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.