Monday, 28 December 2015


Angel Glacier, so named because of the arms that reach out on both sides. 

I am off work all this week which is lovely.  Time to recharge my batteries and tidy up my life.  New counters, sink and taps were installed in the kitchen today.  Tomorrow I hope to get the cracks in my windshield fixed.  I went shopping and bought myself three new tops, something I never seem to have time for anymore.  I have all these things I want to get done to what end I don't know because as soon as one item is crossed off my to do list, another takes it's place.  I'm not sure if I like that.  If I stopped, what would happen?  Nothing really I suppose.  The world would carry on.  Maybe all my doing is my way of avoiding looking at my own mortality. 

My back is killing me and I've had vertigo for a month now.  I've had vertigo since I was around nineteen.  It comes and goes, doesn't usually last for longer than a day or two.  Except this time it's been a fucking month.  When I lay down the room spins so violently I feel nauseous.   When I tilt my head down to look at the floor or tilt my head up to look at the big guy it spins but lasts much longer than when I lay down.  I stagger around like a drunk, clutching at walls and leaning against things.  It's awful.

I miss my friend Shirley.  I miss my mum.  I miss my daughter out in Vancouver.  And Katie keeps attacking me when we're out which hurts my feelings over and over again even though I know it's how she communicates but I have this belief that because I'm her mother she shouldn't be hurting me.  And when she pulls my hair it hurts so much that I start crying and yelling which upsets her even more.  We're quite the pair, the two of us.  Both of us knowing how the other will react and still unable to help ourselves. 

And on the up side.

Watched a very funny movie tonight, The Man from U.N.C.L.E..  Very enjoyable.
New kitchen countertops are installed.
Time off work.
The big guy asked me to marry him.
I said yes.
Get to take our granddaughter to Candy Cane Lane tomorrow night to see all the lights.
Making the big guy laugh.
Time to breathe.


That's all I got.  What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A Letter To My Younger Self



Dear Deb,

You're only twenty years old and I'm sure you think you know it all but you don't sweetie.  Even at fifty-three you still don't have it all figured out but you are a work in progress, always. 

Let's start off with children.  You're going to have a son within the next year.  I know you think a baby is just that, a baby, but a baby is a person.  You are giving birth to a person;  a person who will be affected by your decisions, who will depend on you to love him as he is, who will need patience and guidance and understanding for thirty-one years and counting.  He will have his own personality, his own likes and dislikes, his own issues and some of those issues will be with you.  Having a baby is far bigger than you ever imagined.  What you say and do matters to this little person.  He doesn't understand that you're tired or scared or overwhelmed.  He just knows that he wants to be loved, that he needs to be loved.  Do you best.  You will fail many times but still try to do your best. 

And what does a child need?  A child needs acceptance, affection, attention, appreciation and the space to be themselves.  It's what we all need, including you.  I know you didn't get this from your parents or your family.  It's not their fault, they never got it from their parents either.  I want to tell you now that you are wonderful just as you are.  You are emotional and that will make you a better mother and nurse.  You are often rigid and like to keep your life in order, that will help you to parent your third child, a disabled daughter who needs order to feel safe.  You are more patient than you realize;  it will take you five years to toilet train your disabled daughter but you will succeed.  You have attention deficit but it's not a deficit because it allows you to cook supper and notice what your youngest is getting into as well as carry on a conversation with your middle daughter.  You are hyperactive which will come in handy in caring for three children while your husband is often away working. 

Your sense of humor will carry you through some tough times and there will be tough times, dark times, but they will pass.  Understand that things always change.  I know you like things to stay the same but that is not how the world works.  All things pass, joy, grief, good times, bad times.  They all pass.  Let go of them.  It's okay.  Fear makes you hold onto things but let go of fear too. 

Don't believe everything you think.  Just because you think or believe something, doesn't mean it is true.  Change how you think and you will change how you feel.  Keep writing;  it helps you to sort out how you feel about things.  It doesn't have to make sense, just write everyday.  Find someone you trust to talk to.  When people show you who they are, believe them.  See what is right in front of you, don't look away.  You might not like it but really see how it is, not how you want it to be. 

Your mother was a great one for refusing to deal with reality;  it's how she coped with her life but you don't have to live her life, you can learn better ways of coping with what is.  Most importantly, learn to understand what you actually have control over, only your own thoughts, feelings and actions, nothing more.  You probably want to argue about this one and it will cause you the most grief in your life but I am telling you that I have lived much longer than you and I know it to be true.  I also know that you learn everything the hard way so I imagine it will take you years to learn this skill.

You are awkward and lonely right now.  Your social skills will improve, work on those.  Your shyness will also improve.  The introversion that makes groups of people so hard to deal with is part of who you are, it's okay.  I know you feel envious of others that have tons of friends but that really doesn't work for you.  You need a few close friends.  Find friends who love you as you are. 

Mostly I want you to trust yourself and your gut.  You're a smart, young woman but you often ignore what your gut is telling you.  Love yourself, just as you are.  You don't have to be anything but what you are to be loved.  Not everyone has to like you either.  And for god's sake, speak up.  Tell people what you really think, not what you think they want to hear.  If someone truly loves you they can take it. 

Tell the truth.  I know you lie because you want to avoid conflict and you want to tell others what they want to hear.  Don't do that.  It doesn't work and it always come back to bite you the ass. 

And lastly, listen.  Listen to others.  You don't have to agree with them but listen to them and try to understand where they come from.  Remember everyone is fighting a great battle, not just you. 

With all my love, Deb




Saturday, 19 December 2015



Katie is healing, getting better.  When we stopped by on Tuesday to check on her she had vomited everywhere.  Everywhere includes the walls in her case.  Poor bugger.  I changed her bedding and cleaned her room while her caregiver gave her a shower.  On Wednesday, her hand was still tender and she wouldn't take off her coat for her caregiver.  I convinced her to take off her coat by offering up a lovely, warm fleece blanket.  I haven't seen her since Wednesday.  Tomorrow, the big guy and I will pick her up and take her out for a few hours.  We'll drive, watch people, walk and have lunch.  And then we'll take her back home.  In my fantasies, I bring her home and she lives with us.  In reality, she pinches me, pulls my hair and bangs her face when she's upset.  She requires more attention than one person can give her and I still feel bad that she doesn't live with me.  I would love to tuck her in at night, but fantasies are not reality.

I took four hours off on Thursday and got caught up on life.  I shopped for last minute gifts.  Filled my windshield wash thing with fluid.  Bought cat kibble so that the cat doesn't starve to death, even though she is often convinced that her death from starvation is imminent.  Wrapped presents.  Cleaned the apartment.  Sent off a care package to my daughter in Vancouver which included homemade gingerbread men for her to decorate.  I feel peaceful.  I hate the feeling of undone things hanging over my head.  It causes me stress.

The laundry is done.  The apartment is clean.  Christmas cookies have been made.  Presents are wrapped.  Cards have been sent.  Snow has fallen.  And this morning we're off to see our granddaughter for a few hours. 

Life is not perfect or free of stress but it is good.  I'm thankful.

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, 13 December 2015


This is Miss Katie's wrist.  It doesn't look that bad in the photo.  She has another staph infection.  When she's upset she bangs her wrists against her mouth.  The calluses and scars have built up over time.  She never used to do this.  You can see old bruises on her wrist.

