Saturday, 23 January 2016


The big guy and I ordered new bedroom furniture last fall and it arrived this past week.  Mission style, hand made, beautiful.  My old set was the original set I had;  it was the one my ex-husband and I picked out just before we were married.  When I say my ex-husband and I picked it out, I mean he picked it out and I agreed.  That's how he built consensus.  Anyway, he picked it out and I had never liked it.  Now I have the bedroom suite I always wanted and I love it.

In the process of moving everything in and out of the bedroom I came across many old bits and pieces of writing and mail that I had tucked away and saved over the years.  One was a letter from my ex-husband going over our marriage.  I reread it and then tore it up and threw it away.  I'm done with him.  In his letter he told me how afraid he was of me and my anger and how he felt bullied by me.  To be fair I was often angry.  I was overwhelmed, sad, depressed and isolated with three children, one of those children with a severe disability.  It's strange because my takeaway from my marriage is that I was mentally abused by my ex.  Two sides to every story.

This past year I have gotten rid of everything that my ex-husband picked out for the house.  The dishes he picked out, the cutlery, the bedroom suite;  there is nothing of him left in my life, other than my children and that feels good. 

I can still remember the first time we visited a divorce mediator together and he spent about thirty minutes arguing about the date of our separation.  He was arguing about one day.  When that was all done he was very happy and said we had come to a consensus.  In reality, I had said, I don't care.  What difference does it make?  He beat the point to death, by himself.  At that point the lawyer turned to me and asked me if I had been abused.  She wanted to know before we continued.  Everything with my ex-husband felt like, beaten to death.  I felt beaten to death by the time I was done.  I had nothing left and he wonders why I left. 

Going over the old letters stirred up my grief again.  Grief is a funny thing.  It gets smaller but it never really goes away.  It's also easy to stir up and when it resurfaces it can feel fresh and painful all over again.  I am so thankful I had the strength to leave him.

I am also thankful that I met a lovely man named Bill, aka the big guy.  He's kind and compassionate.  He's also fierce and loyal.  He calls me on my bullshit and he accepts me as I am, tears and all.  He makes me laugh and I make him laugh.  He hugs me everyday.  He knows me and I know him.  Who knew I would find such a love so late in life. 

Sunday, 17 January 2016


One of the big guy's photos.

I'm reading a very good book right now, "When Breath Becomes Air" by Paul Kalanathi.  It's about a thirty-six year old neurosurgeon, diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.  He was a wonderful writer and it sounds like he was a wonderful doctor as well.  He thought about life and death.  He cared about his patients.

We had no TV or internet connection last night so I read for quite awhile before bed, well an hour.  I usually don't read for longer than an hour.  I get antsy.  The big guy was asleep and there was nothing to do.  I shut off the light and lay wide awake in bed. 

I prayed, as I do every night.  For the past sixteen years I have gone through my day and said a prayer of thanks before I go to sleep.  And then I ask for things.  Please keep my children healthy and safe.  Please give a friend a peaceful death.  Please help my granddaughter learn how to sleep through the night.  Those kinds of things.

I always pray for my children.  I want Katie to be free of her anxiety.  I want my son to be productive, to find a job, to stop lying.  I want my middle daughter to be happy.  I want a lot of things beyond my control. 

I know very little about my son's life during the ten years he was a drug dealer.  We saw him intermittently.  He was often high when he came over.  Often depressed.  I know he suffers from depression.  I want him to be successful.  Not successful as in make a lot of money but rather successful as in find a job that is in his field, get married, live a normal life, have children.  This past week I've changed my thinking,  help me to accept and love my son as he is, right now.  He is imperfect, unhappy and struggling.  Help me to love him as he is, not how I want him to be. 

And then I expanded this to help me to love and accept all of those I care about, as they are.  And then I noticed myself and prayed for help to accept myself as I am, at which point I burst into tears.  And I realized I still don't love and accept myself as I am, nor did I ever have this kind of love from my family.  The wonderful thing is, I can learn how to do this and then I can give this gift to my children and their children. 

