  When I was a child I thought that all women could knit like my mother but I was wrong.  She was an amazing knitter.  When she died she still had a toque on her needles that I finished up for her. 

So she gave me the good with the bad, that's how it works I guess.  It's like our own bodies.  Our cells have the ability to mutate, which is a good thing because that has allowed human beings to evolve over time.  However, the ability to mutate also means that cancer cells can form.  But we can't have it both ways, one comes with the other.  The good with bad, inseparable, human, imperfect, loving and lovable. 

Sunday, 20 October 2013



Things my mother taught me.

Don't ask for what you want, hint, allude, whisper or insinuate.
When you don't receive what you didn't ask for, don't get angry,
at least not outwardly, instead slam doors, snap dish towels,
or yell at the dog.

You must always look your best, appearances matter, far more
than broken hearts or dreams.  Stand up straight, don't make
that face, smile, stop fidgeting, comb your hair.

Always be nice, avoid conflict, don't give opinions, lest you
be wrong.  Don't make decisions either because then you
will be responsible for what happens to you.  Instead, defer
to others and when things come crashing down, you can
blame others.

You can make others happy, or more precisely, you can kill
yourself trying to make others happy.  You can feel terribly
guilty when you fail to make others happy because of
course, it is your fault after all.

The truth is overrated.  Believe what you like and if you
believe it long enough and hard enough, well, then it will
be true.  Ignorance is bliss.  See what you want to see, not
what really is.

Don't ask questions, don't be yourself and when you are fifty
and you don't know who the fuck you are, don't complain to
me about it.  And don't say fuck. 



The human soul is slow to discover the real excellence of things given to us by a bountiful Creator, and not until the shadows of death begin to gather around the object that we love, do we see its worth and beauty. Autumn is the dim shadow that clusters about the sweet, precious things that God has created in the realm of nature. While it robs them of life, it tears away the veil and reveals the golden gem of beauty and sweetness. Beauty lurks in all the dim old aisles of nature, and we discover it at last. ~Northern Advocate

Saturday, 12 October 2013

I found this lovely sunflower down in the river valley about a month ago.  People, myself included, leave sunflower seeds for the chickadees down there.  The birds will eat right our of your hand.  A year ago the big guy and I took my mum down there for a wiener roast, her first and last wiener roast as it turned out.  Mum loved the wiener roast but she especially loved feeding the little chickadees right out of her hand. 

It's Thanksgiving weekend and I do feel thankful this weekend.  My daughter and her boyfriend are arriving from Vancouver today to spend the weekend with us.  She wants to cook with me.  There is a free range turkey, her request, sitting in the fridge as I write this, waiting to be cooked.  I never thought I would be cooking Thanksgiving dinner with my daughter.  I will teach her my mum's recipe for stuffing tomorrow. 

I work in cancer care which sounds like an awful place to work but it is the opposite.  Although I work with an awful co-worker, it's my patients that keep me there.   Everyday I see people who have had the worst news they can imagine and everyday they get on with their lives.  They laugh, they cry, they work, they love but most importantly, they live. 

Just last week I had a patient, thirty-five, with two young children and metastatic melanoma.  She will die and she knows this but she is alive right now and the vibrancy of that life shimmers around her.

I am thankful that I love and I am loved.

What are you thankful for this weekend?




Friday, 4 October 2013


I went to Miss KT's yesterday morning to pick up coats that she had destroyed.  Two staff were there but not her regular staff yet.  When I walked in I could smell poop and when I asked the ladies, they said Katie was up but still in her room.

I went up to her room and said good morning.  I took her to the bathroom to clean her up;  she still likes to poop in her diaper.  As I cleaned her up, she asked for a bath.  I had time, didn't have to start work for over an hour so I ran a bath for her and gave her a bath.

I can't believe how much I enjoyed bathing my daughter.  I washed her hair, washed her body, checked to see if she was too thin or just regular thin and sang her songs.  She's not too thin, just regular thin.  Her favorite song is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer but she also likes the Wheels on the Bus and O Canada.  I dried her off and helped her get dressed.  I remembered to give her two choices and made her choose.  She ended up with orange jeans, a turquoise t-shirt and a red sweatshirt.

We went back downstairs and I brushed her hair out and gave her morning pills to her.  Then when it was time for me to leave, I strapped her into her wheelchair, to keep the two ladies safe.  Just as I was ready to leave, her regular caregiver, Joseph, came in.

It was such a simply thing, bathing KT but I felt reconnected to her.  She hasn't lived with me in almost four years and there are things I miss.  I don't feel like her mum sometimes but rather an administrator.  She's still my baby girl, even at twenty-one.

When her and her roommate were evicted in June they ended up moving much closer to my hospital.  I see her more often now, can just pop in before or after work without having to drive across the city.  I think I'll make an effort to stop by and give her a bath when I work the late shift.  I need to touch people for them to be real to me.  I spent sixteen years bathing, dressing and feeding KT, it's part of how we connect to each other.  I want that back.