She also has a callus built up on her forehead, except right now it's a huge sore because she hit her head so hard that she split the skin.  When she's upset she bangs her head against the floor or the wall, or another person's head if need be.  Katie gets upset a lot.  She is chronically anxious.  We tried weed and we have tried anti-depressants with only limited success. 





Katie also won't keep her fingers out of her nose.  She doesn't pick her nose, she just sticks her fingers up her nose all the time.  I think that's how she's reinfecting herself. This is either the fourth or fifth staph infection this year.  We tried decolonization which worked for about five months but now she has another infection. 

She saw a doctor at a walk in medical clinic on Friday who took a swab and put her on oral antibiotics.  I find walk in medical clinics to be quite useless but her staff had already taken Katie there.  The doctors in those clinics don't appear to really care that much, at least that's how I feel.  Anyway, she got started on the oral antibiotics and they are slowly working.  She had a fever Friday and Saturday but the fever is gone now thank goodness.  The swelling and redness are worse but it's not spreading.  It is however painful.  Katie doesn't usually complain of pain but she does get very grumpy. 


Infection spreading up her arm prior to antibiotics.

 


I did some research on recurrent staph infections.  Decolonization is not overly effective, especially with non cooperative patients, a category which Katie would definitely fall into.  She won't keep her fingers out of her nose and has small abrasions on her skin constantly from her self abuse.  I'm not really sure what to do.  I do worry about her becoming septic or her bacteria becoming antibiotic resistant.  I feel like I'm failing my daughter but I don't know what to do. 

Poor girl was crying on Friday when they took the swab, they had to poke the blister with a needle.  She was inconsolable.  She also had a fever and probably felt like shit.  Yesterday was the same.  When she cries, I cry.  Today she looked much better but was still crying because I put a bandage on her wrist.  She hates bandages, screaming, crying hates bandages.  But the wound is open and weeping now and I don't want anything else to get into the wound.  So the two of use have been crying a fair bit these past few days.  I feel helpless.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Saturday, 28 November 2015


I ended up with a cold this past week.  Strangely, the depression has lifted.  I'll have to pay more attention next time I feel depressed to see if it is linked to a cold or some other infection. 

This photo is where I walk down by the river most weekends.  It's covered with snow now, although the snow is rapidly melting today.  I love the trees, the water and most of all the dogs.  It's an off leash area and happy dogs are everywhere.

I'm finding work more difficult lately.  Two of the big guy's friends have wives who are dying of cancer.  My patients are dying.  At times it seems I am surrounded by death.  I struggle to remember we are all dying.  That the trick is to live up until it's time to leave.  I know too much.  I watch a young woman with two young daughters get on the CT scanner and when she's done I see the tumors that cloud her lungs and wonder how she isn't short of breath.  Or the elderly woman yesterday who was in so much pain and then the radiologist and I looked at her x-ray and saw the tumor pushing out of her bone, pressing on nerves.  Or the man my age who has lung cancer and I saw his MRI scan and his brain is filled with small tumors. 

I don't know what to do with all this knowledge.  Don't know how to lay it down and leave it so that I can go on and do my work and live my life.  Nature helps the most I find.  To watch the trees letting go of their leaves.  The geese flying south.  The moon rising.  To remember that life is life and death, night and day, spring and fall.  The important part is to remember to love while we are here.  That's what I can give my patients I guess.  Agape.

Monday, 23 November 2015


The black dog has caught me by the heels again.  I can feel it sitting on my face, just below my eyes.  Pisses me off.  I work so hard to not be depressed.  I take my meds.  I am thankful.  I exercise.  I know how lucky I am and still it drags me down.  I fucking hate it!

Saturday, 21 November 2015


I was out for a walk the other morning before work when I got a phone call from Katie's caregiver.  He rarely calls so I was worried when I answered.  I could hear Katie fussing in the background so I got even more worried.  Turns out he was just calling to let me know that he had gotten Katie's table for her wheelchair fixed and that the bill was $300.  He wanted me to know and had forgotten to email me.  I was relieved.

When I went to say goodbye, I asked him to say hi to Katie for me and to tell her that I love her.  Katie hates phones and won't have anything to do with them.  I overheard him passing along my message and then I heard her blow me a kiss.  She's never done that.  Of course I started crying as soon as I hung up the phone.  She surprises me still and I'm thankful for that.  So often it seems as if I don't really matter to her and then she does something surprising. 

I love this photo of her, down at Fort Edmonton park.  She's running, not in her wheelchair and that's how I like to see her. 

I continue to work on my stoicism with some success.  I'm getting better at standing back and asking if I have any control over "this", whatever "this" may be.  It's getting easier.  Less fatigue at the end of the day.  Less bitching and complaining, from me.  My coworkers remain unchanged but my reaction to them has changed, which is all I really have any control over.

Winter is settling in here.  The temperatures have dropped.  We had some snow the other day which brought the city to a virtual standstill.  Only a little snow and everyone forgets how to drive apparently.  One of our young nurses was two hours late for her shift and came in just vibrating.  I told her that it was ok.  She had no control over it.  Let it go.  The days are getting so short now.  Dark for the drive to work and dark for the drive home.  Sigh.  I miss the light.



Wednesday, 11 November 2015


Things I'm thankful for today.

Spent the morning with this monkey and her mom.
A new winter coat that will keep me warm to -30C.
A long weekend in Jasper.  We're leaving on Friday morning.
Time to putter.
Knowing that my daughter is well cared for and happy.
Sunshine and still no snow.
Two days to take photos in the mountains.
Feeling healthy again.

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, 9 November 2015


A few weeks ago I was listening to Tapestry on CBC radio and one of the interviews was with a philosophy professor,  Massimo Pigliucci.  The interview struck a chord with me and I looked into it a bit more.  I came across a handbook, "Live Like A Stoic For A Week" and I thought I'd give it a shot.  I tried a bit.  Did a little meditating.  Thought about myself in the grand scheme of things. 

Then I got shingles and  I fell down and hit my head but I still tried to remember one key concept, the question I need to ask myself always, "Is this in my control?"  And if the answer is no, to let it go.

So far, not so bad.  I work with a couple of nurses who would not win any nurse of the year awards.  One is oblivious and lazy, while the other is rude and a drama queen.  Neither one are exactly competent.  They push all my buttons and I usually lose it on them about once a year.  I'm tired of having my buttons pushed. 

Last week, even though I felt like death warmed over, I asked the question, "Is this in my control?"  And if it wasn't, and it usually isn't, then I let go of it.  That's pretty good for me.  When I feel like crap my patience for bullshit is very low. 

This week I feel like a human being again.  My head is still a little scrambled from hitting it but not too bad.  Although I did ask a friend about her pretzels, instead of her shingles this morning. 

Most of all though I'm trying to remember to stand back and ask myself that question and then move on.  I also try to remember that in the history of the earth, my life has about as much significance as a squirrel or a thistle for that matter.  So when things are bugging me, I think about the squirrel and the thistle.  Sounds like an English pub to me but it makes me feel better.  Then I ask myself, "Is this in my control?"

At least I know I'm not alone.  Turns out the Greeks where thinking about this kind of stuff five thousand years ago.  It's kind of comforting.