How hard can it be?  To accept and love oneself, as I am?  And yes I am being facetious, because I do love to laugh.

Saturday, 9 January 2016


I had a dream the other night about my friend Shirley who died almost a year ago.  The dream was so real that when I woke up my first thought was, I have to check the computer to see if she has died.  When the cobwebs dispersed I remembered that she was indeed dead and missed her all over again. 

Sometimes I remember a patient I no longer see and I realize that they must have died.  I try not to keep track because it would be too painful.  Our patients come in over and over again;  you develop a relationship with them.  I have my favorite patients.  Have become friends with some.  Often when I walk through the hospital, patients nod or smile or say hello.  I doesn't always remember every patient but I also smile and say hi. 

Yesterday a patient came in for a CT scan.  He was so short of breath he couldn't walk.  His wife had put him in a wheelchair to get him to our department.  They had questions about fluid on his lungs and wanted to see a doctor.  Our department doesn't work like that;  we only have radiologists.  But I did lay him down in the stretcher bay and checked his O2 sat.  It was 78%.  It's supposed to be at least above 90%.  I put him on oxygen and called respiratory.  It was Friday, towards the end of the day.  The patient's oncologist was busy with other patients.  Respiratory was busy with trached patients. It was a perfect storm.

I can't go into details but my patients is dying, soon.  He's not even fifty yet.  He's not ready to die, doesn't want to give up hope.  His wife understands that he is dying and feels helpless.  She wants her husband to say goodbye to his family, wants him to say the important things that need to be said but he wants to wait.  I feel for both of them.

I ended up having to call an ambulance for him to be taken to an emergency department.  Before he left he used the washroom and I could smell the melena (old blood that has gone through the GI tract).  He was still bleeding from his gut.  He will need blood transfusions and oxygen until he dies.  He needs palliative care but he's not ready for it yet. 

Once upon a time I would have needed to do more but I understand better now what I can and can't do.  I can't make someone do anything.  I can't make someone accept their imminent death.  I can listen.  I can care.  I can understand the need for hope and the need for acceptance.  I can do that for my patients and their families and that's really all I can do.   



Wednesday, 6 January 2016


Katie on Christmas day at West Edmonton Mall.


  
Free to run instead of stuck in her wheelchair.


No idea what she's thinking.

We took Katie to Special Olympics bowling last Sunday.  She enjoyed herself for the most part.  There is a young man who volunteers with Special Olympics and she has quite a crush on him.  He's a nice young man.  His girlfriend has a disabled brother so they both volunteer.  This young man is good looking, kind and smart; working on his PhD in biochemistry I think.  So Katie has good taste. 

She quite shamelessly flirts with this young man.  She laughs and swings her hair around.  It's funny to watch and a little sad because it would be nice for her to have a boyfriend.  Anyway, last Sunday Katie saw the young man and stared at him as he got closer.  She was quite intent.  When he started walking towards her she got very excited, blowing raspberries and rocking her wheelchair, which apparently is how she flirts.

And then she lost it.  She started crying and screaming.  She was inconsolable.  We had to leave and allow her to calm down.  Then it dawned on me after all these years.  When Katie is overcome by strong emotions, any strong emotions, she starts crying.  Which is exactly what I do. 

Ask the big guy if I cry easily and he will tell you, yes.  Any strong emotion sweeping over me leaves me weeping and unable to speak.  I've always been like this but I never put the two together with regards to Katie.  It puts a whole new spin on her negative behaviors, her crying, screaming, head slapping and wrist banging.  I wonder if it frightens her to be so overwhelmed with emotion that you can't stop crying.  I know it scares me sometimes.  It also embarrasses me and makes it very difficult to communicate sometimes.  We're not so different, her and I.

Now how to deal with it.