Thursday, 5 November 2015


I don't think of myself as being "older".  Last March I slipped on the ice near Athabasca Falls and dislocated a couple of ribs.  I was so sore and nervous after that experience that I walked across ice like an old lady.  Last weekend I thought the skin between my eyebrows was starting to break out in a monster pimple.  My girlfriend saw me on Sunday morning and said, "That looks like shingles."  Monday morning the sore on my skin looked at lot more like shingles so I took myself off to emergency at seven am before work.  As an aside, I would highly recommend this time as a good time to visit the emergency department.  I got in and out in two hours with a diagnosis of shingles and a prescription for an antiviral medication. 

I wasn't sure if I should go to work or not so made a bunch of phone calls and decided to stay home for the day.  Turns out as long as the vesicles are scabbed over I won't infect anyone with chickenpox.  I especially worry about my immunocomprimised patients.  They don't need chickenpox on top of everything else.  So now I'm on an antiviral and the skin between my eyebrows is swollen, red, itchy, burning and painful.  My nose is slightly swollen and my glasses don't fit well.  The swelling has caused a lovely looking drooping of the skin on the inside of my eyes. 

This morning the vesicles broke open and started weeping.  I tried getting hold of the casual nurse but no luck so I covered up the open area between my eyes with a lovely arrangement of bandaids.  The big guy looked at me and smirked.  I told him to fuck off.  He said it was very sexy and I told him to fuck off again.  And then as the big guy and I walked from the parkade into the building I hit a patch of ice and fell flat on my back, breaking the fall with my head.  WTF!

I burst into tears and couldn't stop sobbing.  After ice packs, hugs and an x-ray, the big guy drove me home and this is where I sit. 

I feel old.  I look old but my in my mind I don't feel any different than I ever have.  It's strange how the person we are inside doesn't age the same was as our body does.  I know I'm older and I am wiser but when I look in a mirror, it's shocking.  I'm starting to look like my mother. 

Sunday, 25 October 2015


You should sit in nature for twenty minutes a day…
Unless you’re busy, then you should sit for an hour.
                             ~based on an old Zen
                             saying on mediation




Friday, 23 October 2015



Things I'm thankful for today.

The big guy, his big heart, his hugs and his wisdom.
Walks in the river valley this week before work. 
Homemade smoothies.
A day that wasn't as busy at work so I don't feel used up and worn out tonight.
Got my cavity filled yesterday.  The needle didn't hurt and it took about five minutes to fill.  I can chew again on the left side.
My kidney function is better today than it was last week.
I have time to repaint the bedroom this weekend.
The fall weather has been beautiful.  Sunny and cool but not cold and no snow yet.
The geraniums are still blooming on the balcony.

What are you thankful for today>

Wednesday, 21 October 2015



I moved in with my boyfriend when I was four months pregnant and I moved back home with my parents when I was eight months pregnant.  My boyfriend hadn't come home for three days.  He just disappeared and when he came back there was no explanation.  Apparently I still had sex with him though and he was kind enough to give me crabs. 

I was at work one day and I couldn't stop scratching my crotch.  I had to go into the back storage area to scratch.  All I could think about was scratching.  When I went home that night I used a mirror to look at my crotch, my belly was too big to see over, and I saw something move.  I had to phone a friend to find out what was going on.  I had never seen crabs.  I had never known anyone with crabs.  Then I had to go to a drugstore and buy something to kill the crabs.  I was too embarrassed to ask for help in the drugstore.  I wandered around for a long time until I found what I needed.  Or maybe I asked for help, I can't remember.  What I do remember is feeling ashamed and dirty.

I ended up just shaving all of my pubic hair off because I couldn't stand the thought of nits or crabs or anything on me.  And then I felt naked and ashamed.  At that time I had no idea that there were even women who shaved their pubic hair off.  I really was small town girl.

I had a weekly doctor's appointment by that point in my pregnancy and when the doctor did the pelvic exam I was terrified he would say something about my shaved groin.  He never did. 

And my boyfriend remained my boyfriend.  Why I don't know.  To make my parents happy?  To make his parents happy?  Because I believed I could make this work?  Because I wanted so desperately to have a family, a home, a husband?  Did I only want to play house? 

About two week or three weeks before my son was born my boyfriend called early one Saturday morning and the first words he said were, "Don't hang up!  This is my only phone call."  He wanted three hundred dollars for bail.  I can't remember why he was in jail.  Fighting?  Unpaid speeding tickets?  Who knows.  Whatever he would have told me would have been a lie.  I did have the presence of mind to tell him no and then hung up on him. 

When I look back at my younger self I see a selfish, single minded young woman.  I had no idea what having a child entailed.  I didn't know how hard it would be, how endless it would be, how it would require me to put my child first and myself second.  I didn't know how isolated and alone I would feel.  It was only about me, not my child.  I can see that now and it saddens me.  I had nothing to give a child.  I had never received unconditional love, never felt accepted by my parents, never given much attention or affection.  How could I possible be ready to parent a child?  But I didn't know any of this until many years later.   

Saturday, 17 October 2015



Things I'm thankful for today.

A walk in the river valley.
Sunshine.
Dog love.
Meals made for Katie sitting in the freezer.
A good sleep last night.
Time to walk and cook.
Homemade tomato red pepper soup.
Get to see my granddaughter tomorrow.
Katie's starts special Olympics bowling tomorrow morning.
Not dizzy anymore. 

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, 15 October 2015



When I rolled over to get out of bed this morning the whole world started spinning.  I have vertigo, benign paroxysmal positional vertigo, which means it comes and goes and it isn't going to kill me, unless I fall down the stairs.  Sometimes it's mild, sometimes it's stomach turning.  This morning I walked out to the kitchen like a toddler, unsure of my footing.  I sat down and my stomach started churning.  I tried the Epley Maneuver, three times and the vertigo improved only slightly.  Finally I gave up and lay down. 

The big guy went to work without me and I dreamed of a very nice doctor who came and helped me with my vertigo.  He was an older man, so kind and tender it was lovely.  I felt so safe, the kind of safe you feel when you're a kid and your mum can still give you that feeling.  I'm still a little dizzy but I can walk now without hanging onto walls which is nice. 

I went to see my doctor the other day to try and figure out why I'm so tired all the time.  We talked about life, work, stress, exercise.  She's a lovely woman who actually listens and doesn't rush you.  She suggested I figure out a way to work less and told me to relax more.  I don't relax.  I do.  I go.  I always have a list of things that that need to be done.  The big guy laughs at me because of my lists.  Maybe I need to let go of my lists. 

For so many years I took care of Katie.  Then I took care of my mum.  Now I'm taking care of my patients.  I'm not good at taking care of myself.  So today my poor body made me lie down, slowed me down.  Time to find a better balance for myself.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015


I got pregnant with my son when I was twenty years old, far too young and immature to be responsible for another human being.  I remember dancing in a bar one night with some guy, thinking, "When was my last period?" and I couldn't answer that question.  That summer I was filling my time before I started college in Edmonton by working as a nanny for a sweet little girl.  I had been accepted into a lab tech program and I was looking forward to moving to the big city;  I was also terrified at the thought of living in a new city where I didn't know anybody.

But that night as I danced and drank that missing period kept thrusting itself to the front of my brain.  I must have made a doctor's appointment at sometime but I can't remember.  I do remember the doctor being as surprised as me that I was pregnant.  It was my secret.  I  went through with moving to Edmonton, knowing I would be pregnant and alone in a strange city.  I wanted so badly to believe that I could have this baby and go to school.  That I could just take a day off and have the baby.  That life would continue on.  Real mature.  My mum figured out I was pregnant the day I moved.  I can't even remember her reaction.  I remember the apartment but not what she said to me. 

The morning I was supposed to start school, I drove all the way back home to my small town, crying all the way.  I think I phoned the program and withdrew.  Student loans were returned.  I packed up the apartment that I had moved into and moved back home with my parents.

My mum insisted that I get an abortion.  There was no other option in her mind.  Adoption was not an option, nor was me having the baby by myself or marrying the father of my child.  She made an appointment for me to see the doctor and I was approved to have an abortion.  The morning that I was scheduled to have my abortion, I picked up my boyfriend and we drove to the hospital.  I couldn't do it though.  I couldn't stop at the hospital, couldn't have an abortion.  I do remember saying to my boyfriend, "You have to understand that we may not spend the rest of our lives together.  Just because I'm having this baby doesn't mean that we will get married."  He said he got it.

So I had to go home and tell my mum that I didn't have an abortion.  And then she told my dad that I was pregnant and then I got kicked out of the house and stayed with a family friend for a week.  My dad cooled off and I was able to go back home.  Nobody was happy that I was pregnant.  Nobody was excited.  There were no congratulations.  It was all bad.  I was twenty, single and pregnant. 

I would not marry my boyfriend.  My best friend thought I should, something which shocked me more than finding out I was pregnant.  My sister got mad and took it out on my mother which I still don't get.  I became the black sheep of the family.  My mother was worried what the neighbors would think.  Worried what her friends would think.  None of them cared. 

And so began my first pregnancy.  Anger, shame, disappointment.  I wish I could have been there for my young self, to have told her it would be okay.  That she would make it through this.  That babies are nothing to be ashamed of, that they are a blessing in this world.  I wish I had felt loved at this time of my life.  I remember crying a lot.  I'm still crying for that young woman.

Saturday, 3 October 2015


I'm stiff and sore today.  Yesterday there was a Code Blue in the parkade and we're the closest department to the parkade.  I ran faster than I knew I could.  The man was at the far end of the parkade and thankfully he was only dizzy and fell down, not dead.  My boss was the third person to arrive.  He asked how I got there so fast and I thought, but this is my job.  This is what I do.  I care about my patients.  They mean something to me.  I remember their names.  I remember their tattoos.  I remember their faces.  This is what I do.

Two days ago we had a woman come in by transport from a small town.  She was in horrific pain and vomiting.  We got her pain and vomiting under control and she had her MRI.  She has leptomeningeal disease;  it's a rare complication of cancer in which the cancer spreads to the meninges of the brain.  I've only seen it once before but it is memorable, the symptoms, how the patient presents.  It's also terminal.  I sat in the control room while she had her MRI, watching the O2 sat monitor.  The tech showed me the tumor in her brain, the leptomeningeal disease, the part of her skull that had been eaten through by the tumor and I wept. My poor lady is dying much more quickly than her family and friends realized.  Her husband is trying to get his crops in before the snow hits.  My lady was admitted and then came down again yesterday for an emergency central line insertion.  I stayed late to help.  It won't make a difference but both my lady and her family need some hope.  They can't let go yet.  I can understand that.  Acceptance comes at different times and in different forms for everyone.  She's four years younger than me.

After work last night we visited our granddaughter.  It was her birthday yesterday.  Babies are good for the heart.  Baby hugs.  Baby laughter.  My stepdaughter has a dog as well so I also get dog love when I go there which is almost as good as baby love.  We came home and fell into bed.  My god I'm tired lately. 

My middle daughter is coming for Thanksgiving next weekend, just for a night or two, depends on school and work.  I miss her still.  It's been four years since she moved out to Vancouver.  Our relationship is much better now.  She's almost twenty-five and it seems she has let go of her anger towards to me.  Looking back I understand now that she was angry at me for leaving her father, although I didn't understand that at the time.  She was seventeen when I left him and I was only thinking of myself and my own survival.  I imagine she thought I was selfish, ripping our family apart.  She lives with her dad now and has a much better understanding of the reasons I left.  I'm looking forward to her visit.  I'm hoping we'll have time alone, just the two of us. 

My son will be coming too for dinner.  We haven't talked much since July when he got very angry with me for calling him on his lies.  He did apologize but I still don't trust him.  His lies now tend towards lies of omission.  I'm tired of lies.  Tired of pretend.  I love him but I don't trust him which is a hard thing to admit about one of your children and an even harder thing to hold in your heart.  Love means trust in my mind but apparently not.  I don't think he understands this and wonder if he ever will.

The weather has cooled here.  It truly feels like fall.  Two days ago I walked in the river valley, admiring the fall colors, the yellow of the poplar leaves standing out so beautifully against the blue, blue sky.  And then last night the wind came up and the temperatures dropped and most of the tress now stand naked, ready for winter and their long sleep. 

And me?  I don't know.  I'm older and wiser, a little.  I keep my mouth closed more than I used to and listen more.  I still feel so deeply the pain of others that it wrecks me some days.  I'm still trying to understand suffering, still trying to accept suffering I guess. 

Wednesday, 30 September 2015




MOREOVER by Jack Gilbert

We are given the trees so we can know
what God looks like. And rivers
so we might understand Him. We are allowed
women so we can get into bed with the Lord,
however partial and momentary that is.
The passion, and then we are single again
while the dark goes on. He lived
in the Massachusetts woods for two years.
Went out naked among the summer pines
at midnight when the moon would allow it.
He watched the aspens when the afternoon breeze
was at them. And listened to rain
on the butternut tree near his window.
But when he finally left, they did not care.
The difficult garden he was midwife to
was indifferent. The eight wild birds
he fed through both winters, when the snow
was starving them, forgot him immediately.
And the three women he ate of and entered
utterly then and before, who were his New World
as immensity and landfall, are now only friends
or dead. What we are given is taken away,
but we manage to keep it secretly.
We lose everything, but make harvest
of the consequence it was to us. Memory
builds this kingdom from the fragments
and approximation. We are gleaners who fill
the barn for the winter that comes on.



Thank you to Erin for sharing this lovely poem with me.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

 
 
We had a lovely weekend in Jasper with my cousin and her husband.  On the drive to Jasper though I had a huge meltdown beside the Pembina river.  The big guy gave me my birthday gift early and I'll probably never use it so I asked him if he would mind if I returned it.  He got huffy and then I got mad and started crying.  It went downhill from there. 
 
I don't like receiving gifts.  I am often disappointed which sounds so awful and self centered.  I remember being a kid at Christmas time and I often felt disappointed on Christmas morning.  Except for one year.  Our dog was sick that year and needed an operation.  My parents told us that we wouldn't be getting gifts because they couldn't afford the operation and Christmas gifts.  I was ok with that.  And then on Christmas morning there was a brand new Easy Bake Oven under the tree for me.  It was the best gift ever.  Not only because it was what I wanted but because it was such a surprise.  I expected nothing. 
 
And that's where my disappointment comes in, right behind my expectations.  Except there's more and I can feel it just outside of my consciousness but can't quite grasp it.  I don't like telling people what to get me or what I want because that feels fake and uncomfortable.  And to be honest I pretty much have all that I want already.  Expectations always bite me in the ass.  The gap between how I want the world to be and how the world really is. 
 
The big guy let me have a good cry and then told me that I was a wonderful person.  I didn't feel that way.  I've pretty much always felt like the difficult, prickly, hard to get along with person.  Turns out we had a lovely weekend.  It was probably the nicest holiday I've had a long time.  I had a chance to get to know my cousin much better and really get to know her husband who happens to be a very down to earth, warm, funny, kind man. 
 
The strange thing is, I love giving gifts.  So why am I such an ungrateful gift recipient?
 
 
 

Thursday, 17 September 2015


We're off to the mountains again today to meet up with my cousin and her husband.  The renos are almost done as the big guy's daughter and her family move in a week and a half.  No stress whatsoever.

Yesterday I had a patient two years younger than my son.  This young man is dying.  His skin is yellow, his liver is shutting down and he is so thin.  His poor father is watching this, unable to accept that he will have to bury his son who is forty-two years younger than him.  Who would be able to accept this?  It broke my heart.  The radiologist had to wipe away her tears and gather herself before she could go back out of the room to talk to him.

I've been so tired this week.  I'm very thankful for a few extra days off. 

Things I'm thankful for today.

My children are healthy, even Miss Katie.
Miss Katie is well cared for and even loved by her caregivers.
Stones on a beach, stacked up by someone else, left for others to come across.
The big guy figured out what was bugging him.
My birthday this weekend.  Although getting older is difficult because of the losses that accompany aging, it is a gift that not everyone is given. 
A glass of iced tea and a few moments to sit and write.
My children coming for Thanksgiving dinner in a few weeks.

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, 6 September 2015


Things I'm thankful for today.

This little bean.  She's so sweet.  She prefers tools over toys.
Rain.  We need it.
Renovations are coming to an end thank goodness.
My birthday in two weeks.  I'll be fifty-three.  I'm thankful I am able to get older.  I buried two friends this year who will never hit fifty-three.
My son called me and talked to me.  He was mad at me in July because I called him on his lying and he wouldn't talk to me. 
Taking Miss Katie out for lunch today.
I sold a photo!  Not the first one I've sold but this one is printed on canvas. 
The big guy and I are going to print up a calendar as well for sale.
My mortgage will be paid off in two weeks.  My ex husband convinced me that I was bad with money.  So there!
A long weekend to cook.  I'm making tuna noodle casserole for Katie right now which reminds, time to go.

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, 2 September 2015


I'm tired.  Tired of bullshit at work.  It's stressful in the long run.  This day to day bullshit that seeps into everything, makes everything stink.  We have managers that can't manage, not even a little.  I asked to work one less day every two weeks and was refused so that's going to the union which is not something I've ever done before but I'm tired.

I want more balance in my life.  When Katie lived at home it was her care all the time.  It consumed my life.  And now my life is being consumed by work and I don't want that.  I turn fifty-three in less than three weeks and I'm tired.  My knees hurt when I climb stairs.  My feet hurt when I stand up.  I keep gaining weight because I'm too damn tired to exercise. 

Everyday I care for people who have had the rug pulled out from under them.  People my age.  People much younger than me and people much older than me.  People who had to retire.  People who were set to retire.  What's the point of continuing to work at something that makes me so tired for money that I may or may not live long enough to need or enjoy? 

I have a beautiful little granddaughter whom I want to spend more time with.  I want to help out my stepdaughter with childcare.  I want to garden again.  I want a dog and I want to walk a dog. 

I want to get off this treadmill because it's not fun anymore.  I love my patients but I work in a toxic work environment.  We are asked to do more every month but without more resources.  We now have to recover patients in a room which is used for storage.  There are no curtains in the room that holds up to two stretchers so no privacy.  Last time I recovered two patients there were seven of us all together in the room.  Me, patients and family.  The patients are wonderful about it but I am appalled that this is considered acceptable. 

I work with a nurse who to be honest couldn't tell the difference between a real problem and an imaginary problem.  She spends an enormous amount of time making mountains out of molehills and it wears me out.  She doesn't pay attention to anything.  I can't imagine how she manages to drive to work everyday without incident.  She is oblivious.  And if I say anything to management, I am "bringing the whole department down with my negativity". 

I'm tired.  It will pass but tonight I am so damned tired of bullshit I could scream.  The writing it out helps.  The screaming would probably just upset my neighbors anyway.


Monday, 24 August 2015


I need to remember that this place exists always.  This is one of my favorite places.  Early in the morning it's quiet and a mist comes up off the lake.  Sometimes there's a loon.  It's peaceful and big and it will exist long after I have gone.  I think that's why I like it so much.  It puts me in my place.

Friday, 21 August 2015



It's been a tough week.  I'm still not feeling good.  So tired.  Some tough patients too. 

One young woman, twenty-six I think, with three small kids, the youngest two months old.  Diagnosed with gastric cancer.

An older women came to us yesterday, an inpatient, with a query bowel perforation.  It was a gastric perforation.  She was transferred to the U but died before they could operate.  Her husband was in shock.

A very young woman with lymphoma, a ten month old baby and an obvious pregnancy, denying she was pregnant.  Too much stress I'm thinking, leading directly to denial.

My very sick patient from two weeks ago died after only four days.  His wife was in shock when they left us for the U.

On the upside I have a new heckler.  When I first started working at the cancer clinic I had a patient who heckled me.  He heckled me while I started his IV and he continued from the waiting room as I started IVs for other patients.  He was my heckler for 3.5 years.  We became friends and I would make cake for him when he came in for scans.  Sadly he died in March.  But today I had a patient who heckled me in front at the reception desk.  It's was all about diarrhea, something only nurses would find funny.  She gave me a hard time and made me laugh.  I needed a patient like that today. 

It's cold outside, snow in the mountains today.  I have my jammies on and I'm going to bed early. 

Saturday, 15 August 2015

The big guy and I got back from our holidays yesterday.  We're both sick and dragging our butts around, looking woebegone. The photo is where we were last Wednesday.  We hiked to Bow Glacier Falls.  It was amazing. Beautiful and away from the world. 

I wasn't feeling great on the Thursday so we ended up driving more than walking which was okay.  It gave us a chance to talk.  We talked about relationships and what makes a relationship good. 

When I met my ex-husband I was young.  He was eight years older than me and a pilot.  I was a single mother with a three year old son.  My ex swept me off my feet.  He was good with my son and that was the most important thing to me at that time.  I looked up to him.  And then I grew up and stopped worshipping him.  I don't think he ever forgave me for that. 

I love the big guy but I don't worship him.  I have a rather accurate idea of who he is and I love him, just the way he is.  I don't want him to change.  He's stubborn and patient.  He really does look at the big picture.  He has also been badly hurt in the past and has a hard time letting others in.  He is also a tender, kind, thoughtful man who has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I've ever met. 

And he loves me as I am;  weepy, soft hearted, compassionate, stubborn, impatient me.  He doesn't want me to change, in fact he loves that I feel so deeply.  Neither one of us is perfect but we balance each other.  He gives me affection and attention and I give him tenderness and stability.  And he doesn't tie his affection and attention to sex as other men, cough (my ex husband) cough, did.  He doesn't love me because of sex and that means a lot to me, more than I realized.  It's strange the things that work themselves out of my head when I write things down.

But most of all, we respect each other.  He has gently told me when I have hurt him and I now work hard at not doing those things, although I slip up at times.  I don't want to hurt him.  And I have told him when things hurt me and he doesn't do those things anymore.  We both struggle with communication but that is a work in progress.  I hate conflict and struggle with that.  He asks me what I want and expects me to tell him what I want, not what I think he wants to hear.  I'm getting better at that, slowly. 

I trust him not to hurt me and he trusts me to do the same.  This is love. 

This is how I feel about him.

i carry your heart with me

 i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go, my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                        i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

 i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)

ee cummings

Friday, 7 August 2015


Things I'm thankful for today.

Flowers.
Holidays.
Mountains.
Homemade cookies.
My very sick, renal failure and liver failure, patient survived today.
Did I mention holidays?
I'm tired and ready for a rest, a change, a break, mountains and fresh air.
A new macro lens for flowers!

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, 2 August 2015



I did an online quiz this morning, because we all know how accurate and legitimate these quizzes are.  Except this one seemed to hit the nail on the head.  It was about emotional pain. 

"By ‘Pain-Body’, Tolle means emotional pain. Apprehension, hatred, self-pity, remorse, rage, depression, envy etc. are all manifestations of the Pain-Body. All emotional pains suffered by the individual during their life, remain a part of the unconscious of the individual for the rest of their life. All negative emotions, emotional suffering that the individual refuses to face, leave a mark in their unconscious. It is particularly difficult to face with, and to treat powerful negative emotions in childhood. Such unprocessed emotional pains constitute the foundations of Pain-Body. In the collective unconscious, every individual carries their own share of collective human pain that also belongs to the Pain-Body." Frank M. Wanderer

I took the quiz and it didn't surprise me but it did make me think about my childhood.  I have a lot of fears and I am what some people call "too emotional".  Sometimes it feels like I'm just along for the ride and my emotions just drag me along behind them.  I don't want to be a cold person but I do want to be able to speak my mind and deal with conflict without my heart pounding and the pricking of tears in my eyes and nose.  Even as I write this sentence I can feel the tears forming in my eyes.  Fuck.

My childhood was not awful but it was for me.  I could always feel the tension in our house.  We all walked on eggshells, trying not to upset my father because he was often angry.  When he was angry he would yell and stomp and threaten to leave and grab his car keys and drive away in a spray of gravel as he pulled out of the driveway.  Which left my mother, my brother and me shocked and wondering what had just happened.  My mother would cry and start wringing her hands.  What will become of us?  Who will take care of us?  What if he really leaves this time?  What if he doesn't?  It was awful and this is what I remember of growing up.  I don't remember kindness from my father, although I'm sure there must have been, I'm hoping, nor do I remember having a conversation with him.  He was a tyrant, a furious, shaking tyrant.

And today when faced with anger or conflict, all of the emotions I felt as a child come flooding back and it does feel like flash flood.  I am overwhelmed and drowning in emotions of fear.  My breathing increases, my heart starts pounding and I become unable to think rationally.  I am only feeling.  I am five years old again.

I don't want to be five years old still. 

Thursday, 30 July 2015


Things I'm thankful for tonight.

Feeling better.  Not a hundred percent but much better.
Hugs from the big guy.
Knowing he has my back.
Working really hard at letting go of control, expectations and judgments.
Waterfalls.  I just love waterfalls.  Not just how they look but how they sound as well.
The smile on my granddaughter's face when she sees me.
Sunshine and a walk in the river valley after work.
Saw an eagle today in the river valley.
A home cooked meal tonight.
Two good books in a row.
Air conditioning.  It's getting hot again.
The big guy's smile and his laugh.

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, 27 July 2015


Depression

What does depression look like?  Not so different really.  My eyes may be reddened from crying and I probably move slower than I normally do.  Fewer smiles and the ones that I do manage don't make it to my eyes but just sit on my lips.  I still cook, still do the laundry, still get up and go to work.  It's the inside that is so different.

What does depression feel like?  It feels like I'm dead inside.  Like there is a huge sadness sitting on my face, right below my eyes.  I can feel how heavy it is.  My whole body feels heavy, hard to move, the world reduced to slow motion.  My brain can't focus, misses things, just doesn't work.  I want to sleep or cry, or both.  But I don't.  I just keep on doing everything.  It feels like all hope is gone.

And I feel ashamed.  Ashamed that I can't cope with things.  Ashamed that I cry in public.  Ashamed that I went home sick from work.  Ashamed that my brain betrays me.

I know it will pass.  I know that there is hope, that there is life, that there is good and wonderful things but right now, today, the world is dark and gray and dead.

Sunday, 26 July 2015


I am beyond tired today.  The black dog has got me by the throat. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015


Things I'm thankful for tonight.

It rained last night.
One of the my young lymphoma patients was in today for a scan.  She was diagnosed the day before her baby girl was born.  Her little girl is 3 1/2 months old now and cute as a button.  Both are doing well.
A walk in the river valley after work.
Full staff at work today.
The renovations at the big guy's house are coming along.  Painting is almost finished. Just floors and countertops.
A dishwasher;  it's running now as I sit and type.
Talked to my daughter this evening and she's doing well. 
A good book, "A Widow For One Year" by John Irving. 
My bed.  I'm beat tonight.  Looking so forward to laying my head down on my pillow and closing my eyes.

What are you thankful for tonight?

Sunday, 19 July 2015



I'm worried about my son.  His girlfriend broke up with him just before he graduated.  He had an accident with her car and now owes his father money because he borrowed money from his father to pay is ex girlfriend for the damage.  He found a job in his field, business finance, and then was "let go" by his boss because his criminal record was more extensive than she knew.

What I imagine is that my son was lying to his girlfriend and she found out.  I also imagine that he was not completely truthful during his interview about his criminal past and he was found out.  And so it goes.  My son is a habitual liar.  He lies for many reasons:  to make others happy, to make himself look good, to avoid consequences, mostly out of habit I think. 

So now he sits at home, no job, no girlfriend, no money.  But he did go to Kelowna for a couple of weeks to party with a friend.  And he did go out with all his buddies for the closing party of the bar he has worked at for the last five years.  He ignores my texts and phone calls.  He texts me in the middle of the night when I can only assume he's been drinking to tell me the world is not made for people like him.  I told him that he needs to get a job, any job, to pay the bills but he didn't like that answer because then he wouldn't be available to go to job interviews.  When I asked him if he has had any job interviews he said no.   

I am worried that he will kill himself in a moment of depression but I am also worried that he will slip back into dealing drugs as an easy way to make money.  His girlfriend was his anchor in mainstream society.  She was smart and getting her Masters at university.  He needs to find an anchor within himself and I don't know how to help him.  He's supposed to come for supper tonight but I'm guessing he will bail on that.  Because who wants uncomfortable conversations with people who make you look at yourself honestly?

My heart aches for him but for myself as well.  I feel like I failed him.  I was unable to teach him to love himself, to care for himself, to be resilient.  I sadly was never taught those things by my parents, nor were they taught by their parents either.  It is a vicious cycle this lousy parenting.  The gift that keeps on giving, generation after generation.  I'm trying to be a better parent now but it feels like too little, too late.  I don't want to watch my son, my firstborn baby, let his life go down the drain.  He's a grown man now, not my baby anymore and all I can do is give him information, show him that there are alternatives and pray that he changes.  The hardest part for me, and the big guy will laugh when he reads this, is the giving up of control, not that I ever really had any, but giving up the illusion that I ever had any control over my children.  They are people, children of the universe, mine for a short time and now it's up to them to sort things out.  I love him and I guess that's the most I can really do which is hard to write because I so want to fix things for him. 

Tuesday, 14 July 2015


I painted my granddaughter's bedroom last night.  As I painted, I could hear everyone else in the house, the big guy, his daughter, her husband, my granddaughter.  I could hear voices, laughter, babbling.  I could hear a family.  It was lovely.  I'd forgotten how much I miss having my family around. 

My granddaughter has started nodding when she sees us.  She looks so dignified as she nods her head.  It seems as if she is saying Namaste.  I wonder if babies see the divine more clearly than we do.

Saturday, 11 July 2015


There are fires burning across the province and the skies are hazy this morning, the smell of smoke hangs in the air.  I can still hear the magpies talking to each other through the open windows, giving each other hell or encouragement;  I'm not sure which. 

My baby granddaughter is doing well, much happier since teeth have stopped erupting in her mouth, for the time being.  She twinkles.  The other night she fell asleep in my arms, exhausted from the heat.  The big guy and I spend a lot of time now in Sherwood Park, helping to get the house ready for his daughter and her family to move in. 

Last weekend Katie had a giant meltdown at Fort Edmonton Park.  She loves wagon rides and we took her on the wagon.  Life was good.  She was happy.  We had lunch and she said she wanted another ride.  It wasn't busy, there were no other people on the wagon so we thought why not?  Katie was happy, happy, happy;  very excited, clapping, squealing and then in a split second she spilled over into overexcited and then boom, upset.  She screamed, cried, slapped her head, banged her teeth with her hands, arched her back, shook her legs.  It went on and on, or so it seemed.  We cut short the ride, all the wagon drivers know Katie, and we had to physically carry her off the wagon.  She wouldn't stand, continued to scream, throw her head around, slap herself.  I put on my "fuck off" face to keep onlookers away and we went someplace quiet for her to calm down, which she did and then she started up again.  So we left. 

We think she just go overexcited.  I'm so thankful the big guy was me because I couldn't have managed her otherwise.  He's 6'5" and 250lbs and he had a hard time holding her in the wagon.  I managed to stay calm which was good for me and we were able to calm her.  Baby steps.

I spent much of last night going through photos from our trip.  Three thousand photos.  It's just work at this point and of course I'm very critical of my photos.  I always think, I could have done that better.  Of course I can only shoot what I see on that day, nothing more.  So I take a deep breath and remind myself how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful country. 

Tuesday, 7 July 2015


Reasons why I want to marry the big guy.

I love him.
I like him.
He makes me laugh. 
He farts in bed when I'm sad, just to make me laugh.
He holds me when I cry.
He hugs me every single morning and anytime of the day after that.  He is an awesome hugger.
He's smart and interesting and a very deep thinker.
He's logical.
He's stubborn, as stubborn as me.
He's patient.
He's kind and compassionate.
He's all bark and no bite.
I know he will always have my back.
I like living with him, working with him and traveling with him.
He likes my cooking.
The look on his face when his granddaughter sits in his lap.
Watching him hold hands with the cat.
Watching him play tag with the cat.
His big heart.
His old soul.
His bruised and battered heart.
That gentle, scared part of him that he protects so fiercely but which he lets me see.
He worries about me.
I worry about him.
His laugh.
I trust him to tell me the truth, even when I don't like it.
I trust him with my heart.
He accepts me as I am.

Sunday, 5 July 2015


Foxglove growing along the side of the road near Port Renfrew. 


"Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul."  The Koran

Friday, 3 July 2015

 
 
 
Holidays.  Some of the big guys photos.
 
Blue Heron


Dog in Port Renfrew, waiting for his owner.


Waves on Ucluelet beach.


Starfish.


Me looking for shells and whatnot.


Tuesday, 16 June 2015


It's Katie's birthday today.  After a truly hellish day at work, the big guy and I drove to Katie's house with a balloon for her birthday.  When I knocked on the door I could hear her shriek of delight.  When the door opened she pulled me close and hugged me, for a long time.  Katie has never spontaneously hugged me I don't think.  It was wonderful.  And then she hugged the big guy.

Katie's never really noticed it's her birthday but today she did.  She knew what it was about.  When we were standing in the kitchen she signed, "sing", so we all sang Happy Birthday and there was much clapping.  Apparently she had spent the day at Fort Edmonton with all of the staff there wishing her a happy birthday as well.  We had cake and a small visit.  When it was time for us to leave Katie didn't act up at all.  She said goodbye and that was that. 

The new drug has worked wonders.  I am most thankful to have my girl back. 

Saturday, 13 June 2015



I attended a medicine conference at the University this past week.  Two days of information and learning.  I loved it.  Some of it was just interesting, transgenderism and cystic fibrosis, some of it left me in awe, liver dialysis post Tylenol overdose, and some of it was staggering, the link between oral care and hospital acquired non vented pneumonia.  The best session was all about central lines which is what we do in our department.  I feel energized with new knowledge and a desire to do better.  We even found new products to make our patients' lives better. 

The big guy and I leave for holidays next Saturday which I'm looking forward to.  Two weeks without an alarm clock.  I love my patients but need a break to recharge my batteries.  There will be mountains and ocean and waterfalls.  Spending time outside always make me feel better.  If I could I would start IVs outside in our healing garden.  Now that would be nice.

Katie turns twenty-three on Tuesday.  It's hard to believe sometimes.  She seems to be calmer on the new medication although she still gets anxious, the anxiety doesn't last as long.  Last week at Fort Edmonton she wanted to go on the train but as we were waiting, a group of woman and babies came to where we were sitting and got to close and loud for Katie.  One woman in particular was very close and loud.  I could feel the energy change and I know how Katie feels when that happens.  It was too much and she started slapping herself and crying.  We left, walking back to the main gate and she managed to calm down.  She also had different staff that day which makes it harder for her.  A very nice man but not her regular staff. 

My daughter continues to ignore phone calls and texts so I'm guessing she's either angry or embarrassed or both.  I was weepy all day Monday when I realized I don't really like the person she is right now.  I sunk down into depression but it was short lived.  When I understand what's bugging me now the depression tends to lift.  I'm thankful for that.  My son started a new job last week.  He was worried after he graduated that nobody would hire him because of his criminal record but he got hired.  He's hard working and smart.  The company is lucky to have him.

It's a gray day here.  Supposed to rain which I hope it does.  We've had the driest spring in fifty years here and are badly in need of rain.  Time for laundry and cooking and cleaning, which strangely enough I enjoy.  Take care people.

Saturday, 30 May 2015


So last weekend wasn't exactly what I thought it would be.  My daughter was drunk, hung over or sleeping much of the time.  She wanted to escape and I wanted to show her someplace I love.  Blah, blah, blah, as she would say.  Poor me.

And then I went back to work.  My work always puts my problems in perspective and helps me drag my head out of my ass.  Yesterday  one of our docs came in as a patient.  He said it was very strange being on the other end of care and that he feared he had left it too late.  Cancer is a nasty bugger.  My department has 71 people working in it.  According to the stats, 28 of us will develop cancer and 18 of us will die of cancer. 

It doesn't discriminate.  I had a patient yesterday who had cancer when she was four;  she's in her thirties now and it's back.  I've had patients as old as 92 and as young as 6.  We don't usually get children, they go to the University but children with brain tumors come to us for radiation.  It's not unusual to have patients the same age as my children. 

We have one young lady, I can't remember her age, but probably in her late twenties, she was diagnosed the day before her baby was born.  Her baby girl is seven weeks old now.  How this young woman doesn't cry every single day that she comes to us amazes me.  Yesterday I had an older woman, 75 who needed a central line.  We lay her down on the x-ray table and she started to cry.  I told her to go ahead and cry.  She was terrified of the line, didn't know what to expect and was shocked at how quick and easy it was.  She smiled when we were done. 

Another man yesterday that we put a port in was one of the nicest people I've ever met.  He was so gentle and wise.  He told us how much he loved his daughters and his granddaughter.  He shared his life view with us which was basically be kind to everyone, you don't know what they're going through. 

I get tired of bullshit at work but I never tire of my wonderful patients, even the tough ones.  Not all patients are so sanguine.  I've only had one horrendously angry patient.  His anger emanated from him in waves.  It wasn't the cancer though, I imagine he has been angry his whole life.  It was hard to stay with him though.  Brought back a lot of memories of my dad and I felt scared and defenseless again.  But that is rare. 

Mostly I just listen.  Sometimes I give hugs.  Often I give Kleenex.  And sometimes I cry as well.  As I tell my patients I am a weeper and that's okay. 

My life is pretty good on the whole.  I doesn't always turn out the way I think it will, rarely in fact, but I'm learning to be okay with that too. 

Thursday, 28 May 2015

 
 
This is where I complain.
 
Where life is not as I wish it to be.
 
Where people do as they please.
 
This is where I learn to breathe
 
because my breath is truly all that
 
I can control.
 
This is where I hurt and
 
this is where I let go.
 
This is where I remember
 
that my children are not mine
 
but belong to the universe.
 
This is where I sigh.

Friday, 22 May 2015


Things I'm thankful for today.

My middle daughter is flying in tomorrow to visit for a few days.  On Sunday, the big guy, both my older kids and I are heading to the mountains for a couple of days.  We will show them the Columbia Icefield, Tangle Creek Falls, Horseshoe Lake, Pyramid Lake and whatever else we feel like seeing.  I'm making a picnic lunch for us to eat in the mountains.  I've never been to the mountains with my kids.  It was too hard to travel with Miss Katie.  I want to share this beautiful place with them.

I have four days off!!!

Katie is doing exceptionally well on her new drug, Citalopram.  Her anxiety has gone way down.  She's enjoying herself again.  On Monday we had a wiener roast with our granddaughter and Katie got to hold the baby.  When I drove Katie home she didn't hurt me or even try to hurt me.  When I dropped her off at her house she walked in and started looking for nail polish.  There was no drama, no head banging, no screaming or hair pulling.  She was happy to be home and wanted her nails painted.  I am most thankful for this;  for that look of perpetual fear to be gone from my daughter's face. 

The big guy's daughter brought the baby to work yesterday and we all had lunch.  The big guy got to show off his granddaughter and daughter to everybody.  The big guy is happy.  I love that man and I especially love to seem him happy.

The trees beside our balcony are in full bloom.  See above.  The smell is amazing.

A walk in the river valley after work.  Sunshine.  Trees flowering.  Everything growing.

My lovely patients.

A glass of wine after work.

What are you thankful for today?

Sunday, 17 May 2015


I was going to answer Ain't No Shrinking Violet by email because what I was going to say to her sounds too horrific but then I changed my mind. 

Katie was a sunny, delightful little baby.  Always smiling and always a baby.  She didn't walk until she was three.  As she got older though her behavior got worse.  At first it was just small things like she pulled the neighbor girl's hair, but when she hit puberty at eleven the behaviors escalated and she took out the worst of it on me and her sister. 

When Katie was fifteen and a half we found a group home for her to live in.  It damned near killed me.  I felt so bad.  We moved her into a group home because my husband and I just couldn't do it anymore.  Our marriage was falling apart.  My son was lost to drugs.  Katie's older sister was acting out, drinking, dropping out of school, running away.  Katie demanded so much time and energy that there was virtually nothing left for anybody else in our family.  She needed one on one attention while she was awake and even then it wasn't enough.

The group home didn't go well and Katie's anxiety increased, her behaviors got worse and she was evicted from her group home.  I didn't know what else to do with her so I brought her home and my marriage ended then for good.  My husband did not want her home. 

We brought her home and I tried to find help.  I couldn't find a psychiatrist who would deal with a child with mental disabilities.  I took her to emergency and we got sent to another hospital where I was given a phone number for a crisis line that couldn't help us.  Katie's behavior got worse.  She pulled my hair, scratched me, pinched me, ripped my clothes.  She would attack me while I was driving.  One day she got hold of my hair, dropped to her knees and I went with her.  We were in the bathroom and my husband couldn't get into the bathroom to help me because we were blocking the door.  More than once while driving someplace with Katie I thought about driving into an oncoming vehicle, hoping to kill us both.  It was that bad.  I felt hopeless. 

We tried her on a new drug which had paradoxical side effects.  It didn't calm her at all.  Her and I ended up in West Edmonton Mall, her screaming and crying at the top of her lungs, me trying to get her through the mall without me or anyone else getting attacked by her.  By the time I got to the van I was shaking.  I drove to emergency and told the young nurse at triage that they had half an hour to get a psychiatrist to see Katie or I would abandon my daughter.  The nurse looked at me and said you can't do that.  I said I could and would.  Thirty minutes later a social worker was there to talk to us and then we had an appointment to see a psychiatrist and a team the very next day.

What I didn't know is that very same day, a man had killed his autistic son and then himself in the city because he couldn't get any help.  The next day we got help.  The help didn't do a lot but it gave me hope which is what I needed more than anything.  After a lot of prayers and a photo of the Madonna in my the northwest corner of my home (I was willing to try anything to get help), we found the agency that cares for Katie now.  They specialize in caring for people with behavioral problems.  Katie was seventeen and a half by then.

The group home where she lives now is really only a townhouse with one other young woman with Down Syndrome who has some very violent tendencies.  It's not perfect by a long shot but it mostly works.  The agency knows how much consistency and routine matter to both Katie and her roommate. 

A few weeks ago Katie saw her psychiatrist and was started on citalopram.  Her anxiety was less today and last weekend.  I'm also working hard on staying calm and watchful.  She doesn't have the capacity to self regulate and goes from happy, happy, happy to crying, screaming and slapping herself very quickly.  I've been watching her closely, holding her when she starts to get anxious.  I tell her over and over that she's safe.  I stay calm which for me is not easy feat.  I am a drama queen who has a hard time self regulating myself but I'm working on it. 

I guess my point is, raising a child with behavioral problems is dangerous and beyond difficult.  It's dangerous because it's so fucking hard and it's also dangerous because you lose hope and start to think that death is the better alternative.  There were so many times I wanted it just to end.  It takes a village to raise a child.  It takes a whole big city to raise a disabled child with behavioral problems.  None of us can do it on our own.  It's too big and too hard.  So my message to Ain't No Shrinking Violet is this, get help now, somehow, anyway you can;  for your life and for your son's life.